Disclaimer: I own Inuyasha as much as I regularly update…haha.

Thanks to everyone who reviewed. I was very flattered and touched that so many people continued to review even though the fic hadn't been updated in over two years. The last several years have been a bit tumultuous for me, so your ongoing support means a lot. I apologize if you've forgotten what has happened in the last several chapters since it has been so long. I am also very sorry that I did not list all of the reviewers like I usually do, and I promise that all you reviewers will get recognition the next chapter. Thank you so much for continuing to support this fic!

Special thanks to: GoddessInu03, Nursekatai and Sesshomaru's for continuously pestering me over the years to update. You have no idea how much I appreciated it!

A/N: There is a large dose of Sango/Miroku in this chapter, so if you're not a Sango/Miroku shipper I apologize profusely! And please don't punish me with no reviews. Haha.

Cast List in case you forgot

Jaken- The ever loyal and humble personal assistant of Sesshomaru's. Rin's caretaker. The only one who actually calls Sesshomaru 'Lord' or 'Master' on a daily basis.

Inuyasha Yamamoto- Champion on the semi-pro lightweight boxing circuit. Afraid of commitment. Friends with Kagome for about forever. The no good S.O.B who dumped her for the cousin…Kikyo.

Kagome- $1100 in debt. 22. Likes ice cream. The struggling senior in college who finds herself subject to a gorgeous but overbearing, icy and tyrannical international businessman. Clumsy and talkative.

Kagura- The fiery cousin of the Ice Prince. Sly and cunning. Serial bride. Loves to annoy Sesshomaru.

Kuranosuke- Sango's current boyfriend. Ideal. Treats her well, is going to be a doctor and has money. Rumors say that he is going to propose soon. Bane of Miroku's existence.

Miroku Ishibashi- Perverted. Smooth-talking. Flirtatious. Loves the ladies. Pining after Sango.

Rin- 7.Cute. Sesshomaru's weakness. Rumors say that Sesshomaru is also her father

Sango Uchida- Bearer of brains, beauty and brawn. Sensible. Kagome's best friend and roommate. Star of Tokyo University's Cross Country, Soccer and Judo Teams. Going out with handsome, kind and well-to-do Kuranosuke.

Sesshomaru Arishima- Evil genius. Cold and humorless. Hot as hell. Known for his stunning looks and ruthless business tactics worldwide.

Souta- The responsible, endearing and loving little brother of Kagome. Inuyasha's number one fan. Unaware of the breakup. Needs a cool male figure for Career Day

A few reminders: Everything is in U.S. Currency. Inuyasha has long black hair and he and Sesshomaru are NOT related.

Day 4: His Picture

Sango slipped her feet into her new of pair of black and pink striped Nikes while tying her hair back into a tight ponytail. She nodded in approval as she lightly jogged in place, testing them out. "Not bad." she said to herself as she bent over to brush a bit of lint off one of the shoelaces. She wore a matching outfit of a black lycra tank top and jogging shorts, both with pink stripes on the sides. The small pink Nike logo neatly stood out against the black material of her top. Everything she wore was brand new, the sleek black and pink sports watch and even the black sports bra underneath her tank top were all courtesy of Nike.

For the last few weeks she had been pursued by several major athletic and sports companies, like Puma and Reebok. Word had leaked that she was going to leave her current sponsor, Adidas, which was true, and Sango had a sneaking suspicion that her agent had been the one to blab. Ever since then, she had been constantly bombarded with phone calls and visits from representatives. So far, Nike had been the nicest to her, especially with this recent and very generous gesture of a custom made outfit and shoes, all with her signature colors.

She took a step back to peek into the bedroom she shared with Kagome and as expected, Kagome was fast asleep. Glancing down at her watch, Sango stretched her back a bit; she would make it back in time to wake Kagome up…as usual. With that she silently slipped out the door. She carefully closed the door behind her, but she nearly jumped as she saw a completely unexpected face asleep with his back up against the wall next to the door of her apartment. Sango blinked several times just to make sure that it was really Miroku. Wondering why Miroku was awake at this hour, let alone dressed in a purple muscle shirt and gray athletic shorts, Sango stood there peering at him expectantly, trying to make sense of everything.

Unfortunately none of it made sense, not even to a great mind like hers. After deducing that staring at Miroku wasn't going to wake him up any time soon, Sango finally ended up stomping on his foot. Immediately Miroku's eyes shot open and a howl of pain emitted from his lips as he nearly fell over while trying to clutch his foot. The moment he noticed Sango standing over him with her arms crossed and a concerned look on her face, all traces of pain suddenly vanished. "Good morning Sango!" he chirped cheerfully as he quickly straightened up.

"Good...morning to you...too...Miroku..." Sango replied hestitantly looking Miroku up and down. He looked like he was about to...Sango's eyes widened at the thought. No...he couldn't be serious... Without uttering another word, Sango quickly turned around and raced down the flight of cement stairs to the exit door. Sure enough, she heard Miroku's rushed and pounding footsteps right behind her. With some effort she opened the heavy door and slipped out, not waiting to hold the door open for Miroku. She felt the corners of her mouth twitch upwards as she heard Miroku curse at the door for stubbing his toe.

"Sango! Wait for me!" Miroku called.

Despite herself, Sango slowed to a halt, her eyes cast downwards at her shadow. She could see Miroku's shadow now, and it was getting bigger, meaning that he was getting closer.

"It's quite chilly, but I guess that running will warm us up, eh?" Miroku said pleasantly, a small smile masking the look of exhaustion on his face as he jogged alongside Sango.

Sango merely shrugged although she could feel her cheeks burning already- and they had just started jogging. Miroku had a tendency to have that effect on her...sometimes. Middle school was alright, but the first two years of highschool were awful...every single time Miroku looked at her, Sango's whole face would turn red. Kagome always insisted it was because Sango had a crush on Miroku, but Sango couldn't even imagine liking a chauvinistic and shallow guy like Miroku. She rationalized her excessive blushing to the fact that Miroku had unique eyes. They were a beautiful and dark stone grey, a shade that not even many Americans had. Sango recalled Miroku telling her how his whole family had been baffled by this physical trait of his. He looked exactly like every other Japanese male except for his eyes, so the possibility that Miroku's mother had had an affair was ruled out. His family immersed themselves into researching their family tree when they discovered that his great, great, great, great, great grandfather had actually been an Englishman.

Then her junior year she met Kuranosuke and she gradually grew out of her 'blushing' stage much to Miroku's dismay who had always revelled in the fact that he held that kind of power over Sango.

"I really shouldn't have gone to bed so late, but habits are hard to break..." Miroku chattered on, nearly tripping over his own two feet as he tried to keep up with Sango. She hadn't really realized that she had sped up to running speed until then, and she made no effort to slow down. She usually didn't run this fast, but if she was to keep with her daily routine, she'd have to pick up the pace since Miroku had delayed her by a whole 30 seconds this morning.

His sentences became more choppy as he began to pant, his face red from exertion. "You certainly...have...a...lot...of...will power...to do this every...morning...rain...or shine..."

"Miroku," Sango interjected as she finally slowed her pace much to Miroku's relief. "Why are you doing this?"

"Doing what my dearest Sango?"

"This!" she exclaimed exasperated. "You never ever wake up this early, let alone go on a brisk morning walk."

Miroku sighed as a thoughtful expression crossed his face. "I figured that it's about time I get into 'actual' shape." Miroku said with forced nonchalant smile.

"I thought you were already perfect." Sango commented rather meanly.

"I am...you just run fast." he insisted, "Besides, a good looking body doesn't necessarily mean it's a fit body." All of the sudden Miroku wearily tripped over his foot and did a faceplant on the smooth but hard cement walking trail.

"Miroku!" Sango exclaimed, completely horrified and shocked. She quickly fell to her knees, "Miroku!" she said again, "Are you alright??"

Miroku let out a moan.

"Well, at least you're alive." Sango muttered with a roll of her eyes. "Can you get up?"

Miroku lifted his head up from the ground, blood running down from his nose and down his face. "This must be a dream," he remarked woozily. "There's three of you."

"I think you might've broken your nose!" Sango told him, completely focused on the more urgent matter at hand.

"That might be why I taste blood." Miroku commented as he managed to sit up. He lightly pressed two fingers against his upper lips, only to find them dabbed with blood. Miroku winced; he never did have a strong stomach when it came to blood. Noticing an elderly couple watching them, Miroku waved his two bloodied fingers in greeting. "I'm fine!" he assured them.

"The beauty of your perfect nose might be marred forever if we don't get you to a hospital right away." Sango continued as she studied his potentially broken nose from several different angles.

"No, no, no," Miroku repeated over and over. "No hospital. I'm fine, really," he added in a lame attempt to persuade her so. A hospital was the last place that Miroku wanted to go to. With some difficulty he climbed to his feet with a grunt, "Let's sit down at that bench and enjoy the scenery." he suggested as he gingerly wiped away some blood with the back of his hand. "Shall we?"

Sango took one look at Miroku's bloodied face, tousled hair, hopeful eyes and agreed.

The phone rang.

And it rang...

And it rang.

Why wasn't Sango answering it?? Kagome groaned, but remained in the same position, refusing to move. As the phone continued ringing Kagome finally moved in an attempt to drown out the noise. She buried her head under her pillow and piled her comforter on top of that, but the sharp and annoying ring of the phone persisted. She feebly called out her best friend's name (ignoring the fact that her pillow and blanket most likely muted out any sounds she made), hoping to bring to Sango's attention that the phone was ringing and that she was trying to sleep. It was then Kagome realized that her friend was probably out jogging like she did every single day...meaning that she wasn't really available to answer the phone. With an estranged huff she threw off her blanket and pillow and yawning she crawled out of her bed and used the doorknob of the bedroom door to help herself up onto her feet. Her vision was swimming and her body told her that it wasn't 8:00 am yet. She could make out the phone on the coffee table now; she just had a few more steps to go until that torturous noise would stop. Kagome was so intent on answering the phone just so that she could have some peace that she forgot about the rug and found herself sprawled out on the couch.

She let out a grateful sigh though. If only she could land on something as cushy as the couch each time she tripped over something...

Her wishful thinking was interrupted by the persistent ringing of the phone. She grabbed the phone and answered it, fully expecting the offender to be Sesshomaru because he was most definitely the only person on the whole planet who would be cruel enough to deprive her of her precious sleep. "Hello?"


A quizzical expression crossed Kagome's face. It wasn't Sesshomaru... "Souta?"

"Hey sis. You sound kinda weird. Did you just wake up?"

"Yeah, no thanks to you." Kagome grumbled as she wriggled her body about in an effort to get comfortable on the couch.

"Oh- Well, you sleep too much anyways." Souta replied.

"That's not true!" she protested indignantly.

"I sleep less than you do, but you don't see me getting grumpy. You get angry when you only get 7 hours of sleep." he continued.

"Why did you call so early anyways?" Kagome asked hastily, eager to change the subejct.

"Oh yeah, about that. Can you and Inuyasha come to Kyoto tomorrow?"

Kagome winced at hearing Inuyasha's name. "Err...for what?" she asked slowly.

"You forgot?!" Souta shouted, sounding hysterical and panicky.

"If I hadn't I wouldn't be so confused right now Souta." Kagome commented as she rubbed her eyes.

"It's career day on Thursday Kagome! That's tomorrow! You and Inuyasha always come." Kagome felt a pang of guilt. Of course...career day... She was about to speak, but Souta beat her to it. "I knew you'd forget; I've been trying to reach you for weeks Sis. What's the point of having a cellphone if you don't even answer it?"

"Oh...I kinda broke it." Kagome admitted sheepishly glad for the change in subject.

"Did you drop it in the toilet again?"

"No...I broke off the antennae, but it should only cost about $10 to fix it." she assured her brother.

"Hey sis, Mom's calling, just a sec, ok?"

For the next few seconds Kagome frantically wracked her brain trying to find out a way to break it to Souta that Inuyasha wouldn't be coming...or that if he did that she wouldn't be accompanying him. Perhaps she could just tell him that they had broken up and let him make his own conclusions. Or maybe she could say that Inuyasha was too sick...or had to make up a test... Before she could come up with a solid lie Souta returned. He spoke rapidly, not allowing her to even get a word in edgewise.

"I'm back, but I've gotta go now. Mom and Grandpa say hi, so I'll see you tomorrow then sis. Love you!"

And the line went dead.

Kagome stared at the phone, her mouth agape. All she wanted to do now was crawl into a hole and die...she felt terrible. She could just imagine the crestfallen look on Souta's face when she told him the news; he was such a good kid too. What was she going to do now?

For the last few years, Inuyasha had been going to Souta's middle school career days as a college lightweight boxing champion on the semi-pro circuit. Kagome personally saw them more as opportunities for both Souta and Inuyasha to boast and brag. Inuyasha getting to retell his more bloody and gorey fights while Souta proudly added that he was there in the front row watching. Then Inuyasha would teach the kids a few moves and Souta already knowing the moves would get to be his gloating assistant while Kagome stood by, smiling. After school was out, they would all go home to a big home-cooked meal, courtesy of Kagome and Souta's mother; those days were always close to perfect. The laughter...the love... A wistful sigh escaped from Kagome's lips and a painful ache filled her as she found her throat getting tight. His apartment was only a few doors down; maybe she could go down there to discuss how to take care of the 'Souta situation' like civilized and mature adults.

And while they discussed what to do, Inuyasha would finally break down and apologize for hurting her and for acting like a jerk. Then his dark eyes would look into hers and he would confess how much he loved her and ask her to take him back even though he didn't deserve it...

She blinked back tears as memory after memory floated across her mind. They had been perfect for each other...where had they gone wrong?

After laying on the couch in the complete silence of the apartment for a while, Kagome then saw the clock on the far wall. It was 7:45 am; confusion crinkled her brow. Sango was supposed to wake her up for the first time 15 minutes ago, and considering Sango had never been late for anything her whole entire life, Kagome was extremely worried. Maybe Sango had woken her up 15 minutes ago, maybe Kagome hadn't heard or felt anything because she was so sound asleep, and Sango was probably at the market picking up some soy milk or something like that. So Kagome waited, but 15 minutes later (which was when Sango was supposed to wake her up for the second time), there was still no sign of her friend. Maybe Sango had been kidnapped by athletic gear representatives...

"So have you decided who your new sponsor is going to be yet?" Miroku asked Sango nonchalantly as they sat on the wooden bench.

Sango shrugged as she watched a few people jog and bike by. "A little. I think I'll be going with Nike though."

Miroku nodded. "They're definitely a major company. I suspect we'll be seeing your face on billboards soon."

She laughed, a light pink tinging her cheeks. "I don't know about that." It wasn't long until the both of them fell silent; both of them enjoying the serene quiet the walking path offered, both lost in their thoughts. Well, at least Sango was. Miroku couldn't help but sneak glances at her every now and then. How could he not? Her beauty was so radiant...she was so perfect...he was captivated and mesmerized and he didn't realize that he was staring until Sango spoke, oblivious of her admirer. "That's so cute." she commented as she tilted her head to the side. A puzzled look crossed Miroku's face until he finally looked up, only to see an elderly couple out for a stroll. Perplexed by how they were 'cute,' Miroku turned to look at Sango again. Had she been referring to something else? Judging by how her eyes were following the couple as they slowly walked by, Miroku guessed not. He was failing to see how they were 'cute,' but he supposed that the sight of them was...endearing in a way. "I don't know how they do it," Sango mused out loud with a sigh, "Staying together for all those years can't be easy. I mean, how do you know when someone is you know...the one?"

His breath caught in his throat. He wanted to tell her that you knew when someone was the one when they were all you thought about, even when you were with someone else. He wanted to tell her that you knew when someone was the one when they seemed perfect...despite their obvious imperfections and faults. He wanted to tell her that you knew when someone was the one when you were willing to do anything to put a smile on their face. He wanted to tell her that you knew when someone was the one when your feelings for them didn't fade one bit...even after years and years. He wanted to tell her that you knew when someone was the one when you noticed all of their strange little quirks and habits. He wanted to tell her that you knew when someone was the one when you got so nervous around them that you did stupid things. He wanted to tell her how much he loved her and beg her not to marry Kuranosuke, but all that came out of his mouth was, "I don't know."

Then he did the stupidest thing possible.

He groped her.

An ear-splitting "MIROKU!!!!!!!" rang in the air and all of the sudden everything went black.

"That was really embarrassing." Kagome informed Sesshomaru as they walked out to his car.

"I'm glad."

Kagome scowled in reply. "I mean really, you're not even my mother! Were they even legally at will to discuss my grades with you??"

"Being rich, famous, powerful and handsome has its advantages."

"I'd rather do whatever degrading and menial tasks you need me to do than study these books." she admitted out of desperation.

He didn't say anything and merely walked around to the other side of the car and got in. Kagome glowered at him through the tinted window and considered running off and hiding in the girl's bathroom or something. Then when Sesshomaru actually came into the bathroom to get her and stuff her into his car, she could have some material to sue him with. But then she did have to consider the fact that no sane lawyer in the world would be willing to side with her if the opposing party was Sesshomaru Arishima. Her expression soured and with no attempt to mask her bitterness Kagome got into the car, dropping her bulging bookbag onto the ground with a heavy thud.

Kagome didn't even bother to badger him with the usual questions today; she just slouched in her seat and stared out the window. 'He thinks he can do whatever he wants just because he's good-looking and almighty,' Kagome angrily thought to herself, ignoring the fact that he actually could do whatever he wanted because he was good-looking and almighty. 'Someday he'll fall off his high horse and he won't be one of the most powerful men in the world anymore, and on that day I'm going to laugh in his face and...' Kagome suddenly sat upright, her body rigid and her eyes wide. She hardly dared to breathe... She sneaked a glance over at Sesshomaru and nearly hugged him. Why hadn't it occurred to her sooner? Although he was the cause of 90 of her problems, he could solve at least 5 of them!

There was only one thing better than a lightweight boxing champion of the semi-pro circuit...

A wealthy business tycoon...

Specifically one named Sesshomaru Arishima...

Who was coincidentally driving the car she was in...

"Sooo, how are you today?" Kagome asked him pleasantly a beauteous smile gracing her face.

"I was doing fine until you felt the need to talk." he replied with obvious disinterest.

"That's...great..." she said hesitantly. She was starting to have second thoughts about her current tactics. Were all these niceties really worth making Souta happy? Could she even continue with these niceties?? Her younger brother's innocent and unselfish face floated across her mind; he did so much for her while she merely bought him the occassional ice cream and lollipop. Bringing Inuyasha over for Career Day was the least she could do for him, but she just couldn't bring Inuyasha...she just couldn't.

Sesshomaru gave Kagome an odd look, but didn't say anything. Silence was good.

"Do you have any siblings?" she suddenly asked.

"No." he told her flatly. Kagome nodded, not expecting anything more. "My mother was too sick to have anymore children."

A soft, 'Oh' escaped from Kagome's lips. For the first time since their first encounter, Kagome saw Sesshomaru as more than just some arrogant and selfish Machiavellian business-empire-building jackass. For the first time since their first encounter, Kagome saw Sesshomaru as a human.

As soon as he finished speaking, Sesshomaru nearly drove into the concrete road dividers. That had been completely unnecessary and uncharacteristic of him. What had possessed him to reveal such irrelevant information to Kagome? He never talked about his mother and he hardly even talked about his father. It wasn't just because there was no point in doing so; he just didn't like it. Sesshomaru had cared very much for his mother, and possibly even loved her. She had been the only person he had ever smiled for, only because she swore that Sesshomaru's smile could brighten even the darkest of her days. Even though she was frail and weak, she always had this dignified and regal air about her. She was a magnificent story teller, telling Sesshomaru of the days when she was a young girl and able as a sprite. It was hard for Sesshomaru to believe his mother's stories of her joyful and humorous childhood because she was usually somber and serious. She had been a strong woman, battling a disease that was supposed to have taken her life years before, but even the strongest and greatest of warriors could only fight for so long.

At least she was no longer in pain.

"I have a younger brother." Kagome finally said after a while.

"I am glad." Sesshomaru said tersely, a bit irritated that Kagome had pulled him out of his thoughts.

"His name is Souta," Kagome continued.

Sesshomaru didn't say anything, his face blank as usual. Souta...the name rang a bell. Of course...her ex-boyfriend, except that Souta wasn't her ex-boyfriend at all...he was her younger brother. For some reason, a mysterious feeling of resent disappeared the moment he deduced that.

"Souta's pretty mature for his age," she went on, pretending to be completely oblivious to the fact that Sesshomaru really couldn't care less. "I mean, half the time he was the one who woke me up for school. That and he even got my homework assignments for me whenever I was home sick. He's a really nice kid." She sighed fondly at the memories; while her friend always complained about their siblings, Kagome could only praise hers.

"You should learn a thing or two from him."

"You're probably right," she admitted sheepishly.

"I'm always right."

"Of course...how could I forget..." Kagome's voice faded off as she calmed herself. Her mission was to make Souta happy...and that was what she was going to do... "So...Souta's-having-this-career-day-on-Thursday-and-I-kind-of-told-him-that-you-would-come."


Kagome pouted. "You do know that you're going to crush the hopes and dreams of a little boy, right?"

"It is a favorite pasttime of mine."

"Can't you just be serious for once?" Kagome pleaded, obviously distressed.

"I am always serious." Sesshomaru told her sternly.

"Yeah, yeah. Always right, always serious, always an ASS." she retorted hotly, her voice sounding strained. Before he could interject, Kagome proceeded with her ranting, "Sess- I mean, Sesshomaru-sama, this Career Day is really important to Souta, and I promised him that I'd take care of it. Can you just please do this one thing for me? I'll never ask for anything again, not even icecream; I'll even work an extra month for you if I have to." Her mournful dark brown eyes of desperation looked up at him, begging him to muster up just one gram of the nonexistent compassion within him.

Sesshomaru's amber eyes turned away from the road as he looked at Kagome for a moment. For that single moment their eyes locked, his hard eyes looking into her soft ones. He had convinced the world and himself that he had no heart while she wore hers on her sleeve. But no one cared to look for his and no one cared to look at hers. Everyone was content to be deterred by his coldness and everyone was content to be fooled by her warmth. For that moment he ceased to think of her as an annoying woman-child and for that moment she ceased to think of him as a mean old man. The moment was soon over though and Sesshomaru turned away much to Kagome's disappointment.

"Fathers are supposed to go to Career Days." Sesshomaru informed her in clipped tone.

"He would...if he were alive." Kagome replied, her voice sounding choked, "He was killed by a drunk driver two years after Souta was born."

They had so much in common; his mother died when he was a teenager and her father died when she was almost a teen. They were practically soulmates. Sesshomaru nearly snorted but cleared his throat instead. Yet...strangely enough, he wanted to say yes, just to make her smile, but he had already made so many exceptions for this girl. She had just come barging into his life and turned it upside down all on her own. All of the sudden Sesshomaru found himself telling his secretaries to reschedule meetings, thinking about her, leaving work to pick her up and take her places, working less and actually trusting others with responsibility and work...he had to draw the line somewhere. If not...his whole empire would crumble...and then everything that both he and his father had worked for would be gone...all because of some girl.


Kagome was stunned by his reply. "You're Sesshomaru Arishima. There's nothing that you can't do."

"I remain steadfast with my initial decision." Even though he made every effort to say it without looking at Kagome, Sesshomaru knew very well that he had just hurt her on a deeper level. He could even feel the crestfallen look on her face. If she had thought that he was a little bit human for his slip of tongue earlier, she most surely didn't think so now.

"Fine. Whatever. I should've known that you're not the dependable kind anyways."

It probably ran in the family; his father never came to his career day.

He carefully took her hands in his. Her hands were a bit rough from all of the sports she played, but he didn't mind at all. Her hands fit perfectly inside his...almost as if their hands had been meant to hold each other. "Sango...I love you."

Her eyes welled up with tears as she smiled. "I love you too."

"That's why I want to know...if you'll marry me."

Her smile was now radiant, and he knew that he would never get tired of seeing her face every morning when he woke up. She threw her arms around him and he swore that he was in complete and utter ecstasy. "Oh Kuranosuke, of course I will!"


"Miroku, it's ok!"

Hearing Sango's voice immediately soothed him and Miroku stopped yelling. His heart was racing and he felt like he was choking. It was rather difficult to breathe as well and he was forced to breathe through his mouth. He blinked rapidly, while his hands felt around on something that felt a lot like a bed. "Whe...where am I?" he finaly asked once he was aware of his foreign surroundings.

"You're in a hospital." Sango informed him, wincing slightly.

"How did I get here? What happened?" Miroku asked, extremely confused. He definitely did not recall being brought to a hospital, nor needing to go to one. He probed his foggy memory for recollections of what had happened. The last thing he remebered was sitting on the bench and talking with Sango, and then he had... Miroku groaned. Why did he always ruin moments?? He buried his face in his hands, or at least attempted to. A shock of pain went through his body the instant one of his pinky fingers brushed up against his nose. "Oh Kami, that hurt!" he exclaimed as his whole face contorted with pain.

"I'm so sorry Miroku!" Sango sputtered as she rose up and out of her chair. "I really didn't mean to. It was an accident, well, I meant to hit you, but not that hard."

Miroku gave Sango a blank look. "I'm afraid I have no clue what you are talking about Sango." Miroku paused, "I'm very confused to be honest."

Sango's voice faltered. "I...broke your nose."

"You what?!" Miroku gingerly tapped his nose again...just to confirm Sango's claims, not that she would really have any need to lie to him about such things. He certainly felt pain, but he couldn't actually feel his nose. Instead of his own warm flesh he felt cold metal. "Why would you do such a thing?"

All hints of sympathy, apology and compassion vanished as Sango glowered at him. "I'm pretty sure I punched your nose, not your head," she grumbled. She gave him a look of disdain as she noticed how he was staring at her chest. "You're such a pervert!"

"Are those blood stains?" Miroku asked as he brushed aside her comments.

Sango looked down at her black lyrca tank top and saw that there really were some darker spots on her shirt, and that the formerly pink Nike logo on the tank top was now red. "I guess so..."

"I have a feeling that's my blood."

She shrugged although they both knew perfectly well that it was. "Fortunately your nose broke...I broke your nose cleanly so it should heal within a few weeks at the maximum. You have to be careful when you're taking showers and washing your face. They've prescribed you some pretty strong pain killers, and no sunglasses or any type of glasses."

"Says who?" Miroku demanded as he looked around the sterile white room.


Miroku's fists clenched and jaw tensed at the mention of Kuranosuke. Sure he couldn't exactly remember what happened and how he got here although he imagined Sango carried him, (Sango was very strong), but he most certainly remembered that awful nightmare he had had. "I believe that I explicitly told you that I didn't want to go to a hospital."

She was at loss for words. Miroku had never sounded so cold before...and she was taken aback. "I'm...sorry, but I was worried about you."

A pang of guilt hit Miroku. He hadn't meant to come across so icily, but Sango didn't understand. He didn't like this hospital. Miroku didn't care if he was half-dead; he'd rather go to a different hospital even if it was farther away. Kuranosuke worked at this hospital, and knowing that Kuranosuke was probably the one who had reset his nose didn't exactly make Miroku feel better. "Sango? Thank you."

A shy smile spread across Sango's lips and Miroku was captivated once again. "No problem, really."

Then the devil came in. "I see that you've woken up now Miroku."

Miroku wanted to punch that smile off of his face.

"Would you like anything to drink?" Kuranosuke offered.

"I'm fine." Miroku replied stiffly.


"I'm a little thirsty. Is there a vending machine anywhere?" Sango inquired.

Kuranosuke nodded and pointed out of the door. "There's one down the hall to your right. Need a dollar?"

"A dollar would be nice," she agreed laughing lightly as she plucked the dollar from his fingers. "Thanks!"

Miroku rolled his eyes as he noted Kuranosuke's adoring eyes follow her out the door. The sweet reality of it all made him sick; Kuranosuke was truly in love with Sango. "I'm going to marry that girl someday." he suddenly announced. Before Miroku could say anything Kuranosuke began to fill Miroku in on do's and don'ts (more don'ts than do's), what medications he was to take, and he was in the middle of listing precautions when Sango returned.

"I'm not quite sure that I understand everything you've told me so far," Miroku interceded smoothly, his voice crisp and overly polite.

"It's alright Miroku. I'll just have Kuranosuke explain it all to me and I'll break it down for you later." Sango offered.

"That won't be nec-" Miroku began.

"It's completely necessary. Taking care of you is the least I can do."

"Well, if you insist." Miroku conceded as he raised both of his hands up in the air in mock surrender. He couldn't help but smile...his plan had worked better than he could have ever anticipated. Sango taking care of him at the price of a broken nose? He wasn't complaining.

"So what will it be today?" Kagome asked Sesshomaru as she trailed behind him, toting his black leather briefcase.

"What are you talking about?" Sesshomaru asked as he was handed a clean white manila folder.

"Are you going to ductape me to a chair and make me type something for you, or am I going to have to accompany you to another conference meeting or-"

"None of the above," Sesshomaru interrupted. "You will be focusing on more important matters today."

Kagome was confused. What could be more important than Sesshomaru? Absolutely nothing...was he going to make her shampoo his hair or something? As hard as she tried to be disgusted by the thought, Kagome couldn't help but kind of long to touch his hair. He had this fine and naturally silver colored hair that hung all the way down to his waist. Yet he didn't look like a hippie or an old man...his hair just added to the whole 'refined-look' he had going on. "I don't get it." Kagome finally said.

"Your education." he replied very matter-of-factly.

"What about it?" Kagome asked again, displeased with the subject of talk.

Half an hour later Kagome was laying on a comfy and elegant divan in the far corner with a thick book propped up on her stomache. It was safe to say that she wasn't making much progress as she was still on page 7, which was technically the first page because the first six pages had been full of publishing and copyrights, a preface and an explanation of footnotes and so forth. Kagome was still fuming over the fact that Sesshomaru had called her grades lousy and commanded that she actually start reading the assigned books. She had shot back that she had perfected the 'good guesser' strategy and didn't need to waste her precious time by reading boring books full of ancient Japanese words that no one except her grandfather used nowadays. Of course Sesshomaru didn't believe that a 'C' was passing and perfectly acceptable. That and he wouldn't even let her sit in the black leather furniture that was in the middle of the room. She was apparently not worthy of sitting in the armchairs or the couch and was hence banished to the divan in the far corner. Huffing, Kagome turned the page although she hadn't really digested what she had just read.

All of the sudden the door opened, and a man with flushed cheeks timidly stepped inside the office of doom. He bowed several times before speaking, "Sesshomaru-sama, I am afraid that I have some bad news." It was obvious that the man was terrified of having to be the bearer of ill news. A contest of doom had been going on while Sesshomaru went out to fetch Kagome. All of the employees in the public relations and media department had been engaging in rounds of 'Rock, Paper, Scissor' to see who would be the unlucky loser.

"And...?" Sesshomaru inquired, annoyed by the man's excessive sweating and fidgeting.

"There is talk of you in the media..." the man's voice peetered out as he nervously loosened his constraining necktie.

"This is not news of any sort- good or bad." Sesshomaru commented, his eyebrows furrowing just slightly.

"Oh right, of course sir."

Kagome waited for the man to choke and keel over any second now.

"I'll just let you peruse these on your own time then." The man placed a stack of various magazines and newspapers on the edge of Sesshomaru's desk and exited immediately.

Sesshomaru proceeded to jot down random notes and to shuffle through papers...acting as if the man hadn't even been there.

"Well if you're not going to take a look, I will." Kagome finally announced as she precariously tossed aside her copy of The Tale of the Heike, anything was better than that.

"Did I say you could stop reading?" Sesshomaru asked as he began to black out words and even paragraphs of some packet.

"No...what's with all these magazines? They're not even the business ones...they're hip fashion magazines." It had been a while sine Kagome had read one of these magazines. She and Sango used to read them all the time; she wondered why they had given up such a fun activity. It was then she realized that all of the magazines and newspapers contained bright blue markers. Curious, Kagome turned to one of the marked pages and was horrified at what she saw. Her mouth was agape in a silent scream as her eyes scanned the page.


One of the world's most eligible, richest and single bachelors no longer appears to be available anymore. Numerous students of Tokyo University have reported the business mogul coming to the school nearly everyday to pick up his new girlfriend. Although it is unclear how they met, the very lucky girl, Kagome Higurashi, seems to have resisted the charms, looks and power of Sesshomaru Arishima as people have reported that Sesshomaru was forced to adopt a very aggressive courting method in the beginning...

"Why are your eyes bugging out so?"

Startled by the interruption, Kagome stopped reading and looked up. "Huh?"

"Stop reading such frivolous works and resume the classic work of blind monks," he ordered as he pointed to the divan with his big, fat black marker that was emitting a very toxic smell.

"That is the most unflattering picture ever! I look so chubby!" Kagome complained.

"You always appear less than thin, but what are you even whining about?" Sesshomaru contested.

"THIS!" She jabbed at the marked page in the magazine and pushed it across the desk.

Not even a hint of a wrinkle of worry was etched into Seshomaru's face. He seemed completely unfazed, "I look good." he remarked casually as he turned to another marked page in the magazine.

"Did you even read a single word on that page?" Kagome asked, clearly frustrated.

"Of course I did. It amuses me how the media seems to think I'd actually date a cow, much less a poorly dressed one."


"You sound so alarmed," Sesshomaru calmly noted as he saw that he had made 'Best Dressed' once again. He was almost always listed as one of the 'Best Dressed' of the A-list celebrities of not only Japan, but of the world. Sesshomaru hadn't always been such a favorite of the media; it was only after he succeeded his father that he received media exposure. He exploded onto the international scene as his face launched a thousand websites; some dubbed him the true Prince of Japan much to the disdain of the Royal Family of Japan. Unfortunately for them, there wasn't much they could do as they were virtually powerless, but in reality, even if they had had some power, it would have been beyond them to be able to to do anything about it. He was hired to do a few modeling stints and quickly became the face of Gucci, Prada and Chanel, which was really quite beneficial to Sesshomaru as his empire branched out and grew. He made history as his popularity exceeded the boundaries of Japan and Asia; he was an international star.

"More like angry," Kagome corrected him, "I am not a cow." she sniffed.

"Why so defensive?" he questioned as he traded in the magazine for a newspaper.

"I'm going to call every single one of these newspapers and magazines this instant and set the record straight," Kagome announced, choosing to navigate the conversation in a new direction.

"You will do no such thing."

"Why not?" she asked, slightly curious. She would've expected Sesshomaru to have tossed the stack of magazines and newspapers out the window a.s.a.p and called his lawyers so that he could sue the media for defamation and printing falsehoods. Kami forbid that he be rumored to be dating some poor nobody college girl.

Sesshomaru purposely crinkled the open newspaper loudly before spreading it over his desk, revealing a large picture of him and Kagome having dinner. "One, I forbid you and two, the contract you signed forbids you as well, under the terms that I forbid you from doing so in the first place."

"That's not fair!" Kagome retorted.

"Nothing in life is fair," Sesshomaru countered. "You really should've read the contract."

"I did!" she persisted even though she knew it was a hopeless cause.

"No, you only wish you did." he amended.

"You're right..." she agreed at last with a heavy sigh. "Pig." she added under her breath.

"You are to take out anything that is over ten years old." Sesshomaru explained, his voice and expression as grave as ever.

"How do I know how old a file is?" Kagome asked as she brushed a tendril of her hair out of her face, eyeing the huge metal filing cabinet in front of her with distaste.

"By looking through it."

Kagome winced; she should've thought of that. "That's not very efficient," she piped for pride's sake.

"No, you are just lazy." he informed her.

Kagome rolled her eyes. For a man who was emotionless, Sesshomaru was sure sensitive. He was going to subject her to rifling through old and dusty folders just because she called him a pig? Pig was really just an acronymn for 'Pretty, Intelligent Guy,' but noooo, Sesshomaru had to prove how tyrannical he was. Maybe he was insecure in his manliness so he had to make himself feel better by harrassing her- yes, that was it. By the time Kagome was finished with her musings, Sesshomaru had returned to his desk. Expending all of the air from her lungs, Kagome squared her shoulders and grabbed a handful of folders; she could do this!

An hour later Kagome wasn't so sure if she could do this. She was already exhausted and she felt light-headed. A lot of the folders were older than her, and extremely dusty. She had probably inhaled so much dust that her lungs were full of miniature dust bunnies by now. The folders all had an unpleasant musty smell to them as well, which had literally rubbed off and onto Kagome. On top of that, Sesshomaru had relentlessly been shooting question after question at her. "Name two works of classical literature." he told her without looking up from his work.

"Uhm...The Pillow Book and..." Kagome made a face as she struggled to remember, "The Tale of the Heike?" she proposed tentatively.

Sesshomaru stopped typing on his computer and gave Kagome a long and hard look. "No."

Kagome frowned, "But I could almost swear that you said the Tale of the Heike was a classical work of literature...are you trying to confuse me on purpose?"

"I said it was a classic. There is a difference."

"Oh, yeah, big difference." Kagome sarcastically agreed as she dramatically waved her hands in the air to make her point.

Sesshomaru chose to ignore her crazy antics and continued with the questions, "Who was the first Japanese author to win the Nobel Prize for Literature?"

Kagome bit her lower lip as she added yet another file to the 'discard' pile; she knew the answer to that question...but at the moment it was eluding her. "Uhm...Kawa...Kawa..."


"I wasn't done," Kagome said angrily as she threw several more files to the side. Clearly frustrated at both herself and Sesshomaru, Kagome began to stomp around as if willing the answer to fall out of her mouth. She was so engulfed in trying to remember what came after 'Kawa,' that she didn't watch her step. A lot of the folders had acquired a waxy texture from age and were hence quite slippery against the soft carpeting of Sesshomaru's office. Kagome firmly stepped on one of the folders in the midst of her little tirade and with a yelp her feet flew out from underneath her. She hit the ground with a muffled thud and found herself staring up at the vaulted ceiling. The carpeting was very comfortable to the tired body of the college girl and despite herself Kagome curled up on the floor, closed her eyes and fell asleep.

"That was from Kami himself." Sesshomaru told Kagome, not displaying even the subtlest signs of his gloating. Kagome's fall could not have come at a more better time. It just proved that Kagome shouldn't try and rebel; why couldn't she hang onto his every word like all the other women in the world did? Sesshomaru waited for some indignant response or for something to fly a foot or two away from his head, but nothing happened, like literally nothing. And it puzzled him to say the least...maybe even concerned him. "Higurashi?" he called as he typed furiously, his accuracy perfect. He waited a few seconds, but he still got nothing. "Wench, answer me." he demanded. He waited again, and still he got nothing. "Are you sulking?" he asked, thinking that Kagome was probably all 'hurt' over his earlier comment. But knowing Kagome, she could be ignoring him too.

Sesshomaru finally stopped typing and looked across the room. Kagome laid there on the ground in a fetal position. Was she hurt? The possibility that Kagome could be hurt sent Sesshomaru almost bolting out of his chair, but he kept his composure as it was highly unlikely that she was seriously injured. "Kagome?" Not even a sound. He exhaled a little louder than normal to show that he really wasn't finding this whole affair amusing, but Kagome still didn't stir. Sesshomaru finally nudged her with his shoe, and he finally got a response...of sorts.

He got a snort.

Then he got a snore.

Kagome was sleeping on the job.

"Did it tire you that much to try and remember the answer?" he asked her sleeping figure as he crouched down. Sesshomaru paused to study her before he scooped her up into his arms. There was a light smile on her lips and she looked serene and peaceful. He wondered what she dreamt about as he walked towards the divan whereupon he deposited her. He began to walk away, but promptly turned back around and stood in front of the divan, staring down at Kagome. Sesshomaru gracefully produced his big, fat black marker from his silk shirt pocket and uncapped it, ready to draw the unsuspecting Kagome a unibrow, but that was a little cruel so he refrained.

An hour later Kagome woke up on her own, feeling very refreshed and able to take on anything. "Kawabata Yasunari!" she said loudly as she jumped off the divan an exuberant smile on her face. "Kawabata Yasunari was the first Japanese author to win the Nobel Prize for Literature." she told Sesshomaru proudly who didn't seem too impressed.

"It only took you a little over an hour to answer. Congratulations." he responded.

Kagome pouted. Sesshomaru just had to ruin the moment...she hadn't even been able to bask in her triumph. She reluctantly resumed cleaning out the filing cabinet without another word while wondering how on earth she had gotten to the divan and why Sesshomaru had allowed her to sleep. Was he trying to be nice? That thought was a bit...overwhelming.

An hour and a half later Kagome was nearing completion. She grabbed another handful of files and dumped them tothe ground when the few files left in the top file cabinet fell over. With a groan Kagome grabbled about in an attempt to find them, and in her quest for the last few files her hand hit something more solid and harder than a file was supposed to be. Baffled as to what it could be, Kagome stood up on her tip-toes so that she could place both hands into the filing cabinet. She felt around the bottom and carefully lifted the mystery item out of its cold and metal prison. She slowly got down on her knees and delicately placed the ornate wooden box on the ground. Kagome glanced back over her shoulder to see if Sesshomaru was still preoccupied with his work, and as expected...he was. After an internal debate on morals that lasted a whole two seconds, Kagome decided that she should hurry up and see what it was that Sesshomaru had hidden and seemingly forgotten about in that cabinet before he decided to start quizzing her again.

She made a face at the layer of dust on the pads of her fingers and wiped them clean on the carpet. Careful to grab only the places she had already touched as to avoid anymore dustiness, Kagome gingerly eased the wooden top off. She felt the blood rushing to her ears and held her breath. There was nothing particularly fascinating or spectacular in the box though, much to Kagome's disappointment. The only thing in the wooden box was a photo frame, but it was upside down so Kagome couldn't tell if there was a picture in there or not. Feeling like she was about to do something devilishly dangerous like those leather-clad female spies in movies, Kagome turned the photo frame over, expecting some scandalous picture.

Once again, Kagome was disappointed; the picture was of a man and a woman. The man looked almost exactly like Sesshomaru, with the honey colored eyes, long silver hair and everything while the woman was fragile looking with pale skin and drawn face. There was one major difference between the man in the picture and Sesshomaru though; the man in the picture had an almost roguish smile on his face and it was almost startling to see because it was like Sesshomaru smiling...and as far as Kagome knew, no one had ever seen Sesshomaru smile before. She had always imagined that the only smiles that would suit Sesshomaru, (if he was even the smiling sort that is) would be the evil and twisted ones. But seeing a face identical to Sesshomaru's smiling back at her made Kagome's stomach flutter.

Flustered by what she suddenly felt, Kagome was ready to tuck the picture frame back into the wooden box where it belonged when something snagged in her mind. Eyebrows furrowed Kagome studied the picture again. She safely assumed that they were Sesshomaru's parents, but her eyes were focused on Inutaisho's face. He posssessed flawless skin like his son, except for a scar on his forehead, right above his left brow. The more she stared at his face, the more and more familiar the face looked, and it wasn't because it looked like Sesshomaru's. Kagome had seen this man before...and it wasn't from any magazine or television... Her eyes widened as she finally recalled where she had seen Inutaisho's picture before.

What a small world.

And there was no mistaking it. The scar...the smile...it had to be the same person. Instead of being pleased with herself for her deductions, Kagome was slightly disturbed because in the other picture she had seen of Inutaisho, he had been with another woman.

That woman's name was Izayaoi.

And she was Inuyasha's mother.

Shaken by her discovery Kagome quickly put the picture frame face down in the box, and put it back in the metal filing cabinet. Her index finger tapped against her lips as a pensive look set in on her face. Kagome had asked Izayaoi about the picture before. Izayaoi had told her that she had once worked for the famous Inutaisho and that she liked to keep the picture out for bragging purposes, but Kagome wasn't so sure if she believed Izayaoi's explanation anymore. Yet Kagome was sure that she knew Izayaoi well enough...she couldn't have been involved in an affair...there was just no way...but there was more than enough evidence proving otherwise...unless Inutaisho had a twin brother who had the same exact scar in the same exact place...or something. "Sesshomaru?" Kagome called.

Sesshomaru didn't respond in the slightest and acted as if he didn't hear her.

"Did your father...Inutaisho have a twin brother?" she asked as she went back to looking through files to see if they were older than ten years or not.

"No." he responded.

"Did he have a cousin who looked a lot like him?" she continued.

"No." he answered again.

"Are you sure?"



Obviously fed up with Kagome's little interrogation, Sesshomaru chose to gently interrupt her. "Why do you continue to annoy me with questions irrelevant to you and your task?"

"I'm just curious." Kagome grumbled.

"Curiosity is not a virtue." he advised her.

"I never said it was!" she protested.

"I never said you did." he countered.

"Then why'd you say that?"

"I was merely sharing some words of wisdom with you," Sesshomaru paused for a split second, "Because that is how generous of a man I am."

Kagome couldn't help but laugh, and just to irk Sesshomaru she began to laugh louder and louder, exaggerating the absurdity of that last comment. Then she snorted; embarrassed, Kagome stopped laughing (and snorting) and started to play with her hair.

"I thought you were a cow, not a pig." Sesshomaru observed.

"You're mean and you're really not that generous." Kagome retorted.

"That is all a matter of opinion, and currently yours does not matter."

Her mouth opened to fire back at him, but tragedy struck and she had no comeback...so she announced that she had to go to the bathroom.

Five minutes later Sesshomaru heard someone shrieking.

Ten minutes after that Kagome came marching in, pointing at the 'Property of S.A' stamped on her head in green ink. "What is this?!" she demanded as she pointed to her red and green forehead.

"My, my. That is one peculiar rash. You should see a doctor." Sesshomaru advised, the corners of his lips curled in disgust.

"I hate you!" Kagome shouted, both livid and close to tears at the same time, "You're selfish and arrogant and you never think about anyone else's feelings. Did you ever stop to think that I might have feelings too? Just to let you know, unlike you I do have feelings- as well as a heart and a soul. You're impossible Sesshomaru Arishima."

"So I have heard."

"How much longer do you plan on being a mute?" Sesshomaru asked, boredom and indifference in his voice.

Kagome didn't reply; she kept on staring out the window with a blank look on her face and a forlorn look in her eyes.

"You will not be of much use to me if you do not speak," he added after a while. Kagome hadn't spoken since she exploded at him; he had even personally removed all traces of the green stamp from her forehead, but Kagome apparently didn't understand the magnitude of that gesture. Her ungratefulness angered Sesshomaru and he hadn't talked since then either...until now. He wasn't sure why, but he didn't like it when Kagome was unhappy. "I am going to buy a restaurant. I will need a second opinion on the food." Sesshomaru was going to tell her that the restaurant was famed for their sweets and pastries, but he didn't. Two could play the silent game, and Kagome would lose.

"Lincoln Navigator, check." a man with a silver mohawk said.

"Man with silver hair, check." a man with black and silver striped hair noted.

"Young college girl, check." a man with striking blue eyes quipped. "Let's do this." The three men then got out of their car and ran across the street, just as Sesshomaru gave the valet the keys to his Lincoln Navigator. It was only after the valet drove away in the luxury SUV that the three men began snapping photos like mad crazy. The flashing bright lights caught Kagome by surprise and she raised a hand to try and cover her face.

"Miss Higurashi, how did you and Mr. Arishima meet?" the man with the silver mohawk called.

"Miss Higurashi, how do you feel about being dubbed Japan's Cinderella?" the man with the black and silver striped hair yelled.

"Miss Higurashi, would you like to go on a date with me?" the man with striking blue eyes inquired, a cocky smile on his handsome face as he stopped taking pictures.

Kagome squinted in order to get a better look at him, but before she could say anything Sesshomaru had grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her away. The three paparazzi followed, taking pictures of Sesshomaru with Kagome in tow. They would've gone inside the restaurant as well, except that several waiters barred them from coming inside.

"Drats. Should we wait around until they're done Kouga?" the man with the silver mohawk asked.

"Yeah, let's get them when they come out." the man with the black and silver striped hair agreed.

The man with the striking blue eyes flashed his friends a toothy grin and shook his head, "Nah. Let's follow them instead." With that the three men went back inside their dark blue Toyota truck to wait.

"What was with that question anyways?" the man with the silver mohawk asked.

"Yeah, why would you want to go on a date with her?" the man with the black and silver striped hair agreed.

Kouga shrugged, "I'm not sure, but I felt something the moment I looked at her." The other two men looked at Kouga in awe and surprise. Kouga was a notorious playboy who believed in lust and not love. Relationships were a foreign concept to him and he was sworn to the bachelor life, no woman could tie Kouga down. That and women didn't catch Kouga's eyes, Kouga caught women's eyes. "I'm going to make her my woman."

Kagome struggled against Sesshomaru's grip while they were ushered to the private table at the back of the restaurant, but Sesshomaru didn't relent. It was only when he slipped into his seat that he let go of her wrist.

The smiling waiter who introduced himself as Hojo presented them with their menu's and politely asked them if they wanted anything to drink. He was surprised when Kagome pointed at the fancy scripted word 'Soda.' "Uhm, what kind of soda would you like ma'am?" he asked. When Kagome looked at him expectantly, Hojo nodded in understanding and began listing various sodas. "And a Shirley Temple it is," he declared the moment Kagome vigorously nodded as its mention. He flashed Kagome a bright smile who returned the favor with a shy smile of her own. "And for you sir?" Hojo inquired of Sesshomaru who had been looking at the lists of wines, waiting for Kagome to slip up and speak.

Sesshomaru looked up at Kagome who had a smug smirk on her face and then looked at Hojo. Silently he pointed to his wine of choice and nodding Hojo scrawled down the name of the wine and went off. He didn't spare Kagome another look as he already knew that she was now glowering at him for copying her. Sesshomaru leafed through the menu although he really didn't need to; he and Kagome would be served a small sample of every single thing on the menu.

A few minutes later Hojo returned with bottle of wine and a Shirley Temple in hand. "For you miss," he stated kindly as he gave Kagome her Shirley Temple.

Kagome smiled her thanks while Sesshomaru scrutinizingly watched Hojo pour him a glass of wine, making sure the boy didn't drop any of the wine. Fortunately, Hojo had his wits about him and did the job neatly and like a pro. After setting the bottle of wine back on the table, Hojo turned to Kagome. "Are you Kagome Higurashi by any chance?" he asked slowly.

Kagome nodded as tilted her head to the side in curiosity.

"Did you once live in Kyoto by any chance?" he asked again, a look of excitement growing on his face.

Kagome nodded again, her eyebrows furrowed as she studied Hojo; she had this nagging feeling that she was supposed to know him, but he didn't look familiar in the slightest.

"You might not remember, but we used to go to middle school together," Hojo explained, waiting for realization to cross Kagome's face, noticing that Kagome still didn't recognize him. "Does the name Hojo Ezura ring any bells?" Kagome shook her head regretfully. Hojo laughed, "It's fine. I was...different looking back then. I was a bit chubby you could say."

Kagome's eyes widened as she remembered a nameless chubby boy offering her a bandaid after she had scraped her knee. She looked Hojo up and down...was it really possible that a not so handsome fat kid could turn into...this?? Kagome motioned that she now remembered, blushing from embarrassment at the same time.

"Well I'm glad you reme-" Hojo began, but before he could finish another one of the waiters came by and pulled him away.

Her mood now greatly elated by running into this childhood friend of sorts, Kagome happily sipped on her Shirley Temple, completely ignoring Sesshomaru. Instead she thought about the run-in with the paparazzi outside the restaurant. They had been snapping pictures of her nonstop...the flashes from their cameras had been so bright that she became disoriented and dumb. If it wasn't for Sesshomaru she'd probably still be out there trying to remember her own name. They thought that she was dating Sesshomaru...the whole world thought that...

Sesshomaru on the other hand was not having as easy of a time ignoring her, and that Hojo waiter was not helping at all. 'First thing I'll do when I buy this restaurant is fire him...' Sesshomaru thought to himself as he tasted his glass of Spanish red wine. 'No...' he told himself as he rethought his initial decision. 'He's a reasonably good waiter...' Hojo had done nothing wrong except for talk more than Sesshomaru preferred, but people seemed to prefer those talkative waiters anyways. So why was it that Sesshomaru had this strong wish to fire him? Sesshomaru had no idea...

Dinner was a silent affair as both of them still refused to speak.

Not that Kagome could've spoken anyways.

She ate as if there were no tomorrow.

There were over fifty dishes that the restaurant served, and even though they were being served only small samples of each dish...when you added all those samples together they were the equivalent of at least half a dozen full-sized dishes.

Sesshomaru knew that Kagome had a voracious appetite, but this was ridiculous... While he took a mere bite of each sample, Kagome ate the whole thing. It was then he remembered Kagome telling him that she liked to eat when she was depressed and angry. At the rate Kagome was eating she was going to blow up to the size of a blimp and then explode unwanted matter all over the place. Sesshomaru considered telling Kagome to slow down as it was better for the digestive system, but he didn't want to lose this game.

That was until Kagome began choking.

She had stuffed the whole square of almond encrusted halibut into her mouth despite the fact that she was already chewing on a chunk of roast duck slathered with huckleberry jam. Amazingly enough Kagome was downing it just fine...when all of the sudden she started coughing and heaving. A chewed up lump of food fell to her plate as she opened her mouth wide in an attempt to clear her windpipe, but to no avail. Sesshomaru chose not to look at what had just fallen out of her mouth and put his fork down. He was about to say something, but stopped himself just in time. How devious of her- disgusting him to get him to talk.

Kagome continued to struggle to breathe and collapsed to her knees. Several people made a move to help Kagome, but Sesshomaru stood up and gave them all a frosty glare, warning them to stay away. The foolish girl was causing a scene and worse than that, some people were buying her 'choking act.' But even more foolish was the addle brained waiter Hojo. Despite Sesshomaru's warning, Hojo rushed forth to help Kagome. A deep growl resonated from within Sesshomaru at the sight of Hojo touching Kagome…his Kagome. Technically speaking, he did own her after all— kind of.

The dolt wasn't even performing the Heimlich right.

Angrily Sesshomaru left his seat and walked over to pull Hojo away from a slightly blue Kagome and after wrapping his arms around her flailing figure, he delivered one sharp upward jab into her abdomen. An almond flew out of Kagome's mouth and landed neatly on the not so neat mess of food that had been in her mouth. She immediately sucked in all the air her lungs could hold and freed herself from Sesshomaru's arms; she hobbled over to her seat and collapsed in it. Hojo (who was obviously a slow learner), was standing by with a glass of water for her. After she regained most of her composure Kagome glowered at Sesshomaru who continued to stand there, waiting for Kagome to express her thanks.

Much to Sesshomaru's non-existent frustration, Kagome didn't say a word.

Of course he hadn't said anything either, but he had just saved her life. What a stubborn wench.

Sesshomaru and Kagome left the restaurant not too long after, both still upholding their individual vows of silence. Hojo and Kagome embraced much to Sesshomaru's displeasure and Sesshomaru made note to fire him the moment the papers of restaurant ownership were finalized. The ride back to Kagome's was eerily silent and Sesshomaru half considered turning on the radio, but he didn't because Kagome might then get the notion that he was faltering.

Unbeknownst to them, a dark blue Toyota truck followed.

A/N: Yes, I am talking again. Sorry! Review- please and thank you! I hope this chapter met everyone's expectations and did not disappoint. I don't know when the next installment will come, but I hope that you will all continue to bear with me and the fic! If you are interested in becoming a "Guinea Pig Reader," just be sure to leave your email address in a review if you aren't already signed in, and I will randomly pick three or so of you? I LOVE YOU ALL! I wish you could ALL bear my children! Joking. XD