This story is a fanfiction to the anime series Inuyasha, authored by Rumiko Takahashi. I am just playing with her characters.
This is a story I've had on my hard drive for a while. It's not good or anything, but reviews are very welcome, because I like reviews.
The pale man at the table by the window sat alone with his latte. Arabica, 80. Robusta, 20. Double shot. Frothed milk. No sugar. He stirred and watched as the motion disturbed the perfect layers of white and light brown, then let the fluid settle in the tall glass. At the other side of the tiny table, a young woman tentatively took place and opened her mouth to speak, but was stopped by a swift movement of his hand which told her to be quiet. He rested his elbows on the table top, brought his hands together as in prayer and rested his chin on his thumbs while touching his index fingers to his forehead. Then, he slowly drank the coffee. After that, he was ready to face the day.
"So, Ms Higurashi," he said. "You were sent by the agency as a replacement for my secretary."
His voice held a slight menace, but the young woman in her dark grey business suit just nodded and, not looking at him, offered him a thin folder, in which she presumably kept her CV and other relevant documents. He looked through it carefully, writing a thing or two down.
"Can you make coffee?" he asked.
Her eyes on his face, she said: "Yes, I can."
And so Higurashi Kagome was hired.
Very soon, he noticed that as a secretary, she was very… fresh. Which meant that she lacked routine in her work, did not type very well, needed a lot of time to complete the tasks he gave her, and improved very slowly. But even before he noticed that Ms Higurashi was rather hopeless, he noticed that he needed her more than he needed air, food, or sleep. This was because Ms. Higurashi gave him coffee.
He had never had coffee like hers before. The first time she entered the office, she brought with her the slight whiff of freshly roasted coffee beans, and he thought, since he hadn't had any coffee that morning, that she might prove herself useful in making some for him. In the small kitchen which adjoined his office, she unpacked the rather large bag she had carried in. Out came three Bialetti coffee pots in various sizes (for one, three and six cups), a small coffee mill, six parcels which held different cups, a coffee frother (with batteries, a battery charger, and a small supporting stand for the frother), a selection of spoons, long and short, a special pot for the milk, cocoa powder (fair trade, from Java), powdered cinnamon (fair trade, from Sri Lanka), vanilla beans (Bourbon, Tahitian and Mexican), a bottle of half-skimmed organic cow milk, soy milk, goat milk, a water filter, and three small undistinguishable jute bags from which the heavenly smell emerged – coffee beans.
"Have I forgotten something?" she asked herself in that young voice she had, then rummaged in her bag for the last time, only to unearth brown sugar, white sugar, rock sugar and sweetener.
What a thorough woman, he thought.
Feeling contrary, he said he would really just like an espresso brought to his office to start the day. Kagome swiftly opened the smallest coffee pot, filled the lower part with water – unfiltered, as he wanted his coffee now – then she plugged the coffee mill in, hesitated a little and then took some coffee from two of the bags, filled the middle part of the cooker with freshly ground coffee, screwed the top part back on and turned on the gas stove, on which she put the pot. While the water was heating, she fetched one of the boxes from her bag and took out a red espresso cup with a saucer and a tiny spoon, put them on the working surface and waited for the coffee to boil.
By the end of the day, he knew that she was not a very good secretary. Still, after the first coffee in the morning, he was inclined to be kind to her. By the last coffee in the evening, he was inclined to ask her to marry him.
Ms Higurashi had a neat little figure. She wore skirts which ended just below her knees, although this style did not suit her at all, combined the skirt with a blouse, and had a neat, disciplined hairstyle. Her hair was the colour of espresso, as were her eyes. When she entered his office, be it with a cup of coffee or without, he thought she smelled of café au lait. With time, he noticed that she, although she brought up his blood pressure, herself was a tired sort of person. She did not speak much, but he found her wit entertaining when it surfaced. Some days, notably Mondays, she had dark rings under her eyes. She looked as if she did not get much rest over the weekend. Sometimes, she would just gaze off into eternity, while trying to type something. No wonder her work was sloppy. On the other hand, every Monday and Friday, she would bring tiny little biscuits to go along with his coffee. Sometimes she would bring shortbread buttons. On other days, he received hazelnut cookies. Ginger flakes were his personal favourite, spicy, but not too sweet. He certainly liked his coffee well done and served in style, but he had never known himself to be so addicted to it until now.
"May I ask for your hand in marriage, Ms Higurashi?" he asked, not looking up from his computer screen. From the corner of his eye he saw her grip her bosom.
"I never knew you felt this way about me in all the… er… two weeks we've spent together, sir."
"May I ask you for a cappuccino, then, Ms Higurashi?"
"Right away, sir," she said. "I should have known you love the coffee, not me," she grumbled with a slight smile on her way out.
The proposals never came out right. She always thought he was joking. He sighed and resumed playing Minesweeper.
Then, one year later, his actual secretary came back from maternity leave and brought with her her efficiency and her fresh spirit to the office. Sango tsk-ed at the mess Kagome had made of the desktop of her computer, but still thanked her of taking good care of Sesshoumaru's office. Kagome laughed and made Sango promise to visit soon. Around this time, Sesshoumaru finally found out that Ms Higurashi and Sango were friends.
With her heavenly coffee things safely tucked away in a large bag presently resting at Sango's desk, Kagome came into his own office one last time. She came closer to his desk.
"Well, so, I guess that's it, sir," she said, smiling and holding out her hand to him.
"You've been a wonderful secretary," Sesshoumaru lied. "We're going to miss you...r coffee."
She laughed, and that was the end of that.
He couldn't work.
Sango's coffee was decent, but it wasn't perfect. It wasn't her fault, but she didn't bring little biscuits on Monday for him, nor did she filter the water for his coffee, and she had no concept of how important it was for him to have a flower-shaped cocoa stain on top of his cappuccino, or a perfect division between espresso and pure milk in his latte, served in a tall glass, with exactly the right ratio of milk to espresso.
He paced through his office until he noticed that he was ruining his carpet by making a path into it, then he noiselessly stepped into the front room where he startled Sango into clutching her chest.
"Where is she, Sango?" he asked. "I need to know."
At first she didn't know whom he meant, but then she hid a smirk.
"She's been distracted the last couple of weeks, too. I had no idea you've been having an aff…"
"No affair," he said. "This is much more pure, heavenly almost. This is love," he said conviction.
Sango looked at him as if he'd lost hist mind. "Exactly what she said," she said. "I might be risking my job, but I do have to say that you're both acting like lunatics."
But she gave him an address.
It was not a house, nor a flat. It was a café.
He entered, hesitating at the step, and took a seat in a corner. He looked around him. Sango had mumbled something about Kagome needing money to keep up her place. Apparently, this was the place.
Kagome came out of the kitchen door, carrying a tray with coffee cups. Sesshoumaru noted with satisfaction that the coffee looked almost as perfect as the ones she'd made for him, but not quite as perfect. She served the people, joked and then turned to serve the newcomer.
When she noticed him, she stilled. Then she came over, hanging the black apron over a chair and then taking place right across from him.
"You've come," she said. "I was hoping you would."
"Sango gave me directions. Why didn't you come around the office?"
"Busy. Sango's husband and I are running this place. The job at your office gave us just the cash we needed to renovate and open up again. And," she said with laugh, "it gave me good practice to serve you coffee and try out new biscuits recipes on you."
So she hadn't missed him at all. He made to stand up and go.
"No, please, at least let me make a coffee for you," she begged, but the thought that he might get a nearly-perfect cappuccino from her as any other guest would was killing him, so he turned towards the door. She didn't make him stop, but she went along with him.
"I thought you liked my coffee?" she asked.
"I love your coffee," he said.
"I thought you might like the coffee more than me," she said. "Is that so?"
"There is no coffee without you," he said. "I can't drink any other woman's coffee ever again."
She laughed, because his face showed no emotion whatsoever while he said it.
"If you come with me, I'll give you a biscuit," Kagome said. He went on to open the door, but she jumped in between and closed the door of the café shut in the faces of some people who were trying to get in. "Look, I'm cutting my own profits here by not letting people in, so will you please, please…"
He looked at her, then shoved her gently aside and left the café.
The yellow eyes haunted her. She couldn't think of anything else, not even of recipes for new chocolate chip cookies with a hint of cinnamon and a pattern on top. The cappuccino was less than perfect, and because she didn't pay attention, the milk for the irish coffee curdled, the espressi were watery and she didn't use the right sort of coffee, and on top of everything, her apron was stained.
So she packed her utensils, went over and made espresso.
Sango didn't even look up, just mumbled something about 'lunatics' and turned the volume of her radio up a bit.
Kagome carefully put the tiny red cup down on his table and watched as his eyes widened in surprise for a tiny moment. Then he took the cup.
"I'm a busy woman, you see," she said. "I can't go around mooning for you. We'll have to achieve some kind of agreement on how we spend our time."
He drank the coffee.
"May I ask for your hand in marriage, Ms Higurashi?" he asked, looking her in the eye.
"Not yet," she said. "We're still young." She leaned over his table. "But we might try this relationship thing. And then, maybe in ten years or so, we might really decide to get married. What do you think?"
"I didn't want you to think my intentions weren't honourable," he said. "This coffee thing will have to stop, though. You think I love you only because I'm the biggest coffee addict on earth, and that is simply not true."
"You're not the biggest coffee addict on earth?" she asked.
"Yes, I am. You will have to find other ways to keep me animated and away from the caffeine."
"I'm sure I'll think of something," she said suggestively and closed her hand around his. "I'm really good at cooking."
"Are you planning to get me fat, Ms Higurashi?"
"Kagome," she said. "You'll have to get exercise if you don't want that, won't you?"
And they lived happily ever after.