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Open the Door by Aimee Blue

Chapter 1

Disclaimer: I don’t own Inuyasha and make no profit from this work of fiction.

0-0-0

Golden eyes narrowed as he zipped to open the door for the occupant of the penthouse apartment and his latest... conquest.

Naraku was a fiend who enjoyed pretty women as much as most people enjoyed a chocolate bar; he devoured them. This apartment seemed to be his nest, he would keep them for a time, a month had been the longest overture to date, and then they would be tossed out onto the pavement after he was done with them.

Sesshoumaru supposed that a man as rich as Naraku appeared to be could have any number of these little hideaway apartments across the city and the thought of such disgusted the demon deeply.

The conquest would undoubtedly be some money grubbing little bimbo who operated under the delusion that Naraku would marry her and she’d be rich. Sesshoumaru didn’t even pity them when they were tossed to the curb, women like that were almost as bad as Naraku.

This time, however, Naraku didn’t have a simpering fool clinging to his arm and every word, instead he had a duffel bag over one shoulder and a sleeping woman in his arms.

A quirked brow belied Sesshoumaru’s incomprehension and Naraku sneered haughtily at the help.

“Get the damned bag from the car,” Naraku snapped, tossing his chin in the direction of the idling cab. Normally, this rudeness would have tempted Sesshoumaru to grind his canines and treat the guest as hostilely as was possible whilst still feigning politeness, but Naraku’s family had gotten rich out of owning apartment buildings and this one was, in fact, his too. Of course. Meaning Sesshoumaru had little choice but to obey the cretin and grab the satchel from the backseat of the cab, paying the driver and tipping him for putting up with Naraku.

The taxi was unusual; Naraku was generally charioted everywhere by an inauspicious chauffer in a discrete town car. Indeed, Naraku was acting most un-Naraku-like.

Stepping into the lift with Naraku and the sleeping girl, Sesshoumaru subtly focused his attention on her. She wore a big black jumper with a deep hood that obscured both her face and her hair and came down past her knees. The jeans she wore were a faded blue and baggy at the knees. She also wore no shoes so he could see that she had painted her toenails black.

“What are you looking at?” Naraku snapped viciously.

“She has no shoes, sir,” Sesshoumaru expounded obliquely.

Naraku blinked, as if he hadn’t been expecting that answer, and looked down at her very bare feet before cursing colourfully. “They probably fell off in the damned cab,” he groused petulantly, “I’ll send a new pair over tomorrow, be sure that she receives them.”

Sesshoumaru nodded crisply as the elevator dinged to a stop on the top floor. Sesshoumaru felt uneasy about leaving the girl to be with Naraku when she was unconscious, but the door was slammed shut in his face with a derisive sniff before he could voice a protest.

As he rode the lift back down to his desk, Sesshoumaru pondered perhaps calling the police; the girl could easily have been kidnapped, Naraku could rape her whilst she slept, but was halted as Naraku came down in the elevator five minutes later looking harassed.

“Everything is in order, sir?” Sesshoumaru inquired composedly.

Naraku glowered at the doorman from dark red eyes. “Yeah,” he dug around in his trouser pocket, pulled out his wallet and extracted a small pile of money, “this is for her tomorrow.”

“Indeed, sir,” Sesshoumaru nodded, pocketing the hefty sum of money discretely.

Naraku’s eyes narrowed then. “Don’t be stealing any of it,” he ordered imperiously as he departed from the building.

Sesshoumaru closed golden eyes and snorted through his nose. As if he would be so petty as to steal. Ridiculous.

0-0-0

Folding the newspaper and placing it on the desk in front of him, Sesshoumaru straightened his ridiculous cap and stared out into the heavy traffic that was a given in this part of Tokyo.

The demon’s brow puckered slightly when he heard the elevator begin to whir and bing rhythmically; it wasn’t the normal time for any of the building’s inhabitants to be leaving.

The doors hissed open and a girl stepped into the foyer. Her long black wavy hair was swept into a ponytail at the top of her head; her blue eyes were squinting slightly as she was exposed to the light in the foyer and the little crease between her brows made Sesshoumaru want to rub it away with his thumb. She wore a white man’s shirt that she’d belted at the waist in an attempt to make it look like she’d deliberately chosen to wear it; the look was completed by the knee length lacy black skirt that billowed around her knees daintily. If he’d needed any further prompts apart from her singularly gentle scent, the obvious lack of shoes and black painted toenails would have given her away. She was Naraku’s mystery guest.

Upon seeing him, her eyes widened and she began to play absently with her shirttails. “Hi.”

“Good afternoon, miss,” Sesshoumaru returned crisply.

Biting her pouty bottom lip she slowly walked over to his desk, avoiding eye contact in a very deliberate and embarrassed manner.

“Um...” she met his eyes for a brief second before she resumed staring at her black toenails, “I’m Kagome,” she volunteered.

“Pleased to meet you, miss,” he responded in his carefully modulated tones. Though his speech was polite and winsome, his stiff shoulders and straight back screamed that he really didn’t want to talk to her. She was almost tempted to turn heel and run back to the lift.

“I didn’t catch your name,” she murmured, glancing at the lapel of his black suit as if expecting to find a name tag, but there wasn’t one.

“I did not give it,” Sesshoumaru corrected waspishly, “it would be improper, miss.”

“Oh,” Kagome resorted to chewing on her lip once again. Blushing a deep, vibrant red when her stomach growled, the sound echoing mortifyingly in the marble lobby, she murmured, “I’m hungry.”

“Indeed, miss,” Sesshoumaru replied dryly, eyebrow quirked.

“Do you have a takeout menu... but I don’t have any money,” she mumbled the last under her breath and shifted from foot to foot.

“This was left for you, miss,” Sesshoumaru said, handing over the money Naraku had left for her, “and there are no takeout places in this part of town, miss.”

Wide eyed, she took the money and her lips parted slightly. “This is... for me?”

“Indeed, miss,” Sesshoumaru responded quietly, “you will be able to find a restaurant at the end of this street where you could dine.”

Kagome blushed harder and shook her head. Sesshoumaru quirked a brow as she leaned in, obviously mortified, the tail end of her ponytail brushing over his folded newspaper, and whispered, “I have no shoes.”

Ah. Yes. He’d quite forgotten that little titbit of information. A languid blink was the only thing that betrayed his surprise.

Sighing almost inaudibly, he reached under the desk and fished out his bentō box handing it to her with a put upon air.

Blinking at the box, she glanced up to his face hesitantly.

“Are you sure?” she asked tremulously.

“Positive, miss,” Sesshoumaru returned, pressing the box into her hands, “I have shoes, you do not, this is the easiest solution, miss.”

“Wow,” she murmured, cradling the bentō box to her chest like it was a puppy, “thank-you.”

“Hn,” Sesshoumaru offered noncommittally.

Blue eyes darted to his face, to her feet and then away towards the elevator. On the one hand she desperately wanted to escape this cold man, no Yokai, and retreat to the relative safety of her room, but on the other hand she was very lonely in the apartment that wasn’t hers.

“Can I sit here and eat it with you?” she asked softly, avoiding eye contact as she brooked the question tentatively.

“No, miss,” he responded curtly.

Kagome winced at his downright inhospitable nature and resigned herself to a lonely lunch in the apartment, but he interrupted her before she could descend into depression.

“There is no chair, miss,” the doorman pointed out dryly.

“Oh,” Kagome pursed her lips and peered behind his desk suspiciously; indeed there wasn’t. “Where do you sit?” she asked dubiously.

“I don’t, miss,” he answered obliquely.

“Huh?”

“I’m a demon, miss,” her confused expression conjured an exasperated sigh, “I don’t need to sit down as a human would, miss.”

“Right,” Kagome exclaimed, in the way of a person who suddenly sees the world clearly, “but then... where will I sit to eat?” she queried, apparently baffled by this development.

Resisting the urge to roll his eyes, Sesshoumaru choked down the snide remark that maybe there was no seat to discourage human interaction and, reaching under the desk he pulled out a collapsible stool, unfolded it, and gestured with a gloved hand that she was to sit on it. She’d certainly gotten familiar, fast, much to his chagrin.

Biting her lip to hide her grin, Kagome wondered if his opinion of human’s was so low that he’d actually bought her little clueless act. Sure, she really hadn’t wanted to go back upstairs to the clinical apartment, but she was also no fool and had caught the waves of hostility pouring off the Yokai. It wasn’t her fault that he’d made her want to tease him.

Sitting in the folding chair with all the smug pomposity of a usurper taking to the throne, Kagome broke her chopsticks open and beamed at Sesshoumaru.

“Itadakimasu!”

Silver brows furrowed as the girl proceeded to dig in to his carefully prepared, long awaited bentō with as much gusto as was humanly possible. It was highly irregular to see a woman eating so much, so fast, with such fervent enjoyment, that Sesshoumaru couldn’t find the bitterness to be upset with her. Who knew why she was here or what circumstances had forced this – from what he had seen – nice, normal woman to have to stay with Naraku.

“So...” she started around a mouthful of fried shrimp, “is it rude to ask what kind of demon you are?”

The furrow between his eyebrows deepened as he attempted to fight away his annoyance at her prying questions. He’d managed to fend off most of the occupants of the building when they’d attempted to strike up conversation with him until even the most persistent gave him a wide berth. But it wouldn’t do well to snub this woman, after all, she was in some way involved with his boss.

“Perhaps, if I were ashamed of my heritage, miss,” Sesshoumaru answered, diplomatically for him as he inclined his head, thick silver plait sliding forward over his broad left shoulder, “but I am not. I am an Inu Yokai, miss. A Taiyokai.”

Kagome let out a little impressed noise from her parted lips and speared another shrimp. “Impressive,” she acknowledged, munching on the tasty morsel. She’d never really met many demons before, living in a relatively sedate and less populated area of Japan where the Yokai population was less dense. But there was obvious pride in Sesshoumaru’s words as he spoke of his lineage and his proud stance shifted to one of regally assured haughtiness. He was fascinating.

Most demons at least wore protective charms to hide their claws and fangs and markings – if they had any – but Sesshoumaru wore the signs of his nature proudly as if daring a human to get close enough that he might bite them. Which made her wonder at him working this particular job. Most demons, with their thirst for activity and combat and knowledge, were more suited to such roles and often earned a lot more than their human rivals when they delved into business; something about lacking human sympathies, or so she’d read in the newspapers.

“Hn,” he sniffed, golden eyes tracking the slow flow of traffic past the building in a lazy manner. Kagome didn’t miss the way he dismissed her by turning his gaze out of the window, but chose to ignore it and eat her lunch... his lunch instead.

Maybe eating on her own in the apartment might have been louder than sitting here with the doorman – his version of quiet seemed to be curiously more silent than the silence in her apartment, but here she didn’t feel as far away from home, as isolated, as she had upstairs. Was the silver haired doorman curious as to who she was? Following logic, he had to have been here yesterday when Naraku carried her up to the penthouse; did he want to know why she was with Naraku?

Chancing a glance at the stoic dog demon, she smiled wryly; somehow she doubted he cared about her life. And she was promptly struck with confusion; why did she care whether he was thinking about her? Infatuation, maybe?

That would be easy enough to explain. She’d rarely seen a man, or demon, as pretty as this one. His hair was spun silk, eyes cat-like and an opulent shade of gold, jaw aristocratic and his facial stripes and crescent moon simply made him all the more ethereal.  But there was something else, Kagome prided herself on being able to look past physical perfection – many beautiful people were ridiculously vapid – and there was something about this reticent doorman that drew her like a moth to a flame. A beautiful person is to be admired and forgotten, a captivating person will be admired and followed.

The tap, tap, tap of knuckles against the glass door jolted the silent companions from their meandering thoughts and Sesshoumaru spared the harassed looking delivery boy a scowl before opening the door.

“For Higurashi Kagome,” the adolescent boy announced carelessly, “sign here.”

Taking the electronic device that was fairly thrust upon him with barely concealed contempt, Sesshoumaru scrawled his signature across the electronic device’s box in such a manner that Naraku’s pesky human onna, who was peering in an obvious manner over his shoulder, couldn’t make heads or tails of his name. For some reason, keeping the information from her was... amusing. And he wasn’t normally one for childish games such as this.

“Hn,” Sesshoumaru grunted as the youth snatched the device back and thrust the package into his hands.

As soon as the door squelched shut behind the delivery boy, Kagome pounced on the package, only to grab onto thin air.

A mute blink from Kagome was met with a mute and condescending blink from Sesshoumaru, who had apparently whisked the package just out of reach before she could grab it. Superior Yokai reflexes were a real inferiority enforcer.

“You mustn’t snatch, miss,” Sesshoumaru schooled composedly. He was baffled at his actions, though he tried to mask it, tomfoolery was not his style.

“Can I have my package, please?” she asked through gritted teeth, though a smile flirted with one corner of her mouth.

“Of course, miss,” he responded dryly, handing it over high-handedly.

Taking the proffered black box from Sesshoumaru, she belatedly realised it was a shoe box and her face bloomed into a smile.

“Shoes!” she cheered, popping the lid off gleefully, only to stop short once presented with the contents of the box. “Hooker shoes,” she amended in a bewildered fashion, hooking her littlest finger in a leather strap and dangling it at eyelevel for further inspection.

Sesshoumaru quirked an eyebrow at the leather, buckled and studded contraptions. Kagome had summed them up well.

“I hope Naraku’s secretary was the one who sent these,” she mumbled, “or it’s seriously wrong.”

“Indeed, miss,” Sesshoumaru agreed, after all, why would anyone purchase shoes like that for a person with no shoes at all? Unless, of course, Kagome was right and they really were hooker shoes. That thought was disturbing.

Grumbling morosely she bent over and slipped the hooker shoes onto her dainty feet. “I guess I’ll have to wear them whilst I go shoe shopping,” she decided ruefully, turning her foot at the ankle to inspect the shoe from different angles, a faint frown marring her brow. But suddenly she brightened considerably and fanned herself with the money Naraku had given her. “At least I’ll be able to get nice new shoes,” she mused wickedly, eyes glinting with that shoe-crazed light that Sesshoumaru had seen before in women. A scary sight indeed.

“I’ll be right back, doorman-san!” she cheered as she skipped towards the doors without waiting for him to open them for her.

A wide-eyed disgruntled Sesshoumaru watched her bound down the street like a puppy on its first ever venture outside, if she’d possessed a tail it would have been wagging he was sure.

Kagome was amazed at Tokyo; there were demons and Hanyou everywhere! Not to mention it was nonstop, wall-to-wall traffic. But seeing so many demons was surreal, not that anyone else seemed to think so, mind you. Smiling slightly inanely at a tanuki demon that was on the phone, she giggled at the quirked eyebrow she was offered before she trooped off to find a shoe store.

Luckily for her, only a few streets away there was a street seemingly dedicated to luxurious boutiques and she soon found the shoe store. Normally she wouldn’t be able to afford to look into the place, let alone buy something in it, but with the wad of cash safely tucked into her pocket she was free to shop to her heart’s content.

The proprietor’s hazel eyes widened as Kagome stepped into the quiet shop, no doubt wondering over her mismatched outfit. The woman was chicly dressed in a dark but elegantly cut black suit that was tailored to accentuate her curves. Her hair was pulled into sleek brown ponytail that hung down to her mid-back.

Kagome smiled sheepishly as the woman took notice of her shoes and began to gawk.

“Um... irasshaimase,” the woman murmured, and Kagome wondered if she was trying to find a polite way to kick her out. “Okyaku-sama....”

“I really need new shoes,” Kagome interrupted her quickly, causing the woman to smother a smirk, “these were a present,” she explained in the simplest terms she could; she didn’t want to have to explain why she’d ended up in hooker shoes.

The woman breathed a small sigh of relief, but then tossed a glance at Kagome’s clothing.

“I mean no offence, Okyaku-sama, but... are you sure that this shop is within your budget...” she trailed off and scowled at her feet for a moment, “forgive me, that sounded rude...”

Kagome waved if off with a blasé movement of her hand. “It’s fine,” she pulled a banknote from her pocket and watched the woman’s eyes light up with wonder, “I can pay.”

“Well then,” the woman clapped her hands together in an upbeat manner, “let’s get you into something less...”

“Tacky,” Kagome finished for her bluntly, earning a giggle from the woman.

“What sort of shoe are you looking for?” the woman asked companionably as Kagome perused a pretty blue pump whimsically.

“As long as it doesn’t look like these,” Kagome said, pointing her toe for emphasis, “then I don’t really mind.”

Kagome moved on to a silvery metallic coloured shoe that reminded her of the demon-doorman’s hair somewhat. The woman’s hazel eyes monitored the longing in Kagome’s expression and she smiled.

“Would you like me to fetch those in your size?”

As Kagome exited the store with her new silvery pumps on her feet, she silently prayed that the Yokai wouldn’t notice the similarities. She’d also purchased a pair of gold sandals that she refused to psychoanalyse.

But now she was hunting down a shop where she could buy the doorman some taiyaki or something to make up for stealing his lunch and steadily she was working her way back into the more ‘affordable’ part of Tokyo where not everyone was perfectly groomed. It seemed the place she had been in was in the more classy area of the city.

Soon, she found a small convenience store and gleefully purchased a whole host of different cup Ramen and onigiri; some flavours she’d never even heard of before. She’d no idea how long she’d be staying in the apartment for. Fruit was also bought in vast quantities and she indulged in some taiyaki for herself and for Sesshoumaru when she passed the stand, the scent calling to her.

Munching on the tail of her fish-shaped snack, Kagome meandered back in the general direction of the apartment contentedly. Though her sense of direction was a little shoddy every once in a while, she was fairly certain she was heading the right way and then the image caught her attention from the corner of her eye.

Naraku’s face appeared on the screens of the televisions assembled inside a store, a caption beneath him reading ‘Property Mogul to Take-Over the Takagawa Building; Hundreds Evicted’. Her step faltered and she wrinkled her nose, feeling a dull ache in her chest at the thought of all those people being made homeless. Nodding firmly, she continued on her way, resolving to talk to him about it when she saw him next.

Spotting the apartment building in the distance, Kagome gave a triumphant whoop that startled a woman walking in the opposite direction. At least she hadn’t gotten lost.

But, when the door was opened by the doorman, she did a double take, and wondered if she hadn’t gotten the wrong building after all.

Blinking dumbly, she surveyed the man who had the same coloured hair as the demon doorman, had the same eyes as the demon doorman, but was definitely not the demon doorman. He was considerably rougher around the edges and had the cutest little dog ears nestled in his loose hair.

“Who are you?” she asked, perusing the lobby intently to make sure she was in the right building.

“The doorman,” he replied asininely, his expression betraying his boredom.

She bristled. “What happened to the other one?”

He blinked at her. “Tall, moody, stick-up-his-ass?”

“Yeah, that’s him,” she nodded earnestly, “do you know him?”

The man scoffed. “Keh. The bastard’s shift is over,” he explained, “we work in rotation. And yeah, not only do I know him; I’m related to the fucker.”

Kagome smirked at his coarseness. He was nothing like the ‘fucker’ as he so eloquently phrased it. Whilst her demonic doorman was all reserved politeness, cold formalities and insincere respectfulness, this Hanyou seemed to forget himself and he hadn’t once called her ‘miss’.

“I’d never have guessed,” she admitted sincerely; them being related was strange; they were so very different from each other.

Apparently, this was just the thing to say, as he bestowed her with a fanged smirk and dropped some of the gruffness. “You’re okay,” he mused, nose twitching faintly, “I’m Inuyasha, by the way.”

And he actually introduced himself, she mused exasperatedly. Unlike a certain someone. “I’m Kagome, pleased to meet you.” Rooting around in her carrier bag full of food, she pulled out the paper bag of taiyaki, “where is the other doorman? I stole his bentō and wanted to give him this as compensation.”

Inuyasha snorted and gave her an appraising sort of look. “You stole his food and you’re still alive? Keh, you’re a weird one.” He paused to glance shiftily at the door leading to the basement apartment. “He’s down there,” he told her in a stage whisper, “but don’t tell him I told you where he was.”

“Thanks!” she sang as she skipped down the steps to the door of the smaller basement apartment.

The door opened before she actually got there and she fell over backwards onto her bottom in an effort not to smash into the demon doorman’s bare chest.

Blinking up dumbly at smooth muscles that rippled enticingly and were beaded with sweat, Kagome clung to a slight bit of dignity by stubbornly insuring that her jaw didn’t drop. Averting her eyes sharply, she became ridiculously interested in the strand of hair that had escaped his topknot.

A clawed hand appeared by her face and she blinked mutely for a moment before taking it and allowing him to pull her to her feet.

Wrist stripes, she mused and her eyes drifted to his abdomen almost as if there was some kind of magnetic pull, and hip stripes... nice hakama... low on the hips...

“Miss?” he enquired, a hint of amusement colouring his tone.

Taiyaki,” she managed, holding up the bag woodenly.

The demon doorman stood to one side, waving his hand as he bid her to enter. She stepped inside, shaking her head as if to rid her ears of water.

The genkan gave way to a large tatami mat covered room, which perhaps should have been the living room in an average apartment, with no chairs or tables, instead practise swords hung from the walls alongside two impressive looking katana.

“Nice place you’ve got here,” she murmured softly, “do you have something against chairs?”

“Hn,” the doorman replied, mutely leading her into the kitchen and pulling her a chair with a pointed flourish that earned him a playful scowl. Apparently he’d dropped the ‘miss’ thing too, but she hadn’t expected him to keep referring to her as such in his own home. For his part, Sesshoumaru relished the drop in formalities; he really hated addressing anyone as if they were above him. Haughty, very, but he had the power and finesse as a warrior to back it up.

The kitchen was small but clean and functional, with a small scrubbed table with two chairs and a rice cooker lurking in one corner. The demon doorman grabbed a towel from the radiator in the corner of the room and wiped his face before throwing it over one shoulder and ransacking the fridge before reappearing with a bottled water for him and a soda for her.

Taking the seat primly, she held out her paper bag of taiyaki for inspection and he traded her the soda. Clawed fingers snagged the bag and brought it to his nose, after a miniscule sniff, he thrust it back into her hands.

Affronted, she demanded, “What’s your problem?”

“They are chocolate, not bean paste,” he announced aloofly, unscrewing the lid from his water and taking a deep swig.

“I know,” she retaliated somewhat confusedly, “I bought them, remember?”

“I do remember,” he countered, leaning back against the kitchen counter and crossing his arms over his strong chest, “but you do not.”

“What don’t I remember?”

“That I am a dog demon.”

“Yeah, so?”

“I am allergic to chocolate,” he divulged exasperatedly, his frustrated eye roll making her cringe in her seat at her own absentmindedness.

“Oops, forgot,” she admitted sheepishly before tilting her chin up defiantly at his rankled look. “Don’t look at me like that!”

“Next time, bean paste,” he advised, shrugging minutely.

Cross that her attempt to repay him had failed miserably, though somehow thrilled he’d said ‘next time’ as if hinting at a combined future, she dug around in her carrier bag and procured a cup-ramen.

“Want this instead?” she offered magnanimously.

The doorman wrinkled his nose and scowled. “I hate ramen.”

“Well crap,” she exclaimed, slumping back in her seat and throwing her arms up helplessly.

“Hn,” he huffed, tossing an impatient look back at the makeshift dojo.

“What were you doing when I got here?” she asked interestedly as her eyes caught the vaguest hint of ankle stripes peeking out of the bottom of his hakama.

“Practising,” he grunted noncommittally, shifting almost imperceptibly from foot to foot.

“With the bokken?” she asked inquisitively, leaning forward on her elbows.

“Hn,” he inclined his head.

“Can I watch?” she asked eagerly, sipping daintily from her soda as she waited for his response.

Sesshoumaru blinked mutely; no woman had ever expressed a desire to watch him do something so repetitive as a kata for any length of time... unless they wished to ogle his flesh. Kagome, though her eyes had wandered every now and then – he repressed an arrogant smirk, appeared to be making a definite effort to keep her eyes on his face and, even more bizarrely, she seemed interested in watching him practise.

“Why?” he demanded brusquely.

“It seems interesting,” she explained, waving a vague hand, putting her food shopping down on the counter as if she planned on staying.

“You are a duckling,” he informed her blandly, setting his bottled water down on the counter with a dull thud.

This wrong footed Kagome for a moment and she scrunched up her face in confusion. “Huh?”

“I am the first person you met here, and, as a duckling follows the first person it sees after birth, you follow me.”

“That is the first time someone has called me a duckling,” she confided amusedly, “and it’s an unfair comparison.”

“How so?” he demanded, silvery brows colliding on his forehead as he frowned.

“I met Naraku in Tokyo before I met you,” she insisted, tilting her chin combatively, “but I’ve decided I’d much rather follow you.”

Sesshoumaru tossed his ponytail, preening very slightly at the fact that she’d chosen him over Naraku. “That is to be expected,” he admitted.

“So can I watch you?” she asked keenly, bringing him off the duckling tangent and back to her main desire bluntly.  

“If you wish,” he allowed, with a brief sigh at her strange enthusiasm and cumbersome attachment.

Giving a little whoop of excitement, she followed him back through into the living room turned dojo. A zabuton was procured from thin air and passed to her by the demonic doorman and she gratefully took it and retreated to a corner with her soda.

Ignoring the woman, Sesshoumaru reclaimed his bokken and, carelessly pitching his towel at the unsuspecting bystander, he flung himself back into his practise.

The little squawk from the woman indicated that the towel had found its mark and Sesshoumaru smothered a smile as he continued. Each movement was precise, dangerous, merciless, he pushed his body to its limits as his chest contracted and expanded with his exertions. His blue cotton hakama rustled with every movement.

A deadly dance indeed, Kagome mused as her blue eyes tracked his movements with something akin to fascination. His movements were hypnotic, and Kagome happily watched him for little over an hour as he spun and thrust his way through his practise.

“Doorman-san,” she interrupted after a little while, undeterred when he ignored her interjection, “I still don’t know your name,” she pointed out.

“I did not give it,” he responded with a grunt as he thrust his bokken in a deadly movement.

“Then give it now,” she niggled, tapping her fingernails against the empty soda can irritatingly.

“No.” Step, thrust, twirl.

“Please?” she wheedled, batting her eyelashes ineffectually as his back was to her.

“No.”

Standing abruptly, she stretched her legs; tired from sitting still on her knees on the zabuton for so long. Crossing to where the other bokken was situated, she picked it up and pointed it at Sesshoumaru’s back.

The demonic doorman spun slowly on his heel and, upon seeing the girl holding the bokken like it was a tennis racquet, quirked a brow in askance.

“If I can touch you,” she proposed, “then you have to tell me your name.”

Lips twisted into a lopsided smirk that exposed a fang. “You will not win.”

“We’ll see,” she tilted her chin regally.

Sighing as she darted forward, he dodged effortlessly to one side, watching amusedly as she skidded to a stop and turned, the bokken whirling to one side erratically and nearly catching a strand of his hair.

Grinning at his chagrin, she moved forward clumsily and he dodged her yet again, she knew he thought she was probably insane, but she was waiting for the perfect moment.

Sesshoumaru watched her carefully as she attacked him happily, her gusto was both amusing and disarming. Did she really think she would be able to touch him?

After much dodging and giggling from Kagome, Sesshoumaru decided enough was enough and, darting forward so fast she wouldn’t have had chance to see him, he knocked the bokken from her hands and , knotting his hand in the front of her shirt, he lifted her a few inches from the floor.

Blue eyes sparkled happily as gold eyes became triumphant.

Sesshoumaru, working as he did in a building with humans as a doorman, rarely was able to demonstrate his control and strength in front of one, lest he frighten the residents. It felt intoxicating to be able to illustrate to this little human that he was a force of nature, not to be trifled with or contained.

Dangerous.

Small feminine hands came up deliberately and cupped his face with infinite care, momentarily throwing him off balance.

“I’m touching you,” she declared, triumph tingeing her voice along with a tenderness that most certainly had never been there before.

Mute blinking gave way to a fierce scowl as Sesshoumaru realised he’d been had.

His fist relaxed rebelliously and Kagome squawked indignantly as she was dropped onto her bottom on the tatami.

“You are a trickster,” he declared loftily.

Scrambling to her feet, she smoothed down her borrowed shirt and replied cheerfully, “And you’re too easy to assume something before you actually listen.”

Pursing his lips for a moment, golden eyes flashed and he inclined his head subtly. “I am Sesshoumaru.”

“Nice name,” she replied, her voice heavily laden with sarcasm.

“I am a demon,” he reminded her snootily.

A wicked grin claimed her pouty lips at the reminder. “Yeah, I guess naming you ‘Fluffy’ wasn’t exactly apt.”

“Hn,” he remarked, eyes narrowing at her teasing tone.

“So...” she interlaced her fingers behind her back and rocked slightly on her heels, “how about I take you out to eat to apologise for stealing your bentō?”

It was as if she was trying to steal every shred of masculine pride he retained. First she had bested him in a ‘sword fight’ and now she was offering to pay for his dinner. Shrewd golden eyes narrowed at the implied snub; he could afford his own dinner thank you very much.

As he opened his mouth to brush her off in such a fashion, she pulled Naraku’s wad of cash from a hidden pocket and fanned herself with it.

“You can’t tell me you don’t want to dine at your boss’s expense?” she wheedled, raising an expectant brow.

Sesshoumaru’s lips quirked fractionally. Well, if she put it like that.

“I will consent.”

She scowled at him. “Don’t make it sound like you’re agreeing to go to the dentist.”

“But dinner with you is sure to be as pleasant as pulling teeth,” he responded smartly.

Kagome’s mouth dropped open with a little pop. “Did you just make a joke? I didn’t think you had it in you.”

A pious sniff was Sesshoumaru’s answer as he crossed the room to his towel. “Do not presume to know me.”

Grinning wickedly, she grabbed her soda from the corner and responded, “Then I’ll get to know you soon, at dinner. Meet me in the lobby at seven, okay?”

A hair flick was her taciturn answer, but she took it as a yes before she bounded out of the room.

In the lobby, the surly Hanyou was leaning sloppily against the wall, cap propped low to hide his eyes.

When he caught scent of Kagome, however, he snapped to attention and gave her an appraising look.

“Wow, you’re still alive? After the first hour I thought he’d beheaded you or something.”

Kagome grinned and twirled in a circle to indicate that she was unharmed. “I don’t know what you mean; he’s just a rather grumpy teddy bear!”

“Keh,” Inuyasha snorted, “crazy wench. There’s a package for you.”

Blinking bemusedly, she took the preferred package, which was a rather large box and popped the lid off before peering inside. If she had to wager, she’d say Naraku had purchased this. It was his type of dress, sleek and beautiful – not to mention dreadfully expensive – his definite preference.

0-0-0

The elevator doors pinged open and Kagome tumbled out of the elevator into the lobby, her skirt had somehow managed to get caught in her shoe’s heel and she had pitched forward.

A clawed hand gripped her shoulder and set her lazily back onto her feet and she beamed up at an uptight looking Sesshoumaru, for the first time noticing that the lobby was strangely silent.

Inuyasha, stood in the corner, was wearing a decidedly teasing smirk that was directed at Sesshoumaru’s tense back. Apparently the Hanyou had been needling Sesshoumaru about something or other before she had arrived.

Pulling back from Sesshoumaru slightly, she appraised his new look happily; black jeans and a black shirt looked good on him contrasting ethereally with his silver hair that he was wearing loose for once.

“You are late,” Sesshoumaru reminded her, bringing her attention away from how good he looked in jeans with a bump.

“Sorry,” she winced apologetically, “I couldn’t decide on what to wear.” Which was a total lie considering she only had the dress Naraku had sent her and a handful of casual clothes; but they didn’t need to know she’d just spent fifteen minutes panicking over whether she was too dressed up.

The two males perused her dress, a little black concoction that showed off just a smidge of cleavage and emphasised her long smooth legs.

“Hn,” Sesshoumaru uttered, averting his eyes in a gesture that was almost... embarrassed?

Inuyasha dug the demon in the ribs with his elbow. “Neko Yokai got your tongue?” he needled.

In a movement so fast she almost missed it; Sesshoumaru yanked off Inuyasha’s doorman cap and slapped him in the face with it. The random attack was a comedic as it was insulting to Inuyasha’s reaction times.

“We’re leaving,” Sesshoumaru barked, grabbing her elbow and tugging her from the lobby, giving Kagome hardly a moment to wave goodbye to the chuckling Hanyou.

Tottering after Sesshoumaru, the little heels of her shoes clicking against the pavement, Kagome struggled to stop herself from falling over, seeing as Sesshoumaru was marching at speeds she was not dressed for.

When he ground to an abrupt halt, she bounced off his broad back with a little squeak that she hadn’t planned on making, and blinked up at the brilliant demon who was watching her.

“You are human.”

“I noticed.”

“Do you require a special diet?” he asked, as if she were a rare species of bird he’d yet to discover how to feed.

“I ate your bentō didn’t I?” she reminded him, biting her lip to hide her grin.

“Hnn... it looked more like you inhaled it,” he quipped, dodging to one side as she aimed a mock-punch at his arm.

“Where shall we go then?” she asked, tilting her head to one side enquiringly.

Pursing his lips, he gazed skyward for a moment and said, “there is a place... out of the city centre, though.”

“So we need to get the train?” she enquired, slanting her head so she could gaze at the sky with her companion.

“Hn,” Sesshoumaru’s bottom lip curled with distaste.

“Or not...” she murmured, pulling a face at his obvious reluctance, “a taxi would be expensive...”

“Trains,” he uttered, under his breath, as if trains had done him a great grievance in the past. “Very well.”

Blinking rapidly as he grabbed her hand, twirled on the spot and stalked off towards the nearest station, Kagome once more struggled to keep up in her impractical heels. Though she was struggling with impractical footwear, she smiled a little secret smile as a wave of giddy pleasure stole through her at their holding hands. It seemed a silly thing to be pleased about, but the hand holding was somehow very intimate and made her feel strangely safe, even as she explored the calluses from the bokken that lined his hand.

The tube station seemed to be occupied by everyone in Tokyo, all milling around and causing Sesshoumaru’s ears to bleed and his nose to itch. He loathed public transport.

When the little woman crashed into his side, he sighed in relief; her scent was pleasing, he found himself latching on to subtle nuances in her rather pleasant floral scent.

Yet, when a rather pudgy man shunted into them as he plodded towards the train, Sesshoumaru decided enough was enough.

“Come,” he ordered, marching towards the train and dragging her along behind him like she was a rag doll – protesting crossed her mind, but she was preoccupied with trying to stay upright.

They shuffled into a carriage that was crowded with an amalgamation of humans, Yokai and Hanyou.

There was a slightly pause and then, all the demons began to shuffle uneasily into the adjacent carriages, followed promptly by the Hanyous and finally the humans became uncomfortable and sidled away; until only Sesshoumaru and Kagome remained inside the carriage.

“What did you do?” she asked bemusedly, grinning slightly at some of the edgy looks that were being tossed in their direction through the carriage doors.

“Nothing,” he answered coolly, chin tilted at an incredibly aloof angle.

She stepped away and ducked slightly, earning herself a quirked brown of askance. “I’m just dodging your over inflated head,” she answered teasingly, eyes glittering as he glowered at her.

“I released my aura,” he admitted, “even idiotic humans would notice it’s presence.”

Kagome scrunched up her face and Sesshoumaru almost got whiplash turning to look at her incredulously as he felt her own aura explode from her tiny being, chasing the remnants of his youki from the carriage. To his sensitive eyes it appeared as a purple inferno, burning brightly around her head in a protective halo of purity.

“I don’t feel it,” she complained.

He resisted the urge to roll his eyes. “That would be because you just purified it,” he uttered faintly scathing.

Kagome rubbed the back of her head sheepishly. “You can’t blame me! I was trained by my grandfather...”

“Who doesn’t have an ounce of spiritual energy?” Sesshoumaru inquired knowingly, “Only an idiot would release all their energy like that. You completely purified the air and any residual youki but it’s also dangerous. Releasing purification like that is how a person declares a challenge, only do that if someone is trying to hurt you.” A small frown creased Sesshoumaru’s brow as he said the last; for some reason the thought of this tiny woman being hurt in any way made his belly ache with a hollow pain... like a pain that was yet to come. Hands forming fists, he shook it off.

“Oh...” Kagome looked abashedly down at her hands as she twisted her fingers together anxiously, “sorry.”

Nearly jumping out of her skin as he laid his hands on her shoulders from behind, claws snagging on the flimsy material of her dress, she forced herself to calm down. She’d never spent prolonged contact with a demon before and she’d forgotten Sesshoumaru was capable of moving so fast that she wouldn’t be able to see him. She shivered as he ran the tips of his claws over her shoulder, up the column of her throat and through her hair to her temples. Finger tips pressed into her flesh delicately.

“Release this,” he uttered, breath ghosting through her hair as he pressed with his fingertips indicatively, “but restrain this,” his right hand fell to rest just above her heart, “a Miko senses with her head and purifies with her heart. Don’t try doing both at once, idiot.”

“R-right,” she stuttered, finding it very hard to concentrate on anything he was saying whilst he was touching her. But she tried anyway, pushing out with her aura hesitantly.

Suddenly, as if he’d touched the bottom of a frying pan, he’d let her go and was across the carriage, holding his hands folded to his chest.

“Sesshoumaru?” she asked, taking a concerned step forward and holding out a helping hand.

“Stay away!” he barked out and her step faltered as she recoiled from his... anger?

No, she realised, eyes wide, this was something else... he was acting as if he was a wounded animal.

Eyes wide as she realised she was exactly right, that she had burned him with her power; she started towards him again, ignoring his growls and dropped onto the seat beside him.

“Sorry,” she whispered, meaning it with all her might, as perhaps no other priestess had ever meant it when apologising to a demon. If another Miko had ever apologised to a demon.

Sesshoumaru frowned; he’d expected his instincts to lash out if she had gotten as near as she was now, but apparently he was feeling more concerned at her upset that anything else. To a demon like Sesshoumaru, this was highly unusual and he had no idea what had brought this strange out of character behaviour on.

But, when she kissed his head, kissed the crescent moon of his heritage, he was frozen as her power pulsed though him again. This time, instead of flames licking at his skin, it felt more like she’d dunked him in ice cold water and, when she sat back again, he discovered his palms were no longer burning.

Impossible. A human cannot heal a demon... this goes against everything... but then something occurred to him, perhaps it is not impossible, after all, who would have investigated the possibility when demons and Miko were supposed to be enemies by nature? Or, he mused, as he glanced into her concerned slightly tearful blue eyes, maybe this girl is simply an anomaly.

 That seemed very likely.

“I am fine,” he assured her, holding his hands out, palms up, to show his newly healed skin. His voice sounded faintly incredulous even to his own ears, and he hurriedly worked on keeping his face indifferent.

“Wow!” she beamed and clapped her hands together happily, “demons really do heal fast!”

Eyes crinkling at the corners as his lips quirked into a helpless smile he flicked her nose with his claw tip, earning himself a tiny scowl. She healed me, entirely on accident, without actually realising she had done it.

“This is our stop,” Sesshoumaru told her, straightening in time to flash their gawking onlookers his most fearsome glare... scowling when they continued to stare. Had he lost his touch? When the human girl practically skipped to his side, took his arm and tugged him without his resistance from the train, he reflected that, yes, he had indeed softened. For her. A girl he barely knew.

“I’ll pull you along this time!” she sang happily as she towed the unresisting demon from the station and onto the street.

“You don’t know where we are going,” he pointed out blandly, amused when she stopped dead and grinned sheepishly.

“Oops, I forgot.”

“Hn.” Linking their arms so that he held hers in possession rather than the other way around, he towed her away from the busy station and led her down a maze of dimly lit streets that all looked exactly the same until they reached a doorway that looked exactly the same as every other doorway on the street.

“We’re here?” Kagome asked dubiously.

“Indeed,” Sesshoumaru nodded shortly, before knocking thrice against the wooden door.

It slid back to reveal a cheerfully smiling waitress... that Kagome instantly recognised.

“It’s you!” both young women blurted out, before beginning to talk rapidly at each other with such speed that Sesshoumaru couldn’t catch a word of it, but apparently the two were communicating just fine.

“You know each other?” Sesshoumaru inquired, breaking up their babbling.

“Yep,” Kagome sang happily, “I met her at the shoe shop today!”

“I’m Sango,” the waitress introduced herself as she ushered them inside.

“I’m Kagome, and the grumpy one is Sesshoumaru,” Kagome volunteered as she followed Sango’s navigation through the packed restaurant to a small secluded table at the back.

Sango laughed merrily. “I don’t think a person exists who doesn’t know Sesshoumaru-san.”

Kagome blinked at Sesshoumaru bemusedly, he avoided her gaze. “Really?”

“Yep!” Sango gushed, bowing respectfully to the demon stood taciturnly to Kagome’s left, “he and his brother Inuyasha offer out their services in the neighbourhoods, getting rid of demons and pesky spirits for no cost!”

“Half-brother,” Sesshoumaru corrected offhandedly, as if was used to doing it a lot.

That’s why he works as a doorman; he does all this exterminating stuff for free! Kagome’s eyes sparkled as she stared as Sesshoumaru and he shifted uncomfortably and looked away, if she didn’t know better, she’d have sworn he was blushing. Jerkily, he pulled Kagome’s seat out for her and she took it with a smile before he sank gracefully into the seat opposite her.

“He’s not a very gracious hero,” Sango divulged to Kagome as she dished out menus, “but he’s someone who doesn’t ask for an arm and a leg every time someone gets haunted. There aren’t many people who will do something for nothing anymore.”

“I’ll bet,” Kagome murmured, still trying to catch Sesshoumaru’s eye. He was staring at his napkin now.

“Sesshoumaru-sama!” a male voice clamoured delightedly over the din of the crowded restaurant and Sesshoumaru glowered at the oncoming handsome human, mirroring Sango’s suddenly hostile expression exactly.

“Miroku-san,” Sesshoumaru acknowledged as the dark haired, purple eyed man arrived at the table, “Kagome, this is the owner of the restaurant.”

“Pleased to meet you,” Kagome offered hesitantly; they were both still regarding him warily.

“Kagome-chan!” Miroku exclaimed like they were old friends who hadn’t seen each other for a while, “and, no honorific Sesshoumaru-sama, you must be quite smitten.”

Kagome’s cheeks heated at that and Sesshoumaru’s glower increased in intensity. Sango, on the other hand, smacked him round the back of his head with her stack of menus.

“This is my lovely fiancé, Sango!” the man boasted, tucking her under his arm proprietarily and earning himself an elbow to the gut for his troubles.

“In your dreams, pervert!” she fumed, stalking away heatedly as some of the regular patrons called out good naturedly to Miroku.

“Better luck next time!”

“Nice one, Miroku!”

Miroku rubbed his stomach and smiled ruefully. “Have a good meal, won’t you?”

As he left, Kagome lifted in inquiring eyebrow and Sesshoumaru snorted.

“For those two, there is no explanation. Their life is a romance drama,” he uttered.

“Are they really fiancés?”

“No, but there is undeniable attraction there... who knows when they will actually confess.”

Kagome smiled as she watched Miroku go into the kitchen after Sango, only to retreat moments later, followed by flung pots and pans. “She’s kind of violent, huh?”

“Perhaps if he didn’t grope her...”

“No way!” Kagome exclaimed, eyes alight with interest, “he actually out and gropes her?”

“Indeed.”

“No wonder she’d throwing stuff at him,” she mused, fiddling with the napkin that had held Sesshoumaru interest earlier, “So why did you choose to come here?”

“Good sake,” he admitted as another, slightly more timid waitress came and took their drink orders.

Kagome blinked as she suddenly found herself gazing at a rose.

“Huh?”

“You are a feast,” a husky voice whispered in her ear and she whirled to stare into a pair of ice blue eyes. There was a wolf demon leaning over her, completely ignoring a growling Sesshoumaru, holding out a rose to her.

“Um... thanks?” she ventured, darting an unsure look at Sesshoumaru, who looked like he wanted to gut the wolf.

Claws nearly pricked her skin as the wolf demon turned her face to lock eyes with her.

“I rescind that,” he mused, a cocky grin claiming his mouth and revealing fangs, “you’re beautiful.”

“Remove your hands from her,” Sesshoumaru ordered in a growl, “or I will remove them from your body.”

The wolf balked as he finally took notice of the enraged demon lord. Even Kagome could sense his livid youki pouring off him.

“Whoa,” the wolf rubbed the back of his head ruefully, “sorry, Sesshoumaru-sama, I thought you were frigid.”

The entire restaurant went silent, as if they’d all been listening but keeping up conversation to be subtle, but it had gotten too tense to speak any more. Kagome swore she saw tendrils of frost crystallise around Sesshoumaru’s clenched fists.

Luckily for the foolish wolf, Miroku got to him before Sesshoumaru did, and gleefully booted the intoxicated demon from the restaurant for his own safety.

“I’m very sorry about Kouga, Kagome-chan,” Miroku apologised, grasping her hand and pressing his lips to it in apology... sort of. Kagome grinned as Sango returned from the kitchen, grabbed Miroku by the ear, and towed him away, growling all the while.

Picking up the rose from the floor and smiling at it, Kagome was surprised when it suddenly disappeared from her grasp and glanced up in time to see Sesshoumaru melt the rose ruthlessly.

“You’re a poison demon!” she exclaimed, eyes alight with interest, “That’s amazing!”

Sesshoumaru quirked a brow at her enthusiasm and simply uttered, “Hn.”

“Well it is!” Kagome cajoled, “I can’t melt roses with my fingers.”

“No, but you can melt demons,” he reminded her glibly.

Scrunching up her nose as his needling, she tugged his hand across the table and turned it so the palm was facing up to inspect it.

“Where does the poison come from?” she asked interestedly, leaning in close to scrutinize it.

“Glands under my claws,” he explained, watching as she carefully examined beneath his claws, the tip of her tongue sticking out of the corner of her mouth as she concentrated.

“I don’t see anything,” she pouted petulantly.

“They are miniscule,” he allowed, “I don’t suppose you would be able to see them.”

Kagome’s brow furrowed slightly. “So, could you melt... say a spoon?”

“Yes.”

“A katana?”

“Yes.”

“A car?”

“With some effort, yes.”

“Wow,” Kagome murmured. “Could you melt me?”

“Only if you tried to melt me first,” he cajoled, a faint smirk lingering at one corner of his mouth, relishing her giggle.

Dinner evolved into dinner and a show, thanks to the comedic arguments between Sango and Miroku, though wild and loud, they seemed to be enjoyed as a bizarre spectator sport by the patrons. It had struck Kagome as odd that Sesshoumaru, as reticent as he was, would choose such a loud place to eat. But something about the restaurant relaxed everyone; even Sesshoumaru’s shoulders had relaxed an inch from their usual stiff positioning as he sipped contentedly at his sake cup.

After dinner, they ambled leisurely to a nearby park and Kagome gleefully claimed a swing, beckoning Sesshoumaru to follow her.

The Taiyokai reluctantly acquiesced to her desires; there was something faintly irresistible about the way the girl asked for things that made him helpless to stand firm against her wishes. But, first he snagged a cherry blossom from the tree that dropped over the entrance to the playground and tucked it behind her ear carefully. For some reason he found himself wanting to best the ridiculous wolf who had interfered earlier and by her blush and telltale increasing heart rate, he guessed he’d done just that.

Sitting on the seat next to her, he followed her gaze and stared up at the darkened star speckled sky.

“Where are you from?” Sesshoumaru asked; he had been wondering due to her seemingly limited interaction with demons, surely she couldn’t be from Tokyo.

“Shikabe, a little town in Hokkaidō,” she answered, “I grew up in a shrine.”

“And you don’t know how to manipulate your reiyouku?” he asked dubiously.

“A shrine run by my grandfather –”

“Who has no reiyouku,” Sesshoumaru recalled, “well, that explains a lot.”

“The little bit I know was taught to me by Kaede-baba, I met her last year and she taught me a little about archery and medicinal herbs.”

“At least you are not entirely useless,” he commented wryly, evading her punch by swinging to the side quickly.

“What about you?” Kagome asked, swinging gently to and fro and inspecting the way her silver shoes faintly glinted in the streetlight, “why’d you decide to be a vigilante demon hunter?”

Sesshoumaru snorted at her absurd statement and confessed, “A little girl saw me in the streets once, her name was Rin, and she was being haunted by her mother. The spirit had gone insane and was trying to kill her own daughter so that they could be together.”

Kagome gasped, blue eyes widening in shock, her hands tightening on the chains of her swing.

“So I stopped her.” Sesshoumaru sighed gustily and met her gaze with his own wry golden eyes, “and word got out... but these people were desperate and I couldn’t charge them. It would be criminal.”

“That’s very admirable of you,” she affirmed, trying very hard not to sound like a gushing fan girl or something of the sort.

“Hn,” he uttered and she fancied so caught a glimpse of the tips of his ears turning red under her praise. She couldn’t be sure, of course, as his hair obscured them slightly and it was dark, but it charmed her all the same. A tiny sneeze from Kagome startled them both and Sesshoumaru shrugged out of his jacket to wrap her into the soft cotton cocoon. She peered at him from over its collar, looking very much like a turtle.

“Thanks.” Blushing a little at his chivalrous act, she relaxed into the warmth of Sesshoumaru’s jacket and beamed widely at him.

A faint beeping interrupted the cricket symphony and Kagome jumped as something unidentified buzzed steadily in the pocket of the jacket that Sesshoumaru had draped around her.

“That is my alarm,” Sesshoumaru told her, reaching into his pocket and extricating it from the depths. “I need to start my shift in... fifteen minutes.”

“I hate to break this to you,” Kagome teased as she stood from her swing and twirled around in his jacket childishly, “but you are going to be late; there’s no way we can get back that fast.”

The dangerous smirk that quirked Sesshoumaru’s lips made Kagome freeze, much like a rabbit in headlights.

“On the contrary, Kagome, we can make it back with time to spare.”

“I have a feeling I’m going to regret asking you this, but, how?”

The smirk grew wider and she took a tiny step backwards in bewilderment.

In a flash, he was beside her and had swept her legs out from under her, then snagged her head before she’d fallen and hit her head on the concrete.

And then they were moving.

A light that glowed as fiercely as Sesshoumaru’s eyes glowed around them. She marvelled at it for a moment as she looked at his eyes; they shone with a fierce enjoyment that she hadn’t seen there before. He liked this. He enjoyed exhibiting his strength.

The curious thing about travelling in this way was that, though through the wind whipping at her face and she could hear Sesshoumaru’s heart beating rapidly as her ear was pressed to his chest, the light blocked out the sensation of moving and the smooth rocking movement of his run created a feeling as if she was floating. Sake mingled with a pleasant feeling of security and warmth tugged at her consciousness and, with a happy sigh of Sesshoumaru’s name, she succumbed to lethargy.

Sesshoumaru blinked down at the woman as he realised that she’d fallen asleep against his chest. Most women would have starting screaming, or panicking, but she’d fallen asleep. She was an anomaly. Watching the way she smiled ever so slightly, as if she was keeping a pleasant secret in her dreams, he amended himself slightly. She was his anomaly.

The claim of ownership, even in the confines of his own head, made a pleasant shiver run down his spine and his heart clench with some form of excitement that was almost the same as what he felt when he was running. Yet it was softened with a strange longing that he didn’t want to analyse too deeply.

In the darkness that night afforded, he could let loose and run as he wanted too, his night vision allowing him to thread through the humans that milled in the streets with ease. If they noticed him, they merely felt a breeze. In the day, he’d be in considerable trouble as the human police had devices that could capture his image and slow it down. In the night, however, he could do as he pleased as long as no one noticed.

Inuyasha grabbed his doorman’s cap as the gust of wind his brother created on his spectacular entrance nearly blew it away.

Crooking a brow at the possessive, protective and tender way his half-brother was clasping the sleeping woman to his chest, Inuyasha asked, “Did you bore her so much she fell asleep?”

Tearing faintly smouldering eyes from Kagome’s sleeping face; he flicked his iciest glare at Inuyasha, who recoiled at the venom his gentle teasing had produced.

“Wow, calm down.” Inuyasha held his hands up in a placating manner and then glanced at the couple again. “I guess you got attached huh?”

The glare became scathing and Inuyasha snorted.

“Well then, claim her, keep her and make sure that she doesn’t belong to Naraku,” Inuyasha ordered.

A faint crease formed between Sesshoumaru’s brows as he mulled that over. Did she really belong to Naraku? The thought of Naraku and her made him want to break something. Wait... was he actually considering the other things his brother had said? Was he considering claiming this Kagome from Shikabe who could innately heal demons and lured him to her without even trying?

Wresting his confusing motives from a moment, he sighed slightly. It appeared that yes, he was. He was exhibiting all the signs of a demon smitten. He was possessed with jealousy at the thought of her being with another, murderous at the thought of her being hurt, and her upset troubled him enough to forget his own pain...

Hn, this is most irregular.

How was he even supposed to begin explaining this to her?

“I am taking her to bed.”

Inuyasha cackled. “Whoa there, you might want to wait until she’s awake before you do that.”

Sesshoumaru’s glared response might have frozen the lobby for all of its arctic intensity. And Inuyasha wisely backed off.

Stepping into the penthouse, Sesshoumaru frowned at the opulent yet clinical interior. Such an environment really did not suit Kagome. Searching out the master bedroom, he was bewildered to find it empty of any kind of belongings that were to be expected of a person living there. So, following his nose, he discovered that Kagome had chosen the smallest of the nine bedrooms to set up camp in.

Perhaps she is used to smaller lodgings and felt lonely in a large room... Glancing down at the tiny woman in his arms, he realised that could very well be true.

The bed was unmade, her clothes flung about everywhere, a book rested on the lamp of her bedside table and for unknown reasons, a pair of lacy panties were draped over the handle of her wardrobe doorknob.

Setting her down in the bed, he carefully removed his jacket, smiling slightly at the groan of protest and freed her from her shoes. Refraining from undressing her and putting her in her pyjamas that he’d found stuffed under her pillow, he covered her in the duvet and, taking the cherry blossom from her hair to put on her bed side table, he silently departed from the room.

0-0-0

Sipping his tea contentedly, Sesshoumaru wondered when Kagome would surface for the day; she’d  not come down in the entire time he’d been on shift, so he was assuming she’d have to appear soon; she’d been asleep for thirteen hours already.

The footsteps on the stairs leading to his apartment made his chest clench with anticipation and he beat the feeling down; still not used to feeling like a lovesick teenager.

Opening the door before she had chance to knock, he was rewarded by her ploughing into his chest and managing to lock a leg around his and bring them both crashing to the floor.

“Ow,” she grumbled rubbing her elbow as she looked down at him from her position straddling his waist in a highly inappropriate manner.

“Hn.”

“Sorry,” she mumbled, “I know I must be bugging you,” Like a groupie with an idol, she mused mortified at the prospect. Maybe she should just stop coming to see him... but then, even thinking such a thing made her feel sick with longing. Damn, she really was a groupie.

“Not in the least,” Sesshoumaru answered dryly, propping himself up on his elbows and nodding at home she was sitting on him, exposing her panties shamelessly, “but you are straddling me.”

Springing off him with such agility that he would have guessed her as neko, she gathered her wits and watched him rise fluidly from the floor, brushing invisible specks of dirt from his clothes.

“I left my food shopping here yesterday,” she mumbled embarrassedly tipping her head forward so her long dark hair covered her red cheeks.

Sesshoumaru blinked languidly, remembering the white carrier bag that was perched on his kitchen table.

“Indeed,” Sesshoumaru nodded, turning and leading her through to the kitchen again. She pounced upon the carrier bag with glee, happily exclaiming that she was starved.

About to relieve Sesshoumaru of her presence, Kagome was halted by a faint tug of her hair and turned bemusedly to face Sesshoumaru.

“You shouldn’t eat ramen for breakfast,” he corralled, distaste curling his top lip.

“Okay,” she relented, “but what do you suggest?”

“I will cook,” he clarified, leading her to the table and sitting her down.

Soon Kagome was confronted with miso soup, rice and tamagoyaki from the multi-talented demon, who sat opposite her, watching her eat as if every mouthful was of critical importance.

Feeding her appealed to the very basic instinct of a demon to provide for their mate was something that was instinctual as it was satisfying. It pleased Sesshoumaru more than he let on – his face remaining a passive mask – that she was enjoying the food, if her little coos and exclamatory grumbles were any indication.

Breakfast was finished in a timely fashion and she pounced upon his paper next, the Yomiuri Shimbun’s head line being ‘Naraku’s Wedding to Mystery Woman’. Kagome smiled a little at that, so they’d found out? Well, it had only been a matter of time, Naraku was a media favourite and they relished delving into his private affairs.

“Why are you in Tokyo?” Sesshoumaru asked as he cleared her plates off of the table calmly.

Kagome tapped the paper with one finger demonstratively. “Naraku insisted on a Tokyo wedding, so I had to come all the way here.”

Sesshoumaru’s blood ran cold in his veins. She was getting married to Naraku? Twirling, he pounced upon the paper and noted the title, jealousy corroding his heart.

“You aren’t upset by this speculation?” he asked curtly, trying to remain civil when he wanted to break something. Or Naraku. Preferably Naraku.

“They are always delving into Naraku’s life like this,” she sighed, forlorn at the prospect, “hopefully the marriage will give him the sense of normalcy he’s been longing for.”

“Do you not understand that he is constantly sleeping around, doesn’t it bother you?” he demanded hostilely; was she wilfully ignorant of his adulterous ways?

Kagome blinked and frowned delicately. “I’m sure that will all change after the marriage. Love changes people, Sesshoumaru.”

The tender look on her face when she spoke of Naraku made Sesshoumaru feel physically sick. Through gritted teeth, he asked, “When is this happening?”

“Tomorrow,” she told him cheerfully, beaming happily at the prospect, “my dress came yesterday,” she giggled, “it makes me feel like a princess, do you want to see it?”

“No.”

“Oh, well,” she blushed and looked at her interlaced fingers, “do you want to come to the wedding? I’m sure Naraku wouldn’t mind.”

Was she out of her mind? Or was she attempting to kill him through heartbreak? Glancing incredulously down at her beaming face, he winced as he realised something devastating. Whilst he had been busy falling for the little Miko, she’d been busy forming a friendship. The difference between their feelings was an unsurpassable gulf; she didn’t even realise how he felt.

“I’m busy tomorrow,” he uttered coolly, his expression becoming glacial as he stared at the clock stonily, “can you leave, please?”

Kagome blinked, confused at his sudden frosty demeanour. “Sesshoumaru, what’s the matter?” she asked, walking forward to grasp his arm concernedly.

Touching his arm like that was the last straw, he snapped forward without conscious intent to do so and pressed his lips to hers ever so gently; a goodbye.

And then she was outside the apartment, shopping bag in hand, looking at the door with her cheeks bright red. Completely bewildered.

“What in the world?” she wondered aloud, her knees giving out on her as she fell to the ground.

0-0-0

Inuyasha’s ears swivelled to the lift as it dinged its customary cheerful ding and Kagome, all dressed up, stepped into the lobby gracefully.

Glancing at her over the brim of his paper, a fang peeked over his bottom lip as he smiled goofily at her dress. She had excellent legs, hell, if Sesshoumaru hadn’t already had his teeth in this bone, Inuyasha might have felt tempted to try it. As it was, however, he’d rather not risk his half-brother’s wrath so foolishly.

“You look good,” he grunted.

She forced a wan smile as she peered out of the glass front door to the street beyond and the taxi waiting at the curb for her.

“Thanks.”

Inuyasha’s nose wrinkled at the anxious, confused and somewhat hurt scent that poured off the girl in waves and he absentmindedly wondered what Sesshoumaru had done to make her look so... rejected... as he opened the door for her and watched her duck into the taxi.

0-0-0

Sesshoumaru’s extremely annoyed aura let Inuyasha know that he was coming to relieve him before the Hanyou could even hear the demon.

Ready to rile him up over Kagome, Inuyasha promptly had the wind knocked out of his sails as his brother strode stormily through the lobby with a face like thunder.

“Wow, what happened?”

“Shut up.”

“But, you look like something crawled into your ass and died.”

“Cretin.”

“Insulting me ain’t going to help.”

“Hnn...” tempestuous golden eyes flicked his way for a moment before they focused on Inuyasha’s discarded newspaper almost... forlornly. “She belonged to another already.”

Inuyasha’s eyebrows went up so far they nearly collided with his hairline. “What?”

“You heard,” his brother snarled.

Inuyasha’s brows furrowed thoughtfully, remembering the subdued Kagome who had left the building that afternoon. “You sure?”

The snarl that ripped from Sesshoumaru’s chest in that instant made Inuyasha flinch at its intensity, even though Sesshoumaru was outwardly utterly composed and still reading the newspaper.

“Sess—”

The look flung his way then was enough to get through to even Inuyasha; apparently Sesshoumaru wanted to be alone. Now.

0-0-0

Glowering at another resident of the building as they returned to their apartment after a party, Sesshoumaru watched them scurry away into the relative safety of the lift grimly.

He was not the happiest person in the world.

Not by any stretch of the imagination.

How on earth did he even manage to get this attached to the woman in what was essentially two days?

And he’d kissed her. A brief kiss that had been over before it had begun, but it had still been a wicked thing to do. Yet, he was not repenting for it in the slightest. He’d enjoyed it, brief though it was.

When the door opened he couldn’t find it in him to care that he hadn’t sprung to do it for the resident, instead he glared a hole in his desk.

“Aren’t you supposed to open that?” Kagome asked carefully, approaching the demon who seemed to have an aura of doom cloaking him.

Sesshoumaru’s golden eyes snapped up, taking in her elegantly curled hair, magenta dress and red cheeks.

“Where is Naraku?” he asked guardedly.

“At a guess?” Kagome asked dryly, “he’s probably enjoying his wedding night with his bride.”

Golden eyes blinked, once, twice, three times. “I don’t understand.” It was hard for him to admit such, and he realised that it was probably the first time he had ever admitted such a thing.

“You don’t understand?” she demanded, her temper sparking, “I’m the one in the dark here! You kissed me and then dumped me outside your door and proceeded to ignore me, like I’m some kind of pariah!” she stomped her foot in her little heels to underline her point. “And I invite you to my brother’s wedding and you turn me down... but it’s okay for you to kiss me?”

“Your ... brother?” he asked, sounding the words as if they were a foreign language.

“Technically he’s my half-brother,” she allowed, “but what did you think was happening?”

“I thought... that Naraku’s bride was you,” he admitted, brows furrowing as he confessed.

“Huh?” It was Kagome’s turn to blink in mute bemusement. “Why?”

“You didn’t say you weren’t,” Sesshoumaru defended himself, folding his arms.

“Wow,” Kagome murmured, “you really jumped to a farfetched conclusion there, didn’t you?”

He growled grumpily in anger, though his heart rate was steadily increasing at the realisation that she was no longer Naraku’s wife to be.

“Why would I have asked you to eat with me if I was getting married?” she demanded, “Did you really take me for the sort of person who would do that?”

“I am sorry,” he apologised, noting the underlying hurt in her interrogation. He belatedly realised that he hadn’t apologised in as long as he could remembered. Normally, he was always right, but with Kagome, he had a feeling the trend was about to change.

Blue eyes softened then and she smiled slightly. “It’s kind of flattering that you got so jealous,” she murmured to her shoes.

Sesshoumaru sensed an opening and took it. “You are the first person to inspire that in me,” he admitted baldly.

Her eyes snapped up to his and their gazes locked, the heat in his gaze warming her all over and making her feel faint.

A tentative clawed-hand came out to ghost across her cheek and she leaned into the caress trustingly.

Drawing closer, her other hand curled possessively around her hip and he lowered his head until their foreheads touched. Their breath mingled and he spoke softly.

“I’m glad you aren’t getting married.”

“Me too.”

“Can I kiss you?”

“If you don’t, I might purify you.”

He chuckled faintly. “Well, we can’t have that,” he uttered, his last words trailing off as he lowered his mouth to hers gently.

This time, instead of chaste and quick, it was sensual and lingering.

This time it was perfect.

0-0-0

A/N: Thank you for reading! This monster one-shot was written for dokuga_contest’s second anniversary challenge: cotton and amounted 12,518 words in total. If you enjoyed, drop me a review!

 

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