Happily Ever After
Obligatory Disclaimer: I clearly do not own any of the characters within (even those who may or may not be originals), any of the settings, concepts, or other potentially copy-written works within this piece. I am merely a vessel; A messenger who conveys a story, nothing more, nothing less.
Chapter One: Once Upon a Time
"Once upon a time…" He heard her voice in his mind as if it were yesterday and he shuddered a little before setting his work aside to bring a hand up, pinching the bridge of his nose in an attempt to relieve his growing headache. Why exactly he was thinking of her right now was beyond him. Her voice just kept coming back to him, as if she knew he had been listening the whole time and was really telling the story to him.
Of course, that wasn't how it really was. She had been telling the story to a room full of babbling, smelly children who she seemed to adore for some reason that was still beyond him. Still, he seemed pretty sure that she had known he was there somehow. She would always pause at his favorite parts of the story and omitted much of the romantic, sugar coated scenes when his interest was highest.
He wasn't sure why or when he had started to frequent her storytelling times. One day he had simply decided to go visit with his former ward, who was becoming a young woman in her own right and needed her protective father-like figure to make more appearances as of late. The next thing he knew he heard laughter and found his feet moving of their own accord.
At first he tried his best to ignore it and just listened for a short while, passing it off as mere boredom or curiosity. Most people just considered that he truly had a fondness for small children and thought little of it. It wasn't until his own half-brother came up to him with a small laugh and glanced over at him with that infuriating smile and made such an offhand comment that he had ever put much thought behind his behavior.
"If I didn't know any better I'd think you had a crush on my wife, Sesshomaru." InuYasha said with a grin, his stupid ears twitching upon his head as he displayed his obvious amusement.
The elder brother closed his eyes and attempted to count to ten silently. He only made it to 4 before he decided being angry was far better than whatever the hanyou was implying. "I was merely bored while waiting for Rin to finish." He gestured behind him where, conveniently, the young woman-child was washing laundry along the riverbed a few yards away.
Lucky for Sesshomaru his half-brother was truly not very bright as he accepted the outright lie with a shrug and offered some dried meat. The typically stoic lord took the food and stared down at it as if it were the root of all his problems. His angry glares were ripped away from the innocent meat as his sister-in-law came up to stand next to his brother, giving a polite bow of the head to her elder. He nodded in return, something he never did for any other human. No one ever seemed to notice.
Or so he thought.
After the defeat of Naraku and the restoration of the Shikon jewel things seemed to settle into their respective places. Sango and Miroku married, Rin remained in Kaede's village where she could thrive with other humans, and InuYasha married Kagome. Sesshomaru, however, was left feeling a pang of something he couldn't quite describe.
Emptiness? Boredom? Or perhaps… he received his answer soon enough as he began to spend more time near the little village. He and his half-brother were on much better terms, both having matured greatly, and he even found humor in the now tamed monk's antics.
It was she who really brought him out of his shell, however; she who thrust loads of laundry into his arms as if he had been waiting for them willingly and began to trek to the riverbed, not even requesting that he follow but expecting it. The young woman made it very clear that she wasn't afraid of him when she often volunteered him for tasks simply because he was around.
"Sesshomaru can help me go get some firewood."
"Sesshomaru go get the laundry off the line, please."
"Sesshomaru, take your boots off unless you want to clean the floor!"
The more he spent time with her the more he realized something that he really wasn't sure if he wanted to ever admit out loud. He had found himself lost so suddenly that he didn't have much idea of what had happened until the damage was already done. He had fallen in love with his brother's wife.
Letting out a low growl Sesshomaru threw the equivalent of a huge tantrum as he shoved his work off his desk before slamming a fist on his desk. That was hundreds of years ago and by now he had been the one to outlive them all. Even his nieces and nephews had died long ago; few of them leaving any offspring until the bloodline had all but died away leaving him.
He had even been there when she had passed on of old age. He never had told her. Coward.
Jaken rushed into the room with a squawk. He was really getting too old for this! Why did his master insist on throwing a daily temper tantrum the older he became? It was getting rather predictable and not half as interesting as it had been when it started! After picking up the papers and popping his old back the toad looked at his lord with weary eyes. "Lord Sesshomaru do you need anything?"
He looked up towards his retainer and considered an answer for that question. Did he need something? Yes. Could he have it? No. A low growl came from him again as he began to instinctually bare his teeth and Jaken backed away a little. Sesshomaru felt a light suddenly go off in his head as an idea struck him. Of course! If he felt distracted by the girl he would find something new to distract him! It was perfect, what could go wrong? "Jaken, it is time I find a mate."
The toad was surprised at this but gave a nod. Finding a suitable mate would be difficult. Many of the honorable youkai tribes had all but faded into humanity at this point. "Does Lord Sesshomaru have any preferences?" To that the demon lord shook his head and took up his papers, once again getting back to work. Jaken took that as his signal to leave and went to his own desk in the next room to consider how he might find a mate for his master.
Glancing down at his desk he realized the answer was quite simple! He put advertisements in the paper for staff all the time! Keeping good employees proved to be difficult whenever Lord Sesshomaru displayed his usual temper. Smiling to himself he began to type out a lovely personal ad, once completed he placed it on top of the other ads he had already made to send to the paper. He hoped good news would come their way soon. The master had been rather difficult for some time and Jaken never quite understood why, too much exposure to humans, perhaps?
Kagome sat at the table with her family, her mother and grandfather with serious expressions on their faces. "I called you all here because there is something important we must discuss." Her mother said before letting out a heavy sigh and staring down at the stack of bills before her. "We are running low on funds. Visitors are infrequent and those who do stop by leave very little money these days. Our shop is barely staying afloat. We are going to have to make some sacrifices and do whatever we can to help our family make it through these tough times."
They discussed what each of them could do to help out but Kagome was worried that she might not be doing enough. She wanted to help more than doing extra chores and not buying junk food. With a determined nod she took up the local paper and started glancing through the ads. There were a few jobs she might be able to do but most of them would likely want to know if she could legally work – which technically she couldn't as a student. She almost gave up until a particular ad stuck out:
Job will encompass cleaning, cooking, laundry, as well as some light office work and occasionally helping with the office manager's needs. Must be a hard worker and not ask unnecessary questions.
Hours and pay will be decided based on experience at interview.
This was followed by a phone number and an email address. She jumped up and decided to call the number to set up an interview. It sounded perfect. They didn't want her to ask questions so they likely wouldn't ask her any either. After leaving a message she set the paper down and went upstairs, pleased with herself and totally missing the personal ad for a youkai she'd later come to know very well.