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Miss Shikon Jewel

Chapter Text

Golden eyes looked around in panic, two white ears at the top of his head flicking around at the chaos of noise around him.   The scent of hairspray permeated the hall, mixing with the scent of anxiety and stress, nearly overwhelming him.

What the hell was he doing here?

“Uncle Inu?”

Oh yeah, that’s what he was doing here.   A small hand reached out to wrap around his finger, careful not to catch his claw.  

Inuyasha Takahashi looked down at the small dark-haired girl next to him and gave her a reassuring smile.  He knelt to look at his eight-year-old niece, running a hand down her long black hair.  

“You ok Rin?” His voice was rich baritone, and more than one woman (and man) in the room turned to look at them.  

They made a striking picture of contrast, the tall broad man with hair the color of moonlight and eyes of molten gold next to the petite child with her black hair and deep brown eyes.  Rin Takahashi nodded shyly as her eyes lowered to the floor.  Inuyasha could feel the tremors in her hand as it clutched his finger, his nose flaring as he caught the first trace of salt around his niece.

“Come here baby girl,” he soothed, drawing the small child into a hug.  “If you don’t want to do this you don’t have to, we can come back and watch it instead.”

“No,” her soft voice was barely audible over the cacophony in the hall, “I wanna… I wanna do this.” 

 “Ok hun, only if you are sure though.” 

Rin took a deep breath and sniffed back her tears, nodding her head as she turned towards the table and stepped up to give her name.

If you had asked Inuyasha two years ago if he would have been anywhere near the Shikon Jewel pageant he would have laughed in your face and said only if it was to take the new Miss Shikon Jewel out for dinner.  Then again, if you had told him that his half-brother would adopt a sweet and adorable child like Rin, Inuyasha would have asked if you had a lobotomy.  Yet here he was, escorting his niece, who had captured his heart as surely as she had captured her adopted father’s, at the pageant when Sesshomaru had been called out of town for an emergency business meeting.

To say he was out of his element would be putting it… mildly.  He didn’t know anything about beauty pageants… just beauty queens.  And from those he had met, he didn’t want Rin to be anything like them, but she had her heart on competing, and well, Sesshomaru and Inuyasha were unable to deny her anything. 

Thankfully, Rin’s age division, the Little Miss for 7-9-year-old girls didn’t allow any of the usual trappings of a pageant.  Any girl at that age found wearing flippers (which Inuyasha had just learned meant fake teeth), false hair if it wasn’t medically necessary or makeup would be disqualified.  This pageant, at least in the lower divisions, served as a mentoring program, teaching public speaking, presentation, and helped young girls gain more confidence in themselves. 

A young female wolf demon with red hair tied up ran down the hall in curlers, a dark-haired wolf demon followed behind her carrying three bags of clothing and more bags full of what appeared to be makeup and more hair products at a fast pace.

 The older division though… that was a typical beauty pageant, with young women age 17-24 competing for the coveted title of Miss Shikon Jewel, a precursor to the state pageant. 

“Uncle Inu, I’m nervous…” Rin whispered, Inuyasha’s ears twitching to catch her words.

“You and me both baby girl, you and me both.” He admitted, shifting to encircle her hand with his, holding it securely as he took her number, lucky number 7, and lifted her bag of stuff over his other shoulder.

If he thought the hall was chaos, it was nothing compared to the waiting area.

“You can’t come in here, it's women only.” A nasal voice called out, and Inuyasha started to look down at an old woman, her white hair tied at the base of her neck, with two strands forming loops above her ears.

“I’m her chaperone.”

“I don’t care, women only.”

“I have to get her ready, she has to be in interview in…” Inuyasha looked at his watch, “twenty minutes.”

“She can come in and get dressed but you have to stay out here.” 

Inuyasha felt Rin curl into his side and hide her face against his waist.

“Yeah, not happening.  Is there somewhere else she can change?”

The woman pointed down the hall towards the restrooms and with an irritated nod Inuyasha turned and led Rin towards them.  There was no way in hell he was leaving Rin in a roomful of people he had never met on her own.

Inuyasha hung Rin’s bag on a door jamb, lowering the zipper to reveal three outfits.  A quick glance told him that the jean outfit with its embroidered jacket was not the right outfit, but which of the two dresses was she supposed to wear when.

“Uncle Inu, I need my interview dress to change!” Rin was bouncing with nerves as she watched him.

“Yeah, working on that baby girl, I just gotta figure out which one you need.”

“First time?” A voice as smooth as honey sounded behind him as Inuyasha caught the scent of vanilla and roses.  He turned to meet stormy gray eyes that glistened with amusement.  The girl… no… the woman, stood in the door of the restroom in an emerald green fitted suit, her ebony hair cascading down her back in waves. 

“Is it that obvious?” Inuyasha’s cheeks flushed as he turned back to the bag.  He could smell Rin’s anxiety rising, and knew he needed to try and help her as fast as he could.

“Little miss, right?” The woman said as she stepped forward to kneel down in her heels to offer Rin her hand.  “My name is Kagome Higurashi, I’m competing in the Miss division.”

Rin’s eyes rose briefly to Inuyasha’s before she gave a small smile and offered the woman her hand.

“Rin Takahashi,” she said shyly. 

“Well Rin, would it be ok if I helped you and your father?”

“Uncle…” Inuyasha quickly interjected, and Kagome turned to give him a smile, “and we would appreciate any help you could give.”

 Kagome rose and considered the two dresses in the bag, one was a floor length orange cotton dress embellished with yellow embroidery and a light green ribbon for the waist, and a knee length orange and yellow sundress with bows on the shoulders.

“Oh these are so adorable!” Kagome exclaimed, taking the sundress out of the bag and holding it in front of her.  She turned to Rin with another smile, “would you like me to help you with this?”  

“Y...yes please.” Rin whispered, and Inuyasha let out a small sigh of relief as Kagome led her to the restroom, cooing over her outfits.  At least Rin would have someone to help her get dressed, someone who knew what they were doing.

A few minutes later Rin skipped out of the bathroom to twirl in front of her uncle. 

“What do you think Uncle Inu?”

“I think you look beautiful Princess.”  

“I’m not a princess Uncle Inu…” Rin’s giggle warmed Inuyasha’s heart.

“You are a princess to me, and you always will be,” Inuyasha said solemnly, bending down to pick the girl up into a hug.  

“Could all the Little Miss contestants please line up in numerical order?” A voice called down the hall, and Inuyasha set Rin down, grabbing her number and pinning it to the bottom of her dress.  Rin gasped as she saw the two headed dragon pin he had used, and beamed up at her uncle.

“This way Ah-Un is with you too.” Inuyasha said with a smile, touching a finger to her nose.  “He’s there to wish you luck.”

A tall woman with long brown hair came down the hall towards them, and Inuyasha shifted to stand slightly in front of both Rin and Kagome.  The woman quirked an eyebrow at him before chuckling.

“My name is Sango Hoshi, I am the Little Miss Contestant Coordinator.  Are you Miss Rin Takahashi?”  When Rin nodded. Sango smiled and offered her hand.  “If you come with me, I will escort you to the interview line up.”  

Inuyasha turned to look at Rin, who gazed up at him with hesitant eyes.  He cocked his head towards Sango.

“Go on baby girl, I will be here when you get back.”

“Promise?”

Inuyasha knelt in front of Rin to take her hands in his.

“I will always be here, I promise.”

When he released her hands, Rin took a hesitant step around him, moving towards Sango to take her hand before being led down the hall.

“Sango will take good care of her, she’ll be fine.” Kagome said softly as Inuyasha watched his niece walk down the hall.

“Yeah, but will I be?” He grumbled, fighting the need to dash down the hall to pick Rin up and take her out of there.

“First pageant is always rough, especially on the family, but Sango and her husband Miroku have done a great job after they took over three years ago, it's a great experience for the contestants.”

When Inuyasha turned back, troubled gold met her stormy gray eyes.  “She’ll be back soon, the judges are usually really nice, especially with the younger girls.”

“You sound very familiar with this pageant.”  

Kagome smiled and leaned against the wall.   “I should, I’ve competed at almost every level since I was Rin’s age.”  

“Almost every level?”

“Yeah, this is my first time competing in the Miss division.  I was away for college for a few years, but I graduated last June, and came back to compete again in my last year.”    

“So this may not be a one time thing?  Hell, I don’t think my nerves could handle that.”

Kagome’s laugh soared down the hallway, and Inuyasha let the sound soothe his nerves.  “Most girls compete in Little Miss then keep coming back when they age up to Pre-teen and Teen.”

“Bloody hell…” Inuyasha ran his hand down his face, “Sess better be here next year.”

“Sess?”  

“Her father, my half-brother.”

“Ah yes, Uncle Inu?” She teased, her eyes sparkling.

“It’s actually Inuyasha, but Rin likes to shorten it to Inu.”

“Well, it’s a pleasure to meet you Inuyasha.” Kagome said as she held out her hand. 

Inuyasha hesitated briefly before reaching out to take it.  The moment his hand met hers he felt a shiver run through him, a sense of rightness as he took a good look at the petite woman before him.  Even in heels she barely reached his chin.  Inuyasha typically preferred to date taller women, but he couldn’t deny feeling the need to protect the dainty, gorgeous, woman before him.  He reluctantly released her hand, silently pleased when she lifted the hand towards her chest, bringing her other hand up to clasp it.  A quick look showed no ring on either hand, nor any tan line to indicate that a ring should have been there.

“Thank you for your help, seriously, you’re a lifesaver.” Inuyasha was slightly embarrassed to hear how deep his voice was as he spoke, shit he needed to get a grip over himself.

“Don’t worry about it, helping each other is what we do.” Kagome assured him.  “I’m just glad I was here to help, I can’t stand being in the main changing area, too many nervous parents.”  She raised an eyebrow as she looked at him, her eyes dancing.

“Keh…” was his only response.

“Will you be escorting her on stage if she gets through to the next stage?”

“I’ll do whatever Ri… wait next stage?”

“Today is the preliminary.  The top 5 from each division will compete tomorrow as well.”

“Ah hell, Sesshomaru didn’t mention that part.” Inuyasha groaned.  “Yeah, if she gets to the next stage I’ll escor…” His voice broke off as he looked up, suddenly worried.  “It won’t mess her up or anything if I escort her will it?”

“What?” Kagome’s jaw dropped, “no, not at all, why would you think it would?”

“I dunno,” Inuyasha mumbled, “I mean, I’m not her father, and I’m hanyo, wouldn’t she get marked down for that?”

“Oh Inuyasha, no…” Kagome’s heart was breaking at the terrified expression on his face.  “The contestants can be escorted by anyone, family member, friend, anyone they want there with them, to support them.  This system is open to everyone, yokai, humans, hanyo, you won’t hurt her chances at all by being there with her.”

Inuyasha’s face visibly relaxed as he let out a sigh of relief.  “She’s been looking forward to this for months, and I just… I want to help her as much as I can.”

“You are, don’t worry.  You have been very very supportive from what I’ve seen.”

“Thanks.  Sorry, I think I’m almost as nervous as she is.”

“You’ll be fine Uncle Inu.” Kagome smiled up at him, and he felt his heart stutter.  “What made Rin want to compete?”

“Huh?”

“Everyone competes for a reason, I was curious what Rin’s is.”

“Oh, well… she dances at a local studio, and at the end of the year recital they bring out all the young girls and women who have won a pageant and let them walk the stage in their dresses and crowns, and she decided she wanted to be one of them, and so, here we are.”  He tilted his head, his ears flicking towards her.  “What about you?”

“The scholarship money.  I was able to pay a good bit of my college with what I have won, and I’m considering grad school so I figured I would give it another shot, and if I were awarded anything I would put it towards that.”

“That’s… I didn’t even think of that.”  Inuyasha sheepishly admitted, his hand rubbing the back of his neck.

“It helped me come out of school without any loans, so hey.”  She shrugged.  A call from the main corridor caught her attention.  “Crap, they are calling us, we have a different set of judges so we interview at the same time.  If you want, I’ll come back and help get Rin ready for the next round.”

“We would really appreciate it, but only if it won’t interfere with your competition.” Inuyasha quickly told her, relaxing when she smiled at him and gave him a wink.  

“I’ll see you later then dog-boy.”

“The hell, dog-boy? Where did that come from?”

“Uncle Inu… that and your adorable puppy ears, and I thought you might like dog-boy better than puppy.”

At Inuyasha’s growl she giggled and walked down the hall towards the other contestants.  She had almost reached the crossway when he called out.

“Hey Kagome!”  Kagome turned back to Inuyasha with a questioning look. “Good luck.”  

Before Kagome could respond a loud “UNCLE INU'' echoed through the hall as Rin raced towards him to leap into his arms.  Inuyasha looked up to see Kagome give them one last smile before she was ushered around a corner and out of view as he spun Rin around.

“How did it go baby girl?

“It was amazing, I had so much fun talking about them, they asked me about ah-un and my dog fluffy and I told them about being adopted and how being brought into your family made me so happy and I got not just a daddy but an amazing uncle and…” Rin’s words were cut off as Inuyasha grabbed her into a tight hug, tears forming in his eyes at her words.


Through some miracle (and a lot of help from Kagome), Rin made it through all three rounds of competition.  Inuyasha had been so flustered with making sure she was where she needed to be, in the right outfit, when she needed to be that he was frazzled, more frazzled than his sweet, adorable, diabolical niece.

How the hell did people do this on a regular basis?  

He collapsed to the floor in a groan as Rin was led by Sango to the final stage of the competition proudly wearing her orange and yellow dress, its green bow… oh hell it was coming untied. As he tried to force himself up he saw Sango place a hand on Rin’s shoulder and turn her to redo the bow.  The smile that Rin gave her made it all worth it.  She was having a blast.  When Rin and Sango turned out of his view he let his head fall back with a groan.  His hair trailed onto the floor and for once, he just… didn’t care.

“Don’t worry Uncle Inu, the day is almost over.”  Kagome’s gentle voice pulled him from his exhaustion as he opened a single eye.  

Kagome stood before him in a casual outfit of jeans and a tank top, showing her toned arms and figure, her dress bag tossed over her shoulder.  She had removed all her makeup and tied her hair back in a ponytail…

And she was the most beautiful woman Inuyasha had ever seen.

“Are you already done?” Inuyasha pushed himself off the floor to stand with her, noticing for the first time just how petite she was without her heels.  The top of her head barely reached his shoulders in her flats, and he again felt the overwhelming need to protect her.

“Yeah, as I said we have a different set of judges for the preliminaries than Rin does, and there are only 15 of us, while there are about 50 for the lower divisions.  So the Miss division is always done first.”

“How did it go?”  

“I’ll find out tomorrow.  For Little Miss, Pre-Teen and Teen they announce the top five in each division today so everyone knows who needs to be ready for tomorrow. For Miss they announce the top five during the competition.”

“Ah, I guess there’s a lot to learn about these.”

“It gets easier with practice, give it a year or so and you’ll be an old pro at this.” Kagome teased as she shifted her bag.

“Ah… Rin just went back with Sango for what they called ‘beauty,’ what do we do after this?” Inuyasha asked.

“That’s it for today.  After she gets back from beauty you will have probably a half hour to load up the car and then they post the top five.  If her name is on there, you will be back tomorrow to do it all over again with a final set of judges, if not, you can come back tomorrow to watch the rest of the competition.”

“Kagome…” Inuyasha reached out to take her free hand, catching it in both of his, “thank you, really, thank you.  I don’t think I would have survived without your help, and Rin, well, you were right, she’s having a blast, but in a large part that was due to you and your support.”

“Don’t mention it,” Kagome said with a smile, “people were there for me in my first pageant, and I never forgot how much that meant, so I was glad to help.”

The moment was broken by Kagome’s pocket blaring the chorus of Fall Out Boy “Immortals,” making them both laugh.

“That would be my brother.” Kagome chuckled as she pulled the phone out.  “He had to take the car today and was going to call when he was out front.”  She quickly answered the call, and shot out a quick “I’ll be right there,” and deposited the phone back in her pocket.  “I gotta go, it was really nice meeting you and Rin.  I hope to see you guys tomorrow.”

The scent of vanilla and roses lingered as she hurried down the hall towards the entrance, and Inuyasha took a deep breath, trying to burn it into his memory.  Even if Rin didn’t make the top five in her group, he knew he would be there the next day anyway to see how Kagome did.  

Inuyasha eyed the chaos around them in the hall.  Crap, he really should be getting that all cleared up.  He grabbed the hangers from the door jamb, and carefully hung up Rin’s interview dress, eying the wrinkles.  He didn’t think the dress could be washed, and he was afraid a dry cleaner wouldn’t get it back in time… looked like he was going to have to dig out the iron and try to learn how to use it.  A glance down the hall showed other parents doing the same, but many had a device that seemed to use steam… yeah, he needed to figure out what that was and get one.

“UNCLE INU!!!!!!!!!!!!!” A blur of orange and yellow came zipping down the hall, and his arms were full of an excited Rin.  “I did it Uncle Inu, I finished the competition!!”

“Did you have fun?

Rin nodded enthusiastically, and immediately started to fill her uncle in on everything that had happened and the new friends that she had made.  Rin danced around him as he packed up her clothes and they brought everything out to his car, relaying everything she could about her day.  When they got back inside she grabbed his hand and pulled him to meet all her new friends and their parents, and Inuyasha arranged several meet ups at local parks for the girls. 

Inuyasha was relieved to see Rin finally relaxing and enjoying herself and more importantly, making friends. When Sesshomaru had adopted her a year before Rin had been quiet and timid, barely saying a word to anyone.  She hadn’t made any friends at school, preferring to sit on her own, and when Sesshomaru had asked her why, she had simply shrugged and offered one heartbreaking reason…

“I won’t stay here long enough to matter.”

It had taken them the year to get her to understand she was part of their family, one of their pack, and that no matter what happened they would always be there for her.  That’s why her statement about the interview, and being happy to be part of the family had hit him so hard.   So if she was making friends, even if they lived on the other side of the state, he would do whatever he could to get her to a playdate with her friends.

Watching Rin was like watching a flower as it bloomed, revealing its petals and beauty to the world after being hidden away.  She had never shown as brightly as she had that day, and her excitement and happiness spread to everyone that she spoke to.  No matter what the outcome of the pageant was, Inuyasha would be forever grateful that he had been here to experience it with her.

A murmur down the hall caught his attention, his ears flicking towards it with curiosity.  

“I think the list went up.” He told Rin, reaching down to take her hand.  “You want to go look?”  Rin’s hand tensed in his as she looked up at him, her eyes uncertain.  “Hey,” Inuyasha knelt down and drew her close, “we don’t have to if you don’t want to.  You came, you had fun, you made friends, that’s the most important thing right.”

“Yeah… but…” 

“But what baby girl?”

“I… I wanna do it tomorrow to…” she whispered.

“So, let’s go look, want me to come with you?”  Rin’s shy nod made his heart swell.  “Ok, let’s go then.”  

Rin kept a tight grip on his hand as they made their way down the hall.  Squeals of happiness mixed with sobs as girls threw themselves in their parents arms after looking at the list.  Inuyasha hesitated… maybe this wasn’t a good idea… maybe they shouldn’t do this…

Rin pulled him to a stop with a tug of her hand. 

“Coul… could you look for me?” She whispered, and Inuyasha nodded, bending down to kiss her forehead.

Inuyasha gulped, halfway afraid to look at the board, but it would be better coming from him than seeing it for herself, no matter what happened.

His eyes darted over the list for Teen and pre-teen before finally settling on the list for Little Miss.  

  1. Shiori Komori
  2. Soten Sanda
  3. Botan Ningyo
  4. Momiji Ningyo
  5. Rin Takahashi

RIN TAKAHASHI… 

Inuyasha turned to Rin with a giant grin on his face and her eyes went wide.

“R… really!!!!”  At Inuyasha’s nod she squealed and started dancing in place.  Inuyasha watched her with a silly grin on his face until it suddenly hit him.

They had to do this all over again the next day… he may not survive the weekend.

Chapter Text

The next day, at 1pm, Inuyasha was right back at the auditorium with Rin. This time, he had been a little more prepared, and Rin was already wearing her first dress for the interview section. 

He had thought that it would be less chaotic, given there were fewer contestants. The moment he walked in the door, though, that hope was destroyed. 

Even with narrowing the group from 65 to 30, there was still chaos everywhere, and the overwhelming scent of hairspray and Febreeze on clothes hastily prepared for a second day of wear.

He was suddenly glad that Rin was human and didn’t have an Inu Yokai’s sense of smell. She was already a bundle of excited nerves; she didn’t need anything else causing her any discomfort.

“Is Papa going to be here?” Rin asked again, her hand clutching Inuyasha’s.

“He said he would be here for the evening to escort you; he wouldn’t miss this for the world.”

Inuyasha had been surprised at first when Sesshomaru had worked overnight to resolve the emergency before dumping it on his second-in-command, ordering the private jet ready for a trip back immediately, but then again… it was Rin, and Rin came first. If Rin wanted her father there, then her father would be there.

A familiar head of ebony hair caught Inuyasha’s eye; Kagome was standing in the corner, talking to a woman with straight black hair cut in a bob and a tall man with brown hair tied up in a top knot with periwinkle makeup accenting his cheeks. He took a moment to just watch Kagome as she laughed at something that was said when the other woman lifted a strand of Kagome’s hair up.

“KAGOME!” Rin cried as soon as she saw the older woman, her grip on Inuyasha easing.

Kagome’s face turned and a grin breaking out as she saw who had called her and beckoned them over.

“I’m so happy to see you!” Kagome said, bending down to hug Rin when she drew close. 

“I made the top five for my division!” Rin exclaimed excitedly, bouncing up and down.

“That’s fantastic! I’m so happy for you!” Kagome ran her hand down Rin’s hair as the girl danced with excitement.

“Oh girl, you’ve been holding out on us.” The woman standing with Kagome smirked, eying Inuyasha. 

Kagome laughed as she straightened, shaking her head.

“You never change, Yura…”  Kagome smirked. “Inuyasha, this is Yura, my hair and makeup artist, and Jakotsu, my stylist. Yura and Jakotsu, this is Inuyasha, and his niece, Rin.”

“Ohh, his niece !!!” Jakotsu exclaimed, clasping his hands together and shooting Kagome a look. Inuyasha had to hold back a chuckle at Kagome’s responding glare at the man.

“If you need any help getting Rin ready today, just let me know,” Kagome said, turning to ignore her two friends. “If I can’t, I will send Yura to help.”  

“Thanks, we really appreciate it.”

“Uncle Inu, I see Miss Sango, let’s go say hi!” Rin tugged his hand, pulling him away and he shot a rueful smile back at Kagome as he followed Rin. 

“Is that the girl you were talking about yesterday?” Inuyasha heard Yura ask and his ear flicked towards them, trying to hear more.

“Yeah, she’s a sweetheart, isn’t she?”

“She’s adorable, but girl… that uncle is seriously hot!” Inuyasha’s face flushed red at Jakotsu’s words. Just what he needed…

“He really is, isn’t he.” Inuyasha’s ears perked straight up at Kagome’s sighed response. 

She thought he was… Kagome thought he was hot?  He fought the urge to look back at her; first, he didn’t want to give away that he had been able to hear them, and second… there was no way someone as smart and sweet as Kagome was single. Her boyfriend would likely be escorting her that evening for beauty, so there was no point in getting his hopes up that she would be interested in learning more about him.

Sango’s voice pulled him out of his thoughts, and pulled his attention back to Rin and her timeline. He was glad he had left her other stuff in the car; once she was done with interview, Rin would have a break until 6:00, when they needed to be back for the final competition. 

He wasn’t quite sure who was more nervous: Rin… or him. A quick glance at Rin sitting with her group, chatting away with the other four girls, told him his answer…

Him. He was definitely more nervous.

He watched as Rin reached out to take the hand of the girl sitting next to her, taking in the girl’s light silver hair and violet eyes against her tanned skin. Rin was… being Rin, drawing the girl out of her shell. Inuyasha smiled as he watched the girl smile, her eyes lighting up at something Rin had said.

“Your Rin’s father, right?” a woman asked him.

“Uncle,” he responded, turning his head toward the woman.

“Uncle. I’m Shizu; my daughter Shiori is in Rin’s division. I wanted to say thank you; meeting Rin has been the best part of this for my daughter. Most other girls aren’t as accepting as hanyo’s as Rin is.” 

Inuyasha felt his chest swell with pride. “Yeah, she’s great like that. Rin doesn’t care if you are human, yokai or hanyo—she treats everyone the same.”

When Rin’s name was called, Shiori threw her arms around Rin, and Inuyasha heard her soft “good luck” before Rin disappeared into the interview room. 

“And now the wait begins,” Shizu said, knowing her daughter was next.

“Is this her first time?”  Inuyasha asked, his gaze turning to the woman beside her.

“Yeah; you?”

“Yeah,” he chuckled, placing his hands in his pocket. 

Inuyasha had not realized just how long three minutes felt until that moment. The wait for Rin to come out, to see her expression, and to gauge her reaction, felt like eternity. 

He heard his niece’s laughter through the door and let out a breath. A moment later, she came bounding out of the room to dash to Shiori and give her a hug before the other girl’s number was called. 

“You’ve got this!” Rin told her, holding Shiori’s hand as Shiori made her way towards Sango. With a last look back and squeeze of Rin’s hand, Shiori entered her interview. 

Rin looked around and the moment her eyes found Inuyasha she launched herself at him, her arms squeezing his waist.

“So I’m going to guess it was terrible and traumatizing…” Inuyasha said, deadpan as he looked down at Rin’s smiling face.

“It was horrible and terrible,” she giggled, “I was absolutely terrified that they were going to eat me.”

“Well, I’m glad you escaped,” he teased, ruffling her hair.

“UNCLE INU!!” Rin shrieked. “If you mess up my hair, you have to do it again!”

“Shi… uh… Shoot, forgot about that.”  Rin shot him a frosty stare that was almost worthy of her father. Inuyasha looked at his watch, it was around 2:00, they had four hours until they had to be back at the school for the final stage of the competition. Sesshomaru was supposed to get in around 4, so they still had a few hours until they needed to be at the airport. “Ya hungry baby girl?”

Rin’s frown gave way to a giant smile. “Could we get pizza with lots of toppings?”  Inuyasha chuckled as he nodded. “And can we invite Kagome?”  

Inuyasha paused… hell, he would love to invite Kagome, but he wasn’t sure he could handle finding out she had a boyfr…

“KAGOME!” Rin cried, running towards the familiar dark haired woman as she came through the door to the stage. “Uncle Inu and I are going to get pizza, wanna come? Please please please?” 

Kagome’s eyes softened as she took Rin’s hand. “Wish I could, but we have rehearsal until 4 for my division. We are learning the opening number, and trust me, I would much rather be having pizza.”

“Awww.” Rin’s face fell as she looked back at her approaching Uncle. “She can’t join us, Uncle Inu?”  

“Yeah, baby girl, I heard.” Inuyasha’s hand came to Rin’s shoulder as he looked at Kagome. Would you like us to bring you back something?”

Kagome smiled, and Inuyasha felt most of his brain cells melt. 

“I should be good; I brought snacks to get me through the day, but thanks, that’s the first time someone has offered to bring me food at one of these.”

“You should have more than snacks; you are going to be here until what, 10? It’s only 2...” Inuyasha frowned. “I’m surprised your boyfriend isn’t bringing you something.”  

Inuyasha’s ears lowered as he realized how stupid the question was… fuck, now she would think he was hitting on her. Well, he was, or wanted to, but if she was with someone, it was a dick thing to do…

“Funny thing about having a boyfriend bring you food; first, you have to have a boyfriend.” Kagome’s eyes sparkled as Inuyasha’s ears shot straight up, quivering as he tried not to meet her gaze. Her tongue rested against her cheek when he finally dared to look up, a faint flush over his cheeks. His mouth opened as if he was going to ask something…

“Uncle Inu… Can I ask Shiori if she wants to come with us?”  Rin’s tugging on his sleeve broke the moment.

“Umm.. yeah… yeah, let’s go ask her mother.” Inuyasha shook his head to clear it, his golden eyes meeting dancing gray as Rin began to drag him down the hall towards Shiori.

“Seriously, that man is gorgeous,” Yura sighed as she handed a bottle of water and a package of peanut butter crackers to Kagome.

“Yeah…” Kagome agreed as she pulled out a cracker, nibbling at it as she watched Inuyasha talking to Shizu while the two young girls’ begging echoed down the hall. It was clear his niece adored him, and she had always been a sucker for guys who were good with kids. She knew the moment Shizu had agreed; the girls’ excitement was contagious, making everyone around them smile or laugh.

“I think he likes you.”  Yura nudged Kagome with her elbow and raised a brow.

“Oh come on; he’s being polite cause I was nice to his niece.”

“I’m serious, Kagome. There are some major vibes there.”  

Kagome took a long drink of water as Rin and Shiori dragged their adults out the door, chattering excitedly. She watched Inuyasha’s ears as they lowered from the noise and had the urge to pet them, soothing them from the abuse they were likely going through.

“As cute as he is, I need to focus today Yura, you know that,”  Kagome groaned, finishing off her crackers.

“Yeah… but after the pageant’s over, you never know, he could go a long way to helping console you or make the celebration better.”

Kagome shot her friend a glance. “You have a one track mind, woman.”

“Hello, did you SEE him?”

“Yeah…” Kagome sighed, letting her mind wander for a moment before shaking her head to clear it. She needed to focus, and not on adorable ears the color of moonlight.


Four hours, three glasses of soda, two boxes of pizza and one adopted father later, Inuyasha and crew unloaded at the school. Inuyasha had been prepared to hand over Rin duties to her father, but Rin wanted Sesshomaru in the audience to watch her for the first half before coming to escort her. She insisted that she needed Uncle Inu backstage to help her since he already knew what outfit she needed and what went with which look (Inuyasha had shot Sesshomaru a panicked look at that because no, he had no clue, that had all been Kagome) but what Rin wanted, Rin got. 

Inuyasha left his suit in the car; he would try and change after he got Rin ready for the evening gown portion and sneak out to watch. He wanted to try and see her onstage if he could.

Although, he thought, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, especially if it meant he got to see Kagome a little more.

A single Kagome with no boyfriend…

Rin… he needed to focus on Rin, and not on a certain raven-haired vixen with stormy gray eyes.

“...ut you had promised you were going to be here!”  

Inuyasha’s ears turned at said raven-haired vixen’s angry outburst. 

“Sota… you’ve known about this for weeks
… Well bring Hitomi here!
Sota, we have to have someone to esco…
You are the worst brother ever.
Love you too, you jerk, just not happy with you right now.”

Kagome sighed, her phone dropping to her side as she groaned, slumping against the wall.

“You ok?” Inuyasha asked, he had left Rin with Sesshomaru, Shiori and Shizu to check on her.

“My brother is an ass.”

“I think that’s par for the course with brothers,” Inuyasha chuckled.

“This one takes the cake, though. He was supposed to be my escort onstage tonight, but he forgot about it and made plans with his girlfriend and friends out of town and won’t get back here in time.”

“Would your friend...what was his name Jake… Jaku…”

“Jakotsu?”

“Yeah.”

“No,” Kagome chuckled, “he gets on stage and he’s likely to want to compete, rather than escort me.”

“What sections do you need an escort for?”

“Just evening gown,” Kagome sighed, “same as the younger divisions. So I don’t really know if I will need one because they haven’t announced top 5 yet, but…”

“But you would rather know it was taken care of before then so you weren’t stressing about it.”

“Yeah.” Kagome laughed as her head dropped back against the wall. “It’s no big deal, I guess; they usually have someone on standby in case an escort can’t make it.”

“I could escort you.”  Kagome’s head snapped forward, her stormy eyes wide as they met gold, not sure she had heard right. “I mean, if you would be ok with that.”

“What… what about Rin?”

“Keh, her father’s here to escort her.”  Inuyasha began to rub his neck with his hand, his nerves showing in the twitching of his ears. “I mean, I’ll already be back here getting Rin ready, so if you wanted, that is…, well I…”

“I would be honored,”  Kagome smiled, pushing herself off the wall to close the distance between them. Her hand reached out for his. “I mean it, I would really appreciate that.”

A shy grin formed on Inuyasha’s lips. 

“Just let me know when you want me…” Inuyasha flushed as he realized how his words sounded and his ears drooped. “I mean need me… I mean, oh hell. just tell me when you want me to be ready.”

“I’ll be able to let you know after they announce top 5,”  Kagome giggled, squeezing his hand in hers before her face went serious. “Thank you. I really, really mean it.”

“Kagome?” Jakotsu stood off to the side, a garment bag on his hand as his eyes slid appreciatively over Inuyasha. “Sorry to break the moment, but you need to get ready for opening.”

“I’ll be right there, Jak.” Kagome reluctantly released Inuyasha’s hand with a small smile. “I’ll come find you after the announcements?”

Inuyasha just nodded. Kagome shot him another smile before running after Jakotsu down the hall.

“Kagome, don’t run, god the last thing we need is for you to get sweaty, girl.”

“Jakotsu, I’m going to get sweaty on stage in the lights anyway.”

“Doesn’t mean you have to get a head start on i…”

Their voices faded as they disappeared around a corner, leaving Inuyasha standing there, dazed.

“Did you just volunteer to escort her?” Sesshomaru’s cold voice snapped Inuyasha back to reality.

“Keh, what of it?”

“I take it that was the Miss Kagome that Rin has been talking about?”  Inuyasha just glared at his brother and stalked back to the car to grab Rin’s bags. 

“Don’t you need to go find a seat?” Inuyasha growled.

“The doors aren’t open yet.”

“Damnit.”

“UNCLE INU!” Rin’s voice was stern as she placed her hand on his arm with a disapproving glare worthy of her father. “That’s not a nice word.”

Inuyasha’s ears fell as Sesshomaru began to chuckle.

“Sorry, Rin.”  

Rin’s lips twitched as she struggled to hold her frown, but she wasn’t able to hold back her laughter. 

“She has you wrapped around her finger, little brother.”  Sesshomaru’s voice was soft, just loud enough for Inuyasha, but not Rin, to hear.

“Keep talking Mr. I-worked-all-night-to-get-back-to-town-because-my-daughter-told-me-to-be-here,” Inuyasha responded just as softly, smirking when he saw Sesshomaru’s eye twitch.

Rin gave an exaggerated sigh, her eyes darting between her father and her uncle.

“Uncle Inu, we need to go. Daddy, you need to go get a good seat so you can watch me.”

Sesshomaru bent down to wrap Rin in his arms, his eyes softening when she threw hers around him. Inuyasha watched with a small smile; no matter how much they ribbed on each other, Sesshomaru really was a good father. Rin had softened him, had brought him out of his shell just as much as he had helped her out of hers. Inuyasha hated to break up the moment, but he was noticing the crowd of parents starting to disappear into the school. 

“Come on, kid, let’s go get you ready.” Inuyasha knelt down and laid his hand on Rin’s back, smiling as she squeezed Sesshomaru one more time before taking Inuyasha’s hand. “Don’t worry, Sess, she’ll be alright. Go get a seat and I’ll come get you at the intermission.” 


Thirty minutes later, Inuyasha had Rin dressed for the opening number and introduction in her interview dress and Sango was corralling the younger contestants towards the stage. 

“So what happens now?” Inuyasha asked as Shizu walked past him.

“The younger contestants wait backstage for the Miss division to finish the opening number.”  Shizu’s eyes were puzzled. “Don’t you remember from Orientation?”  Inuyasha’s eyes went wide before they lowered to the ground. Shizu tilted her head and smiled. “Oh, I didn’t realize you weren’t there for that. The Miss contestants do their opening number, then they bring all the finalists onstage while they announce the top five for the Miss Division. Then they have each finalist step forward and introduce themselves, so if you want to go watch the first part, we have time.”

Inuyasha’s right ear began to twitch; on one hand, he wanted to go watch Kagome and Rin and see if Kagome made top 5, but he also wanted to be backstage for Rin if she needed him.

“Most of us are going out front to watch for a bit. It's the only time we will be able to tonight; you want to come with us?”  Shizu nodded towards the stage door, and Inuyasha found himself following her out to the auditorium, standing against the wall as the lights in the audience lowered. 

The lights on the stage rose, revealing the 15 Miss contestants in black cocktail dresses. Inuyasha’s gaze slid across the stage, recognizing the red-haired wolf who had nearly run him over the day before, only to stop when he found Kagome.

She shone.

There really was no other word for it. Everyone else on the stage disappeared as he watched her smile and wave as she moved across the floor. Her blue-black hair shone in the light as she spun, laughter on her lips, with the music. It seemed only a moment, yet he was sure it had been several minutes before they all came to a stop, a hand on a hip, and the younger contestants filed onto the stage. 

Inuyasha’s heart warmed as he turned his gaze to Rin, standing hand-in-hand with Shiori behind Kagome, the two girls so different in appearance, yet already the fastest of friends. Rin’s smile was infectious; he had never seen her looking so happy, so confident. No matter what happened today, he would be grateful she had gone through this experience just to see that.

A man stepped out, clad in a tuxedo with a purple vest, his black hair pulled back into a small tail at the nape of his neck and a microphone in his hand.

“Welcome ladies and gentlemen, to the 2021 Miss Shikon Jewel Pageant!”  the man said and the crowd erupted into applause.

“That’s Miroku Hoshi, Sango’s husband,” Shizu whispered, and Inuyasha’s ear flicked, telling her he had heard.

He let the man’s voice fade as he continued to watch Rin and Kagome as Rin leaned over to bump her shoulder into Shiori’s, making the silver-haired girl giggle. Kagome’s head shifted to the side as her smile grew warmer, and Inuyasha knew she had heard the giggle. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see some of the other Miss contestants suddenly throw their hands to their face or their chest or step forward: the red-haired wolf, a woman with short black hair and magenta eyes, a girl with shoulder length wavy dark hair, and one with short brown hair. Kagome’s smile started to look forced, and Inuyasha realized that they were calling the top five… and there was only one name left. 

“And the last contestant moving on to the final competition, Miss Kagome Higurashi!” Miroku called out and Kagome’s eyes closed in relief, her head dropping forward for a moment as other contestants reached out to take her hand. Her head snapped up with a brilliant smile as she squeezed their hands back or hugged them as she stepped forward to join the other four, waving as she walked.

“Come on, we need to get backstage. They will be off soon and we need to get them into sportswear,” Inuyasha heard Shizu say as if from a distance, his gaze still on Kagome until the words sunk through.

Sportswear… right…

Oh god, now he needed to remember which outfit that was.


The scene backstage was even more chaotic than when they had arrived, something Inuyasha would not have thought possible given ten of the contestants were now packing up and going out to watch in the audience. Yet it seemed there was even more of a buzz of activity as outfits were thrown around, and each of the final five Miss contestants were swarmed with hair, makeup and stylists making sure they were ‘perfect’ to go out. He saw Kagome for a moment as she raced backstage in skyscraper heels, her face glowing. She stopped for a moment when she saw him, her smile growing wider.

“I need you.”  Inuyasha felt his heart stutter as he pushed back all the thoughts those words could mean, and he saw the moment that she realized it when her cheeks flushed and she looked up, embarrassed. “I mean I will need to borrow you, if that’s still alright.”  

“Yeah…” Inuyasha choked out as Yura and Jakotsu appeared to spirit Kagome away. His eyes followed her down the hall, smiling as she turned back to look at him, her friends expertly keeping her from running into anything or anyone.

The linebacker formerly known as his niece Rin chose that moment to tackle his waist, and Inuyasha stumbled, thrown off guard by the sudden weight. She instantly launched into a commentary of what had happened backstage, one of the contestants… Momiji something or other, had started crying and they had tried to cheer her up and then Miss Sango had come to help and brought her a sucker and sat with her while Rin had given her a hug and…

Inuyasha smiled as Rin continued on while he pulled out her jean outfit for sportswear and walked her to Shiori and Shizu, trusting her with Shizu to get changed. She was still talking away when she came back out, arm-in-arm with Shiori, Shizu standing behind them with a smile, shaking her head as she brought Rin back to Inuyasha.

“I would kill for a fraction of her energy,” Shizu chuckled as Rin grabbed her sparkly sneakers (sneakers that she had made Inuyasha go and find for her the day before because she HAD to have sparkly sneakers for the stage and he just couldn’t tell her no).

“Keh, tell me about it,” Inuyasha agreed, watching the bundle of energy that bounced around the hall, unable to stay still in her excitement.

He had to finally rein her in to bring her backstage again for her next round of competition, watching as she started dancing with Shiori to the music as the others were modeling. When it was her turn Rin burst onto the stage, her smile huge. He bit back his laughter as he watched her almost run out, searching for the X. As soon as she hit it, she posed, hand on hip and jerked her head up before running to the next X. She didn’t have the smooth polish some of the girls before her had shown, but she was genuine, excited…

She was just Rin. 

Shiori was standing backstage, her clasped hands trembling slightly as she waited for Rin to finish the routine and come back. Applause followed Rin as she darted back behind the curtains, but instead of going to Inuyasha to get ready for evening gown she threw her arms around Shiori in a big hug and whispered in the girl’s ear. Whatever she had said made Shiori smile and giggle as her hands relaxed. 

“Come on, baby girl, let’s go get you ready,”  Inuyasha whispered, only for Rin to shake her head and take his hand, keeping him with her.

“I wanna wait for Shiori.”

He crouched down, taking his hand out of Rin’s grasp to wrap his arm around her shoulders as they watched Shiori. The silver haired girl with the wide lavender eyes floated across the stage in her in a white day dress with a lavender ribbon, her face calm and happy, and Inuyasha knew that the girls would be friends for life.

Rin squealed when Shiori came off the stage, launching towards the girl as they hugged each other and jumped around. 

“Girls, come on, we need to get you changed,” Shizu chuckled, herding them towards the door. 

Inuyasha followed a few steps behind, a small smile on his face as he watched his niece. 

The scent of vanilla and roses was his only warning, and he stopped quickly, just avoiding a collision with Kagome as she sprinted down the hall, skidding to a stop to pant heavily, a hand on the wall to support her.

“You ok?” he asked, crossing to crouch in front of her, concerned.

“Yeah… just… don’t want to be late,” she panted, waving a hand at him as she stood and took a deep breath. 

“Dammit, Kagome…” Yura rushed up next to her, “you’re going to ruin your makeup.”

“Please.” Kagome rolled her eyes as she tried to calm her breathing. “You used enough setting spray that it’s probably permanent.”

Inuyasha took the moment to run his eyes over Kagome, noting her simple, yet elegant, royal blue jumpsuit, the top covered in beading, two panels of chiffon swirling around her legs over the pants, giving the illusion of it being a skirt. Jakotsu sauntered up the hallway at a slower pace, holding a violin case in his hand.

“Didn’t you forget something, Kagome?” Jakotsu teased as he passed her the case. “You can’t go on to talent without… you know… your talent.”

“Talent…?” Inuyasha asked, starting to panic… shit was there another part of the competition… oh god, he had fucked up, and now Rin wouldn’t be ready and…

“Hey, hey hey…” Kagome pushed away from the wall, setting her free hand on his arm over his jacket, drawing his attention back to her. She gave him a knowing smile as she tried to calm him down. “Talent’s only for the Miss division, in place of sportswear. You aren’t missing anything for Rin.”

Inuyasha sighed in relief, his hand coming to his chest. Out of the corner of his eye, Inuyasha saw Jakotsu nudge Yura with an elbow as he glanced at her sideways, a smug look on his face as he tilted his head towards them, and Yura raised an eyebrow. 

“Sorry for making you panic,” Kagome apologized as she tipped her head back, her gray eyes meeting his. Whatever Yura had done, her eyes seemed bigger, more luminous,and Inuyasha felt himself falling into them.

“K...keh.” His cheeks flushed as he forced himself to look away, but not before he saw the answering flush on Kagome’s cheeks.

The backstage door opened and the pre-teen finalists came tumbling out the door, running towards the dressing room. Kagome’s eyes went wide and she spun to her friends, her hand dropping off of Inuyasha’s arm and he found himself missing its heat and pressure. 

“You told me that the Miss contestants were on.” Kagome pointed at Jakotsu, who managed to look both innocent and guilty at the same time, his eyes wide but twinkling with mischief.

“Opps, did I get Miss and Little Miss confused? I’m so sorry.”  

Jakotsu sounded anything but sorry; Kagome rolled her eyes and turned back to Inuyasha with a huff. 

“Sorry for nearly running you over; I thought I was late, but instead I just had some idio…”

When Kagome turned to glare at Jakotsu, she found he and Yura had both vanished, seemingly into thin air.

“I’m going to kill them,” she mumbled, and Inuyasha had to fight his grin. He glanced down the hall, seeing Shizu helping Rin and Shiori get ready, and zeroed in on two pairs of eyes peeking around a corner, watching him with Kagome and had to chuckle.

“So… anyway…” Kagome’s cheeks flushed again as she looked up at him. “If the offer still stands, I would…”

“I’d love to,” Inuyasha interrupted, his ears focused on her and, unbeknownst to him, quivering in excitement, and Kagome again felt the deep need to stroke them, to feel if they were as soft as they looked. 

“Oh… umm, thank you.” Her eyes dropped, focusing on the violin case in her hand.

The sudden sour scent of nerves started to creep into her vanilla and rose scent, making Inuyasha’s nose itch with how just… wrong it smelled. It made him want to growl, to promise her that nothing would ever hurt her again, he wouldn’t let it. 

“Say, Kagome.” Her eyes slowly lifted, framed by impossibly long, beautifully deep lashes to meet his intense golden gaze. “I… I was wondering if af…”

The door to the stage flew open as the teen contestants stepped back into the hall, giggling at the two adults standing against the wall. Sango followed behind them with a clipboard in her hand. The moment she saw Kagome, she tilted her head back, and called out for the other Miss contestants. Kagome’s smile was shy now as she turned back to Inuyasha.

“I gotta go, but… what was it you wanted to ask?”

“Keh, don’t worry about it. I can always talk to you later.”

“Oh...o..okay.”  There was a flash of disappointment in her eyes as Kagome lifted her violin case, cradling it against her chest, before turning to the door.

“Hey Kagome?” Inuyasha called out, smirking when she turned back. “Good luck out there.”

Kagome started to shake her head, a smile teasing the edge of her lips.

“You don’t say ‘good luck’ when someone’s about to perform, Dog-Boy. You say ‘break a leg’.”

“Well, go do that then.” He smiled back, his ears wiggling, making her giggle as she disappeared into the darkness of the backstage area.

Inuyasha waited a few moments before turning back up the hallway to help Shizu finish getting Rin and Shiori ready. When he passed the corner where Yura and Jakotsu were trying to hide he paused, raising an eyebrow at the two of them.

“And what was that?”

“An honest mistake?” Jakotsu had the cheek to try and bat his eyes at Inuyasha, only to receive a scowl in return. “Just… trying to help a friend?” Jakotsu tried again, relaxing when Inuyasha let out a scoff and rolled his eyes. “What we are…  There’s life after this competition, and Kagome needs to not bury herself in school. Girl needs to live a little, try dati...”

“And I’m gonna stop you there,” Yura hissed, slapping her hand over Jakotsu’s mouth before looking back at Inuyasha. “Please forgive the idiot; he always goes stupid around hot men.” 

“K..Keh…” Inuyasha’s cheeks flamed red, his ears flattening against his scalp. 

“You going to behave?” she asked Jakotsu, who nodded. Yura lifted her hand away to reveal his pout, and she sighed. “Go do something useful, like get her dress ready or something,” she told him, gently shoving him towards Kagome’s area, watching as he flounced away in a huff. “Sorry about that. We don’t let him out much.” 

“Y..yeah, I’m gonna, I gotta…”

“Kagome’s going to be about 20 minutes for all the talent to be done, and she’s last. Can I come help with your niece’s hair as an apology?” Yura offered, her face serious.

Inuyasha was torn… on one hand he didn’t want strangers near Rin, but on the other, this was Kagome’s friend and stylist… and he really was shit with hair…

“Uncle Inu???” Rin called out, wrapping her arms around his waist. “You gotta do my hair, I wanna look pretty for daddy.”

Inuyasha looked down at her smiling face and knew he would leave it to her.

“Baby Girl, Miss Yura has offered to help with your hair, what do you say?”

Rin tilted her head, looking at the woman in front of her. 

“Would you also help Shiori?”

Yura chuckled. “Yeah, I’ll help your friend too.”

“Okay!” Rin beamed then ran back to Shiori to tell her.

“You have a great niece there, you know that right?” Yura said as she walked towards the two girls.

“Yeah… I do.” Inuyasha smiled.

Chapter Text

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.