The Hunt for the Perfect Man: Chapter 10 - Hiten
This is still a tag-team performance brought to you by CharmedReality and BelleDayNight.
Disclaimer: We didn't create the characters. We just put them in compromising situations for our amusement.
In an attempt to avoid Inuyasha on yet another date, especially after their last strange encounter, Kagome sat on a bench along a strip of little shops, restaurants, and bars waiting for the newest man to meet her. She was wearing a purple shirt with a white flower carefully situated in her long, dark hair. She felt a little silly, but her date needed some sure way of recognizing her among all these people. And sure enough, there were no other young women with flowers in their hair that she could see.
Flipping her pearlescent pink cell phone open, she read a text from Sango asking if he was there yet and quickly typed back, "not yet," complete with a frowning face emoticon.
Kagome had gotten much more proficient in the art of typing with her thumbs since meeting Sango on their "date." The two women had become fast friends even if Kagome didn't enjoy working out nearly as much as the police woman did. None of the men she had been set up with had worked out, but it seemed she had at least gotten one friend out of the deal. Two if you counted Shippou. He was like having another little brother.
This date was going to go differently with a little help from Sango. Kagome was going to keep her phone on and occasionally type details of her date to her waiting friend who would run a harmless, little background search. That way she could find out what was wrong with him early on so she could still enjoy the rest of her evening.
And, of course, if it turned out that nothing was wrong with him, she could just relax and have fun. It was the perfect plan.
She jerked a little upon hearing her name. She'd been so lost in her plotting that she hadn't even noticed when a very handsome man approached her.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to startle you. You are Kagome Higarashi, aren't you? My name is Hiten. I believe I have the pleasure of your company tonight?" He flashed her a smile before continuing. "That or there are two girls wearing flowers in their hair tonight and one of you will have an interesting story to tell your friends."
"Yes, yes of course. Hi, Hiten." She stood up quickly, dropping her cell phone in her pocket for easy access later. "So, what do you do for a living?"
The man ran his fingers through his soft-looking hair and smiled sheepishly. "You like to get right down to it, don't you? I write for a magazine. Mostly little, local color pieces. Actually, I was thinking we could go to the subject of one of my favorite articles tonight. There is a little pool hall just down the strip. It has the best pizza in town. And you have to try the macaroni and cheese pizza. I know, I know, it sounds crazy, but trust me, one bite and you'll be hooked." He offered his arm for her to take as they walked.
"Well, I do love pizza and macaroni and cheese, so I guess it won't hurt to try it. So, have you ever been married?"
He laughed a little at her abruptness. "No, not that I recall. You?"
"Me? No, of course not. What about kids?"
"Kids? Well, they are nice I guess. I was really hoping to shoot a game of pool before starting a family though."
Hiten held the door open for Kagome when they reached Pete's Pizza & Pool Hall.
Kagome giggled. "I guess Pete's a pretty blunt guy, huh?"
Hiten frowned. "I guess."
"I mean, he named his establishment pizza and pool. Not too creative. It's got pizza and it's got pool. Very to the point. You get it?"
"Yeah, I get it," Hiten said flatly, running his fingers through his long hair again. It was his tell for whenever something was making him uneasy. Luckily, Kagome was no poker player or she might have picked up on it.
However, she wasn't exactly missing the fact that the joviality had left Hiten's voice. She swallowed hard as she tried to think of a way to salvage things. The date was already feeling awkward and it was all her fault so far. Hiten seemed like he might be a cool guy despite the odds, and she really didn't want to screw up any more potentials. Especially since she hadn't heard anything from Sesshoumaru after she'd thought that date had gone so well if you discounted the abrupt ending.
"Have you ever played pool before?" Hiten asked, pulling off two pool sticks from the wall by an unoccupied pool table.
"Just a time or two growing up. One of my good friends had a table at her house and we'd knock the balls around sometimes."
Hiten narrowed his eyes while handing one of the sticks to her. "Pool is not something to play around with. It's a complicated sport involving the utilization of angles and geometric patterns." His stern face broke into a smile when Kagome looked properly admonished. "Sorry, don't take me too seriously. I played pool professionally for a couple of years in college. It paid the tuition, so I respect the sport."
"Understandable. So, are we going to play and then eat pizza?"
"Hungry?" Hiten asked with a grin. "Don't worry. The waitress will stroll our way and take care of us."
"Do you come here often?"
"And the interrogation continues. If you want to know if everybody knows my name—pretty much, but it isn't like they yell it when I walk through the door." He set up the colored balls within the triangle in the center of the pool table. "Would you like to break some balls other than mine now?"
Kagome laughed a little awkwardly. "Sure," she said, applying a bit of chalk to the end of her cue. She wasn't really sure what good the chalk was, but people always looked so cool doing it—kind of like smoking but without the disastrous side effects.
She glanced up at Hiten as she walked over to line up her first shot. He was funny, handsome, and kind of charming under the circumstances. He had every right to be a little on guard with her, but that didn't make him innocent! There had to be something wrong with this guy. There was always something wrong with them!
She needed to figure it out soon, because there was a scheduled emergency call coming. She had seen it on television dozens of times. You just have a friend call during your date. If everything is going great, you quickly let them know you are too busy to talk. If things aren't going well, then you feign shock at whatever horrible news you are getting.
She had already planned her news would be that her grandfather had collapsed and he was being taken to the hospital. She felt bad about using him in that way, but it was his fault that she had taken on all these awful dates anyway. If her family could have stayed out of her lack of a love life, then she wouldn't have needed to turn to a computer dating service to fix her up over and over and over again.
There was a loud crack as Kagome sent the cue ball racing at the colorful balls sitting in formation. They scattered randomly across the table, but as luck and not skill, would have it, she did sink a solid, green ball in the side pocket.
"Very nice," he complimented with a smile. He would have had more control over the table, but things had shaken themselves out nicely on their own.
"Beginner's luck," she answered more humbly than she felt. She moved her way down the table for her second shot, when she felt her phone vibrate. She hurriedly snatched it up, completely ignoring the pool table and her date to read the text from Sango.
Kagome looked disappointed as the police woman revealed Hiten had no prior record on file. Apparently, it wasn't going to be that easy to find out what was wrong with him.
"I hope I'm not keeping you from more interesting people," Hiten prodded, only half teasing.
"Hmm? Oh! This?" She lifted up the phone and laughed like it was some kind of inside joke they were both in on. "Sorry! Putting it away now." She slipped it back into her pocket where it would be close at hand for the emergency call coming up.
It seemed she was going to have to figure out what was wrong with him the hard way after all. Applying a second coat of chalk to the cue, she smiled over at Hiten. "So, have you ever been with a man?"
There was an audible crack as Hiten just snapped the pool stick in his hand in half. "Excuse me?"
"You know, as in been intimate?"
Hiten narrowed his eyes. "I know what you meant. I want to know why you're asking such a thing."
Kagome shrugged. "If you don't want to answer that's fine. I was just curious. People do that now-a-days." She lined up her cue and took a shot, knocking the white ball into the pocket. "Um. I am solids right? So that counts?"
"No. It doesn't count as one of the solids. The white ball going into the pocket is called a scratch. And you're supposed to call your shot too." Hiten grabbed a new pool stick and chalked the end before setting up. "Striped seven in the right corner pocket." He aimed and sank the ball into the pocket before looking over at Kagome. "If that text was an old boyfriend of yours that wanted to have a threesome I don't swing that way."
"I'll have you know that wasn't a boy that texted me. It was my friend—who is a girl."
"In that case, I might be willing to listen to the proposition." Hiten grinned at her before he aimed for his next target. "Three into the side pocket." He sank that ball into his goal.
"I can't believe you said that!"
"Why not? You're the one that brought up the subject." He aimed for the next ball, but stood up abruptly. "Hey, Samantha!"
A busty, redheaded waitress strutted over toward them with a tray of drinks. "Hiten, babe. Good to see you here." She glanced over at Kagome briefly. "Brought a friend, eh?"
"Yeah, blind date," Hiten answered.
"Oh, honey," Samantha said turning toward Kagome. "You should have one of those seeing eye dogs then. But I'll tell you, my Hiten is a total hunk-a-doodle-do if you know what I mean."
Hiten cleared his throat, bringing Samantha's attention back to him. "She's not blind. It's a blind date. I used that online dating service thing."
Samantha inched over toward Hiten and whispered loudly in his ear. "Oh, honey, she could be crazy. You got to be careful about these things."
"Tell me about it," Hiten muttered. "What kind of pizza would you like, Kagome?" He wasn't sure she was really up for the adventurous pizza he'd suggested earlier.
Kagome bit her bottom lip. She was screwing up so bad tonight. Her mind raced to what Inuyasha would like. Surely, Hiten had similar taste. They were both so good at making her feel awkward. "Do you like the meat-lover's pizza?"
Hiten rubbed his hand over the back of his neck. "I'm a vegetarian. So, let's just try the macaroni and cheese pizza with extra cheese. Does that work for you?"
Kagome smiled, wanting to be agreeable. "Sure, that sounds great." She'd have to text Sango to bring her some lactose intolerant pills. She could handle some cheese, but extra cheesy? She didn't need a bad case of irritable bowel on top of everything else that was going on that night.
She'd been over every detail—the way he walked, talked, ate, laughed, and played pool. He didn't seem to be an alcoholic, drug addict, sex addict, gambler, jerk, or idiot. He wasn't married, broke, lazy, or gay.
She couldn't find a thing wrong with him even after an exhaustive search. And on top of all that, he was cute and fun. At least he would be fun now that she was done looking for what was wrong and ready to enjoy what was right.
Kagome gave her hair a little flip over her shoulder. That had always impressed the boys in high school, but Hiten was staring disinterestedly at his third slice of pizza. She decided to apply a little lip gloss. She'd read in one of those fashion magazines at the dentist's office that drawing attention to your lips was a good way of getting a guy to notice you.
Unfortunately, the author had clearly not met Hiten.
At this rate the date needed CPR. And if her breathing into his mouth didn't get his attention then pounding his chest certainly would. She giggled at her own unspoken joke, which actually did get a response from the boy as he lifted a quizzical eyebrow in her general direction.
Any opening was a good one. She parted her lips to speak, but the sound that emerged was from her stomach as it groaned. Sango had to go into the office, so she wasn't able to drop off the pills. Kagome just hoped one slice wouldn't do any damage. Luckily, it was just a little groan—embarrassing, but not the end of the world or of the date!
Grinning like a fool, Kagome was about to make a weak joke when she was saved by the bell, or the ring to be exact. "Oh, sorry. Let me just tell whoever that is that I'm on a date."
Hiten just nodded in return and his eyes flickered to the clock as he wondered what the shortest, polite amount of time to wait before excusing himself would be.
"Kagome, hi," came Sango's voice through the phone. "Sorry I couldn't stop by before. Anyway, this is your emergency call. So, act horrified if you want out. If not I'll talk to you tomorrow. It looks like I'm going to have to cover the rest of this shift."
"Oh, things couldn't be better, but I can't talk now. I'm on a date. Bye." Kagome measured her words so that they would work for both audiences.
She flipped the phone closed and let it fall into the deep recesses of her purse. She wouldn't be needing it again tonight!
"So, where were we?" But as her eyes turned back to Hiten she noticed he had just picked up his phone, which was strange because she didn't remember hearing it ring.
"Is he okay?" Hiten asked into the phone. "Oh, no, I'll be right there, don't worry!" He too flipped his phone closed as he sprang to his feet. "Emergency," he said vaguely. "I've got to go. Feel free to take the rest of the pizza though." He was already backing up toward the door.
The only positive thing about the evening was that she wasn't stuck with the bill after Hiten's hasty retreat. Samantha had given her a sympathetic pat on the shoulder and informed her that she'd put it all on his tab. Whether the waitress did this because Hiten was a gentleman and wouldn't have stuck her with the bill or because Samantha felt some sympathetic girl-power it didn't matter.
What mattered to Kagome was that her stomach was very upset with her. It was a long walk home. And most importantly she didn't have enough money for a taxi, Sango was busy, the buses stopped coming by a half-hour ago, and she was in no way going to call her pesky neighbor. Carrying a large, hot, greasy box of pizza wasn't making the walk any more pleasant either.
So lost in trying to decipher exactly where the date went wrong, she was almost whacked in the head by the convenience store's door as she walked in front of it.
"Jeez, Kagome, watch where you're going," Inuyasha muttered trying to balance a large paper bag.
"Inuyasha? What are you doing here?"
"Emergency run. I'm working an all-nighter and needed chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream and Mountain Dew to get me through my project."
Kagome's stomach made another loud groan and she started to walk past him, intent on getting home. "Please, don't mention dairy products right now or ever."
Inuyasha fell in step beside her and a look of concern flashed over his face. "Are you sick? I thought you were supposed to be on another date."
"I was, but he had an 'emergency,' and had to leave early," she explained using finger quotes. "Now I just want to get home."
"My bike is around the corner if you'd like a ride."
Kagome's stomach made another loud protest. "I'm nauseated just thinking about being on your motorcycle."
"I could get a cab for us."
"Don't trouble yourself. The economy's bad enough I can walk a few minutes."
"Then I'll walk with you." He reached out to take the pizza box from her to lighten her load.
"Won't you have to come back for your bike?" Kagome asked, looking over at him, surprised by his persistence. She almost protested that she could carry the box, but her stomach objected, so she remained silent.
Inuyasha shrugged. "I've been cooped up inside all day. I wasn't able to practice at the dojo, and I need some cardio. At least walking with you is more exciting than Wii Fit."
"Whatever," Kagome said picking up the pace. She needed to get home before her stomach did anything more embarrassing. The site of their respective homes couldn't have come sooner as her stomach had begun to churn at a progressively more rapid rate.
Kagome didn't even bother saying goodbye as she hurriedly jabbed her key into the lock and rushed inside directly towards the restroom and slammed the door leaving the front door wide open in her rush.
Inuyasha sighed as he gently closed the door behind him. He walked toward the kitchen bar and set down his paper bag. He had lied earlier about the contents of the bag. Reaching inside it he pulled out a bottle of Pepto-Bismol and set it on the counter before going back to his own place after securely locking Kagome's door as he left.
He did, however, keep the leftover pizza. Everyone would be better off for it.