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The Way of Finding Each Other

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The gymnasium was buzzing with excitement. In the bleachers, excited friends and family cheered on their favorite competitors, while the students shouted encouragement for their teammates. Around the gym there were five different matches going on: it was a typical Saturday afternoon kendo meet. One could hear the shinai as they crashed against each other, competitors trying to get in hits for points. The referees were heard shouting points for one kendoka or the other. It was definitely a hectic atmosphere.

Taisho Yash loved it. He loved the roar of the crowd, the yelling of his students, the way the shinai slashed through the air. An expert kenshi, he reveled in teaching students the way of the sword as he had been taught since he was a pup. In a world where humans and demons co-existed, he believed that swordsmanship was a great equalizer. He’d met many great human swordsmen, and many weak youkai swordsmen. As a hanyou, he bridged both worlds; because he belonged to both and yet neither, he’d often found himself defending his honor (or that of his human mother) to humans and youkai alike. They especially liked to pick on his ears, which took the shape of two pointed, furry triangles perched on top of his head, which was covered in a long mane of snowy-white hair. Kendo had helped him learn to defend his ears, his claws, his face—anything that belied his true heritage. He’d needed to be the best, and so he had become the best. And as he grew older and earned more and more accolades, his services to train others became in demand.

That’s how he had ended up coaching the Tokyo University team. He’d never been the best student, but he loved coaching and training. He treated his athletes with honor and respect, and worked them hard. For the past three years, they’d been at or near the top of the national rankings. The top high school kendokas all yearned to train under him. He brought in outstanding athletes and scholars, and the university rewarded him with an excellent salary and one of the best dojos in the country. One of the things that his kendokas loved about him was that he wasn’t just a coach; he still trained daily, alongside his athletes. Often, they reported seeing him work late into the night on his form, or sparring with his brother, a respected kenshi in his own right. When he trained on his own, he would forego the use of a shinai for any one of his beautifully crafted swords; it was rumored that his favorite, the Tetsusaiga, was forged from his own father’s fang. His focus on personal betterment trickled down to his athletes, who modeled their own enthusiasm for their training after their coach’s.

Today he was especially proud of his team. They were solidly kicking the asses of every other school in the competition. He loved hearing “Point, Tokyo University” with his athletes’ names over and over, throughout the gym. He loved hearing the roar of the crowd cheering on his students. And he loved giving them advice and support, and hearing them do the same for each other.

“The team looks good today, don’t they, Taisho-sensei?” said a voice from beside him.

He looked down at the team manager, Higurashi Kagome, who was dutifully recording the scores in the team ledger. A grad assistant who was also an accomplished kyudoka, Higurashi-kun clearly knew her way around a dojo, which Yash appreciated. Plus, she was awfully easy on the eyes, unlike some of the grad assistants assigned to him in the past. Long, curly, blue-black hair that she typically wore in a high ponytail; big deep blue eyes the color of a stormy sea; a tight figure with arms of steel from years of kyudo; an ass he was sure he could bounce a coin off of; and full, kissable lips.

Yash should know. He’d kissed them a few times before.

The first time, he really hadn’t meant to do it. They’d won the second match of the year in a do-or-die fashion, and Tokyo U. students placed first, third, and fourth. He’d whooped with glee, hugged his assistant coach, Nakamura Sango, then picked up Higurashi-kun and spun her around. And somehow, he’d wound up kissing her.

And fuck, if it wasn’t like a bolt of lightning went straight from their lips to his groin.

He’d never felt like that from just a kiss.

Aerie Whirlies

Commissioned Artwork by kalcia

Initially, they’d both blushed and looked away from each other. But when Yash found his footing again, he peeked back at her, and saw she was staring openly at him, her lips parted in a little “o” of surprise that he found absolutely fucking sexy. He found himself compelled to find another way to kiss her.

About a week later, after a team victory, they’d been out late celebrating, and Yash offered to walk Higurashi-kun back to her apartment. She’d agreed and he escorted her out, ignoring the look of disbelief from his assistant coach and the thumbs up he got from Deguchi Miroku, the team physician. They’d walked together comfortably, chatting about the match, and Yash asking Higurashi-kun about her most recent kyudo competition. When they at last reached her apartment door, he said good night and made to leave, but she’d gazed at him with such fierceness and intensity he couldn’t help but be drawn back to her. At which point she snaked her arms around his neck and drew him in for their second kiss.

It was just as electric as the first one.

Yash had groaned at the feeling of her body pressed up to him, her breasts full against his chest, and he felt himself growing excited at her closeness. He’d sighed a little and she used that as an opportunity to demand entrance into his mouth with her tongue, which he’d eagerly allowed. They spent several moments like that, exploring, feeling, learning what the other’s mouth, skin, and body were like, and then she abruptly broke off the kiss, mumbled “good night, Taisho-sensei,” and before he could stop her, she was through the door and had closed it, practically in his face.

This had continued for the past few weeks. He would walk her home after a meet, she would initiate a mind-numbing kiss, and then just as quickly, break it off and disappear into her apartment. She never let it go further than that, and she never invited him in. She was, in short, driving him fucking insane.

Which made this seemingly innocent question from her, now, in this moment, appear to be anything but.

“Yes, Higurashi-kun,” replied Yash, turning to look at her with molten amber eyes that burned with a fire reserved for her, “the team looks great today.”

She clearly picked up on his innuendo, because she flushed a deep shade of pink and turned back to her ledger.

His assistant coach nudged him in the side. “Don’t try to seduce the team manager, Taisho,” Sango murmured in his ear. “Focus on the meet.”

Yash rolled his eyes. “Whatever, Nakamura,” he replied. “The meet is going great.”

Sango snorted and pulled on the collar of her university-standard, light blue polo shirt. “That doesn’t give you the freedom to harass Higurashi-kun,” she answered him. A sudden shout from the gym floor caught her attention. “Oi, ref!” she yelled. “That was illegal!” The referee turned to her and pointed, annoyed that she was interfering.

“You can’t hassle the refs, Nakamura,” Yash said. “You don’t want to get kicked out of the competition again. You could get suspended this time.”

Now it was Sango’s turn to roll her eyes. “Yash,” she complained, using his given name in her frustration, “that ref is clearly biased.”

“Fine, fine,” Yash said. “I’ll keep an eye on him.”

But even as he watched that particular match and tried to keep an eye on the ref, he was increasingly distracted by Kagome. She was sitting next to him at the team table, ledger open in front of her, keeping track of all the matches—she was brilliant at that, able to keep track of multiple matches at once!—and not paying much attention to him. But her scent was intoxicating. A sweet smell of lavender and vanilla exuded from her very being, drawing his attention back to her, over and over.

The first round of meets came to an end, but Yash was hardly pay attention. It took a hard nudge from Sango to bring his focus back to his athletes.

“Higurashi-kun, how did we do?” Yash asked Kagome.

Kagome scrunched up her face adorably and looked at her notes. “Looks like we won all five matches,” she said with a grin.

Yash looked up at the leaderboard, which was still updating. His athletes were making their way back to the team table, looking very proud of themselves.

“Great job, everyone!” Yash told his team. Looking back at the leaderboard, he saw that it had been updated, and it confirmed that everyone on the team had indeed won their matches. “You’ve all advanced to the next round, which is fantastic. Higurashi-kun,” he said to Kagome, “can you tell me how we accumulated our most points?”

Kagome quickly scanned her list, then pulled out her phone and did some quick calculations. “It looks like 55% of our points were earned through strikes to the body,” she reported.

Yash looked around at his athletes; their faces were shining and eager for his advice. “That’s a large percentage of strikes to one area, everyone,” he said brusquely. “Do you know what that means?”

One particularly tall kendoka raised his hand. “Yes, Miyamoto-kun,” Yash said.

“It means they will be prepared for us to strike their bodies in the next round,” he reported.

“Correct,” Yash complimented his athlete. He looked around at the students. “I want you to try and vary up your attacks in this round,” he said. “Remember that right now, every coach is telling his athletes that you prefer body strikes, and they will be preparing for that. If they go to block the body, what parts of the body will be left open for attack?”

Another kendoka raised her hand. “Tanaka-kun?” Yash called on her.

“Their shinai will be out in front,” she said, “and so the best place to attack will most likely be the wrist.”

“That’s what I would do, Tanaka-kun,” Yash replied, “and that’s a good strategy. Also watch for openings for attacks to the head. And above all, never do what?”

“Leave ourselves vulnerable,” the team chorused.

Yash lowered his voice and grew very serious. His team leaned in to hear his voice. “Never. Leave. Ourselves. Vulnerable.” His voice growled out every word.

“Now, hands in,” he said gruffly, back to his normal voice. The kendokas all laid one hand in. “On the count of three, who’s gonna win? One…two…three!”

“Tokyo U!” they all chorused, raising their hands up in glee.

“Now get back out there and kick some ass!” he shouted. He looked up at the leaderboard; the next matches were posted. “Miyamoto-kun, you’re at number 1. Tanaka-kun, number 2. Ito-kun, number 3. Sato-kun, number 4. And Hashimoto-kun, you’re at number 5.” He grinned at his team, fangs dipping over his lower lip. “Minna, ganbate!”

“Hai, Taisho-sensei!” they yelled back, and ran off to wait for their next matches.

“Nice job, Taisho-sensei,” Sango said, slapping him on the shoulder. “You gave some excellent advice.”

Yash grinned at her, then turned to Kagome. “Higurashi-kun.”

She looked up at him, surprised. “Yes, Taisho-sensei?”

“You’re doing well today,” he told her. “Thank you for keeping such meticulous notes. I can’t remember when I’ve had a manager as adept as you.”

Kagome flushed under his gaze. “Thank you, Taisho-sensei,” she murmured. “I will continue to work hard for the team.”

Yash squatted down by her side, holding her eyes with his own. “Just for the team, Higurashi?” he asked her roughly.

She laughed lightly and broke the connection first, looking back at her book. “I’m just any other manager, Taisho-sensei,” she replied. “You wouldn’t miss me if it were someone else.”

He reached forward and placed a hand on her shoulder, squeezing it hard. She squeaked a little under his grip. He leaned into her; his breath tickled her ear. “Is that really what you think?” he whispered. She opened her mouth to reply, but no sound came out. A rumble reverberated in his chest.

Dammit, he was going to make her understand how she made him feel.

Then, suddenly, “Inuyasha,” said a very familiar, very unwelcome voice from behind him.

Growling, Yash let go of Kagome’s shoulder, stood up, and whipped around. “What in all of the hells are you doing over here?” he hissed.

Before him stood a tall, ridiculously beautiful woman. Her long, straight, dark hair was pulled back into a low ponytail. She wore the green polo shirt associated with Nagoya University. Her tight black pants displayed a very thin, but not unattractive, figure.

“Your team did well in the first round, Inuyasha,” the woman commented, reaching out to touch his face. He snarled and jerked back from her grasp.

“Kikyo,” he said, “the fuck are you doing!?”

She smiled. “Simply complimenting a rival team,” she said with a wave of her hand. But her face betrayed her true intentions. Her gaze raked over him hotly; he wilted a little under it. Yash steeled himself against her aura, which was pushing on his youki fiercely.

“Inuyasha,” she said calmly, “I’m just trying to be friendly.”

“Don’t call me that, Kikyo.” This time he spat her name. “You are anything but friendly.”

She took a step closer to him, her aura continuing to push on his youki and making him even more uncomfortable. Fuck, it was getting hard to concentrate. He put up his hands to try and move away from her; Sango got ready to step in between them.

Suddenly, a calming dose of reiki came between Kikyo’s aura and Yash’s youki, pushing them apart. Surprised, they both turned to the source.

Kagome was standing, shaking with anger, her reiki radiating off her and moving to block Kikyo’s aura from enveloping Yash. “Maeda-sensei,” she said quietly. “I believe that you are trying to interfere with Taisho-sensei’s ability to successfully coach his team, which is a violation of the rules. Nakamura-sensei,” she added, turning to Sango, “if Maeda-sensei does not cease and desist, the rules clearly state that you are within your rights to file a complaint with the referees.” Sango nodded, her stance defensive and resolute.

Kikyo sighed and took a step back, lowering her aura. “Your manager actually knows the rules, Inuyasha,” she said quietly. “What a surprise. I guess we will have to continue our talk next time.” She turned and went back to her team on the other side of the gym.

“There won’t be a next time, Kikyo,” Inuyasha muttered. “No fucking way. Thank you, Higurashi-kun,” he said, turning in her direction.

But Kagome was gone.

“What in the hells?” Yash exclaimed. He turned to Sango. “Where the fuck did she go, Sango?”

“While you were watching Kikyo leave, Higurashi-kun ran off,” Sango replied. “I don’t think she meant to protect you like that.” She lifted a hand and smoothed out her ponytail. “I had no idea she had spiritual powers. That wasn’t on her application for this position, and with a hanyou for a coach, that information should have been made available to us.”

“Yeah, well, I don’t really care about that. She probably kept me from getting suspended,” he grumbled, crossing his arms and tossing another glare off in the direction of Nagoya University’s table.

“You need to thank her, Yash,” Sango said.

“She’s gone,” he answered.

“Are you or are you not a half demon?” Sango asked, thoroughly amused. “Can you or can you not follow her scent?” She paused. “I’m sure you’ve been scenting her quite consistently the past few weeks, including today.” Her brown eyes sparkled.

“Shut it, Nakamura,” he growled. He sighed and looked up at the leaderboard. “I can’t leave the match. I can’t go find her now.”

“Did you ever think that maybe she needs you to go after her, Inuyasha?” she asked, using his full given name, but more gently than Kikyo did. “Maybe she’s embarrassed about what she did, and needs your reassurance. Oi, Minamoto-kun!” she shouted suddenly at their athlete, who was still waiting for his match. When he looked up at her, she added, “fix your tare! It’s crooked.” Minamoto’s body language clearly showed his embarrassment as he adjusted the protective apron at his waist.

“Seriously, Yash,” she continued, turning back to the head coach, “you need to make this right. I understand you can’t leave the team, but you need to find her and talk to her. Soon.” She smirked. “We can’t lose the best manager this team has ever had.”

Yash’s face fell and his ears flattened against the top of his head. “All right, Nakamura,” he grumbled. “As soon as the match is over, I’ll go find her.”

Kagome ran through the halls of the building, desperately looking for a place to be quiet and by herself. Shit!, she cursed silently as she ran. I can’t believe that I did that! She choked back a sob. I could have killed him!

She knew when she applied for the grad assistant position working as the manager for the kendo team that the head coach was a hanyou. She really did. But there weren’t a lot of positions that a) she wanted and b) she knew she could do and do well. She was so afraid that they wouldn’t even consider her application if she said that she was a miko. So she focused on her excellent observation and recording skills, and her position on the kyudo team, with the hope that she would be hired. She really needed the extra money; she didn’t want to have to take out any loans to pay for her doctoral degree.

The whole thing was going so well; she was excelling at her job, and her bosses were pleasant to work for and quick to compliment her abilities. They especially liked that she was able to note the strikes the team scored points on (and the ones where they lost points), and quickly calculate percentages. Taisho-sensei would ask her for those percentages between matches, so he could give advice to the kendokas on how to shift attacks, and how to protect themselves more effectively. She didn’t like to brag, but she was pretty sure she was a big part of the team’s success.

And then he’d had to go and ruin it all by kissing her.

And gods, what a kiss it was.

It had started simply enough. The team absolutely crushed a meet with a shocking victory thanks to a winner-take-all extra round, and he picked her up and hugged her. Then he kissed her. And the fire that coursed through her body, from her lips down to the tips of her toes, made her shudder so much that she had a hard time standing when he set her back down. Although they’d both immediately looked away from each other, she couldn’t help but gaze back at him, hard, disbelieving. It was like a gauzy curtain had fallen away, revealing him to her. For the first time, she saw the real Taisho Inuyasha. And what a sight that was.

Sure, she admired his prowess with a sword, and had often spend nights in the dojo watching him train while she worked on the ledgers, but she had never really paid much attention to the way that his long silver hair flowed as he went through his forms; how his adorable dog ears twitched when he sparred his brother, as though they were listening for tells to anticipate his brother’s moves; how the muscles of his arms and shoulders tensed and relaxed when he raised a sword over his head; how his legs catapulted him through the air as though he weighed nothing…

No. She couldn’t afford to notice. Because she was a miko, and he was a hanyou. If she noticed him, then she would have to notice him. To imagine how it might feel to be lifted into those strong arms and kissed within an inch of her life; to imagine how those legs might feel wrapped around her body; to imagine how it might feel to lose herself completely in his gorgeous, silver, gleaming hair. So she had simply avoided excess interactions with Taisho-sensei. Until he kissed her in a way that lit up her entire body like she was a neon sign. Her aura had howled like it belonged to a youkai, not a miko.

Then she couldn’t get him out of her mind.

She thought about him all the time. During her history seminars, when she was supposed to be taking copious notes on how the role of mikos changed during the Edo period. During kyudo practice, when she was supposed to be going through the hassetsu. While she wrote papers. While she attended study groups. All. The. Time.

And then he’d offered to take her home one night when the team went out. Against her better judgment, she agreed. They walked home, and they had talked in a friendly manner. In fact, talking with him was easier than she’d thought; they chatted about the meet, and about the kyudo team. He was kind, thoughtful, and a good listener. His smile was infectious and sweet. She realized she liked him.

When he said goodnight to her at her apartment door and made to leave, she couldn’t help but stare openly at him, hoping that he’d get the message. But when he just gazed back at her, his beautiful golden eyes questioning her motives, she decided the hell with formalities and moved towards him. She threw her arms around his neck and drew him in close, crushing his lips with hers, pressing herself close to his body. And gods, had he responded, groaning into her mouth and running his hands all over the parts of her body he could reach. She used the groan as a way to shove her tongue into his mouth, which he apparently loved, if anything could be revealed by the hardening she felt in his groin. They’d stayed like that for several minutes, lost in something so fierce and feral Kagome thought she could die in that moment and be forever satisfied.

But then, reality hit her.

She was a miko. He was a hanyou.

She could purify him if something went wrong.

So she quickly broke it off, said good night, and went through her door, basically closing it in his face. She stood on the other side of the door, hand clutched to her heart, breathing heavily, sweating a little from the heat of the moment.

That couldn’t happen again. She liked him too much to let it happen again.

But yet, it had. Several more times. And each time, it got harder and harder to keep her reiki under control. And each time, she cut things off before she lost it, escaping from his hard body, his passionate grasp, his whispers of everything he wanted to do with her. Because, dammit, she wanted that too.

And now, all the lying, all the secrecy, had officially blown up in her face.

She hadn’t wanted to do it. She really hadn’t. But the coach from Nagoya University was threatening Taisho-sensei. It wasn't the first time she had done this. Something bad had happened between them; Kagome could clearly sense it from the way his youki was pulsating. And Maeda-sensei was using her reiki to try and intimidate him. Kagome couldn’t help it; she knew she had to step in if Maeda-sensei didn’t stop.

When Maeda-sensei’s reiki had really started to infiltrate Taisho-sensei’s youki, Kagome flung her reiki in between the two, providing a calming essence, trying to break up the battle between their auras. And then she’d really taken it too far.

“Maeda-sensei,” she’d said quietly. “I believe that you are trying to interfere in Taisho-sensei’s ability to successfully coach his team, which is a violation of the rules. Nakamura-sensei,” she’d added, turning to the assistant coach, “if Maeda-sensei does not cease and desist, the rules clearly state that you are within your rights to file a complaint with the referees.” The assistant coach had nodded, prepared to move between the two head coaches if necessary.

And then, while Taisho-sensei watched Maeda-sensei walk back to her team table, she’d fled. Ashamed. Embarrassed. Sure that she no longer had a job.

She walked all the way to the train station. It wasn’t exactly close to the competition site, but she managed. She bought a ticket back to Tokyo, and rode the train in silence, thinking about all she had done. She’d fucked up, and then instead of staying to apologize, she’d run. Surely Taisho-sensei would never speak to her again. As if he’d ever been hers to talk to in the first place, no matter how badly she wanted him to be. She bent over so no one on the train would be able to see her tears.

As soon as the team arrived back at the university, Yash left the team in Sango’s capable hands, and practically flew to Higurashi-kun’s apartment. He wondered what was going through her mind; he wondered why she had left the gym in such a hurry. Could Sango be right? Could Higurashi-kun feel guilty for not admitting her miko status on her application? Fuck it all, he didn’t care. He liked this girl; he didn’t care if she was a miko. If he could survive Kikyo, he could survive anything.

And besides, he didn’t think she would ever hurt him on purpose. She was sweet; she was soft; she was smart; she was fierce; she was passionate.

Definitely nothing like Kikyo.

He felt in the depths of his soul that they could make it work, no matter who they were.

But standing at her door, he felt really fucking nervous. Running was her thing, he realized. Why had she also run out on him every time things were getting interesting? Did she have a boyfriend? Was she scared because she was cheating? Did she just really hate the way he kissed?

Yash took a deep breath. You’ve gotta fucking do this, Yash, he told himself. At the very least, she deserves a thanks for saving you from Kikyo today.

He raised his hand, but before he could knock, the door was flung open, and there she stood. Her beautiful face was puffy; there were tear tracks down her cheeks. Her normally shiny hair was carelessly thrown back in a bun; strands of hair flew about her face. She was wearing a tank top and leggings. He suddenly felt foolish coming to her apartment unannounced.

He was about to say something when she spoke first. “I’m sorry,” she muttered, gesturing to the door. “I could sense your youki all the way down the block. You’ve been standing here at least a few minutes. I figured if I didn’t open the door, you might never knock.”

She wasn’t wrong. “Can I come in?” he asked.

She smiled tightly and stepped aside to let him into her apartment. He removed his shoes in the genkan, using that time to look around.

It was small. She had a living area with a couch, a television on a stand, and a chabudai with some zabuton scattered around it. The living area also had a breakfast bar, on the other side of which was a galley kitchen. There were two doors; one of which he assumed led to the bathroom, while the other must have led to her bedroom. It was sparsely decorated, but her scent lingered everywhere. It was strangely comforting. He tried to inhale without her noticing he was being weird.

“Would you like some tea?” she asked politely. “Or, maybe some sake or whiskey? Or wine?”

“You have that much liquor?” he said, surprised.

“I’m a grad student,” she responded gamely. “Drinking is essential to survival.”

“You pick,” he replied.

“Okay. Please make yourself comfortable.”

He ambled over to the couch and sat down, watching her closely as she moved into the kitchen. She opened a cabinet and took out two sake cups and a carafe. Setting them on the counter, she then opened another cabinet and took out a small bottle of sake. She poured the sake into the carafe.

“Do you like it cool, warm, or hot?” she asked him.

“Not too hot,” he said, amused.

“Me either,” she responded, and took out a small pot. She ran the faucet and filled the pot a few inches, then put it on the burner. She lit the burner and waited for the water to heat up.

“Why don’t you just microwave it?” he asked.

“It destroys the molecules,” she replied simply. “If I’m already drunk, I do it that way.”

Yash laughed. She smiled. Things were looking up.

“So what are you studying?” he asked her. Even though she was in the kitchen, the apartment was so tiny he didn’t need to shout.

“You don’t know?” she asked.

“Sango—Nakamura-sensei hires the graduate assistants,” he replied.

Kagome’s mouth made a small “o” of understanding. It was so cute; it was like when they had first kissed. Did she make that face often? He wondered what that “o” would look like around a certain part of his anatomy. He shook his head, trying to get rid of the thought. It didn’t work.

“I’m studying Japanese history,” she replied. “My area of specialization is the Muromachi Period, but I look at the Azuchi-Momoyama Period, too. Basically up to Edo.”

“Why so long ago?” he asked.

“Edo Period is when there were some pretty significant shifts in culture and society,” she said. “It’s when Confucianism really started to take hold. The eras before that, I think, are more what we consider to be more “traditionally” Japanese. I’m interested in comparing those time periods with modern times, and thinking about what traditions survived, which didn’t, and why.”

“And mikos underwent some pretty significant changes after that time period, too,” he commented. “No more sake making; at least, not for a long time.”

“That’s right.” She leveled her gaze at him as she put the carafe in the boiling water, unable to hide her shock at his knowledge.

“I’m full of surprises.” His eyes met hers, and she blushed a little. 

“I bet you are,” she replied, smiling in spite of her embarrassment.

They were quiet as Kagome removed the carafe from the water and turned off the burner. She put the carafe and two cups on a tray and brought it into the living room. She sat across from him on the couch and put the tray between them, carefully pouring the sake into the cups. She handed one to him, took one for herself, then put the tray on the chabudai. They looked at each other, toasted their glasses and said, “Kanpai,” each taking a sip. Yash smiled, allowing the warmth of the liquor to flow down his throat and into his belly. He sighed.

“It’s good, isn’t it,” Kagome commented, putting both her hands around the cup as though to warm up.

Yash grunted. Kagome blushed. She took another sip of sake (probably bigger than normal, but what the hell), and Yash could tell she was mustering up her courage. Oh, fuck it all, he thought.

“I’m sorry,” he said in a rush before she could say anything. “You really saved my ass today, and I shouldn’t have let you run out like that.”

“Oh, Taisho-sensei—” she began.

“Yash, please,” he interrupted. “I’m in your house; we’re drinking sake. Taisho-sensei is weird.”

“Yash,” she replied, quickly acquiescing to his instructions, “I’m the one who is sorry. I should have been upfront on the application. I shouldn’t have hidden that I’m a miko.”

“Why did you?” he asked her, taking another sip of sake.

“I knew you were a…a hanyou,” she said, and shrank back a bit when his youki flooded forth as if to protest the term, “and I wanted the job so badly. I was afraid you wouldn’t hire me if you knew.”

“Like I said, Sango handles all that,” he replied. “And to be honest, I don’t know what she would have done.” He leaned over to set his sake cup on the chabudai, then sat forward on the couch and took her free hand in both of his. “All I know is that you have been a fucking incredible addition to our team, Higurashi—”

“—Kagome, please.”

“Kagome.” He liked saying her name. He liked how it made her flush with pleasure and how it changed her scent to something spicy and musky. He wanted to wash away those tear streaks and show her just how much he liked her name, her face...fuck, how much he liked all of her.



She laughed. He liked that too. It was bright, and tinkling, and made him shiver, damn it all.

“You were saying that I’ve been an incredible addition to the team,” she reminded him gently. She was now rubbing her thumb over the back of his hand, and he was having trouble concentrating.

“A fucking incredible addition,” he said again. She didn’t miss the innuendo.

“Fuck, even if I had known you’re a miko, I wouldn’t have cared,” he continued. “You’re smart, and you’re observant. Your experience as a kyudoka really comes in handy. So what if I’m in constant mortal peril? You’re fucking amazing.” He barked out a laugh.

She pulled her hand out of his and sank back on the couch. She sipped her sake again. “But that’s the thing, isn’t it?” she said sadly. “You are in constant danger from me.”

He laughed again and, leaning forward, took the cup from her and set it on the chabudai beside his own. He sat back on the couch and moved closer to her. He placed his hand on her cheek, his thumb delicately tracing her jawline.

“Wench,” he said affectionately, “don’t you get it? I’m in constant danger from you anyway. Not because of what you might someday maybe do to me, but because of what you’re already doing.” She blushed, lowering her gaze, and he chuckled.

“What was the story with the Nagoya coach today?” Kagome asked, leaning back from his touch.

Yash frowned. So they were going to have to get past that first, huh? Okay.

“Maeda Kikyo is my former fiancée,” he said flatly. Kagome looked back up at him and her eyes widened. Yash didn’t think it was possible for them to get any bigger, but now they were large stormy saucers that threatened to pull him in. He desperately wanted those eyes to look at him with something akin to desire, to look at him with anything other than the feelings stirred by this conversation.

“Former?” she whispered.


“Yes. Former. For about a hot minute.”

“So why…?”

“Because she likes throwing her reiki around. She knows it annoys me and throws me off my game. Things between us didn’t end well.” He paused. “I mean it, I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate that you were there today to put a stop to it, Kagome. If you hadn’t been there, she might have forced me to do something that I would have regretted.” He lowered his eyes. “Your reiki was so soothing, it immediately brought my youki under control. The opposite of Kikyo’s. I…liked feeling it.” He looked back up at her.

Kagome was twisting her hands nervously. “I like that you liked it,” she whispered. “But what if something were to go wrong? What if I did accidentally hurt you? Like when we kiss, I feel my reiki rising. It’s hard to keep it under control when I get…excited.” She blushed.

Yash leaned back towards her. “Anzuru yori uma ga yashashii, ne?” He winked and she laughed. He pressed his lips against hers and she responded, practically jumping into his lap with excitement.

Fuck, it was even better than Yash expected. Her soft lips rubbed seductively against his; she tasted of oranges and cinnamon and sake. He sighed a little; he couldn’t help it. She used that opportunity to push her tongue against his lips and he granted her entrance. Her tongue was just as soft and sweet, carefully exploring the interior of his mouth, as though she relished every part of him. Her hands fisted in his hair and roamed to the top of his head, where she found his ears. She began stroking them and he growled. She immediately drew her hands away.

“Is that not good?” she murmured into his mouth.

“It’s amazing,” he grunted. “But if you start doing that, I may not be able to control myself.” He moved her hands to his back, where she immediately began tugging at his shirt. Yash yowled and wrapped his arms around her, nipping her lip with his fangs. Her lithe fingers made to pull his shirt off, her hands running over the muscles in his back.

Being here with Kagome like this was better than any dream he’d had about her…about anyone, really. But fuck it, he had to be the good guy here. As much as he wanted to tear her clothes off and carry her off to the bedroom (or the kitchen, or just to the chabudai…anywhere with a flat surface or a handhold would do), he knew they had to take it slow. She had literally just told him she was afraid of purifying him during sex, and now they were making out on her couch. It was gonna have to be baby steps with this one. Because from the way he felt, he suspected she could also be the last one.

He sighed and removed her hands from his back. He picked her up, removed her from his lap, and kissed her forehead. She looked confused.

“We’ll take it slow,” he promised her. “Whatever you feel comfortable doing.”

She leaned back into him and pawed at his shirt. “I feel comfortable doing this.”

He laughed; was she sure she was a miko and not part inu youkai? “Down, girl,” he said teasingly. “You’ll get what you want soon enough. I want to make sure you don’t have any concerns going into it.”

Kagome understood what he was saying. She moved her hands up to his face and kissed him softly. “Thanks, Inuyasha,” she said huskily.

His breath hitched. “Is something wrong?” she asked. “Do you not like your name?”

“Not really,” he replied slowly. “Kikyo uses it because she knows it pisses me off. But when you say it…it sounds…” How to describe the sound? Like a million sweet bells going off in my head at once? Like I want to hear you scream it from under me?

“It sounds perfect,” he finished. She flushed, looking pleased.

“But save it for the right moments,” he added, looking right at her so she wouldn’t miss his meaning. She simply smiled back.

Yash stood and pulled Kagome to her feet. He kissed her once more, because he couldn’t not kiss her. “I’ll see you tomorrow, right?” he asked.

Kagome frowned. “I’ve got class and then practice tomorrow—I won’t be back at kendo practice until Tuesday.” The way his face fell and his ears sagged reminded her of a lost puppy. “I’m done with practice at 6. How about we meet for a drink and maybe some dinner after?” she added.

Yash grinned. “It’s a date.”

Kagome grinned too and walked him to the door. “I’ll text you when I get out of practice. I’ll have to shower and change, but that will give you time to pick a place for us to go. Sound good?”

Yash opened the door to her apartment and stepped out. She held her face out for a kiss and he obliged, already feeling like it was going to be hard to deny her for very long. “Perfect. See you tomorrow, Ka-go-me.”

“Sweet dreams, Yash.” She closed the door. He grinned again—he couldn’t help it—and listened carefully for her to move away from the door. When he heard her footsteps take her into another room, he left, optimistic about the future for perhaps the first time ever.

Just got out of practice. Give me 45 minutes to shower and change?

Yash smiled when he saw the text. It was exactly 6:00. She was nothing if not punctual.

Sounds good. Let’s go to the izakaya by the subway station.

Her response was almost immediate.

I’ll be there at 6:45. See you soon <3

He chuckled at the little heart and put his phone back in his pocket. He looked around; the last of his athletes were still hanging out, talking with Sango and waiting for a chance to go over the latest meet with him one last time. He’d have about twenty minutes to wrap things up with them, then he’d have to change his shirt and head to the izakaya.

They had fallen into an easy, regular routine over the past six weeks. When it was cooler out, the kyudo team had been practicing at the dojo, but now that the weather was warm, they were back outside, practicing in their field. The kyudo team used the dojo locker room in the cooler weather, but now that it was warm, they used their locker room attached to the field. So Yash only saw her at the dojo for kendo practice a few times a week, but at least once a week they had dinner and drinks. Their weekends tended to be busy; between their respective schedules, they rarely spent any personal time together then. Yash had started going to Kagome’s kyudo meets when he could, too. He’d known she was an accomplished kyudoka, but fuck, she was incredible. She was adept at both short and long-range shooting, and her technique was flawless. She was also able to assess her competitors quickly and effectively, changing her strategy to defeat her opponents easily. He could see why she was one of the top kyudoka in the country. He felt even more blessed to have her as part of his team.

But in terms of the sexual part of their relationship, Yash had to admit he was frustrated. He’d let her take the lead with this, knowing she was afraid that she might hurt him. They’d done a little more than kiss, thank the gods, but not much. He was torn between forcing the issue and possibly sending her running, or continuing to be well acquainted with his right hand. He groaned inwardly, shaking his head. Fucking hell, he didn’t know how much longer he could hold out. She lit his insides on fire every time she touched him; he could not wait to see what it would feel like to be inside her and to feel her all around him. He’d probably burn alive and be fucking ecstatic as his body blistered.

“Taisho-sensei!” called Sango, and he looked up to see his assistant coach signaling for him to come over. He sighed and shook his head, willing himself to pull his shit together for the next twenty minutes.

Kagome could sense the nervousness rolling off him in waves. He was walking her home from the izakaya, but she could tell his mind was elsewhere. She took his hand and squeezed it affectionately; Yash looked down at her and smiled, but his smile didn’t quite reach his eyes.

“Yash, why so tense?” she asked lightly. She sent out a cooling wave of reiki to enfold him; she felt it caressing his youki.

Almost immediately he relaxed and squeezed her hand back. “Thanks, Kagome,” he said. “I didn’t realize how much tension I had built up. It’s been a long day.” He sighed. “We’re almost to your apartment.” He sounded like that was the last place he wanted to be.

“Do you not want the night to end?” she asked him.

He leaned over and kissed her cheek. “I never want nights with you to end,” he whispered huskily. His voice hit her in her very core, causing a warmth to spread down from her belly into her thighs.

“Then let’s not let it,” she whispered back. She pulled him along quickly, her desire to get him inside her apartment suddenly overtaking her senses completely. He laughed, and she was sure he could smell her arousal, thick in the air. She knew he had a sharp nose heightened by his inu youkai blood. But she didn’t care. She knew that her spiritual powers heightened with a spike in her desire. But she didn’t care. The only thing she cared about was getting this beautiful, beautiful man inside her apartment and doing all sorts of delicious things to him.

They hurried along in the dark sidewalk that was peppered with street lamps casting an ethereal glow. Kagome felt like she couldn’t get there fast enough. “Come on,” she growled, practically dragging Yash with her. He laughed and let her pull him along, enjoying her aggressiveness.

They were back at her apartment before they knew it. Yash pushed her up against her door, kissing her lips, her cheek, her jaw, her neck…anything he could reach.

“Yash,” Kagome breathed, “I need to get out my keys.”

He pulled away, his golden eyes fiery with yearning for her. “Open the door, then,” he said, locking her gaze with his own.

She fumbled with her purse, struggling to open it under his scrutiny. He laughed. “Here,” he said, holding out his hand. She handed him the bag and he rummaged through it, pulling out her keys. “May I?” he asked. When she nodded, he opened the door and let her in ahead of him. They stepped into the genkan, Yash locking the door behind him and both of them taking off their shoes.

Now inside her apartment, shoes off, they paused, eyes fully on each other. Kagome forgot how to breathe. She forgot how to speak. She forgot everything except how he looked at her: like she was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen. And she knew that look, because it was how she looked at him, too. He made to open his mouth as if to speak.

But then Kagome was on him. She wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him down and into a kiss. He responded immediately, nipping her bottom lip with his fangs, pushing his tongue into her mouth when she moaned in pleasure. She ran her hands up and down his back, tugging off his jacket and then lifting his shirt. He pulled away from her, and when she whined at the loss of contact, he chuckled and pulled off his shirt for her. Kagome laughed too and yanked him back to her, running her hands and her lips all over his chest, curling her fingers in his silver chest hair and leaving her own nips along his toned stomach. Yash buried his face in her hair, inhaling her scent, moving his hands methodically down her back. He pulled her tank top up; she moved her head away from his body just long enough to allow him to remove her shirt altogether.

This was the first time they’d been shirtless together, and gods, Kagome almost swooned from the feel of his hands on her body. His touch seared right through her skin. It heated her blood and when he ran his hands under her bra strap in the back, she almost came in her pants, it felt so good.

Yash suddenly gave a little yelp of surprise. Kagome pulled back. “What is it?”

He laughed and looked down at his chest. His silver hair was singed where her hand had been. “You used your reiki on me,” he said, smiling.

Kagome blushed and made to cover her face with her hands. “I’m so sorry!” she moaned. “I knew this would happen!” She turned away in her embarrassment, ready to run to her room.

“Kagome.” His voice was liquid and reached out to her, forcing her to turn back around and to move her hands away from her eyes. His face was a mixture of amusement and latent want. “It didn’t hurt.”

“What?” How could that be?

He reached out and took her hands in his. “It felt good, koishii,” he said gently. “Like it was caressing me. Like you were caressing me.”

Tears started forming in Kagome’s eyes; she couldn’t help it. “It was…good?” she whispered, not daring to believe him. “And you called me…that?”

“No tears, and yes, I did,” he said, keeping both her hands in one of his own and using his other to wipe her eyes. “Because you are. And you’re not gonna hurt me. Do you believe that now?”

The relief that flooded her soul in that moment was more than she could handle. She collapsed into his arms and he held her, stroking her hair and whispering terms of endearment as her fears fell away; she could feel that he was allowing his youki to surround them both protectively. It was so warm and so soothing she almost forgot why he was there. Almost.

Kagome reached up and gently kissed his lips. When she pulled away, she could see that his eyes were shining, and his cheeks were flushed. For the first time, she felt ready for what she wanted. “Inu-ya-sha,” she whispered, and she loved feeling him shudder when she said his full name.

“Yes, Kagome?” he whispered back, the tension in the room so thick with lust neither of them dared to disturb it.

“Would you like to see my bedroom?”

He grinned; his fangs dipped over his bottom lip and his eyes tinged red. “You bet your sweet little juicy ass I do, Ka-go-me.”

Now it was her turn to shiver.