Inuyasha had been on hold for twenty minutes, and if the composer of the peppy elevatorish song he was listening to happened to walk into the room at that moment, it was very possible that Inuyasha would have slit his throat.
"Customer service! How can I help you?"
Inuyasha started. "Yes! Right. Well, I bought a wallet from you about five years ago..."
"The warranty expires after three years, sir. Thank you for calling!"
"No, no, wait! The wallet is fine. It's great. That's not what I need help with."
"I'm not qualified to help with much else, sir."
"Ok, but hear me out. When I bought the wallet, there was a picture of a girl in it. She was kneeling and petting a golden retriever in front of an unnaturally blue and clear sky...green eyes, black hair, yellow dress... I assume she's a model who works for your company. Can I get her name?"
There was a pause. "Five years is a long time to harbor a crush, sir. Perhaps you should move on."
"I don't have a crush on her!"
"Can you give me her name or not?"
"No, sir, I'm not authorized to do that."
"If you were authorized, would you be able to?"
"Yes, sir. We keep extensive records. In fact, I've already looked her up. But the fact remains that I am NOT authorized, so tough luck. Sir."
"What's your name, then?"
"I'm not single, sir. And from the sound of your voice I'm a little old for you. How desperate are you, sir?"
"I'm not...!" Inuyasha stopped mid-sentence and changed his tone to something smoother. "Listen, I'm sure you get complaints often."
"All the time, sir."
"And that may be stopping you from advancing in this...career. So I'm sure you'd appreciate a little extra money, wouldn't you?"
"I do frequently have a compulsion to order products off of infomercials, sir."
"...Exactly. So, if you tell me your name, and the name of the model, I'd be willing to write you a fifty dollar check, and have it delivered to your workplace tomorrow. How does that sound?"
There was a pause. "Sixty nine ninety nine, or no deal."
"Are you serious?"
"I need more steak knives."
"My name is Agatha Furlington, and hers is Kagome Higurashi. Thank you for calling, sir."
Inuyasha stared up at the building in front of him. Thanks to the wonders of Google, he had tracked Kagome to this agency. She was an actress as well as a model, which was definitely good, though she'd only been in a few commercials and one walk-on role for a sitcom. Still. He took a deep breath and pushed open the door. Cool air-conditioning blasted in his face as he entered, and he blatantly ignored the montage of pop posters on the walls as he approached the secretary seated behind a desk straight ahead of him, twirling a phone cord through her fingers as she talked rapidly into the mouthpiece.
"I'm Inuyasha," he interrupted, momentarily startled when the stream of babble abruptly ceased. "I.. called to make an appointment with Kagome?"
"Office B," she replied, and pointed to the left. He started to thank her, but she was already ignoring him again. As he turned and walked down the hall she had indicated to the appropriate door, he wondered again whether this was such a good idea. But it was probably too late to back out now. He pushed it open.
And there she was, sitting behind a small desk, smiling brightly with her cherry lips as she turned to greet him, looking just as friendly and pretty as the picture in his wallet. He smiled involuntarily in response to her warmth.
"You must be Inuyasha," she said. "It's nice to meet you. Please have a seat." She waited as he did so, the sweet smile never leaving her face. "So what exactly is the role you have for me? Your message was somewhat vague." She leaned forward interestedly.
"I...I would like you to be my wife." The girl's dimples disappeared instantly, and she swiftly leaned back, donning an expression of confused disgust instead.
"No, no, you're misunderstanding. I just want you to act as my wife."
"Oh, so you're not being romantic, you're just being incredibly sketchy? Because aside from household chores, there's only one thing I can think of that a wife does, and I assure you I am NOT that kind of actress." Inuyasha hadn't even thought of that, but panicked as she started to leave.
"Wait! It's not like that. It's for my daughter...she's seven." Kagome did stop her attempt to escape momentarily, but she still didn't seem eager to work with him. She looked at him cautiously.
Well..." Inuyasha tried to decide how to say what he needed in the quickest and least stalkerish way possible, but when she began to turn impatiently, he just blurted out the truth. "I told her you were her mother, because she wanted to know why she didn't have one and your picture came with my wallet. I told her...that you were in Africa working in orphanages and that your work there was so important that you couldn't come back, only I didn't expect how attached she would get to the idea or that she would tell all her friends or start writing you letters as soon as she learned how to, but she did. And then yesterday she saw you walking into a store as we were driving and wanted to know why you were in the country and why you hadn't come to see us and I was caught off-guard and said the first thing that I could think of which was that you were planning on surprising her, and..." he trailed off, studying her raised eyebrow and incredulous expression.
"Let me get this straight," she said. "You've been lying to your daughter for...how long?"
"Five years." He figured he should get it all out there now.
"And you would like me to move in with you, and fake a family life with you indefinitely, in order to preserve that lie?"
"No, not indefinitely. Just for a month. One month, and then you can go back to Africa."
"Sure, one month and then I can leave her again and hurt her even more than she would have been hurt if you had told her the truth in the first place." Inuyasha was silent. When she saw he wasn't going to respond, she continued, "I'm sorry. I can see that you care about your daughter, but you're only going to break her heart. I refuse to be a part of it."
Inuyasha hung his head at her words, but grabbed her wrist as she tried to exit the room yet again. It was time for honesty and vulnerability; it was time for anything that would sway this girl in his favor. Inuyasha pictured his daughters face. Then he remembered the scratches that currently marred it.
"She's being bullied," he said, his voice low. "At school. And she won't talk to me about it. She says it's a 'girl thing' and that only you would understand, but she comes home with bruises and scrapes and things and the teachers don't know how she gets them; she won't tell anyone. Please..." he looked up at her through his bangs. "Please, I just want to know what's going on so that I can protect her. You're the only one who can help me." Kagome stared into his eyes for a few silent seconds, then sighed heavily, shook her wrist free of his hand and, after a moment of deliberation, sat resignedly back into her seat behind the desk.
"I have several questions first," she cautioned, seeing his hopeful face. "One, where is her mother, really?"
"No, but gone."
Kagome cringed at his response, but looked away and continued before he could ask why, "Two, what sort of compensation are we talking about?"
"I've made up a contract," he replied, gracefully slipping it out of his inside coat pocket and sliding it towards her confidently. She unfolded it and scanned the pages before looking up at him in shock. "A thousand dollars a day?" she asked incredulously.
"As well as use of my home and everything in it, and a separate fund for anything you'd like to buy for the household, like food or decorative items. I want you to be comfortable."
She blinked her wide eyes rapidly, trying to process that. Finally, she went back to reading. "Well, this answers most of the rest of my questions. It's well-written. And...your terms seem agreeable," she said finally. "Except this one. I will promise not to tell her who I really am within the month you are employing me, but I won't promise to keep the secret forever. Cross it out, please. That's non-negotiable."
Inuyasha gritted his teeth and hesitated, but slashed through the clause and initialed the change obediently. His scowl vanished when she immediately signed and dated the contract before passing it back to him.
"Two more things," she started, cutting off his attempt at thanking her. "First, where are the letters?"
"The ones she wrote to me, of course. What kind of a mother would I be if I never read them?"
Inuyasha stared at her and slowly smiled. "I can have them sent to you."
"Within the hour, please. I assume it's a substantial amount of reading. Second, what store did she see me going into?"
"Why does that matter?"
"Well, obviously I've got to have a good reason for not coming home last night. I intend to buy her some kind of present. What store?"
He shook his head, amused by her suddenly clipped and professional attitude. "Borders."
"Alright. That's all. I will see you tomorrow evening, around seven. Until then."
She rose and extended her hand and he took it. "Goodbye, Kagome. And thank you."
A/N: So there you have it. My first attempt at a fanfic. I just randomly decided one day to write it...and that "one day" was two days ago, because apparently you have to wait a bit before FF trusts you. Who knew? Probably all of you. I'm slow. Anyway, I don't at this point know if I'll continue this at all, but let me know if you'd like me to! Ciao, friends.