InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Dead Famous ❯ The Engagement ( Chapter 33 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Author's Notes: *sniff* All done! I think over 9,000 words for the last chapter is more than enough to bring this story to an end. It's been fun but there will be no more after this - no sequel, no prequel, etc.

So once again I would just like to thank every single person who read this story and enjoyed it ^__^ It means a lot to me that my effort of throwing a bunch of words together to make a story was appreciated.

Now I shall shamelessly plug Shiz's fanlisting as asked ^__^;; "htt p:/ /fan.roc ket-dive.n et/rose/" (no spaces, no quotations) It's a cute site - but I'm still overwhelmed and floored that anyone would bother for me!

Thank you all again!! Keep an eye out for Bottled Genius' epilogue which is finished and should be up soon!

Dead Famous

Chapter 33

The Engagement

"I still can't believe we were there the whole time, Yuka!" Eri complained loudly to her friend across the WacDonald's diner table. "We were there since the beginning, circled the place at least five times, and met practically everyone from the guy who washes Brad Pitt's underwear to Joi Ito, but did we see one lick of Inuyasha?"

"Maybe he knew you were coming and hid?" Kagome suggested her dryly.

"She's right, you know…" Ayumi said, staring off into space. "We probably would have jumped on him and pinned him down. I don't think he would have liked that."

"I would throw myself at him the minute I saw him…" Yuka conceded with a sigh.

"He'd throw you straight back." Kagome was getting pretty tired of her friend's complaints. Ever since Sunday, they'd done nothing but whine about how they'd never seen Inuyasha. "Or maybe it was because he got shot in the head and had to leave early?" She went back to sucking up her milkshake through her straw.

"What was up with that chick, Jinko Aida then?" Eri pulled a face. "Everyone says that she like, shot him, and then like, cried over him. And then 'for some unknown reason' that water pipe burst upstairs."

Kagome perched her chin on an upturned palm. "She was schizophrenic apparently. And the water was Inuyasha's nephews."

"Really? Schizophrenic?" Yuka and Eri peered at Kagome with renewed interest.

"Really? Nephews?!" Ayumi clapped her hands together in delight. "I do love men with responsibility."

"How'd you know about Aida then?" Yuka pursued the more relevant topic of conversation.

"Kikyo told me. Apparently, she doesn't come from a very happy background. Her family pretty much abused the living daylights out of her, so she ran away with Fushira when she was fifteen - he was a friend of the family. Kikyo said she was already pretty unhinged at that point and was creating other personalities so she wouldn't have to deal with her emotional problems or her conscience… which probably explains why she managed to be an accomplice to Fushira's antics. I mean, when I met her, I was surprised at how nice she was… I didn't think she had torture in her."

"Whoa…"

"Obviously it was in there somewhere… alter ego Jinko number one must have surfaced when Fushira was killed and then came to get revenge, then halfway through doing that, nice Jinko reappeared and got upset. It turns out that she has no idea what she did. No memory of it at all. They wanted to question her about things that Fushira did in the past, to her and other people, but she doesn't remember any of that stuff either."

"Weird." Yuka wrinkled her nose. "How the heck are the police supposed to sentence her if one half is innocent and the other guilty?"

Kagome shrugged. "I think she's undergoing therapy with a side dish of lots of happy pills." The last of her milkshake disappeared up her straw with a gurgle and she looked down in dismay. "Oh… no…" It was the end of the world!

"I'll get you a refill." Ayumi offered cheerfully, hoping out of her seat.

"Thank you!" Kagome called after her sweetly.

"I think she's traumatised."

Kagome blinked around at her two remaining friends who had their heads together. "What?" she deadpanned.

"You. Traumatised." Yuka blinked back at her. "God, Kagome, you've already been held at gunpoint, like, three times already. You've been held up on a road side, kidnapped, then held hostage by a schizophrenic with a bad dye job. I'd be a gibbering wreck in a nuthouse by now."

"Maybe I am?" Kagome smiled secretively. "Maybe this is all a delusion and you're just figments of my imagination."

Eri looked put out. "I'm not anyone's 'figment' of their imagination. I'm Eri. Me alone. If anyone's a figment, it's you guys."

Kagome gave her a raised eyebrow. "That's exactly the kind of thing a figment of my imagination would say." she pointed out. Eri looked like she was about to argue her defence again, but at that point, Ayumi returned with two new milkshakes and a magazine under one arm."

"Did you pop out to the newsagents or something?" Yuka asked as the girl laid down the magazine and drinks.

"No, someone left it on a table. But I haven't read this week's 'Sure!' magazine, so I swiped it."

Ayumi promptly sat down between Yuka and Eri, and together they all opened up the magazine, regarding it like some sort of holy testament. They 'ooh'ed, 'ahh'ed, and giggled at some of the articles with the occasional burst of "Oh my god! I don't believe she had the nerve to wear that in public!"

Kagome tuned out of their highly intellectual discussion as she began slurping down her new milkshake. Ayumi had gotten the wrong flavour, but it was the thought that counted. Her thoughts strayed back to the previous Sunday…

She'd been convinced he was dead. She was certain that it would be the second time in two consecutive weeks that she watched someone die by a gunshot wound… but it was much worse to watch someone she knew fade away like that and just change from being the friend she was conversing with a few moments before to an empty lifeless husk.

It went to show just how fragile human life was…just how easily it could be taken away in a heartbeat.

But Inuyasha wasn't quite human.

It hadn't been until the police had carefully pried her away from Inuyasha that she realised he was actually very much alive. In fact he was conscious and talking… weak and prone to fainting every few seconds, but for someone with a bullet in the brain, it was a miracle.

He'd also been well enough to take advantage of the situation… much to Kagome's ire at the time. All that worrying for nothing? He got a clip around the ear for that.

He'd been taken away in an ambulance before Kagome could manage to express her relief that he was still alive. Inuyasha had just been whisked away and that was the last time she had seen him…

There had been the odd call from Kikyo or Sango, keeping her up to date with Inuyasha's condition. He was in a bad way, and it wasn't something he would recover overnight from… but he was getting better and that in a way comforted Kagome.

Though she'd feel a lot better if she had been allowed to see him…

But she'd been getting the impression that it was over. Her relationship with Inuyasha was at an end, and while she would always consider him a friend (and she hoped he felt the same way), she had the feeling that there would be very little communication between the two of them. They were practically in two different worlds. He was a busy person and had a lot of people scrambling for his attention. She'd been told that the two weeks she'd spent with him had been his two weeks off from his usual kind of work. Normally he could be expected to be constantly travelling, meeting new people, fighting new people, touring, doing advertising campaigns, bringing out brands… supposedly he was quite a busy person, which was odd for the most notoriously unemployed man in the country.

School had started again. Kagome was diving into her work, preparing for her upcoming exams… and back to catching a quick lunch in WacDonald's every school day at noon. The old familiarity was coming back to her… but after her strange two weeks, she felt odd trying to settle back into the groove she'd spent years in.

"Oh hey!" Yuka suddenly cried out, making Kagome's elbow slip on the table… jamming the straw of her milkshake up one nostril in the process.

She quickly righted herself. "What is it?

"This," Yuka shuffled around to Kagome's side of the table, sliding the magazine with her. She pointed to an article that spread across two pages. Most of it was composed of big photographs of Inuyasha, Kagome… and strangely enough, Joi Ito?

"What's this about…?" she frowned as she read the headline. "Higurashi loses out in love triangle of the century? What on earth…?"

"Read it!" Eri urged impatiently.

Tensions ran high in the seaside villa last Sunday, long before Jinko Aida entered the scene. Sources reveal that animosity between the fifteen-minute-fame Kagome Higurashi and the internationally acclaimed Joi Ito were poised to start a catfight only a few minutes before Inuyasha was gunned down in the entrance hall.

Inserted was a picture of the exact moment when Kagome had followed Inuyasha back into the classic room after having been rained on and dropped with the 'I'm interested in you' bomb. The moment where she had tugged on Inuyasha's sleeve to get his attention… but for all appearances it looked like she was trying to drag him away from Joi Ito. The scowl on her face was not exactly welcoming towards either Inuyasha or Ito…

The caption didn't help particularly. "Wet angry pussies, meow!"

"What the heck is this?!" Kagome cried.

"Shh!" Ayumi hushed her. "Keep reading!"

Kagome did just that.

Eye witness accounts told of how Joi Ito harrowingly challenged Jinko Aida after the shooting. The famous singer/songwriter stayed by the superstar's side throughout the entire ordeal and accompanied him to the hospital via the ambulance where she watched over him for twelve hours straight. It was touch and go for a long time and Joi Ito was reported to have been supplementing on extra caffeine in order to be around for Inuyasha's awakening.

Her endearing loyalty has evidently won a place in Inuyasha's heart as their engagement was announced late yesterday afternoon. Sources tell that communication with Kagome Higurashi has been severed and the alleged 'kiss' they shared on live television two weeks earlier was indeed no more than a friendly kiss. Tell that to poor Higurashi! The teenage fangirl is still supposedly trying to get in contact with Inuyasha, but as plans have already been made to unite Inuyasha and Ito's world tour next week, she'll be having a tough time.

Here's to the happy couple!

And there as bold as day was a picture of Inuyasha and Joi Ito holding hands outside the Blossom café. Looking for all the world… as if they were in love.

"What…?" Kagome breathed, staring in disbelief. "But - none of this is true! There was no love triangle - he told me himself that he didn't have a crush on Joi Ito! The one who stayed by his side was me! I was the one who pushed Jinko Aida off him! Joi Ito was trapped in the classic room with everyone else! She never even saw him leave in the ambulance?! Where is all this coming from?!"

"You mean… this didn't happen?" Yuka frowned, probably torn about who to believe; her best friend or her magazine.

"None of it did!" Kagome cried, shock changing to outrage. "How can they make all that up?! I bet he's not even engaged to her!"

"Nope. They're engaged." Eri cut in with a shrug.

Kagome blinked at her. "What?"

"It's been all over the news, Kagome. Eight million fangirls are poised to tear poor Joi Ito to shreds because their engagement was announced yesterday." Ayumi told her. "My little sister cried herself to sleep last night when she heard the news…"

"I cried as well." Yuka sighed.

"Me too." Eri nodded.

"Me three." Ayumi shrugged. "But I'm over it now, and I'm just hoping that any sons they have will like older women. But… we thought you knew about this…"

"No…" Kagome frowned at the images in the magazine. She wasn't exactly being portrayed as a saint in that article… which was strange because she noticed that on page seven there was an exclusive fashion article that had picked her out as a prime example of fashion sense (Kagome obviously wasn't the only person who had liked the pink dress… too bad it was ruined from all the blood it had picked up).

But what bothered her was all this talk of engagement. But hadn't Inuyasha told her only last Sunday that he had been interested in her… that he had a crush on Kagome, not Joi?

Although, hadn't he also said that he had no control over how long those feelings would last? Maybe they'd only lasted a night… maybe that bullet had addled his brains and he'd forgotten his feelings in favour of falling in love with the first woman he saw… who happened to be a famous singer/songwriter.

Kagome sat back with a crestfallen expression, unaware of how closely her friends were regarding her. "Kagome…"

"Yeah…?"

Yuka's eyebrows drew together in a concerned frown. "You don't have feelings for Inuyasha… do you?"

Kagome stared at her milkshake, dabbling her fingers against the cold condensation of the glass.

How was she supposed to answer that?

~*~

"Kids… what do you say…?"

The three triplets shuffled their feet and looked at the ground. "We're sorry…" they mumbled, more or less in chorus. "…for flushing the cherry bomb down the toilet and for breaking your water pipes and making a hole in your ceiling and flooding the ground floor. We're sorry."

Rehearsed and performed to perfection. Inuyasha blinked at his three nephews slowly. Granted, it was going to cost a lot of money to repair the broken pipes and the ceiling, not to mention damages made on the ground floor from the flooding that needed to be reimbursed, as well as all the traumatised guests - some of whom were demanding compensations.

Not to mention the water at the villa had been turned off, resulting in an unlucky someone (namely Miroku) having to trek six or so miles to the nearest supermarket to stock up on enough water to support all the inhabitants of the villa. And of course, Miroku being Miroku, was charging competitive prices for the precious water. Those who wanted baths had to pay extra.

Not that Inuyasha cared… he was in the hospital with all the water he could ever desire at his beck and call. He could splash around in his en suite bathroom for hours, playing with his rubber duck and novelty frog, and only have to worry about the occasional peeping nurse…

But the triplets had done some serious damage. Although, they had probably inadvertently saved his life as well as several other peoples'… and he'd probably given them permission to cause trouble in the first place, so who was the pot to call the kettle black?

"Forgive and forget." Inuyasha waved off the apology flippantly and looked up at his older brother standing at the end of the hospital bed. "Are you really taking these three bundles of joy away so soon? And here I was just starting to get attached."

Sesshomaru fixed him with an unimpressed glare. "I've been doing some calculations. It would appear that I haven't touched my wife in seven months… and since she's allegedly only five months pregnant I can only, sadly, assume that my dear wife has been having an extra marital affair."

"Oh…" Inuyasha's gaze slid past Sesshomaru to where Rin was straightening her hair while peering into her reflection on a darkened window. "Poor you?"

"Indeed." Sesshomaru flicked an eyebrow up. "Glad to see you alive, Inuyasha. I wouldn't want to inflict mine or the children's presence on your feeble condition anymore. Besides, I have a house I need to take back, along with my favourite child."

At this, the triplets rolled their eyes and huffed. Inuyasha could just about tell them apart now that Jiro was missing several chunks of hair. "Sis is so offensively cute it's just unfair…" Hiko grumbled.

"Unreal…" Jiro added, picking his nose.

"I hate her." Mo folded his arms crossly.

Trouble was a brewing. Even Inuyasha, in his slightly dazed and still recovering condition was quick enough to see that. "Well, I don't want to keep you guys." He made shooing gestures with his hands towards the door. "Bye, bye! Don't be strangers!"

"Rin," Sesshomaru called.

"Coming!" she piped and toddled after them. "Where are we going?"

The triplets latched onto her arms lovingly. "Home, Rin." They chirped in response.

"Oh good! Because I forgot to feed my cat before we left, so…"

"Take care! My door is always open to you guys!" Inuyasha waved them off cheerfully until the door had slammed shut. "Oh dear god - what a bunch of nutters!"

"Inuyasha…" Kikyo reprimanded him in a sharp voice as she exited the en suite bathroom with refreshed mascara and lipstick. "You do realise they all having hearing on par with yours?"

"Yes."

"Do you care?"

"Not really, no."

Kikyo gave a dismissive shrug and seated herself in the overstuffed chair beside his bed. "The builders have given me an estimate for the burst water pipes and the damage to the ceiling. We can afford it easily, but the maids are still trying to remove the flood stains from the ground floor."

"Oh well…" Inuyasha stifled a yawn with the back of his hand and flopped back onto his pillows.

"Please don't move so vigorously. The doctor says you still have head trauma." Kikyo said wearily.

"Probably from when Kagome booted me as she realised I was alive…" Inuyasha looked up at the ceiling with hooded eyes.

"Well, your face was pressed up nice and close to her chest." Kikyo gave him a dull look. "Which reminds me…"

Inuyasha glanced across at his agent as she reached down to rummage through her handbag. Out came a transparent plastic bag containing a small piece of silver. It wasn't until Kikyo had shook the contents into her hand that Inuyasha realised what he was looking at. "That's Kagome's ring."

"Kagome's? I thought it was your mother's." Kikyo raised an eyebrow but handed the ring to him. "The police found it near where your body was lying… looks like she dropped it. But it seems to be missing something…"

Inuyasha sighed. "The diamond must have broken off…"

"Diamond?" Kikyo scoffed. "That was a sapphire."

Inuyasha flicked a glance up at her. "Oh. Oops." He cleared his throat. "No big loss then?"

"So it seems." The agent smiled slightly. "Anyway, I've discussed a few things with Joi Ito's agent and decided it would be best if the two of you combined your tours and set off for Africa in three weeks. You should have recovered nicely by then."

"Oh, how simply marvellous!" Inuyasha gave a mocking camp act, clasping his hands together. "And when Kouga comes around to beat me up for getting engaged to his girlfriend, I'll get to stay in this bed for another week!"

"Please," Kikyo rolled her eyes. "Kouga knows that it's just a publicity campaign and that he'll be free to marry the girl when you two break up halfway through the tour."

"Joy." Inuyasha grumbled, sinking further into his pillows. "To be frank, I don't feel like travelling anywhere with anyone, let alone to Africa with Joi Ito."

"Tough."

"I've been shot in the frickin' head!" Inuyasha jabbed a finger at the bandage winding around his forehead to his nape. "Give me a break!"

"You're a hanyou. I repeat: tough." Kikyo smoothed a lock of hair between her fingers. She was the epitome of casual callousness - something Inuyasha usually considered himself to have down to an art. "You will be well enough in three weeks to get on a plane. Joi Ito isn't exactly bad company either."

Inuyasha rolled his eyes. He'd much rather take someone else to Africa… but he had to wonder if he'd ever get the chance to see that someone again…

"If you're lucky, maybe you'll even woo her and make this engagement a reality." Kikyo tipped her head suggestively. "Sure Kouga would want to string you up by your testicles, but think the publicity the actual marriage would bring around."

Inuyasha winced slightly as he crossed his legs under the covers. "I'm not marrying anyone. Not until I'm fifty, and then it will be to a twenty year old glamour model."

"Oh, good idea." Kikyo blinked at him. "I hadn't considered the long term benefits of bachelorhood… you realise that your future wife hasn't been born yet, then?"

Inuyasha sniffed. "I'm tired, Kikyo. Leave me to rest now, dear."

She bristled at the added cheeky endearment but got up nonetheless. "Just remember to relax and take it easy. No picking fights with the male nurses or doctors and no getting up unless you need the bathroom. Even then it has to be an emergency."

"Yeah, yeah, whatever." Inuyasha waved her off as he closed his eyes. "I'm just so…" he broke off with a yawn, "… tired right now. I probably won't wake up until morning."

A suspicious way of wording a comment like that… almost as if he wanted her to believe he wouldn't move from that bed till daybreak. But Kikyo knew the security of the hospital was top notch, and female nurses would be popping in every few seconds to check on him (just because it was THE Inuyasha).

Collecting her bag and coat, Kikyo made her way to the door. She stopped as she reached for the handle and turned back, about to say something but stopped when she realised Inuyasha was already asleep. She closed her mouth and raised an eyebrow. With a sigh she started to move out again. "Glad you're ok…"

The door shut with a quiet click, and a few seconds later Inuyasha cranked an eye open. He was almost touched by Kikyo's quiet concession, but what a sucker that woman could be!

With a cheerful whistle, he threw back the covers and hopped onto his feet. In the lower compartment of the set of drawers beside the bed were a set of fresh clothes and his wallet - little gifts from Miroku.

A hair toggle was found in the drawer above the first, along with a cap and a dark pair of shades. It only hurt a little when he wedged the cap down over his ears, the edge lying directly over the slightly tender bullet wound. But it wasn't anything dire and nothing more than a mere nuisance.

Inuyasha threw open the window with a refreshed sigh. It was time to hit the tiles!

But one look down at the magnificent drop of all twelve stories and he changed his mind about taking that exit and slowly shut the window.

He wanted to hit the tiles, but not literally…

~*~

I don't believe that idiot… Kagome sulked as she made her way home from cram school. He doesn't give it a rest… gets shot in the head on Sunday and by Thursday he's back on the pull!

The headlights of the passing cars dazzled her eyes so that she had to keep squinting at the pavement in order to see where she was going. It didn't help that she was exhausted and completely drained from studying. Not only that, but she felt she hadn't had a decent night's sleep since last Friday - almost a week ago.

Her paranoid concern for Inuyasha had been keeping her company at night, preventing her from sleeping for more than two hours at a time. Every day she had arrived home from school, she'd asked her mother if there had been any calls. But as of yet there had been no more than the occasional word from Sango and Kikyo. Inuyasha hadn't called her himself…

She wondered if that was down to being too ill, or too lazy.

Echoes of that horrible cramping fear that she'd experience when Inuyasha had been lying in her arms returned to her almost constantly. She couldn't forget the simply helpless feeling that she'd felt as she'd knelt in that blood stained water and sobbed her heart out. Her heart still ached to remember that moment…

At the time, she'd been so angry with herself for the inability to reach out and catch a hold of his life to keep it firmly grounded in his body. But it was like sand escaping through her fingers. There was nothing Kagome could do that would bring someone back to life…

Unless she knew CPR. But she doubted even medical skills would have helped in that situation.

Then it had turned out that all that heartbreak had been for nothing. He could have just reached up and tapped her shoulder and said "Look, I'm fine!", but no. He'd had to fake a few extra moments of death just to squeeze a few more tears out of her eyes.

Didn't he realise that, for just those few moments when she'd truly believed he was dead, her heart had shattered into a million fragments?

Probably not.

"Pig." she muttered with feeling as she obliviously passed a rather offended gentlemen at a bus stop.

But most depressingly of all, was that she obviously cared about Inuyasha and had for a long time. She knew that she had always been unconsciously compassionate towards his personal plight, and that she'd also had some kind of feelings towards him… but she'd never really thought about it, or taken the time to figure out what she felt towards him other than her instinctive dislike.

She felt something…

She was scared that it was love…

After all, Kagome had died a small death when she'd really thought Inuyasha was gone… she doubted anything less than love could have made her feel that much pain.

It terrified her…

But not as much as the fact that she was certain she was being followed.

Footsteps echoed behind her along the pavement. She didn't bother turning around but she slowed slightly, hoping that whoever it was would just pass her by and prove to be no more than someone hurrying home from work. She knew better than to speed up and then go hide in an alley where she could be easily cornered.

She also knew better than to walk home in the dark, but obviously the lack of sleep had been affecting her senses. Here she was walking home in the dark with footsteps that were slowing down to match hers. Maybe she was just being paranoid? But just in case she wasn't, she decided to crouch down and pretend to readjust her socks. Whoever it was would then be forced to pass her by or else risk trying anything in plain view of the road and all the drivers.

To her surprise, the footsteps stopped behind her. "No, no, no. You're supposed to start running away and then I corner you in an alley and have my way with you."

Unbeknownst to the man, Kagome also happened to have a rather heavy backpack filled with cram school homework - roughly equivalent in weight to five bricks. The school girl stood slowly and slid the bag strap off her shoulder. She clasped its weight in front of her for a moment before pivoting on her heel and swinging it full force at her harasser.

Inuyasha never stood a chance.

Kagome watched in bewilderment as Inuyasha was thrown against the chain-link fence lining the pavement with a soft "oof!". Obviously he hadn't expected that, and he must have seriously been having some trouble with his inner ear if even Kagome had been able to catch him off-balance.

He slid to the ground looking dazed. "Ow… now that hurt."

"YOU!" Kagome gaped at him, staring in disbelief.

"Well now I know not to pull that joke on you in the future." Inuyasha shimmied back to his feet with quite a bit of support from the fence. He didn't even let go of it when he was finally upright. "You know, most girls jump at an offer like that."

Kagome's indignation was given a rough poke. "How dare you sneak up on me like some kind of creepy stalker?!"

"Oh, don't get your panties in a twist. I'm a billionaire. I have better things to do with my time than stalk school girls."

"Yet here you are stalking me." Kagome slung her bag back over her shoulder and folded her arms gruffly. "What do you want?"

Inuyasha blinked at her. "Is that it?"

Kagome blinked back.

"I got shot in the head, spent four days in intensive care, and when I finally get the chance to see you again you ask me what the hell I want?" He sounded honestly offended.

"I did not say 'hell'." Kagome argued for pity's sake, already conflicted on how she felt about the current topic. "And for your information - I am glad to see you."

"Oh good." Inuyasha muttered sarcastically and gave her a dirty look. "Now that all the formalities are done, I'll be going, shall I?"

He made to start walking away, but Kagome quickly caught his sleeve and dragged him back. "I'm sorry… it's just been a tough few days… and I'm very tired… and hungry… and I think I'm getting arthritis because all my joints hurt…"

"That's your excuse for everything." He turned back towards her.

"Well, yours is always "I got shot in the head!"." she feigned a goofy voice in a mocking parody of his own.

Inuyasha bristled. Kagome bristled right back. For a long time, they simply glared at each other, squared their shoulders, and clenched their fists as if about to embark upon a serious fight - verbally at least.

Finally, Inuyasha snapped. "Whatever's biting you, I wish you'd just spit it out!"

Kagome snapped in response. "How could you get engaged like that?!" she spat, but the moment she'd finished she clapped a hand over her mouth in horror. Well… too late to go back on her words now…

Inuyasha, however, was delighted. "Oh, you mean me and Joi Ito?" he queried in a coy tone as he tugged his shades down to regard her. "So in the end, you're just jealous."

"No."

"Yes, you are."

"I don't think so."

"I do think so."

"You're just putting words in my mouth." she responded heatedly, scared to death now. "I'm just curious… after that wonderful speech you gave me about not being interested in her, you turn around and get engaged to her."

"Actually, we were planning to get engaged long before I ever uttered the word 'you'." Inuyasha said haughtily.

"You two-timer!" she declared loudly.

"Maybe if I fancied her - which I don't!" Inuyasha shouted just as loudly back at her. "The only girl in the fucking world that I give a fucking damn about is you! Anything else is just publicity!" He slapped her head gently. "Idiot!"

Kagome watched him stalk away to find a seat on a nearby bench. She paused a moment to look around to see if anyone had noticed that Inuyasha was sitting on a bench in the middle of their mundane little street, but apart from the people in the cars, there were no people to be seen. The drivers were far too busy watching the road than watching the pavement for the odd celebrity.

Of course Inuyasha wasn't helping matters either with his shades, hat and hair toggle. Celebrities were odd people… they spent so much of their lives striving to be famous and recognisable, and when they finally achieve those goals, they don a hat and glasses to hide who they are.

Kagome looked back at Inuyasha and stopped dead.

"Another cigarette?" she commented pointedly as she drew near.

"Oh, this isn't for me." He beckoned her over with one hand while he rested his other arm on the back of the bench, the lit cigarette held as far away as possible. "This is for you."

Kagome gave him a flat look. "I'm not smoking that. I don't submit to petty peer pressure. I don't take sweets from strangers, and if you force me to do anything I don't want to, I swear I'll scream so loud that the police on the other side of the district in their doughnut shop will hear and come running and then you'll be in deep-"

"What, have you been practising mommy's speech since you were three?" he scoffed sarcastically. "Get over here already."

Kagome shuffled closer, but refused to sit down. Inuyasha rolled his eyes and finally grabbed her by the front of her school blouse to drag her down next to him. The result was that she ended half sprawled across his lap… an error that she quickly corrected in a mad scuffle to sit upright with a good ten inches between them. "Bully."

"Wuss." He offered the cigarette. "One go. I promise I'll leave you alone after that."

"Bite me!"

"How can you be so quick to judge me for smoking when you don't even know what one tastes like?" he said evenly, scowling at her.

Kagome looked back at him, perplexed by his reasoning. Maybe he just thought it would be hot for a girl to smoke and that was why he was doing this? But she saw the challenge in his eyes and knew that he would only mock her if she backed down…

So what if it was peer pressure? She damn well wouldn't let Inuyasha get the better of her!

With an irritated sigh, she snatched the burning, little white stick off him and fumbled awkwardly with its shape. For a moment the suffocating smoke threatened to make her succumb to a coughing fit, but miraculously her cool held and she regarded the little cigarette with disgust as she held it aloft. "You better have a damn good reason for this…" she told him grumpily.

Inuyasha was watching her expectantly. "Well?"

"Give me a minute." She bit her lip anxiously.

"Oh come on - it won't kill you!" he taunted.

"It will if my mother happens to come by on the bus." Kagome cast an eye around suspiciously for any passing buses.

"Just do it."

"Alright… alright…"

She exhaled slowly, psyching herself up to the challenge. Inuyasha was still watching her… and by the look on his face, he was expecting her to chicken out at the last moment. Just as she was about to do just that, she surprised both herself and Inuyasha as she quickly took a drag of the cigarette.

For a moment, it was ok. It didn't feel bad or particularly good… but then she'd forgotten to breathe out and the smoke in her lungs caught her in a stranglehold. Without a rat's ass of consideration to the environment, Kagome quickly flung the cigarette away and bent double as she coughed up what felt like most of her vital organs.

Great, now she felt sick.

Inuyasha chuckled as he patted her back. "You shouldn't suck so hard for a first timer - and no double meanings there." He grinned. "How does it feel?"

"Like I'm dying…" Kagome croaked pathetically, still unable to get the horrid taste of tobacco out of her mouth. Her lungs were burning. "Urgh…"

Inuyasha pulled her upright, but she only collapsed against his shoulder, still coughing. "Tastes bad, huh?"

"Worse than bad…" Kagome's brow wrinkled with a frown. "How can you willingly do that? I mean, you must have really forced yourself to start up that kind of habit."

"Then you understand how bad the addiction is if I'm having trouble stopping something as bad as that?"

Kagome managed to quell her coughing fit long enough to peer up at him, confused, but slightly more understanding. "I guess…" she whispered hoarsely. "But aren't you used to it now?"

"No." He shook his head. "Humans get accustomed to it; their taste buds fade, and so does their sense of smell and it becomes enjoyable. But for a hanyou, every cigarette is like the first… but I have a lifetime's addiction so I can't stop."

"Is this where I start sympathising and let you get on with damaging your body?" Kagome asked evenly.

"Nah…" He shrugged with one shoulder. "I'm just hoping you'll understand that I'm a slave to my needs. You may have said that you'd fish my head out of toilets for the rest of my life, but I don't think you would… I don't think you should. Maybe it's best if you just stayed away from me."

So he had been conscious for most of her begging last Sunday night… Kagome felt a tinge of embarrassment spread across her cheeks but did her best to ignore it. "I would do it." she said quietly. "Maybe you just need help, that's all. You know… two heads are better than one."

He smirked. "I don't know… you seem to be bad luck. For the last two weeks we've been together I've been targeted by bombs, arrested by the police, framed for attempted murder, held up at gunpoint by a hijacker, kidnapped, slapped several times, lost all my current girlfriends, got engaged to a girl I don't really know or give a toss about, not to mention I also overdosed, discovered my father was a prick and nearly got castrated by Kikyo when she found out that I got you drunk."

"Wow… I've only been held at gunpoint a couple of times." She rested her chin on his shoulder. "But I could stand a couple more times… if you wanted."

His hand passed over her head, ruffling her hair. "You're a sweet girl." He smiled as he rested his head against the top of hers.

A prickle of tears made Kagome's eyes begin to well up. She was pretty sure now that it had to be love… though she really wished it wasn't. Her life had never been so messy or complicated till he'd stepped into it, yet that still hadn't stopped her heart from reaching out to him. She didn't want him to ever remove his arm from around her shoulder, or to stop leaning on her in any sense. But she knew that his life was a strange one… the attention from the media, the lack of privacy in anything he did, and the fake smiles and personalities that surrounded him day and night was a world that Kagome didn't want a part of. She couldn't take one without the other… she couldn't have Inuyasha and leave out all the faults of his lifestyle.

Kagome couldn't handle what he needed her to handle… and Inuyasha couldn't be the man she needed him to be.

Silent tears ran down her face, but Inuyasha still seemed to realise she was crying. He straightened in an instant. "What's wrong?" he asked sharply, probably worried he'd done something to upset her.

"I want to stay with you…" she told him honestly, her voice hitched with tears. "But I can't live the rest of my life like I've lived the last two weeks-"

"That was a one-off, Kagome!" he cut in. "You won't be kidnapped every week-"

"No - I mean with everyone watching me and taking pictures and making up stories that aren't true!" she angrily swiped at her tears. "Everyone's so fake and phoney - I can't stand being around them. I won't have any privacy left if I stayed with you! I can't live like that!"

For a moment, Inuyasha looked angry enough to hit something… but it seemed to dissipate within seconds and he looked drained. "I'm not asking you to. We don't have to see each other again if you don't want-"

"No!" Kagome cried, grabbing his arm.

He blinked at her, shocked at her outburst.

"I want to see you again!" she sniffed, finding it hard to make him out through the tears. "I want to see you all the time - but I can't!"

"What?" Inuyasha frowned, still not quite following her.

"I care about you… I really do." She let go of his arm and pressed her hands over her face. "I'm scared about leaving you because I know you'll probably do something stupid when I'm not there to keep you in line. But I'm terrified of staying with you and having my life picked apart by millions of people… or getting involved with drugs and gangs and all that kind of stuff…"

"It isn't always like that." he said quickly, seeing hope. "These past two weeks have been weird, even for me. It really isn't as hectic being famous as you might think."

"I don't want to be famous." Kagome said weakly.

"Then just be Kagome and stay with me." He caught her hand and dragged it to his cheek. Her fingers were icy cold and they contrasted starkly with the warmth of his hands and face. Kagome looked up at him slowly, startled by the urgency she saw there. "Please?"

Not a word that graced his vocabulary often.

She was lost for words…

Maybe he did it to try and tempt her, or to seal the deal, but that was when he kissed her. Kagome was almost shocked enough to pull away… but not quite. The kiss was sweet and lingering - not at all short and cruel like the first one he'd given her. The tips of his fingers grazed her cheek, settling against the curve of her jaw in the manner of a professional kisser. Kagome was painfully aware of the experience and skill he exhibited… but that didn't mean she was left cold. On the contrary, she felt her knees go weak - hazardous if she'd been standing - while her heart began to resemble the sound of a galloping horse in her chest. She felt dizzy and helpless…

She felt cherished.

Inuyasha simply felt at home… and right then he was willing to try anything to convince Kagome to remain with him.

But she pulled away suddenly and lowered her gaze to the pavement, a blush staining her cheeks.

"What?" he asked cautiously.

Kagome didn't answer for a moment, but then rapidly stomped her feet on the ground and screwed her eyes shut like a fangirl in a fit of excitement. "I just kissed Inuyasha!"

"I'm still here, you know." he reminded her.

"I know, I know… it's just that I've known about you for a heck of a lot longer than you've known about me." she told him, glancing up with a hint of apology in her eyes. "I grew up hearing your name and seeing your face everywhere I went… it's weird that I've finally met you… and kissed you…"

"And made me fall in love with you."

Kagome blinked up at him in surprise. He blinked back like the perfect vision of innocence. "What did you say?" she whispered.

"What?" he said guardedly. "Am I not allowed to say that or something?"

"No, it's just… when did that happen?"

"When you told Jinko Aida not to touch me, I suppose." He grinned. "You're cute when you're threatening people!"

"But…" But now what? Was she supposed to say she felt exactly the same way? She loved a superstar and he loved her, but she didn't want to be the wife or girlfriend of a superstar that every fangirl conspired to hate and maim… someone who got targeted by the press for simply loving someone else.

Inuyasha was rich, successful, and good-looking… how long would it be before someone far prettier came along and caught his eye?

She voiced her fears quietly. "How do I know that you mean that…?"

"You think I'm lying?" he scowled.

"No, I just think that you may mean well, but I'm probably not the smartest, or the prettiest girl in the world. How do I know that your attention won't stray?" She scraped her shoes nervously against the cement paving slab beneath her feet.

"Oh, Kagome…" He waved off her concern. "Of course you're not the smartest or prettiest girl I have ever met." Kagome's glare could have frozen the innards of a volcano. Inuyasha somehow failed to notice her frosty gaze. "But you're the only one I care about. Believe it or not, I don't go around declaring love to every girl I meet."

"Yes, you do." she corrected sharply. "I heard you talking to your girlfriend last week - two of them in fact."

"Yes, but I mean it this time." he responded in an equally sharp tone. "You're supposed to know my lying voice - am I lying now?"

"You're also engaged to a famous singer." Kagome pointed out. "I don't think there's enough room in this relationship for me, you, Joi Ito, and your inflated ego."

"No need to get personal," he said snippily, folding his arms and leaning back. "You know, most girls would jump at the chance I'm offering you."

"And what chance is that?" she asked, wanting clarification.

"To let me take care of you…" he shrugged.

Kagome sighed. "I don't want to be your pet…"

"Then I'm giving you the chance to look after me. To keep throwing all my cigarettes down the toilet and stop me from going to all those parties. To hit me every time I leer at another woman - because I would stop doing all those things for you, you know." He winced slightly. "You're the only one I can talk to like this… I told you once that I have trouble knowing who I am - but when I'm with you I feel natural and calm, like you're the other half of me that I've been missing my entire life."

Kagome swallowed hard. "Did you read that in some cheesy romance novel?"

"No," he smirked. "I've been doing a lot of thinking since I got this hole in my head, and that's just how I feel."

Kagome smiled, touched by his words. "It's sweet."

He smiled easily. "I need your company, Kagome… if you refuse then I'll just have to give up all my money and property and come live with you in your little dinky house."

"You'd do that?" Kagome stared at him with wide eyes.

"Sure…" he shrugged. "If it was possible, I mean."

Yes, there was the fact that someone with Inuyasha's status in society would find it hard to escape that status, even if he gave up everything and tried to live a normal life. Plus, there was also the fact that he would have no idea how to live a normal life - not that it would be normal with the press camping on his doorstep in the suburbs of wherever he chose to live.

It was just impossible to become un-famous so easily.

How long had they been talking now? Kagome glanced at her watch and mentally groaned. Half an hour… she'd be lucky if her mother hadn't already called the police and reported her missing. It wouldn't have surprised her, not with the luck Kagome was having keeping out of trouble lately.

"We have a job opening in the entourage." Inuyasha said nonchalantly as he inspected his nails. "The girl who normally chooses my clothes has been fired for leaking information to Fushira and his cronies. The requirements are that you have to be over fourteen with a decent sense of style."

Kagome couldn't help the smile that was slowly spreading across her face.

Inuyasha looked down at her, seemingly in an all-business mode. "Since Sure! Magazine has already picked you up twice for your amazing sense of style, I figured you might be interested."

"I might. What do I have to do?" she asked, playing along.

"Well, Miss Higurashi, all you have to do is be on hand at all times - preferably living within the villa itself, in order to pick out my clothes each morning with the day's events in mind. You may have to accompany me on tour, but if that doesn't work with your educational schedule I can always hire a temporary stylist. Other than that, you are free to come and go once you've picked out what I am to wear." He finally allowed himself a small grin. "And if your job requires anything more of you, be prepared to accept bigger responsibilities…"

"Only if I can bring my family." She was grinning madly now.

"We have more than enough rooms to accommodate three more people."

"And my friends?"

"Not those three people."

"And what about my house and the Shrine?" she asked quickly.

He stroked his chin. "I suppose I can discuss the prospects of taking over a Shrine with Kikyo. We can invest a little in restoring the buildings and employing more people to take care of it with the former caretakers now living elsewhere…"

"They'd have to handle Grandpa, too," Kagome cautioned. "I don't think he'd give up on the Shrine so easily."

"Fair enough." Inuyasha shrugged. "Are all those terms acceptable?"

Kagome cocked her head. "I think so," she said cheerfully.

"You may have to sign a few things… like no suing if you ever get kidnapped again whilst under my protection."

"Fair enough."

"And you had better make it clear to your family that they are employees, not starlets."

"Also fair." Well, maybe Souta would need a little convincing.

Inuyasha smiled gently and touched her cheek. "Then run it by your family. If they agree to move, you can start after I get back from the tour."

A tour? "When will that be?"

"I'm going in three weeks… I won't be back till late July." That smile faded a little.

Kagome's heart ached slightly. That was an awful long time… "I can handle two months without you. You're not my entire world, you know." Yet. "And I'll be reading every magazine I can get my hands on to make sure you're not doing anything you shouldn't." she informed him.

"As long as I find you in the villa when I get back." he countered.

Kagome beamed at him. One way or another they were going to make it work. Maybe her mother would need a little talking around, but she was sure that with the promise of losing all their money problems her mother wouldn't be too resistant to the idea. Souta would dive at the chance to live in the same building as Inuyasha, and Grandpa… as long as Grandpa was allowed to visit the Shrine at least once a week, he'd be happy wherever they took him.

It was a big compromise, but Kagome could see no other way of being beside Inuyasha without the nuisance of the press weighing down on her. A small part of her knew that she was giving up a lot for just one boy… but the larger part sang that she was in love and she would trek to hell and back if it meant that she could be with him.

She also had two months to change her mind… so Kagome felt far from cornered or pressured. Which was probably why she was even considering this…

Looking down at her watch, she cringed again. "My mother is probably putting up missing posters of me by now." she said, sliding away from him on the bench before getting to her feet. "I better go."

Inuyasha followed. "You probably won't see me for another two months."

Two months was probably just enough time to recover from the trauma of their last two weeks together. Kagome smiled anyhow and reached up to embrace him warmly. "I'll miss you."

"Ditto."

When he pulled back, it was only to kiss her again. The sensation of lips against hers was an odd one, and Kagome knew that it would take time to get used to it. But that didn't stop the kiss from igniting fuzzy butterflies in her stomach or make her toes curl any less.

Eventually they broke apart. "I really have to go." she reminded him.

"Me too… Kikyo will put a matching hole in the other side of my head if she finds I'm gone." He nodded.

It was still another ten minutes before they finally parted ways, but they were hardly idle for that time.

~*~

Epilogue of Sorts

Two months was a long time, but it proved long enough for Kagome to only just convince her mother that the move was beneficial to them all. Mrs Higurashi obviously had her reservations after all she'd witnessed her daughter go through, but eventually she succumbed to Kagome's insisting. Besides, she couldn't resist the chance to move into an actual seaside villa complete with complimentary silver Porsche and a swimming pool.

Mrs Higurashi took on a part-time job alongside the cook, and insisted that her family eat together every night come rain or shine.

Inuyasha didn't take over the Higurashi's Shrine - Sesshomaru did that. He also made Kagome's Grandpa head of the department that oversaw care of the Shrine premises. The old man was slightly unhappy about the commercialisation, but he was also being paid obscene amounts of money for the first time since his retirement. Once again, the disgruntlement was brief.

Souta still managed to maintain a normal life, save for the fact he was now the most popular boy in his school and had his own female groupies.

Kagome's friends never did manage to catch sight of Inuyasha…

Neither did Angelique Spagni, no matter how many times she came to call.

As it turned out, Sesshomaru's latest and greatest child turned out to have not a single drop of dog demon blood. As a result, Sesshomaru is greatly enjoying his divorce settlement, despite the fact that he was left with the triplets. Miroku was often or not called in to baby sit while Sesshomaru took the occasional 'top secret business trip' with his secretary. Miroku also often or not tricked Sango into joining him.

The gossip around Inuyasha's love life faded, only fluctuating now and then when ex-girlfriends sold their stories to newspapers or when Joi Ito eventually married Kouga. The world forgot Kagome and her two weeks of mild fame. Her privacy and personal life remained intact and once more, strangers had no idea who she was or how to spell her name.

Life settled down in general and Kagome became an expert in dodging the tabloids, although Inuyasha never got the chance to be so lucky. He carried on living in the public eye for many years, although his popularity was at one time overridden by a newcomer of a Latino singer. However, one well-spread rumour from Kikyo about a certain singer and a plastic surgery scam had Inuyasha back in top form.

Inuyasha, for one, eventually managed to wean himself off smoking with a little help from Kagome - this quitting process was the source of many arguments that shook the foundation of the house nearly as much as the triplet's cherry bomb (an event more renowned than the shooting of Inuyasha's head). But despite the ups and downs, Inuyasha hardly ever went anywhere without his 'personal stylist'…

…and for the first time in his over-exposed and controversial life; wherever he went he was never alone

AN: Right, what's next…?

Chapter 32
Epilogue

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