Disclaimer: Inuyasha does not belong to me.
A/N: This had been originally intended for Priestess Skye's weekly challenge for the prompt Ink way back in November, but I just couldn't finish and post this up in time. Better late than never I suppose. Hope you, dear reader, enjoy.
Demon Ink, contrary to how scary and diabolical it sounded, was a modern upscale tattoo shop with gleaming glass doors, black leather chairs, and sparkling surfaces. It was tucked into a pedestrian only, granite covered side-street off a busy shopping district in Osaka. And even though it was partially hidden from the main hub of shoppers, tourists, and hormone driven teens, it attracted mounds of attention—mainly of the fawning female variety.
While Demon Ink was well known for its exclusive, high quality work, it was also popular for its gorgeously male tattoo artists. And admittedly, the reason why they inked so many butterflies, hearts, and flowers. Not that they minded, much anyway. It just got boring and redundant after a while but work was work and satisfaction, however small, was the ultimate goal.
The entrance door chimed an hour before closing time and glancing up from where he sat at the glass counter, Inuyasha was unsurprised to find a trio of giggling high school girls. Ban emerged from the door leading to the back rooms and paused.
"Give me a break," he muttered, choosing to lean against the doorframe instead of venturing further for fear he'd got pawed to death by teenage girls who didn't know a lick about men.
Inuyasha snorted, going back to his magazine and thankful he wasn't inking tonight. But his peace was short lived as their giggling and chirping began to grate on his sensitive ears. A small cough drew his eyes up. Sometime during his attempt to drown out the noise whilst flipping the page to get the full body shot of a hot car model, they had made it to the counter without his notice.
"Know what you want?" he asked.
"Yes." One of them nodded, blushing. Together, they all pushed forward a simple shooting star.
"All three of you?"
They nodded, sighed a little.
"The same star?"
They nodded again, eyes twinkling.
Inuyasha wondered if they'd get whiplash from all the emphatic nodding they were doing. As they blushed and practically melted from all the attention, Inuyasha resisted the urge to roll his gold eyes, taking a perverse pleasure in what he was about to do.
"Okay, but I gotta have some ID."
Ban almost burst into laughter when they paled and stuttered, turned to look at one another uncertainly.
"Sorry girls, but if you aren't eighteen, we can't do shit," Inuyasha explained. He'd lost count as to how many times he'd said this to little girls like them over the five years they'd opened up shop.
Ban almost felt sorry for them. They looked as if their cute furry kittens had all just died.
"Look, that's how it is. Come back in a year or two and we'll be happy to do it for you then."
And then they pulled out the coy looks, the pouts and the puppy eyes, but Inuyasha and Ban had seen it all. They had no wish to deal with angry uptight parents who would later accuse them of corrupting their young impressionable daughters.
"You girls should get home. Pretty little things like you make for easy prey on these dark, lonely nights," Ban purred with his trademark smirk that always had the females dazed and compliant.
All three turned shining brown eyes on him, cheeks cherry red at being called 'pretty' by such a hot older guy. They immediately agreed, apologizing for bothering them and promising to come back when they were older. They left in a flurry of giggles, blushes, and whispers, leaving the shop in blissful silence once again.
Inuyasha laughed. "Did you rip that line from a chick flick or something?"
"It got them out, didn't it?" Ban retorted.
Inuyasha shrugged, laughter dying down. "I could've just thrown them out."
"You have no tact when it comes to females."
"I never said I did. I prefer the direct approach."
The door chimed again and expecting the same group of girls—because they always came back, claiming to have lost something in the shop—Inuyasha barked, "Didn't I already tell you three to get the hell out of here?"
Instead, the woman who had stepped through the door, flushed from the cold winter chill paused, a what-the-hell look crossing her face.
"No tact at all," Ban murmured.
"Shut up, ass wipe," he snapped.
An understanding smile however, curved her lips. "I take it the group of chicks who almost ran me over was yours?"
"Too young," Inuyasha elaborated.
"Ah." She glanced around, basking in the warmth of the shop as she slipped off her leather gloves.
"Is there anything in particular you're looking for?" Ban asked, walking up to her so he could get a closer look. A sigh of appreciation ghosted past his lips when she pulled off her mod cap and a cascade of midnight fell across her shoulders. She was quite beautiful with those deep blue eyes and full tea rose lips.
"I'm just browsing. I won't be long."
Ban nodded. "Let me know if you have any questions." He made his way back to Inuyasha where he joined him in discreetly watching her peruse the work on the walls and leaf through the sample books.
"She looks like a flower kind of girl," Inuyasha commented.
Ban disagreed, crossing his arms over his chest in thought. "No…something more fierce. Maybe paw prints—sharp paw prints."
"Twenty bucks she'll choose a flower. Forty it's a cherry blossom."
"Done. Sixty if it's paw prints."
Ten minutes later, she walked over to them. "Are those all the designs you have?"
"Mostly, yeah," Inuyasha replied. Usually the extensive selection was more than enough.
"And do you work on new ones?"
"Yeah…" Inuyasha and Ban weren't sure where this was going.
She bit back a smile. "How often do you release them?"
"Depends. Sesshoumaru usually wants us to have two or three designs every week. We then put them out for a few days," he pointed to the red binder behind the counter, "but usually only regulars ask to see them."
How could they refuse? Inuyasha grabbed the binder and planted it in front of her, both he and Ban intensely curious.
A small smile flitted across her lips as she flipped through the pages filled with abstract designs, funky characters, and full blown scenes of every nature.
"We usually try to have them out every Saturday," said Ban when she closed the binder.
She nodded in thanks. "See you in four days then. And," her eyes sparkled with amusement, "you can save the cherry blossom and paw prints for another girl."
She walked through the chiming door just after four on Saturday, partially obscured by a chirping quartet of young blushing women as well as a small group of rebellious teens. But with his keen violet eyes, there was no way Miroku would've missed her tall svelte frame.
From the corner of his eye, he saw Sesshoumaru toss her a curious glance, but fortunately he was taking a call, which meant Miroku had her all to himself.
She slipped past both whispering groups, taking off her gloves and loosening her scarf along the way. "Hey."
Miroku turned on his charm. "What can I do for you, ma cherie?"
She pointed at the red binder behind him, completely unaffected by his waves of 'come hither'. "May I see that?"
He raised a dark brow before it occurred to him that perhaps she was the 'hot babe' Inuyasha had been blabbering about. Well, the hanyou was spot on. Reaching behind him, he grabbed the object of her request and handed it over.
"Thanks. Do you mind if I take it over there?" She gestured towards the leather chaise against the wall.
"By all means," he threw in a smile sure to make her flush—it didn't—and watched her head over to the small two-seater instead. He chuckled to himself. Apparently there really was a woman out there immune to all their effortless charms.
It wasn't long before she returned, pushing the binder towards him. "They're all really wonderful, but not what I'm looking for."
Miroku leaned forward, unable to help his curiosity. "And what exactly are you looking for?"
"Honestly…I don't know," she admitted with a sheepish grin. "Something that speaks to me I guess. Does that sound weird?"
He laughed softly. "Not at all. Is this your first time?"
But the door chimed, followed by a loud raucous greeting that briefly drew his attention away.
"Thanks…and see you next Saturday." She turned, waving goodbye from over her shoulder and leaving Miroku's question unanswered.
Kagome shut the door behind her, sighing in disappointment.
"Nothing yet, huh?"
She shook her head. "Nope."
"We've got two more weeks."
"That isn't a lot of time, Sango."
"Does it have to be this place?"
"Chichi-ue was very specific."
"Are they any good?" Sango queried as they sat at the table where she had a steaming meal already prepared and set out.
"They're very good, which is to be expected given Totosai and Myouga's recommendation."
"I'm still surprised your father and crazy uncles are allowing this."
Kagome grinned before practically inhaling her food. "I won the tribal tournament fair and square."
"Fair and square?" Sango scoffed. "You grabbed his man parts and flashed him your breasts, giving him the nosebleed of the century! And then face planted him into the ground!"
"Oi, I used all that was at my disposal. Trust me Sango, he was more than happy to get a look at these." She pointed down at her chest with her chopsticks.
"You are incorrigible."
Kagome laughed around a mouthful of rice, agreeing wholeheartedly.
As Saturday afternoon approached, Sesshoumaru found himself, whether he liked it or not, awaiting the arrival of the 'hot blue eyed babe' as she'd been dubbed by the guys. Last week he had wanted to speak with her, to try and glean what it was she wanted, but the lengthy phone call had prevented him from doing so.
He was curious, that he could not deny. So when she walked in, closely followed by another woman, he took a few moments to assess her.
Confidence was in her every motion. A svelte physique, yet curved where it mattered and by the set of her chin, he could tell she was stubborn. Quite beautiful, he thought even though the observation had been made crystal clear by the sometimes idiotic men he called family and friends.
She approached the counter where he sat on a high stool, his long silver hair plaited loosely behind him. The other woman had opted to browse the walls and samples. He grabbed the red binder and placed it in front of her.
"I suppose you were expecting me?" There was a slight accent in her Japanese and for some reason, it sounded oddly familiar.
"Where are you from?"
She looked up with a brief flicker of surprise. "The south…" she answered vaguely, opening up to the first page and suddenly pausing. Her fingers trailed almost reverently across the paper as a smile blossomed across her lips. "This one," she tapped gently on the art and looked up with an excited glint in her eyes.
Sesshoumaru glanced down, one part amused and the other genuinely curious as to why she had chosen this piece when she hadn't even looked at the others yet.
"You're wondering why, huh?" she asked and after a few moments of silence where he let her collect her thoughts, she finally answered. "You know that feeling you get when something's just…right? It's kind of like that." And then she shrugged, rubbing the back of her neck in embarrassment. "It's hard to explain."
"I understand." And truly, he did. "I liken it to an unstoppable force…like gravity."
Kagome smiled. "Yeah."
"It is meant to be a large tattoo."
"I'd hope so," she confessed before stepping back and gesturing to her right side. "Here, maybe at an angle from the bottom of my hip to just below my breast?"
Sesshoumaru nodded, making a few notes on a pad of paper. "And your name?"
Memory struck a distant chord into the past and unbidden, the ghost of a smile flitted across his lips. Those damnable, old senile fools. It made sense now, why she had brought a touch of familiarity with her.
"I'll need it done within the next two weeks. So if…" Her bright blue eyes filled with hope.
"We can have it done by then," he assuaged.
An exhale of relief escaped her. "How soon can we start?"
"Tomorrow at noon, if you are free. We can set up the other sessions then."
"Sounds great, and thanks for being so …accommodating."
Sesshoumaru inclined his head and even though his lips didn't curve, she caught the elusive smile in his gold eyes.
Kagome shuffled in through the glass door the next day, something that had become almost routine and glanced at the two men at the counter. She remembered the silver haired one with the dog ears, but the other she didn't recognize.
Hearts melting at her greeting smile, Inuyasha and Kouga returned the gesture.
"Is this her?" Kouga whispered.
"Hell yeah." Inuyasha went to grab the red binder, but she shook her head.
"Oh no, I'm all set. I'm actually here for my noon appointment."
Inuyasha paused. None of them had a noon session except for... "You're Kagome?"
Kouga's eyes widened. "What? You're Sesshoumaru's twelve o' clock?"
She wasn't sure who they were talking about, but she hazarded a guess. "Long silver hair, gold eyes, kind of looks like him?" She pointed at Inuyasha.
They both nodded.
"I guess so. I wasn't sure who'd be doing it."
"It's his art," said Inuyasha. "We ink what we create." And he knew that the piece she'd chosen had been created a long time ago. "Straight through the door. I'll let him know you're here."
"Name's Inuyasha by the way and this ugly dude's Kouga."
"Ugly? Have you even looked in a mirror muttface!"
Ignoring the wolf, Inuyasha popped his head into the back room and yelled, "Sesshoumaru! Your noon girl is here!"
He was already waiting for her when she walked into the room, having just finished giving his inking tools one last check.
He nodded, the barest hint of a smirk lifting the corner of his mouth.
"I should've known," she muttered, rolling her eyes.
"You may close the door behind you."
She did as told, glancing around his workplace and finding it immaculate.
"So what do you need me to do?
"Everything?" she teased, unbuttoning her coat.
He was tempted to say yes. "You may leave your undergarments on if you wish." He'd give her the option.
Kagome snorted before turning around and pulling her turtleneck up over her head.
His breath caught and a silvery brow rose. Sesshoumaru had been expecting something, but certainly not this.
Kagome glanced over her shoulder, biting her lip when she saw his expression. "Surprised?"
Sesshoumaru flicked his eyes up, a half smile pulling at his lips. "Slightly caught off guard."
Laughing, she finished pulling off her pants. "I do that to people sometimes."
He didn't doubt her words for a moment and surreptitiously let his eyes roam her nearly naked body. She made her way over to his black leather tattoo bed and climbed on top, trying to tamp down the sudden bout of girlish nervousness.
Kami-sama, she was not becoming one of those mindless chits who hovered outside the shop making googly eyes at these guys! Though admittedly, she could understand why they did it.
Shaking herself free, she made herself comfortable. And then she felt warm fingers trail the back of her shoulders. Kagome looked behind her, watching Sesshoumaru gaze at her ink work in wonder.
"My first hunt. Chichi-ue insisted I immortalize the moment of victory," she revealed, but inwardly snorted. She'd nearly gotten her head ripped off by the tiger.
His hand then travelled lower where two ribbon-like strands loosely intertwined across her lower back, double half moons curving around each other in the middle.
"My tribe's symbol."
It was seamlessly integrated. The scene of her hunt by a river seemed to leak into her tribe's beautiful, curving character. It was quite exquisite. Though given who her family was, it was to be expected. He had studied under them after all. Sesshoumaru had also noticed the tattoo curling around her left thigh. She saw the direction of his gaze and beckoned him closer, lifting her leg.
"I got it with Sango, for her first hunt. She was the woman with me yesterday." And then Kagome lifted her left arm and there was the tattoo he had been expecting.
Near the curve of her breast was a trio of cherry blossoms.
"I don't know when I got this, but I've had it ever since I could remember."
Kagome smiled and reclined on her back, ignoring the way his warm gold eyes caressed her.
"Right here?" He stroked her right side, feathering light fingers around her hip and up her side.
Kagome suppressed the shiver threatening to glide down her spine. "Yeah."
Sesshoumaru nodded and for the next hour, inked his way into her skin.
Kagome twitched, causing Sesshoumaru to look up and strands of silver to brush her bare skin.
"Are you uncomfortable?" They were halfway through their second session.
Kagome flushed, biting her bottom lip. "A little."
He arched a brow.
"You're hovering really close to my crotch," she explained.
"It is necessary."
"I know. But it's different…"
"For one, you're not a senile old geezer." Kagome motioned towards the trail of paw prints circling her thigh. Totosai had inked it and even then, it wasn't the least bit awkward. "You're…attractive," muttered Kagome offhandedly. She had to force herself to say it without blushing like a little girl.
"Hnn." Hiding his amusement, he wiped the small amount of blood and ink.
"What does that mean?"
He didn't bother to answer, merely further pulled down her panties—half of her crotch was definitely showing now—and drew closer to continue his inking.
"Have you ever been to Kyushu?"
"A few times." Sesshoumaru pressed the needle into her skin, wiped away the excess ink and continued.
Kagome propped herself up on her elbows, their third session nearly done.
"I've lived a long time."
Her bright blue eyes were contemplative. "You know…"
"For some reason, you feel familiar. Did you ever visit the Tama tribe? I have two senile old uncles who've lived forever, an overprotective father bent on keeping me a virgin the rest of my life, and an annoying little brother I love to pieces. Anything ring a bell?"
"Unless you want the crescent moon anything less than perfect, I'd suggest you stay still."
"I've met you before…I know I have," Kagome murmured, though he could see that even she was beginning to doubt herself.
You were too young to remember.
The half moon hooked around her waist at an angle, beginning from the bottom of her right hip and extending up to just below her breast. And wrapped around the shaded crescent was an elegant tribal inu, its body lithe and head pointed up as if about to howl.
"Hnn," he agreed, though he wasn't looking at his ink work. He placed a thin piece of soft tissue over it and let Kagome pull on her clothes.
He turned and was once again caught off guard when her lips touched his in a tender stroke.
"Thank you," Kagome murmured. "And if you're ever in my area, do come visit." With one last captivating smile, she turned and walked out the door, leaving a trail of fragrant promise.
Sesshoumaru couldn't help the smirk. She had grown up to be quite the bold little minx. He was left thinking that maybe he would have to visit after all.