I don't own these characters. Y'all know that by now.

This rating may go up in a few chapters. This is also a present day AU.

Behind Closed Doors

1: Living the life

Sesshomaru silently decided that he hated his job. It was a reoccurring theme within his mind. He just really, honestly, and truly hated his job. Well, why have a job that he loathed? Because he enjoyed having a steady paycheck, which many people could not comprehend. Sesshomaru had a trust fund that could feed him and a building of people for a few lifetimes, so it was not like he required money. He was also set to inherit his father's business, along with most of the great dog demon's lands. So, most people did not understand why Sesshomaru bothered to work at all, especially doing a job that he disliked.

The noble dog demon simply liked being self-reliant. He liked to be able to do things for himself. He wanted to pave his own way; not to say that he was not going to take over his father's things when the time came, but at the moment he was a mature adult demon and he believed that he needed to act as such. So, he had a horrible, horrible job, just like any adult would have.

What did the glorious Sesshomaru do to bring in the dollars? He worked for an advertising firm; he had too much education in his opinion to have even considered taking such a job. In other words, he did not think that he should have even had the qualifications to do such work, but it seemed that he had been in school long enough, so that when he spotted an opening, he could take it. What had he been thinking, he always asked himself.

No one would guess that he actually hated his job as he did it so well. They would admit that they did not understand why he did his job so well with his antisocial personality and everything; how did he figure out what people liked? But, he seemed to know how to handle his accounts and he had plenty of clients. He still disliked his job.

So, why do a job that he despised? Well, he was an artist at heart and trained as such. He mostly painted and he wanted to practice his art as often as he could. He occasionally created something worth hanging in a gallery and he had a few works gracing galleries with their presences. He was often commissioned by demon nobility to do works for them. But, he learned that such an existence would not yield the steady paycheck that he carved. So, he went somewhere that he could get some practice in while gathering a stable income.

Most of his work dealt with graphic designs. He had a dynamic style that caught his clients' attention and they believed that the style would grab consumers' attention as well. Sesshomaru was a hot commodity in graphic designs.

Of course, his job required more than just coming up with eye-popping designs sometimes and he was mediocre at best in the other aspect of his work. He had to come up with slogans on occasion to go with his designs and he found that to be extremely irksome, especially since he typically did not know what was catchy or if anything was popular. He was pretty much anti-popular culture.

Usually, he cheated it when it came to his job in his opinion. He listened to his clients and what they wanted for their account, no matter how stupid the idea seemed. He then took their ideas and came up with several different pictures from their notions. He then got outside help on the slogans and also what design worked best; he called in his siblings or his stepmother.

Sesshomaru tended to act like he did not value anyone's opinion, especially not his wretched simpleton of a half-brother. But, in truth, when it came to normal things, he went with what his idiotic and often childish brother thought. So, he tended to show Inuyasha his designs and let the bigmouth do what he did best, express his stupid opinion very loudly about slogans that went with his favorite designs. He figured that with Inuyasha being like the average moron on the street, then whatever caught Inuyasha's attention, it would logically also catch the attention of most other people. The reasoning seemed to work with the way that he continued to have clients.

Aside for Inuyasha, Sesshomaru also used his little sister, Rin. She was a spark of help and she loved doing it. Where Inuyasha could tell him what a young man or just an adolescent might like, Rin was perfect for tasting things out that were targeted at children, especially little girls. She could not come up with crazy slogans like Inuyasha could, but she knew the right colors to catch a child's eyes and that was enough.

His stepmother served the same purpose, but to help him get the idea of what mortal women liked; although she was a bit more difficult to work with than his siblings. Izayoi, his father's current wife, had a thing where she disliked stating what was on her mind when he asked what she thought. He always took it as false modesty; he knew the woman had a working brain, after all. His father would not put up with her if she was completely brain-dead, and yet she insisted that she did not know something. Getting information was like pulling teeth with her, but he typically stuck it out and she would come up with things.

Despite the money, Sesshomaru still disliked his job; there were too many people at the agency for his tastes, especially humans. Societies mixing on any level got on his nerves more than anything else. He had to deal with stupid humans, stupid demons, and peasants of all kinds out in the street, interacting and getting in his way. Maybe the whole world was just idiotic and it took a real job for him to see that. Well, actually, he had known for a while now since he had gotten out of the care of his governess. Things were not getting any easier as he continued to move about in the real world.

And then to irk him further, he had been informed by his boss that he had a new account to handle, but there was a catch to it. He was going to be working with someone and that was bad enough. But, it turned out that there was more to it than that. The person that he was going to work with had originally handled the account when they dealt with a different firm. It seemed that the new guy had stolen the account after fleeing from his other job. Yeah, that was just great; he was working with a thief.

Sesshomaru decided not to stress over it. He would deal with it when he had to go to work. He was at home in his elegant, monstrous apartment and had nothing to worry about now, except the fact that his canvas was still blank. He fixed himself something to eat and then focused on the white space staring back at him. He had hoped to get some painting done over the weekend, but his muse did not seem to agree. Who or whatever his muse was, he noted that it had been absent for a while now.

He sighed as he realized that nothing was going to come to him by just staring at the canvas. He decided to go in search of some inspiration; perhaps his unknown muse would return to him. If not, he would go be a good big brother and do something with Rin; she always appreciated his company and he did not mind giving her attention. She was probably the only person on the planet that he did not mind giving his attention.

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"Something wrong?" Naraku inquired. He was speaking to his wife, Kikyo. They were on a plane and flying to their new home.

"No. Why would you ask?" she countered.

"You look like something's wrong," he commented.

"It's nothing," she assured him.

He chuckled a bit and smirked for no reason that she could see, except for the fact that he probably was enjoying the fact that it looked like something was wrong with her. Kikyo focused her cocoa eyes out of the window and ignored her husband. She was secretly happy that they were moving because they were moving back to her home city. She would get to be near her sisters, cousins, and old friends. It was a very pleasing thought and she could not wait, but she contained herself.

Had Kikyo showed any signs of happiness, she was certain that her husband would try to ruin her mood. It was just the way he was. It seemed that he could not be content unless she was miserable. Most of the time, she projected a bored look of misery to keep him from bothering her. She would not consider herself miserable, but she would concede that she was not happy. She doubted that she ever would be truly happy.

Kikyo had never thought of herself as happy before, but once she married Naraku, she had realized that she had been happy before he became her husband. She had not had much before he entered her life. Her parents had died when she was thirteen and for a while, she had worried that things would only get worse. Her aunt had come to the rescue and assured her and her sisters that everything would be fine. Her aunt had allowed the sisters to live with her, but they had not stayed any longer than necessary. It was painful to live with their aunt because she was their mother's identical twin sister, so looking at her was like looking at their mother. It took a lot of energy to share a home with a woman that looked exactly like their mother, but with shorter hair, so the sisters moved out as soon as possible.

Her aunt had understood when they moved out; she knew that it had to agonizing to look at her with their mother's death fresh in their minds and hearts. The three sisters had moved into an apartment and their aunt helped them pay the rent. Her older sister, Midoriko, had gone out and gotten a job to support them; Midoriko was three years older than Kikyo and felt responsible for her and little Kaede. She wanted to support her younger sisters, but their aunt had objected to Midoriko working fulltime because she wanted her niece to give school the proper attention; she knew that her twin would want the girls to be all that they could be.

Midoriko did go to school, as did Kikyo, and they excelled; Kaede, being the youngest and currently only twelve years old, was still in school and holding up the sisters' tradition of being at the top of the class. Their aunt liked to tell them that their parents would be very proud of them. Kikyo now doubted that and she had for the year that she had been married to the male that she was with.

First of all, their family had a history of being priests and priestesses and against demons, yet she had gone out and married a hanyou. She recalled how disappointed her older sister looked when she showed her big sister the engagement ring. Midoriko had actually smacked Kikyo that day and stopped speaking to her for a long while. When Naraku moved Kikyo away from home, Midoriko had revived interested in her younger sister and made sure to keep in touch with her. Needless to say, Midoriko did not trust "that hanyou scum," which was her way of referring to Naraku.

Kikyo reveled in the attention from her sisters once she was out of the city because while she easily met people, she did not make friends easily. She quickly felt homesick and pings of loneliness when she was separated from her family. Naraku did not help matters, especially since his greatest joy had become arguing with her only days after they moved into their home. She started to see why her sister disliked him and she could not believe that she had missed his true personality for so long.

Living alone with Naraku for almost a year away from her family was painful; it was like a million needles in her eye every day of her life. So, of course, she was pleased to be headed back to her family. It was such a relief.

They were headed back to her home town because Naraku had taken a new job. She was now unemployed thanks to the move, but she would gladly trade her job for her sisters. She had been working at a clinic; she was a doctor. Right now, she was just going back to her dear sisters.

When the plane landed, Kikyo almost smiled, but she caught herself. She followed behind Naraku as he went to go pick up his bags; she had been able to carry on her things. Once the crimson-eyed half-demon secured his luggage, they caught a taxi and proceeded to their new home.

The couple now lived in an apartment on the opposite end of town from where Midoriko and Kaede lived. Kikyo knew that he had purposely purchased a place so far from her sisters because he hated her big sister if not as much, then more than Midoriko hated him. He also knew that she would want to spend some time with her sisters and it was a taunt of his to have her as far away from them as he could while they were in the same city. Little did he know, but she only needed to be in the same city as her sisters.

The second that she set foot in the apartment, her cell phone rang. She checked the number and shook her head a bit; her sisters had to be psychic. She answered the phone in a low voice because she did not want to catch Naraku's attention because she did not feel like dealing with him.

"Hi, Kikyo!" Kaede chirped into the phone.

"Hello, Kaede," Kikyo replied in her usual low voice. There was a joy in her tone that her sister easily detected.

"Say hello to Midoriko too. You're on speaker," the child reported.

"Oh. Hello, Midoriko," Kikyo added.

"Hello, little sister. Tomorrow we will get together and have lunch. This is not negotiable," Midorki informed her younger sister. She sounded like Kikyo, her voice mellow and calm, yet there was a sharpness to her voice that Kikyo's lacked; well, she typically lacked anyway. Given the chance Kikyo could be just as forceful as her elder sister, maybe even more so, if she worked up enough.

"Yes, big sister," Kikyo replied. Midoriko was the only person on the planet that Kikyo was almost totally submissive to. Many people joked that they wish they knew Midoriko's secret to controlling her sister.

"Oh, Kikyo! Kikyo! You've got to see my hamsters!" Kaede shouted into the phone and Kikyo smiled fondly a bit; she missed her sisters so much and wanted to see them as soon as possible.

"She allows these rodents to wander freely through our apartment. I think I shall buy a cat," Midoriko teased their baby sister.

Kikyo almost laughed, but held it in; she knew that such a noise would garner her husband's attention, so she was careful. She continued to converse with her sisters while Naraku wandered around their new home to find where he wanted to put all of his gaudy belongs. They had a rather large apartment for two and that was just because Naraku seemed to like to collect junk, in Kikyo's opinion anyway.

Well, at least, once Naraku began working, she would have the apartment to herself, not that she planned to spend much time in the apartment. They were now living in a great city with so many places that called to her. She had art museums to hit first of all and she hoped that her sisters would join her.

"Well, Kikyo, don't you think you should get to making dinner?" Naraku suggested after a while with a cruel smirk on his face. It seemed that she had been having too long a conversation with her sisters and he wanted her off of the phone now.

"Why is it that you like to pretend that you can't use a phone?" Kikyo countered. She was not going to make a meal the first night in their new house. She knew that he was just looking to cause a fuss, but she did not care. She was going to sink right to his level and she would bite back when he bit her.

"Is Naraku bothering you?" Midoriko asked her younger sister.

"He is requesting a meal that I won't make," Kikyo reported.

"You will make it," the half-demon insisted.

"Tell him to stop being a pest before I come over and purify him," Midoriko commented and she was dead serious. All she wanted was for Naraku to provide her with the excuse and distance to leave him a smoldering pile of half-demon ashes.

"I don't know what your sister is saying, but you should tell her to watch her tongue," Naraku threatened the siblings with that line. He had the precious middle sister right with him and while the big sister was trying to make it to them, he could always hurt the middle one, he believed anyway. He liked to believe that it would be easy for him to destroy Kikyo and he believed that Midoriko was on the same wave length as he was, thinking that he could harm her little sister.

Actually, Midoriko did not think there was a demon alive that could hurt her or her little sister; Kaede still had some way to go, but she was only a child. The only reason that Midoriko had not slain Naraku, aside for the fact that she would have go to court for murder, was because Kikyo had not requested it. She would never just outright kill her sister's husband, no matter how much she loathed his existence. She would just wait for Kikyo to take care of the hanyou annoyance.

"Big sister, the battery on my phone is about to die," Kikyo reported.

"Call on the house phone. It is connected, right?" Midoriko asked.

"No, that's to happen tomorrow," Kikyo reported.

"Just talk until the battery dies. It's what I always do," Kaede pointed out and Kikyo did not need to see her baby sister to know that she was smiling. She did remain on the phone until the battery died and then she was left to play along with Naraku as he picked a fight over dinner. He was such a child, she thought.

------(New day)

Sesshomaru sighed as he strolled into the office building that he worked. He was meeting with the person that he was going to be stuck with for more time than he liked, namely more than a minute, to work on the new account. He could only hope that on his scale of annoyance, the new assignment was low; he doubted that was going to happen.

He took the elevator up to the boss' floor and entered the man's office without knocking. It was a habit of Sesshomaru's to never knock and most people had just learned to deal with it. Most people had just learned to deal with him while he only loosely tolerated people.

"You should work on your manners, Sesshomaru," Totosai commented from behind his large black desk. He had his feet kicked up like he was lounging by a pool and not at work.

"I am here about the new account," Sesshomaru said in a clipped tone. He wanted to get to his office as soon as possible to avoid having to deal with something stupid, especially considering how his boss typically behaved.

"I know why you're here," the boss replied.

"Then where is this new man?" the dog demon inquired.

"Late apparently," Totosai answered as if it was no big deal.

Sesshomaru frowned; his day was not looking promising and it did not help matters that he had a boss that did not seem to care about what was professional. Well, once the newcomer showed up, Sesshomaru would straighten him out. There was not going to be any tardiness while working with the platinum-haired demon; everything would be prompt and on time.

The noble demon then frowned deeper as his nose caught a stench in the air. The door opened; apparently, Sesshomaru was not the only one that needed to learn some manners. Then the owner of the rank smell entered, a hanyou.

"Naraku, I take it," Totosai commented, speaking the newcomer, who was indeed Naraku.

"That is me. Totosai?" Naraku countered.

"Yeah, come on in," the old man beckoned his new employee.

Sesshomaru curled his lip as he realized that he would be working with the ebony-haired hanyou. Could the day get any worse? He hoped that the partnership was over rapidly. The only hanyou he could stand the smell of was his brother; with his brother, the smell was the last thing that he thought of because Inuyasha was always doing something moronic.

"Naraku, meet Sesshomaru. You two will be working together," Totosai announced.

Naraku knew that he would have to work with someone on the account prior to entering the office, but he frowned just the same. He could not believe that he took all that energy to lure that account away from his last firm only for them to want Sesshomaru on the account when he was hired by another agency. Apparently, they liked his artwork, among other things. He did not think that the dog demon was so special, but he could not express that to the clients.

"Good to meet you," Naraku said and he extended his hand. It was clear that he was lying to the full demon.

Sesshomaru glanced down at the hand offered to him. Surely that hanyou did not think that he was going to lower himself and shake the hand of a thieving half-breed that smelled like his blood was mixed with rotten vegetables because that certainly was not going to happen in that or any other lifetime. Sesshomaru turned his golden eyes to Totosai as if silently cursing the old man. He was definitely taking the new account as some kind of cruel torture.

"I hope you two come up with some good ideas. I think you know how much this account is worth," Totosai commented.

"Let's get this over with," Sesshomaru said in a gruff tone. The sooner they finished the account, the sooner he could get away from the smelly hanyou. "Oh, and Totosai."

"Yes?" the bug-eyed old man inquired.

"Let's not have this happen again," Sesshomaru stated.

"I can't tell the clients how to pick their workers," Totosai replied and the dog demon frowned. The two employees left the office. "Man, I'd hate to be the new guy," the old man muttered in an amused tone.

"Let's get a few things straight, half-breed," Sesshomaru said right outside the boss' office.

Naraku scowled before the speech even began. Did that dog bastard just refer to him as "half-breed" as if that was his name? It seemed that he was going to have to put the puppy in his place.

"You are to never be late while we work together. I do not care what the excuse. You are to be here on time no matter what. Understood?" Sesshomaru demanded to know.

"I don't know who you think you are—" Naraku started, but the nobleman cut him off.

"I suppose you don't understand. Let me explain it plainer, if you are not on time everyday, I shall travel to your home and rip your filthy stomach out because I have no desire to move on your schedule. You are on my time and you will adhere to my schedule," Sesshomaru stated firmly.

"I think you mean the company's schedule," Naraku corrected the dog demon.

"No, I mean my schedule. You will be on time and you will pull your weight. We will get this project done and I will never be bothered you again, agreed?" Sesshomaru made it seem like he was asking a question, but he was actually making a statement. He was always making a statement.

"I can agree on that much," the hanyou concurred because he would not want to be around the arrogant dog any longer than necessary.

"Good," the golden-eyed male said and he turned to leave.

"But, since I am new to the city, I might have a hard time finding my way around, like today," the ebony-haired half-demon commented.

"Get lost if you like, but I will not tolerate your shenanigans," Sesshomaru informed his partner. If he wanted to play kid games, he would spend the day with the only person whose shenanigans he would tolerate, namely his little sister.

Naraku did not respond. He would not let some cocky dog demon tell him how to run his account. He was the one that brought the account to Sesshomaru, so in his opinion, the pale demon should be thanking him for bringing him work. Well, he would show Sesshomaru which one of them was in charge.

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Next time: Kikyo and Sesshomaru meet each other by accident.