Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha, Rumiko Takahashi does.
Our Love Affair
Chapter 10: Near and Far
It was too high of an expectation.
Blinking back hot tears, Kagome took a moment to calm her breath before leaving the baggage claim area, dragging her leather-trimmed carry-on in one hand and carrying her briefcase in the other. Jaken trailed behind her with the rest of her luggage, practically running to keep up with her as she moved hurriedly through the Hong Kong International Airport. A dry laugh escaped her lips as she thought of her naiveté. She should have known better than to think her fiancé would be waiting dutifully for her when she exited the terminal. But she was a romantic at heart, and the sight of young couples embracing had made her hopeful.
Hope was a funny thing.
Disappointment was even funnier, and she was quickly reaching the low end of her patience. She faintly heard Jaken's voice from behind her – something about slowing down, something about a meeting - but she made no move to stop. At this moment, nothing he said was of importance to her. She just wanted to be left alone. She wished that Ami had come to Hong Kong with her. Then, maybe she wouldn't have felt quite so alone. It'll be kind of awkward though… bringing her to see the guy who'd tried to fire her last week. But Sesshoumaru had insisted that only Jaken would arrive with her. He had also insisted on many other things, and she had complied with all his conditions.
All because I've been a truly terrible person towards him…
She still couldn't believe she had acted so rudely toward him, especially since his actions – though chauvinistic and inconsiderate – were warranted by his concern for her safety. Her thirst for a fight was fueled by the need to escape, the need for everything to be simple again. Somehow, she had convinced herself that it would be alright if Sesshoumaru were the one to break off the engagement, then she wouldn't be the one at fault. She just hadn't expected the justification for firing her assistant.
A glimpse of silver flashed to her left, and she immediately turned to that direction, her heart swelling with anticipation. It was crushed swiftly when she saw that it belonged to a woman, and her hair was a pale shade of gold, not silver. Give it up, Kagome. He's not going to be here.
Squaring her shoulders, Kagome held back her disappointment as she exited through the large, automatic door. A sleek black limo awaited her by the entrance, its chauffeur standing patiently on the sidewalk. They exchanged a quick greeting as he held the door open for her. She climbed in with as much grace as she could muster with her legs constricted by her knee-length skirt and had only a moment of silence before the door was opened again. She could barely hide her frown when Jaken entered, horribly out of breath.
"M-ms. Higurashi," Jaken's screech made her grimace as he breathlessly hauled himself into the opposite seat.
Kagome nodded politely at him before turning to face the tinted window, her eyes taking in the changing scenery as the chauffeur took them down the highway. She knew that Jaken did not think highly of her and was only treating her so respectfully because Sesshoumaru wished him to.
"Anything I can get you, Ms. Higurashi?"
'Yes, go away and make my life right again,' she thought dryly before turning slightly toward him. "At which hotel will I be staying?"
"The Ritz-Carlton, the best hotel in Hong Kong and located in the heart of the financial district. You'll be staying at the penthouse on the top floor with Mr. Fukumori," Jaken answered proudly, sounding rather mechanic. She had no doubt that he had taken the time to memorize various passages from a tour guide book.
Of course, her fiancé would want nothing but the best. Kagome hid a yawn behind her hand, already feeling the dire effect of a night spent bustling around her apartment instead of resting. "Good, and how far are we away from there?"
"With the traffic, about forty-five minutes," Jaken's eyes shifted nervously before continuing, "But we will not be arriving at the hotel. We will be going directly to the office for the board meeting."
She blinked in surprise and sleep was suddenly the furthest thing from her mind. Sesshoumaru had mentioned something about a meeting last night, but she hadn't expected it to take place as soon as she arrived. "Board meeting? But I just got here." He seemed to have left out a lot of important details during their conversation last night. But how much can you say in six and a half little minutes?
Jaken swallowed deeply and seemed to have shifted away from her in fright. "Yes, that is why he wanted you here so urgently."
"But he can't possibly expect me to be even half-awake for this," she protested. Her skirt was wrinkled from the hours on the plane, and she was sure that her hair had fallen flat. Her assumption was confirmed when she flipped down the overhead mirror. She frowned and combed her fingers through her locks. Frumpy, frazzled, and moderately pissed-off were not included in the image that she liked to give to new employees, and especially not to the fiancé whom she hadn't seen in weeks. "What time is the meeting and how far is the hotel away from the office."
"At eleven and it's less than ten minutes," he answered.
Kagome checked the time and did quick calculation in her head, "Good, that'll give me at least fifteen minutes to freshen up," she declared as she picked up the phone that connected to the driver in the front. "We'll make a stop at the hotel first."
"Yes, Ms. Higurashi."
She ignored the sour expression on Jaken's face and returned to staring blankly out the window. A relationship was all about compromise. Not that she was planning on being late, but if she was willing to drop everything to be with him, then he damn well could delay the board meeting for her. Isn't this exactly what Inuyasha was trying to tell me last night? That business would always come first for Sesshoumaru? She shook her head. Stop this, Kagome! Stop looking for ways to ruin this. You're supposed to work this whole thing out or at least some of it by the end of this trip.
A foreboding sense of dread spread through her body, making her blood run cold. She couldn't help but fear that this trip, this chance she was giving him was a mistake, and that in the end, she would come to loathe the name Fukumori.
Inuyasha sat alone in his darkened office with only the soft glow of the lamp to his far left. The blinds were closed, and the curtains were drawn to keep out the bright morning rays. He had refused to let his secretary turned on the light and had nearly snapped and lost his temper when she'd tried to open the curtains in order to "brighten the room."
He glared at the clock on his desk, noting the time. "Kagome," he said her name to himself, so quietly that he didn't realize it was spoken until it was faintly heard. She was with his bastard brother right now. 'Fucking reacquainting…' he added with a dark sneer.
The intercom buzzed – he ignored it – then came loud but hesitant knocking on his door. He gave an inhuman growl, almost flinging his laptop from his desk as he reached to pound on the speaker phone. "What?!" he roared, his rage echoing through the room.
In a small, trembling voice, his secretary answered, "Mr. Yoshida would like to meet with you."
His name somehow managed to darken his already foul mood. The man was a bully. He was one of the ones who had "welcomed" him with open arms into his father's life and company. Inuyasha was about to tell him to shove a stick up his ass when he had a sudden change of heart. A cold smile spread across his face upon remembering the possible reason for his visit. Ahh…the merger.
This was just what he needed; he craved any excuse to keep his mind away from her. The sadistic side of him added, 'And I'll enjoy watching him squirm.'
He pressed the button on the intercom, "Tell him to come in."
Pausing at the doorway, Kagome took a moment to gaze at the room in awe before walking in, careful not to disturb anything. The penthouse was as beautiful as Jaken had described - more of a palace than a temporary place to live. Her family was rich - if not as rich as the Fukumori – but she had never given herself the luxury of staying at a hotel as nice as this one. She had always been satisfied with the simpler things in life. All she needed was a nice clean bed to sleep on and maybe a mini-bar to indulge her weakness for chocolate.
Jaken brought all her luggage to what she would assume to be her bedroom. He left after informing her that he would be waiting in the lobby, and she had approximately twenty minutes to get ready. She sighed in relief when the door closed, and she was finally alone. Hopefully, Jaken would go back to assisting her fiancé now that he was here. She didn't know how much of his creepiness she could take.
She went inside the bedroom he had come out of earlier. Hurriedly, she changed into a fresh skirt. That led to a different blouse to match the cream-colored skirt and a stylish pair of brown pumps instead of the low, black heels. She only had a few minutes to touch on her makeup and fix her hair by the time she was dressed, having changed her entire outfit. She critically took in her appearance as she dabbed lightly on her lips with her favorite tube of lipstick. The dark shadows under her eyes were gone with careful concealing, and she had added a coat of mascara to brighten her eyes. All in all, she looked presentable, but the question was whether she was presentable enough for Sesshoumaru.
A nervous fluttering settled in her stomach as she closed the door behind her and stepped inside the conveniently available elevator located directly in front of her. It had been weeks since she had last seen him. Plus she was about to meet her new employees - a task she had always considered awkward, like standing in front of the class on the first day of school. Anger from the fact that he was putting her through all of this on the first day floated to the surface, but she quickly washed it away with the determination of being a better fiancée. Twice, she had cheated on him and with his younger brother. She blushed, 'Well…almost.' She had been ready to give him up without ever giving him a chance. Her indecisiveness was driving her to the brink of madness.
After this trip… I'll finally decide. I won't let this go on any longer. It's not fair to any of us.
Sango was right. As much as she loved her family and wanted to keep her ailing grandfather happy, she couldn't put her feelings aside for something as cold and impersonal as a business arrangement. She wanted to marry for love, wanted her marriage bed to be warm, wanted a husband who desired her. And if Sesshoumaru couldn't provide her with that, then they would have to find another way to make this merger work.
Jaken was looking at his watch when the elevator opened. A quick glance at her own told her that she was not late, but three minutes early. That alone brought her a sense of satisfaction.
The ride to the main office, thankfully, had been quiet. Only the sound of rustling paper could be heard as she looked over the agenda for the meeting. Kagome spent the rest of the trip staring out the window with her legs crossed primly with her hands folded on her lap as she thought about Inuyasha.
Their kiss had been short, but Inuyasha had kissed her so passionately and thoroughly that she could still taste him. Absently, Kagome tapped at her lips. She knew without looking that they were still slightly swollen from his onslaught. How could he be so cruel? He knew quite well that she would not be able to forget him, that she would only be able to think only of him. And she had left her breathing hard on the floor with a terrible ache only he could fulfill.
What are you thinking, Kagome? You sound like you're angry at him for not finishing when you should be relieved…
But she wasn't. She wasn't angry, nor was she relieved. After reaching up shakily to lock the door behind him, she had tried to take care of herself right there on the floor. It didn't work, nothing did; it was as if her body was refusing to find its release unless Inuyasha was there with her. Nearly sobbing with frustration, she had cursed at her traitorous body as she got up off the floor to move to her bathroom. A cool shower had fortunately been able to help shift her thoughts into a more innocent direction.
Kagome closed her eyes with a soft sigh, recalling his laughter and the tenderness she hadn't known he had inside of him until now. Then the thought drifted to the pained-look in his eyes when she'd told him about the trip. Unless she was completely misreading him, there was little doubt in her mind that he was simply looking for a fuck buddy.
A feeling of being watched prompted her to stop her daydreaming and gaze to her right. Jaken was staring at her, an expression of disdain on his face. He looked at her as though he knew exactly what and who she was thinking about. She reacted guiltily by quickly removing her finger from her lips. He couldn't… She shifted in her seat, the hand responsible curling into a tight fist on her lap. 'I'm probably just imagining things. The only other person who knows is Sango and maybe Miroku,' she tried to assure herself.
The contempt in his eyes shouldn't have shocked her. Jaken had never forgiven her for the way she had treated him on the first day, not that he had liked her from the start. Kagome had learned that he thought she was below Sesshoumaru since he considered them to be new money. The Higurashi Investment Company had been around for not more than twenty years while the Fukumori Corporation had been a force in the business world since the turn of the century. They had managed to rise up against them in such short period of time purely through hard work and fresh talents, and now they were merging into one stronghold. It must have been an absolute torture for him to treat her so politely and respectfully.
Kagome hadn't realized they had arrived at their destination until the driver had opened her door, and she was suddenly greeted by a flood of sunlight. She stepped out of the limo and gazed up to the top of the building, her hand shielding her eyes to act as a visor against the sun. She wrinkled her nose in distaste as she took in the design. The Onigumo Tower was a menacing structure in the Hong Kong skyline. It was as if the Onigumo Naraku had ordered the architect to add in as many spikes and jagged angles as possible.
Drawing a deep breath, she followed Jaken past the grand entrance. There was a moment of stillness, of absolute silence when the employees around the lobby area all at once paused in their tasks and conversations. Those were not friendly smiles that she saw, but frowns and eyes filled with suspicion. Then the moment passed and hushed whispering could be heard. Kagome ignored all that and fixed her eyes straight ahead, refusing to be bothered. It was only natural for them to react this way, since her purpose here was to take over their company. But it would have been nice to see a friendly face around here.
Jaken directed her to the top of the floor, then through a maze of endless sharp turns and hallways. A large, double door came into view, causing her to swallow audibly. Without being told, Kagome knew that Sesshoumaru was on the other side, waiting. She felt sick all of the sudden, the churning in her stomach worsening with each step. 'Turn back turn back turn back!' she chanted to herself. She didn't want to see him, not yet, not right now. She needed to be more prepared.
But her request was silent, unheard by all, even her own legs. She doubted that Jaken would have stopped had he caught the resonant scream coming from inside of her. The door opened dramatically; she almost expected a clash of thunder to go along with it. Sesshoumaru stood in front of the window, hands clasped behind his back. Her feet refused to move as the door shut firmly, leaving her alone with the man she was supposed to marry.
She had forgotten about his height and the broadness of his shoulders. Most of all, she had forgotten how much the brothers resembled each other from the back. The only difference being that the elder Fukumori was taller by a few inches, and his hair was shorter. Inuyasha's hair, which he usually tied back during work, was past shoulder length.
"Kagome," Sesshoumaru spoke, before finally turning to face her. His expression was blank, a perfect mask that allowed her no more than a glimpse of the surface.
The sound of her name falling from his lips beckoned her to him like some kind of enchantment. Her reluctance to see him somehow disappeared, turning into excitement of seeing her fiancé for the first time in weeks, and she felt her mouth stretched into a large smile as she walked towards him. She loved the sound of his voice – soothing and rich of power and confidence. She had once suggested that he should consider doing romance books on tapes. That had managed to get a laugh or two out of him.
Good times, we've had some good times together, and we can have more… They stood awkwardly apart, neither sure of what to do. If I allow it… Finally, she moved closer until the tips of their shoes touched and stood on her tiptoes. A small cry of aggravation left her lips when she realized that she was still shorter than him by at least a couple of inches. Sesshoumaru appeared to be amused as he looked down at her, wondering what she was trying to do. Determination clear on her face, she grabbed his arms and used them as leverage to close the distance between them. She was aiming for his cheek, but he had moved at the last second so their mouths touched instead.
Their kiss was not passionate, but it was nice, like they were reconnecting with each other. At last, she pulled back with a soft sigh and licked her lips. Kissing him was always pleasant, but it was nothing like kissing Inuyasha. Her breath was never short from just the slightest brush of his lips, nor did she feel as though her whole body was on fire from just being close to him. But you can't decide to be with someone just on a kiss alone. She was certain that time could fix everything.
Time…time will fix everything…isn't that the lyrics to a song? She pressed her face to his chest, eyes sliding shut as she forced a face - his face – out to the far recess of her mind. I just need more time.
Thank you so much Ithiwen for being such a wonderful beta and giving this back to me so quickly. You did a great job with catching all the errors and awkwardness
And thank you to everyone who is still reading this story. Your supports never cease to amaze me.
Well I finally done with college, I'll be starting work in a week so updates may be a little sporadic until I get everything in order. smiles The good thing is that I write the most when I'm the busiest.
For those of you waiting for BDL 22, you won't have to wait much longer. I'm almost done, so just sit tight.