AN: Argh, stupid real life… but here I am!
Chapter Six: Machinations
Kagome was practically speechless after Sesshoumaru's regard for this marriage rouse had changed, and he was more concerned to use her as Lady Jiang to his advantage now that he was most certainly going to see Naraku.
So, she changed the subject. While he was basking in his reverie of possibly catching and killing the man responsible for eluding him and damaging his arm, Kagome asked him about Inuyasha.
"Have you seen him on your way here? He left a while ago; you mother called him," she said, feeling worried. "He should be back by now."
"Knowing Mother, she has a plan for him in all of this too," he said with a huff, but he avoided Kagome's eyes and she found that suspicious. Sesshoumaru definitely knew something.
Kagome frowned and crossed her arms indignantly. "I hope she's not offering him money. It's bad enough she threatened him, but money? If I know Inuyasha, he'll never accept this plan. She can't expect him to be happy about it, and money and threats are only going to flare his temper more."
She saw a fanged smirk from Sesshoumaru, but he soon frowned again when he caught her staring up at him. "If I know mother, she can be very persuasive. My brother doesn't have a choice," he said, turning to her. "Neither do you and me," he growled low. "We have to just accept it."
Kagome tilted her head, shooting him a glare. "Yes, but you have something to gain from this rouse now. Don't include Inuyasha and me into your clandestine plans."
Sesshoumaru's smirk crushed his stoic mask. "You may you think you know something, but you do not." He stepped up toward her, and Kagome froze, feeling his presence invade her personal space. He traced a finger over her golden hair ornament and he looked down at her with smoldering eyes, a ploy no doubt, to seduce her and make her uncomfortable. Well, it was working. It was no secret Sesshoumaru was handsome, but he was normally aloof, so when he paid attention to someone (and not in the way to kill them) it meant something, and it made her stomach do flip flops of primal glee. "You're doing so well, Kagome. You're starting to look and act more and more like Lady Jiang." His voice trailed off, becoming lower. "It is almost like you were separated at birth."
She narrowed her eyes at his obvious insult, and he drew away with a light chuckle. "There, just like that." Then he stalked off, paying her no mind. She turned around to Miroku and Sango behind her, who were both watching the conversation with intense scrutiny, just as they were trained to do as agents. Sango frowned at her, while Miroku smiled weakly.
Damn him! Kagome thought, and she hoped Inuyasha would return soon so she could rant to him about what a manipulative bastard his brother was (despite him being annoyingly gorgeous).
Inuyasha didn't like this. It was obvious the Empress was toying with them all. She only cared about her own interests, and sometimes he wondered if she even cared about the country at all. Whatever kept her as the supreme ruler in control, he supposed.
He knew the way to her throne room, which until last year, had additions constructed within it, and he padded his way down the deep purple velvet carpet that lead to her showy throne, only to turn left to her newly installed office room where she conducted all her affairs.
When he stood outside the door, her sentry nodded to him to let him go inside. He looked to his right, and where her secretary usually sat at her office, he found the desk empty, noting he'd be dealing with the Empress alone that day.
He figured that was part of her plan too.
Inside the larger main office, another room was closed off, where Inuyasha would ultimately find the Empress. When he cautiously came inside, he found her reclining in her chair, her legs propped up on a prissy cushioned stepstool angled at her right. She was reading a manifesto intensely, but she waved her arm to let him in, knowing he was there.
"Come in, my son," she said, and he furrowed his brow to the endearment. He hated when she called him that, and he could feel his face flushing red already. She did it to piss him off, and it worked. She was not his mother, and they both knew that very well; however, after his father had died she had barged her way into his life and took over things, and now she kept a close eye on everything, even his personal life. She explained that she did it to make sure he and Sesshoumaru weren't doing anything to embarrass their country, but Inuyasha believed she just liked to meddle.
He wouldn't be surprised if his bedroom was bugged, and if there were secret cameras in his bathroom. He shuddered at that last thought.
"So what do you want?" he asked gruffly, plopping down in the seat opposite of hers with the large cedar desk in between them.
"So impatient," she said, putting down the papers she had been so meticulously reading. She met his golden eyes with an intimidating smile. He instinctively glowered at her.
She folded her hands together and rested them on the desk. She gave him a serene smile, and Inuyasha was almost in awe on how she did that. There was nothing serene about this woman.
"Now I know you are upset about this whole political mess," she said, waving one of her hands. "I understand the frustration you must feel... seeing your brother pretend to show your girlfriend affection and vice-versa."
"Yeah? Who wouldn't?" he said, crossing his arms with a huff.
The Empress stood up from her chair and slinked around her desk toward him. He watched as her hand caressed the smooth polished top, and when she came over to him, he froze as she rested against the side of her desk, her purple skirt somewhat lifted as she crossed her calves and rubbed her knees against his.
He looked up and met her smile again, but he sensed a cat-like wickedness to her aura, and he knew then that he was in her office for something other than a bribe to keep his mouth shut about Lady Jiang's death.
The Empress picked up a stress ball from her desk and began squeezing it as she watched him. "I want you to think about something, my son. When you get angry at what your girlfriend is doing for her country, I want you to think. It must be difficult for her. You must have faith in her and support her." She paused, and suddenly, he didn't like where this conversation was going. She shifted her body on the edge of the desk and leaned toward him. Her long silvery hair created a curtain around her prominent cleavage. He didn't realize before, but that skimpy purple dress she was wearing strangely looked really good on her.
"I do support her. I trust Kagome," he said starkly, feeling his blood run cold then hot as she leaned closer to him.
"Good," she said, her tone sounding like a cat's purr. "And she trusts you, right? She is loyal and there is nothing that would endanger her devotion to her? I mean, you are dedicated to her, right? You haven't made a formal engagement to her but that's what you intend."
Inuyasha's breath hitched in his throat, and when he looked beyond her manipulative expression, he took the weight of her words. Ah, so that was what she was doing. She was playing on the fact that he hadn't proposed to Kagome yet, that they'd been together for three years, and he still hadn't made that step with her.
He growled low, but suddenly, she caged him, putting her hands on the arms of his chair and sinking near his face, so close their noses could touch.
"Keep it up, Inuyasha. Keep trying to defy me. I enjoy it," she said with an equal growl. He backed down, knowing dominance when it stared him in the face.
"What do you care about me and Kagome?" he asked, trying to quell his submissiveness.
"I just want you to know that I'm here for you, my son. I know that it's hard to make up your mind about Kagome. I mean, another woman broke your heart, right? It's natural that you would be cautious," she said, trying to appeal to him again.
His eyes narrowed. "What would you know about it? You were arranged to marry my father. You are clearly not an expert on love," he spat, and he almost regretted the insult, but with careful study he realized he didn't even poke at her anger. He barely ruffled her, and her face was confident and proud as always. This is definitely where his brother got his attitude.
"Yes, I was," she said agreeably, but there was motive behind it. He froze when he felt her fingers trace his jaw. She looked at him, and he saw her eyes fixed on his lips. Her voice fell to a whisper. "You look a lot like him too, did you know that?"
For Inuyasha, that was the last straw. Somehow, he managed to wiggle his way out of her cage, and he bolted from the chair and headed for the door.
"We're not finished, my son," she said in a sing-song voice.
"Oh yes, we are," he said with a mocking cackle, already on his way out of her outer office. She surprised him though, heading him off with her quick speed and resting her delicate hand on his chest.
"Please, Inuyasha, if you won't cooperate with cleaning up this mess for your country...at least cooperate with me," she said, and he was motionless again, unable to speak or move from his spot. He couldn't figure it out, but the Empress was magnetic. It made him wonder about her. Did she never get her way?
"And what will you give me then? All I want is Kagome!" he snarled, grabbing her hands. He was going to push them away, but she turned the tables on him, taking his hands into her own tight grasp.
"Are you sure all you want is Kagome?" she asked, her voice husky.
Inuyasha's jaw gaped as he watched her. She stared into his eyes and her voice rumbled low. "You have no choice. I order you to do it, but it pains me to be so forceful with you, my son."
He felt one of his eyebrows rise curiously. "Oh, does it really?" He challenged her, but his words only tempted her further. Her face broke into a sly grin.
"In the worst way," she said in a dramatic tone. She finally released his hands, and they fell softly to his sides. He started to walk away, feeling her eyes still on him.
He swore under his breath as he retreated out of her sight, knowing the bitch had won. He knew, however, that he was doomed the moment he walked into her office. She could do worse things to him as the Empress than seduce him and he knew it all too well.
Inuyasha supposed he should be grateful at least for that.