Kagome's brow furrowed as she swore a tiny midget drilled into her brain for what sounded like the twentieth time. For a moment, she regretted the night of heavy drinking but decided it was worth it. It helped her forget. As she reached up to brush at her eyes, rubbing the sleep caked to them, she let out a sigh and finally realized that the sound was actually the phone ringing. With a grumble, she took it up and responded with what she hoped was a proper greeting.
“Where are you? You were supposed to be here half an hour ago!” Eri's voice rang through the phone, causing Kagome to wince in pain and let out a little whine. “Are you still in bed?” Silence hung in the air as Kagome settled against her pillows, bringing a hand up to brace her aching head. Why was the room spinning? “Oh my... are you drunk?! Seriously? Get yourself together and get over here!”
Kagome frowned and tossed the phone towards the bedside table, taking up a small gold clock and staring at it intently. Was that a number nine or the letter H? Whatever. Setting the clock down, she let out a sigh and sat up, moving to stand but feeling something crunch beneath her feet. Beneath her feet was what once happened to be a perfectly intact picture frame. Now it was broken glass inside a frame above a picture.
Her face contorted into a scowl and she lifted her foot, looking to see if she had cut herself. Luckily, no damage was done so she edged around the frame and went about getting dressed for her meeting. An important meeting. One she couldn't afford to miss. One she didn't want to go to.
Why did fate enjoy laughing at her?
Couldn't she get today off, of all days? Wasn't this the day she was supposed to catch a break? She snorted under the warm water of the shower as she thought over how many “breaks” she had caught in her life. Narrowly managing to pass her classes after having spent years in the past. Barely escaping from being stuck in the past when InuYasha had left her under the guise of “feeling more like friends than lovers” - whatever that meant. Getting this job, despite her lack of credentials, and doing fairly well at it. All of them had been lucky breaks in her life.
Yet why did it seem so bitter? She considered it as she stepped out and dried herself off, downing a couple aspirin as she stared at her reflection in the mirror. She knew why, of course. It had happened on this day, just four years ago.
They met by accident, for once it was not she who was having a horrible day, but him. He was passing by in the parking lot when somehow the bottom of the paper bag he had been carrying tore open and the contents spilled to the ground. Kagome could still recall how the can had rolled down the pavement and bumped into her favorite pale blue flats. She had felt sorry for whoever it was, until she had knelt beside him to gather the groceries into neat piles, commenting the usual pleasantries one did in such situations, and their eyes met for the first time in centuries.
“It is you.” He had said, like a child filled with wonder.
Things went quickly from there. They clung to each other desperately, as if they were both going to drown and the other was a personal flotation device. Holding onto the other as a way to verify that the past had been real and not some delusional fantasy in their heads.
It had been innocent enough. First just meeting up and calling frequently, that followed by meals together, eventually he was coming over every other night to watch movies and play board games as they talked over dinner. Then, one evening, he took her out. They laughed as they escaped the rain into a photo-booth, he teasingly putting money into the machine and pressing the button. She had scolded him, saying she wasn't presentable for a picture, but he had stilled her hands and her mind, causing her heart to race as his lips claimed hers.
The cake was never cut. The wine hadn't been drank. Ice cream melted in the sink as he carried her to her bed, frantically seeking more from her than he ever had before. Sex with him had been everything she dreamed of in her most private fantasies and more... everything she dreaded. She could recall waking next to him, feeling a sense of deep sorrow for what had happened. Part of her was confused. Wasn't this supposed to be a happy occasion?
Horrible birthday memories.
The phone rang again and Kagome let out a sigh, going to take it up as she put her earrings in. “Hello? Oh! Yes mama, I'll be over this afternoon. Bring spare clothes, got it. Everything alright there? Of course it is. Thanks, mama!” When Kagome hung up she leaned her forehead against the wall for a few moments, taking in a slow breath before brushing aside the memories of that time. Right now she had more important matters than to worry about lost chances.
With a determined gaze, she pushed forward and rushed to her meeting. As she dropped off her purse and coat, Kagome took up her paperwork and ran to the conference hall, pausing outside to smooth her dress and her hair. When she stepped into the meeting, however, she felt as if her heart was going to explode. There, on the opposite side of the large oval table, stood the last person she wanted to see. What was he doing here? Biting the inside of her cheek, she struggled through the presentation, wowing his partners as he stared her down like a dog tracking its prey. A shiver darted up her spine as she realized that was exactly what he was doing.
As the meeting came to a close, Kagome miraculously not making a fool of herself, he casually strode over to her. Eri smiled politely and gestured between them. “Kagome, this is Mr Fukuzawa, the head of the company who sought our assistance. Mr Fukuzawa, this is Miss Higurashi, one of our finest.”
He, as usual, cut to the chase. “I know Miss Higurashi quite well, we go back some time.”
Kagome swallowed down the urge to scream or laugh or make any sound that might make her look like a fool. Eri was perceptive enough to understand that she was no longer wanted and hastily said a goodbye, disappearing ...somewhere. Kagome wasn't entirely sure as all she could do was stare up at molten amber as they bore angry holes into her.
“Have you been well?” He asked, although he sounded as interested in her welfare as he might be in what color the walls were.
She nodded. “Well enough.” A lie. She'd been terrible. It had been a mistake to treat him like she had and let him walk away, but she had to live with that now.
“Excellent.” He glanced down at his watch, eyebrow raising before he looked to her once more. “I will see you tonight.”
Her mouth dropped open and she gasped before responding as calmly as possible. “What?”
“Tonight, your place, try to wear something comfortable.”
Kagome's mind raced. He was just going to... to... to inject himself back into her life... by force? As he walked away all she could do was blink. Her mind finally caught up when Eri spoke to her.
“Kagome? How do you know him?”
The former miko shook her head forcefully. She wasn't ready to divulge that information. “I... I have to go.” She said, gathering her things and pulling out her cell phone to call her mother. “Mom? Sorry, but something has come up. I can't be there tonight.” The frustrated sound of her mother on the other end caused her to feel a wave of guilt. “I know, I know... but this... this is important.”
As if her mother understood the situation just by that, she let her daughter go. Kagome was grateful for the silence, for the moments between then and later. In that time, she had to consider how to approach all this. How would she react to him, would she just allow him to overwhelm her and cause her to lose herself again? No. She couldn't afford that.
This time, unlike before, she had to stand firm. She knew that he didn't love her. He probably wasn't even capable of love. Yet, she wanted love. It was the one thing she refused to give up on. If nothing else worked in this crazy world, Kagome Higurashi would marry for love, not just settle for being an occasional fling. Her heart clenched as she realized that she was likely doing exactly that now.
She didn't have the time to change her mind as the doorbell rang, startling her. She spun around and went to the door, opening it and letting him in. He brushed past her, an irritated scowl on his face as he marched into the kitchen. Kagome followed him, watching as he pulled items out of the brown paper bag and set them on the counter. “What's wrong?”
“They didn't have the right wine.”
Kagome crossed her arms with a laugh, leaning in the door frame. “Let me guess, because they didn't have exactly what you were looking for you didn't buy any.”
He stilled, hands resting on the counter as he turned to glare at her. “Why should I settle for anything less than what I desire?”
His words struck through her and she felt suddenly very dizzy. Wasn't he always settling for less than what he desired? This life, his job, her... they were all far below him. As if he knew what she was thinking, he walked over to her and reached out, grasping her head in his hands as he pulled her to him. Their lips met for the first time in years and Kagome felt her resolve fading. Pulling back, all she could utter was a singular question that rang in her mind. “Why me?”
“Idiot.” Was his reply as he ravished her mouth once more.
When she came to, the phone was ringing insistently again. With a frustrated sigh she took it up, responding and eyes widening as her mother frantically spoke on the phone. “Yes, I'll be right there.”
As Kagome hung up, the realization that she had repeated her actions with him dawned on her when he sat up next to her on the bed. “Is something wrong?” He asked, and for once he did seem concerned.
She tried to maintain her composure. “I have to go.”
“I'll go with you, you're in no condition to drive.”
“No!” Kagome's heart raced as she shook her head and tears welled in her eyes. No, not that. He couldn't know. He was just going to leave her behind and go about his life when he realized what a mistake she was, she couldn't let him know the truth. It was better for him to leave and for her to send him away, just like last time. “Please, just go. We both know this can never work.”
He growled low at that, not enjoying how easily she brushed him aside, but let her go as she haphazardly threw herself together and ran out the door. As he watched her drive off he found it nostalgic how she hadn't even noticed the melting ice cream in the sink or the cake on the counter. He hadn't meant to take her so suddenly. He wanted to take his time, but it had been so long and she continued to deny what they both knew was true.
He loved her and she loved him.
Deciding he had enough of her games, he did the only thing he could in this situation. He followed her. It was with surprise that he wound around the corner and found her rushing up the steps to her childhood home, a bag from the local pharmacy in her hands. Her expression was full of concern and he wondered what had happened to worry her so greatly. Waiting for her to enter, he stood outside beneath the stars as he felt the auras within the home.
He never had known her family that well to determine just who or what was happening, but one thing he did note was how one individual inside seemed to be in distress. With a frown, he decided to knock. Kagome had run away from him far too much and he was determined to have her in his life, even if he had to gain her by force. If her family was in trouble, he would assist. It was the honorable thing to do.
When a woman opened the door, looking both shocked and somewhat... relieved... he bowed respectfully. The elder held up her hand, a smile on her face. “I know who you are. Please, come in.”
He was surprised, but did as he was ordered, hearing Kagome somewhere upstairs. “The fever is getting worse!” She called out, her fear nearly tangible. Without thinking, he moved and went up the stairs, following her scent before pausing in the doorway to a tiny room. It was her room, from when she was a child, that much was obvious by how every item permeated with her fragrance and personality. Kagome knelt beside the bed, looking afraid as her hand brushed against the forehead of a tiny girl who coughed. It was when her hand moved aside that he felt the weight of his inaction before falling down upon him. There, on the fragile child's forehead, was the crest of his family.
Kagome turned, as if to call her mother again, only for her eyes to widen and a gasp to escape her. “Sesshomaru! What are you doing here?”
The youkai just stared at the tiny female, ignoring Kagome. “How?” It was a stupid question, and not exactly aimed at anyone other than himself. Of course, he knew how the child had come about. Their singular night of passion all those years ago, prior to the one just earlier, had clearly resulted in a child. He understood the mechanics of reproduction. What he couldn't come to grasp was how he had never known that Kagome was pregnant. How he had missed that he had a child for so many years?
The young mother shook her head, tears trailing down her face as she tried to wipe them away in an attempt to be strong. “You can't have her.” She whispered, hurt and fear laced through her voice.
He frowned and took one long stride into the room, coming to stand before her as he reached out and lifted her face by the chin, forcing her to look at him. His eyes searched her face, trying to grasp just why she held onto his past self, instead of understanding that he had changed with time to no longer care about silly things like rank in a world where such things were pointless. “I do not want her.”
Hurt. That was what reflected in her eyes as she tried to pull from him, but he would not allow it. Leaning in, he kissed her gently before speaking again. “I want you, Kagome. A child is more than I ever could have asked for.”
Kagome's heart constricted and she tried to think it over, but found that he continued to kiss her and halted any attempts at logical thought from entering her mind. They broke apart when another cough came from their daughter.
The tiny female looked up at him with familiar golden eyes, and he moved to sit on the bed beside her. “I know you.” She said.
This startled her mother, who shook her head. “Michiko, you have never met him before.”
As Sesshomaru leaned forward, placing his own crescent against his child's, forcing his youki into her in order to ease her suffering, the little girl brought her tiny hands up to trace at the markings across his face. “I've seen him. In mommy's picture.”
Sesshomaru reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet, taking out a softened photograph which had been handled frequently if the worn edges were any indication. He held the black and white image out for his child, who took it in her delicate hands and stared down on it. “One like this?”
Michiko shook her head, her wavy silver locks bouncing about her face. “No. In mommy's picture you're not happy.”
He nodded, glancing at the picture of his first kiss with Kagome. He had managed to take that image, leaving her with the string of shots of her reaction. With a smirk, he turned to look at the flustered woman he loved before grinning down on his daughter. “Let's change that, shall we?”