A little (very) belated Valentine's Day oneshot. Popped into my head after watching a chick flick and scorning V-day. Ties update is . . . progressing. A warning for "some" Kikyou-bashing and OOC-ness.

Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha.



Barmaids Tell the Truth

Inuyasha had realized quite some time ago that he was unhappy with his relationship with his girlfriend, but for whatever reason he didn't feel the real need to end it until February arrived.

On the first day of February, his true love gave to him . . . annoyance.

In the form of much interrogation about where he'd be taking her for Valentine's Day, since it was only two weeks away and they really had to plan these things in advance, hey, maybe they could go to that cute little French place and was he listening to her?

No. He was not.

On the second day of February, his girlfriend gave to him . . . a migraine.

And although the only thing he wanted to do was lie in bed and die, his girlfriend insisted that they go out to pay her sister a visit. Even though Kaede agreed over the phone that Inuyasha really should stay home and rest – she was a doctor – the girlfriend one demanded a change in scenery and a visit to her dear sister.

On the seventh day of February, his good friend gave to him . . . an incredulous stare.

After she tried to pounce on him that night and he (sort of) politely refused. After a brief argument that turned into a brief screaming match that turned into a brief one-sided hostile pillow fight, Inuyasha crossly nodded off on the couch.

On the twelfth day of February, that woman gave to him . . . an ultimatum.

That he had two days to "get his shit together" and shape himself into the "better boyfriend that she deserved."

He knew he should have ended it right then and there, but not even a second after that woman declared her terms, she was sashaying out the door to have "girl time" and drink fucking Cosmos or whatever. He stared at the slammed door for a full minute before tearing out of it himself and whipping out his phone, angrily dialing his best friend's number. A half hour later he and a duffel bag clumsily stuffed with clothes were slumped lethargically on Miroku and Sango's couch.

When, later that night, his girlfriend's shrill voice screamed at him through the phone that a bemused and annoyed Sango calmly handed to him, he grumbled that he just needed a bit of alone time for . . . a little while. He knew that he had to break up with her, but as vile as she was she didn't deserve to be dumped over the phone – even Inuyasha knew that much.

So he ground his teeth together when that woman sniffed that she'd be at Kaede's all of the thirteenth and was expecting something big on V-day to make up for all his weird behavior. She hung up before he could say anything; he didn't have the heart to call her back with a break up speech.

"You need to do something about Kikyou."

He looked up to see Sango with her hands on her hips, looking pissed, and Miroku standing behind her with a sorry-but-she's-right-man expression.

"I don't want her calling here anymore – screaming at me by the way, which is oh so much fun," Sango continued. "You know what I think of her, and while we love having you stay with us I'd rather it's not because your Nazi of a girlfriend is getting anal about Valentine's Day."

Inuyasha shot her a sarcastic grimace, but it didn't last through the long, tired sigh that rustled out of him. "I know," was all he could say.

Miroku plopped down next to him on the couch and clapped his shoulder sympathetically. "Look, Inuyasha," he started awkwardly, "Of course you're always welcome here, you know that. You're our best friend. All we're saying is . . . if you and Kikyou aren't happy together, then maybe you shouldn't be together." He smiled apologetically. "And, judging from the look on your face, I'd say you're thinking the same thing."

Another sigh from Inuyasha. "Yeah. I know."

Sango plopped down on his other side and patted his knee comfortingly, saying, "It really is for the best, Inuyasha. When you were going through your puppy love stage with that woman, you were totally blind to all the shit she was making you do, but we all had to watch it. No offense, but it was pretty pathetic."

Inuyasha: "I know."

"So . . ." Miroku nudged him.

"Are you going to break up with her?" Sango finished gently.

Inuyasha fell back onto the couch with a grim, determined smile. He said, "Yeah. Yes. Yeah. Tomorrow."

His hosts exchanged a loaded glance, Miroku starting to look mighty uncomfortable and Sango pissed once again.

The former cleared his throat and pointed out, "Uh, didn't Kikyou say she would be at her sister's all of tomorrow?"

"Oh, right." Inuyasha sighed again and shrugged. "I guess I'll do it on the fourteenth, then."

Sango went shock still and brought a hand to her abdomen. "The fourteenth . . . is Valentine's day," she stated through clenched teeth, prompting an anxious look from her husband.

"Sweetheart, Sango, you really shouldn't be – "

"I know the fourteenth is Valentine's Day," Inuyasha interrupted unabashedly. "What's your point?"

She turned on him with an aura of rage so terrifying it would haunt his dreams for many months following. He could practically see the steam coming out her nose, and he would have jumped behind Miroku for cover but he was too afraid to break eye contact with Sango.

"So you're dumping her on Valentine's Day?!" she snarled, her voice rising with every word.

"Uh . . ."

"What kind of asshole dumps someone on fucking Valentine's Day?!" she screeched. She was on her feet now, screaming and pacing in front of him. "You fucking jackass!"

Inuyasha pressed his back further against the couch as if bracing himself for impact before he yelled his retort. "You don't even like Kikyou! Why do you care if I break up with her Valentine's Day?"

"I don't!" Her eyes filled with angry tears, making her voice crack for her next statement. "But Valentine's Day is supposed to be a beautiful time for – for couples and nobody deserves to – to have their heart broken on that day-ay-ay!" Now sobbing, she stormed from the room and slammed her and Miroku's bedroom door.

Inuyasha turned to his friend and opened his mouth, then closed it, and turned back around. "She . . ."

"I know. Please excuse her. You know how pregnant woman are."

"I heard that!"

"You mean how they develop freakish super hearing? Does that come in the second trimester, then?"

Miroku sighed and shook his head. "Five months down, four to go."

"If you survive."

They let an uncomfortable silence set in, resting for about five minutes, before Miroku stood up and gave him another apologetic smile.

"But I'm afraid I have to agree with my very hormonal wife, Inuyasha," he declared, stretching his arms above his head and staring longingly at the closed bedroom door. "Valentine's Day is pretty much the worst time you could break up with someone ever. Just . . . wait, okay? A month?"

"A month?!" Inuyasha repeated. "Are you shitting me? I can't survive that woman for another month!"

"Okay, a week then," his friend responded wearily. "I don't really care, Inuyasha, but a V-day break up is kind of going to guarantee you a spot in the Horrible Boyfriend Hall of Shame."

"Weren't you the one who said that if I'm not happy with Kikyou then we shouldn't be together?"

"Well, yes, but – "

"And yet I'm supposed to remain unhappy for an extra week just because the calender says so?"

"That's not what I – "

"I myself have never been much a masochist, so – "

"Now you're just being an asshole – "

"If you don't mind – "

"Both of you shut up!" Sango called through the door. "Do not anger the pregnant woman!"

Without saying a word, they agreed their argument could wait until morning when said pregnant woman was less likely to be murderous.


Inuyasha was out of The Pregnancy Apartment the next morning before he could even get a cup of coffee – Sango was past being angry at him and onto ignoring his very presence, and since Miroku burnt cornflakes Inuyasha had no choice but to stop by a neighborhood cafe. As he wallowed in self-pity and simultaneously tried to look over the menu and figure out a good way to dump Kikyou, he felt someone tap his shoulder.

"Inuyasha!" his sister-in-law's voice squealed. "Hi!"

It wasn't that he didn't like seeing Rin – he did, she was a freaking cupcake – but wherever she went his brother was almost surely to follow. Those two were joined at the hip, almost more gross than Sango and Miroku were together. And while he hadn't yet seen Sesshoumaru use a pet name or feed Rin in public, it was still weird.

He supposed he would have to skip breakfast.

Skinny arms wrapped around his middle (Rin was a shortie) from behind and he suppressed a sigh. A ball of sunshine was not exactly what he needed when deciding how to break someone's heart.

"Hey, Rin."

She squealed again and released him. By the time Inuyasha turned around, Rin's arms were already clutching Sesshoumaru's left one, her head resting against it. As usual, Inuyasha was shocked by how clearly different the two were: Rin was short; Sesshoumaru was tall. Rin had black hair; Sesshoumaru shared Inuyasha's silver-blond locks. Rin glowed and beamed; Sesshoumaru's facial expressions ranged from solemn to a very elegant Silent Fury (or, as Inuyasha thought of it, SupaMegaPissed). And, as was especially the case today, Sesshoumaru's wardrobe stuck to darker, "serious" tones and he almost always wore suits, while Rin liked colorful, girly dresses. Inuyasha eyed his sister-in-law's pink and green paisley wrap dress, a glaring contrast against his dear brother's charcoal gray monkey suit.

He nodded stiffly. "Sesshomaru."

"Inuyasha." And he didn't even look at him, not that it stopped Inuyasha from ordering his coffee or Rin from beaming.

Much to Inuyasha's dismay, Rin was also getting her morning coffee and decided a little family breakfast would be just lovely. So Inuyasha stared moodily into his bitter drink while Sesshomaru picked at a morning bun and Rin chattered aimlessly, and it was a truly mind-numbing dining experience – that is, until Rin breached the subject that had been gnawing at Inuyasha's insides for the good part of the day . . . or week.

"So, Inuyasha, how's Kikyou?" she questioned cheerily between a sip of her coffee and a stolen bite of Sesshoumaru's bun.

He hesitated before sheepishly replying, "Uh, well . . . she's fine. But I actually haven't, y'know, like, really talked to her in a couple days, so I don't really . . ." He let himself trail off pathetically; he hoped Rin's short attention span would kick in soon.

It did not: her pretty brown eyes widened, she smiled largely and innocently (or so he thought), and the interrogation began.

"Oh, is she out of town?"

"Well, um, not exactly . . ."

"So are you two going through a rough patch, then?"

"Um, I wouldn't really say patch – "

"On a break?" she questioned. "Taking a breather from each other? Or are you two breaking up?"

He knew he was hoping against hope now, but he looked to Sesshoumaru for some sort of assistance. But all he got (unsurprisingly) was a faint shit-eating smirk from his loving brother.

"Yeah," Inuyasha mumbled. "I guess . . . we are. I – you're not gonna tell anybody this, are you?"

Rin shook her head eagerly, like Who would I tell?

Somehow, Inuyasha was less than assured. But he quickly muttered, "I cannot stand being with her anymore. That woman is driving me crazy and I'm afraid if I stay with her I'm going to turn into a woman beater because the sound of her voice makes me want to strangle something."

He was sure he wasn't imagining it when Sesshoumaru's eyebrows lifted in surprise, the strongest emotion Inuyasha had seen from his brother besides anger in as many months. But those suspiciously perfect (plucked?) eyebrows were down just as quickly, just in time for Rin to shape her mouth in something nearly resembling Sesshoumaru's shit-eating smirk.

"Inuyasha," she began innocently enough, "I'm so sorry to hear that. Truly, I am. But this is good – really! Not only will you not go to jail for domestic abuse and/or murder, but you'll be free of her." She lowered her voice and leaned in closer. "No offense, but she was kind of a huge bitch."

Inuyasha got a strange sense of deja vu, and he realized this was freakishly similar to what Sango had said the night before . . .

. . . right before she'd looked like she wanted to throw something at his head, he remembered with growing dread.

Only Inuyasha didn't have time to fear for his skull, because Rin was asking him if he had figured out when he would be ending things with that woman.

"Uh, the earliest I can see her," he said without thinking. "Tomorrow."

Like Sango, Rin tensed, causing Sesshoumaru to almost show another emotion (he didn't, though, only lightly touched her statue-still hand).

"Tomorrow is Valentine's Day."

"Y-yes."

Since they were in a public place – and Rin wasn't one to scream at people anyway – there was no explosion like Sango's. But the sunny, docile Rin's face went completely blank and she whispered, "You're breaking that poor girl's heart on Valentine's Day? Are you really? How could you do something like that, Inuyasha? I mean it. How – could – you."

While Rin continued her death-robot-like monologue, her husband looked angry on her behalf: the beautiful golden eyes that he shared with Inuyasha narrowed dangerously, as if punctuating Rin's how-could-you statements.

"How classy, little brother," Sesshoumaru hissed. "Valentine's Day. Wonderful."

Despite the sudden exhaustion Inuyasha was now experiencing, he still found it in himself to be pissed at his relatives' judgements. "Oh come on," he sneered. "First of all, Sesshy – " (Insert sneer of reply.) " – you don't even like Kikyou, and Rin, you just said she was a bitch. So just excuse the fuck out of me for not wanting to go through taking her out for a Valentine's Day dinner I'm sure to loathe."

"I would thank you to please watch your language," his brother said codly. "And to not call me 'Sesshy.'"

"Plus, Inuyasha," Rin added, no longer robotic – now she held an expression of utmost disappointment. "Plus, y'know, Valentine's Day? That's like, the most romantic day of the year, and from birth we're told it's the day to show affection for our loved ones. How can you possibly dump someone on that day?" She sighed. "And I thought you were a gentleman, too."

He stared at her incredulously, scoffing, "My God, Rin, do you actually hear this bullshit you're saying? And don't tell me to watch my fucking language, Sesshoumaru," he added venomously. "When did people decide that you couldn't be anything but lovey-dovey on the fourteenth of February?!"

"I'm sorry, Inuyasha, but I can't speak with you as long as you're going to be this difficult." She shook her head. "I just can't."

And as much as he really did like Rin, he couldn't help but shoot her a filthy look that he was sure Sesshoumaru would punish him for later.

"Then don't."

Exeunt Inuyasha.


The rest of the day was a depressing blur. He walked around aimlessly and sat on park benches, staring at the small patches of snow and trying to figure out what method of breaking up would make seem/feel him less dickish. Because the reactions of his friends and relatives had gotten to him, and even though he personally didn't give a flying fuck about Valentine's Day, everyone else did.

He wandered into work a half hour early, earning strange looks from his boss Totosai and fellow wait staff Shippou and Kagura. Totosai waved him off disinterestedly, but the other two forced him into the break room and weaseled the whole story out of him. He saw their shocked and scandalous looks before they could even make them, but sure enough they had the same you-are-a-huge-prick reactions as Sango, Miroku, Rin, and Sesshoumaru.

Work that night was not fun.

When he clocked out at eleven, neither Shippou nor Kagura said goodbye to him. He mentally flipped them off and pored over break up strategies some more. The hours until he actually had to end things were shirking rapidly and he still didn't know how to dump Kikyou. He knew he couldn't do it in public, because then she'd start crying or screaming and he'd get dirty looks from everyone around him for being The Asshole Dumping His Girlfriend On Valentine's Day. But he couldn't do it in private either, because then what would stop Kikyou from kicking his ass? (He'd seen her beat up a would-be mugger before, and it was actually pretty frightening.)

He stopped short and decided he needed a drink.

Badly.

It turned out he needed only walk a block further to the nearest bar, a ironic-trendy hole-in-the-wall called The Shikon. It was occupied largely by post-college-looking kids; giggly girls and clearly hoping to get laid guys. The noise was not ideal, but it would have to do.

He made a beeline for the bar and grunted, "Vodka" to the guy working there.

Two hours and way too much booze later, that was where Inuyasha sat.

He'd had to brush off advances from a lot of the drunk, giggly girls already, but that hadn't deterred him from his mission of . . . that. One might think that any break up ideas he came up with at that time would be crap anyway, since he was getting pretty smashed, but in his defense he was balancing out all that vodka with a lot of olives. He only felt like vomiting a little bit. And trips to the bathroom every twenty minutes to throw cold water on his face kept him relatively sober.

In his intoxicated haze, he barely noticed the sleazy guys and deflated girls trickling out of the bar, or even the clock moving forward. He only saw the glass in front of him and the various enraged expressions that Kikyou would probably be making tomorrow. Maybe if he was totally hungover, she wouldn't mess with him . . .

"I'm the worst human being in the world and I am going to come back in the next life as a toilet brush," he declared to no one in what could only be described as a groan. He rubbed his tired eyes with one hand and swirled his empty glass with the other. "And I'm in need of more hard liquor, by the way."

His hand was still over his eyes when he heard the long, exhausted sigh that followed his statement, so he didn't know who it came from. But woven in that sigh was a faint, feminine giggle. He didn't move his hand to see whatever woman had just responded to his semi-drunken rambling, though, instead opting to give a quick prayer.

Please don't be another drunk girl hitting on me please don't be another drunk girl hitting on me please don't be –

"I'm pretty sure I know a couple guys that could give you a run for your money," came a slightly raspy, distinctly female but thankfully not booze-soaked voice, "but please; elaborate. Why are you the worst human being in the world?"

He finally moved his hand to see not the thirtsomething guy behind the bar, but the young woman – probably his age, maybe younger – whom the voice had come from. She black wavy hair and a cute button nose, a knowing eyebrow quirking up beneath her bangs. She wore a vaguely hippie-looking red and black mini dress and an obviously ironic red heart-shaped necklace. Despite her tiny stature – five-two at most, he guessed; quite refreshing after the six-one that was Kikyou – her overall Look clearly stated she would not hesitate to throw out any handy drunks. Everything about her screamed that she was a cool girl not to be messed with.

Instantly, Inuyasha was wary.

"Well?" the barmaid questioned, confusing him slightly.

"Uh, well what?"

She rolled her eyes – a very pretty gray color, Inuyasha noticed. "Well, why are you the worst human being in the world?" she repeated.

And he really didn't want to tell her, really. Most of him knew she would get all on his case about him being such a prick for breaking the poor girl's heart on Valentine's Day, for God's sake. Just like everyone else had. He'd had enough of that shit for a lifetime, thankyouverymuch.

Maybe it was her Don't-Mess-With-Me Cool Girl aura, or maybe the fact that she was a barmaid and was probably programmed with free advice for pathetic drunks like him, or maybe he was just too drunk not to, but he ended up spilling his pathetic guts.

"Oh, you know," he started, tapping the bar with his fingernails nervously, "just sitting here, being a dick, trying to decide the best way to break up with my girlfriend on Valentine's Day." Unconsciously, he braced himself for some sort of hostile statement/attack.

But it never came. The look on the barmaid's undeniably pretty face was slightly puzzled, slightly amused, slightly smug. Her pinks lips formed a bemused half-smile and for whatever reason, Inuyasha found himself blush.

"Okay, I get how breaking up with this girl might make you a dick, because I don't know if you're dumping her because of the size of her ass or something," she said, "but what does Valentine's Day have to do with anything?"

That sobered him up ten times faster than the cold water had.

As attentive as if he hadn't had a drink all night, Inuyasha let out a very shocked, very eloquent, "Huh?"

The barmaid laughed dryly. She said, "Call me bitter, but you wanna hear the truth about that Valentine's Day origin story they'd tell us in first grade or whatever? How St. Valentine was sent to jail for marrying people when it was illegal and then had that romance with the guard's daughter and sent her love notes that said, 'From your Valentine' and all that shit? You wanna hear the truth?" she drawled. "St. Valentine was a man arrested for hiding Christians from the Romans – "

" – and was clubbed to death on February fourteenth," Inuyasha finished, a smile he knew was beyond goofy lighting up his face.

Was this girl real?

She didn't care about the "importance" of Valentine's Day. She knew about the real St. Valentine's death-by-clubbing. She could probably throw him out on his ass, which meant she was tough. And she was pretty damn beautiful, now that he was looking.

Wasn't he just the worlds biggest prick – perving on pretty barmaids before he'd even dumped his girlfriend . . . on Valentine's Day.

But at that point he didn't even care anymore, because the barmaid was grinning goofily right back at him, she respected him for finishing her story, she was wondering if he was real too – at least, that's what her smile told him.

She stuck her pale hand out and said, "Kagome."

Kagome. Kagome Kagome Kagome. Ka-go-me. Kagome.

"Inuyasha."

She smiled larger.

He wondered if she felt what he was feeling – like he could tell her all of his pathetic story, and he could trust her. He'd never been "fast friends" with anyone, but this Kagome felt like she'd been there his whole life. She could help him, he knew it.

"So tell me about this girl," she said.


"You're gonna be a dick either way, you know?" Kagome leaned over the bar. "There's no way you don't end up as a dick."

"That's the problem! I mean, am I a dick?"

"Judging from the one hour I've known you, no you are not. But maybe you are to Kikyou."

"Well, she's a bitch to me."

Kagome smirked. "This I want to hear."


"It's like some lazy boyfriend decided that a random day in February would be a good time to actually give a shit about their girlfriend," Kagome declared as Inuyasha watched her lock up the bar.

"What makes you think it was a man's invention?"

"Oh please, like a woman would give a man the excuse to not give her flowers the other 364 days of the year."

"Come one, the whole holiday plays totally to women. Flowers, candy, diamonds . . ."

". . . thongs and other tacky lingerie, a holiday devoted to sex . . ."

"And women don't enjoy sex?"

"Not in thongs, they don't."


"The point is," Inuyasha said as they slowly ambled to Kagome's apartment, "we're talking about a girl that I thought I had really strong feelings for, but now I can barely stand to be in the same room with her. And that makes me think – did I ever really care about her? Did I love her, but it faded? Was it all about the sex?"

"Well was the sex good?"

He glared at her half-heartedly.

"Sorry. Go on."

"I just don't know anymore." He kicked a plastic bottle next to his foot. "Because if it was only about the physical stuff, should I even feel guilty about dumping her on V-day?"

"I think you need to give yourself credit for feeling guilty at all," Kagome pointed out. "If you never really cared about her, then you wouldn't care that you were dumping her in the first place. You're feeling guilty because you respect her enough – and her feelings towards Valentine's Day – to not want to hurt her. And, I mean, I can tell. You don't like hurting people." She grinned. "You're a good person."

He'd been staring at her until then, but at that statement he scoffed. "No I'm not. If I were a good person, I wouldn't want to break up with Kikyou to begin with."

Kagome laughed. Without replying, she reached out for his coat sleeve and stopped them both, looking up at the starry sky with a curious, bemused smile lighting up her pretty face.

"No. You can't control who you like."

And she blushed.

She started walking again, briskly this time, and left him blushing back at nothing. Over her shoulder, she said, "Besides, sometimes people just grow apart. Life is shit, but at least it's it's shit to everyone, right?"

He tried to shake his blush off as he caught up with her. "Why are you so smart about people, anyway?" he asked, attempting to change the subject for reasons he wasn't sure of. "Is it a bartender thing? Do they teach you that along with how to mix drinks?"

"Oh, of course," she replied. "It's mandatory in bartending school to take both a psychology and philosophy course."

"Huh. Well, I guess that makes . . . " He narrowed his eyes at her smirk. "Wait, are you shitting me again?"

She giggled. "Yes."

They talked and laughed until Kagome stopped in front of a stoop and bit her lip. "Well . . . this is me."

Inuyasha scratched the back of his neck in a sudden surge of awkwardness. What was he supposed to do for a goodbye? If it was a date, he'd probably give her an nervous kiss on the cheek, but this was not a date: this was talking with a girl he'd just met about how to dump his girlfriend. But then, they had just met, so a hug felt weird. And a handshake was for business associates, strangers and old people, so that was out. Was he just supposed to say goodbye and walk home?

But that wasn't really what was going through his mind. The only thing he was really thinking was how little he actually wanted to stop talking to her. Kagome had supplied him with the best conversation he'd gotten from anyone in . . . months, come to think of it. He had found so much in common with Kagome, and he didn't want that spell to break. The clock was past midnight; but did Cinderella really have to leave?

Speaking of Cinderella . . . Kagome stared at him, maybe thinking the same things. Something in her big gray eyes asked him a question, but it was in an order he couldn't decipher in a language he couldn't understand. She was still biting her bottom lip, raising her eyebrows slightly – not so knowing anymore, he noticed. Almost nervous.

"Goodnight," she blurted.

He blinked.

Kagome smiled something that resembled shy for the first time that night, looking a bit embarrassed by the half-assed goodbye that she'd just voiced. She took a stiff step onto her stoop, then looked back and gave a real smile at the Inuyasha that stood at her bottom step and looked at her curiously.

Slowly, he smiled back at her. "Goodnight, Kagome."

And as he turned around, he nearly managed to convince himself that it was for the best. He still had a girlfriend, after all. He would just walk away from Kagome because it was the Right Thing to do. So what if he didn't know her phone number or her last name or even what nights he'd be able to find her at The Shikon. It was for the best.

"Inu – Inuyasha!"

He'd be lying if he said he didn't spin around at inhuman speeds, nearly giving himself whiplash.

"Yes?" he asked with a nervousness he wanted to scoff at. He could hear his heart beat in his ears.

Kagome still stood where he'd left her on the stoop, her cheeks flushed cutely and her bottom lip between her teeth again. The confident barmaid he'd met just hours ago was replaced by this adorable nervous mess of a girl.

He grinned at her beautiful vulnerability.

Kagome's hand moved to the back of her head and scratched awkwardly. She stared at the ground and opened and closed her mouth a few times before whipping her head up to meet Inuyasha's eyes with an endearingly awkward determination.

"Do you – do you want come up?" she asked. "For, uh . . . coffee? Or, y'know, tea or something, I have tea. And, uh, I mean, there's a lot of shit up in my fridge, but I'm sure I can like, find you something nontoxic to drink – "

Much to his denial, Inuyasha was at her stoop before she said 'tea.'

"Yes."


Sitting in Kagome's apartment with her, talking with her, absently sipping tea with her, all of it felt so damn natural. Their conversations surrounding Kikyou stopped on the stoop and from there they just talked about each other; their likes and dislikes, hopes and dreams, all the cliches. Inuyasha couldn't remember laughing this much in a while.

For what felt like hours – and actually was hours, as it turned out – they had a learning experience, asking all the questions about likes and dislikes, thoughts and feelings, hopes and dreams. Inuyasha would look at her and feel like he'd known her for years, not less than a day. And yet, with everything he was finding out about her and vice versa, there was so much left uncovered that he desperate to learn.

They seemed to have an unspoken agreement not to mention Kikyou, but the subject of relationships in general was brought up when Inuyasha jokingly asked if she was married, to which she replied with a searing blush and a grimace.

"Ohmygod. Are you?"

"No," she insisted, still red. "Just the reluctant object of affection of few . . . persistent admirers."

She explained to him about the polite and "patient" Hojou, who worked day shifts at The Shikon and did not seem to understand that when she said she wasn't interested in dating him, she meant she wasn't interested in dating him. To him, as she told Inuyasha, her declarations of Thank you for asking, but no and Sorry, but you are not my type and Seriously, please stop asking me out were code for I'm playing hard to get! Ask me again! And again! AND AGAIN! He hadn't tried to lay a hand on her, he was just . . . tenacious.

"Like a roach," Kagome grumbled. "He just keeps fucking coming back."

Then there was the Band of Seven, who, incidentally, were a band. Seven brothers ("Seriously! They're all brothers!") who regularly played at The Shikon and had all asked Kagome out at least once – most of them more (except for the one eccentric gay man, but he seemed like kind of a bitch anyway). Some of them were okay, but most of them were pretty creepy and a lot older than her. There was one cute guy her age, she explained slyly (Inuyasha bristled for unknown reasons), named Bankotsu, but he was too much of an asshole to be considered dateable. Only she couldn't tell him that, because the Band of Seven was actually pretty good and attracted a lot of customers.

And, finally, there was a customer named Kouga who was just as persistent than Hojou and far more handsy. This one she admitted to having gone on a few dates with and letting him feel her up ("Don't you dare give me that look, Inuyasha."). However, once she'd gotten past his pretty boy looks and "absolutely gorgeous" blue eyes, she told Inuyasha she'd discovered his true identity as a cocky, possessive tool. He was into Kagome as he was himself, and he stopped by The Shikon almost every day to "check up on his woman."

"He seriously calls me his woman!" Kagome yelped indignantly. "I mean, what is this? Fucking Animal Planet? Are we not in the twenty-first century? Am I a doll for him to own?" She crossed her arms and scowled. "Lousy fucker."

She continued telling him about Kouga annoying tendency of showing up at her work and growling – growling – at any and all male customers that flirted with her. If he was in a bad mood, he'd do it to any and all male customers period.

Listening to Kouga's vaguely-stalkerish pursuit of "his woman," Inuyasha grew more and more angry. He wanted to do some very painful, very illegal things to this over-confident son of a bitch. How dare he harass Kagome on the grounds of a few misguided groping sessions? Halfway through a silent decision to drop by The Shikon to play fly swatter for Kagome, he felt his stomach churn sharply.

Why was he getting so protective over a girl he'd just met? And when he did still technically have a girlfriend?

It was like the comforting conversations he'd had with Kagome that night were all for nothing. The feeling of desperately needing a drink returned tenfold; he wanted to ask Kagome to spike his tea.

Who cared that he "respected" Kikyou enough to feel guilty? He obviously didn't respect her enough not to form this amazingly strong connection with another woman before he'd even broken it off with the first one. Clearly, that wasn't respect. The fact that he hadn't told his girlfriend he wanted he break up sooner meant he was a coward, which meant he wasn't worthy of even a nagging shrew like Kikyou. And if he wasn't even worthy of being with Kikyou, then he sure as hell wasn't worthy of being with Kag–

Nah nah nah nah nah, was the chant in hi head. Not going there.

He was a cowardly little shit. And she deserved better.

While those sudden feelings of desperation and depression sunk down onto his shoulders and made him slump just a little bit, another just as venomous emotion started building up and speeding forward like a race car on a track. He knew the feeling well: self-hatred.

"What are you thinking right now?" came Kagome's soft voice. He turned his head slightly to see her, only to slump just a little bit more when took in the worried arch of her brows and downward turn of her pretty pink mouth. Of course she'd have noticed his sudden mood switch; now that he was pulling his head out of his chest, he could feel it in the air. Tight, constricting, suffocating . . .

Oh god, was all of this suffocating her? Was she being stiffled by his presence? Just another part of himself to add to that shit list – the feelings of depression and self-hatred were still rushing towards him, not quite there yet, but picking up speed.

"Inuyasha, are you okay?" Kagome asked. She placed a tentative hand on his shoulder, and he felt it burn.

"I still just feel like a worthless piece of shit, I guess." He ran a hand through his hair and bit out a mirthless laugh. "Yeah, worthless is a good word. I really am worthless, huh?"

He stared at Kagome's ceiling like it held the answers to all his questions and finally himself crash into that wave – that speeding race car – of self-hatred that had been broiling viciously inside of him. In a thousand pricks of pain that he told himself he deserved, he watched Kikyou's and Kagome's faces of contempt, anger, sadness, hurt, disappointment, everything.

And it hurt, more than the crashing wave, the wrecked car, just those faces. It hurt him to his bones.

"Inuyasha."

Kagome.

"Inuyasha," he heard her repeat, but he couldn't look at her because he knew she'd pity him. He didn't move his eyes from the ceiling until they were forcibly torn from it as two warm hands took his face between them and moved his eyes to hers.

Kagome stared determinedly into his defeated orbs of molten honey and for a split second he thought she was going to kiss him. But that jusr proved how low he really could go, because when she let go the next second he felt his heart drop that much more in disappointment. Instead of any look resembling attraction, Kagome had her beautiful features pinched like she wanted to slap him or cry, maybe both.

He watched her take three deep breaths, looking like she was collecting her thoughts and choosing her words. Calming herself down from that slap/cry scenario.

"I . . . am a barmaid," she stated, softly, earnestly, "and barmaids get paid for two things: making drinks and being pseudo-therapists for people like you." She tucked her feet under her and rose to her knees, scooting slightly closer to him. Through his misery, Inuyasha felt his cheeks blossom in warmth.

"But I'm not just a barmaid," she continued. Her voice dipped into a whisper. "I'm your friend too, and friends don't make the best therapists. Because they're biased, right? And in this situation . . . with Kikyou and everything . . ." She bit her lip. ". . . a friend would tell you that you are utterly not worthless, nor a piece of shit. Because they're biased." She scooted just a bit closer to him, and unconciously he scooted too. He didn't want to think about why, just wanted to be closer to her. As close as possible.

"And so, as your friend," Kagome murmured, "of course I'm going to tell you that you aren't worthless. But as a barmaid, I'm allowed to say something else to you . . ." Scoot. ". . . because I'm not biased."

Scoot.

"Do you want to hear what I'd say to you as a barmaid?" she asked in a raspy whisper.

Scoot.

Without thinking – without considering what he answer might be – he nodded.

And she looked at him, long and hard. Maybe for a minute, maybe for ten minutes, maybe for an hour. Through her stare he felt completely naked and vulnerable and nervous and natural and safe and just suddenly crazy about her. He trusted her, after only a couple hours of knowing her – he trusted her fully.

"You aren't worthless," she finally declared. "And that is my honest and unbiased opinion."

He didn't say anything at first. He didn't even think anything – or rather, he thought too much.

This woman was an enigma.

Scoot.

"And how do I know you're not lying to me?" he managed to question. But she still held his trust entirely, right in the palm of her little hand; he knew she wasn't lying.

She smiled because she knew he knew. She scooted even closer in front of him, till they weren't a breath apart.

"Because I'm a barmaid," she whispered as she leaned into him, her smile and breath ticking his mouth, the sweet sensuality of it all making him smile too. "And barmaids tell the truth."


Okay, ending it there because it actually goes on for MUCH longer, getting very very angsty in a way I really don't know how to wrap up neatly. So there you go, think of your own sequel if you so desire.

Remember to review and make your authoress very, very happy!

Jax