Disclaimer: I do not own or hold any claim to any of the characters created by Rumiko Takahashi. Please don't sue me. ( '-' )v
Chapter One: Unexpected Surprises
"I'm sorry Rin, but I can't let you skip going. I know that you don't want to go to your mother's but that's what the judge decided.,." I said wearily as she let out a mournful sigh.
"But why is the judge making me go," she asked, her small fists clenching. "We've already told him that I don't want to go."
"I know dear," I sighed, running a hand over my face as I continued trying to reason with my overly bright 5 year old. "The court feels that it is in your best interest to remain in contact with your mother and even though you and I have both said otherwise, they feel that you are far to young to know what is in your best interest."
"That's just – just," she sputtered angrily.
"Ridiculous? I know, but unfortunately for now we just have to live with it." I shook my head in frustration and then ran a hand through my hair. I was just as frustrated by the court's decision as Rin was. My ex-wife was a cold-hearted woman who no more liked children than cats like to jump into a tub of scalding water.
"Can't the lawyer do something?" she sighed.
"She's doing her best," I shrugged, " In the court's eyes a mother is the number one candidate for having the child. We're lucky that we even get to be together as much as we are…You could have been sent to her for the majority of the time instead of every other weekend. "
"I guess you're right…But I still don't like it," she grumbled crossing her small arms over her indignantly puffed up chest. If she hadn't been upset over such a serious thing I would have had the temptation to laugh at the sight she made, big brown eyes narrowed in a threatening scowl, little lips in a pout, and her little hands clenched into fists.
Trying to resist the urge to chuckle I instead reached out and mussed her hair growling gently, "If I didn't know any better Rin, I would say that you've been spending too much time with your Uncle Inuyasha." Her eyes grew wide and she dropped her hands to her sides.
"You look like your Uncle did when he was little," I chuckled. "Now you better go finish packing little one. I have to leave here by 7 today. Sorry," I gave her a gentle push on her little rear and only allowed myself to frown once she'd disappeared inside her room.
I really hated this situation with her mother; the only problem was that no judges that we went to would believe that I would be a good "all the time" parent due to my work. They believed my hours were too long and irregular and every single one of them firmly believed that Rin would turn into a psychologically skewed adult if she weren't given contact with her mother. They didn't seem to believe either her or I when we said that it was quite the opposite, that she would be psychologically damaged if she kept having contact with the harpy. I sighed and rubbed my temples trying to stop the headache that was beginning to blossom behind my eyes.
With a loud catlike yawn a young woman with the sweet face of innocence, lips as red as strawberries, and long silky hair the color of coal, rolled over on her side simultaneously throwing an arm out wildly past the edge of the bed. And of course by doing so, successfully achieved her objective: silencing that awful racket.
"Five more minutes, just five more minutes," she mumbled sleepily, shoving her head under the massive pillow as the large wind-up alarm clock crashed to the floor loudly. "Sooo tired…Ugh…"
The young woman wrapped in the tangled web of white sheets floated back into the land of dreaming with the ease of all those who can sleep until noon without batting an eye. Unfortunately it was not one those days where said people who also are a part of the working force of society are allowed to sleep until noon. Sadly, for her this was not only a Monday morning, but also her first day at her new job in the city.
Fortunately for her, someone else knew about her difficulty waking up in the morning. The shrill ringing of the black cordless phone sitting on her nightstand yanked her rudely from dreamland.
"Uuh," she grunted as she lifted a leaden arm and with clumsy, sleep-numbed fingers gave her best effort to pick up the cursedly loud object, the shrill ringing making her head pound. Bringing the phone from the cradle to her ear she spoke without even opening here eyes. "Uh?"
"Kagome, g'mornin' sunshine. Wake-up," a ridiculously energetic voice called from the other end of the line.
"Huh?" she questioned intelligently.
"Sharp as ever, aren't you Kag. It's Monday. Time to get up," the female voice said firmly, barely concealed laughter bubbling up and begging for release.
"Why does…Huh?" Kagome mumbled, running a hand over her face as she tried to talk herself into prying her sleep crusted eyes open. But she wanted to just keep sleeping sooo badly…."Just five more minutes," she grumbled with a shake of her head.
"No. Not even five more seconds. If you don't get up and get ready right now you are going to be late for your new job. Now get up you clod," the other girl finished with a good-natured laugh. "Come on Kagome, I'm on my cell and driving, I can't stay on here forever and you really are going to be late if you don't move you butt. Pronto."
"Late?" she paused, her brow furrowing in deep concentration…So hard to think in the morning…takes too much energy…but now that she's talking about something…"late" I feel like I'm forgetting something important…Oh shite! "Job?! New job?!" she yelped, eyes snapping open to reveal deep blue orbs the color of the ocean on a sunny day. Sitting up with a jarring speed Kagome tried to leap from the bed, only to fall with a loud thump on the floor, her feet still caught in the twisted sheets. "Oh fudge," she muttered as she groped around the floor for the phone that had gone flying.
"Sango?" she questioned when she finally got it back up to her ear. The only sound that greeted her was a loud, braying laugh.
"What the heck was that?" Sango giggled.
"Oh hush… It's Monday?" Kagome grumbled, voice still rough from sleepiness.
"Yes ma'am it is. Now get your little butt in gear."
"Right," Kagome said as she struggled with sheets that seemed to have a life of their own. "Thanks Sango, I owe you."
"Yeah, uh, how many times is that now?" Sango asked amused.
"I have no idea… A lot?" Kagome laughed. "See you tonight?"
"Yup, we'll be by at 7:30. Good luck on your first day!"
"Thanks, see you later then." With a loud beep Kagome hung up the phone and turned to look at the clock sitting on its side on the floor. Tilting her head to read it an expletive flew from her lips in shock. "I have TEN minutes to get ready?!"
It was Monday morning. The weekend with mother was over and I couldn't have been happier. The fact that I would be starting a new school today was nothing compared to the two weekends a month I had to spend with her.
Of course that didn't stop the butterflies in my stomach from moving around making me feel uncomfortable as I sat in the passenger seat while Dad drove me to school. It'll be ok, I told myself. No need to worry, its just school. That's what Uncle said so…he must know what he's talking about. I nearly had myself convinced that everything would be ok when my Dad put a hand on my head and mussed my hair. Looking up at him in question I saw him smiling, keeping his eyes on the road ahead.
"You'll be fine Rin," he said in that deep, smooth voice that could comfort me when nothing else seemed to work. Dad could beat anything. He could take care of anything.
"Thanks, Dad," I said smiling as he took his hand off my hair and grabbed my hand in his massive one.
"But you let me know if anything happens ok?" he asked in the voice that meant it was required, not a choice. As if I wouldn't tell you. I smiled and nodded as he watched from the corner of his vision.
The car slowed to a crawl as he began to park on the side of the street. I looked out the window at the massive buildings that filled downtown and then turned to look at my new school. A strange building, 3 stories high, and built from stones it didn't look very Japanese. It looked serious, and cold and it would have been a little scary if it hadn't looked so strange so close to downtown.
"Well, here we are," Dad said as he put the car into park. "Alright, let's you get you inside Rin," he smiled as he opened his door and stepped out into the street.
"Dad, why does this school look so…so weird?"
" It's an English design. I have no idea why though, " he said giving the gray stones a contemplative look. "It's supposed to be a very good school for gifted children… One of my employees recommended it to me," he added as he took my hand in his again after he came around the car and together we walked across the sidewalk, up the twenty steps and through the broad wooden doors, All the while the fluttering in my stomach increased to an irritating level.
Swerving into the small "Staff Only" parking lot next to the small private school I whipped into a space and came to a screeching halt. Looking in my rear-view mirror I saw a few parents and teachers look up startled and turn towards the sound as they walked to the school. "Smooth Kagome, real smooth." Okay. Breath. You have three minutes to get into your class. You sped way too much, but you are here now. "Safe," I breathed a sigh of relief, pulling the keys out of the ignition and grabbing my briefcase and lunch bag out of the passenger's seat.
Striding from my beat up car to the school as if I hadn't been the one driving into the elementary school's parking lot like a bat out of hell. Head held high, I did my best to ignore the glares from some of the oldest teachers while I flashed my brightest, sunniest smile at the parents as they walked with their children toward the little school building with the British inspired architectural design. "Good morning," I said cheerfully as a father held open the front doors for me.
"Good morning," he replied in a tone from behind me that made my toes curl. Oh great we have a lech. Am I having a lucky morning or what? With a sigh I squared my shoulders and strode down the polished hallway, high heels clicking loudly, hips swaying. Lecher! Remember Daddy Lecher! The little voice in my mind piped up causing me to pause momentarily mid-stride. Concentrating very hard then I attempted to walk with no swaying of the hips in high heels. Pretty much an impossible goal I decided after about four seconds. "Stupid lechers," I grumbled under my breath as I turned right at the next hallway. Stopping at the second door on my right I looked up at the room number. Room 3A it read. "Ok" I breathed, and counting to ten grabbed the cold metal doorknob in my hand. At ten I turned the knob and strode through the door as if I had not just arrived at the school, a bat out of hell, two minutes ago. Walking to the desk, smiling pleasantly, I carefully set my briefcase down and put my lunch bag in the top drawer.
A classroom of 15 3rd graders stared back at me, various expressions flitting across their faces from friendly to sleepy to disinterested. Thank God I don't teach High School, I thought for the hundredth time. Not that I have a thing against high school kids, they just scare me that's all. I shuddered as I remembered my time as a training teacher during college…. I still had nightmares about those kids.
"Good morning everyone, " I called out cheerfully as I pulled the textbook from my briefcase. "How is everyone doing today?" I asked and tried not to laugh outright at the responses I got. "Well you all seem to be bursting with enthusiasm," I smiled. "Alright, let's go ahead and get out our first textbook for the morning, Math. But before we get started I'm going to have you all introduce yourselves." Stepping to the chalkboard and picking up a piece of chalk I said, "I'll start first. My name is Kagome Higurashi. I'm from Nagoya but I just moved to Tokyo for this job. In short I hope that we can have a great year together!" I finished happily. It felt so good to be up here with all of these kids. I had always wanted to be a teacher ever since I could remember. And here I was. In Tokyo, teaching at a prestigious, upper-class school. I was going to help in the long process of forming these children into successful adults. What could be a more rewarding job than that?
"Alright," I said as I looked for my first target. My eyes landing on a boy with flaming red hair, large green eyes, and pointed elf-like ears I pointed with a cheerful smile, "You first, would you please introduce yourself and tell us all a little bit about yourself?"
After two minutes of watching the new 3rd grade teacher I had to wonder how she had gotten a job at the school. Maybe the principle was getting soft… I had trouble believing that though. Our principle was so…so... So grumpy, and mean, and…and old.
And all of the teachers here were extremely serious and boring and gray. Smiles were rare, positive energy was even harder to find, and a laugh? A true, happy laugh? That was like… Like finding a rainbow when it hadn't rained. This teacher though. She was all smiles and bubbly like a bottle of soda that you shook. She was sunshine, pure and simple. Warm, happy sunshine.
I tried my best to suppress another yawn as I answered yet another question the teacher had asked me. Ten minutes into the class I was really wondering why I had been worried. First grade was soooo easy. I'd had no idea. What I really didn't understand though was why the other students seemed to be having so much trouble with the teacher's questions.
By the time the 3rd subject was over I thought I would die of boredom. Snack break was a happy relief. I thought. For about 5 seconds. Then I realized that I was bored with the conversations that the other kids were having. They seemed so… Well so young. I was young. I knew that. But they just seemed like toddlers. What in the world is wrong with them I wondered as I munched on the crackers that the teacher had passed out. Taking a long drink from my chocolate milk carton I watched the other kids. They were just so strange..
Waiting at the classroom door for Rin's class to be over I heard a gravelly, aged voice call my name. Turning my head I watched as the aged principle approached, that permanent frown of hers marring her face as she strode stiffly down the hall.
"What can I do for you Ms. Suzuki?" I asked quietly, stepping a few feet away from the door to meet her half way.
"Your daughter," she grunted in her ancient voice.
"My daughter?" I asked, an eyebrow rising unconsciously.
"Yes, she's far brighter than the other students. Too bright," she elaborated.
"Yes, I was aware that Rin was exceedingly bright. But then again, that is why I brought her here. You said that it wouldn't be a problem," I replied smoothly, looking down into the wrinkly face that frowned up at me. She looks like an angry raisin I mused. A corner of my mouth twitched up reflexively.
"Yes, but Mr. Taisho I didn't really believe you when you told me she was bright," she sighed, rounded shoulders sagging even more.
"And why exactly is that?" I grumbled.
"You have no idea how many rich parents waltz in here and say that their child is 'incredibly talented and intelligent' and the child, while all children are special and talented in their own way, turns out to be at basically the same level as everyone else.." She paused glaring up at me thoughtfully, "You're the first that has been accurate in your assessment of your daughter."
"And?" I prompted, putting my hands in my pockets.
"And so I think she should be moved up, at least 2 grades," she responded, cocking her head to the side and giving me another measuring look. "We'll need to talk to the 3rd grade teacher though to see how she feels about that – if you have some time," she added as an afterthought.
"And what about the 1st grade teacher? She's alright with Rin moving that far ahead?" I asked, not really surprised. I couldn't help the parental pride that bubbled up in my chest. That's my Rin, I thought with a mental smile.
"She's the one that suggested it," she shrugged. "So if you have a moment. I'll have the 1st grade teacher watch Rin while we are talking to Ms. Higurashi."
Without waiting for a response she turned on her low, serious, black heels and walked down the hall, slumped shoulders covered in her severe black sweater. Come to think of it…All the staff that I have seen here seem to be getting on in years and/or wearing dark, severe clothing that seems more appropriate for a governess at some British manor than a teacher at an elementary school. Maybe that's what you get at an expensive private school for young children, I mused as I trailed behind her. We eventually came to a stop next to the door at the classroom labeled 3A.
Just then the bell rang causing the instantaneous domino reaction of more noise as desk chairs were pushed loudly away from desks, bags were stuffed with books, small feet pattered loudly, and young voices were raised in excitement. Over all the noise a voice, clear, smooth, and kind called loudly, "All right class, no homework for today. See you all tomorrow!"
Odd I thought, my curiosity piqued. She doesn't seem to have the voice of an old woman…perhaps she's not? I tried not to snort at the ridiculousness of the idea. I was beginning to get the feeling that a young teacher didn't work at this school. I doubted they could get hired by the Old Prune that stood next to my shoulder as the door exploded outwards, children filing out wildly in all directions.
When the flood of children stopped I thought I heard a small chuckle from inside the classroom but it was noisy in the hallway so I wondered if I imagined it. Walking around the door that had been left hanging open the Prune stepped inside, holding up a hand signaling for me to wait.
"Ms. Higurashi," she growled out, " I have something I need to discuss with you."
"Oh," the same charming voice said, surprise lacing the single word. "What is it Ms. Suzuki?"
"There is a bit of an issue with one of our new students. I was hoping that you, I, and said student's parent could have a bit of a meeting," the Prune stated dully. "Mr. Taisho, would you come in now? And shut the door behind you," she added grumpily.
I did as told and stepped through the door shutting it simultaneously, with my back to the occupants of the room. As I turned around my eyes immediately fell upon the teacher, a surprisingly beautiful woman. What is she doing here amidst all of these…these…old farts? I wondered incredulously as I tried to quickly cover the shock that no doubt was apparent on my face. Standing at the desk the 3rd grade teacher was a lovely young woman with a kind, beautifully formed face, eyes like the ocean on a sunny day, luscious red lips, long black hair held up in a messy bun, and a body that was obviously very well formed and barely hidden under a fitted, knee length, dark blue dress that complimented her figure. Long legs materialized at the skirt hem and continued down to her ankles and then to her delicate feet that were adorned with a pair of little, strappy high heels. Quickly taking my eyes off those legs I moved back to her face. She seemed to be wearing no make-up, and if she was I certainly couldn't tell. If she didn't have it on then she obviously didn't need it. She seemed to glow with life and energy and had no need of the powders and glosses that so many other women needed. Realizing I was staring again I quickly turned my attention back to the Prune.
'The Prune '– Really I should stop this name calling, I thought regretfully. It's going to get me into trouble if I'm not careful.
Ms. Suzuki continued, "Mr. Taisho," she said turning to face me and then pointing at the lovely creature that was now leaning a hip casually against her desk, " Ms. Higurashi," she finished curtly.
Turning back to Ms. Higurashi she said, " The student in question is Mr. Taisho's 5 year old daughter Rin. She started today in the first grade level."
Higurashi raised an inquisitive eyebrow, obviously missing the point. Not a psychic apparently… That makes two of us. Really the Prune needs to figure out how to communicate better… How did she get this job anyway?
"I seem to have made a miscalculation," Ms. Suzuki said ruefully.
I watched the kids run from the room like ants rushing from a mound that was being stomped on. I chuckled at the mental image that flew across my mind's eye as I shuffled the papers on my desk into a pile and slid them as neatly as possible into my briefcase. I was feeling very good about my first day as a teacher, feeling pretty successful, feeling pretty positive. Nothing was going to bring me down – I had a bounce in my step – I was conqueror of the classroom – Queen of the-
"Ms. Higurashi," a voice grown ragged in age growled.
" I have something I need to discuss with you."
No oxygen, my mind noted nonchalantly, that's odd…oh right. Lungs – Open. Close. Open, close, I thought.
"Oh," I said intelligently as I tried to get the wheels in my brain turning again. "What is it Ms. Suzuki?" I finally asked as I turned to face the principle that in my mind I had nicknamed Craisin. She was wrinkled and sour just like a craisin so I had deemed that as an appropriate nickname since the day I had my first interview with her.
"There is a bit of an issue with one of our new students. I was hoping that you, I, and said student's parent could have a bit of a meeting," Ms. Craisin stated dully. "Mr. Taisho, would you come in now. And shut the door behind you," she added grumpily.
At the mention of the parent's name my brain stood up and took notice. Taisho… That sounds really familiar. I get the feeling I should know who this is. With a mental shrug I turned my head slightly to get a better view of the door. A tall, broad shouldered man clad in a black business suit backed through the door shutting it as he came inside, simultaneously giving us a very nice view of his backside. He looked magnificent from what little I could tell from the suit but what was truly noteworthy was his hair. It was a beautiful, silver white that flowed in a long waterfall down his back. My lungs stuttered for the second time in 5 seconds as the pieces began to fall into place… There were very few people with hair like that and I only knew of three of them that lived in Tokyo. Correction, I thought, there are no people with hair like that and only a few youkai with hair like that. Since the three that lived in Tokyo were family it wasn't too surprising that they were all addressed formally as Mr. Taisho, but out of those three only two could possibly have a child in school. I wouldn't have really had a clue about them at all except for the fact that Sango works as a business reporter in the Tokyo Beat Magazine. Even though I neither enjoyed, nor understood business, if it was an article that Sango had written, I read it. And there had been lots of articles about the Taisho's large company. They had always had very nice pictures of the three, father, and his two sons but I had always personally suspected that the images had to be slightly enhanced. After all who has hair that… That pretty. 'Photoshop' I had always claimed with a snicker. Now I was getting the feeling I was about to stand severely corrected. I told my lungs to move again as watched him turn around.
Sesshoumaru Taisho's golden eyes stared back at mine.
It was suddenly quite difficult to breathe. Yet again. Sango is never going to believe this! the little voice in my head crowed while the other part of my brain was busy looking at the man that I had seen so many times in the magazines. And on the magazines. He was a frequent front cover photo subject for most business magazines. Not a big surprise when Taisho & Sons was one of the biggest competing conglomerate companies in Tokyo. They had their fingers in everything ranging from medical, manufacture, electronics, trade, food research… The list went on.
I realized quickly as I looked at his handsome face framed by the incredibly silky looking hair that the pictures which I had been sure were enhanced by Photoshop had actually not done him justice. At all. The face with the familiar stripes slashing horizontally across the high cheekbones, the crescent moon that rested on the forehead, and those notorious gold eyes… I had seen it many times. It was just far too strange to have this man, a legend in the business world, standing in front of me – at work. This is by far the best or worse thing that could have happened, I decided suddenly. Best? He was without a doubt the most gorgeous example of a man I had ever seen in my whole life and I was getting to see him up close and personal – at work. Worst? For some reason the Craisin and Sesshoumaru Taisho wanted to have a discussion with me concerning his child.
Did any of my kids have the last name Taisho, I wondered frantically. What did I do wrong? The little voice in head wondered pitifully as I mentally did a run through of the kids in my class. I came up with nothing when Ms. Craisin opened her mouth again.
"Mr. Taisho," she grumbled turning to face Mr. Taisho and then pointed at me as I leaned against my desk for support, trying to resist the urge to collapse on the floor in an unladylike manner. " Ms. Higurashi," she said brusquely.
Turning back to me she said, " The student in question is Mr. Taisho's 5 year old daughter Rin. She started today in the first grade level."
I raised an eyebrow in question as relief flooded my body while I mentally did a happy dance. Oh thank God, I didn't do anything to his kid – I'm not going to die yet, I thought giddily.
"I seem to have made a miscalculation," Craisin grumbled. I felt my other eyebrow rise up and draw level with the other. If I'm not mistaken she actually sounds rueful… Weird, I blinked, trying to bring my eyebrows back into their normal position. That's a first. Not that I had known her long I decided quickly, reining my brain in to focus on the subject at hand.
The world's most beautiful male is standing two feet away. In my classroom.
Not exactly the subject, but hey, it's the little things in life, right? All right - focusing.
And I had 10 minutes to get ready this morning, the little annoying voice added, I probably look hideous right now. Shite. I sighed and leaned harder against my desk, turning my full attention back to Ms. Craisin.
"I'm afraid that I didn't believe Mr. Taisho when he claimed that his daughter was unusually bright, even though that was one of his reasons for choosing this school as the quality of education here is very high. Because I didn't believe him I placed her in the first grade level like all the other 5 year olds," she paused and I waited, nodding my head occasionally to show that I was listening as she continued. However, the male two feet to my left was making that painfully difficult to focus on the woman's grating voice.
"Mrs. Wada brought it to my attention however during lunch that is Rin is far beyond the other 1st graders, human and youkai alike. After she elaborated and gave me examples she told me that she suggested I move Rin up."
I nodded, the wheels and gears in my head grinding on.
"After considering everything she told me and talking with her again briefly during the 2:30 - 3:00 period we both decided that Rin should be moved up to the 3rd grade level."
"Ah," I said. I really need some WD-40 to get rid of the rust that seems to be slowing down my brain today, I thought dryly.
"I wanted to make sure that was ok with you and I wanted you and Mr. Taisho to talk a little bit about Rin," she crossed her arms over her ample chest and narrowed those hard, brown eyes at me and groused, "So Ms. Higurashi?"
"Well," I said thoughtfully, "My class certainly isn't too big or too rambunctious so I think I should be able to take care of one more student, but before I decide I'd like to talk to Mr. Taisho in detail about his daughter. After that I think I can make a more educated decision, but as far as I know I don't think it will be a problem," I shrugged as I pushed myself away from the desk and ran a hand down the back of my skirt where the desk had undoubtedly left wrinkles.
"Understandable," she said, nodding her head seriously. "Alright," she dropped her arms to her sides and turned to look at Mr. Taisho directing her next words at him, " I'll leave you two to it." As she walked out the door leaving the two of us in the room alone she threw her last words over her shoulder at me, "Come by my office when you are finished to let me know what you have decided." And with that the "WHAM" of the door slamming shut behind her filled the classroom as my brain began to process the fact that I was standing in the room with the Sesshoumaru Taisho.
Oh dear Kami-sama, I cried as I looked heavenward. I didn't know whether to be happy or distraught. As I stood there trying to decide which emotion was the most appropriate for the occasion the sound of a throat being cleared brought me crashing back to the present situation.
Right, I'm supposed to be having an intelligent conversation with this man. Not standing a foot from my desk staring off into space, I thought glumly.
Striding forward into the first row of desks I turned two chairs to face each other, and smiling, taking a seat in one motioned with my hand for him to sit in the remaining one. With a slight upturning of the lips that may have been the hint of a smile he came towards me and took the seat. The result was nothing short of comical. The chair was made for the little peoples, not for an extremely tall, well built male youkai. He turned his waist off to the side a bit so he could stretch out his long legs so he was less cramped. While he had sat down he had looked me in the face and I had to use every shred of will power to keep myself from squirming like a nervous child under his golden gaze. He had, by far, the most beautiful eyes that I had ever seen and it wasn't like I hadn't seen them in the photos before. But that was just it, it was so different seeing them in the photos and having them actually looking at me. Being the focus of those gorgeous orbs was more than a little nerve wracking.
"So, Rin is your daughter's name," I asked for confirmation, figuring that was a safe way to start the conversation. "And she's 5?" I smiled, not knowing what to expect from him. I tried to remember if I'd ever heard his voice on a news report on television or somewhere. In the end I decided that I couldn't recall it if I had…
"Yes," he said and his voice was low, deep, like liquid velvet running over steel. It was strong with an undercurrent of undeniable magnetism. When he spoke it was obvious why he was such a successful businessman – you got the distinct feeling that people didn't usually tell him 'no'.
"Where did she go to kindergarten," she asked in that amazing voice, gentle, smooth, and as sweet as honey. Her scent was as heady as her voice I decided; it was the smell of gentle green mixed with red and white clover blossoms and crown vetch. She was like a wild meadow in summer, full of life and color.
"I hired a private tutor to teach her at home so she never went to a Kindergarten," I replied. "Her mind seemed to be very quick so I wished to encourage that," I shrugged slightly. "I have to admit I find it amusing that the Prun- Ms. Suzuki admitted that she thought I was just another braggart," I added, trying not to wince as I nearly slipped, calling the principle by the nickname I had given her. I watched as Ms. Higurashi's eye's danced with mirth as a smile tugged at the corner of her mouth, desperately trying to pull those red lips into a smirk.
"The Prun-?" she choked.
"Pardon," I asked innocently, eyebrow rising quizzically. Play dumb, play dumb, the little voice in my head insisted.
"Right –" laughter bubbled up out of her throat, a sound that I would have enjoyed had I not been busy trying not to get caught, " Right before you said 'Ms. Suziki' you said 'the Prun-'," she said quickly covering her mouth as a giggle escaped.
"You must have heard incorrectly," I replied trying desperately to keep a straight face. I had lots of practice as a businessman but it was getting increasingly difficult.
"Were you perhaps starting to say 'Prune' Mr. Taisho?" she said, face turning completely serious.
"No, hardly," I said calmly, mentally giving myself a pat on the back for staying so composed. And then a muscle in my face twitched as a mental image of the principle came to mind. Swearing inwardly as I saw her eyes light up in triumph I knew there was no more denying it. I sighed.
She grinned then, a full out smile that was blinding. It would have been beautiful if I weren't so disappointed by my defeat.
"Well, yes, I get the feeling that the Craisin gets a lot of interesting parents in here. Some of the people that I saw this morning looked…well like they thought they owned the world - to put it nicely," she shrugged.
I did a mental reprocessing of what she had just said. "Did you just say," I hesitated, " Craisin?"
"No," she winked, "Just like you didn't say Prune."
The doorbell rang 3 hours later when Kagome was standing in front of her full-length mirror giving herself the look over. Shouting, "Coming!" she ran to the door and opened it to reveal her two best friends Sango and Miroku.
"Hey guys," she smiled, "Long time no see."
"Haha, very funny. I still can't believe we didn't finish moving you in here till 2 last night," Miroku laughed.
"No kidding, " Sango added, as she stepped off the last step and came to stand beside him. "So you ready Kag?"
"Yes'um!" I responded happily, checking the inside of my purse for all necessary items: keys, license, and wallet – check. "I am ready to go out and celebrate – albeit in moderation," I laughed as they turned around and started heading down the steps. After I locked the door and climbed down the stairs I said with a spring in my step, "Guess what happened today you two – you aren't going to believe it." Giddily, thoroughly enjoying myself, I opened the car door to Miroku's Mitsubishi.
"Oh really? Hmm…let me guess – you were trampled by the kids as they ran away from classroom screaming?" Miroku teased as he turned the key in the ignition.
"What the – where did that come from?" I tilted my head in confusion. "Never mind – either way you are so off. Obviously. Like any kids would run away from my class," I grumbled leaning forward from my seat in the back and punching him lightly on the bicep.
"Ow," he lied.
"Ok, I give," Sango said turning around with a pout, "What happened?"
" The Sesshoumaru Taisho came to my classroom with the Principle to discuss moving his daughter into my class," I said smugly, falling back into the seat with my arms crossed over my chest, feeling mighty pleased with myself. It wasn't often that I had this type of surprise up my sleeve for Sango and Miroku so I was thoroughly enjoying it.
"Say wha-" she spluttered.
Oh fun, I thought as I laughed. "Yup. Those photos in the magazines never did him justice I realized. He's – to put it simply – stunning."
"You can say that again," she whistled. "So is she in your class now?"
"Yup, starting tomorrow," I smiled, "I'm actually looking forward to parent/teacher meetings."