Author Note: Hey all. It's been quite a while since I've posted anything, but this story idea has been pestering me for a good chunk of time. So I finally sat down and wrote it. I hope you'll enjoy it, minna-san! I love hearing feedback from you fantastic reviewers, so tell me what you think! We all know I love me some Inuyasha & Kagome story time. (I'm a bit torn on the rating, but due to Inuyasha's potty mouth, and some possible future citrus, we'll stick with the rating M for now.)
May I present, day one at Simple Things Inc headquarters…
Chapter 1: Day One, Little Lady
Midori stood at the bottom of a staircase, wondering how she was going to break through the thumping, energetic beat of music to reach the girl upstairs. She absentmindedly tapped her foot and decided that yelling was the best option.
"KAGOME! THE BOSS NEEDS TO SEE YOU!"
Midori grinned as she heard a surprised shout, and the tell tale thump of a body colliding with the floor.
Upstairs, Kagome sighed as she took stock of her haphazard position amid piles of paper, vowing revenge on Midori. Blowing the hair out of her face, she brushed herself off and trekked carefully through the only path to the hallway. Midori was her co-worker at Simple Things Inc., and refused to actually walk upstairs into what everyone called The Black Void. Thus, Midori had decided that bellowing from the downstairs hallway was the best method of communication.
Ever since a new employee had spilled coffee onto a randomly placed stack of papers, which just happened to hold the deeds to some very important housing, Kagome had been the only one with the courage to venture into the upstairs jungle of paperwork. It was also due in part to the fact that Miroku had assigned her the dubious task of filing it all.
Speaking of her boss, Kagome took a deep breath and knocked on his office door. Anytime Miroku sent someone to call for Kagome in particular, it usually meant more work. Waiting the standard five seconds after not receiving an answer, Kagome opened the door, hoping she wasn't about to catch him "training" his new secretary.
Luckily, he was just on the phone. Kagome grinned and flopped down in one the ultra-comfortable purple chairs that graced his office, while Miroku nodded his greeting, and continued his phone conversation.
He calls me in here, and then makes me wait. Hmmm… She tapped her foot a few times, drummed her fingers on her leg, glanced at the boring, random office art that adorned the walls, and started stacking all his office supplies into a pile.
Miroku had been her boss for a good chunk of time, but before that, he had been her friend. Kagome was basically his second in command, and used it to her full advantage to goof off around the office. As great a businessman as Miroku was, Kagome's antics helped to keep him grounded and more prone to laughter, instead of his other habit of breaking furniture. Constantly dealing with high-income youkai customers was a very trying job- one that also paid exceptionally well.
When he hung up the phone, Kagome placed a red stapler on top of her pile, and turned to face Miroku. He snatched his stapler back, and sighed.
"You have to stop stacking everything. It weirds out some of the other employees."
Kagome shrugged. "I learned it from you. It seems to suit your filing system so well."
Miroku gave a wry grin and motioned for her to sit. "I know it's crazy up there. Although gauging by the volume of your music, it sounds like you're making good progress."
Kagome returned his grin as she sat opposite his desk. "It helps me work."
"I won't ask. But it looks like we're going to have to put the organization from hell on hold for a bit. Something's come up."
She nodded. Thought so. "What's up?"
"A new client called today, very short notice, and asked for our best girl. Normally, I'd send out Yumi, but her grandmother is in the hospital, so she's got a very limited availability. This is a very high profile client, and you're the only other person I can trust with this."
Kagome whistled. "Sounds like a big deal." She narrowed her eyes. "What's the catch?"
"The client lives in the borderlands."
"Aw, Miroku, NO! Come on." She got up and started pacing around the room. "Never again, didn't I say that? NEVER again."
"The pay is $1,000 a week. And that's just your cut."
She paused, her face torn. "That's a lot."
Miroku steepled his fingers together, elbows propped on the desk. "I know what I said before, and believe me, if there was anyone else I could trust with this, I wouldn't ask."
Kagome ran her fingers through her hair, debating. A memory arose, unbidden, of Kagome's first job at Simple Things Inc. One of Miroku's first clients, and coincidentally also one of Kagome's, had been a demon out in the borderlands.
About an hour drive from downtown, the borderlands were an untamed area where youkai reigned. High profile, secretive, or the very powerful chose this area to live, far away from human eyes. Kagome closed her eyes against the memory. Her most hated client, Yura, had been a hair demon out in the borderlands. Once the demon had decided that she wanted to add Kagome's hair to her collection, she had been locked away in the demon's house for three days, basically pleading for her life. It was not an experience she cared to repeat.
"Miroku… I can't."
He sighed. "I understand. But just so you know, I've run a complete background check on the client. The house is in an entirely private and safe area, and their background is crystal clean. This is not some unchecked psycho demon. They're a renowned family, definitely old money, and I can guarantee your safety. It's the client I've been waiting for to take my business to the next level. I also thought that with the pay, you'd be able to go back to school next year like you had dreamed. But," he shook his head, "I'm not going to ask you to put yourself in an uncomfortable situation."
Kagome glared at her friend turned boss. "That's exactly what you're asking. But… you want this pretty bad, huh?"
He shrugged, the picture of nonchalance. "I simply think it's a perfect match for both our goals." His eyes turned serious, all aloofness aside. "But yes. I really want this client. And you truly are the only one who can do this. However, I am not willing to risk your safety or peace of mind for a couple extra bucks. When I say it's safe, I mean it. The choice though, is completely up to you." He smiled. " No pressure."
Kagome took a deep breath and sat back down. Talk about a hard sell. Damn you Miroku, using your business skills to play my weak side. "I do really want to go back to school…"
Miroku nodded. "And you'd be able to pay off all those old student loans. You could even take a really nice vacation too, if you wanted."
Kagome narrowed her eyes, feeling her resistance give. "You're completely sure it's safe?"
He nodded firmly. "Absolutely. You can even read the background check if you wish."
She tipped her head back, staring at the ceiling in thought. "The borderlands…" It's definitely a risk, but this is exactly the opportunity I've been waiting for. Is it worth it? Can I handle going back to that hell-ridden place? Making her mind up, she nodded. Yes, it was definitely worth it. What was a little trip out into danger for the chance at fulfilled dreams?
She rolled her head back to look at Miroku, and grinned at his intense inspection of her expression. "Miroku, you're going to owe me so bad, it's not even funny. But, all right, I'll do it… on one condition."
Miroku frowned. "Which is?"
"Bordeaux comes with me."
"Hey, you want me to take this job? That's the only way I'll feel safe going out there again. That's the deal."
He thought for a moment and nodded. "Deal. Kagome, this is great!"
He jumped up from his chair and scooped her up in a hug. "Anything you need darling, I'm here. You're the best, Kagome-chan! Come back Monday morning to pick up directions and the key to the house. This is going to work out perfectly, just you wait and see."
Kagome winced. Famous last words, boss.
Wednesday morning dawned dull and gray. Not quite the bright start Kagome had wanted for the supposed turning point in her life. With the house key in her pocket, directions and map resting on the passenger seat of her little blue geo next to Bordeaux, she was determined to be optimistic as she drove.
Bordeaux, sensing her mood, yawned and snuffled her ear. She smiled, and ruffled the top of the dog's head, thinking back on how she had gotten him. After Yura, she had gone through a dark period of depression. Scared to go outside, scared of the dark, insomnia, and then frequent night terrors when she actually did manage to sleep- her life had been in shambles.
She had taken to randomly driving through the city to ease her mind, and one day had found herself in the parking lot of the local humane society. Before she realized what she was doing, she was trailing row after row of dog cages, finally stopping in front of Bordeaux's cage. The shelter volunteer had informed her that this dog only had a few days left before being put down, as most people found the dog much too big, or too aloof for their lifestyle.
Kagome had looked in at the dog, sitting patiently, unlike the other excited and yappity dogs. He had an unusually alert and intelligent gaze. When the volunteer had opened the cage so Kagome could greet the dog, he had calmly walked forward, reared back, plopped his giant paws on Kagome's shoulders, and licked her nose. She knew right then, that this dog had picked her as master. After that, Bordeaux had become glued to her side, as both friend and protector.
Halfway through the drive, as the houses started to wane, and rolling hillside took over the scenery, the sun started to peek its head out of the clouds.
That's better. She sighed happily, a smile creeping onto her face. I've never been to this part of the borderlands… it's actually kind of pretty. Everything was green, and very crowded the sides of the road, hinting at a lush forest farther back. Noticing Bordeaux's nose smooshed against the window, she rolled it down part way so he could stick his furry face out and enjoy the breeze. His tongue rolled out, the very picture of doggy happiness. Kagome grinned, and felt her mood start to lighten. Maybe this won't be so bad!
"This is the house!?" Kagome looked back and forth in wonder from the paper in her hand, to the house in front of her. The address was right, but house was not exactly the word she would use to describe the home she was looking at. Mansion, castle, villa, were all much more fitting. It was huge! Bordeaux padded forward calmly by her heels as she walked up to the front door. A note, written in elegant penmanship, was attached to the door.
Welcome to the West Estate. We look forward to a successful partnership with both yourself & the company you represent. Please be informed that all your necessary supplies are stored on the first floor linen closet, and we request your week to consist of a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule, hours 9am-5pm. There is also an infestation of gremlins in the back yard and sitting porch, as well as dust bunnies in the study. We'd appreciate these matters taken care of as soon as you are able.
"Hm." Kagome exchanged the note in her hand for the key in her pocket, and unlocked the front door. Bordeaux nudged in front of her, and padded into the foyer. Kagome grinned as she took in the decorating and architecture. The house was a nice blend of Victorian and Modern, with clean lines, and simple ornamentation. The banister of the stairs to the upper floor was a dark mahogany, and shone with sleek, polished beauty. She took a left into a gorgeous living room; besides gorgeous overstuffed couches, it was complete with an entertainment system that she would definitely have to take a closer look at later.
Further on, the kitchen was in stark contrast to the living room. It was a bright and open space, unlike the darker, richer colors of the rest of the house. Two of the walls were covered in windows that looked out onto an expansive back yard, ringed in a thick fringe of woods. As she looked away, she caught a scurry of movement in the bushes, and grinned. Gremlins. They're an easy enough little problem.
A den peeked out next to the back sitting porch, and a laundry room was her next stop. Inside a closet she found her supplies, both for cleaning the house, and cleaning out the unwelcome pests of the youkai variety.
She exited back out into a hallway, passing two bathrooms, a reading room, a study and a dining room, to come full circle back into the foyer. Supplies in hand, she fished a note from Miroku out of her sweater pocket.
Hope the directions got you to the place all right. Call me if you have any problems.
As for your duties in relation to the West Estate, we have a clear, simple set of tasks to be done.
1. Light cleaning of first floor.
2. Occasional cooking when called for.
3. Magical pest control.
4. Personal assistant duties to Sir West and company, to be done in the first floor study. A task list will be left every morning near an accompanying computer.
Note: No cleaning/assistant duties are required for you on the second floor. You are, however, permitted to go upstairs if you have need. Just note, that you have no work to be done there.
Kagome frowned at the note for a moment, wondering what that meant. She could go upstairs, but only if she wanted to? What kind of person hires someone to only clean the first floor of the house? "Oh well. I suppose I can check out the upstairs later since I don't actually have to clean that. Guess I had better get started on the first floor."
She made her way back to the living room, noting Bordeaux had found a place to take his morning nap. He was nestled comfortably on plush carpet, under a coffee table. Kagome smiled at her sleepy companion, and noticed an envelope she hadn't seen before, propped carefully on the table. It was addressed "To the Idiot Dog: Baka Inu."
"Hm." She cocked her head, wondering whom the note was meant for. The penmanship looked exactly like whoever had left the note on the front door for her. She shrugged, and placed it back on the table. She took a deep breath, hit play on her ipod, popped headphones in her ears, and started her new job of taking care of the West Estate.
Inuyasha's stomach growled as he opened the bathroom door. Emerging from the cloud of steam with a towel draped over his head, he lamented the firing of last week's housekeeper. True, she had tried to blackmail Seshoumaru, which was instant grounds for getting fired and/or killed… but she had been a great cook. That was the problem with fox youkai; they were sneaky, but always had traits that made you miss them. As he grumbled some more on his way down the stairs towards the kitchen, he noticed something different in the air. A scent… no, two scents he didn't know…
He stopped at the foot of the stairs and listened. Now that he was paying attention, he could hear soft rustlings in the living room.
If this was another intruder, his morning was going to be ruined…
He whirled around the corner, growling; ready to jump on whoever was lurking in his house.
What he did not expect to see was a girl, swaying slightly... actually, it looked more like dancing. His right ear tweaked under the towel, and he heard the soft hum of music coming through headphones. Probably on an ipod or something. But why was she cleaning his house?
"Oi! Who the hell are you?"
A low growl quickly stole his attention as he noticed the giant gray beast looking protectively from under his coffee table. This is my house! What the hell is going on?
Kagome had turned from her preliminary dusting of the entertainment system (where there were a total of four different gaming platforms: an Xbox, Ps2, Ps3, as well as a Wii, and that didn't even begin to include the extensive DVD collection lining the shelves!) to notice the angry figure standing in the doorway.
Her cheeks tinged pink as she realized she'd been caught dancing. Dang… How embarrassing. She yanked the headphones out of her ears, and dropped a quick bow for respect.
"Good morning! My name is Kagome Higurashi, and I've been hired on behalf of Simple Things Inc. I'm pleased to be working with you." She grinned her most dazzling professional smile. As she waited for a response, she started to take in the appearance of whomever she was speaking to.
The guy was entrenched in a staring match with Bordeaux. He was dressed in a t-shirt and pajama pants, and had a towel draped over his head… probably just out of the shower.
"Umm…" Kagome began, "Would you happen to be Idiot Dog: Baka Inu, by chance?"
"WHAT?" The boy's head snapped up, and Kagome caught a glimpse of flashing golden eyes before his towel fell back to his shoulders. Her gaze was instantly dragged to long, snow white hair… and a pair of adorable fuzzy ears atop his head. "Who the fuck do you think you-"
He was cut off as Bordeaux stood up, and placed himself in front of Kagome, teeth bared, and growl slowly rising in pitch. The boy looked at the dog in confusion, almost as if he was deciding whether to be angry or impressed.
Kagome stepped forward and placed a hand atop Bordeaux's head, instantly silencing the dog. She gave him a slight pat, ruffling his ears in thanks for the protective gesture. "I'm sorry for the abruptness of our meeting. She motioned to the dog, "This is my friend, Bordeaux. And you must be…?"
"Inuyasha." The boy scoffed, and tossed one last wary look at Bordeaux. "What was that shit you were saying about an idiot dog?"
Kagome grabbed the envelope off the living room coffee table. "This. I had a note addressed to me on the front door, and I'm not sure who this one is for. I assume it's for you, as you… live here?"
"Yeah, I fucking live here…" The boy snatched the envelope out of her hands, tearing it open and quickly scanning the contents. "That bastard…"
"Is something wrong?" Kagome nervously fiddled with one of the few rings she wore. "Did I start too early, or something?"
The boy, Inuyasha, waved her concerns aside. "It's just my pompous son-of-bitch brother, that's all." He whipped a cell phone out of his pocket, and began dialing furiously. Kagome was pleased to note that in the midst of his bout of anger however, the boy made sure to drop his hand near nose level by Bordeaux, so the dog could get a good sniff.
After Bordeaux was satisfied, he turned and trotted away from the pair to resume his nap under the coffee table.
Kagome watched as the boy walked a short distance away, presumably to talk in private. She shrugged, and decided to get back to work as well.
"Yeah, Seshoumaru? WHAT. THE. FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU!"
Kagome winced at the sudden increase of volume. So much for needing privacy. He was across the room, and yet it felt like he was yelling directly into her ear. She shook her head, and glanced back from her dusting to watch the guy rain hell on whoever was on the other end of the call.
In his office, Sesshoumaru grinned, even as his sensitive hearing was brutally accosted by the screaming tones of his younger half-brother's voice.
"I warned you a week ago that we'd be hiring someone new, Baka Inu."
"Like hell you did! But never mind that, you arrogant, forgetful jackass. This bitch is human! Why, in all the reasons in the world would you hire a human girl as housekeeper out here in the borderlands? Are you insane!?"
"I believe our new housekeeper, as you call her, will be a valuable addition to the household. She has a dog with her, does she not?" Sesshoumaru grinned as he could practically see the hanyou attempting to control his rage on the other end of the phone.
"Yeah, she's got a fucking dog. So what? He's pretty freaking huge, but it wouldn't stand two seconds against any real threat."
"We agreed in contract that the dog would be sufficient protection for her to travel into the borderlands, so it shouldn't matter that she's human," he tonelessly recited.
"You're up to something," Inuyasha snarled, "I can practically smell it through this damn phone."
"Well," Seshoumaru faked a yawn and glanced at the clock. Almost time for lunch, he noted. "She's your new link to the outside world and decently cooked food, hanyou. So, I'd treat her better than you've treated all the other staff I've hired for that forsaken house."
He continued before the younger sibling had a chance to respond, "And to be perfectly honest, I'm tired of trying to find someone to take care of your incompetent self. So make this one last. I won't even attempt to try and hire someone else after you've driven this one out. Pull some manners out of your ass, and at least try to give her a quick orientation… or a tour… something. Just as long as it's not an introduction to your bed."
Without a moment's pause, he clicked the phone off, and allowed himself a small grin.
Pissing off his brother was one of his favorite things, and oh so easy.
Inuyasha stared at the phone in horror and disgust. "Fuck!" He gave in and slammed the phone into the wall, and took a few deep breaths. That conniving, stupid, fucking… he turned back around to meet the questioning, angry gaze of his new housekeeper, Kagome.
"Uh," He scratched the back of his neck awkwardly. "Guess I should show you around or something."
"Oh don't strain yourself," Kagome started sarcastically. "I may be only human, but I'm fully capable of using my eyes and legs to walk around the first level of the house. Thanks." She waved the duster in dismissal. "I'll try not to be too much of a bother."
"Look, girl," he started, waving the broken remains of his phone around in his hand, "I didn't hire you. My brother did. So, I don't really know what's going on, or what you do, besides dust. Can you cook?"
Kagome blinked, brought up short at the sudden subject change. "Uh, yes. Yes I can cook. What would you like?"
Inuyasha nodded, and stalked towards to the kitchen with a wave. "Come on."
She followed slowly behind, wondering where exactly this morning was going to take her.
Inuyasha plopped down at an island bar in the middle of the kitchen. "Eggs, bacon, waffles, pancakes, whatever. Just something in the form of breakfast would be great." He leaned his head on his hand and stared intensely at the wall.
"Oh… all right then…" She started to rummage through the cabinets and fridge, noticing that they were packed with every kind of food, spice and sauce imaginable. "Wow. You weren't kidding. You must really like to grocery shop," she noted absently.
"Nope. I never do it. It gets delivered here, once a week."
Kagome snuck another glance at him. "Must be nice."
Kagome made a noncommittal noise in response, and decided to just cook through the tense silence. She tried to do a quick assessment of her new… oh, employer she supposed. He was much younger than she was expecting. Gorgeous, of course, since that usually seemed to go hand in hand with being rich, and thus affording the price tag that accompanied Miroku's business. But the guy seemed just as baffled by her presence as she was by his brusque manner. Surely he had known she was coming that morning?
She quickly fried up some bacon, and a soft, delicious looking omelet. Using all the tricks and tips she had learned from her quick stint in culinary school, she arranged them lightly on a plate, and garnished with a few strawberries and grapes. Hopefully it wasn't too late for her to make a good impression on her new employer.
She placed the food directly under the boy's nose, noticing that besides the fact that his hair had dried and was slightly mused, his gaze had not wavered from the spot he'd been staring at the wall.
"Am I offending you?"
Inuyasha blinked, and sharply looked at her. "Huh?"
"Well, you seem reluctant to look at me, and don't seem too pleased that I'm here. Do you want me to leave?"
"Yes. No. Damnit, it's a long story." He looked back at the plate of food. "This smells really good."
Without further ado, he began devouring the breakfast, leaving Kagome to stand awkwardly, out of things to say. Muffled clicking on the tiled floor alerted her to Bordeaux's presence, and sure enough, he appeared next to her hip a moment later.
She grinned and leaned down to playfully pull on one of the gray dog's ears. "Hey, boy. Always motivated by food, aren't ya?"
Inuyasha snorted into his omelet. "Smart dog."
Kagome rolled her eyes and ignored him, hooking the last extra piece of bacon out of the pan. "He is, actually. Here Bordeaux. Snack time!"
The dog padded forward, and softly took the bacon from her hand, gulping it down in seconds. He licked his lips, and looked back up for more. Kagome grinned. "Sorry bud. That's all that's left."
She heard, rather than saw a chair scrape back from the counter. Bordeaux walked away, and Kagome turned to watch him take the bacon that was outstretched in Inuyasha's palm.
While Bordeaux crunched happily on his newfound snack, Inuyasha tensed as he noticed the girl watching him. "What? I was full anyways. You're not one of those people who hate to give their dogs people food, are you?"
Kagome shook her head, amazed at the lines of tension running through the boy. "No, nothing like that. Dogs are made to eat meat. It's a simple fact of nature. Rather, I'm a bit surprised that he'd take food from you so quickly. He's normally pretty reserved with strangers."
Inuyasha blinked, and looked back at the dog. "Whatever."
Once he realized there was no more food to be had, Bordeaux toddled off back into the living room to do dog things, like sleep. The pair in the kitchen shifted awkwardly.
"No, go ahead."
"Well," Inuyasha dropped his hands loosely, and gave a one sided shrug. "I don't really know what to do. What is it exactly that you've been hired to do?"
Kagome pulled the folded note from Miroku out of her sweater pocket. Today has been full of notes. Strange day so far. "Basically, I'm a combination housekeeper, cook, and personal assistant to the head of household. I've been instructed to keep only the first floor tidy, conduct P.A. duties in the study, and take care of the gremlin and dust bunny problem."
"How can YOU get rid of those little fuckers?"
Kagome grinned. "Well, I am a miko."
Inuyasha's eyes widened slightly, and he nodded. "Ah."
Kagome nodded, and waited for him to continue. When he turned back to stare at the counter, she pushed on, anxious to keep him talking. "So, what else would you like me to do?"
He scoffed. "I ain't got nothing for you to do. Call Seshoumaru for all that crap."
"Is he S.W.? Is that who you called earlier?"
"Yeah. The dickwad himself."
"Hm." Houston, we have some major sibling issues here. "What time does Seshoumaru get back?"
Inuyasha grinned. "Here? As in come home?"
Kagome grinned back, glad to be making some progress. "Yeah!"
Inuyasha's grin cracked as he erupted in full blown, tummy-clutching laughter. "Oh, that's rich! Seshoumaru… living… here! Ahahahahahahah!"
Kagome frowned and planted her hands on her hips. "What's so funny?"
He waved his hand back and forth, and visibly tried to catch his breath. "Oh, damn. I needed that." He looked back up, and Kagome had to double take at the way the brief bout of laughter had lightened his eyes… no, his entire expression looked better. "Maybe I will have to keep you around. You're so clueless, it's hilarious."
"Don't sweat it girl. Calm down. I suppose there's no way you could know, really. It's part of the territory of being human. You're in the dark on key, common youkai knowledge."
"Ok fine," Kagome huffed. "I'm human, and I don't belong here. Whatever. I get it. But I was requested for this specific position, and I'll be damned if I don't do a hell of a good job!"
Inuyasha blinked, and a slow grin spread over his face. "Huh."
"Nothing." He shook his head, still grinning. "All right. I'll broaden your world. Seshoumaru and I are brothers, but only by half. Meaning, he hates my hanyou guts, and would rather claw out his own full blooded youkai eyes rather than live in the same house as me."
"Alright. So who else lives here?"
"Yup." He leaned back, and spread his arms wide. "Meet the head of household."
Kagome sighed, and massaged her right temple. This is getting way more complicated than I had thought. "So basically, you live in this huge house, alone, and I'm here because…"
"I don't know. I can't help you out there."
"Arg! You had to have hired me, or talked to my company to set this up."
"Wrong again. Seshoumaru set this up, and apparently is paying for it as well. I had no knowledge of your coming today." He shrugged. "All the other housekeepers just cooked and cleaned, none of that personal assistant bullshit. And, they were all youkai. Even though you're human, I'm sure you're aware of the reputation this area has."
Kagome nodded. "I'm all too aware, thanks."
His gaze sharpened on her expression, and he moved to speak, before thinking better of it. "Hm." He tapped a finger on the countertop for a moment, before moving to take the note from her. "First floor only? Who's going to clean upstairs?"
Kagome shrugged. "Dunno. Is there something special up there?"
Inuyasha shook his head distractedly. "Another bathroom, workout room, library, and master bedroom, mostly."
Kagome "hmmed" in response to his statement, trying desperately to look professional and keep a lid on her bubbling curiosity. What was so special about an all too normal second floor?
He snorted. "It sure as hell ain't gonna be me, I'll tell you that." He read on, speaking the fourth item on the list aloud. "Personal assistant duties to Sir West and company, to be done in the first floor study. A task list will be left every morning near an accompanying computer."
Kagome cocked her head. "I'm assuming you didn't create a task list this morning?"
"Nice one genius." He stood up and stretched. "Like I even wake up that early. Let's see if there's anything in the study that makes more sense."
He fell into an easy walk, and Kagome followed at a safe pace behind. I have no idea what to make of this guy. Living in this huge house, all alone. And he's so young! He can't be all that much older than me. He hates his brother, Seshoumaru whoever, who is technically my employer. And he had no idea I was hired to take care of his house. Something strange is going on.
She continued to follow him, adrift in her own thoughts until they reached the study. She watched him walk forward and inspect the main desk in the center of the room, backlit by floor to ceiling windows, offering another spectacular view of the backyard.
Inuyasha pulled a paper out of the fax machine, and scowled at it. "Oh, hell."
"What is it?" Kagome leaned forward across the desk, attempting to read the paper upside down.
"You're my personal assistant."
Kagome looked up to meet his gaze. "Well, yeah I guess. Since you're the only person living here, it makes sense that that would apply to you as well. I've basically been hired to work for you." She shrugged. "What's the big deal?"
"Nothing." He scowled at the paper for a moment, crumpled it, and tossed it into a nearby trashcan. "Keh, whatever. Never mind your P.A. duties. I'm officially relieving you of them… forever. Let's just… go do something about the damn gremlins."
She nodded in agreement. "Sounds good. Do you um, need to change or anything?"
Kagome blinked, and stuttered for a moment. "Well, you're in pajamas and its almost mid day."
Inuyasha snorted, a thing that Kagome was quickly realizing he did a lot. "Doesn't matter. What do we need to get rid of those pests?"
"Leave it to me. I'll meet you in the backyard in a few minutes."
"What is all that crap?" Inuyasha stared down at the pile that Kagome had formed in the middle of his back yard, wondering what it was going to do against tiny, clawed, annoying lesser youkai.
"Charms, mostly. A few herbs and such." Kagome spoke as she worked, making a circle of dark stones with a paper charm upright in the middle. "This is actually one of the few times having Bordeaux comes in extra-handy." She stood, and brushed the dirt from her jeans, and sprinkled the crushed herbs from her right hand over the stones. In her other hand she clutched a stack of paper charms identical to the one in the middle of the stones.
Inuyasha was absolutely confused. He crossed his arms and waited.
Kagome closed her eyes for a moment, seeming to center herself. Cracking an eye open, she grinned at her dog. "Bordeaux, get the gremlins!"
The dog, who had been waiting patiently next to the girl, shot off into the bushes. In less than a minute, he was back, carrying a wriggling, tiny green creature. He shook his head, stunning the thing, and tossed it into the center of the stones.
Kagome took a deep breath, made a quick symbol with her hands, and issued forth a terse "Hah!"
When she spoke, each of the stones sparked for a moment, the energy combining to form a visible ring above the dark stones.
Inuyasha inched closer, entranced by the simple display of magic. He chuckled slightly as he watched the first gremlin attempt to escape, defeated by the barrier Kagome has just created. "That's pretty neat."
Kagome grinned in response. "Yup!"
Every minute or so Bordeaux would return with another captive, until the small circle was crowded with tiny angry green bodies. This continued for another ten minutes, and Inuyasha yawned, bored with the process. "Shit, how many of these ugly things are there?"
"A lot, usually." Kagome said.
He turned, noting the strained note of her voice. Sweat had begun to prick along her forehead, and he noticed that her hands were still in the first symbol she had created with the first goblin.
"Do you have to keep that spell going constantly while he finds the rest of 'em?"
Inuyasha whistled. "Sounds draining."
Kagome inhaled quickly, keeping her focus on the ever-growing pile of furious bodies contained in her circle. "I won't be able to get rid of the dust bunnies today. This purification of the outside grounds will pretty much tap me out for the day."
"Huh." Inuyasha stretched out on the grass, leaning back on his hands. "I always assumed that mikos had an endless supply of purification power and all that."
Kagome frowned. "The good ones do."
"Yeah? And what, you're like a lesser miko or whatever?"
She tossed the hanyou a wry grin, looking away from her barrier for less than a second. "Yeah, I guess you could say that. If I was a Miko, with a capital 'M', then I doubt I'd still be working for a personal assistant-cleaning service."
Inuyasha nodded. "True."
"But," Kagome smiled as Bordeaux finally returned empty handed. "Good job boy! But yeah… if I can save up enough to pay off the bulk of my loans, then I can go back to school," she spoke as she wound her hands in a few more complicated symbols, "And do something that actually matters besides keeping other people's houses clean." With a final upward thrust of her palms, the ring of magic that had hung suspended above the stones knit itself into a net, pulling all the gremlins up into the air with it. Kagome sighed, and grabbed the handle of softly sparkling energy.
Inuyasha's eyes widened, as he saw his housekeeper girl handle magical energy as though it was as natural as rope.
"Not that I'm complaining about my job or anything," she hastily added. "It's just… all the dream jobs require a degree of some sort, you know?" She slung the magic-turned-gremlin-bag over her shoulder. "Well, I suppose we can call on these guys now."
Kagome pulled her phone out of her pocket. "There's a gremlin disposal service that does pick up. I'll have them come get these guys. Do you happen to have a box about this size?"
Inuyasha furrowed his brow. "Probably somewhere. I'll look, if it means getting those things out of my house faster."
Kagome completed her call, snapped the phone shut, and grinned at Inuyasha. "Thanks!"
Inuyasha scowled. "Whatever." He quickly skulked off towards the house.
She shook her head as she watched him go. "Weird guy…" She muttered.
Inuyasha waited impatiently in the kitchen, fiddling with the only cardboard box he'd managed to find. He watched the girl outside finish sticking the charms in a perimeter around his yard, speaking a quick spell over each one. And that dog… Bordeaux was standing watch over the gremlin bag, just in case one happened to overpower the magic of the girl.
Inuyasha shook his head. She hadn't even mentioned it yet, but she had to know.
As if his ears didn't give his secret away.
As if his name was any better.
And yet… that dog. Normally, Inuyasha avoided all dogs. Too many jokes from Seshoumaru had inclined him to detest their existence. Always at the beck and call of their master, collared, tamed, stupid, domesticated. Ugh.
But something about this particular dog was different. It was smart.
Kagome's attitude towards the dog as well was a bit off. He had immediately noticed that she did not, in fact, keep a collar on "Bordeaux". Weird name for a dog. And the way she referred to the dog… not as a pet, but as a friend. And the dog itself… it did not have the normal demeanor of a goofy, dopey dog. It was a calm, intelligent dog, with purpose, and content to seemingly be near the girl.
Too many strange things for one day. It was putting him on edge.
But that dog… he didn't really mind it. He just didn't get it.
And the girl was okay, he supposed. He was still reserving judgment on that particular subject. Something was off, he was sure of it.
But honestly, after all the weird shit that had happened that day, it was amazing that he hadn't fired the girl hours ago.
It may have had something to do with the warning that the dickwad had given him earlier.
But ultimately the decision was up to him. So, Inuyasha decided to wait, and see how the rest of the day turned out.
"Whew!" Kagome pushed back a few damp strands of hair from her face, and straightened up from her last charm. "First official task: Complete!" She grinned as she walked over to Bordeaux. "Good job my furry colleague! Gimme five." She laid her hand low and giggled as Bordeaux reared back and plopped his paw on top of her palm. "Thanks, boy!"
Inuyasha opened the sliding glass door and tossed her a box. "So. What's the deal with the dog?"
Kagome struggled to fit the barrier bag of gremlins in the box for a moment, and ultimately sat on it to keep it shut. "What do you mean?"
"I mean," He started, uncapping a bottle of water, "That I know dogs. And that is not a normal dog."
Kagome gave a good whack to the side of the box, momentarily stunning it's occupants, and giving her a moment's break. "Yeah, I know."
"So…" He said, and took a big gulp of water.
"So have you had the dog all your life, has it pulled off some homeward bound shit and that's why it's here with you, is it crossbred with a bear, I mean seriously, what the hell kind of dog is that. It's more than half your size."
Kagome smiled slightly, and gave Bordeaux a quick nose rub. "I guess you could say… he picked me out to be his master."
Inuyasha scoffed. "Right. What dog would willingly want a master."
Kagome nodded. "Actually, no, you're right. Master is probably the wrong word. More like, oh, I don't know, companion or friend."
He quirked an eyebrow. "That's the whole story?"
"That's the whole story."
He followed her silently as she gathered up the box, and made her way back into the house. After he had closed the door behind them both, Inuyasha shook his head. "I call bullshit."
"What?" The doorbell rang as soon as she had set the box down. "Wow! That was fast. They must have already had someone out in the area. Hold on, I'll be right back."
Inuyasha unconsciously followed her to the door, watched her hand over the box of gremlins (the box was starting to shake uninterrupted now), and waited with arms crossed the whole time. When the front door had clicked closed, he started in again. "I call bullshit on that being all there is to the story."
"Well, I guess you'll never know, huh?"
"Aha!" he exclaimed. "So there is more! I knew it. That dog is something else."
Kagome sharply turned and poked him in the chest. "You got a problem with my dog?"
Inuyasha paused for a moment, acutely aware of how close he was to this girl. The morning had progressed nicely, each of them staying far enough away from each other to avoid any close contact. And she had ruined it, just because he had asked about her dog.
He sneered. "Maybe I do."
"Well, don't." She finished her statement with a final jab to his chest, spun around and headed to the kitchen. "You hungry?"
And then he blinked again.
And then he grinned.
She was good.
Not only had she managed to change the subject, get defensive, invade his space to make him defensive, leave the conversation, and then distract him with food… she hadn't let slip a single other detail of the story than what she had told him earlier. He smirked, slowly making his own way back to the kitchen. This girl just might be able to play on my level. I've been dying for a good game lately.
After lunch, Inuyasha had headed up to the second floor, declaring he was ready to greet the day. Kagome had taken stock of her day, and decided it had been a good start. She still had a few hours left though, and the first floor was almost spotlessly clean. Bordeaux had been fed as well, and was taking his afternoon nap. That dog had a specific nap for any time of day it happened to be. Kagome sighed. Lucky dog.
She had wound up wandering around through the rooms, ending up back in the study. Remembering the fax Inuyasha had thrown away that morning, she did a quick check to make sure she was alone, and sat down behind the desk.
She pulled up a browser, fully intending to check her email. She peeked at the trash, then shook her head and re-focused on the computer screen. I shouldn't look, I really shouldn't…
Cursing her curiosity, she sighed and pulled the trashcan over, finding the crumpled fax on top. She paused for a moment, wondering what had elicited the strange response from Inuyasha. Shrugging, she figured she was about to find out. She smoothed the paper out over her leg, and read its mangled contents. Though it had been crumpled, the words were still perfectly legible.
Ms. Higurashi would please fulfill the daily personal assistant duties of this day by entertaining the puppy.
i.e.: Watch a movie with the idiot dog, Inuyasha."
- S. W,
She frowned, and reread the contents. Surely that couldn't be right. Why would she be asked to watch a movie with her employer by her employer's brother? This makes absolutely no sense…
"Damn. I had more hope for you than that."
Kagome jumped guiltily at the sound of Inuyasha's voice. She looked up to see him lounging against the doorframe, finally dressed in clothes other than pajamas. With dark wash jeans and a black top, his clothes weren't too spectacular. But for whatever reason, maybe even just the adrenaline pumping through her veins from being caught snooping, Kagome felt her pulse jump at the sight of him.
He came forward slowly, eyes intent on her expression, waiting to see what she would do. He reached out to grab the paper, but when he pulled, he found it was secure in her grasp. He looked up from their twin lock on a simple sheet of copy paper, and glared at her. "Let go."
A small spark entered Kagome's eyes, and she slowly shook her head. "No. Tell me what's going on."
Inuyasha growled, exasperated. "Hell if I fucking know! Damn, bitch. You tell me!"
Kagome blinked, and for a moment looked as though she was going to yell back at him. But instead, she took a deep breath and stared right back. "Look," she said, "I know you didn't want me to see this, for whatever reason. But as a good personal assistant, I know that sometimes it requires making your employer do things that they don't necessarily want to do, but rather, things they need to do. It's part of my job. So," she slowly released her grip on the paper, "I'm sorry for not listening to you. But please tell me what this means." She nodded towards the paper that was now solely in his grip.
Inuyasha snorted. "It doesn't mean anything." He pulled back, and Kagome heard a slight click-clack sound as he adjusted his stance. "It's just my brother's twisted sense of humor."
But Kagome had stopped listening. Her eyes had focused on the prominent necklace around his neck, the source of the click she had just heard. How have I not noticed this all day? "Is that… is that what I think it is?"
His hand jumped to the necklace, and he scowled. "Not. It's not whatever you think it is." He hastily pushed the necklace back under his shirt. "And I'd appreciate it if you'd get back to work, snooper."
"Now wait a minute!" Kagome stood up abruptly from the desk as he turned to leave. "I may be human, and I may be new here, but I know what that necklace… no, what that rosary is."
"Yeah, well fucking good for you! I know what it is too, shit."
"Inuyasha…" Kagome hedged, unsure of how to continue. "Why are you wearing a sealing rosary?"
"None of your goddamn business." He whirled away from her, and stormed towards the door. "Consider your first day over." He slammed the door to the study on his way out, and Kagome heard him stomp up the stairs.
She threw her hands up in the air, and yelled at the ceiling, knowing that he could probably still hear her. "Fine! Don't tell me. But I'll be back on Wednesday, and you better be ready to talk then!"
She grabbed her keys, and called for Bordeaux. She stomped outside to her car, let the dog in first, and slammed the door shut behind her. Gripping the steering wheel in frustration, she swore. "I need to talk to Miroku."
Kagome burst through the front door of Simple Things Inc, in search of a particular business monk. "Bordeaux, get Miroku."
As the gray dog turned into a blur, streaking down the hallway, she could hear Miroku emerge from his office, just as Bordeaux rounded the corner.
"Has Kagome returned yet? No? All right then. I'll see you all tomorrow. Shit! BORDEAUX! NO! Don't you dare-" There was mild scuffling, then a wump, and a short bark from Bordeaux.
She grinned, and took her time walking down the hallway. She rounded the corner to see Miroku sprawled on the floor in front of his secretary Midori's desk, Bordeaux sitting directly on his chest.
She grinned. "Good boy Bordeaux!"
The dog gave another quick bark, and bounced off Miroku. Kagome walked forward to peer down on her boss. "Taking off early?"
Miroku sat up and ran a hand through his hair. "Yeah. Your dog is too damn big Kagome. He's an insurance claim waiting to happen." He grinned nonetheless, picking himself up off the floor. "How was your first day with the new client?"
"About that. Office. Talk. NOW." She frog marched him to his own office, quickly closing the door behind Bordeaux. "What the hell kind of assignment have you sent me on?!"
Bordeaux, sensing an argument, went to go sleep under Miroku's desk. It was his favorite spot in the office.
Miroku frowned slightly, brow creased in thought. He leaned back, resting his hip against the corner of his desk. "What do you mean?"
"I mean, that not only is this West client dysfunctional, strange, and a complete jackass- he was also totally uniformed to my arrival, or to my duties."
"Was he improper? Did you feel unsafe?"
"No, not like that." Kagome scratched her head, wondering where all her self-righteous anger had gone. "It's more awkward than inappropriate."
"So, okay. You're worried because this job is awkward?"
"There's more to it than that." She sighed, and slumped into a nearby chair. "Miroku, the guy had a sealing rosary on."
Miroku's eyebrows shot up. "What?"
"I know." Kagome closed her eyes and scrubbed her hand across her face. "And I didn't even notice it until the day was almost over. That alone shouldn't be possible, never mind the fact that there's got to be a very serious reason behind implementing a rosary. He's strange, but not homicidal. I think." She shrugged. "Mostly, I'm just really confused as to who he is."
"Well, there's not much I can really tell you. This West client, you're talking about Inuyasha, correct?"
A frown crept over her expression as she nodded. "Yeah. But there were notes addressed from S.W., who I'm told is his half brother." She paused for a moment. "How did you know his name was Inuyasha? I didn't even know that until he told me."
"Kagome, this is going to sound weird. But trust me on this. I wouldn't put you in a situation that I didn't think you could handle. How long have we been friends?"
Kagome sighed. "Too long, if you ask me."
Miroku laughed. "Exactly. So here's the deal. I can't tell you everything, but when S.W. - who is Seshoumaru West- called, he requested you specifically."
"But," she sat straight up in her chair, "How did he even know who I was?"
"Supposedly he's heard good recommendations from our other clients." Miroku waved his hand vaguely. "He's a high profile man who works downtown, so even though the estate is in the borderlands, it is possible that he's heard of you from some of our inner city clients."
She nodded along with his explanation. "Okay, that makes sense. But there's got to be more to it than that."
Miroku's eyes shifted for a moment, and he stuffed his hands in his pockets. "You weren't supposed to figure out this much so fast."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"I mean…" Miroku sighed, "That you're going to have to trust me on this."
"I do!" She stood up angrily, and started pacing around the room. "I really do Miroku, but damnit… I can't just continue on blindly, without any information. I didn't even really want to go out into the Borderlands again, but I did. And it's turned into another fucking weird situation. How can you expect me to just go along with this?"
Miroku shrugged. "It's always been your decision. If you want to quit, that's fine. I'm not going to force you to do something you're not comfortable with, as I've said before. I may be your boss, but first and foremost, I'm your friend."
Kagome ran her fingers through her hair, exhausted, and more confused than ever. "So that's it? I can just quit?"
Miroku nodded. "If that's what you want. But, consider this. I can tell you everything I know, up to a point. After that, take your day off tomorrow to consider the whole thing; whatever happened today, versus the benefits of an unbelievable paycheck, which in turn will allow you to pursue your dreams." He locked her gray-blue eyes with his own deep purple gaze, good intentions and hope shining brightly. "As well as the knowledge that I think this is the greatest opportunity you will ever have, on many different levels."
Kagome snorted. "Right. Working for some rich youkai bastard is the dream job of a lifetime."
"In a sense, yes." He sighed. "I forget how young you are sometimes. Besides the financial security that comes with a hefty paycheck, you also would be in line to receive the gratitude of one of the most powerful men in this city. Connections to get into schools, recommendation letters for jobs in the future, and an impressive reference to add to your resume." He grinned. "I hate to even add this part, but I think Inuyasha would benefit from your presence as well."
"Inuyasha? Yeah right. He was happy to toss me out the door as soon as my work was done." She shook her head in a dismissal.
"You'd be surprised. There's a lot you don't know about him."
"And you do?"
His eyes sparkled mischievously. "Like I said, you'd be surprised."
Bordeaux emerged from under the desk, and padded softly over next to Kagome, leaning his body against her leg in a comforting gesture. Her hand automatically dropped to scratch in between his ears, and she chewed her lip slightly in thought. "I don't know."
Miroku pushed forward off the desk, and held his hands open. "Kagome, listen to what I'm saying. You don't have to decide right now. I know it's a lot to take in at once. I'll tell you what I know real quickly, and then you can head home. Seriously think about this tomorrow, and let me know what your decision is Wednesday morning."
"Okay. That's fair." She reclaimed her seat in one of the chairs, and Bordeaux plopped down next to her. "Let's hear it."
He sat down in the other chair, and turned it slightly to face her. "For starters, the West family owns most of the big companies in this city. Besides that, there's some royalty running through the bloodlines, so they've got old money backing as well. They're basically a business and real estate powerhouse."
Kagome thought back on Inuyasha's crude behavior, and compared it to the elegant handwriting she assumed belong to Seshoumaru. One of them fits the image at least. "Go on."
"Well," Miroku pulled one of his legs up to rest lightly on his other knee. "Seshoumaru is obviously the head of the company, entitled Western Enterprises. He runs everything. He's also full blood youkai. Inuyasha on the other hand, has absolutely no part of the company, due mostly to the fact that he's a hanyou; half human, half youkai. Prejudice unfortunately still runs strong in the youkai clans. So he remains at the West Estate under special circumstances."
He shook his head. "I can't tell you. I'm not informed as to all the details either. I wasn't aware that he was wearing a sealing rosary, but that seems to be a key detail."
"So really, you don't know much more than I do."
"So… is that it then?"
Miroku shrugged. "We're a personal assistant company Kagome. Our clients are almost always rich, and strange. As long as they don't ask you to do anything inappropriate, I think dealing with a little strangeness is a good compromise for good money." He grinned. "But I am pretty partial to money after all."
"Right, right. Well, thanks for talking with me Miroku. I'll call you when I figure out what I want to do."
Twenty-four hours later, Inuyasha was pacing around his living room. The sun was slowly setting, and he was disgusted at his waste of a day. He'd been reduced to microwaving his meals, and had found himself wandering aimlessly around his house, pestered by the image of that damn girl and her weird dog.
He was bored and annoyed.
It just wasn't like him. He wanted to punch himself in the face for even caring to wonder if she'd make good on her proclamation and return to work the next day.
He didn't have friends. There were no visits that he looked forward to, especially from people who worked for him.
Inuyasha scowled and muttered a final curse.
Across town, Kagome was settling in for a quiet night at home. She'd done exactly what Miroku had suggested. She'd done some light shopping in the morning, an afternoon stop at her favorite teashop, and then she'd picked up a book on the way home. Bordeaux had been with her as a silent companion, while she wrestled over a decision.
Now she was home, curled into an armchair, book lying forgotten on a side table. She looked at her cell phone and debated over whether or not to call her mom.
After Kagome had started taking fewer classes and working more hours for Miroku, she'd moved out into a simple studio apartment. She'd been able to prove to herself that she was capable of making it on her own, and she had the freedom to dabble in a few subjects. Culinary school had been both interesting and delicious, but after a semester, she had realized it was not what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
Miroku had also been immensely helpful, working very flexible hours around her odd school schedule, so she could get an education and make a living. She knew sound advice from her mom lay at the other end of a simple phone call, but she hesitated.
This was something she needed to decide on her own.
Wednesday morning dawned bright and clear, and Miroku had been sitting in his office for over half an hour. His dark hair was disheveled, and there were bags under his eyes.
He was staring at his phone.
He shook his head and refocused his gaze, willing the phone to ring.
This continued for another ten minutes, added to only by the drumming of his fingertips on the hard surface of his desk. When minutes later it did suddenly ring, the sharp sound elicited a squawk from Miroku, and he had to quickly catch himself before he fell off his chair. He grabbed the receiver and took a deep breath.
"Hey, Miroku? It's Kagome."
"…Yes? Miroku, are you all right? Your voice sounds a little strained."
Miroku cleared his throat and attempted to swallow. "Have you decided?"
A soft sigh came through the line. "Yeah. I'm in the car, heading over for my second day. I'll give it my best, boss."
Miroku blinked, as a slow grin of realization spread over his face. "Kagome! My light, my glorious, fabulous employee, you're wonderful!" He wished her luck, and hung up the phone. He released the breath he'd been holding, and began to breath normally again. After all, there was a prophesy on the line.
Note: More to come soon! I'm also in the market for a beta reader, for all you fabulous betas out there. :)