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This is the Worst by Tsuki no Tennyo

This is the Worst

Author's Note: Saw this tumblr prompt and I just had to do it: "We dated when we were younger and now we're step siblings AU". It was supposed to be full-blown comedy/crack, but whoops, I gave them some backstory drama, so enjoy this emotional rollercoaster instead (there's a happy ending, I promiseeee)!

(and I'll also get this out of the way, since it's bound to come up—there will be a sequel one-shot, which will be posted separately in a couple of weeks)

.

It was official, Kagome decided. The universe had committed the grandest, most fantastic "fuck you" ever against her. Nothing could surpass this atrocity. She could be hit by a plane right about now, and it would still only be number six on the "Ten Worst Things to Ever Happen to Higurashi Kagome" list.

"Kagome!"

She looked up from the third cup of coffee she had ordered to see her best friend Sango bouncing into the café, worried eyes and hair disarrayed with sweats gleaming down the sides of her head.

"Please tell me you had just left your spin class and not after having sex with Miroku," Kagome said dryly, setting her head back down onto her table, which she had decided eighteen minutes ago was quite a comfortable position to be in during this time of crisis.

"Okay, I am going to let that slide, because I know how you get when you drink too much caffeine," Sango said, frowning, and sitting down across from her mopey friend. "And really, you are blowing this entire situation out of proportion."

"She married his father!" Kagome's head shot up, eyes wide as she shuddered over the announcement she had received two hours ago when she had arrived home to see her mother, not only kissing her ex's father in the kitchen, but was sporting a ring on her married finger. She buried her head into her arms, bemoaning loudly, "I am his stepsister now! How is this not the worst?"

"Well," Sango started, finger tapping thoughtfully against her cheek, "She could've married him, and he could be your stepfather now."

Kagome looked up again with the most intimidating glare Sango had ever seen, causing her to regret her words. In that moment, she was truly thankful that looks could not kill. "But really, how did you not even know she had gotten married again?"

"I was in a fucking savanna for three months chasing after a herd of elephants while avoiding being eaten by hungry lions!" Kagome shouted, causing the other patrons in the coffee shop to direct their attention to the two women. She ignored their stares as she stood up to continue her rant, "Not to mention before that I was in a fucking shark cage because of my idiot guide! She could've sent me a letter, you could have warned me beforehand, and why the hell did that bastard thought this marriage would be good and not at all fucking awkward for everyone involved?"

She was breathing heavy and red in the face, and Sango slowly stood up and lowered the other woman back into her seat. She tried to smile assuredly to the other people in the coffee shop that she had the entire situation under control. She was fairly certain she had the situation under control. She would try to get the situation under control.

"Okay, you need to breathe," Sango said, stroking her friend's hair soothingly, "And you need to realize that your mother is happy, and her happiness is what counts, right?"

Kagome grumbled in her seat, reaching for her cup of coffee, but it was quickly yanked away by Sango. She immediately scoffed at her friend in utter disbelief, but Sango continued, "I am cutting you off."

"This is now the third worst thing to happen in my life—and you should know I had to pee in front of a gazelle. Twice." She frowned before adding as an afterthought, "I think it was the same one, too."

"Noted," Sango said, "And her happiness?"

Kagome crossed her arms angrily before she threw them into the air, shouting, "Yes, yes! Of course I care about her happiness! But seven billion people in the world and it had to be his dad?"

"Fate works in mysterious—"

"Cut the bullshit, Sango, and just let me be angry for a moment before I go back home and pretend to be all happy about this weird-ass union."

Sango opened the top of the coffee cup and glanced inside, sniffing. "What the hell did they put into this to make you such a bitch?"

Kagome shrugged.

Sango gave her a pointed look.

Kagome fidgeted.

Sango narrowed her eyes.

Kagome continued to squirm before finally snapping, "Fine! I may or may not have spiked it with bourbon!" she ignored her friend's immediate disapproving look, "You would do it too if your dad did what my mom did!"

"I suppose now would also be the wrong time to tell you that Sesshoumaru will also be attending your welcome home dinner tonight?"

Kagome was quiet, causing Sango to wonder if maybe she hadn't heard her. She started to repeat her earlier thought but was stopped by Kagome.

"How do you know that?"

"Um," Sango fidgeted in her seat, suddenly feeling like she had shot herself in the foot. "Well, Inuyasha told Miroku and he told…"

"Gimme that!" Kagome yanked back her cup of spiked coffee and drank the whole thing in one gulp, while deliberating silently over how she was going to handle tonight. She slammed the empty cup onto the table, ignoring the continuous strange looks directed her way, as she slowly spoke again, "I should have stayed in Africa. Forever. Lived with the hyenas. Became one with the water buffalos. "

"Kagome—"

She continued speaking, ignoring the exasperated tone and judging looks her friend was giving her. "But since obviously nothing good ever happens to me, I'm going to deal with this. I'm going to be civil. I'm not going to let that bastard get under my skin."

"You're going to behave?"

"I'm going to behave."

"No family drama?"

"I'm going to behave."

"No calling him a bastard during dinner?"

"I'm going to behave!"

.

"Kagome!"

She grunted when she was suddenly enveloped into a big hug by her new—ugh, she thought—stepfather. She reluctantly returned the hug before breaking apart to take off her shoes.

"You left in such a hurry earlier I didn't have a chance to ask you how your travels were!"

"Um, yeah, Mr.—"

"Uh-uh," he chastised her, "None of that 'mister' business anymore! You can call me dad from now on, young lady."

"Um," Kagome started, "I don't feel that…comfortable…um, yet."

She almost winced when her new stepfather's face became immediately downtrodden.

"I see, no, of course, I understand," he responded before smiling weakly as he rubbed the back of his neck, "Well, how about Touga then? A nice middle ground as we get used to this new family situation."

"Touga would be…fine," she agreed, still having a strange aftertaste in her mouth as she said this. The continuous mention of family did nothing to ease the queasy feeling in her stomach.

"Come on, dinner will still be a while," Touga said, guiding his new stepdaughter into the living room, "Inuyasha and Souta are watching a movie right now, and they are excited to see you again. Your mama is cooking up quite a dinner for all you kids."

She resisted the urge to go throw up in her grandfather's bonsais as she smiled politely at her stepfather.

.

For what must be the fourteenth time that day, Kagome hated her life. It was bad enough coming home to hear your own mother had gotten married again before you had even done it once. It was even worse to learn it was to your ex's father. And it was the absolute worst when your own brother and one-half of your new stepbrothers delighted in your misery.

"You know, Kagome, I always did thought you'd be my sister," Inuyasha quipped with an emerging grin, sitting down with his arm across her shoulders, "in-law, not step, though."

"Inuyasha," Kagome started, taking a long swig out of her flask, "Fuck you."

"Aw, I love you, too, baby Sis!"

.

Kagome sighed as she closed the door to her childhood bedroom. Dinner was delayed as, according to her stepfather—she cringed for a moment—Sesshoumaru was stuck in traffic and wouldn't make it for another hour or so. Just as well, her mother had commented, needing her new husband—Kagome cringed again—to make a quick stop at the store to pick up a couple ingredients she had forgotten to buy.

She had offered to help her mother, since as much as she disapproved of the whole marriage, she was still a dutiful daughter, but her mother had just smiled and told her to relax with her brothers—she cringed again. Still feeling a bit jetlag, Kagome made the excuse to go upstairs to rest instead.

She sighed again and collapsed back onto her bed, immediately feeling the soft mattress relieved some of the aches in her body. She stared up at the ceiling, still not fully grasping that 24 hours ago, she was still blissfully unaware of the new additions to her family. Granted, 24 hours ago, she was jammed into a tight seat on the airplane next to a guy with serious body odor while behind her was a lovely little boy who decided to practice his kicks for the duration of the flight. But she was excited and sober, which were not words that could describe her in this particular moment.

Kagome sat up, cross-legged, and looked at the drawer in the nightstand next to her bed. She fidgeted for a moment before she reached over on her knees to open the drawer, pulling out a book of erotic and romantic writings she had received so many years ago as a birthday gift from him. She sat back, opening the book to the one page that held a polaroid of him and her in his kitchen fooling around. She was sitting on his counter with him leaning back against her as she wrapped one arm around his neck, pulling him close so their cheeks touched as she took the photo of them.

She touched the photograph gingerly, her thumb running over the date she had written at the bottom. She remembered being happy that day. She remembered it almost like yesterday, and not ten years ago.

She wondered how he became the one that got away, and did he think the same of her?

She was almost afraid of knowing the answer.

.

"Hey, Sis, Sesshoumaru's here!" Inuyasha hollered as he rapped the back of his hand against her door. He opened it, stepping in, and still grinning nonstop, "Did you hear me, Sis? Dinner's ready!"

Kagome pulled her head out of the bed cover and threw her pillow at the other man's head. "I swear to god I will kill you if you call me 'Sis' one more time."

"Wow," Inuyasha said, having barely dodged the pillow. He picked it up and threw it right back at her, landing neatly in her arms. "Sango's right, Africa's turned you into such a bitch."

"Get. Out."

Inuyasha stuck his tongue out at her. "I'm leaving, I'm leaving! Oh, but maybe before you come downstairs, you could do something about this?" He paused and then made wild gestures around his hair as he pointed at her.

Kagome threw her pillow at him again, hitting him square in the face this time.

.

After a change of clothes into a simple pair of jeans and a nice sleeveless emerald green blouse, Kagome ran a quick brush through her hair before deciding her appearance was good enough. She breathed in deeply as she stared at her reflection, feeling a sudden burst of butterflies in the pit of her stomach.

"Okay, Kagome, calm down," she said to herself as she placed her hands over her stomach, "You're over him. He's your stepbrother now. Maybe he has a potbelly now."

She fidgeted in her spot for another moment before she grabbed her refilled flask off of her desk.

"Just in case," she muttered to herself as she headed downstairs.

.

He did not have a potbelly, Kagome realized with slight dismay, seeing he was still as tall and gorgeous as the day they had met. In fact, she was almost certain he had gotten even more gorgeous, if that was even possible. She wanted to brush aside this thought, attributing it to her only male companionships for the past few months as being the monkey that kept breaking into her tent to pick for bugs in her hair and the enamored ostrich that kept following her as she worked.

No, he really did get more gorgeous. Like goddamned fine wine, she thought, unable to keep her eyes off him in his perfect charcoal designer suit, which was truly tailored to fit his gorgeous form. Goddammit!

"Kagome?" her mother brushed shoulders with her, stirring her out of her lusty, loathing thoughts. "Your father has just asked you a question."

Kagome tried to squash the immediate lurch in her stomach as she forced a polite smile on her face, knowing Sesshoumaru was also staring at her rather intently from his place across from her. She looked at Touga, seated at the head of the table, and smiled apologetically, "I'm sorry, Touga, I didn't hear the question you asked."

"I asked you how was your time in Africa? Did you get some good photographs?"

She nodded, still feeling Sesshoumaru's eyes on her. "I did. My editors were pleased with the shots I sent them."

"Yeah, Sis, you posted some of them on your Insta account, right?" Souta piped up, already pulling out his phone to open the app before leaning over to show Touga. "I told you to follow her on her account, Dad. She has many great shots there."

"You know I'm not that good with technology, Souta," Touga answered, grabbing the phone and scrolling through it. "My, these are lovely shots—oh? Who is this gentleman?"

"What?" Kagome turned just as everyone but Sesshoumaru crowded around Touga to look at Souta's phone.

"Kagome! You didn't tell me you were seeing someone!" Her mother exclaimed. "Grandpa, did you see this?"

"Oh, my, what a fine strapping fellow, Kagome dear," her grandfather said, putting on his glasses to take a closer look.

"What are you talking about?" Kagome caught out of the corner of her eye Sesshoumaru remained seated, indifferent to the sudden turn of event. Ignoring him, Kagome reached over to take the phone from Touga. "Oh, this is Kouga. He was my guide and translator back when I was in Nepal a few years ago."

"But this post says it's from a month ago?" Inuyasha observed. He wagged his eyebrows at her. "And you two look awfully close in this shot."

"It's just a photo," Kagome muttered, handing the phone back to Souta. "I thought we were talking about my job, not some guy I met."

"We're more interested in this," Inuyasha responded, "And just how many guys were there—ugh! Did you just fucking kick me?"

He whirled to look at Sesshoumaru, who continued to eat his dinner in peace, appearing oblivious to the conversation at hand.

Sesshoumaru ignored his brother and reached over to grab some of the tempura placed on the table. "Dinner is delicious as always, Mother."

Kagome inwardly cringed at that.

"Thank you, Sesshoumaru," her mother responded, smiling, "Our Kagome is doing quite well, isn't she?"

"Very," he said, giving her only one sweep of his eyes. She felt strangely hurt by his indifference.

"So," Kagome responded brightly, trying to sway the conversation away from her, "Souta! What's new with you?"

"Nothing," he responded, chewing his rice.

"Nothing? How's your job?"

"Good."

"Girlfriend?"

"Don't got one."

"…Boyfriend?"

"Don't got that either," Souta answered, glaring at her. "How's Kouga?"

Inuyasha snickered as he tousled Souta's hair. "That's my little bro! God, I love this family."

"Inuyasha," Kagome said quietly, "Remind me to show a certain video to Kikyou later."

He immediately paled at this, losing his earlier amusement. "You wouldn't."

"Try me," she dared.

"Ugh," Inuyasha groaned, leaning back in his seat with crossed arms, "Since when did you turn into such a blackmailing bitch?"

"Inuyasha!" Touga immediately glared at his youngest son. "We do not speak to our sisters like that!"

"Why are you yelling at me?" Inuyasha protested, "She had been such a bitch about the whole thing since she had gotten home! All because she fucked this jackass like a decade ago!"

"Shut up, Inuyasha!" Kagome felt whatever small remnants of self-control she had thrown out the window, unable to tolerate anymore of Inuyasha's inconsiderate teasing. She stood up, slamming her chopsticks on the table and ignoring that everyone was staring at her now. "You're right! I've been such a bitch about the whole thing because I don't like it one bit!"

"Kagome…" her mother's soft voice barely reached her ears. She felt her mother tried to touch her arm, but she instantly recoiled from the gesture, barely aware of the hurt look on her face.

"And it's not because I'm upset that my mother had gotten married again before I did once," she said, feeling tears welling up in her eyes. Her voice started cracking as she spoke, "I'm happy for you, I really am. You deserve to have someone in your life again, Mama, but it's just…it's overwhelming, alright?"

"Hey, Kags," Inuyasha started, feeling guilty now, "Look, I've been a jackass about this, but I really do consider you like a kid sister—"

"Fuck you, Inuyasha, I don't care," she said, feeling the hot tears falling. She wiped at her cheeks furiously. "Maybe it's because I've been gone for so long, but…I don't feel like I belong to this family anymore. You've all gotten used to this arrangement, but I haven't. And I probably won't. And I don't want to. And I just—"

She looked up, seeing through her blurred vision Sesshoumaru was staring straight at her, just like how he did all those years ago when they were still young and very much in love. She felt dizzy and suddenly more self-aware that she wasn't just speaking to her mother and Inuyasha, but the whole family. His family, hers, theirs. She wanted to throw up.

She backed away, knocking her chair over, and not hearing any of their voices. She turned and ran out of the house, away from their eyes.

.

"Good job, Kagome," she said to herself as she closed the door of the old well house behind her. She hopped down each step, counting as she went along. She made a dramatic leap off the last step and then staggered around the well, with her flask in hand. "You had one job: behave."

She spun around, feeling strangely comforted by the dark room where she used to play in when she was younger. After walking aimlessly around the streets for almost an hour trying to gather her thoughts, she found that she was just as disoriented as she was that morning, but less crying, so she decided to check that under the one good thing to have happened. Returning home to still see all of the lights on and being reminded of what awaited her inside made her want to crawl under a rock and die, but she decided to do the next best thing and sought the well house as a safe haven while she waited for everyone else to go to bed, though she knew it would still be a while.

Sighing, she sat down behind the well, on the side farthest from the door, and let her back rested against it as she took another slow swig, feeling it burned down her throat in a steady stream and slowly numbing her senses.

"Well, Inuyasha was being such an asshole," she countered, "But you were also being a bitch to everyone. But they expected me to go along with everything after springing it on me like ten hours ago! Well, you still could have—oh god, I am talking to myself, aren't I?"

She dropped her flask, barely hearing it make contact with the ground, and pulled her legs up to her chest. "Fuck my life."

She stiffened when she heard the sound of the doors opening and then closing, which was followed by feet walking down the stairs.

"Last I saw you, you were not a borderline alcoholic," she heard Sesshoumaru's smooth voice on the other side of the well. It was the first time all evening he had actually acknowledged her. She supposed that was the one good thing to come out of her freak-out. Or maybe it was the worst, she considered, deciding it was probably still too early to tell, given how her life was fast hurtling into a fiery explosion.

She peeked over the well, with only half her face shown to him. She could still feel her eyes were probably puffy and red from crying so much, but since the room was so dark, she decided she didn't care how her appearance looked to him. "Last I saw you, I believe you had my legs wrapped around your head."

He thought for a moment, and then he smirked, recalling the particular incident. "Inuyasha's birthday, right?"

She let the first genuine grin that day slipped on her face, though he couldn't see it. "You were pissed he had stolen your car and then rammed it into the neighbor's mailbox," she reminded him, "So we did it on his bed."

He chuckled lowly. "That was a good day."

She rested her arms and head on the rim of the well, gesturing for him to sit across from her. He did, unconcerned that he was getting his expensive suit dirtied in the process as he mimicked her position.

"You look good," Kagome said quietly.

"It is dark in here," he pointed out, but she shook her head.

"You look good," she repeated in the same soft tone.

"Thank you," he murmured, "You look good, too, Kagome."

She scoffed to herself, not believing him, but continued, "Are you happy?"

He was quiet and then he said softly, "I'm not unhappy. Are you happy?"

She shrugged. "I've been better. That little breakdown was actually the highlight of my day." She reached across the well and tapped his nose lightly, but then she paused, realizing this was something she used to do whenever he tried to comfort her after a bad day. She instantly pulled her arm back to her side, hoping he didn't thought too much of the gesture.

"I was looking forward to coming home to indoor plumbing," she said, smiling listlessly, "Not being your stepsister."

"Are you still angry with me?"

"I'm angry with Inuyasha."

"We all are," he responded, "but he's not the problem, is he?"

She shrugged. "Not particularly."

"And my father marrying your mother is not the problem, is it?"

"It's not pleasant," she grumbled. "You approve of them?"

"It is not my place," he murmured.

Kagome sunk back down to the ground and turned away, letting her back rest against the well again. He could only make out faintly the top of her head. She lowered her sight to her hands, fiddling with her left ring finger.

"What happened to us?" she asked after a moment.

He didn't answer her, and she wondered if she had even said it aloud. She could hear the sounds of crickets outside the well house, which she was rather thankful for, because otherwise she didn't think she could handle the stifling silence with him.

Then she noticed out of the corner of her eye his figure making its way closer to her before he stopped in front of her, looking down at her small form. He knelt down before her, closing the space between the two until they were only a breath apart.

She inhaled sharply, feeling the butterflies returning.

"I wanted to wait for you," he said finally, and she felt a tear trickling down her cheek. "But our lives had just changed too much. I was always in the city, and you were in places I had never even heard the names of before."

"I hated you so much," Kagome whispered, scooting over so he could sit by her. He did, and she let her head dropped on his shoulder as he wrapped an arm around her, pulling her closer. "I came home and you were just gone. Everything was gone. You couldn't have even left a goddamn message and I just—"

She choked, covering her mouth with both hands as he pulled her closer so her tears drenched his suit. He ran his hand through her hair, as he whispered belated apologies that he knew meant nothing to her now.

"You came home less and less after that," Sesshoumaru recalled.

Kagome rubbed her eyes with the back of her hand. "I didn't want to wait for someone who had left me."

"I understand—"

"No!" Kagome pushed away from his embrace. She kept her eyes on the flask that she had dropped earlier. "You don't get to be understanding, alright? You don't get to act like you're the one that gets to do the forgiving when you were the one that fucked everything up!"

She shakily reached for the flask, but felt Sesshoumaru grabbing it from her. She shook his hand away, holding tight to the one thing that had kept her grounded all day.

"Before you had left, I had made a decision while I was in India," she said quietly, not looking at him, but feeling his eyes locked on her, "I was at the Taj Mahal, in this beautiful place that was built as a symbol of love, and I had decided that I would be fine with giving up my dream of being a traveling photographer to stay in the city with you."

He looked at her, shocked. She was unfazed by his surprise.

"I wanted to tell you in person when I had gotten home. Instead of traveling, I could just open a studio and take wedding and baby photos," she continued, gripping tightly her flask. "I would have done anything for you, Sesshoumaru, because I thought you would have done the same for me, but you couldn't have even waited! Goddamn you."

She stood up, about to leave when she felt him grasp her wrist firmly. She tried to pull away, but he tightened his grip. "Let go, you're hurting me."

He loosened a bit, but not enough for her to leave. He stood up, and turned her so she was facing him, though she remained firm in avoiding looking at him. He held her chin gently, tilting it up so she had to face him.

"Letting you go was always my biggest mistake in life," he whispered softly.

"You didn't 'let' me go. You left me."

He nodded, accepting her anger. "You never wanted to be the bird in the cage."

She was quiet, remembering the childhood song she had always hated. It was one of the first things she had told him when they had their first date. It seemed so much longer than a decade, a forgotten memory that only he had remembered.

"Being in the city with me like that would have been a cage for you."

"Are you trying to rationalize your dick move?"

"No," he said, shaking his head, "But you could never just stay in one place and be happy for long."

"I was happy with you."

"But you always left when a new job assignment comes up," he reminded her gently, not wanting to stoke her fiery anger any longer, "And then I don't hear from you for months."

Her shoulders slumped at this, suddenly feeling guilty for something she didn't even realize she should have felt guilty for. "I guess I was always such a bitch, huh…"

He frowned at this. "Alright, I still don't know where that came from—and I promise, Inuyasha will receive some bodily harm for it—but you are not and have never been a bitch. Annoying, yes, but never a bitch."

She laughed quietly. "Thanks, Bro."

Sesshoumaru's frown deepened. "And for the record: I am just as disgusted by this sudden familial relationship as you are."

Kagome wiped the remaining tears away, letting another soft chuckle escaped. "What, you're not into some pseudo-incest? I thought I knew you, Nishimura Sesshoumaru."

He chuckled lowly, "We have so much catching up to do."

She gave the softest of laugh, almost just like a small huff of breath. "Yeah, we do."

.

"You look thinner than I remember," Sesshoumaru observed, "Are you taking care of yourself?"

"Yup," she said, "With a nice healthy diet of trail mixes, protein bars, and cow blood."

"Cow blood?" he asked, deadpanned.

"Oh, it was a local delicacy for this one African village I visited," she explained in all seriousness now, though it was quickly replaced with some teasing, "You should put that on your bucket list, Sesshoumaru: taste cow blood."

"I will pass on that, thank you very much."

"You can eat goose liver, but you won't try cow blood?"

"Yes."

"Spoiled little prince."

.

"I feel like so much has changed while I was away."

"It has," he said, "Did you expect things to not?"

She snorted quietly, shaking her head. "Not really. It'd be so self-centered of me to think the world revolves around just me." She stared at her flask on the ground, which was now completely empty, and wondered just what she had been doing for the past decade. It all felt like a blur, a fading dream, and she remembered nothing other than what was captured for a moment with her camera. "Do you see our friends a lot?"

"They are your friends," he corrected her, "But I still see them on occasions when Inuyasha brings them by. We don't really talk."

"What have you been doing all of this time then?"

"Work."

"Right, you were always Mr. Workaholic," she sniffed, "You must have done something exciting."

"I do not have quite the same adventurous spirit as you, Miss Wanderlust," he shot back.

"And that's why my friends always did call you a stick in the mud."

"Am I supposed to be offended by their views on me?"

"No," she said, cracking a grin, "They did like you. They probably still do, if you just give them a chance."

"We will see then," he said, watching as her smile widened.

.

"So tell me how…we're all in this little…situation now," Kagome said, gesturing outside the well house, and assumedly towards her own home, which now that she realized was also his home in a way. "Since I obviously was freaking out too much to ever hear anything other than 'Touga just swept me off my feet.'"

She held her hands over stomach again, cursing this constant lurching every time she thought back to the happy couple and their sudden blended family.

"Well," Sesshoumaru started, trying to remember the events leading up to their parents' marriage. "They met again a little over a year ago while you were in…"

"Moscow," she said automatically, remembering around this time period she was freezing her ass off after getting past the awed stage of seeing snow showering all around the beautiful Saint Basil's Cathedral for the fifth day in a row.

He nodded, unaware of her slight bitter memory of being cold. He continued, "They started reminiscing about…us."

"Are you trying to tell me you were an indirect cause in their getting together?" Kagome stared at him with wide-eyed shock. He wasn't looking at her or even answering her. "You are! Oh, you truly fucked up this time, mister!"

"Anyway," he continued, ignoring her sudden outburst, "When they were done talking about…us—" he noticed her glaring at him this time, "They started talking about themselves and…"

"If you say anything about Fate, I will slap you, Sesshoumaru!"

"And as much of a womanizer as my father is," he acknowledged, ignoring also her agreeing nod, "he truly does love your mother."

"Oh, that's fucking great," she sighed, throwing her hands back so it was touching the inside of the well, "What a love story. Could we at least sell the screen rights, so I can get some closure out of this?"

He tapped her nose this time. "You've gotten crasser than I remember."

"Months alone with dirty old sailors," she clarified, to Sesshoumaru's great concern. She waved it aside, "We played poker and drank rum while I did some editorial shots of their job. It was innocent!"

"Well," he acquiesced, "it does explain your growing alcoholism."

"Fuck you!" she shoved his shoulders, laughing.

.

"So who is this Kouga?"

"Hmm?" Kagome leaned sleepily against him, admiring the way her fingers were weaved through his. It felt like they had been talking for hours, and she was beginning to feel her eyes drooping heavily as her body ached for her bed. She absently wondered if it was even midnight yet. "Oh, just a guy…"

Sesshoumaru was silent as he looked down at her, who was obviously trying to bait him and knowing he couldn't resist her. He really couldn't. "Did you kiss him?"

"No," she said easily, letting a yawn escaped, "Just a fuck or two, though."

She laughed when his hand tensed. "Gotcha!" She looked up, tapping him lightly on the nose again, feeling whatever sense of inhibition she had gone a long time ago. "And what does it matter if I did fuck him or some other guy I met? I am a single woman. You probably slept around a bit, too, after you left."

He was silent, not taking part in her teasing, and causing her eyes to darken for a moment. Her earlier sleepiness seemed to have been forgotten as she was wide awake now.

"It's alright if you did," she said quietly, though she still felt a strong stab of pain through her chest as she said this. Then she said in the softest of voice, almost hoping he wouldn't even hear her, "They were not you."

"They were not you either," he responded this time, letting his cheek rubbed against her hair, unaware of the quickening of her heart.

"It didn't have to be like this," she whispered.

"No, it probably did not," he agreed, "but it wouldn't have been good either."

"You don't know that!" she protested, looking up at him with desperate eyes. "Why did you leave like that?"

"I've told you—"

"No! How could you have left just like that?"

He looked at her, leaning in so their lips were only a fraction of a space apart, "Because I wouldn't have been able to done it if I saw your face."

"I never knew you to be such a coward," she said, her breath hot against his lips.

"I am a lot of things, but not a coward."

"Bullshit," she said, "You didn't even have the balls to break up the douchebag way via text."

"Alright," he conceded, "I am a coward. But only around you."

She scoffed, closing the remaining space between the two as she kissed him, savoring the sweet taste of him that she still remembered from years ago when they were young and fearless, feeling like they had the whole world at their feet.

Now it seemed like they were just drowning, unable to find a single lifeline to hold onto.

.

She didn't even realize she had fallen asleep until she felt him lowering her back into her bed. He had already taken off her shoes and was pulling her cover up when she opened her eyes, grabbing at the sleeve of his suit before he could leave.

"Stay with me?"

He shook his head and bent down to brush his lips against her forehead.

"I have a meeting later in the morning," he explained, much to her disappointment, "But I will be by for day two of your welcome home dinner."

She scoffed half-heartedly. "I suppose that was the one bright idea your father had."

"I will not be late this time," he said.

"You did it on purpose, right?"

He nodded, pointing out her earlier observation, "I am a coward around you, Kagome."

"Oh, good, you're self-aware now," she said, smiling weakly.

"Could I bring you anything for dinner?"

"Vodka," she said, laughing when he frowned, "I'd accept bourbon, too, but really, I just want you there."

"I'll be there," he promised, kissing her again as he quietly left.

She waited until she heard the sound of his car outside starting before driving off, and then she rolled over to her side, touching her lips again, still feeling his soft touch there. She closed her eyes, smiling as she dreamt of him for the first time in years.

.

It was nearly noon when Kagome finally woke up, hearing the doorbell ringing incessantly from below. She groaned, feeling the aftereffect of the long day of drinking that normally she would regret, but given the whirlwind of a day she had, she decided this hangover was a price worth paying. She rolled onto her back and stared up at the ceiling, still trying to clear her head and adjust to the blinding light before she heard her mother shouting from below:

"Kagome! Are you up yet, dear? Your friends stopped by to see you."

She instantly recalled the disastrous dinner and groaned again, realizing she had a lot of awkward apologies ahead of her followed by another uncomfortable dinner to go through with even more people to witness her meltdown. She wondered how many more bridges she could burn before the day ended and she would be forced to leave Japan for good this time.

With a heavy sigh, she sat up, smiling when she realized she could still feel his lips on hers.

"I'm coming, Mama!" she answered, climbing out of bed to change clothes.

.

"I am so, so, so, so sorry, Kagome!" Inuyasha was practically groveling at her feet as he apologized to her for what she assumed was the eleventh time since she had gotten downstairs. She walked by him, with him still on his knees following after her.

"I will be angry at you for a while," she said pointedly, causing him to flinch. "I cannot promise that Kikyou won't see that video, though."

"What video?" Kikyou piped up, having only heard bits and pieces of the train wreck dinner from Souta earlier alongside Sango and Miroku.

"And you have every right, too!" Inuyasha agreed, clasping his hands together. "I was a jackass. No, I was an asshole, no, I was a—"

"Alright, already!" Kagome yelled, "I forgive you! Now stop your groveling, Inuyasha. For god's sake, your fiancée is standing right there!"

"He never does apologize to me like that," Kikyou admitted with a sigh as she crossed her arms in an exasperated manner, "But then, I thought he would be smarter than to do what he did."

Inuyasha almost winced, hearing the dangerous threat laced in his beloved fiancée's soft, even voice. "I wanted her to feel a part of the family! Like how Sesshoumaru and I are with one another!"

Kikyou smacked him on the back of his head. "Believe me, their relationship is nothing like what you and he have."

Kagome blushed at this, wondering just what exactly Kikyou was implying. She continued walking into the kitchen with her two girlfriends following as Inuyasha remained in the corridors, cursing his luck.

"Hey, Kagome," Sango started, catching up alongside the other girl, "I'm sorry if I was a part of what happened yesterday. I was just—"

"You did nothing wrong, Sango," Kagome answered, smiling assuredly, "It was just an overwhelming day, and Inuyasha just happened to have pushed all of the wrong buttons. Believe me, I am not angry at you at all."

"And believe me," Kikyou muttered, "he is not getting anything on the honeymoon!"

Kagome and Sango both exchanged giggles.

Kagome was the first to speak once she had calmed down, "Oh, now that would be just cruel of you, Kikyou." Her face brightened up. "I still get to take your wedding photos, right?"

"Of course!" Kikyou answered, hugging her friend, "I was worried Inuyasha had made you so mad you didn't want to see us again."

She shook her head. "I've cleared my schedule for the wedding, although you better have it soon, because I don't think my editors would be too happy if I stay idle for long."

Kikyou smiled. "Of course!"

.

Kagome stepped out into the courtyard, nervous, as she realized she had one more person to apologize to: her stepfather. She did not cringe this time, feeling extremely bad for her part in ruining the dinner the night before.

Caring sucked, she decided, not liking one bit how miserable she felt. She attributed this new sense of guilt and awareness to her sobriety, which quite honestly, just made her want to revert back to the woman from the night before who did not give a damn about anything during her angry, drunken stupor.

Her apology with her mother had been surprisingly easier, but then, perhaps that was because her mother knew her in a way only a mother would know her child. She had accepted that Kagome was having a difficult time adjusting to the sudden change given a variety of reasons, all of which were understandable to the older woman, but she had only hoped with time, things would settle down and they could all be one big happy family. Kagome had simply smiled quietly, holding back the retort that the night before she had a rather intense heart-to-heart with her now elder stepbrother that involved kissing family members in areas that shouldn't be kissed.

"Kagome?"

She was snapped out of her thoughts when Touga approached her from the shed, all covered in dust and what appeared to be a bit of cobweb stuck to his pepper hair. He was smiling at her, acting like nothing had changed even though she still remembered shouting that she hated his marriage to her mother. She truly felt like scum.

"Hi, Touga," she said, putting on her best smile.

"How are you feeling?"

Her smile faltered for a moment before she forced it back on even wider than before. "Good, well, almost good. Actually, I wanted to apologize."

"Apologize?"

She nodded, fiddling with her thumbs. "My behavior last night was inexcusable. I shouldn't have said what I did—"

"Stop," Touga said, pulling her into a hug, and seemingly forgetting that he was completely dirty at the moment. Unbeknownst to him, she hesitantly pulled the cobweb out of his hair before quickly flinging it at the ground in disgust. "I'm glad you had told us how you felt. I wouldn't want you bottling those feelings up like that. Your mother and I do regret that you were not a part of all of this, and we did not mean to keep it from you, but we absolutely do not want to exclude you from this family…as peculiar as it might be."

"Wh-what do you mean?" Kagome asked, face turning a bit red by Touga's last statement.

"I saw Sesshoumaru heading into the well house last night."

"W-well," she stammered, "what does that have to do with anything?"

"I saw you heading into the well house three minutes before him."

"I, um…shit." Kagome wondered if at some point the universe could just have mercy on her and open the ground up and swallow her whole. Or strike her with lightning. She would even settle on getting run over by a juggling clown on a unicycle, because this was not a conversation she wanted to have with anyone, ever.

"I mean, it's none of my business what's going on with you two kids," Touga said with a shrug, "You are both adults with stuff to work out from before. Your mother and I just happened to have made it a tiny bit more difficult."

"'A tiny bit?'" she asked incredulously.

"Just a smidge," he answered back with a wink. "Oh dear, I seem to have gotten your lovely outfit dirty."

Kagome blinked and looked down at her clothes now covered in the same grimes as Touga. She shook some of the dust off of her shirt before giving up. "I'll just go get cleaned up now. Um, sorry again, Touga."

"Uh-uh, no more apologies from you, young lady," he scolded her, smiling knowingly, "Now go get changed. I believe you had a black dress that Sesshoumaru happened to have liked."

She nearly tripped on her way back to the house. "Wh-what?"

"Hmm?" Touga gave her a confused look. "I said I was going to go trim these bushes for your mother."

Kagome stared mouth agape at the retreating back of her stepfather, watching as he whistled merrily on his way back to the shed. She stood in her spot for a few more minutes, just waiting for the sky to darken and rain down asteroids and put her out of her misery. When that didn't happen, she made her way back inside to get cleaned up, somehow feeling today would only be a tiny bit of an improvement from yesterday.

But just a smidge.

.

Several awkward and mortifying conversations involving learning her mother's favorite sexual positions—goddamn Miroku—later, Kagome found herself huddled inside the coat closet with her only friend in the world: Bourbon. Two days ago, she was being driven through the blistering African savannas to the nearest airport that would take her home to reunite with her loving family. Now, she found herself trying to blackout the memory of hearing about her mother and stepfather's honeymoon.

The doorknob started to turn, and Kagome quickly covered her mouth to suppress a horrified squeak from escaping. She shrank back against the corner, hoping not to be seen, but she relaxed instantly when she recognized the person intruding on her hiding spot.

"You nearly gave me a heart attack, Sesshoumaru! Quick! Shut the door!"

"Is there a reason you are hiding in here?" he asked, with his blazer hanging over his arm as he stared at her with an amused smirk.

"Shut the door!"

He complied before sitting down in the tight, dark space next to her with his blazer on the floor instead of a hanger as he had intended. "You did not answer my question."

"Tahiti," she said simply as if that explained everything, and given Sesshoumaru's immediate look of disgust, she knew it did.

"I'm sorry," he said, pulling her closer to him, "I should have been here sooner before he started telling stories."

"So this is our lives now, right?"

"It would appear so."

"Well, then," she said, climbing into his lap, straddling him, and feeling his hands instantly holding onto her waist. His eyes immediately did a slow, appreciative sweep over the red halter dress she wore with a keyhole cutout that revealed just enough cleavage that would be acceptable at a family gathering. She felt immensely satisfied in that moment that she did not take her stepfather's unwarranted fashion advice, particularly out of fear that it would be ground enough for lifelong therapy.

"I've decided to disown my family," she said, breath stinking of alcohol, though he didn't seem to mind as much. "So this is not weird, right?"

He smirked, shaking his head, "You know my father won't stay settled for long."

She frowned at this. "I feel strangely conflicted with that statement." She undid one of the buttons on his white dress shirt. "Very conflicted." She popped off another one. "They don't even seem that serious."

"They are married," he reminded her with a raise of his brow, to which all she could do was shrug as she popped off another button. "And you are bolder than I remember."

She shrugged again. "When your only company for three months is an ostrich that keeps doing its mating dance just for you, you start to appreciate a little human contact."

"Do I need to be jealous of this particular ostrich?"

"Maybe," she said with a smirk, "I started growing quite fond of him. I named him Jasper."

"Perhaps, I could accompany you on your next trip? Just to throw off any unwanted fowl suitors, of course."

She laughed at this. "But your job keeps you in the city. Mine takes me deep into the jungles where there's no Wi-Fi."

Sesshoumaru pondered this.

"You won't have any assistant texting you all the time."

He looked thoughtful.

"No meetings."

He caressed her soft back.

"No galas to attend."

He brushed his thumb over her lips, making her pause. "Are you trying to dissuade me? You are doing a particularly dreadful job."

"Alcohol does that, you know," she quipped. She gestured towards their joint family outside the closet, who had now become fully aware that their guest of honor had gone missing again. "What about them?"

"Fuck them," he answered, kissing her.

"I'd rather fuck you."

He laughed low, his hand gently held the back of her neck. "That can be arranged."

She held his face, smiling, feeling like she had everything she had ever wanted right here, right now in the tiny little coat closet of her family home.

"This is going to make future family dinners very interesting," she remarked, not caring when she heard footsteps growing closer to their secret spot. He didn't seem to care either, remaining only focused on her.

"Family therapy is always an option," he suggested, to which she smiled.

"Oh, of course," she answered, kissing him just as the doorknob started to turn.

 

INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
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