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Miss Shikon Jewel

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Inuyasha found an unholy amount of pleasure in watching his quiet, stoic brother deal with the full force of Rin and Shiori, as well as the other contestants, backstage as they waited to be called out for evening gown. Every so often Inuyasha would see Sesshomaru’s left eye twitch as one of the contestants yelled near him, or sneezed in his direction. 

By the time Inuyasha had changed into his suit and come back out to join his family, Sesshomaru seemed to nearly be at his wit’s end. It almost made not being able to talk to Kagome again worth it… almost. 

Rin was preening, excited to be showing off her “found family” (as she put it to anyone who would listen). When one kid had asked her what that meant, Rin had just shrugged and answered simply.

“They found me, and I found them.”  

Yeah, heart strings pulled, instant puddle of mush. Inuyasha nearly had to mop Sesshomaru off the floor after that. 

As they were finally called to line up in the hallway, Inuyasha smiled, wishing he had a camera as he watched his brother and niece. They were so different: the tall, silent yokai with silver hair and magenta markings, and the small dark-haired bundle of energy and joy that barely reached his waist. Yet, there was no denying the love that was there, and Inuyasha could see the pride in his brother’s eyes as he offered his hand to his daughter. Rin gripped his hand, bending down to smooth a slight wrinkle in her yellow and orange dress. Yura had drawn her hair up into a high ponytail, curling the strands so they fell down her neck with tendrils curled around her face. 

“Inuyasha…”Shizu said quietly as Shiori stepped up behind Rin, her hair in soft waves around her face in a lavender dress the same color as her eyes. “I… I wanted to ask…”

“Does Shiori need an escort?”  he whispered back, watching as Shizu nodded. 

“I’m sorry; her father died when she was young, and we were going to have her escorted by the person they provide, but… Shiori wanted me to ask you for her. She said she wanted someone like her to be by her side.”

Inuyasha nodded, his throat tight as he walked towards Shiori and crouched next to her, his eyes soft as she kept her head down. 

“Shiori,” he said quietly, holding his hand out so she could see it, palm up. “I was wondering if you would do me the honor of letting me escort you.”  

Lavender eyes rose to his with tears swimming in them, and he raised his other hand to brush them away. Shiori nodded with a watery smile and placed her hand in his. He stood up slowly, keeping the small hand in his as they made their way backstage behind his brother and niece. 

Gray eyes, misty with their own tears, watched his movements as Kagome laid her head against the wall. Yura and Jakotsu were futzing around her, finishing her hair and freshening makeup, but she paid them no mind, her thoughts on that one moment that she had just witnessed.

Inuyash could feel Shiori squeezing his hand for support as the first three girls went on stage. When Rin slid on stage with Sesshomaru, Shiori took a deep breath, and Inuyasha felt her grip on his hand relax. He kept his attention on her, nudging her with his hip until she looked up at him with somber lavender eyes. 

“You got this,”  Inuyasha smiled, squeezing her hand lightly as he whispered to her. She nodded, and he swore her head lifted a little higher as she turned back to the stage just as Rin stepped back to take Sesshomaru’s hand again to be led off.

“And rounding out the Little Miss Division, Miss Shiori Komori.”  As Miroku announced her, Sango gave them the signal and he stepped onto the stage with Shiori. 

The moment they reached the center and she stepped away from him, he watched her shoulders come back and her chin lift, walking elegantly around the stage, her silver hair sparkling like a diamond in the lights. She stopped center stage, the only hanyo in the competition, escorted by a hanyo; she looked at each judge for a moment, then graced them with a serene smile as she walked a slow circle back to Inuyasha. He knelt down to offer her his hand again, nodding his head to her as she placed hers on top of it before standing, letting her lead him off the stage. 

Shizu stood in the wings, one hand over her mouth, as a tear slid down her cheek. Shiori rushed to her mother’s arms, holding her tight, as Shizu looked up at him and smiled, whispering “thank you” to him with a shaky voice. He held the door open to let mother and daughter into the hallway, following behind at a slow pace as Rin came to Shiori’s other side to take her hand. Their part was done; now it was just a matter of time to wait for the results. Meanwhile, he needed to find…

The scent of vanilla and rose teased his nose as he heard the swish of fabric behind him and he smiled, knowing Kagome had found him instead.

“You’re a good man, you know that?” Kagome whispered, and he kept his gaze on Rin and Shiori.

“Keh. I just did what anyone would do.” 

“No; no, Inuyasha, they wouldn’t.”  

Inuyasha turned to find Kagome standing behind him and felt his heart stop.

Kagome was… she… 

She was gorgeous.

His eyes trailed over her, the red satin gown hugging her curves, the strapless sweetheart neckline both concealing and revealing her form. As she moved, he saw a flow of fabric trailing behind her, a cascade of flowing red material woven with subtle beading, making her appear that she was floating. The gown was simple, but stunning, free of almost all embellishment other than beading on the train.

She looked…

She looked like a goddess. She had transformed her hair, swept to one side to cascade in spiral curls over her shoulder. Soft tendrils teased against her face, framing the long glittering earrings that swung from her ears, accenting the length and gentle curve of her neck. The rich red of the fabric made her skin glow, making her look ethereal: a being that shouldn’t exist. Her eyes had been darkened through whatever magic it was that women used, and he couldn’t drag his gaze from them. 

“I… you… wow.” Inuyasha found himself completely speechless.

“I have to say, that is the best compliment I think I have ever gotten,” Kagome said with a quiet smile.

 

“Kagome…” he breathed, stepping closer, letting the gentle scent of vanilla and rose wash over him as the chaos in the hallway fell away.

She reached out and laced her fingers through his, and Inuyasha felt the same spark, the same sense of rightness, of belonging, that he had the day before. Kagome stepped forward, her chin lifting, until swirling gray eyes met molten gold. He ran his thumb over the back of her hand and felt her shiver at the feeling, her mouth slightly parting as her breath caught. Her heartbeat stuttered, then began to quicken, his own quickly shifting to match it. 

“Hate to break up the moment, but you may want to wait till after beauty for that.” Yura’s voice was both amused and apologetic, and Inuyasha realized suddenly how close he and Kagome were, with only a breath separating their lips. He reluctantly stepped back, but refused to give up possession of her hand.

“Miss contestants, please line up,” Sango called into the hallway, her eyes twinkling as she looked at Inuyasha and Kagome.

“Sh… shall we?” Inuyasha asked, stepping close to tuck Kagome’s hand into the crook of his arm, his eyes never leaving hers. 

Sango held the door open and let the five contestants and their escorts through them, following to help fluff out dress and trains as needed. Inuyasha kept his gaze on Kagome, barely aware of the other constants finishing their competition, leaving them the only pair left back stage. As Kagome’s name was called, they stepped out, side by side, a soft smile on her face as she looked at him. He reached the center and let his arm drop, running his fingers down the side of her arm to caress her fingers as her smile grew and she stepped forward.

Inuyasha’s gaze followed her as she glided across the stage. Her dress wasn’t as elaborately decorated with feathers or as sparkly as some of the others, but the satin shimmered in the light and the delicate beading of the train twinkled as Kagome expertly circled the stage, letting it flow and float behind her. As she approached him again, Inuyasha raised her hand to his lips for a gentle kiss before tucking it carefully into his arm as they made their way off the stage.

Inuyasha didn’t want the moment to end, and to his shock, but also relief, it didn’t seem that Kagome did either. He escorted her into the hallway, entranced by the soft flush against her skin.

Who was she?  The elegant goddess on the stage, the friendly mentor who opened her arms to a young girl, the fresh faced young woman with the teasing smile, the practical woman who competed to help fund her education?  

He wanted to know. No, he needed to know.

“Kagome, I…” his words trailed off as she turned her head to look up at him.

“Inuyasha… thank you,” she whispered, leaning against his shoulder for a moment.

“Keh,” he smiled, “I should be thanking you. We wouldn’t have survived this weekend without you.”

Kagome laughed, the sound rich and beautiful. “You would have been fine: a little more frazzled maybe, but you and Rin would have been fine.”

“Maybe, but it wouldn’t have been the same.” 

Kagome smiled at  him as she withdrew her hand from his arm, and he felt the soft caress of her fingers before she stepped away.

“Kagome, I…” Inuyasha found himself struggling for words, something he wasn’t used to. He usually didn’t have any problem talking to women, but it just felt more… important, life-changing, talking to Kagome. “I was wondering if, after the pageant is over, would you like to…”

“OH MY GOD!” Jakotsu’s voice shattered the moment as he sped down the hallway, tears streaking the periwinkle makeup on his cheeks. “Oh, you were absolutely stunning out there! You were like an angel; I could not take my eyes off of you!”  

“Aww, thank you Jakotsu,” Kagome smirked, and Inuyasha’s ear flicked in confusion, quivering when Kagome giggled.

“Oh, yes, you were beautiful too, Kagome.” Jakotsu winked at her before turning his attention to Inuyasha.

“K...keh.” Inuyasha’s hand rose to rub the back of his neck, unsure of how to take the man’s comments.

“Jak, you idiot.” Yura stepped up beside the fawning man and smacked him upside the head. 

“Hey what was that for?” Jakotsu glowered at her, rubbing the spot as Yura’s eyes darted to Kagome and Inuyasha and back. “I don’t know what… oh… OHHH!” Jakotsu’s eyes went wide as he realized what she meant. “Don’t mind me; I’m going to go find that gorgeous brother of yours and tell him how beautiful he was, too… bye!” 

Inuyasha felt his eye twitch as Jakotsu flew down the hall towards Sesshomaru, Rin, Shiori and Shizu, a chuckling Yura following more slowly behind him.

“Subtle he is not.” Kagome’s voice was chagrined as she sighed.

“Keh…” Inuyasha responded, his attention now fully on the train wreck that was about to occur in front of him. Yup, there went Sesshomaru’s eye, and… aw crap, Inuyasha knew what that green glow around his brother’s fingers meant. “Excuse me, I gotta go save your friend from Sess.”

Kagome groaned as she followed Inuyasha’s gaze and saw Jakotsu backing up, his hands in front of him, as he sputtered and apologized to Sesshomaru, who was prowling towards him slowly. Inuyasha took off down the hall to grab Sesshomaru’s arm.

“Remember where we are, and think of Rin,”  Inuyasha whispered, and the green glow faded as Sesshomaru stepped back, turning from the man cowering against the wall.

“Keep him away from me.” Sesshomaru’s voice was cold. Yura wasted no time grabbing Jakotsu and dragging him back to Kagome.

“Uncle Inu?” A tug on his hand had Inuyasha turning to kneel by Rin.

“What’s up, hun?”  Inuyasha’s eyes went soft as Rin threw her arms around his neck, squeezing him tight.

“Thank you for helping Shiori,” she whispered. “You’re her hero, just as much as you are mine.”

Inuyasha wrapped her in a bear hug, smiling as Rin erupted into giggles when he didn’t let go. 

“I need all contestants backstage please; we are about to go into the finale.” 

Inuyasha released Rin at Sango’s call and watched her grab Shiori’s hand and skip down the hall with her.

“We should head out front,” Shizu told the brothers. “We aren’t needed back here now, and we don’t want to miss crowning.”

“Shouldn’t we stay backstage just in case… you know?” Inuyasha asked, torn between wanting to watch and being there for Rin if she needed him, but Shizu just shook her head.

“They stay on stage for the entire finale.”  

“But what if…”

“Inuyasha.” Sesshomaru’s look stopped Inuyasha mid sentence.

“Keh.”  

Inuyasha followed Sesshomaru and Shizu as they made their way down the hall, smiling when he heard Yura’s hiss of “behave” as they passed. When they reached the auditorium, there was a tense air of anticipation from the audience, and Inuyasha saw more than one camera suddenly appear in people’s hands.

The lights went up onstage, revealing the 20 finalists, separated by division. Rin and Shiori stood arm in arm, and Inuyasha watched Rin whisper something to her friend, making her giggle. His eyes slid across the stage to stop on Kagome, a vision in red against the other girls. The red-haired wolf leaned over to whisper something, and Kagome’s head dropped back into a laugh before she took the woman’s hand and squeezed it. The audience went wild; the applause almost deafening to Inuyasha’s sensitive ears, but seeing Rin’s grin grow was worth the torture.

When Miroku stepped out on stage again, the room went quiet, all eyes trained on the man as he took the microphone with a mischievous grin.

“So, I imagine you are all wondering why I called you here today,” he teased, winking at the audience. When a groan was heard through the darkness he laughed and pulled out an envelope. “Don’t worry; I have no intention of prolonging your torture. The judges have finished the tabulations and I have the results right here, so if you are all ready, who wants to see some awards!”

Inuyasha smiled as the audience burst out into applause, whistles, and shouts. He hadn’t really appreciated just how many people there were for the pageant, but the room was filled. People started calling out names; the red-haired wolf girl had a particularly large and loud cheering section, led by the dark-haired wolf yokai who had nearly run into Inuyasha the day before. His ears lowered a little as he listened…

No one was there yelling for Kagome. He watched her face, and watched her smile turn a little sad, a little less bright. She took a breath and seemed to push it away as she waved to the crowd with the other contestants.

“We will start with the Little Miss Division!” 

Miroku’s voice had the crowd going quiet as the five girls stepped forward. One of the girls was shaking, and Inuyasha wondered if that was the same girl that Rin had been talking about earlier… Momiji something. One by one Inuyasha watched as the girls stepped forward, accepting a trophy and bouquet of flowers, his sharp gaze catching the shine of tears and slight shaking of shoulders as they stepped back, leaving only Rin and Shiori standing together, hand in hand.

“Ladies and gentleman, your first runner up for the Little Miss Division is…” Miroku paused, and Inuyasha noticed Sesshomaru pause and Shizu’s heartbeat accelerated, “Rin Takahashi, meaning your new Little Miss Shikon Jewel is Shiori Komori!”  

Inuyasha wasn’t sure who was more excited for Shiori: her mother…

Or Rin.  

Rin had immediately thrown her arms around the stunned girl before bouncing around her. Rin accepted her flowers and danced back in line with the others, not stopping as the tiara was placed on Shiori’s head.

“She did not win.” Sesshomaru’s voice was low, but Inuyasha could hear the disappointment in it.

“No, she did,” Inuyasha whispered back, watching as Rin hugged Shiori again, beaming broadly for her new friend. “She definitely did.”

Sesshomaru watched for a moment, and the tension began to ease from his shoulders.  He nodded slightly and stepped backward, fading back into the darkness to go backstage and wait for his daughter.  Inuyasha considered following him, but he knew there would be time to celebrate with her later, and right then he wanted… needed… to see how Kagome did.

The other two divisions were crowned with tears and screams (mostly from the audience) and then… finally… the Miss contestants stepped forward.  From the audience, Inuyasha could appreciate the simple elegance of Kagome as she moved, reminding him of a movie star from the golden days of Hollywood.  The contestant with the shoulder-length wavy hair wobbled in her heels, and Kagome reached out to help steady her before taking her place at the end of the line.   He held his breath as contestants stepped forward to accept their awards, only letting it out when Kagome stood center stage, hand-in-hand with the red haired wolf in a deep green dress that Inuyasha had to admit flattered her, but she didn’t shine the same way that Kagome did.

“This is it, ladies and gentlemen.” Miroku’s voice was quiet, and the audience was silent with anticipation.  “The first runner up, who will assume the duties of Miss Shikon Jewel if for any reason the winner is unable to fulfill her year is…”  the pause dragged out, and Inuyasha could see the half smile on the Emcee’s lips, “Miss Ayame Ookami, and your new Miss Shikon Jewel is Kagome Higurashi!”

The room exploded.  

Kagome clasped her hands by her face as the wolf girl, Ayame, gave her a quick hug before stepping away, making way for the outgoing queens to place the crown and banner on Kagome and direct her into her first walk.  He watched her taking her first walk, her eyes scanning the audience as if looking for someone, he wasn’t sure if her family was there or if she had any other friends in the audien…

Her eyes found him standing against the wall and stopped, her smile turning warmer and Inuyasha couldn’t help the whistle he let out.  He saw Kagome laugh just before he slid out the door, turning for one last look as Kagome waved to the crowd. 

Inuyasha made it to the hall just as the stage doors burst open and the younger divisions stumbled out, more than one face streaked with tears.  He sighed in relief when he saw that Rin’s was not one of them.  He stepped next to Sesshomaru and rested a hand on his brother’s shoulder as they waited for Rin to join them.

They didn’t have long to wait.

“DADDY!! UNCLE INU! DID YOU SEE DID YOU SEE!!!!” Rin bounded towards them, bouncing with excitement.  “SHIORI WON SHIORI WON!”  Rin began to dance around them, her trophy in her hand.  

“Rin.” Sesshomaru’s voice made her still, and she looked up with wide eyes. “I can see you are deeply upset by this.”

Inuyasha nearly choked; his brother… the cold asshole who only seemed to show emotion for Rin… had made a joke.

“Deeply, deeply upset,” Rin nodded sagely, but her grin ruined the delivery as her excitement bubbled out of her.  

Inuyasha crouched down, nudging her with his shoulder.

“You did good, baby girl,” he told her, and watched her smile grow. “You did good.”

“Hey, Daddy?” Rin turned her wide eyes on Sesshomaru, and Inuyasha smirked… he knew that tone: Rin was about to ask to do something and no matter what it was, Sesshomaru was going to agree. “Can we go wait with Ms. Shizu for Shiori?  They are doing photos but I want to be here when she comes back.”

Sesshomaru shifted his head to lift an eyebrow at Inuyasha, who just chuckled.  

“Go on, I’ll start packing up.  Rin, do you want to change first?”  Rin vehemently shook her head, taking her father’s hand and tugging him down the hall after her.

Inuyasha was smiling as he packed up Rin’s area to take everything back out to the car, leaving her jeans outfit on top just in case she wanted to change.

“Hey.” Inuyasha straightened at the feminine voice and turned to find Yura standing behind him. “Thanks for helping Kagome out.  I haven’t seen her that happy in a while.”

Inuyasha felt his cheeks flush, but tapped the feeling back down.

“Keh, she must love competing and the group of girls she was with.”

Yura laughed.  “Yeah, no.  The only one she’s really friends with is Ayame; they grew up together.  The other girls she just met this weekend.”  She shifted the box she held as she stepped closer to him.  “She really enjoyed meeting you and Rin; that’s what made it so fun for her.”

“Yeah, Rin has that effect on everyone,”  Inuyasha smiled.

“You can’t be that much of an idiot, can you?” Yura chuckled, shaking her head as she stepped away, pulling a set of keys out of her pocket.  Inuyasha’s ears pinned flat as he growled at her.

“Oi, what does that mean?”

“It means, dog-boy, when she was telling us about her day yesterday, you were the one she was talking about.”  Yura slid the box into her car and turned to face him.  “Jak and I are a little protective of Kagome because guys try to take advantage of her…” Inuyasha’s growl sounded through the night, and Yura smiled. “Yeah, that’s how we feel.  So we warn anyone off that gets too close to her.”

Inuyasha’s ears dropped as his lips curled into a frown.  

“So you are telling me to stay away…”

“Nope.  Someone who would escort a young girl who he had just met, whose niece adores him?  I’m giving you the friend stamp of approval.  Now get your ass back in there and ask her out before you lose the chance.”

Inuyasha’s ears shot straight up in surprise as his jaw dropped.  

“Get going.” Yura smiled at his expression.  “I’ll keep Jak away so he doesn’t interrupt again.”

“I… thank you.”

Inuyasha hurried in as the new queens were finally released back into the hallway.  Inuyasha saw Rin run up to Shiori and the two instantly started squealing, but his eyes were scanning the room for Kagome.

He heard her laugh before he saw her as she threw her arms around Jakotsu. There were still too many people in the area for him to hear what they were saying as he started towards them, only to see Kagome disappear into the changing room.    He hadn’t gotten her number, and while he wanted to stay and wait for her, he wasn’t sure that Sesshomaru and Rin would be willing to wait.  

“Inuyasha.” Sesshomaru calling his name had Inuyasha turning reluctantly, dreading what the next words were going to be, knowing it was going to mean he had to leave. “We are going to the nearby diner with Shiori and Shizu. She has offered to drive Rin and myself there, so meet us there when you are… done.”

Inuyasha’s mouth went slack as he stared at his brother. Sesshomaru never helped him out like that; in fact, his brother excelled in fucking up his personal life… there had to be a catch.

“Are you… are you sure?”

“Hnnn…” Sesshomaru lifted a brow before turning his back on his brother.  Inuyasha watched as Sesshomaru moved towards the door only to be tackled by Rin, still in her long dress.  

“Inuyasha?  How come you are still here?”

Inuyasha spun to see Kagome standing behind him in jeans and a button down shirt that seemed to emphasize her figure.  Her dress bag was tossed over her arm and she carried a small square case with her new crown and sash stored in it.  She had not taken down her hair or removed her makeup, and he once again found himself lost in the mystery of her stormy eyes.  He barely registered Jakotsu taking the bag and case from her and scurrying down the hall; all he could see was Kagome.

“I…” he cleared his throat when he heard an embarrassing break in it, “I was wondering…” He took a deep breath and closed his eyes for a second before opening them to meet her gaze. “Shiori and Rin were hungry, so we are going to the diner nearby, and I wanted to see if you wanted to join us.”  

Kagome caught her bottom lip between her teeth and he felt the insane need to soothe it for her.  His gaze drifted to her lips for a moment only to snap back up.

“I would love to, Inuyasha.” He let out the breath he didn’t know he was holding only to freeze when she continued, “but...I came with Yura and Jakotsu, so it depends on the…” The beeping of her phone interrupted her words.  “That’s probably them, but let me give you my number and y…”

She stopped, staring at her phone for a moment before she started to laugh.  Inuyasha’s ears drooped, more than a little disappointed and confused.

“Well… that was Yura telling me they already left and to ‘seize the day,’” she chuckled, smiling up at Inuyasha. “I’m actually glad, because I would love to go to dinner with you.”

Dinner with three adults, two pageant queens and a hyper Rin had proven to be one of the highlights of the weekend.  Kagome had easily slid into conversation with Sesshomaru and Shizu, but was also able to tease and joke with Rin and Shiori, engaging in a contest with them on who could get the best distance blowing the straw from its wrapper.  The entire table… well, almost the entire table… had collapsed in laughter when Rin’s wrapper hit Sesshomaru’s ear.

The trip home had been equally engaging, Kagome had insisted Inuyasha take Sesshomaru and Rin home first as Rin was finally starting to wind down.  The young girl had laid out in the back, her head resting on Kagome’s lap, as Kagome stroked her hair, smiling at Inuyasha in the rearview mirror.  When they had pulled up to Sesshomaru’s home, he easily collected Rin, nodding to Kagome as she shifted into the front seat.  

Once they were alone, Inuyasha felt his nerves taking hold again.  Sure, Kagome seemed like she had been having fun and had enjoyed the dinner, but that could have been because there were two adorable young girls there.  That didn’t necessarily mean that she would want to see him again… 

God, had he said anything embarrassing, anything that would have made her think he was an idiot, or…

“So you survived your first pageant.”  Kagome’s teasing tone had him glancing at her out of the corner of his eye.

“Keh, I think I was more stressed than she was this weekend.”

“Yeah, that’s common.”  Kagome smiled as she sat back in the seat.  “The kids are just there to have fun; it’s the parents that make things stressful, but you handled it well. Most guys wouldn’t do that for their niece.”

“Rin wanted to compete, and Sess couldn’t be there, so if I can help, I was going to. Rin hadn’t had much to enjoy before Sess adopted her, so we do what we can.”

“It’s sweet.” Kagome smiled softly. “It’s nice to see a guy that focused on his family.”

“Sess and I lost our parents pretty young, so we know what it’s like to not have that security, to be worried about everything.  When Rin joined us, we both vowed not to let that happen to her.”

A soft sound had him daring to look at her, only to see her hand over her mouth, tears shimmering in her eyes… crap crap crap he probably shouldn’t have said that, but dammit she was just easy to talk to...

“That must have been rough.” Her voice was soft.  “I lost my dad when I was 6, so I know how hard it can be just to lose one parent. I can’t imagine losing both.”

“We made do; made us closer, actually, since we had each other to rely on.”

“That sounds like me and Sota, my brother.  He was a newborn when dad died, so for 16 years I helped my mom raise him.”

“This is the brother who was unable to make it back today?”

“Yeah.” Kagome scrunched her nose, and Inuyasha found it absolutely adorable. “Don’t worry, he will get an earful about it.  He just got his driver's license this year and he likes to show off for his girlfriend, but he was kinda an idiot today.”  She shot Inuyasha a shy smile. “Thanks again for stepping in to help.”

“My pleasure.”  He lowered a hand from the wheel to place it over hers, his ears flicked quickly towards her when she turned her palm over and laced her hands through his.  The heat of her skin both seared and soothed him, and he kept his hand there as she directed him to her house.  

In what seemed to be too short a time he was pulling over in her neighborhood.  He darted out of the car to hold the door open for her, his ears quivering at her soft laughter at the movement.  As the door shut behind her, she took his hand again.

“Going to walk me home, Mr. Taisho?”

“That was my intent, Miss Higurashi.  Your own personal knight for the princess.”

“I am not a princess,” she scoffed, her eyes dancing. “I am a queen.”

“Apologies, m’lady.” He stepped away to give her a curt bow, and her laughter echoed through the night.

 She slowed to a stop in front of one of the homes, turning to Inuyasha with a small smile.

“I had fun tonight; thank you for asking me to join you guys.”

She paused for a moment, and Inuyasha found himself lost in her once more.  She caught her lip between her teeth again and he had to hold back a groan of longing. 

“Wo… uh…” he stammered, “would you like to go to dinner with me?”

Kagome smiled before a mischievous light formed in her eyes.

“You want to date Miss Shikon Jewel, huh?”  she teased, only to go quiet as she saw his eyes.

Before this weekend, Inuyasha knew that his answer would have been yes, and he may have had dinner with one or two beauty queens in the past, but it never went any further: there was nothing below the surface, nothing to keep his attention.  But now, now there was so much more, because he had been able to see so many sides of her, so many different facets to the brilliant, shining jewel that was Kagome… and there was really only one way to answer her teasing.

“No, I want to get to know Kagome Higurashi.  She fascinates me, and I want to learn more about her.”

Kagome watched him, her expression almost unreadable, and he felt himself begin to panic when she didn’t answer.  The longer the silence went on, the more his nerves rose, and he closed his eyes to try and push down his disappointment at reading her wro…

Kagome’s hands cupped his cheeks as she pulled him down to meet his lips with hers.  The pressure was soft, but electric, and Inuyasha felt as though every nerve ending in his body had suddenly come alive, focused on her and the point where their lips touched.  She broke the contact and his eyes opened, dazed as he focused on her.

“That is the most romantic thing anyone has ever said to me,” she whispered, her thumb stroking against his left cheek.  

“Kagome…”

“I would love to go to dinner with you.” She rose on tiptoe to place another soft kiss on his lips, and he felt himself leaning forward to prolong the contact as she began to pull away again.

She wrapped her arms around his waist and he drew her close, his nose resting atop her head, breathing in the subtle scent of vanilla and rose, apparent even through the hairspray.  She drew back to find a pen and paper to write her number down; when she handed it to him, he caught her hand and lifted it to place a kiss on the back of her fingers.

“Text me when you get home, okay?” she whispered and he drew her close to place a gentle kiss on her forehead.

“I promise.”  

He walked her to her door and gave her a small bow, his ears flicking at her giggle.  She slipped through the door, pausing to meet his eyes, her cheeks going pink before drawing it closed.

Inuyasha entered her into his contacts as he made his way back to his car and slid into the front seat.  He sat there for a moment, a wide, besotted grin on his face.

He had a date with Kagome Higurashi.  The brilliant, funny, sweet, caring Kagome Higurashi.

He looked forward to getting to know her.