Author's Notes:Oh my god, I actually updated!!! Anyway… I promised I hadn't left this story on the shelf to gather dust, so here's the new chapter – it took me all of six hours to write, so I hope you enjoy it. All I really needed to do was find the motivation again for this fic. Seems I found my inspiration so I'll be updating regularly again. Enjoy! ^_^
Rules of Acquisition
The False Break-up
The thing about living in a converted attic is that there is always the largest sky light in the world hanging right over your head. Inuyasha's skylight had the misfortune of facing East, so every morning when the sun rose, you were going to be forced to rise with it.
When the strong light roused me from my cosy slumber, I assumed, for a moment, that I was back in my bedroom and my mother had just come in and turned the light on. I was expecting her voice to tell me to get up for work at any moment.
"Five more minutes…" I mumbled inaudibly and snuggled closer to my pillow. My pillow emitted a mumbled response of its own and shifted slightly beside me. It's arm twitched slightly under my neck and its breathing returned to a steady rhythm.
Pillows didn't have arms. And they certainly didn't breathe.
I lifted my groggy head and squinted my eyes to focus on the figure beside me. Ah… Inuyasha… that was ok. I smiled stupidly and lay my head back down on his chest and wiggled closer so I was aligned with his side. There wasn't much room on this couch, but I really didn't mind.
I dozed lightly, happily, and carefree for the best part of that morning. Of all the pleasures in the world, from the most extreme to the simplest feelings, no one would understand how content one could be lying this close to the person they loved most in all the world. I was warm and satisfied both inside and outside. I didn't remember that my name was Higurashi. I didn't recall his name was Arashi. All I knew was that I was blissfully ignorant of the world, and Inuyasha was my only companion.
I seriously could have lain there for eternity, doing nothing more than drifting between wakefulness and sleep.
No one else I knew could possibly understand the true meaning of bliss…
At about eight o'clock there was a loud knock at the door. Inuyasha jerked awake so fast that he tumbled off the sofa completely. I whimpered at the loss of his warmth and curled myself into a ball under the blanket we had shared last night.
It was Miroku. Slowly my half-asleep sense were instantly alert and I sat bolt upright and locked gazes with an equally awake and alert Hanyou. He mouthed the word 'Miroku!'.
'I know!' I mouthed back, panic and fear making me hostile.
We stared at each other before turning to the door as it rattled again with another knock. "Inuyasha, I know you're in there. The landlord saw you come back here last night. Open up."
Inuyasha pointed to the window, indicating I should jump out.
May I remind him that we are in the attic of a four story house, and I am in no way going to take a leap of faith out that skylight. I threw the blanket at him angrily. "Do something!" I hissed.
"Hide!" he hissed back and grabbed my uninjured elbow as he dragged us both to our feet and started pulling me towards the linen cupboard. My idea of a blissful little morning paradise was dissolving fast into hard reality.
The door swung open before we'd even made it halfway across the room and we both froze, mid-stride. Miroku stared at us, surprised or not surprised, I couldn't really tell. The guy had a tight lid on a lot of his emotions. "Oh… you're here." He remarked when he saw me. He didn't sound to happy.
So I did the only thing I knew how.
I wrenched my arm out of Inuyasha's grip and slapped him across the cheek. I didn't mean to be so hard, and the blow must have taken him by surprise because he reeled back in shock, holding his cheek and looking at me in bewilderment. I mentally pleaded he'd forgive me. "U-unhand me you beast!" I cried. "I only came back for my CDs! After today I never want to have to lay eyes on you again!"
With that I marched over to his shelf, lifted half of his CDs out of the rack and marched out the door with them, giving Miroku a curt nod of greeting as I passed. "Good day."
"Bye." Miroku waved back.
As soon as I was round the corner down a flight of stairs, I allowed myself to cringe and pray to all available gods that Miroku had bought it. It all depended on how perceptive he was… and Miroku was probably very much so.
Well… I'd probably have to drop by again and return the CDs I'd nicked. I glanced down miserably at the stack in my hands, then did a double take.
It had been a good shot, but Miroku didn't buy it. Mostly because I figured he'd already been told by the guy downstairs that Kagome had arrived with me last night and had been here since then.
"So you're with the Higurashi girl after all." Miroku nodded and looked to the side as if contemplating the idea. He shoved his hands into his pockets and sighed. "Maybe… maybe that's why you left, so you could be with her."
"Lose my family, gain a girlfriend. Seemed a good deal." I retorted. But I knew he wasn't here for a friendly little chat. We were friends, but Miroku was also my father's employee… Miroku's personal feelings never got in the way of his business. "What do you want?"
Miroku watched me a moment before pulling his hands out of his pockets to fold his arms. He looked down at the floor. "Your father knows you're here."
"You told him!" I accused.
"I am not the only spy your father has employed. I may be the best he has but he does have a few that are easily able to follow the trail of a renegade son." He replied neatly. "I didn't tell him, I didn't have to. But he's sent me to retrieve you."
I snorted and moved to recline back on the beaten up couch. "Fat chance."
"You don't have a choice, Inuyasha. You have to come back." Miroku said quietly.
"Oh?" I gave him a nasty sneer. "And what in the world would make me go back to that hell hole?"
Miroku was still staring at the floor. As I looked at him now I began to realise that this was serious. Miroku had been sobered, he was sorry about what he was about to say… At that moment all I wanted to do was clap my hands over my ears and sing loud and hard to block out the sound of his voice.
"Your father has had you sacked from your hospital job. You also have no more job on the docks. He has been around the entire city and ensured that not one business, store or household will employ you. And… you've been evicted from this place."
My insides froze up. I still had that childish urge to just not listen to him and walk off. But that wouldn't help anything now…
"If you don't leave the premises by tonight then the bailiffs will come to turf you out." Miroku continued gently. "Any other place of residence you take up will be snatched from you before you can even step through the door, I promise you, your father has men all over the place watching your every move. He also knows that you're still sleeping with Kagome Higurashi."
I swallowed hard. Dread creeping slowly into my heart. I closed my eyes and tried to find a way out. But there was none. "What are his conditions?" I asked numbly.
"That you come back to the Arashi house and go back to the way things were. You're not to see Kagome ever again." Miroku looked up at me slowly. "I'm sorry…"
I tried to count to five… but I didn't make it past two. I exploded and swung to my feet and swiftly kicked the couch across the room into the opposite wall. Miroku didn't even flinch. I guess he was too used to my temper tantrums. I wanted to scare him, I wanted to get him angry. I just wanted someone to vent my anger on. "He can't do that! He just can't!!" I screamed. "He can't control my life like this! I hate him! I wish he'd just die!"
Miroku briefly raised his eyebrows but turned away and went to survey the contents of my fridge. He had this habit of ignoring my anger… it only infuriated me more. "You had the nerve to come down here and give me the ultimatum of the century! Give up my freedom and my love or else be cast out onto the street like a beggar and starve to death!"
"It's hardly an ultimatum." Miroku said evenly. "He's not giving you a choice. You either come back or he drags you back kicking and screaming."
"I am NOT going back there!" I yelled, as if raising my voice would get my feelings across better.
"You are under twenty four hour watch, even as we speak, Inuyasha, they're watching you. Wherever you go, they will follow, you can't run and you won't be able to hide." He shut the door of the fridge and turned back to me. "If I were you… I'd just hand myself over and agree to his terms."
"That's bull shit!" I snarled. "He hates me – why would he want me back?!"
"He hates you as much as he loves you." Miroku offered pitifully. "You rub each other the wrong way but at the end of the day he loves you…"
"He only wants me back because it would look bad if the press discovered his own son ran away from home." I snapped.
I glared at him hotly. I could give up my freedom and go back home. But giving up Kagome was out of the question. "I won't give up Kagome."
"You love her." Miroku sighed. "It's understandable. And… I sympathise greatly."
"You wouldn't understand how I feel – I don't want your pity!" I shouted.
"You don't have it. I have taken for granted that I can have anyone I choose really." He looked me in the eye. "There is no real barrier between the one I love… except for the fact that she's a little unwilling, but I'm sure she'll come around eventually. But nothing else stands between us. You and Kagome however… you two have a whole world between you. You can't be together."
"There are thousands and thousands of other women and girls in the world, Inuyasha!" Miroku suddenly snapped out at me. "You could have Kikyo – she'd happily accept you! You could have the girl working down at the ice cream parlour! She's pretty and kind enough! You could walk up to any girl on the street and introduce yourself as Arashi's son and they would be falling over themselves for you! There are probably a hundred more beautiful than Kagome, and a hundred more intelligent and as many as kind and loving as she is! You could have any of them – but you chose the one girl who is off limits! You can't have a Higurashi!"
"Why not?!" I could feel myself fast dissolving into a childish argument. I was panicking, because I knew I was losing.
"If you go near her it will destroy everyone's reputation. Your family would never forgive you and hers would never forgive her. We will lose this election for sure and-"
"I don't care about that anymore-"
"And if you go near her again your father will have her killed!"
I was silence, abruptly. The bottom of my stomach dropped out and I almost felt the room sway as my head swam. I blinked once, twice, frowned and passed a hand over my brow. "What did you just say?" I must have misheard him… I had to have…
Miroku sighed and looked even more apologetic than before. "If your father learns that you are pursuing relations with Kagome Higurashi then your father will hire a hit-man and have her gunned down in the street." He clenched his jaw for a moment before going on. "It wouldn't be the first time he's had someone he doesn't like killed. Your father hates Higurashi's more than anything else… if you married one, o-or got her pregnant then he would kill her."
"I wouldn't joke about something like that!" He glared at me. "But do you really want to be responsible for her death? If you carry on seeing her she'll be dead by the end of the week. But you could walk away now and let her live. Break her heart swiftly and make it a clean break. Don't let your selfish obsession with love get her murdered."
No… I wouldn't let that happen…
Sango gave me a hand in climbing the chainlink fence that guarded the length of the canal. I probably could have managed alone but with high heels on, scaling fences was quite tricky. My calf length skirt got caught once of twice on the wire, and I had to be careful in tugging it free… the gauzy material could easily rip.
"You should have worn jeans." Sango told me as I dropped down onto the concrete beside her.
"I hate trousers." I replied simply.
We headed off, walking along the canal in the direction of the current, following the path of the Shikon from the bridge. The ball of glass had floated… I'd seen that much when it had fallen in the water, so we both kept our eyes peeled in case it was bobbing around the edges of the canal caught in grass or pipes of some kind.
We found nothing until we eventually reached the filters. It was basically a dam with another road going across the top. Two holes in the dam covered by bars was letting the water drain freely into the plant works ahead. Branches and bits of junk were caught on these bars… but the Shikon had been small enough to slip through.
"Damn…" I muttered as I surveyed our problem.
Sango crouched down at the edge of the canal analysing the bars critically. "Old, rusty… I reckon if we come back tonight we could probably saw through them and get into the plant."
"Or go through the manhole up there." I pointed towards the road.
"Ah, point." Sango nodded and straightened. "Well, if the Shikon got past the first filter then it probably won't get past the second or third. The gaps in the grates become progressively smaller so debris won't get through. It'll be stuck in one of them."
"It's probably covered in all kinds of slime and unmentionably disgusting stuff." I wrinkled my nose as I thought of all the gross things that would be down there in the sewers. "Can I take a rain check on this one?"
"No." Sango laughed and brushed her hand affectionately across my arm as though I'd made a good joke. "Your father still wants you to have experience. He still has his delusions that one day you'll be some super ninja spy."
"My father is just delusional full stop." I snorted contemptuously.
After that little detour we headed to town to go for a bit of shopping before going home. I was tired and I wanted to go to bed early… so I could slip out early tomorrow morning to go see Inuyasha.
No sooner had we got through than our father marched past. I opened my mouth to say hi, but his stormy expression shut me up effectively. Without breaking stride he crooked a finger to Sango, hinting strongly that she should follow him. Sango glanced at me with that 'uh oh' type of expression and trailed after him miserably. I wonder what she'd done wrong this time.
I turned and saw Souta bounding towards me, sturdy as ever on his newly healed leg. I smiled and set down my shopping to greet him by ruffling his hair. "Did you get it?" he demanded, impatiently pushing my hand off his head and straightened his disturbed locks.
"Get what?" I played dumb.
"What I told you to get!" he said. "Oh… don't tell me you forgot?! Kagome!"
"Oh relax, squirt." I picked up one of the bags and dumped it into his eagerly awaiting hands. "That thing cost five more than you said it would. You owe me."
"Sure, but thanks!" He grinned happily as he ran off, cradling the video game close to his chest like his most prized possession.
I glanced back to where Sango was stood at the edge of the entrance hall in the doorway of the dining room listening to my father talking. I couldn't hear what was being said, but I could tell from the expression on Sango's face that she was taking it all in with a stony silence.
I waited curiously until my father patted Sango on the shoulder and walked off. Sango stood there for a moment, jaw still locked tightly in anger, staring into the space he'd just occupied. I frowned… why was she so angry? Had he fired her…?
Sango suddenly seemed to remember I was there and turned to look at me. She walked slowly towards me, her face still strangely vacant and detached from reality. As she neared I frowned. "What's up?"
"Your father just…" she stopped in front of me and shifted stance. "He just…" She shook her head and looked around. "Uh, come with me. This isn't the kind of thing we should discuss out here."
We abandoned the shopping in the hall and went into one of the storage rooms on the first floor. It was the size of a small bedroom, filled with shelves of linen and blankets. Whatever it was Sango wanted to tell me, it had to be secret because we didn't normally go private places to discuss our work.
As soon as I shut the door behind me Sango whirled on me. "Arashi plans to have you killed."
I stared at her. It didn't sink in at all. "You what?"
"Arashi! Gun! You!" Sango walked backwards till she met the wall, then she leaned against it, needing its support. "Your father just told me."
"Mr Arashi… wants to kill me?" I repeated. No, it still didn't sink in. "Oh."
"We have no solid proof, but we've heard intelligence about it." She said quickly. "Your father said that Inuyasha was seen moving back into the Arashi household earlier this afternoon, the same time it was heard that if he found out about any further relationship between you and his son, he would have you assassinated."
I laughed. "He can't do that, it's against the law."
Sango's face was strained and pale. "People like him are above the law Kagome."
Then it began to hit me, full force. "He wants to kill me…"
"Only if you keep dating Inuyasha!" Sango said hurriedly. "Dammit, Kagome, please say that things are over between you two?!"
She saw my silence and hissed a curse under her breath. "God… you have to end it now. If you don't you will be just another chalk outline on the side-walk."
"Don't say that!" I cried. It was beginning to scare me.
"And it's not just Mr Arashi either!" Sango went on. "Your father was kind enough to inform me that he would retaliate if any threat was made against you – he'd send someone after Inuyasha as well-"
"That's insane!" I shouted. "You can't just kill someone because you feel like it! It's wrong!"
"Arashi doesn't care and neither does your Dad!" Sango shot back. "If you don't end this ridiculous affair then they will! They can't stand the thought of you two together and they are insane enough to go as far as kill you both to keep you apart! To keep these two families apart!"
Tears were welling up. It just seemed too unfair. Everyone else could have any kind of relationship they wanted with whoever they wanted. Other girls my age went out a guys a hundred times worse than Inuyasha and their father's never threatened to kill the boys… well, possibly they did, but only my Father was ruthless enough to go through with it.
"He can't… please, tell him to leave Inuyasha alone?!" I begged. "I love him – I don't want him killed."
"And I don't want to see you killed either." Sango said fiercely. "If I had to choose between you, I would choose to save tour life in a heart beat… don't complicate this. Stop this charade!"
I turned heel and ran out of the room. I couldn't face her anymore. But I knew that I had no choice… I knew what I had to do.
It turned out to be like some organised event. One that everyone attended, but shhh! we're not supposed to know about it! We met in the shopping precinct, at the same café where we'd first broken up, and at the very same table. I hated this place… I felt there were bound to be more bad memories on their way.
I sat down under the shade of the large parasol and ordered a drink from the waitress while I waited for her to arrive.
Already I had spotted several people I knew my father employed recently as new, additional spies for him. There was one sitting at a table close by, pretending to read the newspaper and slowly making his way through an ice-cream sundae. A woman with a small child sitting in the café next door worked for the Higurashi's, she wasn't fooling anyone, I knew she was one of Kagome's cousins.
Twelve Arashi people were stationed around the precinct altogether. The tramp on the park bench dressed in five outfits and three duffel bags around him was one, the guy selling newspapers on the stand was one. The guy on the street corner selling magazines for a hundred yen each was another. The couple making lovey-dovey eyes at one another on another park bench were both spies making lovey-dovey eyes at me instead. There were equally as many Higurashi spies stationed around, if not more.
And to cap the ice berg, Sango sat inside the café at a table. But she wasn't watching me, she was too busy glaring at Miroku who was busily chatting up the waitress. I guess he wasn't particularly fussed with watching me either.
I had a feeling there was at least half a dozen cameras on me. I had already spotted the microphone bug in the salt pot.
I rolled my eyes and rapped my claws against the table as I waited. My stomach was doing flip-flops and butterflies, but I daren't let any of it show on my face.
She was pale and unsmiling when she arrived. She sat down in a formal like fashion opposite me and looked around. Her gaze lingered on a few of the spies I'd spotted before glancing at the salt pot… then finally at me, but her eyes faltered to the table after a moment or two. I watched with a growing ache in my chest as a pained frown tensed her forehead. Her bag was still over her shoulder, held in her lap… almost as if she expected to be leaving at any moment.
Well she would. This would be our short, last encounter with each other.
"Kagome," I started on safe ground with her name, I paused for a moment and out of the corner of my eye I saw the woman with the child staring in my direction, the man with the newspaper and ice cream had stopped reading, but he still stared at the words. Sango and Miroku had sat down together and were now looking everywhere but at me and Kagome… but I knew their attention was fixed solely on us. They all waited for the performance they'd come to see. "Kagome… we can't see each other any more."
Simple. A simple clean break to the heart, Miroku had said. Yet I knew the heart was my own.
She stared at the table for a moment before nodding. "I understand." She probably did understand. I knew and she knew that it would be our grave stones lying beside each other for eternity if this continued.
"I'm sorry." I said lamely.
"Me too." She pasted on a false smile and looked up at me. It was beautiful, but painful to watch. "It was fun though, right?"
A false smile came to me as well. "Right…"
We'd run out of words now. I stared at her and she stared at he little flower arrangement on the table. She looked like she was about to be sick… and I felt awful for doing this.
"I should go." She said suddenly, standing up quickly, her eyes not quite meeting mine, the bag falling back to her side easily. "I promised to take Souta to the zoo with some friends…"
She stood dumbly for a moment, looking lost. Her gaze darted to my face for a moment before she stepped away from her chair and moved past me. I couldn't help myself… my hand shot out and gripped her wrist. She stopped and looked down at me, waiting for me to say something.
"See you around." I said, letting my hand slide deliberately across her arm and over her hip.
"No…" she said distantly, stepping out of my range and walking away. I didn't bother following her progress. As soon as she had left the table as slumped forward and folded my arms to support my chin.
The waitress came out and set down my strawberry milk-shake before me. She smiled. She had Higurashi eyes. She smiled, but those eyes hated me. Another spy… Whatever… "Thanks." I said half-heartedly as a saluted her away.
In the time it took me to finish that milkshake the woman with the child decided to take the kid back to play-school. The guy with the newspaper and ice-cream folded the paper and stuffed it into his pocket before he left, leaving a half finished desert on the table with a few coins.
The tramp got up and walked away with his overstuffed duffel bags, I noticed that even though he wasn't the real deal everyone still avoided him like the plague. The guy selling the magazine wandered away, the man selling newspapers closed his store and the couple on the bench decided to take their love elsewhere.
Sango discreetly left, but she didn't follow Kagome… which surprised me. Miroku came out a few minutes later, gave me a squeeze on the shoulder before following after Sango.
I was alone again. I finished my milkshake and left my money, along with a little tip for the Higurashi waitress. I'm sure that would suitably insult her.
I left the café.
He deposited the note in my jacket pocket like we'd arranged. He made it look like some fond farewell touch. I wondered if perhaps it had looked too intimate of him… if my father had seen that he may just decide to kill Inuyasha anyway. That wasn't on my list of fun things.
I knew there were still a few of the spies following me still so I brought tears to my eyes and headed into the ladies room of one of the local restaurants. I didn't have to feign the tears really… my heart and mind was in so much turmoil and shot that they came easily once I let my guard down for a moment.
In the bathroom I bolted the door so no one could follow and sat down in one of the stalls to read the note he'd given me.
'Lern 2 keep ur big mowth shut. Meat me @ Miroku's house 2nite, he's nevr there, make sure u r n't followed.'
Easily arranged. I lifted the note and kissed it loudly before ripping it up into shreds and flushing it down the toilet.
I left the ladies' room feeling better than I had since that morning.
I guaranteed no one followed me that night. I went to bed at a usual time, and made a big show of how depressed and miserable I was to my family. They weren't all that sympathetic, but nevermind. They were all popping champagne and balloons the minute I was gone, I reckon.
I waited until the rest of the house had gone to sleep before getting dressed and slipping out of my window. I was invisible to the world. No guard, spy or innocent bystander would ever see me.
I ran all the way to Miroku's house. I'd gotten the directions out of Sango's address book. (I got the impression that it was Miroku's handwriting in there, giving her his number and address should she ever find herself yearning for him at any inexplicable moment. Not happening.)
I stayed invisible all the way, slipping in the front door without knocking – it was already open in invitation when I arrived. The moment the door was closed and I had done a preliminary sweep of the hall to make sure there were no cameras or listening devices, I let my guard drop and I returned to normal.
Miroku's house was… surprisingly neat. It seemed like no one had lived here for a long time though. I'd heard from Inuyasha that Miroku spent so much of his time at the Arashi household that he had slept over one night and had never come back to this place since.
All the lights were out and I began to doubt if Inuyasha had been able to make it at all. I began to explore.
I walked into the kitchen, the room at the end of the hall, then the living room, the bathroom, then I pattered up the stairs to take a look at what lay up there.
There were two bedrooms. One small, one large. It seemed that Miroku had used the smaller room in his time here with the single bed, seeing as how it was filled with the kind of things young men had in their bedrooms. I shook my head at all the magazines littering the floor and desk and went to look at the larger bedroom. I pushed open the door and went inside, up to the bed and touched the soft quilt with my fingertips. This room was untouched. Dark, sparse and quiet.
Arms wrapped around my frame and pulled me back against a larger one. I smiled, I wasn't afraid, because I already knew it was him. I almost felt him in this room before I'd entered.
"No one else in the world…" he murmured against my hair. "… knows we are here now…"
"Just us." I agreed quietly and turned in his arms to greet him with a proper kiss. I felt his arms tighten around me, and my hands rested on his shoulders lightly, before gripping the material of his shirt tightly between my fingers.
We broke the kiss for a moment to breathe, Inuyasha didn't waste any precious moment with air as he rained small kisses down across my cheek and brow. I leaned into him, savouring our moment. "I love you…" I whispered. I thought of all the bad things that would happen if anyone knew that fact for certain. My father would kill him, and his father would kill me. It seemed impossible… and it brought tears to my eyes.
"It seems that if I really love you I would let you go… let you be safe." He told me, still holding me close. I could his heart beating rapidly in his chest, the same way it had done when we'd first met and he'd held my hand to its rhythm. "But you're also my addiction, I just can't let you go."
"Not without a fight." I said with determination. We looked at each other and then we kissed again. I let all my love, all my fear and apprehension pour into it. All my passion for him, all my anger for the rest of the world at not recognising that what we had between us was beautiful… not an abomination that needed to be destroyed.
He seemed to return everything I had with equal vigour, equal love and twice the passion.
I knew why he'd invited me along here tonight, of all places. I knew what he planned to do while our two families celebrated our break-up. I had known when I'd read his note and still I'd come here because it was what I'd wanted. I felt no more uncertainties between us, I knew everything he was and he knew me better than I knew myself. We really were in love… but no one would know except for the two of us
The future stretched ahead like a long bleak trial. Would we survive it? It seemed black and dull. How could we be free to love each other when everywhere we went there would be people watching us. The slightest interaction between us outside of our little rendezvous would be recorded and analysed. If one or both of our fathers didn't like what he saw… then one or both of us would be dead.
Politics was a deadly game. I'd been born into it, surrounded by hate and greed.
But none of that mattered right then as we tumbled back onto the bed, disturbing the immaculate bedding. We noticed none of this as we continued to kiss and explore each other with roaming hands, losing articles of clothing one by one.
It seemed impossible… but my love for him would stretch to eternity and back, beyond the impossible.
But between love and eternity there was only death.
AN: Seems to have come back to that Romeo and Juliet theme…