Blanket Disclaimer:

Inuyasha, and the characters therein, are the property of Rumiko Takahashi. I am in no way affiliated with Takahashi, or VIZ Productions.


Hello again! Well, it's that time of year again; time for limited-time-only milkshake flavors and commercials from Radio Shack to remind us all they still exist. In other words…Christmas time! Since I have since branched out into the wonderful world of AU I thought what better time than now to try my hand at an AU Christmas story? Since AUs come in many different shapes and sizes, please take a brief moment to familiarize yourselves with this particular universe's dynamics, and then sit back and enjoy the WAFF-y and lemon-y goodness! (Inu/Kag of course)

As the summary briefly explained, this is a modern world in which humans know of youkai, but for the most part youkai stick to themselves in what's left of the wild. Youkai exist beyond our realm of understanding. They live in the forests, the sky, underground, in lakes and rivers. They are magic. They don't need jobs to support themselves, making whatever they need to exist, including clothing, from their youki. Sometimes some youkai choose to walk among the humans, but they cannot legally live in human society. Youkai are almost considered like animals except of course the humans know and accept their higher intelligence, though they are not human. A youkai cannot be tried in a human court of law for say…murder. If a youkai killed somebody then the taijiya and spiritualists would exterminate it, just like Animal Control taking out a bear that attacked a hiker. Generally speaking humans and youkai get along okay though because hanyou, unlike pureblooded youkai, are begrudgingly accepted within human society, and most choose to live in the human world since that is by far the lesser of two evils, hanyou usually receiving little to no tolerance from their demonic brethren. Unlike full-blooded youkai, hanyou do need to earn money to survive in our world, to clothe and feed themselves, and despite the prejudice of most humans, the 'Human Blood Protection Act' successfully made into law way back when protects hanyou as legally recognized human beings. Hanyou are sterile and cannot reproduce so the human population has nothing to worry about as far as further and further mixing of the species goes. Sure, there are those who are terrified of hanyou, afraid of their strength, their claws and fangs and magic, but in the end occasional interbreeding offers no real threat to mankind as a whole, and hanyou themselves are truthfully no more dangerous than a human who possesses superior fighting skills, those military and/or martial arts experts who know how to kill a man using only their pinkie finger. Are these people segregated? No…you just know not to piss them off! Racism against hanyou exists in high numbers but is not sanctioned, and a human attacking a hanyou for being a hanyou would be convicted of a hate crime, and the hanyou would be protected under the self-defense clause for fighting back. Sure, bad apples do happen, but trouble-hanyou are put in prisons that are spiritually warded; the human world knows what it's doing.

Now as far as whether or not this story supposedly takes place in Japan or America, let's just not worry about that minor detail. This is fiction, after all, so let's just say it's a fictional country that's a cross between Japan and America and try not to analyze things too deeply. They're in a big city with explicit mention of Hollywood society, as well as growing up a miko in a traditional shrine, so think of the city itself like Tokyo meets LA.

Now then…on with the show!



Chapter 1 – Introductions



Fiddling nervously with her hair, Rin counted to ten in time with the elevator as it rose to the tenth floor in a desperate attempt to quell the nervous butterflies she could swear were trying to break free from her stomach.

"Come on, girl. It's just a summer internship, get a hold of yourself." she told herself quietly right before the elevator came to a stop and the doors opened, revealing the reception desk to Shikon Weekly, her favorite trends and gossip magazine.

"Hello, may I help you?" Kikyou, the receptionist, greeted with a friendly smile.

"Hi…" the seventeen-year-old greeted nervously. "My name's Rin, and I'm here-"

"Oh of course!" Kikyou interrupted, her warm smile infectious. "Miroku told me you were coming in today." she said half to herself before pushing a button on the intercom box on her desk.

"Yes?" a charming male voice answered.

"Your new intern is here Sir."


Rin couldn't help smiling a bit more to herself at how friendly everyone seemed. She'd heard that Shikon Weekly was a fabulous magazine to work for, that the owner's nephew, Miroku, who was in charge of the publication those days, was a very nice and caring man, though perhaps also a bit of a flirt. So long as he didn't straight up sexually harass her then Rin knew she could handle a little harmless flirting now and again.

"Rin Sato?" a debonair looking young man dressed in a well-tailored dark purple Armani suit greeted as he came around the corner.

"Yes Sir." she answered, bowing a little. "Mr. Kazaana, I presume?"

He waved his hand dismissingly.

"Mr. Kazaana is my uncle. Please, call me Miroku."

Nodding, Rin eagerly followed behind Miroku as he took her on a brief tour of his uncle Mushin's magazine.

"We're not you're a-typical trash talking gossip rag." he explained in that same charming tone of voice. "There is one big difference between us and our competitors. Do you know what that is?" he asked Rin, testing her slightly. She had been the one to apply for the internship, after all, so he had to make sure the girl wanted to work for them for the right reasons.

"Because you only tell the truth!" she answered enthusiastically. Miroku nodded, pleased.

When his uncle Mushin had first started Shikon Weekly it had been more of a trendy, what's hot and what's not type of magazine, filled with interviews and quotes from the who's who of Hollywood glamour all the way down to diet tips and where to land the best summer vacations on a budget. Of course, times change, but even though they'd since added what some of the old timers still called their 'Enquirer' column, Mushin refused to tarnish their reputation by becoming known as one of those tabloids that fabricated – or even simply ran with – unproven gossip and rumors. Oh sure, they told secrets, talked dirt, and snapped candid photos of famous people caught doing what they shouldn't be doing with people they shouldn't be seen with, but it was all true. They only reported known facts and refused to comment on not yet verified hearsay. In fact, that was the name of their 'tabloid' column; 'Just The Facts', by writer/photographer Inuyasha Takahashi.

"Pleased to meet you." Rin stated shyly as Miroku made introductions.

Inuyasha glanced up from his computer with a nonhostile yet clearly disinterested look in his inhuman, golden eyes.

"Keh." he greeted noncommittally before getting back to his work in obvious dismissal. Rin tried not to frown as Miroku continued with the tour.

"Don't take it personally, he's not much of a people-person." Miroku whispered to the girl once they were a fair distance away from Inuyasha's desk.

"It's my fault…I've never seen a hanyou in person before and being canine he could probably smell how nervous I was."

Rin had known of course that the photographer and writer for her favorite column of her favorite magazine was an inu-hanyou, but simply knowing that and actually meeting the guy in person were two entirely different things.

"I'm sure he didn't take it to heart. Believe me, he's used to it, as unfortunate as that fact is." Miroku soothed, thinking back on his decade-long companionship with the hanyou. He hardly knew anything about the guy outside of the office, and yet at the same time Miroku knew he was probably the closest thing Inuyasha had to a friend. He couldn't really say that he blamed him for being as closed off as he was, though, all things considered.

He still remembered the day Inuyasha had wandered in off the street looking for a job, applying for the position of photographer for their new upcoming column without a shred of experience, or nervousness. Not one to beat around the bush, especially considering the fact that a man of youkai blood wanting to work for a family of spiritualists was more than a little odd, if not down right suspicious, Mushin had cut right to the chase during Inuyasha's interview, of which Miroku had been present since Mushin had also been in the process of teaching his nephew what he needed to know to take over running the company.

"So what makes you think you're the right man for this job?" Mushin had asked the then nineteen-year-old hanyou, and with arms crossed and a smug grin that revealed his fangs Inuyasha's reply had been "Because I am."

The hanyou had then proceeded to list off his various, inhuman, talents. Sure, the guy had never operated a camera before, but really, how hard could that be? What he did know was how to stalk, how to stay hidden and how to sneak up on his prey. He could leap from rooftop to rooftop to follow a car rather than needing another moving vehicle, and with his sense of smell even if he did manage to lose sight of who he was following he could still track them anyway. Plainly spoken, Inuyasha could get paparazzi shots that no human could ever hope to achieve, plus his super-canine hearing would ensure that he didn't misinterpret a situation, nearly always able to hear what was being said to make sure the pictures were put in their correct context, whatever that might be. That fact alone had been enough to entice Mushin into being willing to at least give the teenager a shot to prove himself, pun intended. The photos he'd come back with had definitely proven the boy was worth his salt, at least behind the camera. It had been by accident that Mushin had later discovered that the hanyou could actually write his own editorials, too, having planned on letting Miroku handle that part until a new writer could be hired for the column, needing the photographer first and having thought at the time that he would only be the photographer, paid for his photos and then sent on his way while they did the rest of the work themselves.

Miroku had been writing his draft for the first story, but had had Inuyasha with him doing an interview of sorts for what the hanyou had seen and heard, and the half inu man, not really the best at human interaction, had kept on interrupting him and arguing so many times that in a moment of lost patience that was quite unbecoming for the young holy man, he'd actually snapped at the dog-eared photographer and said "Well then you write it!"

And so he had, and ten years later Inuyasha was a well-respected member of their team.

"It isn't weird for him working for you and your family?" Rin asked innocently, "Since you, your aunt and uncle all have spiritual powers?"

Shaking his head with a smile, Miroku explained, "When Uncle Mushin decided to give Inuyasha a chance, he just looked him dead in the eye, giving his aura a once over. He kind of has the ability to sense honesty or dishonesty in people, one of his spiritual powers you could say, and all he'd gotten out of Inuyasha was that he wanted to do well for himself. He was tired of working for minimum wage and felt he was worth more; he just needed a chance to prove it. When he asked Inuyasha if he was going to have a problem working for three spiritually powerful humans, the answer he'd given was rather cut and dry. He said he wouldn't have a problem with it so long as we didn't have a problem with him. That was when Uncle Mushin told him that if he wanted the job to come back in two days with photos and a story worthy of our magazine and he'd have the job. He did, and so he does. Our differences have never really been a problem."

Most of the time, at least… Miroku added in his mind, before quickly shaking the wayward thoughts free to smile brightly at the new intern and continue on with introductions as they headed towards the office located next to his own.

There Rin met Sango, whom Miroku introduced as his 'future fiancée', though the senior editor's unladylike snort seemed to say otherwise. With a twinkle of merriment in her chocolate brown eyes, Sango explained to Rin with a wink that she hadn't flat turned Miroku down because it was fun watching him try to woo her day in and day out. It provided entertainment for the entire staff, never knowing what he would say or do next. Laughing in turn, Miroku leaned in towards the teenager as though about to tell a secret before promising Rin loud enough for both ladies to hear that one day, he would get Sango to crack and say yes, and that when that day came he would whisk her away to elope right then and there before she had a chance to realize what she'd said and change her mind.

Rin couldn't help the giggle that bubbled up in her own throat at the sound of Sango and Miroku's light chuckling. She got the feeling that those two really did love each other, though whether or not there was any form of an actual relationship between them at that moment in time she couldn't tell. Maybe after working for the magazine long enough she could get herself into the inner gossip circles and find out.

The rest of her morning went by pleasantly enough, as Miroku continued to show her around and introduce her to the other members of the team. There were people like editors, graphics design artists and fashion photographers all working on their floor whom the readers usually never knew by name, the magicians behind the curtain that made all the magic happen, and then of course there were the other writers for the magazine, who were like mini-celebrities in their own right.

Yuka, the resident chef, wrote for a fun little culinary article called 'From Yuka's Cookbook' which always featured some recipe or another that was at least partially connected to the times. Near the beginning of summer she would have diet tips for fitting into that new bikini, and during the holidays Rin's mother was famous for trying out Yuka's various cookie and pie recipes. The seventeen-year-old could speak from personal experience that Yuka's recipes were always worth following. Ayumi was the go-to girl for hair and makeup tips, and Eri's fashion dos and don'ts were always right on the money. Of course, Rin was more than a little humbled to meet Kagome Higurashi, writer of the 'Dear Kagome' column, which primarily offered relationship advice though Kagome was always gracious enough to answer just about any and all questions that were sent her way. Far too many people wrote in to always make it to print so she also had a blog set up on the magazine's website. You could even ask a question via direct e-mail if you wanted to remain discreet.

"Don't worry, I know what it's like to be the new girl on campus. You'll be settled in in no time." Kagome assured Rin with a friendly smile and handshake. It was true, the miko had only been working for the magazine for three years, but everyone had taken an instant liking to her. Well…almost everyone.

"If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask. That's what I'm here for." Kagome added with a warm smile, her deep blue-gray eyes sparkling with a wisdom that seemed beyond her mere twenty-five years.

"Thanks, I'll do that." Rin replied with a friendly wave as Miroku took her on her way, showing the girl the rest of their magazine.

Sighing, Kagome turned in her chair and got back to work on her computer; she still had a few more answers to post on her blog before calling it quits for lunch.

"She seems like a sweet girl." came Sango's voice from behind.

"I'm surprised you're not following them around to make sure Miroku doesn't do anything 'inappropriate'." Kagome teased, glancing up to smile at her best friend.

"I would say it's because I trust him, though we both know that's not true." Sango replied with a laugh that Kagome echoed. "But after what happened last year with Koharu, I'm sure he's learned his lesson." the editor added, and shuddering a bit in her seat Kagome silently hoped that Sango was right.

She remembered well the awkward drama that had been Koharu's tearful resignation, the intern quitting her position with their magazine after realizing that her 'feelings' for Miroku were one-sided, the emotional teenager having taken his flirting and teasing to heart. Kagome had tried to calm the girl down, to get her to see how impressionable young girls her age could be and how what she was feeling for Miroku was only a crush that would fade once she realized she didn't really know anything about the man, but Koharu had been beyond reasoning with. Ever since then Miroku had been on his best behavior, at least where 'impressionable youths' were concerned, and visitors. All of the women presently employed, brand new interns excluded, had been working there for at least a couple of years by that point, and as such they all knew their boss was a horrible flirt, though he was also a relatively harmless one. The last thing anyone wanted for the magazine's image was their boss getting charged with sexual harassment, though, and so Miroku really had cooled it a bit where he had to. He only physically groped Sango those days, and also sometimes Kagome, but that was only because he knew the miko could handle it. Personally, Kagome didn't mind it because she was a big girl, not so easy to offend, and besides, she knew that in reality he only had eyes for Sango. The whole office knew those two were in love. Any sexual comments he sent anyone else's way were just a side effect of how his brain functioned, his internal sensors in 'off' mode at least 90% of the time assuring that he almost always said whatever was on his mind, at least when it involved the opposite sex, though he would never in a million years actually cheat on Sango, which Koharu had found out the hard way.

"Oh well, you know what they say: Unintentionally mislead a girl once, shame on her, unintentionally mislead a girl twice, shame on him." Kagome half-giggled with a shrug.

Shaking her head with an amused sigh, Sango turned and headed back to her office, letting her friend get back to work. They could talk more over lunch.

Watching Sango walk away, Kagome hoped for Miroku's sake that this new internship with Rin worked out and that the girl would decide to stay for the long haul. It wasn't really as if they needed a new office assistant, they weren't suffering from being short handed and Kagome certainly didn't mind getting her own coffee or buying her own pens and pencils, but they were sort of like one big happy family, and Kagome for one was looking forward to the prospect of their family growing again, like getting a new baby sister.

She still remembered when she had been the new 'baby sister' of the family. Her column wasn't new; the formally named 'Dear Sango' section of the magazine had been around for over ten years, and before that, Miroku's aunt Kaede had been the one who had first filled the roll for more than three decades, dating back to when her brother Mushin had first started the publication. Promoting his sister to senior editor upon their original editor's retirement had meant the need for a replacement for the relationship columnist, and when their nephew, who'd been working as a writer for various articles back then, had suggested his girlfriend Sango take the job, the taijiya had quickly proven herself worthy to the aging miko. Now, it was Kagome's turn, as Sango herself advanced to senior editor upon Kaede's retirement – with Miroku's help of course, though nobody had held that against her. Everyone loved Sango; even Inuyasha showed her a measurable amount of respect, despite the fact that she came from a long line of youkai slayers.

As for Kagome, she had already known Sango from outside of work; they were neighbors in the same apartment building and best girlfriends as a result, despite the age difference between them. Sango and Miroku were in their late thirties but that didn't stop them from treating Kagome like an equal. When Sango had mentioned in passing to the young miko that she would be needing to find and train her replacement because she would be leaving the column Kagome had jumped at the chance to work with her at the magazine, and despite the risk of Sango becoming her boss potentially destroying their friendship it had turned out to have the opposite effect. Nearly everyone else at the magazine had welcomed her with open arms, at least figuratively if not literally, though Yuka, Eri and Ayumi could all be huggers at times. Those three were closer to Kagome's age and she considered them all close friends as well, though nobody could ever replace Sango's position in her heart. It was Sango whom Kagome knew she could count on whenever she needed a shoulder to cry on, which was more often than the miko would have liked to admit.

You'd think that somebody people can turn to for relationship advice would do a little better in the love department themselves… Kagome sighed to herself as she finished posting answers to her blog.

She'd had to qualify for the position, of course. Sango hadn't just arbitrarily made Kagome her replacement because they were friends; that could have spelled disaster if the miko had turned out to give horrible advice. Instead, Sango had put Kagome through the same process she would have done for anyone else, giving the girl several scenarios and hearing what she had to say, offering a few suggestions here and there though for the most part Kagome was a natural. Sango had known she would be, of course, since Kagome had always been there for her whenever she'd been feeling doubts about her so-called relationship with Miroku. It was purely thanks to Kagome and her ability to sense a person's heart that she hadn't skinned the monk alive by that point for his non-stop womanizing. Kagome knew that Miroku's feelings for Sango were genuine, and she also knew that he'd cool it with the playful flirting once and for all the second Sango let him put a ring on her finger. The slayer was just enjoying making him sweat it out a bit as payback for her earlier doubts about his feelings, which wasn't really genuine payback since he knew Sango would say yes when she was ready, once again courtesy of the twenty-five-year-old miko. As for the 'Dear Kagome' column itself, readers knew the miko wasn't a licensed therapist or psychologist; she was more like the world's BFF, somebody you could turn to as a friend to get advice from if there was no one else in your life who filled that role.

"Dear Kagome,

My boyfriend of six years still hasn't popped the question! I keep dropping little hints, but he's either oblivious or deliberately ignoring them. I really don't think he's cheating on me, but then on the other hand if he's devoted to me and only me then why doesn't he want to marry me? Help!

- Stressed-out Girlfriend"

Sighing, Kagome glanced at the clock before gently setting her hands on her keyboard, staring at the words on the screen for a moment longer as she allowed herself to feel the emotion that had been present at the time of their creation.

"Dear Stressed-out Girlfriend,

First let me express that failure to propose in and of itself is not, in my opinion, one of the major warning signs of infidelity, so if you honestly don't think he's cheating on you, if there are no other red flags or warning bells going off in that regard, then I'm sure you're right and he's not. Commitment issues don't necessarily constitute loyalty issues. He's probably comfortable in your present relationship because since you are not married or engaged, he feels that he's technically not stuck with you, which in turn allows him to relax and be happy with your company. That being said, if you are not satisfied allowing things to progress forever the way they have been, if you want that ring and that walk down the aisle, then I think the time for 'dropping hints' is over. True, he could just be oblivious and will eventually catch on, but if he's already aware and trying to ignore your hints then letting that go on any longer will get you nowhere. The number one relationship killer is lack of communication, so if all else fails, and you think he's just clueless, pop the question yourself, but not in a stressful, pressure building sort of way. If he can't muscle up the courage to ask you, then the last thing you want to do is give him the straight forward 'yes' or 'no' question that'll most likely result in a deer-in-the-headlights expression followed by no answer at all as his brain runs around in circles screaming. If you can get past the idea of having him romantically surprising you by suddenly drop down on one knee one day, then it might be time to sit him down on the couch and have a serious discussion about your relationship. Tell him how you feel, and ask him how he feels in return. It might feel like it kills the romance to think 'well we're already together, so we may as well get married since it doesn't really change anything' but if it's the big CHANGE that he's afraid of, then assuring him that everything really will remain the same in your relationship in that regard is what he needs to hear. It's stereotyped that everything changes once you get married, and he might think he's got such a perfect thing going right now that he doesn't want to risk screwing up your relationship by fixing what isn't broken. That doesn't mean he doesn't want to marry you, it's much more likely that it's simply the act of getting married at all that he's nervous about. But if he really loves you and only you, and has no desire to ever stop being with you, well then he's got nothing to be afraid of, and neither do you. Good luck!

- Kagome"

Signing out of her account, Kagome exhaled slowly while rubbing her temples, her eyes starting to get blurry from staring at her computer screen for too long. Sensing her friend coming back up on her from behind, Kagome was not startled when Sango suddenly chimed in with "Ready to eat?" from less than two feet away.

"Absolutely." she responded with a smile, standing up and grabbing her purse. "Any ideas?"

"I've been meaning to check out that new ramen shop that opened up down the block, if that sounds all right?"

Mentally going over what remained of her finances until payday, Kagome nodded and said, "Actually, that sounds perfect."

Heading past a few of her coworkers' cubicles, Kagome responded to the pleasant "Hello"s and "Have a nice lunch"es that were sent her and Sango's way. Coming upon one desk in particular, Kagome smiled shyly as she studied the silver-haired man hard at work clicking through a folder of photographs on his computer. One of his triangular dog-ears shifted back towards her direction, almost as if picking up on the sound of her nervous smile – or maybe it was just the pounding of her heart – and she blushed a little, grateful for once that he still had his back to her.

Clearing her throat, Kagome shot her friend a quick glare at the silent snicker Sango sent her way at her obvious nervousness. The taijiya knew all too well how Kagome felt about their half canine photographer.

"Sango and I are heading out to Hungry Ninja Ramen, want anything?" she asked as conversationally as possible, mentally praising herself for sounding normal.

Inuyasha, who had been absently clicking through a bunch of old photos in the hopes of looking busy when he first sensed Kagome's approach, had to forcefully bite his tongue when the first thing that came to mind was the rather nasty retort, Why, think I can't even afford my own ramen?

He sighed.

The miko clearly wasn't trying to take pity upon him as if he honestly couldn't afford to feed himself; she had to have an inkling of what his annual salary was considering they worked for the same damn magazine, after all. But her words hadn't been sarcastic, either, as if possibly implying that even though they worked for the same company he was paid significantly less because he was hanyou. Maybe…maybe her offer was meant to be genuine, but that didn't mean she really meant it. Miroku's words begging him to be nice to the girl echoed loudly in his ears, and he exhaled slowly, telling himself for the umpteenth time that Kagome most likely didn't have any ulterior motives for always trying to be so nice to him. It just confounded him to no end that she was always trying to be so damn nice to him, despite the fact that her body language was literally screaming at him how uncomfortable she was just barely being in his presence. Maybe that was why, though. Maybe she just couldn't shake how she felt about him being half youkai, but at the same time she had enough decency to feel guilty about it, too, and so she tried to make up for her obvious discomfiture with extra acts of kindness, regretful that she couldn't completely remove the ingrained racism she had been raised up with.

Keh, whatever… he mentally snorted. It'd be better if the bitch just admitted she couldn't stand the sight of me and stayed the fuck away.

"No thanks." he grumbled finally, polite enough for himself, never once turning away from his computer screen to look at her. Perhaps if he had, then he would have noticed the sincerity in her eyes, or the way her smile wavered ever so slightly with the sting of rejection.

"Okay." she responded, still in that same pleasant tone of voice, before quickly heading out the rest of the way with Sango.

The taijiya waited until they were in the elevator to ask her friend, "Why do you keep doing this to yourself, Kagome?"

"I wish I knew…" the miko answered with a sigh. "If I weren't the writer of my column, I would write in with a question to myself."

Sango laughed a bit at that, then looping her arm around the younger girl's shoulders, she said, "What is it you always tell people? You can't have real feelings for somebody you don't know anything about?"

"But I want to get to know him." Kagome protested lightly. "Besides," she added with a playful pout, "That rule doesn't apply to me since I can feel auras."

"So your advice to everyone else out there is 'do what I say, not what I do'?" Sango teased.

Lightly jabbing her friend's side with her elbow, Kagome stuck her tongue out at the older woman when she giggled, and then retorted with, "Just 'cause I don't know anything about the guy doesn't mean I can't feel what's in his soul."

"Yeah yeah yeah…show off." Sango mumbled quietly, not really jealous of Kagome's miko abilities since she had a few taijiya tricks up her own sleeves, though they didn't have anything to do with reading a person's soul.

Retracting her arm as the elevator doors opened, Sango thought in silence for a moment as she and her friend exited the building and made their way down the street towards the ramen shop.

"Well…" she finally spoke up after a moment. "I might be a bit rusty, but my advice to you under these circumstances would be to just keep on being yourself, then. If you want to keep on trying to strike up conversations with him, or have lunch with him, or whatever it is you always try that he always shoots down, then keep it up. He's all closed off for a reason, but sooner or later it's got to seep into that thicker than average canine skull of his that you don't ignore him like everyone else does. He'll notice you noticing him, just give him time."

"Didn't somebody say something once about how doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results is the definition of insanity?" Kagome grumbled sarcastically, earning a chuckle from her friend.

"So you're crazy in love." Sango replied with a shrug and a wink. Kagome snorted before getting a serious look in her eyes.

"Sometimes I think he thinks I just take pity on him, the way I try to talk to him and be nice; sometimes I feel like he's exasperated with me and so I try to get him to see that I'm being genuine, I don't think of him as a charity case. But then other times I'm sure he must know how I really feel about him and that it's that knowledge that's putting him off, 'cause he just doesn't feel the same way." She sighed. "Screw souls, I wish I could read minds."

"You could just ask him, you know."

"Oh yeah," Kagome replied with a roll of her eyes. "That'd go over real well, I can see it now." Crinkling her nose, she thought about the first time they'd met for a moment and then added, "It's probably just my miko powers that are still the biggest issue; we know that's what'd bothered him in the beginning. Miroku had even warned me before my first day that he might be extra standoffish around me because I'm a miko, but he'd also said 'at first' and 'until he got to know me'. It's been three years, Sango…" Kagome whined semi-playfully to her friend.

"Hey, if you really think about it, Inuyasha has gotten a lot nicer to you over the last three years." the older woman pointed out as they took their seats in the small noodle shop.

"That's true…" Kagome murmured thoughtfully, skimming the menu.

When she'd first joined up with the company three summers ago Inuyasha had been downright rude to her. The first time they'd met she'd been so struck by his exotic beauty that she'd barely been able to squeak out a pitiful hello as she'd held her hand out for him to shake, nearly giddy at just the thought of getting to touch the hand of such a sex-god, and then he'd proceeded to glare at her as if she'd flipped him the bird with that hand. He'd immediately turned and stormed away from her, and Kagome, who'd originally thought that he'd felt her attraction to him and had been offended for that reason, had later heard it from Sango that Inuyasha had had a bone to pick with Miroku for letting his girlfriend bring in 'that miko'. Sure, Kaede had been a miko, too, Miroku's whole family was ripe with spiritual powers, but every family's powers were different, just like every different species of youkai possessed a different type of youki signature. Kagome had figured then that there must just be something about her miko powers in particular that rubbed him the wrong way, a clash of energies, and so as a courtesy she'd tried her best to give him a wide birth, at first, so as not to unnecessarily disturb him. Maybe he could sense that she had the ability to sense auras, and felt like her 'scanning' him was an invasion of privacy, even though it was something that she couldn't really turn off all the way and therefore she wasn't really doing it on purpose.

Despite the fact that she'd immediately been crushing on him something horrible, Kagome had also known that she wouldn't be a very good relationship advice giver if she couldn't even follow her own guidelines, one of her most basic but also firm beliefs being that there was no such thing as love at first sight. There was lust at first sight, most definitely, and there was nothing wrong with two people who were so immediately attracted to each other going for it, exploring the possibility of a deeper relationship developing as a result. Lust at first sight could lead to love, if you were lucky, but it was just not possible to actually love somebody you didn't even know, and even though she could feel on an empathic level what made up a person's soul, that still didn't mean she knew them. All she could really tell about any given person was whether they were being genuine or wearing a fake mask, depending upon what type of personality they outwardly portrayed. She could tell if someone was kindhearted and giving or greedy and selfish, shy or snobby, bitter and cruel or hesitant and guarded; Inuyasha fell under that latest category. Kagome could sense that he was lonely, that he was really a good guy at heart but he didn't trust easily. She wanted to be there for him, but that really wouldn't be possible until she figured out how to get him to let her in.

Focusing on the fact that she didn't really know anything about the guy, she'd made it a point to try and get to know him, doing her best to ignore her sexual attraction to him in the hopes of at least becoming his friend, but that process was incredibly slow going, especially since he was only actually in the office a couple of days a week, spending the rest of his time in the field. That meant that in the last three years she'd only ever actually seen him two-fifths as often as everyone else. At least that made the 'three years' part sound a little bit better, when she thought about it mathematically and realized that she'd really only been in the same building as him 312 days out of the last 1095; when looking at it that way she hadn't even spent one full year with the guy yet, and of that time they hardly ever spoke more than a handful of words to each other. No wonder she hadn't really gotten anywhere yet.

He never socialized with anyone outside of work – which made her feel a little bit better because at least it wasn't just her he was avoiding, in that regard – but so anything and everything she could ever hope to learn about the man had to happen on company time. She'd actually learned quite a lot about his personality over the years just by reading his articles, something she'd had the guilty pleasure of partaking in even before joining the team. He actually allowed very little personality to show through in his narrations, if any showed through at all, but that in and of itself was telling because it told her he was professional; he cared about his work. Oft times he would run his 'breaking news' a month behind the competition, with article headers like 'What really happened' or 'Who was right and who was wrong' as he broke down and dissected the stories that had been run in other tabloids. If he had been there, if he'd taken the same photos somebody else had taken, Kagome and everyone else for that matter knew he would tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. If a celebrity was having dinner with somebody unidentified, he would even admit that he didn't know who that person was, if he couldn't find out, rather than just making something up…but heaven help the famous people who blurted their dirty laundry within his hanyou hearing range.

On the other side of the coin, sometimes celebrities who'd been trash talked in other papers would actually go out of their way to contact Shikon Weekly, offering Inuyasha exclusive interviews in order to set the record straight. Mushin used to be the one to conduct most interviews, since he could sense dishonesty in people, but Inuyasha could smell it if someone was lying, and he'd purposefully made that one fact about himself public knowledge; nobody dared lie to the hanyou's face, not when it involved his work and his reputation. That he had earned so much respect amongst Hollywood society, almost nobody ever publicly badmouthing him for his mixed heritage, Kagome not only respected and admired him as well, but she also felt an incredible swell of pride in her heart at the knowledge. Sometimes she got the impression that Inuyasha thought she felt sorry for him, but really, nothing could be further from the truth. Sure yeah, she did sometimes feel bad for the guy, because he just seemed so lonely, and she could easily see the old scars he kept buried just below the surface, but really, she'd say he'd done pretty well for himself, all things considered, and in a relatively short period of time, too. Fate had dealt him a cruel hand, tipped with talons, but he'd turned around and used them to claw his way to the top.

That's my Inuyasha… she thought wistfully, before mentally scolding herself for such foolish thoughts. Even though it was true that he'd kind of mellowed out a bit over the last three years, it was beyond obvious that he didn't really want to have anything to do with her.

If doing the same thing over and over again makes me insane, then so be it… she thought wryly then. Sure, if someone else came to her with a similar situation she might tell them to try and move on, that you couldn't make somebody like you if they really didn't, and there were plenty of fish in the sea, blah blah blah. But the fact of the matter was that she was still young; she had plenty of time to come to grips with reality and 'move on' later, after it became abundantly clear that he would never take an interest in her. As far as Kagome was concerned, that day would come when he flat out told her to her face to leave him the fuck alone, and even back when he'd been a total asshole to her those particular words had never left his mouth. Asking harshly 'Why do you care?' when asked where he was headed for lunch, and snapping with 'What's it to you?' when asked if he'd had a nice weekend might imply he wanted her to leave him alone, but they were not synonymous.

He was closed off and defensive, but maybe it really surprised him that I'd asked… she pondered thoughtfully as she and Sango made their way back to their building in companionable silence.

"Hey guys." Kikyou greeted around a mouthful of sub sandwich as Sango and Kagome exited the elevator on their floor.

Giggling, Kagome approached the reception desk with a playful frown.

"Kikyou, don't you ever leave for lunch?"

"Why?" she replied with a shrug. "Off the clock is off the clock. My chair is comfy."

"Uh-huh…" the miko replied, leaning over to spy the girl's computer screen.

"Busted!" Kagome teased; Kikyou had a youtube video on pause.

"Oh please, like Miroku would care."

"He'd just be disappointed that it's a G-rated video." Sango chimed in, and all three girls chuckled a bit before the senior editor and relationship columnist headed past reception and back to work.

"I've never met a girl quite so chipper before." Kagome commented offhandedly, the miko able to tell that Kikyou's perpetual good mood wasn't an act.

"Well can you blame her?" Sango asked semi-rhetorically before heading for her office.

Kagome nodded to herself, knowing that Sango was right. Both girls were fully aware of Kikyou's situation; the receptionist talked about it easily whenever somebody asked.

Like Miroku and Kagome, Kikyou's family also came from a long line of spiritualists, but unlike her boss' family and miko coworker, who had all decided to do what they wanted in life rather than devote themselves exclusively to the cloth, Kikyou's parents allowed no such freedoms among her spiritually powerful siblings. They were a very traditional family, devoted to the same shrine for generation upon generation. It was only by some sheer miracle – or tragedy, as Kikyou's father had put it – that their powers of reiki had somehow not been passed down to her, the youngest daughter. After years of grueling tests to become a miko like her sisters had surprisingly revealed the girl possessed virtually no spiritual power whatsoever, and would therefore be quite useless as a genuine miko, her father had reluctantly allowed her, and her alone, to live a 'normal' life away from the shrine, since she was,essentially, an ordinary woman. Nobody would want her for blessings, and she couldn't produce holy wards. Keeping her on hand would have been a charity case, and the girl's father had at least been proud, at first, that she'd had the desire to be useful, wanting to go where she was needed so as not to rely on the handouts of others. That wasn't to say she was above accepting assistance where assistance was offered, though, such as an insider helping her land the perfect job. Kikyou had known of Kaede through spiritual circles; she'd always secretly admired the elderly miko for proving that you could be a miko but also have a regular career at the same time. Kikyou had felt humbled but not shamed to ask for Kaede's help, and the woman had delivered. When Shikon Weekly had been hiring for a new receptionist word of the jobless girl had quickly reached Miroku's ears, and being the gentleman that he was, he'd immediately offered Kikyou the position per his aunt's recommendation.

Nobody had ever seen a receptionist with quite so bright, and genuine, a smile as Kikyou always wore, but growing up all she'd ever really wanted was to be a normal, ordinary girl, not subjected to the life of a miko, and while her parents acted like the kami had forsaken her, the rejected child, Kikyou knew the truth; the kami had blessed her, granting her wish to be normal. It was just icing on the cake that she worked around other spiritualists who flat out chose to live normal lives despite their spiritual powers, 'traitors' as her father called them in private, not to mention a hanyou! While Kikyou's mother was simply happy for her daughter in that she was happy, her father loathed the fact that she worked for Shikon Weekly, not because of what her job was but because of who her boss and coworkers were, and she loved her job all the more because of it.

Thinking about Kikyou's family, Kagome shook her head a little to herself in relief that her own family hadn't been so strict. Her grandfather was mildly disappointed that she hadn't wanted to devote 100% of her life to the family shrine as a shrine miko, but she did help out during holidays, and she visited often. She'd moved out of the shrine and into her own apartment at age eighteen, wanting to get a taste of 'normal' life herself, though she never slacked off in her spiritual training. It helped that she'd quickly become friends with her neighbor Sango, the woman basically in the same boat as her since she'd left her family's exterminator business to join the team at Shikon Weekly. She too still helped out her family once in a while, to keep her skills sharp. It was important to know and embrace your roots, but it was the 21st century, and trend magazines were important, too!

Snickering to herself at where her thoughts had wandered, Kagome headed back over to her desk, grinning to herself as she spotted Inuyasha still hard at work at his own, which was conveniently set in such a location that she naturally walked past it on her way in and out. She'd really have to go out of her way to avoid approaching his desk upon entering and exiting, and she wasn't about to go and do something like that.

I might not know very much about the guy, but one thing I do know is he loves ramen… she thought to herself as she approached, remembering the few times over the last three years she'd spotted him eating lunch in the lounge. Though few and far between, he had always been eating cups of instant ramen at those times, and unless he was secretly scrimping away every single penny he earned to one day buy a four-story mansion overlooking the ocean then there was no way he was eating Maruchan out of necessity.

Knowing he could both hear and smell her approach and that there was no chance she was inadvertently sneaking up on him, Kagome chimed in seemingly out of nowhere as she approached his desk with, "You really need to try Hungry Ninja Ramen sometime, they're really good."

Kagome was honestly expecting a noncommittal grunt of some sort in reply, he was notorious for responding with sound effects when he didn't really have anything to say to you otherwise, so it caught the miko completely off guard when he actually glanced her way for the briefest of seconds before refocusing his eyes on his computer screen and mumbling a quick "Eaten there before. They actually are good." in agreement.

Just the sound of his voice had her heart rate increasing, which she was sure he could hear with those damn, adorable ears of his. Maybe it was the fact that, as far as he was concerned with his hyper senses, she was always practically throwing herself at him that had turned him off to her. She had to show him that she wasn't like Koharu; sure she was attracted to him, but that didn't mean she was about to throw herself at his feet and beg him to love her. So quickly getting her frantic heartbeat back under control, Kagome murmured a quick "Let me know if you'd ever like to go there together sometime." before turning and scurrying away. Or at least in her mind she felt like she was scurrying away like a spooked rabbit, outwardly she strolled back to her desk as calmly as she could muster, as if her words of open invitation for lunch were in truth as casual as they had sounded.

Making it back to her desk, the miko exhaled slowly and then signed back into her blog page. If Sango had still been with her she would have felt the urge to squeal girlishly with her friend, so in retrospect it was a good thing that Sango had gone her separate way immediately upon the two of them passing Kikyou's desk. Sango had said on many occasions while the pair hung out in one of their two apartments that she loved her girl talk with Kagome, that it made her feel like she was in high school again, but the miko knew that there was a time and a place and she couldn't turn work into high school. Schooling her features then, as it were, she got back to work in that moment, officially putting her own dysfunctional love life on the back burner to help everybody else with theirs.


Blinking as he watched her walk away, Inuyasha shook his head in bafflement once Kagome was around the corner and out of sight. He would never understand that girl. Here she was practically having a heart attach, like he was going to suddenly lunge and attack her at any given moment, and then she went and offered again that they could eat lunch together sometime?

I wonder how freaked out she'd get if I actually took her up on it… he mused darkly, half considering inviting her out just to see if she could make it through the whole hour without pissing her pants.

It wasn't as if he really couldn't stand the girl…aside from the fact that she was a miko who clearly had a problem with him being a hanyou. Aside from that minor detail she seemed nice enough. She certainly wasn't hard on the eyes, or nose, and scent was a big factor considering he was half inu-youkai.

I actually really like the way she smells…at least when her natural scent isn't tainted with anxiety.

It had been a lot worse back in the beginning, when she'd first joined the team. He still remembered that first day, and how utterly freaked out she'd been by his appearance, barely able to hold out her hand for him to shake in greeting, as if terrified even to touch his claw-tipped fingers. She hadn't even been able to look at him without her heart practically flying right out of her chest, the poor dear, so frightened as she'd obviously been. Easily sensing her miko powers it hadn't been hard to guess why she'd had such a strong reaction to his inhuman appearance, and he'd had a bone to pick with Miroku about it, bringing in a spiritual girl who had such negative feelings about youkai. How was that fair to anyone? Of course, Miroku had attempted to assure him that Kagome held no such prejudices, that perhaps she had been a bit startled by his unconventional appearance but that she by no means would treat him differently because of it. Snorting in disbelief, Inuyasha had silently vowed to leave the girl alone so long as she left him alone, which she'd done in the beginning, before apparently deciding she was being rude and thus starting what he thought of as her personal validation campaign. She wasn't a racist so long as she spoke kindly to him and invited him out on lunch dates she knew he'd never accept.

He snorted again in that moment just thinking about it.

Honestly, it wasn't as if he could really blame the girl for her feelings, when he thought about it, the miko having probably grown up in a rather strict, traditionally spiritual environment that fortified the popular belief that beings of demonic blood couldn't be trusted. She was obviously trying her best to ignore her childhood teachings, but something you'd believed your whole life wasn't so easily rejected. And so yeah sure, he worked for a reputable magazine, but doing what? He was a hunter, if you wanted to put it into perspective. The creepiness behind what he actually did for a living just had to reinforce her inner most feelings and beliefs. He made his living by following unsuspecting victims and 'capturing' their images; you never knew where he might be hiding, what he'd see or what he'd hear. Celebrity circles even called him the Canine Phantom, because he'd come and go before you'd even know he was there. Nobody racially badmouthed him for being half youkai, but they all had a healthy fear of him because of it. Just, instead of fearing that a monster was lurking in the shadows that might spring out and eat them, they feared that a monster was lurking in the shadows with a camera, which he was. The way he looked at it, especially knowing that they all knew who he was those days and that he might be out there, any famous person foolish enough to be out in the open doing something tabloid worthy got what they deserved when he caught them red handed, but that was neither here nor there. The hype surrounding his inhuman abilities had certainly contributed to Kagome's fluster when she'd stuttered through saying something along the lines of having heard so much about him. She certainly hadn't struck him as a star-struck groupie.

While it was true there were a few freaks out there that were actually into youkai and hanyou, the general human population considered the notion of being with a youkai only one step away from bestiality. It wasn't illegal, because youkai were intelligent and could willingly consent – and were in truth usually the dominant one of the relationship, when there was one – but legalities not withstanding, whether or not such a union was immoral depended solely upon whom you asked, and most people who were against the notion of 'being' with a youkai made no exception for hanyou in that regard. Legally human or not, hanyou usually got bundled together in the youkai category when it came to people's bedroom preferences. He'd actually had what most people would call a 'youkai whore' or 'youkai freak' throw herself at him, once, while he'd been on the job at a nightclub in the hopes of spotting somebody famous, and he'd bluntly told the slut that she could take her fetishes elsewhere. Just because he was a dog didn't mean he blindly chased after pussy; he would not become some random skank's plaything. He'd rather stay a virgin for the rest of his life than submit to some dominant bitch who thought he'd roll over at the bat of an eyelash.

At least Kagome doesn't have a youkai fetish

Glancing up once again in the direction the miko had disappeared to around the bend, a small smirk slowly lifted up the corners of his mouth, revealing his fangs. Kagome definitely didn't have a youkai fetish. He wasn't sure what he would have done if the new girl, instead of being skittish around him, had blatantly ogled him before trying to seduce him. He would take skittish over skanky any day. While he supposed he should be flattered, maybe even grateful, that there were some women out there who apparently found his disfiguring looks attractive, he just wasn't interested in a purely sexual relationship; especially one where he was less of an equal partner in bed and more of a toy present solely for the woman's enjoyment. If sex were that important then he'd just go get himself a hooker during his human night and be done with it, but it wasn't worth the risk of leaving his apartment on that night just to get laid when his hand worked just fine. You never knew when some radical hate group might be watching, and there were some people out there, although they usually limited their complaints to the Internet, that were none too pleased with the life he'd made for himself. Just because the reputable world of Hollywood society never publicly had anything negative to say about him for being a hanyou didn't mean that nobody had a problem with it.

Sighing, Inuyasha knew that was hardly any genuine cause for concern. The only time he could even theoretically be in the remotest amount of danger would be if he left his apartment while in human form, and so he never did, problem solved. He usually never left his apartment at all when he wasn't working, so nobody could calculate his time of weakness by monitoring which nights he stayed indoors either, assuming he was currently being monitored, which he wasn't. You couldn't stalk a stalker, or at least not one as skilled as he was, without them knowing it. Besides, there was nothing in the science books that could even conclusively suggest his time of weakness was at night. Every hanyou was different, and even though the fact that hanyou had a time when they became human was pretty much public knowledge by that point – it'd been one of the biggest factors in passing the legislation that now made hanyou legally recognized humans – there was simply no rhyme or reason that the humans could determine which dictated any given hanyou's biological clock.

Sighing again, Inuyasha allowed his thoughts to wander back in the direction of a certain black-haired miko, wondering what she would think if she saw his human side. Would she think that was the real him? That deep down inside he was a human man whose outward appearance was merely tainted with demonic filth? That was what most people who were okay with hanyou thought, that they were all truly humans deep down inside, proven by the fact that they occasionally shed their youkai blood. A hanyou could even be exposed to levels of purifying energy that would be fatal to a full-blooded youkai and it merely turned them human, though after a few years of 'voluntary' experiments it was unfortunately (note the sarcasm) discovered by the human government that such purifications could not be made permanent. No matter how strongly you zapped a hanyou they'd eventually become a hanyou again, exposure to the purifying energies apparently triggering their natural human transformation as their youkai blood instinctively used that method of disappearing in order to save itself from the purification. Honestly, Inuyasha couldn't say if he had been relieved or disappointed when he'd read that in the history books, that hanyou could not be permanently purified into ordinary humans. While he hated turning human, hated his weakened senses, frail body and roller coaster emotions, he was pretty sure he could eventually get used to it if it was done in exchange for being normal.

Though, then again, maybe the 'emotions' part wouldn't be worth it… he thought then, shuddering at the mere thought of constantly being plagued by thoughts of Kagome day in and day out, if he had no youkai blood with which to seek emotional shelter.

For nearly the last three years he'd spent his human nights lying awake with thoughts of the miko dancing around in his head, usually against his will though sometimes he just didn't fight it. He couldn't even really say what it was about the girl that refused to leave him be, the miko even plaguing his subconscious as he'd often dream of her when he eventually fell asleep. Those dreams weren't limited to his human nights, though, loath as he was to admit his human emotions were not the true culprit here. So what was it that had him so drawn to her, if his youkai side was affected too? She always tried so hard to make an effort, to be nice to him when everyone else pretty much left him alone; was that it? At first he'd tried to discourage her from wasting her time with such foolish endeavors, not censoring his tongue in the hopes of tipping her off to the fact that he knew her kindness was all an act. He'd thought that if he could just piss her off enough times that she'd realize that he wasn't worth her charity; if she thought he was just an asshole then she could justify to herself that the reason she avoided him was because he was an asshole, instead of it being because he was a hanyou, thus still sparing her from her guilty conscience. He knew she was trying so hard to not be a racist; it wasn't her fault if she'd grown up in a prejudice environment after all, and so he'd thought it would be win/win in the end if he gave her an excuse to hate him for a reason other than his youkai blood. Then she could leave him alone with a clear conscience and he could in turn enjoy the peace and quiet that would ensue from her leaving him alone.

The best laid plansfeh

Rolling his head around his shoulders and popping his neck a little, Inuyasha silently vowed to get the girl out of his head for at least the remainder of the day.

I need to eat…food will clear my head

Of course, he immediately thought about having lunch at Hungry Ninja Ramen, which completely screwed over his plan to stop thinking of Kagome.

Looking back over the last three years he couldn't really say when it was, specifically, that he'd finally decided to cool off the asshole routine, but he just didn't want to be such a total and utter dick to her any longer. Sure, snarky comebacks were often the first thing on the tip of his tongue whenever she spoke to him, but that had less to do with her and more to do with the way he'd always been, with everyone; a survival instinct he'd picked up, one could say. He just usually tried really hard to damp down that side of himself those days; he knew he wouldn't get very far in life being a total dickhead to everyone he met. Deciding to let himself be an asshole to Kagome, that'd been less of an act and more of just not biting his tongue, which he now did. Of course, he knew Miroku was a big deciding factor in that equation, the monk having told him on more than a few occasions to stop being so mean to Kagome, though the miko had never once actually complained to Miroku about him as far as he knew. In fact, looking back on it, she hadn't really seemed all that put off by his attitude at all, as if bound and determined to shower him with kindness until he stopped being a dick to her. So did that mean that she'd 'won'?

"Keh, yeah right." he grumbled aloud. Maybe he'd cooled it a bit, but that didn't mean he was actually starting to fall for her act. She was just being nice because she was telling herself to be nice to him, and he was sure she'd shit her pants if he ever actually approached her with the intention of taking her up on one of her many offers for lunch.

Well…being a bastard obviously didn't work, so maybe I should kill her with kindness, instead. Get her back at her own game… he silently contemplated. Oh, but was he tempted! Just to see her knocked down a peg, it'd be worth it to endure the hell-hour that that lunch break would surely become, if he could use the opportunity to call her on her shit. Maybe he should-

"Inuyasha…" came Miroku's voice as the houshi approached his photographer's desk, and Inuyasha sighed in relief, honestly grateful for the distraction.

"Yeah? What's up?"

"Hitomi's got a problem, check it out." the monk stated, slapping a copy of one of the worst trash talking pieces of garbage magazines that existed on the hanyou's desk.

Inuyasha whistled, reading the headline out loud. "Award winning actress Hitomi Watanabe is really a kitsune in disguise." On the cover was a partially out of focus candid shot of the actress getting out of a limo with what appeared to be a fox tail sticking out of the back of her dress.

"This is a serious charge, man, how can they get away with this shit?" Inuyasha grumbled. The image was clearly photo-shopped, not that that would matter to the people who ate what that rag had to spew for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Even the fact that other magazines discredited what was written on those pages of crap didn't detour their hardcore followers. They just tossed out one simple retort: cover up.

Feh! Like I would go along with a cover up if she really were a kitsune, which she ain't! I've met her!

"Okay, here's what we're gonna do." Inuyasha said, standing up.

This was what Miroku loved about the hanyou. Even though he could be a bit testy at times, he didn't fool around when it came to getting justice, and a jab like this was like a jab at all of them.

"Get on the phone and call the Goshinboku Network, they owe us one and so getting an in-studio appearance on the six o'clock news tonight shouldn't be too hard to swing. I'll get on the phone with Watanabe and tell her to get her ass down here before the shit hits the fan. We'll do a live demonstration on the news of how your ofuda don't affect her, everyone knows you're a monk."

"What if they think I'm faking it and made a bogus ofuda?"

Inuyasha smirked, flashing his fangs.

"That's where I come in. Just do me a favor and keep it mild enough that it only burns and sparks a little. I've got no desire to turn human on live TV."

Miroku blinked in surprise for a moment before quickly realizing that a live demonstration of the power of the ofuda on a being of known demonic blood really was the best way to validate its authenticity. He could slap it on Hitomi's forearm, and then after a few seconds to reveal she had no reaction to its power Inuyasha could then try to remove it, thus demonstrating he couldn't touch it without getting zapped. On the one hand it seemed a little foolish to go to such extremes, but a rumor like that had to be nipped in the bud before it ruined her career, not to mention their own reputation. Shape-shifting youkai disguising themselves as humans was not entirely unheard of, and a kitsune somehow miraculously, successfully climbing the Hollywood ladder would be the biggest prank of all time within fox society. It was actually feasible, except they all knew Hitomi from a previous interview and therefore knew it was total BS.

"I'm on it." Miroku said quickly before dashing off to make that phone call.

Inuyasha easily got a hold of the actress, the frazzled woman recognizing their office number on her cell's Caller ID. Immediately agreeing to the plan she made preparations to spend the majority of her day hiding out in their office so as to avoid being hounded by all the other paparazzi out here, her agent instructed to inform anyone else who called that she'd already granted exclusive interview rights to Shikon Weekly.

Popping her head around the corner, Rin hesitantly approached Inuyasha's desk with the file Sango'd handed her to give to the hanyou, the girl having waited until he was done with his phone call to make her approach.

"Is it always so exciting around here?" she asked with a shy smile as she handed the file over.

Taking the file, Inuyasha made mental note that Rin didn't seen too nervous about his claws; her initial reaction to him seemed average for someone who'd known in advance that he was hanyou and had tried to prepare themselves for what he might look like.

"On a good day." he replied with a crooked grin to the intern before sending her on her way. She was an okay kid, though he wasn't interested in making friends.


It didn't take long for the buzz of what was going on to circulate throughout the entire office, and even the writers who hardly ever spoke two words to Inuyasha, like Ayumi and Eri, couldn't help but respect the guy for what he was willing to do to himself on public television all in the name of clearing an actress' name. He might be a hunter of sorts, stalking celebrities in the hopes of catching them in entertainingly compromising positions, but he was also honor bound to uphold the truth, and since their magazine had interviewed Miss Watanabe not really all that long ago about her new upcoming movie, accusing her of being a kitsune in disguise was synonymous with accusing them of having known she was a kitsune in disguise. In an office full of spiritualists, a taijiya and a hanyou, there was just no way they wouldn't have discovered the truth, assuming the actress really were a youkai.

So maybe it wasn't really so much for Hitomi's sake as it was for their own that he was willing to go to such extremes, but it still showed his loyalty to the magazine, his dedication to the job. Kagome smiled to herself just thinking about it. She couldn't ignore the giant burst of protective energy that was coming off of Inuyasha in waves as he buzzed around the office even if she tried to. Whether he was truly trying to protect themselves, Hitomi, or perhaps a bit of both, she couldn't be sure, but he was definitely in protector mode, and that was one more thing Kagome added to her small but growing mental list of things she knew about Inuyasha. He was a fierce and loyal protector of what he deemed important.

Makes sense, considering he is half inu-youkai.

Kagome easily remembered from her childhood lessons on youkai that inu were almost viciously loyal when it came to protecting what was theirs. They would willingly die defending a loved one, though ideally it would be their enemy that was slain. But in a true life or death battle they would keep fighting until their enemy either died or gave up, or killed them, never surrendering so long as breath remained in their body. Some people thought that made them monsters, but how did defending the ones you loved from an attacking monster make you the monster? Kagome had never irrationally feared all youkai growing up. Her mother and grandfather had taught her well, teaching her the differences between the species, teaching her which youkai you actually should fear and which ones you did not need to fear. Inu were in the latter category. The inu-youkai of the mountains, or yamainu as they were usually called, posed no threat to human hikers, usually keeping to themselves though sometimes it even made it into the news that an inu-youkai helped a lost human hiker find their way back to camp. Obviously inu-youkai weren't all that bad, otherwise how would Inuyasha even be here? Though she didn't know the details surrounding how his parents had gotten together, one thing was beyond obvious, which was that a union between a human and an inu-youkai had taken place approximately thirty years ago. As far as Kagome was concerned, hanyou were proof that true love knew no boundaries.

Now if I could just get my heart to go along with the notion that true love requires things like actually going out on dates and learning stuff about each other… she thought with an exasperated sigh. So maybe she couldn't rightfully say she was in love with the guy, but it was definitely more than just a physical attraction by that point. She liked him, now if only she could be certain he knew she liked him, and if not, to inform him of such.

As the hanyou of her thoughts breezed by on his way to Miroku's office Kagome was suddenly hit with a powerful wave of energy, followed by an unexpected image that flashed through her mind's eye, temporarily blinding her to what her real eyes were seeing until the vision began to fade. One of her abilities when it came to sensing a person's soul was like on a semi-conscious level she could see the purist essence of who they really were, like a picture painting a thousand words, but she'd never been caught off guard by one of her visions before. Usually she had to concentrate in an effort to conjure up the images. This time it was almost as if Inuyasha had thrown it at her, though Kagome quickly decided it was much more likely that he'd inadvertently hit her with his youketsu as he passed, since his aura was so much more powerful than normal right now, all charged up with his youki presently in full take-action mode.

He must have felt the impact as their auras collided as well because he immediately skidded to a halt, turning around just in time to catch sight of the way Kagome wobbled a bit, holding out a hand to steady herself against her desk before shaking her disorientation free.

"Are you okay?" he asked her with nothing but genuine concern in his voice, and looking up at the sound she smiled at him, the warmest smile he'd ever seen her give. Gone was the irrational fluttering of her heart, the shallow breaths that indicated she was nervous in his presence.

"I'm fine." she replied after a moment, her heart rate gradually increasing in tempo the longer he gazed at her with those breathtakingly beautiful, golden eyes.

He could sense it as her nervousness slowly began to rise, but for the first time since meeting the girl Inuyasha silently questioned whether or not her nervousness was because she was afraid of him. That smile she'd given him, it had his own heartbeat pounding a little bit faster than usual, too, even more so than it had been a moment prior as he'd zipped down towards Miroku's office. Ah, Miroku! He had to tell him what the game plan was for tonight's set up. But he couldn't just turn around and walk away from Kagome without another word…that would be rude.

"I would say watch it, but it was really my fault, so…sorry." That said, he quickly whirled away and headed for Miroku's office before he could make a bigger ass of himself.

What WAS that feeling, when my youki touched her reiki? It had felt like a nonhostile invasion, as if there really was such a thing. But he'd gotten the distinct impression that she'd actually been thinking about him at the time of impact, which he supposed made sense since probably 99% of the office was thinking about him at the moment, considering what he was going to do on the news tonight. Quickly shaking the weird feeling off, he entered Miroku's office and started breaking down their schedule.

Kagome, meanwhile, was suddenly inspired with a new wave of determination. She couldn't just keep on going the way things had been without changing something of her routine, that would be crazy. Now, though, she had the perfect plan. It would take a while to come to fruition, but she would tear down the wall between them, and she knew exactly how to do it.