Prologue: Arranged Marriage
"Mother, please," Sesshoumaru said with an exasperated sigh. He pinched the bridge of his nose and tried to fend off the headache coming his way. His regal mother looked at him with an amused grin.
"My dear son, we have talked about this since your father's death. Our kingdom is fragile, and our numbers are dwindling as the western world seeps into the hearts and minds of our people. We need an heir, and the best way to do this is to get you a fiancé." She waved her hand flippantly at him. "It's been done for centuries. Just because you consider yourself a lone wolf does not mean you are immune to your royal duties."
She stepped forward and flipped a long strand of her silver hair over her shoulder. Sesshoumaru stared at her blue crescent moon on her forehead, but he averted his eyes when her hand cupped his jaw adoringly. Suddenly, she gripped him tightly and brought his face closer hers. Golden eyes pierced warningly into his and her jaw clenched as her words came out like poison.
"You do not have a choice, boy, do you understand me? If you do not marry the Lady Jiang, I will have no choice but to strip you of your title and let your brother inherit the throne." Sesshoumaru saw her nose wrinkle at the mention of his brother. His brother was technically a bastard, but as his mother had said, their numbers were dwindling in their small kingdom. Not many youkai were left in this modern century, and even less had a small country stronghold. They were among the few, and the more their powers dwindled, the more power the other neighboring human countries held over at them, watching them like hungry dogs for their country to fail so they could scoop it up and annex them. Thankfully, their father had good relations with neighboring countries, and he even joined the United Nations and pledged alliance to the United States of America before his untimely death.
"The Lady Jiang's country will give us the strength we need to stave off China from breathing down our necks. Fang Commonwealth is one of the few youkai countries left in our part of the hemisphere, and an alliance is sure to give us the political strength we need." He saw his mother smile with satisfaction. "She is also very beautiful. Only a fool would refuse her and her large dowry."
Sesshoumaru clenched his teeth but did not retort. It was no use arguing with his mother. She was right, as always. If he did not marry soon, his brother would be in line to take his position. Inuyasha was also seeing a woman after his previous fiancé ran off, and the two of them were on the path to getting married (if his brother ever were to get over his commitment issues). Still, the reality did not bode well for Sesshoumaru's own future, and he would rather die than give up the luxury and royal power that was rightly his. He would fight beyond the youkai laws if he had to rather than his brother inherit the throne.
His brother was also a moron and surely didn't deserve the honor, Sesshoumaru thought.
Sesshoumaru sighed deeply through his nose and give into his mother. "Very well. Make the preparations to unite the family." He glowered sternly into her eyes. "I'm sure you are more than ahead with your plans already, Mother."
His mother clapped her hands together and bounced with gaiety. "Excellent! I'll contact their courier immediately."
"Remember, Mother, they are to avoid the Huang district when they arrive. I am still having trouble with gang cartels on the docks, and they have been even filtering into our international airport. I'm taking a group of agents down there this afternoon to meet a contact for some more information about their hideouts," he warned her, and his mother rolled her eyes.
"So dramatic! These gang lords are only a minor problem, Sesshoumaru. I do not even want the envoys from the Fang country to even know of their existence, lest they decide not to go through the marriage." The light from her face disappeared into a frown, and Sesshoumaru knew that his mother was hiding her anxiety. "I have faith that our federal agents will clean up this mess quickly before it escalates. I trust the safety our guests into your hands, Sesshoumaru." Then, he watched her turn around and leave, and he guessed she already forgot about their civic problems once she exited his office door.
After Sesshoumaru called upon his royal guards to round up his best agents, he decided to let his brother know about the plan. He included his brother on these missions begrudgingly, and he felt that he was honoring his father in a way – hoping the old man wouldn't haunt him from beyond the grave if he didn't, even though Sesshoumaru felt a superior animosity toward his half-blood brother. Sesshoumaru believed his brother should be more grateful, instead of acting like an entitled, vulgar brat like he usually did.
Still, he knew he couldn't change people.
"What do you want?" his brother said to him on the other end of the internal phone line. "Kagome's over and we're just about to leave."
"I'm going to the Huang district tonight. You need to cancel your plans with your woman," Sesshoumaru ordered.
Suddenly, like clockwork, he was lambasted with shrill protests from his brother's 'woman'.
"Hey, listen here, you jerk. I'm tired of you always ordering Inuyasha around. You could be a little more considerate about his plans before dumping yours onto him without notice. We have plans with our friends tonight at a concert, so you'll have to take care of this by yourself. You have guards, and it's your job too, isn't it?"
Sesshoumaru was ready to strangle the harpy through the line, but decided to keep his calm. He was not as shameless and rude as they were.
"Ms. Higurashi, may I remind you that both my brother and I are royal officials? It is not just my job, but Inuyasha's as well. If he wants to use his royal money to spend on you and your friends, he has to work for it. Our father left specific instructions," Sesshoumaru said, and he would give anything to see her face on the other line. He was used to verbally sparring with Kagome, something that annoyed him greatly at times, but secretly he enjoyed it when he angered her, though he would not tell anyone. Least of all Inuyasha, who would undoubtedly be jealous.
He'd had that conversation before, and the poor dolt embarrassed himself more than he intimidated Sesshoumaru. Still, he hardly gave Kagome a thought when she wasn't around, and she was more annoying than anything. His interest in women was much simpler than she could maintain: they had to be gorgeous, rich, and more than anything, of the silent variety. The last thing in the world he could tolerate is mating with a know-it-all, sharp-tongued woman who droned on incessantly.
The mere thought of it made him shudder.
"Fine," Inuyasha cracked into the phone. "I'll be up there, but Kagome's coming too. You could probably use her spiritual powers."
"I doubt that I will need her weak power, but she can come if you are sure of her safety," Sesshoumaru droned.
"Hey, pal, I can take care of myself," Kagome said to him assuredly.
Sesshoumaru smirked suddenly was glad they could not see his amusement. "Indeed," and he hung up.
To be continued…