These Boys by Sereia

Chapter 1

Hanakotoba Matsuri Week 03: Pride & Loyalty

Prompt: Amaryllis (pride), Married to the Job, Unexpected Power

Level: Blossom

Inspiration: "These Boys" by Adam Lambert


These Boys

Kagome groaned as her phone buzzed. She'd been purposefully ignoring the texts all day, but her friends were adamant about her joining them on their goukon.

It had been a running joke since high school that the only way Kagome would agree to a date was through blackmail. Yuka hadn't resorted to that yet, but she'd threatened it a few times. And it had gotten worse in the last month.

Apparently, there was some dreamboat that Kagome just had to meet, and her friends had started begging her to join them.

As if on cue, her phone started ringing, Eri's picture lighting up the screen. Knowing that things would only worsen if she ignored them, Kagome mentally counted to five, then answered the phone.

"I don't care how hot he is. I'm not going."

"Oh, come on, Kagome! He really wants to meet you!" Eri whined.

Kagome leaned back in her chair, propping her feet up on her desk. "That's what you said about the last three guys you've tried to set me up with."

"This one is different, I swear."

"I refer you to my last statement."

"I'm serious! Every time we meet up with Daisuke-kun and his friends, all this guy wants to talk about is you. He doesn't even hang around like the others did. If you're not there, he just leaves."

"Sounds like a stalker."

Eri let out a frustrated groan. "You wouldn't say that if you knew what he looked like."

"I'm not so shallow that I'll overlook someone's faults just because they've got a pretty face, Eri."

"Neither am I, but it's definitely a perk!"

Kagome could picture the grin on her friend's face and shook her head. "If that's all—"

"Kagome, it's not just about meeting this guy. We just want to see you. You're always hold up in your office, claiming you're too busy because of whatever couple's dream you're working on, and we miss you."

Well, that was a low blow.

"Being a wedding planner isn't a nine to five job, Eri. I'm the one who has to call the vendors and make sure everyone's schedules line up, and—"

"You spend so much time making other people happy. Why not focus on yourself for once?"

Kagome groaned. "You've been talking to Mama, haven't you?"

The stagnant pause was all the answer she needed.

Taking a quick inventory of her current checklist, she sighed in resignation. "I'll go to one." She held her phone away from her ear as Eri squealed in delight.

"You won't regret this, Kagome!" she chatted excitedly, giving Kagome the location and time of the goukon. "Who knows? Maybe you'll take one look at this guy and fall madly in love! Then you can use all your skills to plan your own wedding."

Kagome snorted so hard she started coughing. "Yeah, I'll get right on that."

"Hey, you never know! Stranger things have happened." Eri gave her a quick goodbye and then hung up, not allowing Kagome the chance to change her mind.

Shaking her head again, Kagome righted herself, leaning over her tablet as she added the new event to her calendar.

Somehow strange took on a different meaning when she included the whole 'falling down a well and going back in time' thing. No matter how many oddities happened in her life, nothing had quite topped that.

Kagome grabbed the pendant around her neck. She'd done it so often after the well had closed, her hand automatically seeking the jewel, that she'd bought herself a necklace to actually grab onto. It had become a nervous habit, and although the small crystal was a mere trinket compared to the Shikon itself, it still managed to calm Kagome down.

Mama had been right on the money when it came to the reason behind her job—being a wedding planner gave Kagome the control that she'd lacked as a teen, but also allowed her to see to the happiness of other people. Even if the marriage ended up falling apart years later, she could still say that for one day, the couple was happy. All because of her.

Kagome had never felt the same since returning to her time. It was where she'd been born, where she was meant to grow up, but ever since her life returned to 'normal', there had been a void in her heart that nothing, and no one, had been able to fill.

There wasn't even a specific person she wanted to see. Inuyasha had been her best friend, and she loved him dearly, but even seeing Jaken would have settled the nerves in her heart. If only to prove she hadn't hallucinated the entire ordeal.

She'd searched for them, travelling all over Japan on the slim chance she'd run across someone, anyone with a youki signature, but there hadn't been so much as a trickle.

Either they were meticulous at hiding themselves, or there were no youkai left in Japan.

Her grip on her pendant tightened, and she forced herself to breathe. Maybe her friends were right. Maybe she was working too hard. A quick check of her watch told her that she could still get a few more hours of work in before she dashed home for a quick shower and a touch of makeup, but where would the fun be in that?

Shutting down all her tech, she rescheduled her remaining meetings, then quickly locked up, sending an SOS text to her hairdresser as she walked to her car.

If she was going to go for it, she might as well go all out.


"Woah! And here I thought we would have to drag you away from your office kicking and screaming."

Kagome grinned, then did a twirl, her knee-length dress flaring out a little. The shade of purple was slightly darker than she would've liked, but the bodice hugged her curves in all the right places, and the saleswoman had practically begged her to buy it.

And considering all the looks she'd received just walking from her car to the restaurant, she was really glad she had.

"You look amazing, Kagome! You're going to make all the men swoon," Ayumi chimed in.

"Hey now," Yuka cut in, "she's here to seduce Mr. Bigshot executive only. The rest are for us."

The others rolled their eyes, Kagome included, then all four women burst out laughing.

"Where are the rest?" Kagome asked, looking around. "I figured I'd be the last one here."

"Daisuke-kun said they're on their way. Shou-san had some big event today, and it ran a little late," Yuka replied, tapping her phone.

"Shou-san is the one who's been asking about you," Eri clarified, nudging Kagome.

Kagome just shrugged. It didn't matter who the guy was or how interested he was; she was here for herself. If the business executive wanted to buy her a few drinks along the way, that was just a bonus.

"Considering how nice it is, do we wanna get a table outside?" Ayumi asked, heading towards the hostess.

Eri nodded. "It'll give us more room to move around once the guys get here."

Her friend ushered her inside, then out onto the patio, managing to snag a table with a lovely view of the ocean. Kagome sucked in a deep breath, the salty air filling her lungs and easing her nerves. Her confidence waned with every passing minute and was only made worse when Eri's friends showed up sans the elusive Shou-san.

"He's right around the corner. He just had some last-minute business stuff to take care of," Daisuke swore. "I even texted him that you'd finally made it, but he hasn't read it yet."

Kagome waved it off, flashing the man a smile. "That's fine. We're all here to have fun together."

But 'together' seemed to be a relative term, as her friends were soon engrossed in separate conversations, leaving Kagome feeling more like a spare tire, let alone a third wheel. She rested her arm on the railing, looking out over the beach as waves crashed against the shore.

At least they can't complain that I didn't try.

Kagome started going over her checklist for the following day in her head, distracting herself to the point of needing to be elbowed by Eri when the last member of their goukon finally showed up.

"Took you long enough!" Daisuke said.

"Apologies. My assistant enjoys proving his incompetence on a daily basis." The smooth baritone stirred something deep within the recesses of Kagome's mind, and her eyes flew to the man shrugging off his coat.

"Did you get my text?"

Shou shook his head as he ran a hand through his hair, the length seeming too short for him. "I was busy trying to—" His eyes suddenly landed on Kagome, and he stopped dead. "You came."

The rest of her friends giggled, but all Kagome could manage was a slight wave, suddenly wishing that her dress was long-sleeved instead of a high-collared halter. The way he was looking at her bordered on feral, and she had to swallow repeatedly before finding her voice.

Eri hadn't been kidding when she'd said he was good-looking. Shou—she still hadn't caught a last name—looked like he'd just stepped off the runway. Or a Greek temple. A crisp, white dress shirt was pulled tightly across a toned chest, though slightly hidden under a charcoal vest and indigo tie. His sleeves had been rolled up to his elbows, giving him more of a relaxed look, but something in his hazel eyes made her think it was a ruse.

"Sorry it took so long," she said, though up until that moment, she hadn't been sorry at all. "I'm Higurashi Kagome."

"I know."

Why did it seem like those two words had a deeper meaning?

The group shuffled their chairs, giving Shou room to sit down across from Kagome, his eyes focused on her the entire time. An average person would've wilted under such scrutiny, but she'd dealt with his level of arrogance before, and Kagome raised her chin. Something flashed in Shou's eyes, but he turned towards their server, and Kagome couldn't be sure what it was.

"It's nice to meet you, Shou-san. Eri's told me—" She frowned as she realized Eri had barely told her anything about him. "—she's been very eager for us to meet."

"That is partially my fault," he said. "She showed me your picture, and I was instantly smitten."

A charmer too. Kagome would have to watch out for him. "A believer in love at first sight, are you?"

Shou chuckled. "Something like that."

An array of appetizers was placed on the table, and the other couples dug into the food, but Kagome found herself too distracted by the man in front of her to even look at the plates.

"Considering how insistent you were about names in the past, I find it intriguing that you have not asked for mine."

Kagome blinked, then flushed, realizing he was right. He hadn't offered it in return during their initial introduction, but she shouldn't have relied on second-hand information from her friends. For all she knew, 'Shou' could be a nickname.

"You're right," she agreed, though she still felt like she was missing out on some inside joke with the way he was looking at her. "What is your name?"

His lips curled up into a familiar smirk, and Kagome's heart skipped a beat. "One you are already familiar with, miko."

Her heart stuttered this time, beating wildly against the inside of her chest, her eyes widening in shock. "What did you call me?"

Shou leaned forward, resting one hand over hers before an ancient power, one she hadn't felt in years, slid up her arm.

"Sesshou—" Kagome clamped her other hand over her mouth, Yuka giving her a strange look.

"It is nice to see you again," Sesshoumaru said, not releasing her hand.

"Is it?" she asked incredulously.

He chuckled again, and Kagome realized why she hadn't recognized him; without the condescending sneer, he looked like a completely different person.

The daiyoukai was far less intimidating without his armour and clad in his human glamour, but his eyes were no less intense, and Kagome wondered what else had changed over the last five centuries.

He squeezed her hand. "You are worrying about things out of your control."

Kagome felt her cheeks heat again. "It's just—I never thought that you—" she vaguely motioned to him. "It's a lot to take in."

Sesshoumaru's thumb stroked the back of her hand, and she was painfully aware of the motion, shivers running down her spine.

Why wasn't she pulling away? She should really be pulling away.

She kept opening her mouth and then closing it again, unsure which question to ask first. None of them were appropriate to ask in public, and Kagome suddenly wished this was one of the times her friends had set her up on a blind date by herself.

She felt like she was going to burst out of her skin. Patience had never been one of Kagome's strong points; she'd thought herself alone for so long, and now that she'd finally found someone—though he'd technically found her—she wasn't about to let something like a lack of privacy stop her.

Kagome dragged him out of the restaurant, face burning at the catcalls from Yuka and Eri, then quickly ducked under the nearest pier, the conversations from patrons a low but constant blanket of noise.

"If you wanted me alone, miko, all you had to do was ask."

He is not flirting with me. He's not, he's not, he's not.

"I just figured you wouldn't want me spilling all of your secrets in front of my friends," she said, trying to ignore the way he was looking at her. "How did you know it was me, anyway? What if I'd been some random doppelganger?"

Sesshoumaru grabbed a lock of her hair, bringing it to his lips. "You still smell the same."

He's totally flirting.

"You're alive."

"I am."

"Does that mean—the others, are they—"

"The kit is currently in Ireland for a Kitsune convention. The slayer and monk's blood live on in Daisuke," he said, motioning back towards the restaurant.

"And Inuyasha?"

"Currently vacationing in the mountains of Nagano with his mate."

Kagome's heart soared at the thought of seeing her friend again. "His mate? Another hanyou?"

"A wolf."

The expression on his face gave it away, and blue eyes widened in shock. "Kouga-kun?"

"Hnn. It seems they discovered they had more in common than just their love for you."

"That's—" She couldn't help but laugh. "That's actually really sweet." And she meant it. She was happy for Inuyasha—him being mated to Kouga of all people was a shock, but she was glad he hadn't spent the centuries alone. She'd known the two of them weren't going to work.

The adrenaline of discovering Shou's identity was starting to wear off, but she pushed forward, not wanting to lose her train of thought.

"Are you still in contact with them?"

"I would not know of their current locations if I was not."

It was Kagome's turn to smirk, and she resisted the urge to smack him. "Smartass."

"You are the one asking the useless questions, miko," he retorted, casually leaning against one of the pier's support beams.

"Yeah yeah. Will you give me their numbers? Or tell me where I can find them?"

"Of course. They will be delighted to know you safely made it back to your time." Sesshoumaru seemed to share in that delight; his posture was relaxed, but now that she knew what to look for, she could feel the torrent of emotions churning under his skin.

Ignoring what it could mean, Kagome let out a relieved breath. "Thank you, that means a lot—"

"You speak as though I will be giving you this information for free."

"What could you possibly want?"

His eyes slid to her lips. "What indeed."

The space between them became charged, hazel turning to amber, and it was suddenly hard to breathe. He still felt like a threat—a predator—but it was different from before.

"I-I—" She cleared her throat. "I don't have anything. Nothing that would be of any value, anyway."

Sesshoumaru raised an eyebrow. "Do you still struggle with acknowledging your worth? Even after the defeat of the spider?"

He was baiting her into something; she could feel it. "I know exactly what I'm worth. Why do you think I've blown you off so many times?"

He smirked, and Kagome got the distinct feeling that if he hadn't been disguised under a glamour, she'd be looking at fangs.

"In return for reuniting you with your friends, I require a small favour."

"Which is?"

"An indulgence."

"What does that even—"

"A kiss, miko."

If her feet hadn't been firmly planted in the sand, Kagome would've fallen over. "A what?"

"I was unaware the definition had changed."

"It hasn't—that's not the point—why would you want that?"

For the first time since he'd walked into the restaurant, Sesshoumaru looked away from her, gazing out at the ocean. "That is my own business."

She pursed her lips. The fact that she would be directly involved in the 'indulgence' made it her business, but she brushed it off. Sesshoumaru had never been someone to divulge his inner workings before, why would he start now?

"Just one kiss?"

Her answer surprised him, his eyes widening as he met her gaze. "You would agree to such?"

Kagome shrugged with a nonchalance she didn't feel. "Sure. If it'll get me in contact with everyone again."

Golden eyes blazed, his image shimmering between human and other, then he reached for her, interlocking their fingers as he pulled her closer. Kagome moistened her lips, tilting her head up. A simple peck would suffice, right?

Sesshoumaru's mouth settled over hers, warm and inviting, and Kagome's hand clenched. She'd never been this close to him before. He smelled earthy, like a forest after a storm, and she leaned in, slanting her head slightly.

It was all the invitation he needed; Sesshoumaru spun her around and pinned her against the beam. Kagome gasped, hands grasping at firm shoulders as his tongue slid into her mouth. He pressed her into the wood, creating a delicious mix of heat and friction, and she pulled him closer.

His growl reverberated through her, stoking the flames of desire, and she buried her hands in his hair, the strands feeling longer than before. One of them moaned, and his hand slid under her dress, youki pulsing around them as claws dragged up her thigh. Kagome hissed, arching before breaking the kiss, panting heavily as she looked up at him.

It was the Lord of the West that stared back, silver hair glistening in the fading sunlight, magenta stripes jagged along his cheeks. The skirt of her dress bunched around his leg as he kneed her legs apart, and she opened her mouth, wiling words to form, but she wasn't fast enough, and he kissed her again.

Kagome welcomed the embrace, the assault of her senses making her head spin. Tongues tangled and nails dragged as they both fought for dominance, youki and reiki washing over them in waves. She tasted blood as fangs tugged at her bottom lip, and this time, it was Sesshoumaru who pulled back.

"That was two," she whispered, chest still heaving.

"The first one was per our agreement." His lips ghosted across the base of her ear, then settled against her neck. "The second was for my own selfish means." He wasn't even trying to hide his arousal, his body still pressed firmly against her.

"You were always a selfish one."


Kagome ran her fingers through his hair, shuddering at the feel of fangs against her skin. "You're still going to give me their numbers, right?"

Sesshoumaru stilled, and she could feel his stoic mask sliding back into place. He slowly straightened, her grip on the back of his neck the only thing stopping him from pulling away completely.

"Of course. I would not go back on my—"

"Then it doesn't matter how many times you kiss me." The mask slipped, and Kagome chuckled softly, poking him in the forehead, her finger tracing the moon on his brow. "Now who's worrying too much?"

Pulling him closer, she brushed her lips against his. "Just no more of this 'miko' business."

"I will call you whatever you wish."

Humming softly, she kissed the underside of his jaw. "'Kagome' would be a good place to start." Her name was murmured against her lips as he claimed her mouth again, and soon the only sound was the crash of the waves against the shore, both content to carry out their new agreement without the need for words.


INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
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