A/N: This is my first AU and it may well be my last. I couldn't shake the plot bunny, but it feels like I'm cheating on canon by writing this, haha!
I've twisted the tarot to suit my own purposes for this fic, so please keep that in mind.
As a last note, I may or may not write an epilogue for this. I haven't entirely decided.
It was a tiny little shop, but it was all hers, and that was all Kagome had ever wanted.
Ever since she'd been a teenager, she'd dreamt of having her own herbal shop and at the age of twenty-five, that dream was finally a reality. She made her own concoctions that lined the walls and shelves of her shop, and carried everything from cleansing products (which were by far her most popular) to general remedies for sore coughs and runny noses. She would also take custom requests, which were usually done when someone wanted a certain scent for a product that she didn't normally carry.
But she struggled to make ends meet. Rent was sky-high in Tokyo, even though Kagome's shop, Heaven's Cloud—her friend Sango had been the one to suggest the name and Kagome herself hadn't been able to think of a better one—wasn't located on any of the fashion or high-end streets.
Finally, in an act of desperation, she'd decided to run a side gig out of her shop. She used to do astrology and tarot card readings for fun in high school and college, but now she utilized the skill to bring in additional income. She always had a gift for accuracy, even though Kagome herself refused to believe in fate. She would make her own destiny, thank you very much.
She hated doing anything occult in her humble little shop, especially since she felt like it diminished the real value and quality of her work, but she couldn't afford to be proud and keep her shop, too.
And the occult paid very, very well.
Most of her clientele for those lines of service were either young couples in love, seeking validation, or those who wantedlove and were seeking confirmation of their desires. There were a few who came in for other readings, like success in school or work, but most of those went to traditional fortunetelling shops, not hers. Her shop was a novelty service, not based heavily in tradition.
She may have grown up on a shrine, but that was a line Kagome herself would not cross.
Several months after her shop opened, Kagome's occult services and her stellar reputation for accuracy had begun to become well-known by a circle of office ladies, all eager to ensure the men they snagged—or planned to snag—would be the catch they wanted. Most wanted to quit their jobs after marriage, but even those who didn't wanted the reassurance the man they chose would be well-off as could be expected and would not be prone to cheat.
Often, the women came by themselves, but occasionally they were able to ether trick or entreat their partners to join them. Most of those men were less than thrilled to be called to the shop, but
The couple before her appeared to be no exception. The man, with long black hair, appeared to be a normal office worker, though with the delicate suit he wore, Kagome guessed him to be middle or upper management. Surprising, given that he looked no older than his early thirties at most.
The woman, on the other hand, seemed to personify an office lady. She looked glamorous and serious, with hair pulled up in a neat bun, and her black pencil skirt and crisp button-up blouse only seemed to accentuate that this woman meant business, right down to her pointed red heels.
And the way the woman kept a tight hold on her partner told Kagome all she needed to know: this woman would notwillingly let this man go. Ever.
There was a faint prickling at her senses and her eyes widened. Yokai...
For a moment, their veneers fluttered and she saw a glimpse of what they might truly look like. He had long, silver hair and golden eyes that would have been angelic on anyone else, but served to accentuate his masculine beauty instead. She couldn't get those eyes out of her head...
"We'd like a reading," the woman said, tightening her grasp on her partner's arm. "I have been led to believe that this...tiny...shop is known to have accurate readings." Her tone, however, implied that she believed otherwise.
Kagome pushed back her reiki as she felt the man's—no, she corrected herself; the daiyokai, for there was no mistaking the undeniable intensity of his own strength—yoki rose heavily in response. She licked her dry lips as she noticed that the daiyokai before her carried himself with an air of indifference that bordered on boredom.
His partner, on the other hand, was far less impressive. She was a yokai of some strength, but her yoki paled in comparison to his.
What on earth brought them together in the first place? They seem so cold together...
"Right," Kagome said, forcing herself to sound cheerful. "I'm Higurashi Kagome. I own the shop and I also do the readings."
She waited expectantly for their names. She'd need several other pieces of information to get their readings accurate, but how much information depended on what type of reading. Tarot required the least bit of information compared to her other services, but she doubted they were here for a Western full natal chart and astrological reading on the other end of the spectrum. The daiyokai seemed the type to reluctantly indulge his partner, but only up to a certain point.
The woman was the one who answered Kagome's unspoken question. "I am Fujioka Kagura and this is Ito Sesshomaru." She waved her free hand to the man beside her.
"Welcome to Heaven's Cloud, Fujioka and Ito." Kagome gave them a small bow. "It isn't often that yokai enter a miko's shop."
Fujioka looked astonished at her words, but it wasn't the wind yokai's expression that surprised her. The daiyokai Ito beside her, though his expression did not change, seemed determined to test the truth of her words and let his yoki rise to find her reiki. Once located, she felt his power press against her as though he was trying to test her strength.
It felt...right, the way his power pressed against hers, like a warm, heated blanket resting over her on a cold day.
"This way," Kagome said, more so to get away from the surprising allure of his power than anything else. He's taken, Kagome, she reminded herself, and even if he wasn't, you don't want to go down that path. He's curious, not interested.
His yoki rescinded as she led the way to the tiny room at the back of the shop that she used for her readings. It was a former storage closet that she'd remodeled when she'd realized that most of her clientele preferred secrecy. Since she was alone in the shop—she couldn't afford any help, though Sango often dropped by to help on the weekends with her husband, Miroku, whenever they could—she also flipped the sign at the door to reflect that she would return in fifteen minutes.
She gestured to two chairs on the opposite side of the table, noting that while Fujioka took delight in the ostentatiousness and gaudiness of the reading room, designed to look like a stereotypical Hollywood fortuneteller's, but Ito ignored the decor entirely and kept his gaze firmly trained on her.
"Have either of you had a tarot reading done before?" she asked as she took the place at her own chair opposite the couple.
"No," Fujioka said simply and one again the daiyokai seemed content to let his partner do the talking.
"Well, there are several ways to do a reading." Kagome began cutting and shuffling the deck on the table before her. "You're here for a couple's reading, right?"
Fujioka nodded. "Yes," she said, and though she tried to look bored, she couldn't shake the excitement showing on her face. Her partner, however, had a flat expression as he watched Kagome shuffle the cards.
Kagome fanned out the deck before them but held out her hand to grab Fujioka's when the wind yokai moved to grab a card. "Tarot is not just a means of reading the future or your compatibility," she said, feeling the need to caution them given Fujioka's eagerness. "It's a way to see into the unconscious self, but we may not always like what we see. As a general reminder, my readings are always accurate. I won't tell you want you want to hear; I'll only tell you what I see. Do you understand?"
"Yes," Fujioka breathed as Ito gave Kagome a short nod.
"Okay." Kagome then asked for payment upfront; she'd learned that lesson already after a client had stormed out, enraged by the reading. As soon as she received payment—from Fujioka, no less, as though she had a point to prove to her partner—Kagome began. "You will each choose three cards and put them facedown in front of you. Don't move or touch them once they're in front of you."
Fujioka grabbed three cards and immediately placed them in front of her.
Ito took more time, carefully contemplating the facedown cards before selecting each card in turn to place it in front of him.
"Now I'm going to quickly outline what to expect. The first card represents who you are as a person. The second card represents what you want from a relationship. The last card represents your future." She waited until she received a nod from each of them. "Draw one more card together for your future together."
Fujioka wrapped her arm around Ito's and together, she guided him to draw a fourth card.
"Place it in front of you, in between your two sets of cards, but keep it facedown like the others," Kagome cautioned and they did as she bade.
"Now, I'll start the reading." She moved to start with Ito's first, in deference to his power, but the slight shake of his head had her sighing as she moved to start with Fujioka. The first card she flipped was the reversed Hierophant—not entirely unsurprising, given that Fujioka was a wind yokai.
"This is the reversed Hierophant," Kagome said, tapping the card with one finger nail. "It represents a deep, undeniable need for freedom. You need to be free, but you also have a vulnerable, emotionally frail side of you that can be difficult for others to understand."
Fujioka's lips thinned but she nodded in quiet acknowledgement.
"The next card represents what you want from a relationship," Kagome reminded them, reaching for the second card. When she turned it over, she found herself looking at the Empress. "This is the Empress card. "When you are in a relationship, you get in tune with your feminine side. You seek the feminine roles: wife, sister, daughter-in-law, mother, with your partner and his family. You find satisfaction in building a home with the one you love and you will be a good role model for your future children."
Fujioka was practically beaming ear to ear at the reading and Kagome smiled back. It was always a good sign when her reading was so well-received. The Empress was one of Kagome's favorite cards, too—not because it represented the restrictions of women but rather the embracing of being a good partner to one's lover and a good parent to one's children.
"The last card is for your future. Of course, the distant future is always subject to change, so it's really more about your short-term future than your long-term one." Kagome reached for Fujioka's last card and turned it over to find the Moon.
Fujioka beamed at the card, giving her partner a flirtatious grin.
Kagome decided to ignore the look, certain that it referred to some private moment between the couple. "The Moon represents your subconscious and first impressions. Your hasty judgments and interpretations will lead you astray because they've been built on misconceptions. You should prepare for an emotional ordeal in your near future, something that will result from your rash action and need to jump to conclusions before you have all the facts. You have deceived yourself in something that will impact you strongly when it falls apart."
She held up her hand as Fujioka opened her mouth, ready to rage. "This card only represents your immediate or short-term future, Fujioka, not your long-term one. Though this reading is about your relationship, this card in particular could have been chosen because of family, work, or something else that may impact your relationship but not directly relate to it."
That seemed to mollify Fujioka enough that she slumped back in her chair with a click of her tongue.
"Besides," Kagome said, striving for a reassuring tone, "we haven't seen Ito's cards and that's usually a stronger indication of compatibility."
"Well, let's get on with it, then," Fujioka said impatiently.
Kagome turned to Ito's cards. "The first card represents who you are," she reminded him, reaching for his first card and turning it over to find the Justice card. "This card is Justice," she said, not surprised at the card itself. "It's upright, so it symbolizes justice, righteousness, honor, and virtue. You hold yourself strong and are in balance with all parts of yourself. You have your own system of virtue and morals that guides you in your daily life and you will not stray from it. You hold honor and respect above all other qualities."
It wasn't a direct opposition to Fujioka's initial card but it still made Kagome uneasy. The cards themselves weren't entirely harmonious and, for the first time, she began to wonder if the couple themselves were as good a fit as they initially appeared.
"Hnn." It was the first word Ito had spoken but she heard his quiet satisfaction in her reading. His voice sent quiet shivers down her spine at the low, melodic timber, and it was a feeling she didn't enjoy experiencing because of the sensations it caused within her.
She quickly moved to the next card, wanting the reading over with. She gasped as she flipped over the Devil, glancing up to see Ito looking at her with amused eyes.
Well, it makes sense, she groused to herself, since yokai have often been portrayed as devils, especially by Western media.
"This is the Devil," she said, tapping the card, "and for you, Ito, it means that in a relationship, you desire to be loved but are not sure how to go about it. You seek an equal partner in a relationship rather than a co-dependent partner and have strict, exacting standards for what you want in a mate. You are ambitious and determined, but if you do not find a harmonious relationship that understands your unique ways of showing affection, you will be unhappy and feel trapped in your relationship and this may cause your partner to feel self-conscious or unappreciated."
There was an odd look in Fujioka's eyes at that but it was Ito's reaction that surprised her. Most people upon receiving the Devil card—in any capcity—were immediately uneasy, but Ito seemed completely at ease with both the cards and the reading. While Kagome had a knack for being accurate, most people who came to her for readings didn't immediately buy in.
So why had Ito?
She reached for Ito's last personal card with a shuddering breath, feeling a little unnerved by the intensity of Ito's gaze. While his human appearance had brown eyes, she kept seeing golden ones...
The card she flipped over was Death, which put together a picture of their relationship that Kagome knew instinctively would not go over well with Fujioka. Ito, on the other hand, was too hard to read to tell.
"This is Death," she said needlessly, for the card accurately displayed what it was. "In your short-term future, Ito, you will need to let go of something that is no longer serving you. This could be a relationship or perhaps a business deal or personal project. You have already realized it is not working for you but have been slow to change or let go of it for some reason and you will not find happiness until you let go of it."
Understanding was in Ito's expression as he gave her a short nod but Fujioka, on the other hand, let out a sharp breath that Kagome guessed the yokai had been holding in for some time.
I don't want to do this, but...
Kagome's hand moved shakily to the last card, not liking where the reading was moving. Never before had she seen a reading so inharmonious in a couple that was already established, let alone a reading that seemed to be all but shouting for the couple to end a relationship that was neither healthy nor beneficial for either party. It was clear from the cards and what her own senses were telling her that they were incapable of meeting each other's needs.
She reached for the card, starting as Ito's hand moved at the same time, and their fingers touched. For a moment, she didn't see the card at all, but instead, a disquieting vision of Ito...and her. Her hands trembling, she flipped over the tower, in the upside down position, and her breath caught.
"Well?" Fujioka demanded and Kagome could see that Fujioka was desperately seeking for some last validation that the rest of the reading had been wrong and that she and Ito would be compatible in the longterm after all. "What does it mean?"
Kagome raised her eyes to the couple. "This is the tower, in the upside down position. When you receive the tower, it indicates that you are trapped, unable to move forward. In this case, you are trapped in a bad situation, unable to move forward as you are. You need to make a major change, but something is holding you back. You won't be happy until you let it—your relationship—go. The tower in this case signals the end of your relationship."
Fujioka leapt to her feet in a fit of rage. "Never!" she hissed, jerking her purse to rest more firmly on her shoulder. "Come on, Sesshomaru; this human kid is clearly a quack. We've been together for a year! This was supposed to be my gift to you so I could propose!" she wailed, grabbing at her partner and pulling him to his feet.
Kagome was mildly surprised that he let Fujioka, but she wasn't surprised when Fujioka stormed out of the shop, her partner following closely behind her.
As he left, Ito looked over his shoulder to make eye contact with her and she wondered if he'd somehow learned the last thing that she hadn't shared with either Ito or Fujioka. Had she somehow managed to share her vision with him?
When Kagome's hand touched his moments before, she'd seen a vision of her own future, so clear that it had felt entirely too real. Ito was cuddling her close on a bench in the garden, teasing her lips with lily petals as he held the stem of the flower before her, and in the distance, she could hear the sounds of children playing.
The guilt she felt nearly drowned her. It didn't matter that she'd foretold the ending of Ito's and Fujioka's relationship well before the vision—they had, after all, been the ones to draw the cards themselves, not her—nor did it matter that neither of them had been suited for the other.
Kagome still felt like she'd ruined the relationship and she fervently hoped, vision or no vision, that she never saw either of them again.
But she knew better. Fate, once told, would never be denied.
At some point, likely in her near future, Ito and Fujioka would separate and then he would be back—for her.