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Kagome's eyes were focused on the horrible design of the party invitation in her hand, clearly created in a word document with clip art that definitely should have been forgone as she and her best friend made their way down the busy school corridor. She honestly couldn't tell if the ugly layout was intentional for the humor of it, or if they actually thought it was clever and unique. The host was that kind of guy; hard to read and artistic in his own particular sort of flare. She trusted Sango to guide her toward their usual spot for lunch, folding the invitation evenly to stick into her bag when she bumped into the shoulder of someone going in the opposite direction.

He'd stopped momentarily as she reactively gave a gasp, looking up to see bright, golden irises staring down at her.

"Sorry." Kagome breathed.

"Watch where you're going." The boy grunted, giving a lazy roll of his eyes as he stepped away, his arm better-angled so it merely rubbed against her sleeve so as not to offend her shoulder again.

"You should have been the one to apologize, stupid mutt." Koga had pushed off from the wall he'd been propped against, his tone low but challenging, bringing out a subtle eye roll from Kagome. The matter was hardly a bid deal to her, as surprised as she was to have received any ounce of attitude. For some reason, her friend was always one for dramatic attempts at heroism for any female that seemed disrespected. Unfortunately, his version of saving the day involved offensive name-calling, one-upping, pride-dwindling, and indirect threats. The cockshow was unnecessary, and she'd politely told him before she didn't need any protecting from him.

Steadily, without missing a beat, the silver-haired boy did a one-eighty on his heel, his expression flat aside from an arched eyebrow. Both of his fists were held up at about waist level as he extended the middle fingers on each in Koga's direction. With his next step, he spun right back around, continuing on his path like he hadn't responded at all.

"Hard to take you seriously with ears like a -"

"Give and receive, Koga." Sango snickered, cutting him off before he could potentially make anything worse with his competitive nature. "You can't punk someone and not expect to get the same in return."

"You're seriously sticking up for that guy when he walked right into Kagome?" The wolf demon asked, crossing the hallway over to them.

"Technically, I walked right into him." Kagome corrected with a whimsical shrug. "You should really be yelling at me. Go on, let me have it. I can take it."

Koga rolled his blue eyes, the hint of aggravation still curving his brow. "He's a dick, anyway. Deserves it."

"Funny. I didn't hear him call you a mutt." Sango replied, cocking her head to the side.

"Why - are you - sticking up - for him?" Koga inquired once more, the perplexity growing more and more evident in his expression.

"Because - we know - how you are." Sango echoed his tone, not even bothering to hide her amusement, especially as Kagome giggled at her side.

"Alright, whatever, Sesame Street gang. Go promote proper manners somewhere else. See if I ever say anything for you again." He huffed, shaking his head and turning to walk back to his two friends stationed where he was parked when this all began. After two steps, he spun around, walking backwards as the rest of the hall parted and moved around him like he was king of the school. "But, you're okay right, Kagome?"

"Never better." She laughed, heading off with Sango. Before they turned the corner, Kagome's brown eyes glanced down the hall, following the direction of the boy she'd bumped into. He'd already disappeared, heading off to wherever his destination may have been.

For the remainder of the day, his glowing eyes had been etched into her memory, seemingly trying to stay forever by creating a permanent indentation. They were passionate on their own, and she could only imagine how ferocious they would appear had he backed up his stare with any expression. She'd noticed him several times around the courtyard since he'd shown up at their school, unthinkably attracted to him. It was, of course, a tenuous attraction. He was cute. His hair was long and a gorgeous, light shade, tied at the crown of his head - sometimes sloppily and sometimes with a little more effort. Either way, the look suited him well. He let his tie hang a little looser than was average, and the top couple of buttons at the collar always stayed open. He rarely left his sleeves down, rolling them up to his elbows to expose his forearms, and that was probably what she'd appreciated most. Until now. From afar, she'd never really caught the tint of his eyes, nor had she paid close attention. If he were to have caught her staring, Kagome would have been mortified. So, she kept her glances brief and nonchalant, only gathering the obvious and superficial aspects to admire.

She didn't even know his name, so she really didn't like to classify whatever she felt as a crush. They'd never had an actual conversation, meaning she didn't know a single detail of his personality, so how could it be reasonable to classify the baby flutter in her belly as feelings of any degree? But hours passed and all she could think of were his amber eyes. They held depth. They held an untamed fire. And she could already tell, she was in for it.

Kagome grabbed her belongings from her locker, pulling her long, black hair free from the strap of her book bag that hung over her shoulder. She still had to go pick up her younger brother from his soccer practice before she could head home, and his practice had a tendency to run late when they were nearing a game. With a dragged sigh, she headed toward the exit, her sights focused on the rays of sunshine on the cement outside that were being pushed away, hidden behind patches of clouds that clearly had an agenda of their own. Rain wasn't supposed to hit until later that night, and she could only hope the forecast held true.

She jerked to a quick stop at the edge of the wall of lockers when she detected a body just an inch or so to the side of her, the guy, himself, stopping abruptly to avoid the collision. Kagome looked up, spotting the boy from earlier, his expression pressed into one of annoyance as he peered down at her.

"Try looking up for once, airhead." He remarked, his voice pleasantly husky.

"Ah, sorry." Kagome grimaced, shifting into an awkward smile. "At least I caught myself that time."

He said nothing in reply, only gesturing for her to continue on out before him with a notch of his head and a quick flick of his eyes. She took a few steps, but they were mindful, not separating too far from him as he followed behind.

"Hey, uh, sorry about earlier. When I walked into you."

"It's fine." He said, hardly sparing her a glance.

"I just kind of feel bad about it."

That time, he looked, furrowing his brow quizzically. He slowed to a stop just outside the building, bringing her to do the same as she turned to fully face him. "It was the most minor of minor offenses, and you feel bad?"

"You'd be surprised how heavily my conscience weighs on me." Kagome said playfully, shrugging. "Not to mention, my clumsiness led to Koga's input. So, yeah. Sorry about that, too."

"Why are you apologizing for him?"

"Because I think it's fair to say you and I both know he won't do it himself. And, like I said, it was kind of my fault."

"The shit your boyfriend says doesn't bother me any."

"Boyfriend?" Kagome recoiled slightly, the grimace hard to keep from her face. "Oh, no. No, no. No, he's not my boyfriend."

He didn't say anything, merely giving a slow and steady nod as he pinched his lips into a straight line. "Okay."

"Anyway, I'm Kagome." She watched him raise his brows, giving another deliberately slow nod, making no motion to verbally respond. That wasn't going to dissuade her from persisting just a little further, though. "And, I'd really like for you to tell me your name, because the one I've got is the one Koga used, and I just don't think it suits you."

"Well, jokes on you, because my name really is Stupid Mutt." He smirked, cocking his head minutely. Long, silver strands leaned with his angle from behind his head, and though her eyes were pulled in their direction, they quickly flickered back up to meet his golden stare.

"Wow. Your parents really didn't give you a fighting chance, did they?"

He chuckled, and god, it was hard not to smile widely just from the sound, nor the way he shook his head and glanced to the ground for the briefest of moments before looking back at her. "Nothing shakes you, does it?"

Kagome feigned a grimace as she shook her head to say "no," her grin taking over at the tail end.

"Fine. It's Inuyasha."

"See, that's much better." She stepped back, noticing Sango approaching from the side, her smile never fading as she softly dragged her teeth over the plush of her bottom lip. "See you around, Inuyasha."

Kagome appreciated the way her best friend kept her mouth shut, merely giving a friendly smile toward Inuyasha when they passed and continued together toward the school's exit. Once they were out of view, that was when Sango quirked her way. It was eventually expected. She'd kept her cool longer than usual.

"Mind if I ask what the heck that was all about?" Sango's tone was playful, but still presented a hint of seriousness; meaning, Kagome better cough up some juicy details of their conversation.

"I was just apologizing for what had happened in the hall today." She replied, poorly holding back her laugh.

"Uh, bull. I know the signs of flirty Kagome. She doesn't come out to play very often, but when she does -"

"Excuse me, I was not flirting!"

"Then, what was that!?" Sango pressed, jaw hanging agape as she gestured back towards the school.

"That was a conversation."

"Well, if that's the case, we're conversing. You should be biting your lip and making baby doll eyes at me, too."

"I would, but then you'd fall in love with me." Kagome shrugged jokingly.

"That's a horrible defense, Kay."

"Yeah, okay, whatever, I was flirting. But, it was justified! It wasn't flirting to flirt, it was more like I was just trying to soften him up around the edges. The guy's pretty standoffish."

"And cute." Sango added. "And he's got the attitude of a bad boy. Is this it? Is this what you're into? Ladies and gentleman, I think we've finally found her weakness!" She raised her hands triumphantly, as if surrounded by a crowd of cheerers.

"Weakness!? Hardly!"

"Oh, please! We've got Hojo, a major goodie two shoes, and we've got Koga, the jock. Neither of which have ever blown your skirt up - metaphorically speaking, of course."

"Find a new metaphor, please."

"All I'm saying is, everyone's got a cup of tea, and yours is laced with dismissive grunts and hanyou blood. Nothing wrong with that!"

Kagome sighed out exasperatedly, aiming it upward so the puff of air would ruffle her fringe.

"Alright, I'll stop." Sango drawled, smiling happily since Kagome hadn't denied the attraction. "So, what's his name?"

"Inuyasha." Kagome had to actively fight off the mild flutter in her abdomen, keeping her expression as straight as possible, sans the very small upward curve of her lips.

"And, is he as grumpy as he seems?"

"Kind of, but we didn't really talk all that much. I don't feel like he's all that bad, though."

"Maybe he's not." Sango shrugged. "Maybe he just keeps to himself at first, but then grows more comfortable the better he knows someone. Gotta start chipping away somehow, right?"

Kagome bobbed her head back and forth, understanding the point of view. "I'm more surprised that you have nothing against me liking him."

"Nothing's even happened for me to disapprove of. Give me a week, I'm sure I'll find something." She laughed, giving a half spin as she headed down her side of the fork in the road, walking backward as she wrapped up their conversation. "See you tomorrow, yeah?"

"Bye." Kagome shook her head, her laugh silent but the evidence there as she continued along to her younger brother's practice.

She resented every single meteorologist in existence for their fifty-fifty forecast predicting skills, even more so now than ever because they said the storm would last three days, three days, and then they were in the clear for the remainder of the week. The blanket of dark clouds had parted, the puddles had mostly evaporated away, and the sun was shining nice and bright this afternoon. Kagome even noticed the twinkle of the stars above as she and Sango arrived at their friend's party. After leaving, calling it a night and parting ways, the stars were sheathed and she heard the distant rumble of thunder growing ominously close. She was nearly halfway home when it boomed over head, scaring the wits out of her before the clouds dumped a downpour on her naively-unsuspecting head.

She ran for it, her shoes clapping along the soaked cement, her exposed legs chilled and wet, her only haven being the nearby building with enough roof overhang to keep her dry until the worst of the storm passed. As soon as she was covered, Kagome pushed her damp hair from her face, raking the frizzy strands to hold behind her ears while she accepted there was nothing at all that could be done for her bangs that she could already feel curling. Her chest heaved up and down from how fast she'd sprinted from her starting point to here, watching how heavily drops fell from the sky in the gleam from a lamppost a yard or so away.

Heaving a sigh, Kagome fought the shiver from the moisture seeping through her sleeves, instead deciding to move about so she didn't turn into a ball of cold in the meantime. She wasn't surprised to see no one around with the hour and weather being what they were, the night calm and peaceful. Despite the unfortunate circumstances, the smell of rain was always one of her favorites, and she took in a deep inhale as she walked the length of the sheathing she protected herself under. Her purse, strapped across her shoulder, bounced against her side on beat with her stride, and she debated reaching in for her cell and calling her mom to come get her. She knew her mom wouldn't mind. She knew her mom would probably prefer to come pick her up than have her waiting a storm out alone. She just couldn't bring herself to do it. Her mom often worked late, and though she had the night off, she didn't want to chance waking her up just to come get her because she didn't want to walk a few blocks in the rain.

In fact, the thought of potentially waking her up if she was actually in bed was enough to make her realize that her position wasn't so bad. She would manage just fine, even if she arrived home soaking wet.

Kagome continued to follow the length of the building until she reached a corner, mindlessly curving when she felt like she'd walked into a moving wall. Hands quickly snatched her arms to steady her as she stumbled to the side. She looked up, slightly shocked, to see a scowl of irritation swiftly deadpan.

"You're fucking kidding me, right?" Inuyasha asked, dropping his hold on her. He watched her smile grow, almost bashfully at first, cheeks holding a slight sheen from the dampness of the rain. She slowly opened her mouth to speak, but he beat her to the chase. "Yeah, yeah, you're sorry, I know. What are you doing out so late?"

"I could ask the same for you." Kagome replied, cocking a brow.

"I was out for a walk when it started raining." He answered, eyes observing her attire. She wore a floral dress topped with a thin, black cardigan; more casual-looking than fancy. "Were you at a party?"

"Yeah. It got a bit too rowdy for my liking, though, so I left."

"Where's that friend you're always with?"

"Sango? She went home, too."

"Did you guys not leave together?" His tone held the hint of skepticism.

"Well, we did but we live in different directions."

"Why didn't you just go home with her?" Inuyasha had furrowed his brows, and Kagome couldn't tell if he was confused, concerned, or just nosy. She felt asking him why would only disperse the expression entirely, putting him on the defense for reacting any certain way. That wasn't necessary. Quite frankly, she found the look endearing on him. He didn't seem as infamously grouchy as his reputation perceived.

"Whenever I stay out late, my mom likes to physically see I'm home when she gets up in the morning. She doesn't check my room or anything to see that I'm there, but there are signs I know she looks for. Like, my keys hanging on the wall or my shoes in the entry. She checks those before she checks her phone for messages, and the last thing I'd want to do is give her a heart attack." She responded, leaning back against the wall. It took viable effort not to tense and arch away from the cold, damp cloth of her cardigan being pressed into the skin of her upper back, and she could only wish for the round of applause she deserved for successfully playing it off.

"You were better off going with your friend." The half demon gave a small, disapproving shake of his head, crossing his arms over his chest. She cocked her head to the side, face twisting expectantly as she awaited his explanation. "You reek of alcohol. I don't know your mom, but I'm pretty sure she'd be upset if you came home drunk."

"But, I'm not - I had like a sip of Sango's - Oh!" As soon as the realization hit her, Kagome did such a dramatic eye roll that her head lolled along with it. She grabbed the bottom hem of her dress with one hand, her icy fingers stinging the side of her thigh as she looked at the fortunately stain-free cloth. "This Miroku guy was trying way too hard to impress Sango, and he spilled his drink down my leg."

Inuyasha rolled his own eyes, more in exasperation than anything, leaning his shoulder against the wall next to her. "Yeah, that sounds about right."

"You know him?"

"Unfortunately. Before you ask, yes, he's naturally a mess."

Kagome laughed, stepping forward to stick her hands out into the pouring rain, collecting droplets in her palms and rubbing them together to rinse her hands of the offending smell Miroku's choice of hard liquor might possibly leave behind. Wiping her hands off on the front of her dress, she turned back to Inuyasha, noticing the dark hues developing just below his right eye. She couldn't help the way her concern suddenly began to bubble, bringing her toward him as she studied the mark, now finally seeing the thin scabbing adorning the side of his cheekbone, too. He didn't seem comfortable with her close proximity. No, he definitely wasn't. Though his stance hadn't moved from one shoulder being propped against the wall, he almost seemed to tense, broadening slightly, and if he had to, he would have shifted away. She stopped, leaving space between them, wanting to reach up and touch the scratch to see if it was still bleeding, the heavy shadows of where they stood making it hard for her to tell, but she refrained. It was like she had to remind herself that they hardly knew each other.

"What happened?" Her voice was small, soft, inviting.

"Nothing." Inuyasha gave a dismissive, hardly-there shrug.

"But, your eye. I'm sure you didn't do that to yourself."

"It's always like that." He dismissed again.

It was easy to determine he didn't want to talk about it, but the darkening black eye was unsettling to her in more ways than one. She didn't want to push him. It wasn't her place. But, she was worried. Kagome parted her mouth to ask a question, swallowed it, pursed her lips only to try and ask again, the words hitching on her tongue because she didn't know how to properly phrase it. Inuyasha shifted his attention to the side, turning to lean his back against the wall, arms still crossed and the look of sheer disinterest in his eyes.

"Can you just answer me this: Did that happen at home or -"

"Oh my god, Kagome. No." Inuyasha interjected sternly, his tone almost surprising her. "I got into a fight."

"A fight? Why? What happened?" Her distress for his situation was vivid, her dark eyes growing wider, and the half demon was becoming more and more agitated. His adrenaline had already been soaring before he'd ran into her, still seething from the very recent incident, and it was more willpower than he'd ever wanted to put forth in the moment to swallow his anger to appear normal and composed in front of the girl. Now, she was sticking her nose where it didn't belong and he only had so many buttons left to push.

"Hey, do me a favor, sense the tone." He warned, still exhibiting control. Her face dropped slightly, plush lips sitting apart, but he could tell the subject wasn't entirely dropped for her. "Jesus, mind your business."

She bit her lip, physically restraining from prodding for more information. She felt like she'd already crossed the line, though her questions were all in good conduct. At least in her eyes. Her intention hadn't been to pry, Kagome was just a naturally compassionate person. Sometimes, abundantly so. The air surrounding them was stiff and uncomfortable, which was the exact opposite of what she'd meant for, and once again she had to remind herself that they hardly knew a thing about each other. This was personal for him. He didn't have to share a single thing with her, no matter how much she didn't like it, and she didn't have the right to be offended.

It was weird to notice that he didn't particularly enjoy the natural pout that formed on her face, her eyes shying to the ground and away as she fiddled with her fingernails. He guessed she was nervous or uncomfortable. Typically, he didn't give a shit if he'd made someone feel that way, so what was so different here? Kagome was just another bothersome person, meddling, too friendly, and probably used to getting her way. His assumption wasn't gut-rooted, though. And, her discomfort increased his own. And, while he'd generally take himself out of a situation like this by literally walking away, a betraying twinge in his abdomen told him to fix it.

But, he walked away anyway, tucking his fists into his sweater pockets with a heavy huff. It felt wrong. It felt so wrong. And, it bothered him that it felt wrong, because it should have been wrong that it felt wrong.

Abruptly, Inuyasha stopped walking, spinning around on his heel to see her tucking herself into her stupid, tiny sweater that was more for design than warmth. She didn't look so pouty anymore. More like a dash of irritation had thrown her chemistry off. He wanted to ask what her problem was, but the sudden thought of offense on her face halted his tongue. What the fuck was his deal?

"Come on." He groaned begrudgingly, swallowing his pride, impressing even himself in the moment. "Which way do you live? I'll walk you home."

Kagome's expression softened a bit when she saw he hadn't gotten very far. "You don't have to do that. I can handle my own."

"I didn't ask if I could, I asked which direction you lived in. I'm not gonna leave you here."

"But, it's not that far."

"Then, it'll be a quick walk."

"And, it's still raining."

"I don't think that's stopping anytime soon."

"Inuyasha."

"Kagome."

He'd mocked her tone, and she pinched her lips into a line as she fought off the small grin that threatened to throw off her disposition. One of the pointed ears atop his head, the dead giveaway of who he was whenever her eyes wandered about the school grounds for him, the signature of his half demon status, had given a minuscule twitch as she'd said his name. What it meant, she had no clue. But, she liked it. And, if he knew she did, it was almost safe to assume he'd probably huff and puff and stomp his way home.

She could tell by the way he stood there and raised his brows expectantly that he wasn't budging. He wasn't just offering for the sole purpose of being nice - if that was his intention at all. He seemed resolute on his decision, no matter the motive. It was hard to get a proper read on the guy. One second, he was distant, the next he's semi-talkative, then he's mad, then he's decently kind.

Reluctantly, Kagome pushed all thoughts to the back of her mind for the moment, giving in with a sighed "okay." Pointing in the direction behind him, she sauntered over and passed by to lead the way.

"And, what's with the toddler's sweater!?" Inuyasha suddenly barked. Kagome turned around, almost getting whiplash by his igniting temper, completely perplexed, following the point of his finger down to her cardigan. "It doesn't even cover your entire arms!"

"It's cute!"

"It's impractical!" His attitude was irrational and he knew, inadvertently bringing him to vehemently unzip his own sweater and shrug it off his shoulders. "Girls shouldn't be allowed to dress themselves! Guys always have to give up their clothes because your lot cant be bothered to wear a fucking jacket!"

"I don't want your sweater!" She argued, just as he balled up the fabric and deposited it into her hold with way more force than what was necessary. "Hey, I don't want it! Take your stupid sweater back!"

"Just shut up and put it on! You're gonna get sick!"

"A little rain never hurt anybody!"

"Oh yeah?" Inuyasha challenged, a mocking smirk on his face. "Then why are you hiding from it?"

Kagome's lips sealed, cheeks puffing out when her inability to come up with a response peeved her pride. With an annoyed huff, she unfurled his sweater, spitefully shoving her arms through the large, baggy sleeves. "In my defense, I had no idea it was going to rain."

"How? I bet with the hair you've got, all you gotta do is stick your head out the window for about thirty seconds to get the forecast. If you come back in with a lion's mane, you can expect rain at some point."

Her jaw dropped at the jab, her hands flying up to smooth down her frizzy hair. "It was a clear sky earlier, you jerk! At least my hair isn't grey like an eighty year-old!"

"This is the color I was born with!"

"Okay, Benjamin Button!"

"Zip up the jacket and let's go!"

Kagome grumbled, keeping her sassy remarks beneath her breath as she reached down toward her mid thighs to connect the zipper and drag it all the way up. "Happy? But don't you blame me if you get sick."

"I'm a demon, I don't get sick." He rolled his amber eyes, crossing his arms over his chest, his white shirt dirty from the scuffle he'd gotten into. If she'd noticed, which it was hard not to and was the main reason he wore the sweater in the first place, she didn't say anything.

She scoffed, dramatically so, walking ahead and into the rain. "Oh, please. Demons always say that to seem superior to the common cold, but all you guys are is less susceptible to catching it. You know what else you are?"

"Stupid for doing anything nice for you?"

"Yes, but also," Kagome turned around, smiling as if she had the upper hand. "You're half demon. Which makes your chances of getting sick only slightly less likely than your average human."

Inuyasha ground his teeth, clenching his sigh in his throat. She was cheeky and irritating, and she was only sweet on the surface. Once you scrape off that thin, flavorless topping, you get this mouthy girl who didn't know when to back down. So, why did his temper quell so easily? And, why did he have to pinch back his grin? Why was he beginning to feel comfortable and why did he not want to question anything more? It was more natural for him to play the skeptic, doubt everyone and everything, yet seeing her in his sweater, the way it didn't fit her but somewhat protected her from the elements, the way the night lit up with lightning and her face beamed from excitement, the way her dark hair curled with the falling water, and the way her smile did something for him completely dismissed everything that should have been, the only cohesive and formulated thought left over being, fuck.

The hanyou moved his feet, grabbing the bunched fabric of the hood at the back of her neck and dragging it over her head as he kept walking in the direction she pointed, and she giggled, stumbling forward from his yank to keep pace with him.

"Okay, it's this one." Kagome said almost breathlessly, shoving them both beneath the very small sheathing her roof provided at the doorstep. The rain had begun to pour harder a little ways back and she and Inuyasha had been forced to pick up their speed. Her escort was soaked to the bone, his white shirt now mostly sheer on his skin, loose strands of hair from his ponytail clinging to his neck. Surprisingly, he didn't seem bothered in the least. "Did you want to come in? I can make you tea, and bury you in towels while you wait out the storm."

"It's fine." He insisted, shaking his head. It was genuine.

"Do you live far?"

"Not really."

"Are you sure you don't want to come in? We've got a cat! He's fat and warm! And, I can throw your clothes in the dryer!"

Kagome's breath hitched as he grinned at her, seeing something in his eyes. Something she knew was going to really solidify the hues burning into her mind. Like the radiant, golden innards of an ember played the role of charring everything else she could possible think about to make it so she could only see what was looking back at her now. He seemed soft in that moment. He wasn't just the rough exterior he presented to the world. Beneath the layers, there was more.

"Tell you what, you can do something nice for me later."

Accepting his compromise, she unzipped his sweater, peeling it off to hand over. The half demon didn't bother attempting to put the drenched item on; he merely threw it over his shoulder and waltzed back into the rain. "I owe you one. I'll make sure I have tissues on Monday in case you come to school sick."

"You've always got something the say." Inuyasha drawled, not even bothering to look back at her as he mindlessly waved her away with a flick of his hand.