The most famous arena in the world. One of the most famous bands in the world. And the crowd knew it, and they were ready: girls in tank tops, their bras in their hands, sitting on their boyfriends’ shoulders, who were more than ready to let their girls hurl lingerie at the guitarist and the bassist. Banner after banner filled the arena:
Shippō will you go to the prom with me?
Miroku will you have babies with me?
Inuyasha will you marry me?
On and on and on, all around the arena, the crowd was restless, bodies packed together on the floor, standing in the seats, waving their banners and screaming the names of their favorite band members. Of the band.
The chants grew louder and louder; when the lights dimmed momentarily, the crowd immediately began to lose its shit, then broke into a chorus of boos when the lights came back up. But it was only a few minutes, and the audience burst into frantic cheers again when the lights went down and the banner above the stage faded into a magnificent projection screen, which reflected the stage below. Laser lights shot out over the crowd, then drew back towards the stage, where they faded into spotlights on the drums, keyboards, and microphones, and the crowd absolutely started to lose its collective mind.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” came the booming voice of the PA announcer, “please welcome back to the Garden… Inutachi!”
One by one, the band members jogged out to take their positions: Shippō Midori on the keyboards first, then Sango Akari on the drums, then Miroku Aoi on the lead guitar. As each member crossed the stage, the roars got progressively louder, and louder, and louder.
Because they knew who was next.
The most famous hanyō in the world.
His silver hair pulled back from his face in a series of three small French braids that cascaded down his back, his bangs slicked back, his tattoos just barely visible under his long-sleeved black shirt, the sleeves pushed up just a bit, a black choker and his signature kotodama necklace hanging low. His jeans ripped, his black Converse colored in on the rubber soles, he jogged out to the stage, picked up his bass, and gave it a quick tune.
And the crowd roared. They roared, for Inuyasha Masaki, leader singer, bassist, and wet dream for women and men of all ages, everywhere.
Artwork by kalcia
Inuyasha walked up to the mic, the bass dangling from his neck, and shouted in his signature gruff, impossibly sexy voice, “HELLO NEW YORK!” The crowd roared its approval, and Inuyasha promptly snapped up his bass and pounded the first chords to their latest hit. Sango was next, slapping her drumsticks together then beginning to play, moving effortlessly across her kit with her hands and feet. Shippō was next, his keyboards lending to the beat and melody, tuning perfectly with Miroku’s lead guitar, who came in last. Inuyasha turned to the mic, and began to sing. His voice was clear and effortless, and carried the range of notes perfectly. The crowd shrieked, and started to sing along; when they hit the part of the song where the music dropped out, Inuyasha dropped his bass, grabbed the mic, and leapt across the stage to Miroku; when the two of them began singing side by side, instruments dangling, the entire crowd went crazy, yelling and screaming as the two hottest men in music harmonized together.
Sitting in the club on a Friday night
And I’m bored out of my mind
I see you dancing like it’s just for me
And I got to be by your side…
Backstage, Kikyō Kimura stood, headset on, surveying the entire scene, finding fault with just about everything. Inuyasha’s bass was a little too loud; the feedback from Miroku’s guitar was a little too much; Shippō’s keyboards were too soft. She was talking in low tones with Jinenji Hasegawa, the band’s roadie, and Ayame Okamoto, the sound director. Ayame raced off to the sound board to try and fix the music; Kikyō’s eyes followed her suspiciously.
Kikyō sighed. Everyone around her, from the band, to the sound engineers, to the tech people, to the PR team...everyone was a failure. One of the biggest bands in the world, and they couldn’t seem to get a sound team to match the caliber of the music. No matter how hard they tried.
“They look good out there,” said an unfamiliar voice behind Kikyō.
Kikyō turned, and frowned at the petite woman standing behind her. Her long, dark, wavy hair was pulled back into a high ponytail; she wore a black tank top and cargo pants, the bottoms of which we tucked into cherry-red Doc Martens. Her dark blue eyes watched the band intently; she had a small pad with a pen attached to it in one hand, and her phone in the other. Her lanyard carried a VIP pass, but Kikyō had never seen the woman before in her life.
“Kagome Higurashi,” the woman said, juggling the items in her hands and holding out one for Kikyō to shake, which she did, disdainfully. “I’m here to follow the band, interview them, and write a profile piece for Zeitgeist. You are?”
“Kikyō Kimura,” she murmured. “The manager.” Kikyō knew exactly who this Kagome Higurashi person was. She would have rather had literally any other journalist in the industry come and cover her band, but Zeitgeist had insisted on sending Kagome, who they called their “best journalist.” But Kikyō knew: “best” meant “expose,” and the last thing she needed was an expose on Inutachi. Nope. The longer she could keep this band under tight wrap, the better.
But with Kagome Higurashi on the job, that was going to prove to be a nearly impossible task.
Kagome followed Jinenji, the large, but gentle and kind hanyō who was also incredibly strong, and thus perfect for the laborious tech work of a band like Inutachi, down the hall to the band’s green room. She had been fairly impressed with what she saw on stage; Kagome had been to a number of concerts in her life, and been backstage for at least half of them, so she knew a well-oiled machine when she saw one. The Inutachi team was such a machine. The sound engineers worked flawlessly with the roadies; when Miroku and Inuyasha changed out their instruments for acoustic ones, the transition was seamless; when Sango did her drum solo, the sound was loud and reverberated throughout the arena. But this was the most famous concert venue in at least the States, if not the world, and Kagome had honestly expected nothing less.
And she had to admit, she was kind of excited to spend three weeks traveling with the band, getting to know their routines, their lifestyles, their music. She was already a decent fan of their music, and she was curious to know more about the band members, especially the lead singer, Inuyasha Masaki. She didn’t know why, but she was drawn to him...even before the story had crossed her desk. For some reason, every time she saw him on television, in music videos...as she scoured his Instagram (for research purposes, of course), she was compelled by his face, by his voice, by his personality (gruff, yet sensitive and thoughtful).
Until Kagome’s assignment, Kikyō Kimura had been notoriously tight-lipped about her band, and extremely protective. She didn’t let journalists near the band, save for junkets where she was able to control the questions. It was a well-known rumor that she and the lead singer, Inuyasha Masaki (the hanyō who’d "taken the world by storm," as was often said about him), had engaged in a tumultuous affair that had left Kikyō a bitter and hard woman, and had left Inuyasha Masaki...well, no one really knew, actually. Kikyō still kept a tight leash on him after the supposed breakup; perhaps even tighter, for some reason.
But Kikyō couldn’t keep the journalists away for long. The record label needed to market the band, and part of marketing was interviews, stories for magazines, and the like. So Kikyō had been forced to allow Zeitgeist to send a journalist to write a cover story, one that would culminate in the band’s upcoming performance at the annual Climate Change charity concert in LA. One that they would be headlining, along with Kōga, one of the biggest solo rock stars in the country, and Inuyasha’s hated rival.
Kagome nearly rubbed her hands together with glee as she stood outside the green room door, waiting for Jinenji to get the okay to let her in. Secrets, drama, old-fashioned music rivalries...she was gonna write the hell out of this.
She was gonna write the hell out of Inuyasha Masaki’s story.
At last, Jinenji opened the door and allowed Kagome to enter. She stepped inside, and looked around. Sango and Miroku were sitting at a table, close together, holding hands and whispering (so that’s how it was with them, Kagome immediately noted); Shippō was lounging across several chairs, talking loudly on his phone and drinking a beer.
And there, on the opposite side of the lounge, leaning up against a wall, was the man himself: Inuyasha Masaki.
Artwork by kalcia
He was tall, taller than Kagome had expected; she was used to rock stars seeming massive on stage, but he had to be well over six feet tall in real life. He was still in his concert clothes, his silver braids and hair falling forward over his shoulders in a wave. Several leather bracelets dangled from his wrists, and Kagome could see his famous kotodama around his neck. He was leaning forward, and she could see that he had a joint between his fingers. She watched, slightly fascinated by the way his long and lithe fingers (that played the bass so freaking well) maneuvered the joint expertly, then brought it up to his lips. He produced a lighter from his pocket, lit the end of the joint, then took a nice, long hit. He looked up, saw Kagome standing awkwardly in the middle of the room, and walked over to her, his golden eyes darkened, and she blushed for a moment, but pulled her shit together. No matter how handsome he was...no matter how much she was immediately attracted to him...he was a story.
He was a story.
When he reached her side, he looked down at her, and she looked up at him, her eyes firm and solid. She crossed her arms over her chest. She knew what was coming.
Inuyasha sneered, then blew a massive puff of smoke right in her face.
Yup. Exactly what was coming.
Inuyasha Masaki? Maybe the hottest man on the planet.
But also? Biggest fucking ass.
His golden eyes, still darkened with what Kagome supposed was anger, looked her up and down, slowly. “I don’t take fucking groupies,” he snarled. “Get the fuck out.”
“Maybe she’s not here for you, Inuyasha,” Shippō chirped from his seat in the back.
“She sure as shit isn’t here for you, runt,” Inuyasha snapped. He turned back to Kagome. “You got a VIP pass,” he said, nodding at her chest, which Kagome noticed his eyes lingered on for a second too long, but she was determined not to blush. “Who the fuck are you? You’re no groupie.” He took a drag off his joint and glared at her, hard, his eyes widening momentarily before narrowing again.
Kagome took a chance and held out her hand. “Kagome Higurashi,” she said confidently. “Zeitgeist. I’m here to…”
“You’re the bitch the magazine sent over to interview us,” he groused.
“To write a cover story on you,” she corrected.
“Same fucking thing,” he muttered. He took another hit, then held out the joint. “Ya want some?”
Kagome seriously considered taking him up on his offer. If it meant that she could get closer to the band…
“Not tonight,” she said instead, dropping her hand. “I just got here from LA, and the time change has already made me wonky enough.”
To her surprise, Inuyasha chuckled. “Fair enough, HIgurashi,” he said. He turned around and went to the fridge. “Beer?’
“Now that I can handle,” she said, relieved. He snagged her one and tossed it to her; Kagome caught it, and he nodded. Inuyasha looked at her approvingly before grabbing a beer of his own.
“You’ve already met Shippō,” he said, gesturing to the keyboardist, who scowled at Kagome but waved. “And over there are Miroku and Sango, our resident happy fucking couple.” Miroku and Sango looked up; Miroku gave Kagome an encouraging smile, but Sango glowered and tugged Miroku back into their conversation. Inuyasha turned and looked at her, grinning. “So, Higurashi,” he said, “Not too much to see here. A little hentai kitsune—”
“I am not, you fucking pervert!” Shippō shouted.
“—And your fucking rock god fairy tale come true,” he added, nodding at Miroku and Sango. “So not terribly interesting.”
“And you,” Kagome pointed out. “What about you?”
“Me?” Inuyasha glared at her. “Keh, I’m just a bassist in a rock band.”
“You’re a hanyō who is the lead singer in one of the biggest bands in the world,” Kagome said as gently as she could muster. “And that’s the most important thing in the world right now: acceptance, diversity, peace.”
“Well you’re just a big ol’ fucking ray of sunshine, aren’t ya, Higurashi,” he sneered. “I’m telling ya. You won’t get much here. So you might as well just…”
“Inuyasha.” Kagome and Inuyasha whipped their heads around to see Kikyō in the doorway; Kagome didn’t miss how Inuyasha growled and nearly took a step back.
“Kikyō.” His voice was lethal. He took another hit off his joint and then a big swig of beer. “What the fuck are you doing here?”
“I came to congratulate my band on a successful show,” Kikyō said smoothly.
“You came to try and peg me, Kikyō,” he snapped. “And it’s not gonna fucking work.” Inuyasha took a hit, and blew it right in Kikyō’s face. She merely stood there, like he did this every single day, and sighed.
“I see that Ms. Higurashi has been shown into the room,” she said, turning to Kagome. Kagome smiled and nodded. “I’m still not pleased with you being here,” Kikyō said to her with pursed lips, “but I suppose that while you’re here, we can all make do.”
To Kagome’s surprise, Inuyasha slung an arm around her shoulders and leered at Kikyō; Kagome’s body betrayed her with a shiver that started at where he touched her and traveled the whole length of her body. She saw his eyes widen for a moment, but his face settled back into a sneer, as if he were fighting whatever he felt when he touched her, too. “That’s right, Kikyō,” he said silkily. “Ms. Higurashi’s gonna be with us for the next few weeks. So, we might as well enjoy it and enjoy her.”
Oh. So this was what was going on.
“I’m quite happy to be here, Inuyasha, Ms. Kimura,” Kagome said. She shoved Inuyasha’s arm off her, the connection broken, and he scowled and skulked away into the corner again, his braids flouncing as he went.
Kikyō glared at Kagome. “Don’t get too close to him,” Kikyō said. “He’s one of the most talented musicians in the world, but he’s also an asshole. Don’t forget either part of what I just said.” She turned to Miroku and Sango. “Can I talk to you two? In the hall?”
Sango and Miroku got up; Sango glared at Kagome again before following Kikyō out. Miroku smiled at Kagome, said, “Hey,” and when she said “Hey” back, he nodded and followed Sango, leaving Kagome alone in the room with Inuyasha and Shippō.
Kagome looked at the two, trying to decide where to push her luck. She was already pretty sure that Inuyasha was just going to use her to make Kikyō jealous, so she decided to go sit with Shippō instead.
“Hey,” she said. “I’m Kagome Higurashi.”
Shippō had just hung up his phone and was pouring himself a glass of whiskey. “Inuyasha,” he yelped, “you want one?” When Inuyasha grunted, Shippō poured a second drink, then handed it to the hanyō. Inuyasha accepted with another grunt, then returned to his corner, his golden eyes glowing as he watched Kagome closely.
“Shippō,” he said. “You know all about me already.”
“A little,” Kagome said. “But that’s kind of why I’m here? To get to know you better.”
“So you can write a story about us,” Shippō retorted. Kagome didn’t miss the ice in his voice.
“Yes,” she said. “But part of the reason I’m sticking around for so long is that I want to make sure that the band has a say in how I write your story. If you read my other work,” she added, shooting a look in Inuyasha’s direction. He scowled right back and downed the rest of his whiskey, then crossed the room to have Shippō pour him another drink, which the kitsune did gladly. “You’ll notice that authenticity is part of my goal. It’s why I’ve won awards. I’m not here to create a bias, or to bullshit. I’m here to tell your story, and I promise that we’ll work together to make the story you want told too.”
“I bet that’s what you tell everyone,” Inuyasha shot from across the room. Kagome rolled her eyes. Shippō glowered at her.
“Fine,” Kagome said, “fine. Google me. See what you think. And we’ll talk.” She stood up. “I’m gonna be here for the next few weeks,” she said. “You better get used to me. I’ll see ya tomorrow.” Kagome rose, and gave them both a wave. She set her beer down on the table, and left the room.
Inuyasha and Shippō looked at each other. “So whose idea do you think it was?” Shippō asked. “Letting a journalist in here to ‘watch us’ like fucking kids?”
Inuyasha shrugged. Kagome Higurashi...wasn’t quite what he was expecting when they were told that the journalist was going to be following the band for a few weeks and writing a cover story. Okay, so he’d totally expected a male, and someone a little older, not someone so, so…
Inuyasha growled and downed the rest of his whiskey. He slammed the glass down on the table. “More, runt,” he grunted, and Shippō was only too happy to obey.
Because they were both annoyed at the sudden intrusion into their world; they were both irritated that they had to invite an outsider in, someone who would be following them for the next few weeks. Inuyasha growled softly and tugged at his braids, thinking more about Kagome Higurashi.
Fuck. When she’d walked into the room, when she went up to him and introduced herself, he’d been so bowled over by her scent he nearly swooned. He hated to admit to anything, but her scent? Vanilla and lavender: soothing and relaxing. His youki had started reaching for her, like it fucking knew her or something. And then, as soon as she got close to him, he wanted to either bury his face in her neck or run in the other direction. She…
Inuyasha growled and shook his head. No. There was nothing about her that attracted him to her. Except…
Except that she seemed to piss Kikyō off.
Inuyasha chuckled. Anything...anyone that seemed to piss Kikyō off was someone he wanted on his side, for sure.