Kagome stood anxiously, watching the doors to the venue, waiting for Inuyasha and Kikyō to come through them. She had been worried when he didn’t show up, but since Sango, Miroku, and Shippō all seemed to think this was on par with his normal behavior, Kagome tried not to worry.
Not that she cared per se. Okay, she did care. But as one colleague cares about another one. As one professional shows concern about another one. As…
Oh, who was she kidding? She was fucking worried about him, because it wasn’t like him to not be on time for an event. Shippō, or Kikyō, or Miroku and Sango...one or some combination of them was always looking out for him, always trying to make sure that he got where he needed to go on time, that he was (relatively) sober, and that he conducted himself in a manner appropriate to the event. So the fact that none of them had seen him, and that none of them had thought to check on him…
That was...also concerning. And made Kagome go into Mamabear mode, just a little bit.
Miroku, Sango, and Shippō were doing a great job handling the crowd; they were posing for pictures, they were signing autographs, and they were chatting up their fans. But Kagome heard the same question, over and over: “Where’s Inuyasha? When will he get here?” And it pissed her off to no end that his bandmates had to make excuses for him, that they had to tell lies about where he was and what he was doing, so that he could be off doing whatever he actually was doing and shirking his duty here.
Just the thought of it made Kagome growl.
Then, the doors to the venue opened, and in stumbled Inuyasha, basically being pushed through the doors by Kikyō.
Kagome gasped. He looked like shit. His hair was pulled back in haphazard braids; he wore a blood-red, long-sleeved shirt that was cut low in the front, leaving his upper chest on full display. His face was a hideous scowl; his eyes were bloodshot; he looked like this was absolutely the last fucking place he wanted to be.
Kikyō dragged him across the concrete floor towards the VIP event. When the fans could see that it was him, they started to cheer, chanting his name over and over. Even from her vantage point some distance away, Kagome could see Inuyasha flinch, then force his face to settle into a smile. He sauntered over to the tables, shouted, “How’re y’all doin’, my bitches!” and the group of fans roared in response. He laughed, then turned to Miroku and said, “let’s get some pictures dude! Whaddya say?”
His behavior was...over-the-top, even for him. He was flitting from one fan to another, posing for selfies, flashing his devil horns fingers, singing along with anyone who asked. To any innocent observer, he seemed slightly over-enthusiastic, but nothing serious. To Kagome, though, he was a wreck. For him to be this friendly? Something had happened.
“Worried about the keystone of your story?” Sango said, coming up beside Kagome.
Kagome frowned. “Aren’t you worried about him? He seems really off today. How’s that going to impact the show?”
Sango shrugged. “We’ve been dealing with it now for six months,” she said. “You kind of get used to it? At least now he’s not posting all kinds of crazy pics on social media.”
“You mean like his dick?” Kagome wasn’t going to mince words. When Sango looked at her, one eyebrow raised, Kagome knew she had a way in. “I mean, it’s not quite typical behavior, right? Something...something traumatic...must have happened for him to act like this.”
“Something did happen,” Sango said suddenly, “or some one.”
“Kikyō,” Kagome guessed.
“Kikyō,” Sango agreed, her eyebrows raising. “You don’t miss anything, do you?”
Kagome shrugged. “It’s not hard to see,” she pointed out. “Inuyasha’s openly hostile to her. She’s very cool, the face of professionalism, and yet, he tries to antagonize her at every turn.” She paused. “Off the record, Sango?”
Sango looked at her, brown eyes wide. “Ye—yeah,” she agreed. “Off the record.”
“What exactly happened between them?” Kagome had to know. Why was Inuyasha so hostile to Kikyō; why did the band keep her on as manager; why had he insisted on befriending her (Kagome) and belittling Kikyō?
“I—we don’t really know,” Sango admitted. “The night it happened, he was a fucking mess. Shippō found him near a vending machine and brought him to his room. Shippō called me, he called Miroku, and...Inuyasha was barely articulate. All we could get out of him was that he’d been dating Kikyō, and it was over. He wouldn’t say why. We all knew that this was maybe what had been going on—that something had been going on between them—but this was the first time he’d actually confirmed it for us.” She paused. “He was—he was a massive wreck. It was all we could do to get him to go onstage that night. And…”
“Still off the record, Sango,” Kagome said quietly.
“You know about the bender he went on after that, right?” Kagome nodded; Sango took a breath. “It was six weeks of drinking, drugs, piercings, tats...whatever he could do to destroy his body. Whatever he could do to try and focus on anything but Kikyō.” She looked at Kagome. “You have tats?”
Kagome nodded. “A couple,” she said.
“Then you know that it’s a....a…” Sango looked like she didn’t know quite how to say something.
“It’s a good way to channel your pain,” Kagome said quietly, thinking of the tattoo she’d gotten after she left Shiori for LA.
“Exactly,” Sango agreed. “But for him? It became kind of a high.”
Kagome could see that. Hurt yourself physically in order to dull the emotional pain. To transfer it. To feel it in a different way. She knew a little bit about that.
In fact, Kagome knew a little bit about a lot of things, especially when it came to human-yōkai relationships. And none of them painted Kikyō in a positive light. And the more she thought about it, the angrier she became.
If it had been her...if Kagome had been the one with Inuyasha, through all of this?
She would never have treated him in this way.
Hells, she would never, ever, have let him go.
“Also off the record, Sango?” Kagome said. Sango glanced over at the VIP table, saw Miroku waving for her, then waved him off.
“Quick,” she said. “They’re waiting for me.”
“I dated a hanyō before I moved to LA,” Kagome said. “They have very strong yōkai instincts, even though they’re only half. In some ways, I think they’re stronger, because you get the human emotions built in too.”
“What happened with you and your ex?” Sango asked.
“I broke it off because I got a job offer in LA to do real music writing,” Kagome told her. “Shiori was...she was devastated. She was convinced we were mates. Now, yōkai know their soulmates because their yōki calls out to the other person. Shiori’s didn’t call out to me, but she thought maybe it was because she was a hanyō? Regardless, she just felt like she knew we were soulmates. But I knew it wasn’t true as soon as I got that job offer and it was easy for me to leave.” Kagome paused. “Soulmates…” she added, “if Kikyō was Inuyasha’s mate, she wouldn’t have been doing whatever she was doing. And he probably had no idea what was going on. Kikyō...I would bet that didn’t know what she was doing. She didn’t realize how she was breaking him.” Kagome’s voice was getting heated; Sango placed her hand on Kagome’s arm to calm her down.
“With me and Shiori,” Kagome said, “I absolutely thought that Shiori was right; that we were soulmates. And then...when I got the job offer and it was so easy for me to leave? To make that decision? I knew that I’d been wrong—so fucking wrong—and I should have brought Shiori down easier than I did. It’s a mistake I’ll always regret, Sango. And,” she took a deep breath, and a chance, “if Kikyō understood anything about soulmates, and about what Inuyasha must have been thinking and feeling, even if they weren’t mates? She wouldn’t have treated him so harshly. And because of how he was acting? From what you’ve said? I’m sure that’s what happened: he was convinced they were mates, she knew nothing about being mates, and broke it off without thinking about how this would affect him.”
Sango looked at Kagome, her eyes wide open, her face clear. She flashed Kagome a thin smile.
“Glad we’re thinking the same, then,” she grunted. “I gotta go join the rest of the band.” And Sango turned and jogged off, leaving Kagome alone with her thoughts.
As she watched the band interact with their fans, Kagome had time to think. They all knew that something had happened between Inuyasha and Kikyō, but no one was exactly sure what that “something” had been. Inuyasha had been a destructive mess for six months. Kagome was pretty sure that, like Shiori, Inuyasha must have thought that they were mates, and Kikyō rejected him. Her heart twisted for him; she knew just how devastated he must have been.
Kagome approached the tables where the band was greeting their fans; she saw Kikyō, standing off to the side, watching them all, but Inuyasha especially, with narrowed eyes. Kagome leaned up against the wall casually, right beside Kikyō, who looked at her disdainfully. “Having fun?” she asked Kagome.
Kagome crossed her arms and watched the band—watched Inuyasha—closely. “These events are always kind of dry, if we’re being honest,” she said. “I’ve always felt like some booze and eats would liven the VIP events up.”
Kikyō made a sound that was half a scoff, half a tsk. “The band has a show in less than two hours,” she said. “Do you really want them to go on stage drunk?”
“Inuyasha looks like he’s going to go on stage tonight drunk,” Kagome pointed out.
Kikyō said nothing, but also folded her arms and leaned back against the wall. Kagome took this as a sign to perhaps press a little more.
“Do you know why he’s in such a mood?” Kagome asked. Kikyō whirled to face her.
“I can’t say that I do,” she grunted, tucking her arms even further into her elbow creases.
“Does it have something to do with you?” Kagome pressed.
Kikyō grunted again. “I’m the only one who can handle everyone and everything when it comes to Inuyasha,” she said firmly. “I’m the only one who can touch him.”
“What does that mean, Kikyō?” Kagome asked.
Kikyō’s dark eyes flashed. “It means, Ms. Higurashi,” Kikyō snapped, and Kagome was forced to tamp down the heat burning throughout her body, “it means that I am the only one who can keep him under control.”
“And how’s that working out for you?” Kagome snapped.
“Better than you might think,” Kikyō snapped right back. “Now, if you’ll excuse me.” She stood up and stalked away, leaving Kagome fuming and with more questions than answers. What had happened to make Inuyasha go ballistic? Why was Kikyō being so evasive?
As she watched Inuyasha interact with his fans, laughing and chatting, and flinging an arm around someone for a photo, her expression softened. He was drunk; he was stoned; and yet, here he was, making the best of things, being polite to his fans, even if he really, really didn’t want to.
It was eating at Kagome. She had to know.
Suddenly, Inuyasha stepped back, waved to the crowd, tossed out some apologies, and left through a set of double doors on the other end of the space. Sango, Miroku, and Shippō exchanged what Kagome could only describe as concerned glances. They all watched when Kikyō dashed after Inuyasha. Kagome’s eyes followed Kikyō, but she stayed behind with the band, feeling for some reason like she was intruding, like even though she’s been around Inuyasha in some pretty intimate moments, this one was too intimate, and not her space to invade.
Instead, she stood back, watched the rest of the event, and prayed that Inuyasha was all right.
Inuyasha was definitely not all right.
Kagome, Miroku, Sango, and Shippō could hear the fight all the way down the hall at the venue. Inuyasha’s roar was loud, and angry, and hurt . Kikyō’s voice, on the other hand, while loud, exuded calmness and coolness. Exactly like Inuyasha; exactly like Kikyō.
Miroku shoved open the doors to the green room; they all gasped when they saw Inuyasha and Kikyō facing off against each other, shouting with all they were.
“How could you, Inuyasha?” Kikyō was shouting in a cool tone when Miroku opened the doors and ushered them all inside. “You knew there was a VIP event before the concert tonight! How could you get wasted beforehand?” She threw her hands up in the air and began to pace the length of the room. “Gods,” she added, “could you be any more fucking immature? I swear to Christ, you really need to grow the fuck up.”
“No, Kikyō,” snapped Inuyasha, “It’s you who needs to grow up. You think I didn’t know there was an event before the show? I absofuckinglutely knew. And I had every intention of fucking this up for you. You know that I am not gonna do a goodman fucking thing for you anymore, and that includes all these ridiculous meet and greets. And yet you continue to insist that you are our manager, and that you’re in charge.” He stepped forward, and pushed his finger into her chest. “I got news for you, Ki-ki-yo. I run the show now. It’s me. And you’re gonna have to abide by my rules, otherwise you know what? You can go and find yourself a better lead singer, because I will be out.” Inuyasha hurled a VIP badge at her; Kikyō caught it and tossed it aside.
“Inuyasha,” she said, in that terrible, calm voice that made even Kagome want to punch her in the face. “You need to put your personal feelings aside. What happened then was none of your concern—”
“It was my fucking concern,” he sneered, “the minute I thought I was in love with you and that you were my soulmate!”
“—And as such,” Kikyō continued loudly, openly ignoring Inuyasha. “As such, I would recommend that you continue to put your feelings aside and learn to do what is best for the band, not just for yourself. Tonight was a typical display from you: as per usual, Inuyasha Masaki behaving badly. When are you going to grow up, and stop acting like such a little boy? You’re a man, Inuyasha, so dammit, the sooner you suck it up and start to improve your behavior, the better.”
“Why, so you can just cuckold me again?” he bellowed. Kikyō’s eyes grew wide, and Inuyasha stood there, breathing heavily, his golden eyes manic now in their pain. Miroku, Sango, Shippō, and Kagome stood stock-still, none of them daring to speak. Kagome’s heart wrenched for Inuyasha—for the pain he had coped with the past six months, for the pain he continued to endure, now. She found herself longing to rush to him, hold him, comfort him, but all she could do was watch as he laid bare for all of them the exquisite torture he had endured.
Inuyasha’s handsome face was now twisted in its agony. “You fucked me,” he said to Kikyō, his voice suddenly low, and terrible, “and then you fucked me over. You think I can let that go? What I saw? Fucking how I saw it?” He dropped his hands to his knees and began to breathe heavily. “You’re wrong, Kikyō,” he panted. “As per usual, you’re so fucking wrong.” He stood up, went to the liquor table, and opened a bottle of whiskey. He tilted it down his throat and drank, his Adam’s apple bobbing as he swallowed. He finished the bottle and threw it aside, the glass shattering.
“Come on,” he said to the others, “we have a fucking show to do.”
Kagome stood backstage, in the opposite wing from Kikyō, waiting for the band to take the stage. Things had been...tense...since Inuyasha and Kikyō’s blowout, and no one felt comfortable saying anything to either party. Kikyō was unusually unsettled, barking orders into her headset, coming down especially hard on the sound engineers. Inuyasha was pacing backstage; he’d pulled himself together slightly, but his face was still a wild mess of fluctuating emotions. His braids were more refined, and he’d changed out of his jeans and into tight black pants and a black skirt. He clutched his bass as though he might crush it with his bare hands.
And Kagome definitely understood why. Now that it was clear what had happened between Inuyasha and Kikyō six months ago, Kagome felt like punching Kikyō’s face in even more. How could a person—a human—have sex with a demon (even a half -demon) without understanding the consequences? Kagome knew: most yōkai mated for life. When they found someone, when they had sex with someone? They never wanted to let that person go, because they believed that person was their soulmate. Human emotions were more complicated, more gradient. They were able to fall in and out of love, relying less on instincts and more on physical, psychological, and emotional attraction. But if a human was even going to think about getting into a relationship with a yōkai? They needed to know the consequences of their actions should they want to leave.
Kagome’s heart twisted as she thought back to Shiori. If LA hadn’t come along...would she have ever known? Would she have understood that perhaps she and Shiori weren’t destined to be together, and that Kagome’s own heart belonged somewhere else?
That her heart...maybe?...
Kagome shoved that thought out of her head with both hands. There was no way in fucking hell she was gonna give one ounce of that thought to Inuaysha Masaki.
He was a story; nothing more. He and his gorgeous face, his hard body, his thick cock where the ball on the piercing was arranged just so it would blow a girl’s mind.
She growled and rubbed her face in her hands.
Just a story, Higurashi, she told herself. Stay the course. Just a story.
She heard the crowd begin to roar, and looked up. Shippō jogged past her, giving her a quick wink and the flash of a smile before he ran onstage and took his position at the keyboards. Sango was next; she jogged out to the drums and arranged herself behind the kit, testing each pad carefully. Miroku followed her; he also jogged out from the opposite side, clutching his guitar, which he promptly plugged in and tested while acknowledging the crowd.
The band was assembled onstage, all but one. And the crowd knew who was missing; it began to chant his name, over and over, louder and louder, desperate for him to make an appearance.
On and on it went; for several minutes, the band tuning their instruments, waiting for Inuyasha to take the stage. Kagome saw Miroku and Shippō exchange a glance; Shippō was about to leave the keyboards when a flash of silver flew past Kagome and onto the stage.
It was Inuyasha.
The crowd roared its approval as he took his position at the mic; he plugged in his bass and gave it a quick tune. The crowd’s chanting got even louder; Inuyasha put his hand up and behind one of his ears, as if to say “I can’t hear you!” The crowd bellowed its approval.
“How the fuck is everybody tonight?” Inuyasha shouted, waving his arms and gripping the bass. Kagome watched his face; her eyes grew wide at the expression he wore.
His face was still that twisted and shifting visage of emotions; Kagome couldn’t quite get a read on him. There was anger, sadness, regret, and, Kagome thought, shame. He picked up his bass, and plucked out the first notes to their opening song; Sango followed with the beat, then Miroku, and lastly, Shippō with the synthesizer.
He was like a man possessed as he sang; Kagome had never seen him so focused, so emotional, so raw. She could tell: he was laying everything out on the line, his voice scraping against the lyrics, his fingers dancing over the strings of his bass. She felt a piercing in her heart as she understood what he was doing out there, and how exactly he was doing it.
The first song ended, and Inuyasha spun around to face the rest of the band, and launched directly into the second song, his fingers flying over the bass, Miroku, Sango, and Shippō struggling to keep up with Inuyasha’s speed. “Let’s get this fucking party started!” he bellowed, and flew across the stage as he grabbed Miroku’s mic and began to sing.
He might have been giving it his all out there, but Kagome could tell that there was an increasing desperation to his playing, to his singing, to his performance. He was laughing during the bridge, and when Miroku went over to him so they could play the break together, she saw Miroku’s lips moving, and Inuyasha’s head shaking vigorously. Kagome frowned; if Miroku was speaking to him during a set, this couldn’t be good.
Inuyasha growled and pushed away from Miroku, then back to the mic. He sang, louder than before, more anguished than before, and now Kagome was sure that he was crying.
The song came to an end, and the crowd screamed its approval. Sango lifted her sticks to tap out the beat to the next song, but Inuyasha held up his hand to stop her. He stepped up to the mic; the crowd grew silent, and Kagome felt a twisting in her gut.
“Hey, Chicago!” he yelled. “How’s everyone doing tonight??”
When the crowd yelled right back, Inuyasha laughed. “I’m glad you’re all doing great,” he said, his voice eerily quiet, yet reverberating through the arena. The crowd grew silent; rarely did Inuyasha address the crowd, and they all wanted to hear what he said.
“I’m doing shitty,” he said, harshness seeping into his tone.
Artwork by kalcia
“The world is a shitty place when you’re a half-demon,” he said, “and in the last few years, I thought that maybe I was wrong, or that at least I was gonna be the exception to that rule. That I would be the one half-demon who got the kind of life he felt like he deserved, or at least, one that wasn’t so fucking terrible.” He turned and looked at Shippō, whose shining face was begging him not to go on. But Kagome knew: there was no way Inuyasha was gonna stop now.
“Being a half-demon means that you spend your whole life not fitting in,” he continued. “I was half one fucking thing, half another, belonging nowhere. Music was the one place where I felt whole, because it was the one place that didn’t care who my parents were; it cared about how fucking well I could sing and play my instruments.” He looked offstage in the other direction, at Kikyō, and Kagome could only imagine his face in that moment. “Too bad it’s all been a fucking lie,” he said. “A huge, fucking lie.”
The arena was deadly quiet; Inuyasha walked off-stage for a moment; when he returned, Kagome saw that he had changed from his red t-shirt to a black tank top, and had pulled down his hair. Inuyasha picked up his bass, turned to the band, and nodded. He played the opening riff to the next song, which Miroku picked up, followed by Sango, and then Shippō. He let out a massive growl into the mic, and picked up the pace of his playing, so that it was frenzied and wicked and out of this world. When he opened his mouth to sing into the mic, Kagome had to bite down on her lip to keep from crying out.
She knew this song. It was the song he’d written not long after his breakup with Kikyō. The crowd wouldn’t know it, but Kagome had done her research, and she knew that right after he and Kikyō ended things, while he was in the middle of his bender, the band released an EP, and the lead song on that album was about…
It was about Kikyō.
Kagome was sure.
She's on my mind
She's in my soul
But she's all wrong
And the bitch has to go
The crowd went bananas; this was a song that the band had never played live, and to be honest, it showed. Miroku was having trouble following Inuyasha, whose fingers moved faster than lightning over the strings of his bass. Sango was unsure of the beats, and even Shippō was struggling to keep the melody. For the first time maybe ever, Inutachi was falling apart on the stage, and Inuyasha was the conductor of a great disaster.
His voice was dark, and rough, and hoarse, and Kagome felt the ache in his soul stronger than ever. She longed to run out onto the stage and hug him, hard, to remind him that he wasn’t alone, that he didn’t have to bring everything and everyone down around him.
But she couldn’t.
She could only watch.
Artwork by kalcia
The song mercifully ended; Inuyasha bellowed the last line, and gave the crowd an angry middle finger. He lifted his bass above his head, then brought it down on the stage with a massive crash. It splintered into pieces, the reverb penetrating through the arena, the crowd gasping and screaming and covering its ears.
When everyone looked up, Inuyasha was gone. He turned and fled the stage, raging past Kagome, grunts ripping from his throat, his silver hair streaming behind him, the tears flying.
Kagome hesitated. Should she stay? Should she go? She felt a pulling towards him, like the red string of fate was yet again looping them closer and closer together.
Did she want this for a story? Or for him, and for her…
Did she want to go after him for them?
Fuck, she didn’t know.
But Kagome turned on her heel, and took off after the traumatized hanyō.