Disclaimer: I don't own these marvelous characters; they are the property of Rumiko Takahashi. I merely torture them at will and put them in uncomfortable situations whenever possible.
Important Author Note: This is intended to be nothing more than a fluffy romance and any occurrences of an actual plot are entirely coincidental. Also, this IS an Alternate Universe Sess/Kagome fic, with a lot of other non-canon pairings. If you don't like non-traditional pairings, please don't waste your time by reading this fic. There's plenty of traditional stuff out there for you in the big Faniverse. Flames will be used to burn incriminating documents before my congressional hearings.
Summary: Sesshomaru has been placed in an impossible situation by his father, and given a limited amount of time to accomplish the miraculous. With Higurashi Kagome in the picture and Inu-Yasha sabotaging him at every turn, it seems no matter what Sesshomaru chooses - he loses. Or does he? AU, Sess/Kagome
The Scheming Taisho
From a recorded telephone conversation, Taisho International Corporation:
"Hello, Kagome. I know you're busy, so I won't keep you long. I just wanted to let you know I'm back in town."
"Sango? It's so good to hear from you! How was Australia? We've missed you, you know."
"I'm doing OK, I guess."
"Sango? What's wrong?"
" … "
"What? You've got to be joking, right?"
"Kagome, do you remember me telling you about a party I attended a while back? Let's just say I had an alcohol related incident. I had wayyyyyy too much to drink, and I wound up spending the night with some youkai politician."
"Oh Sango, I don't know what to say. Have you told Taisho-sama yet?"
"Taisho-sama picked me up from the airport last night, so he knows. It's a little obvious with this tummy of mine."
"How's he taking the news?"
"He's not thrilled, to say the least. He's very, very disappointed with me, and I can't really blame him. I'm old enough to know better than to get pregnant from some one-night stand."
"Sango, what are you going to do? Does the father know?"
"I have no idea what I'm going to do, Kagome. The father isn't even alive anymore. Read the obituaries from last week and take a good look at the inu youkai who died in some hotel room – that's my kid's father."
"I wish you'd told me before now."
"I was in denial I guess…look, Kagome, I just want to go and lay down for a while. I'll talk to you later tonight when you get home, okay? Bye now."
"Taisho-sama! How come you didn't tell me about Sango?"
The elder youkai ignored the angry outburst from the woman in front of him and continued his telephone conversation with his vice-president in charge of their Western Japan Division. "No, it's not important. That's just 'Take No Prisoners' Higurashi going after my throat as usual...Mm?...Yes, I know the economy is depressed. What I want to know is what you intend to do about your operating losses. I want a detailed plan of action on my desk by tomorrow morning, or you will be joining the ranks of the unemployed. Is that understood? Fine."
Higurashi Kagome had quit pacing the floor and was now seated in the deep leather chair across from him, tapping her foot impatiently. "Have I fired you yet today?" Taisho asked her. He calmly checked his appointment book. "It's penciled in here for 9 am."
Kagome grabbed the book from him and scowled at the entries. "You wrote it down for 9 am every day this year," she said as she scanned through the pages. "Hah! You have to come in on a holiday if you want to fire me next week. And you'll be here by yourself, because I'm not working that day."
"Consider yourself fired twice the day before, then." Taisho began flipping through the paperwork on his desk. After a few minutes, he looked up to see her still sitting there, waiting for him to answer her question no doubt. "Impatient One, I consider this to be Sango's business, so it wasn't my place to tell you," Taisho sighed. "Sango is an adult and does as she pleases."
"I've been her friend since the day you showed up with her hanging on your arm. She's like a sister," Kagome reminded him. "You know damn well I care about her, Taisho-sama. Has Sango told you her plans yet?"
"She plans on keeping the baby, if that's what you're asking," Taisho said distractedly. "Beyond that, you know as much as I do." He closed his eyes as a sudden weariness overtook him. Even though he was youkai and therefore capable of living a very long time, today he actually felt every one of his many years. I'm getting old, I shouldn't be having to deal with this sort of thing on top of everything else that's happening…I should hand over operation of the company to my sons and retire, maybe play some golf…and now my little Sango is pregnant…I hate to see my Darlings make poor choices…
Kagome's gentle, firm hands were on his shoulders, massaging the back of his neck. He tilted his head forward, moving his unruly white hair to the side as she worked the knots out. "You have exactly twenty minutes to stop that," Taisho murmured.
"You're under too much stress," Kagome said soothingly. "Everything's going crazy here at work and you're in the middle of wedding plans. Don't worry about Sango, Taisho-sama, she'll be all right."
Perhaps Sango's revelation had a good side, Taisho decided. Her unexpected pregnancy would keep Kagome distracted, and therefore less likely to find out what other mischief was brewing. Taisho sighed deeply. Following through with his wedding plans most likely meant he would lose his Impatient One, and he didn't want to face this. The thought of losing any of his Darlings bothered him immensely, but he was somewhat prepared to withstand the departure of the others. Kagome, though, was a different story. She was his first Darling, his favorite Darling. She always had been, ever since that day he'd found her in that alleyway, offering her young body for sale. He didn't think his heart could stand the loss of never seeing his favorite Darling again.
From a recorded telephone conversation, Taisho International Corporation:
"Inu-Yasha, is it true? You're really going to do it? You're actually going to work in the same building as the Ice Lord?"
"Yeah, it's true, Hiten. Damn Father's making Sess take over the Shikon Division. He says it's bleeding cash, and you know how much Father loves his money."
"Your old man's going to need every bit of money he can get, if he's going to marry Sakura. That lady is high maintenance, my friend."
"If you were really my friend, Hiten, you'd help me figure out how to stop this wedding before I'm stuck with the Stepmother From Hell. And have you seen her daughters? The way they laugh reminds me of the sound a bird makes before it hits the window."
"They're not that bad, Inu-Yasha. But that mother of theirs…yuck!"
"Look, I've gotta run before The Bitch starts ragging on my ass again. She's been in rare form ever since we lost the Mitsurugi contract to Naraku Enterprises. Shit, I wish Father would hand over control of this company. Higurashi would be the first one I'd kick out the door."
"You can't fire her? You're a vice-president, Inu-Yasha. Get rid of her ass."
"Are you kidding, Hiten? She's untouchable. If someone gave Father the choice of either getting rid of Higurashi or losing his testicles he'd choose the ball-ectomy."
"So it's like that, is it? She must be pretty good if she's got that kind of hold over him. Does your father's fiancée know about her?"
"Of course Sakura knows about her. How could she not be aware of that situation when Father bought Higurashi her own damn mansion to live in? Shit, speaking of the whore, here she comes. Gotta look busy; I'll talk to you later."
Inu-Yasha minimized the screen and grabbed the proposal he was supposed to be reviewing just as Higurashi walked through his open office door. Inu-Yasha gave her a glare over the top of the paperwork and bared his fangs slightly. She ignored his threat and stalked over to the desk.
"Are you going to sign off on that piece of paper or have it framed?" Kagome snapped, slapping her palms down on the desk in front of him. "In case you haven't noticed, your Father's been yelling for that proposal for the last thirty minutes. He wants your opinion on the damn thing now."
"Then tell him my opinion is that this proposal isn't worth the powder to blow it to hell," Inu-Yasha shoved the papers toward her. Unwittingly, his eyes came to rest on her blouse. It was a soft peach-colored silk, with buttons up the front. The third button down was undone, giving a view of a lacy bra and soft flesh. She'd just left his Father's office, he realized with disgust.
"What?" Kagome screeched, interrupting his staring. "I worked on that proposal all night! Just exactly what is wrong with it, pray tell?" Kagome's face was turning an interesting shade of purple, and Inu-Yasha briefly wondered if anyone in the office knew CPR. The human wench looked like she was going to have a stroke.
"That's exactly what's wrong with it," Inu-Yasha sneered. "You worked on it. Why didn't Miroku take care of this? We're paying him to be the expert, why isn't he doing the work?" He grabbed a red pen out of his desk and began marking the document. "You can't use this terminology right here," he pointed. "You have the wrong product specifications on this line; your estimated product delivery date is way off; we'll never be able to meet that deadline...shit, did you even proof-read this thing before you handed it to me?"
"Listen to me, Inu-Yasha," Kagome hissed, grabbing him by the necktie. "I was handed that assignment last night just as everyone else was leaving the building. Miroku was sick and didn't come in yesterday, and his assistant Yura," she spat the name, "didn't even bother to check his inbox. Now why they gave this assignment to me, when it's perfectly clear that I don't handle the proposals, is beyond my limited understanding. Maybe it was because everyone else in your department left early!" her voice rose as she tugged harder on the necktie, causing Inu-Yasha's ears to flatten against his head. "At least the damn thing is done! Fix the mistakes and get this to your Father and try keeping a closer eye on where the hell your employees go forty minutes before quitting time!" Kagome gave the tie a final yank and ran it through the hole-punch on Inu-Yasha's desk.
"Why don't you fix it?" Inu-Yasha demanded.
"Because I have to leave early today!" Kagome retorted as she flipped his hole-punched tie in his face and stomped out.
"Must be nice," Inu-Yasha grumbled. He left his office and ambled over to Yura's desk. "Here, fix this," he told the girl. She gave him a blank look from beneath her short, slick ebony tresses and snapped her gum.
"Um, okay. What do I do with it?" Yura giggled.
"Never mind," Inu-Yasha changed direction, it was faster to do the work himself. He cursed himself for allowing Miroku to select his own assistant. The pervert had obviously chosen Yura based on some standard other than her mental capacity. Looking at the girls' short skirt and plunging neckline, Inu-Yasha could guess what the standards were.
"No wonder this was handed off to Higurashi," he groused. "At least she tried to finish it." A thought crossed his brain and he walked back to Yura's desk. Her legs were now crossed exposing a shapely thigh, and Inu-Yasha felt an involuntary twitch. It was a miracle Miroku got any work done while looking at that scenery.
"Why did Higurashi have to leave early?" he asked curiously. If anyone knew, it would be Yura. She had a gift for sniffing out the best gossip. Inu-Yasha didn't know if it was her keen sense of hearing or her love of chatter that gave her a direct feed into the affairs of the office, but whatever it was definitely worked.
"I heard her talking on the phone and telling someone named Sota that she would be right there to pick him up. She talks to this Sota guy on the phone a lot," Yura added calmly, as though everyone should know this. She drew a comb from her handbag and began running it through her hair.
Inu-Yasha narrowed his eyes at this information. Wonder if Father knows about this guy. It's none of my business, it's none of my business, it's none of my business! I can just see Father's reaction – hey old man, did you know your bitch is stepping out on you? What's it going to take to get rid of that pain in the ass woman?
"Your office is right here, son." Taisho clapped Sesshomaru on the shoulder and guided him into the room. Sesshomaru instinctively stiffened at the familiar touch, but resisted the desire to shrug off the offending hand. His father had a tendency to forget his eldest son disliked physical contact, but the inu youkai meant well.
The elder youkai sat down in the chair across from the desk and gestured to his son to take the seat behind the desk. "So what do you think of the new building?" he asked Sesshomaru. "Definitely a better location," Taisho continued. "We can thank Higurashi for this, she's the one who told me to buy up this land five years ago when it was selling so cheap. Who knew they'd gentrify this area and we'd triple our investments?" he smiled expansively.
"Who indeed?" Sesshomaru replied, concealing his surprise. So the woman has some worth to this business after all, he thought. He had heard plenty about this Higurashi wench, and very little of it was complimentary. Sesshomaru had taken most of the comments at face value, and was curious to see how well the description matched his father's…mistress? Whore? Lover? What was she to him, anyway?
"Where's your office?" Sesshomaru asked his father. He hadn't seen it during the brief tour of the building. He could hardly picture an office suite any larger than the one given to him, but his father's desk had to be somewhere.
Taisho looked mildly uncomfortable and shifted in the chair. "You're sitting in it," he finally spoke. Sesshomaru raised an eyebrow. "I don't plan on being around the company much during the next few months. Got a wedding to plan, you know, and Sakura's complaining of neglect."
"I was under the impression you brought me in to take over the Shikon Division," Sesshomaru said carefully. "Certainly Inu-Yasha should be informed if those plans have changed." What is the crafty bastard sitting in front of me scheming this time?
"Sesshomaru," Taisho leaned forward confidentially, "your brother is, in all fairness, not ready for the responsibilities of running the company. He's matured a great deal over the last few years, but he's still running around with a wild crowd. Taisho International needs someone with – stability."
"Inu-Yasha will view me as usurping your authority," Sesshomaru stated flatly.
"Which is why you aren't taking over just yet," Taisho explained. "I'm not officially stepping down right now; I'm just leaving you with the authority to direct operations in my absence. After a few months, everyone will be accustomed to having the decisions rest upon your shoulders. The transition will be announced at that time, and even Inu-Yasha should have come to terms with it by then." He looked pleased with his idea.
"This isn't going to work, Father." Sesshomaru shook his head at his father's foolishness. "Inu-Yasha will view this as an insult, and probably quit to form his own company."
"He can't. I made him sign non-compete agreements last week," Taisho chuckled. "He was a bit hung-over and didn't read the fine print too carefully. I'd advise you to have our legal department review any documents Inu-Yasha hands you, though. Your brother's liable to try and weasel out of the agreements."
Taisho stood up and brushed some lint off his trousers. "I'll be leaving for the rest of the afternoon, Sesshomaru. I have some personal matters to attend. Sakura and I will be expecting you and Inu-Yasha at dinner tomorrow, by the way. Sakura wants to cook for all of us."
Great. Inedible food punctuated with inane blather from an avaricious demon wench, served with a side of cold hatred from my jealous younger brother. Could the prospect of dinner be any more unbearable?
"Oh, and Sakura's girls will be there as well. This will give you boys a chance to get to know your future step-sisters better." With that parting statement, Taisho took his leave.
I was wrong. It's not unbearable, it's child abuse. Sesshomaru groaned and banged his head against the rich wood of the mahogany desk, wondering if it was too late to disown his family.
"Sota?" The apartment was darkened, but she could hear the television in Sota's bedroom. Kagome flipped the lights on and pulled a face at the condition of her brother's apartment. Dirty clothing and empty takeout food containers littered the floor, and every other available surface was covered with dust, papers and textbooks. Judging by the contents of the sink, every dish in the place was dirty – along with the spare flowerpots.
Kagome tapped gently on the bedroom door. When no one answered, she opened the door and walked in. The sight of her brother lying sound asleep over his textbooks brought a tender smile to her face. "Sota, wake up," she said, shaking his shoulder gently and stroking his hair back.
"'Gome?" Sota mumbled. His face flushed with sleep, he blinked at his older sister and gave her a groggy embrace. "What're you doin' here, Sis?"
"You have a doctor's appointment today," she reminded him. "I'm here to take you. Change your shirt before we leave, it's dirty."
"It's cleaner than anything else," Sota replied. "I need to do my laundry. I just got too tired, Sis."
"I know," Kagome sighed as she watched her brother attempted to place his shoes on his feet. He kept stopping to catch his breath.
"Sota, let me help you," Kagome offered. She knelt and began tying his shoes. "How have you been feeling this week? Better or worse?"
"About the same," Sota wheezed. His lips were turning blue with the effort of talking. "Not as bad as some weeks, though," he continued slowly.
Kagome grabbed the portable oxygen tank from its resting place in the corner of the bedroom. "Here," she fitted the tube to her brother's face. "Ready?" She placed her arm under Sota's thin shoulders and he leaned into her as he struggled to his feet.
"Sorry, 'Gome," Sota said as they slowly descended to the waiting car.
"Sorry? What for?" asked Kagome. She opened the passenger door and tucked Sota into the seat, snapping the safety belt into place.
"For being so damn helpless," Sota continued as she climbed in and put the car into gear. "This sucks, 'Gome. I want to be helping you instead of you having to do everything for me."
"Oh, Sota," sighed Kagome, "you won't be sick forever. The doctors are bound to figure out how to fix your heart eventually. But I do know what you mean," she said sadly. "Everything I do and everything I have is entirely dependent on someone other than me."
"But Taisho-sama's been so good to you," Sota whispered.
"Just like I'm good to you," Kagome pointed out. "That doesn't make the burden of gratitude any easier to bear, does it?" She weaved the car through the heavy downtown traffic.
"Kagome," her brother startled her by using her full name. "When I get better, I'm going to find a way to free you," he said in a serious voice. "I promise you, I won't stop until I find a way."
Tears pricked the back of her eyes. "Sota, you're so sweet," Kagome smiled. "How about I make a promise as well? I promise if I ever gain my freedom, I'll come and sponge off of you for a long time so you can have a turn helping someone, okay?" She clasped his hand briefly and he cracked a weak grin. "Don't be sad on my behalf, Sota. I may be on a leash, but it's a long leash and my owner is kind," Kagome reminded her brother. "My life used to be much worse, remember?"
"She's an expensive one," Sesshomaru muttered as he flipped through the expenditures in his father's personal account. The password he'd been given had opened all kinds of interesting files on the computer. "Sakura's probably a bargain in comparison to Higurashi. What on earth could she possibly be spending so much money on? It looks like Father just hands over money any time she wants it without asking where it went. Humph, that's going to change."
His father had called him from the house. "I forgot to tell you, I need you to handle the disbursements from my personal account for a while," Taisho had said, giving Sesshomaru the password. "I'm leaving town day after tomorrow. Higurashi will let you know if she needs funds. Thanks." Taisho had hung up the phone before Sesshomaru could register a protest.
Sesshomaru, Chief Financial Officer in Charge of Disbursing Funds to Father's Squeeze Toy. Maybe he should get his business cards printed with that title. Father is so dead when I get my claws on him. I won't kill him until after dinner tomorrow, though. I'm going to make him suffer through his fiancée's cooking first.
A/N: Please forgive the repost, but FFN doesn't allow script format. This means I have to adjust any chapter with an email conversation in it…grumbles about losing her plot device…also, quite a few of these chapters were written before I had a beta, so any mistakes are mine alone – Lavender