Disclaimer: I do hereby disclaim all rights and responsibilities for the characters in this first day on the job… especially for the one who has to use the back door. A nod of recognition is bent towards Rumiko Takahashi for her creative prowess.

This oneshot was originally posted to Live Journal on March 14, 2009.


Setting Boundaries

Sango donned her brand new black apron emblazoned with the Founder's Coffee Shop logo while Inuyasha scanned her course schedule. "Sure, I can easily work around your classes. We're short-handed, so I can keep you as busy as you want to be."

"How many people work here?" she asked curiously.

"We're a pretty small operation," the hanyou shrugged. "My brother's the owner and a self-styled sommelier. I'm what he likes to call his barista, and then there's Miroku… uh… yeah?" he asked, acknowledging Sango's studiously upraised hand.

"I have no idea what you just said."

"Sorry… jargon. Let me translate," he said, giving one of his ears a sheepish tug. "My brother is a food snob whose current obsession happens to be coffee. He travels a lot, which is nice because he's kind of an asshole. He started this place because it's close to some of his other business ventures, and I'm the one who minds the shop." He paused thoughtfully, then summarized, "He buys the coffee… I make the coffee... and Miroku pours the coffee."

"So, there's just the three of you?"

"No, there are some part-timers who help out—mostly students like you." Sango pinned on her shiny gold name tag, and the hanyou led her out of the back room. "Stick with me for this morning, and I'll show you the ropes."

Sango found Inuyasha to be a patient teacher, if a bit gruff. He demystified the cash register and explained their system of shorthand for orders. During a lull, he glanced at the clock and cleared his throat. "Listen, Miroku's shift starts soon, and there's something you need to know about working with him." Her mouth firmed into a grim line, but she held her tongue. "If it's busy, you're gonna be fine, and most of the time, it is busy. But if things slow down, like now, I recommend going out onto the floor and tidying up—refill napkins and straws, wipe tables, whatever."

"Sure," Sango agreed. "I don't mind taking care of that kind of thing."

"Well… I've got a kid who comes in, and clean-up is really his job." Inuyasha looked vaguely uncomfortable. "It's actually kind of a boundary thing."

"I don't understand."

"Your main job is to take orders and run the register. That means you'll be spending almost all your time behind the counter, but there might be times when you want to get out of… range."

Sango blinked slowly. "Range?"

"Miroku's a great guy, but, when it comes to women, he tends to come on a little strong. I sorta got the impression you might not appreciate his… affectionate nature."

"What's the message under all that tact?" Sango flatly demanded.

"The guy has no concept of personal space."

"Are you saying I'll be at constant risk of… of being groped?" she exclaimed, indignation adding a dangerous shine to her eyes. "That's sexual harassment!"

"Which is why I usually hire guys… and why Miroku's not allowed past the counter during business hours," Inuyasha said, talking fast. "Look, I thought you'd be able to handle him, or I wouldn't have hired you. I've made it clear to him that you're off limits, but he's probably gonna try something anyhow. Just… don't be afraid to put him in his place if he crosses the line. I'll back you up."

Inuyasha's puppy dog eyes were surprisingly effective, and Sango calmed down. "I guess we'll see how it goes."

Just after ten o'clock, a red-haired boy streaked through the front door. Skidding to a stop in front of them, he goggled at Sango's apron. "Whoa, you hired a girl? You sure that's such a good idea?"

The hanyou rapped him over the head. "Shut up, squirt…. And you're late."

"I'm only late if I get here after Miroku!" he argued before ducking into the back room, the closing door barely missing his twin tails.

"That's Shippo—the kid I mentioned earlier." Noticing Sango's mystified expression, he added, "Kitsune."

"Isn't he a little young to be working?" she asked. The redheaded fox youkai barely came to her shoulder.

"Eh… he's older than he looks," Inuyasha said with a shrug.

Business picked up again, and Sango dove into her new responsibilities with a will… and a customer service smile. Everything went smoothly until a group of giggling freshmen moved to the front of the line to place their order. For some reason, they kept looking at a point just over her right shoulder and… Are they fluttering their lashes? Sango stiffened with realization; slowly turning her head, she looked up and confirmed her suspicions.

"Well, hello. You're Sango, right?" Miroku inquired pleasantly. She nodded warily, and deep violet eyes sparkled with good humor. "I'm looking forward to working together! Here, I'll take those," he offered, holding out his hands for the cups she'd just finished marking.

"Oh… right," she managed, relinquishing them. He grinned boyishly and moved down the counter to fill the orders. The trio of girls followed him so they could watch him through the glass partition, and he chatted with them as he worked, inspiring further fawning. Well, that wasn't so bad, Sango thought before offering a word of welcome to the next customer.

Right after the lunch hour, business tapered off, and Miroku sidled up. "Would you like some coffee? Inuyasha lets us sample his wares when it slows down."

Sango paused in the process of wiping down the granite counter, but before she could reply, he planted his hands on either side of her, caging her between his arms. "Miroku, you're standing too close," she said quietly.

"Am I?"

"I just said so," she replied with asperity.

"Ah," he acknowledged, his voice right beside her ear.

She whirled around and tried to ignore the fact that she was now practically nose to nose with her new coworker. Leaning back as far as she could, she jabbed her finger into his chest. "Don't touch me!" she snapped.

"Actually, you're the one touching me," he pointed out, a smile playing across his lips.

"Back off!" she said with quiet menace, giving his broad chest a firm push.

Miroku eased away, holding his hands up in a gesture of surrender. "Easy, easy… I was just offering you some coffee," he said in injured tones. "I'll assume that was a 'no thank you', but let me know if you change your mind."

Sango was surprised by his quick compliance. Was Inuyasha was exaggerating? Thinking back, she realized that while Miroku's stance had been suggestive, he really hadn't touched her. I told him off, and he backed down. Maybe Inuyasha was right; I can handle him! Feeling rather pleased with herself, Sango went back to puttering.

The afternoon rush was crazy, and Sango wondered how the guys managed to handle the harried pace with such ease. "How goes the battle?" Inuyasha inquired.

"I'm hanging in there," she smiled.

"You're doing good for a newbie," the hanyou assured her as he pulled a new package of filters from the cabinet behind her and returned to his brewing.

Not many minutes later, a hand pressed lightly against the center of her back. "Behind you," Miroku sang out. "I need some more of these stirrers," he explained as he reached in front of Sango—once again trapping her between his arms.

"Let me get out of your way," she protested, trying to pivot away from his touch, but the hand slid down and settled with perfect ease at the small of her back, holding her in place.

"Nonsense, Sango. I'll be out of your way in a moment," he replied amiably. "Besides, I don't want to take you away from such lovely customers!"

The pair of octogenarians who were watching them with avid interest giggled like schoolgirls over the compliment, and Sango did her best to keep her cool. However, when Miroku propped an elbow on the counter to flirt with the elderly women, she whispered a furious, "What do you think you're doing?"

"Hmm?"

"Move… your… hand," she enunciated through clenched teeth.

"Certainly," he replied sweetly. The offending hand began to circle gently, then drift slowly southwards.

The hum of conversation in the coffee shop was interrupted by a resounding slap, and in the silence that followed, a quiet grunt of pain was clearly heard. From their vantage point at the opposite end of the counter, Inuyasha and Shippo winced sympathetically before comparing notes. "Nice contact," the kitsune commented.

"Yep… that slap'll leave a mark," the hanyou noted as they watched a fuming Sango storm into the back room.

"Want me to take the register for a while?" Shippo offered.

"At least until he can stand," Inuyasha agreed, moving to take Miroku's place. "So what do you think of the new girl? Still worried about her?"

The kitsune grinned broadly. "Nah. She'll be fine."


End Notes: This drabble was originally written for the Live Journal community mirsan(underscore)fics, Prompt #2, Touch. 1,474 words.