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Match by Skyisthelimit

Chapter 1

A/N: Whew! Somehow, I made it! And now I can actually put in an A/N! I also apologize if you read this while things were funky. Dokuga/My internet were being stupid and wrong things got copied, pieces were missing, etc etc. All glitches are gone now, as of...4:18 AM :D 

So anyway, this is my entry for Tangie's tournament, the third round! My partner is Lady Battousai (cries). Please read her work before voting! And visit the forum to read all the other wonderful entries!

Prompt: Kutiya ('box' in Bulgarian)

Rating: T

Genre: Romance

Words: 8685

Universe: Alternate

Disclaimer: Do not own

Some other notes: I'm not sure where this story (in italics at the beginning of the story) came from. It was a story my uncle told me once, and it stuck with me. It inspired this one shot. 

This fic also had many mood songs as I wrote it. I wouldn't say these songs inspired the story, or really even help the reading experience much, but they were the songs I listened to on loop while writing: "Who We Are" by Lifehouse, "Who Knew" by P!nk, "She Says" by Howie Day, "The Call" by Regina Spektor, "Hanging by a Moment" by Lifehouse, and "Last Night on Earth" by Delta Goodrem. All great songs.

So, without further ado, I hope you like it! I've never tackled a plot like this before.

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Once, a team of researchers wanted to judge how intelligent humans really were. They asked a reasonably successful businessman with a couple college degrees if he would be willing to undergo a test for the aforementioned purpose. He agreed.

The researchers put the man in a cell. The walls, floor, and ceiling were made of thick, cement bricks, completely boxing him in. There was a small, barred vent above his head for air, and a single light bulb inset into the middle of the ceiling. The harsh light, though, was obscured by a metal cone that covered the bulb, embedded into the cement above with three prongs. The researchers told the man he had 24 hours to figure out how to escape the cell. Before they left, however, the man asked them directly if escape was possible. They assured him it was within his physical capabilities to free himself. The test was whether it was within his mental capabilities to. The man nodded, and the researchers left, closing the door behind them, isolating the man completely.

First, the man checked vent above him. It was too small for him to fit through, even if he could remove the bars. Next, the man checked the door, feeling along the edges of the frame for any cracks or spaces to push the door through. He felt none. The door itself was solid, metal and, from the sound it made when he knocked, very thick.

The man sat, strategizing. The only thing left was that light bulb, covered by the metal cone. The man gazed thoughtfully at the cone, and the metal prongs protruding from it into the brick above.

Struck with inspiration, the man reached for the cone, prying it from the ceiling. He felt the tips of the prongs – they were sharp.

He broke one off, chose a spot on the wall next to the door, and began chipping at the mortar around the bricks with the prong. Steadily, he scratched at the mortar, slowly scraping it off. If he could remove enough mortar, he could push the bricks out and escape.

For hours and hours, he painstakingly chipped at the wall, until he pressed a little too hard and the prong in his hand broke. He cursed softly, tossed it aside, and broke the second prong of the cone. He’d have to be more careful.

More hours passed as he continued to scratch at the wall. The sharp edges of the prong dug into his palms, irritating the skin and raising welts. He ignored the pain, and continued to chip. He almost had a brick free…the second prong broke.

He took a deep breath and wiped the sweat off his brow, trying not to panic. He only had one prong left. He had to get it right this time. His internal clock was telling him more than half a day had already passed.

He chipped. He scratched. He scraped. His hands started bleeding. His hair was matted with sweat. His muscles were stiff and aching. He was hungry. As more time passed, his concentration wavered, and his hands trembled. He still had yet to get one brick free.

The third prong broke.

He almost cried out in despair. The man sat back against the wall, closing his eyes and doing his utmost to forget his hunger and thirst. He reckoned he still had a few hours left; all he could do was wait. He was trapped. He was alone. He had failed.

Sometime later, the door opened, and the researchers stepped in. They looked at the marred wall, the broken cone on the floor, and his red hands. They shook their heads. He had not figured out the correct method of escaping.

Then how was he supposed to do it? he demanded. What was the right answer?

The researchers looked at him piteously. They told him he could have escaped within seconds after they left.

Because the door had been unlocked the entire time.

The answer had been in front of his nose all along.

--

“Father, that man must have been an imbecile.”

The larger man chuckled. “Most humans tend to be such.”

The little silver haired boy scowled in his bed. “I won’t be. I will solve any puzzle.”

His father arched a brow. “Really? Are you so sure? The isolated mind is a weak thing, son. We need people to bounce ideas off of.”

“Who?” The child cocked his head curiously.

“We are surrounded by people, Sesshomaru, but I believe that not just any will do. I believe that each of us have our own perfect match, and that person, without fail, is the one you can go to for ideas, advice, love, anything.”

Little Sesshomaru was silent for a moment, staring hard at his midnight blue covers. Finally he asked quietly, “Was mother not your perfect match, father?”

Masaru sighed, and patted his son’s head. “No, she wasn’t, I’m sorry to say. We are both happier separated, son. You understand, right?”

The boy nodded. That much, he understood. “And…Iyazoi-san is?”

His father’s smile softened. “I’d like to think so.”

Sesshomaru was quiet for another long moment. Masaru could practically see the gears turning in his head. Finally, his child said, “I…accept Iyazoi-san, father.” Her temperament certainly suited his father’s more than his mother’s did.

Masaru broke into a brilliant grin. “I am delighted to hear that,” he ruffled the boys hair, much to Sesshomaru’s chagrin, “And Iyazoi will be too.”

Sesshomaru patted his hair back down in a huff and grimaced. He accepted her, but if she and father didn’t stop playing with his hair... “But, I will get it right the first time, father. I won’t settle until I find that perfect match. I won’t accept anything less.”

His father laughed boisterously. His son, already the perfectionist. “Good for you, Sesshomaru. Now, go to sleep.”

Sesshomaru nodded obediently and laid back onto his pillows. Turning over, he closed his eyes, drifting into dreams of a perfect companion, escaping the cell together – not that he’d ever admit it.

~~**~~

“Hi! My name’s Kagome! What’s yours?”

First grader Sesshomaru resolutely ignored the female.

A poke was his reward.

“Helloooooooo, anyone in there? I asked what’s your name!”

The little boy looked disdainfully out of the corner of his eye at the girl who had the gall to join him in the sandbox. “Go away. You’re a girl.”

Kagome scowled. “So what? I don’t have cooties!”

He scoffed. “Of course you don’t. Cooties don’t exist.”

The girls face brightened. “Exactly! Yay! I always thought cooties were stupid.”

“Hn,” he sniffed, going back to his sand sculpting.

“Whatcha makin’?” Kagome’s big blue eyes peered curiously at the lump beneath Sesshomaru’s hand.

“A frog.”

Her little nose scrunched. “Why?”

Sesshomaru shrugged. He actually wasn’t making anything. Frogs usually made girls go away, though.

“Can I help?”

Sesshomaru looked up in surprise. Why wasn’t she going ‘ew’ and running?

“You want to help me make a frog?”

She shrugged. “Frogs aren’t so bad. Unlike spiders.” She shivered.

“Then I’m making a spider.”

Kagome scowled. “Why are you trying to make me go away if you think I don’t have cooties?” She was this close to stomping her foot.

“Why are you trying so hard not to go away?” he countered.

She shrugged. “You looked lonely. And your hair’s pretty.”

The little boy almost sighed in a not-so-little-boy way. What was it with girls and his hair?

“I answered your question, now you have to answer my question,” Kagome continued petulantly.

He glared at her. “I’m waiting for my perfect match.”

Her nose scrunched up again. “Ewww like those books Mama reads with all the hugs and kissy stuff?” She may not believe in cooties, but that didn’t mean she didn’t think that stuff was gross.

Sesshomaru grimaced. He didn’t like that stuff anymore than the next kid. It was bad enough catching his father doing it with Iyazoi-san. “No. Someone to bounce ideas off of, and be my perfect comp- comp- compinyon.” He struggled with the last word.

She tilted her head. “Can’t I be your compinyon?”

Sesshomaru shook his head. “She has to be perfect.”

Unfazed, Kagome pressed on, “But then why can’t I be your friend?”

Sesshomaru shrugged. “Father says my little half brother is supposed to be my friend.” His grimace, though, showed his opinion about that statement.

“You can have more than one friend, you know,” she told him patiently, “And little brothers are annoying. I have one, so I know.”

“I do too! And I knew that!” Sesshomaru insisted. He did. Inuyasha was very annoying.

Kagome nodded. “They cry all the time.”

Sesshomaru gave a nod of his own. “They steal your toys.”

“They smell.”

“They whine.”

“They follow you everywhere.”

“And then they tattle on you.”

The girl and boy continued to exchange complaints, until finally, Kagome grinned at him. This time, though, Sesshomaru actually grinned back.

“So, little brothers make bad friends,” Kagome concluded.

After hesitating a moment, Sesshomaru nodded in agreement.

“Sooooooooooooo,” she repeated, “it looks like you need a new one!”

The little boy pressed his lips together, thinking. She wasn’t too bad, as far as girls go. She knew cooties didn’t exist. She didn’t mind frogs. He could overlook the spider thing. And, most importantly, she understood the pains of a little brother.

“Fine.”

“Yay!” she clapped her hands together, before plopping herself down on the sand next to him. “Let’s make a frog!”

~~**~~

Something was…wrong.

Seven year-old Sesshomaru looked around the playground from his vantage point in the sand box. It was too quiet. Too big.

Kagome wasn’t there.

He didn’t understand. For the last year she was always here on the weekends, or she’d tell him when she wouldn’t be. Then she’d spend the day chattering his ear off. Thankfully, she knew not to expect him to talk back much. After a month or so he got used to her non-stop noise. At least she didn’t talk about stupid things. And, he reluctantly admitted, it was nice playing with someone else. He scowled. Girls. So much for reliya—he struggled with the last word his father had taught him—reliyabilty.

He looked around more carefully. Even if Kagome didn’t want to go to the playground that day, her mom usually dragged her anyway, so that Souta, her brother, could. Then she’d join Sesshomaru in the sand box and they’d complain more about little brothers together. In fact, there was Souta over there, on the baby-slide.

…There. Under the trees. She was there, but she was ignoring him! Her back was turned, and she absolutely refused to look his way.

His scowl deepened. She was the one who insisted on being his friend. She couldn’t just back out.

He stomped his little feet over.

“What are you doing?”

She sniffed and turned her face away.

“You’re ignoring me.”

She didn’t respond. He pursed his lips and poked her.

No response.

He poked her again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

He could be very stubborn when he wanted to be. Kagome would do well to remember that.

Finally, after the fourteenth poke, she snapped, “Stop that!” and swatted his hand away.

He crossed his arms. “You’re ignoring me,” he repeated.

“I’m trying to,” she corrected. He growled. He didn’t like being corrected.

“Stop ignoring me.”

“No.”

Sesshomaru grinned smugly. “But you aren’t right now. You’re talking to me.”

Kagome gave her own growl and stuck her tongue out.

“That’s not ignoring me either,” Sesshomaru remarked, allowing himself to grin. Who knew teasing this girl could be so amusing?

Kagome grunted in frustration. “Just go away!”

“No.”

“I can’t play with you anymore!”

His frown returned. “Why not?” he said indignantly.

She grimaced, and turned away.

He poked her again.

“Sango said I shouldn’t play with boys that are prettier than girls,” she surrendered, finally allowing herself to look sad.

He almost rolled his eyes. Another idiot girl. Why was Kagome friends with them? “That’s stupid and you know it.”

She sniffed, and didn’t reply.

“Besides,” Sesshomaru continued, “I’m not pretty. I’m handsome,” he quoted his mother and step-mother.

Kagome only pouted and mumbled, “You’re hair is prettier than mine.”

He flicked a shimmery silver lock over a shoulder. “So? Your hair isn’t ugly.”

She glared at him. “Boys aren’t supposed to have pretty hair. And you don’t even let me touch it!”

Well no, he didn’t like anyone touching it. But…

“If you come back and play with me, and if you stop listening to or thinking stupid ideas, I’ll let you touch my hair all you want.”

Sesshomaru could almost see her ears perk, like a cat. “Really?” she stared up at him with those big, blue eyes. He almost sighed. He was going to regret this.

“Really.”

She squealed and immediately jumped up, grabbing a lock of his hair. “Deal!” She tugged.

He scowled, and tugged a lock of her own ebony hair in retaliation. He was definitely going to regret this.

~~**~~

“Are you nervous?” Kagome tugged her backpack straps as the climbed the steps together. Today was the day they were starting middle school, so the two of them would finally be going to school together.

Sesshomaru scoffed. “No.”

This girl bit her lip. “I am.”

 He said nothing, knowing she was bound to tell him sooner or later.

Turns out it would be sooner. “What if no one likes me? What if I don’t make any friends?”

“You have me,” he replied simply. They’d reached the doors, and walked into the bustling hallway together.

“But—”

Quickly, Sesshomaru reached over and tugged one of her pigtails. It was his method of reminding her of the deal they’d made years ago, and her promise to avoid stupidity.

She pouted at him. “I’m not being stupid. Just because you think you don’t need friends – ”

“I don’t think that. I have you, so I don’t care if I don’t make more friends,” he shrugged. They stopped in front of the large class roster in the lobby. “We’re in the same class,” he remarked.

The girl’s face relaxed visibly as she read the list herself. “Sango’s in our class too.”

The little boy grimaced, still having not quite forgiven the girl for almost stripping him of his best friend. Besides, wasn’t he enough?

He tugged her hair again.

She squeaked. “Hey, how was I being stupid that time?!”

Sesshomaru shrugged. Kagome pouted, before drawing her lip beneath her teeth once more. “So, you’re really not nervous?”

“I already said no, didn’t I?”

She pursed her lips as they began making their way to homeroom. “Aren’t you looking for your perfect match or something like that?”

“Hn,” he said nonchalantly.

“How are you going to meet any girls if you don’t care about making friends?” Kagome pointed out.

He shrugged. “I’m not looking to be her friend,” he told her.

“But if you don’t want to make friends, then you don’t meet people! You just come off as standoff-ish!”

He pondered her words, then shrugged again. “If she lets that get in her way, then she’s not my perfect match.”

Kagome rolled her eyes. “You don’t worry enough, Sesshou,” she declared.

You worry too much,” he promptly replied.

She scrunched her nose. “Fine. I’ll worry enough for the both of us, agreed.”

“Hn.”

Like they’d always do, the two middle schoolers tugged the other’s hair to seal the deal.

~~**~~

“…Excuse me? Could you repeat that?” The large, white-haired man couldn’t quite believe his ears.

“I apologize, Mr. Taisho, but the school needs you to come pick up your son and speak with the principal. Sesshomaru has been in a fight,” the monotone female voice said through the phone.

“Are you sure it was Sesshomaru?” Masaru replied with disbelief. He briefly pondered if they had mistaken Inuyasha for Sesshomaru, before he remembered Inuyasha wasn’t even in middle school yet. It wasn’t that he refused to believe ‘his precious baby’ could behave badly, as some parents did; this purely was a matter of that, well, Sesshomaru would never embarrass himself over something as trivial as a physical altercation. His stoic twelve year old son had more control than a Buddhist monk.

The receptionist was unsympathetic. “We’re quite sure. Please come to the school so that the principal can give you the details.” With that, she hung up.

Masaru stared at the phone for a moment longer, not quite sure how to react. He still didn’t quite believe what he had heard. Some part of him hoped it was true, though – perhaps his son was a normal boy after all.

The befuddled father left his office, notifying his receptionist that he may or may not return that day, and drove off for the middle school.

When he arrived at the front office, a little girl was waiting for him nervously. She jumped up as soon as he opened the door.

“Please don’t get mad at him, Masaru-papa!” she pleaded. He looked down at Kagome incredulously, though he automatically reached down and patted her hair to calm her down. “He wasn’t supposed to find out!”

“Kagome, calm down and tell me what happened,” he instructed comfortingly.

She flushed and looked down. “Some boys were teasing Ayame, and so I told them to get lost and grow up. I threw cheese at them,” she admitted quietly.

Masaru frowned with more confusion. Honestly, he wasn’t surprised – Kagome had a fiery, noble spirit, which was why he had taken an immediately liking to her the day Sesshomaru brought her home. With her endearing nature, she immediately became the daughter he and Iyazoi never had. Not to mention the effect she had on his eldest son, whose aloofness and general self-imposed isolation from society had been a major source of worry for the two parents. Kagome brought him out of his shell little by little with her mere presence, and they were very grateful to her. In fact, they had taken to calling her their little angel, no matter how much Sesshomaru asserted there was nothing angelic about her (which Kagome would swiftly reward with a solid yank on his hair, if he said so while she was in the room).

In any case, it was quite normal for the little girl to stand up for others without thinking. The cheese was new, though.

But it still didn’t explain how Sesshomaru got in a fight.

“They didn’t like that,” Kagome continued, “After that day, they started making fun of me every day. But I didn’t care!”

The older man’s scowl darkened at the confession, though the picture was starting to get clearer. “What did they say, Kagome?”

“It doesn’t matter,” she said quickly.

“Kagome…”

She stared hard at the floor and shifted her feet. “They said stuff like how I was stupid and dumb, and that no one liked me, and that even my dad didn’t like me since he left Momma, Souta, and me…” she trailed off, swallowing hard.

Masaru’s expression turned almost murderous. That had been a hard time for his little surrogate daughter, something his little angel didn’t deserve. Those insensitive, infantile…

He found himself hoping Sesshomaru had gotten a few good punches in.

“So, Sesshomaru found out,” he concluded aloud.

She nodded, biting her lip again as she stared at him imploringly. “I tried to keep him from knowing. I knew he’d blow up. But they caught us on the day Sesshou and I always have lunch together by ourselves, and well…”

At that moment, the irritating receptionist called for Masaru to see his son and the principal.

Kagome’s blue eyes widened with anxiety. “Please, Masaru-papa, you have to tell them that Sesshou didn’t do anything wrong!”

He patted her hair comfortingly again. “Don’t worry, Angel, I’ll take care of everything.”

Her shoulders sagged with relief. If Masaru-papa said he’d take care of everything, then everything would be taken care of. His word was almost as good as Sesshomaru’s.

~~**~~

“She’s very pretty,” Kagome remarked softly as she braided the boy’s hair that lunch.

“Hn,” Sesshomaru shrugged.

“So…are you going to say yes?” She tied the woven hair deftly with a plain hair band. He leaned back onto her lap when she was done, settling comfortably in the routine.

“Perhaps. I do not see the point of such ridiculous frivolities, though,” he answered.

“It’s homecoming, Sesshomaru, pretty important for us high schoolers,” she rolled her eyes.

“Would you like to go?” he asked, looking up at her sky-framed face.

She averted her eyes. “Well yeah. We’re freshmen, and I want to see what it’s like.”

“Then I’ll accompany you,” he declared.

Kagome struggled to hide the blush that threaten to rise in her cheeks, though she could do nothing to keep her expression from lighting up hopefully.

“What about Emiko?”

“She is not my perfect match. You are my friend. It’s my duty to escort you,” he replied, closing his eyes to doze off, not seeing her turn her face away to hide her disappointment.

~~**~~

“So, shall we go?” Kagome chirped after the last bell rang.

“I can’t, Kagome,” Sesshomaru told her, frowning slightly as her face fell.

“Oh. Date with Suki, huh?” The corner of her lips curved down for a moment. Him having a girlfriend was…different. She had always known it was bound to happen eventually– he was looking for that perfect match after all, and they were already juniors. Suki did match him in a sense, similar in that she was wealthy, popular, and very attractive. And she was nice enough. But…Kagome missed her best friend.

“Iyazoi-san still expects you at my house though, for tea, though,” he told her.

“Oh yeah…yeah it will be good to see her,” Kagome murmured absentmindedly before turning away. “Bye, Sesshou. Have fun.”

Sesshomaru frowned, not liking her dejected tone. He grabbed her arm and held her back. “I’ll see you Saturday,” he told her, “usual place and time.”

Her expression lifted, and she smiled cheerfully at him. “Yeah! See you then!”

--

When Sesshomaru arrived, Kagome was waiting on the park bench, pensively staring at the sky. She was clad in a simple pair of jeans and a casual tee. After numerous instances of waiting for Suki while she tried to pick the ‘perfect outfit’, Kagome’s comfortable fashion style was a refreshing breath of fresh air.

She caught him staring at her, and she smiled brilliantly. “Hi!”

He took his own place on the bench. “Good morning.”

She laughed. She’d always found his proper speech amusing, especially when they were little, when he’d mispronounce most of his hard-learned vocabulary. “So, how’d the date go?”

“Ill.”

Her brows shot up. “What?”

“Suki and I broke up yesterday,” he informed her, plucking the picnic basket she’d brought out of her hands.

“Seshou…I’m sorry.”

“Do not be. She was not the one.” He told her as he stood up and held a hand out to her. Kagome took it without hesitation.

“What happened?” She asked as they made their way to the playground behind the bench.

He shrugged. “She was unhappy that I was spending my Saturday with you.”

She looked at him in horror. “Sesshomaru! You should have canceled plans with me then!”

“Hn,” he scoffed, “You are my best friend, Kagome, and I knew you long before I had even met her. Why should she have higher priority than you?”

“Because you’re trying to look for your perfect match! You’re not going to find her if you keep brushing girlfriends off for me, Sesshou,” she scolded, though she couldn’t keep a small grin off her face.

“My perfect match would not resent me for spending time with a close friend,” he stated, placing the picnic basket on the rim of the empty sandbox. The same sandbox, in fact, where they’d made a deformed frog together, almost a decade ago. Opening it, he took the familiar apple printed blanket and with practiced ease he flung it over the sand, covering the surface entirely. Kagome climbed onto it and started unpacking the food as Sesshomaru settled himself on the covered sand as well.

“You know Sesshomaru,” she told him, smiling, “it’s odd. You’re more romantic than some girls on this planet.”

He glowered at her. “I am not some simpering romantic, woman. I simply have high standards.”

She giggled. “Yeah yeah, call it what you want.”

He growled and reached over to tug her hair. She stuck her tongue at him in return.

“Mature, Kagome,” he snorted.

“Hey our deal was that I couldn’t be stupid. No one said anything about having to be mature.”

“Hn.”

“Speaking of intelligence, though, can you give this to Masaru-papa today?” she pulled a folder out of the basket.

He took it and looked through it. It was a new marketing plan for one of his father’s products.

“I swear, if father could figure out a way to hire you without a college degree without sending his board of directors to the hospital, he would,” Sesshomaru told her, indirectly complimenting her work.

“Same goes for you,” she countered, “I saw that new management system you proposed. Masaru-papa is looking very forward to handing the company to you, you know.”

He scoffed and settled back onto her lap as usual, nibbling the sandwich she handed him. “He’s only looking forward to retiring early.”

“Yup,” she giggled, exploiting her favorite privilege by running her fingers through his soft, silver hair.

~~**~~

“I don’t understand why we have to go to this,” the tall brunette in his passenger seat grumbled.

Sesshomaru nearly growled himself. “It’s Kagome’s birthday, Ami.”

His current girlfriend scoffed. “So?”

“I was under the impression you got along with Kagome.”

She shrugged. “We’re in college now, Sesshomaru. We don’t need to celebrate trivial things like birthdays. In fact, we didn’t celebrate each other’s birthday this last year, remember? Kagome is a sweet girl, but she’s not going to achieve anything if she doesn’t grow up.”

Flashes of a cozy dinner with his parents, step mother, and Kagome ran through his head. He might not have celebrated his birthday with her, but that didn’t mean he didn’t celebrate it at all. “Kagome has a job lined up for her after graduation,” he told her.

“At your father’s company,” Ami added, “Really Sesshomaru, you must stop coddling her.”

His grip on the wheel tightened. “She had several offers, Ami. She just chose father’s company from its own merit.”

Ami shrugged. “She’s not ambitious, she’s too empathetic. She’s still not like us, Sesshomaru.”

He knew that. In fact, that was one of the things that had driven to Ami in the first place – her ambition and inner strength matched well with his own. However, that did not make her greater than Kagome in his eyes.

“No she’s not. She’s Kagome,” he agreed. And where you lack, she thrives, he finished in his thoughts before falling into silence.

--

Sesshomaru walked through the doors to Kagome’s apartment alone. Kagome was quick to greet him.

He handed her his gift. “I apologize for being late. Happy birthday.”

She waved him off, then looked around him curiously. “Where’s Ami?”

“I dropped her off at her apartment,” he told her, “We’ve decided to go separate ways.”

Kagome blinked in surprise. “I thought things were going well between the two of you. Did you get in a fight?”

He shrugged. “It was mutual, Kagome. We both realized we didn’t…see eye to eye in certain important areas.” He gently guided her back to her living room, where their friends had gathered to celebrate her twenty first birthday.

She put a hand on his arm. “I’m sorry, Sesshou.”

He shook his head at her and tugged her hair. “You’ve finally turned twenty one, Kagome. A true adult. Go celebrate.”

She cocked a brow. “You’re telling me to drink, aren’t you?”

He gave her a rare grin. “Exactly. I admit I’m curious about what you will be like drunk.”

“I’m not getting drunk, Sesshomaru.”

The white-haired college student caught their friend’s, Miroku’s, eye over her inky head. The violet eyed man winked.

“I wouldn’t count on that, woman.”

--

“Ses-Sesshou...You’re hair’s purdy.”

He should have known her obsession with his hair would only be magnified while intoxicated.

“What…are allllll those pretty lights?” Kagome gazed at the ceiling over his shoulder with a dazed wonder. She giggled. “Pretty….purdy…pretty purdy…purrrrrrrrrrrr.”

Sesshomaru rolled his eyes before pushing her firmly onto the sofa. “Stay,” he ordered, before leaving to usher the last of the guests out. When he returned, she’d fallen off the sofa and was rolling around the carpet hugging her frog pillow pet, giggling madly. He shook his head. “Kagome, stop that.”

“No!” she pouted from the floor, “I’s an adulllllt now. I can do what I want. You said so.”

“I said you should celebrate.”

“Hmph,” she bopped the soft frog head, “What if I don’t wanna be an adult? Adulllllts arrrre borrrrrring.”

Sesshomaru thought back to the dull intellectual conversations he’d had over the course of his relationship. “Perhaps you are right.”

“Course I’m right. I’m riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight….where?” She scrunched her nose adorably in confusion.

He chuckled. “You should go to bed, Kagome.”

“No! I want my froggie first!” She looked at him expectantly.

“I already gave it to you.”

“But I don’t remember where it iiiissss. Could you get it pwease?” She batted big, blue, puppy eyes at him.

He sighed and went to retrieve his birthday gift from where Kagome had placed it. She took it with slightly shaky hands and ripped off the wrapper, opening it to pull out the comically cartoonish frog figure.

“It’s pink!” she exclaimed happily.

He shrugged. “Some variation.”

She squealed and ran over to the nearby shelf, teetering just a little. She placed the pink frog with surprising carefulness on the shelf, where it was surrounded by all the other frogs he had gotten her each and every birthday.  After completely her task, she ran back to where the normally stoic man was relaxing on her sofa and jumped onto him. He caught her with a small grunt.

“Thank you for my present. I love it,” she told him, smiling giddily as she straddled him.

He smiled back. “You’re welcome.”

Her grin widened and she kissed his cheek. Pulling back, she kissed his other cheek. Sesshomaru held still, accustomed to the pecks.

He was not, however, accustomed to the sudden feeling of her warm, soft lips on his. His eyes widened as her mouth gently melded with his, moving and manipulating his lips in a pleasant, heated manner. It ended, though, before he could even figure out how to respond, but not before she’d gently touched her tongue to the slight opening in his mouth. He gasped.

Kagome pulled back, unfazed, smiling lazily. “You taste good, Sesshou,” she murmured before promptly passing out on his shoulder.

Sesshomaru remained absolutely still, hardly daring to breath through his surprise. His blood felt strange as it rushed through his veins, his lips tingled with the ghost of the sensation of her lips, and his pulse fluttered rapidly under his skin.

What was that?

He chanced a glance down at Kagome’s deceptively innocent face. She had, he admitted to himself, grown beautiful. Soft, full lips; small, adorable nose; big, blue, beautiful, sparkling eyes; inky, shimmering hair – traits that he knew by themselves, but for the first time, he saw them together in one large, stunning portrait.

But…she wasn’t his match. She was his best friend, his supporter, the one person he trusted above all…but they were completely different. Opposites, practically.

He side, and carefully shifted her into his arms so that he could carry her to her bedroom. Pictures of the two of them lined the walls and surfaces, and he almost smiled at the memories. Gently, he placed her on the mattress and drew the blanket over her. Once that was done, he took a moment to gaze at her fondly. She may not be the match he was looking for, but she was without a doubt precious to him. He’d do anything for her, and he’d do anything not to lose her.

He brushed her bangs aside softly, before turning to leave, decidedly ignoring the continuous tingling of his lips.

~~**~~

“Mr. Sesshomaru?” his secretary called, “Ms. Hina is here to see you.”

Sesshomaru looked up from his desk. “Send her in.”

A slender red head walked confidently in. “Hello, Sesshomaru.”

“Hina,” he greeted his current girlfriend.

“Are you ready for lunch?”

He nodded, and retrieved his coat. On their way out the door, though, they bumped into a frazzled woman who Sesshomaru belatedly realized was Kagome.

“Sesshomaru! Please tell me you have the Masashi files!”

He furrowed his brow. “I gave that file to Miroku. My department was done with it.”

Kagome groaned, smacking her forehead. “You were given wrong instructions. Those files were to come to me after you were done with them. I’ve got a conference with Masashi group in two hours! You know how Miroku’s like! Brilliant, but as organized as a hoarder! It’ll take forever to find those files!”

She began shifting foot to foot, and Sesshomaru could practically see the gears turning in her brain as she tried to work around the problem. He almost chuckled.

“There must be some poor organization in your company’s infrastructure, Sesshomaru,” Hina noted to her boyfriend.

Kagome started, just realizing the third presence. “Oh! Hina! How are you? I’m sorry, I must have interrupted a date between you two.” Sesshomaru narrowed his eyes as he noticed Kagome’s brow twitch, a sure tell that she was hiding some emotion.

“Well actually,” Hina hedged.

“Hina, I apologize, but I’m going to have to cancel,” Sesshomaru told her, “As you can see, I’m needed at the company today.”

“Sesshou, you really don’t have to do that,” Kagome said, though she looked notably relieved.

“Don’t be ridiculous. I should have realized that such an active set of files was not supposed to go to Miroku’s department. I will help you find the files.”

Kagome grinned brilliantly at him.

Hina scowled. “Sesshomaru, we had plans. Please don’t get me wrong, Kagome, I know you’re important to him, but I like to be organized, you see.”

Sesshomaru frowned slightly. He knew that – it was the reason he sought her out as a possible match. Her efficiency, practicality, and intelligence mirrored his. However, Sesshomaru was quickly beginning to realize that was all she was. Hina hated spontaneity and improvisation. Why he didn’t particularly prefer either, he still understood the importance of flexibility.

“Hina, I do apologize, but can we discuss this later? We have work to do,” he told her gently.

Hina scowled further, and stomped off, digging in her purse for her planner and muttering about organization.

Kagome watched uncomfortably. “You sure that was okay?”

“Don’t concern yourself with it, Kagome,” he told her dismissively. “Let’s go find those files.”

--

“Sesshou! Let’s go!” Kagome burst into his office.

He looked up in surprise. “Go where?”

“The conference was successful! And it was all because you helped! Come on, we’re going to celebrate!” she chirped cheerfully.

Sesshomaru paused, looking at the files he was in the middle of. He had planned on going through them before going home.

He closed them decidedly and pushed them away.

“You are not planning on drinking, I hope,” he smirked at her as he fetched his coat.

She stuck her tongue at him. “A little, but I refuse to get drunk again. I like my head jackhammer and amnesia free, thank you.”

“Hn,” he chuckled.

When they got to their favorite bar, they ordered they usual drinks Kagome immediately began to braid his hair back. She hadn’t touched his hair all day and it must have driven her crazy, Sesshomaru realized with a chuckle.

“So, did you talk things out with Hina?” Kagome asked hesitantly.

Sesshomaru sighed. “No. She was not the one either, Kagome.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I am starting to wonder if my match even exists,” he admitted. Kagome dropped his hair mutely, and turned to take a swig out of her drink.

“Really?”

“I’ve had three serious relationships now, Kagome, each with someone whose personality matched mine well. They were all failures,” he remarked pensively as he took his own sip from his glass.

Kagome was silent. Sesshomaru looked at her curiously. Normally, at this point, she’d try to give him babbling advice, or cheer him on naively. To be honest, he needed that right now. He truly was worried he’d never find the one he was looking for. His prospects were getting smaller and smaller the more people he met.

“Kagome?”

She only stared hard at her glass, swishing the amber liquid firmly.

“Maybe…”

He arched a brow. “Maybe what?”

Sesshomaru watched as she noticeably straightened her shoulders, gathering her courage. She slowly turned to look at him. “Would you be willing to…give…us a try?” Her eyes became impossibly wide and vulnerable, pleading with him.

Normally, he’d give those eyes anything.

This time, he hesitated.

He had thought of this before. That night she’d forgotten about, when he had had a taste of her. He had decided then, he wouldn’t touch the relationship between the two of them. It was too precious, and it wasn’t what he was looking for when it came to his match.

But, he had also told himself that night he’d do anything for her, give anything to her.

Kagome saw the conflict in his eyes, and read it correctly. She knew him best, after all.

Quickly, she looked away, her shoulders sagging with sadness and disappointment. “N-Never mind. Forget I said anything. I-I…I’m sorry.”

“Stop apologizing for things you shouldn’t be sorry about,” Sesshomaru told her softly.

She didn’t respond, only took another long draw from her drink. He did the same.

Dammit. This is exactly what he wanted to avoid. The air between them felt wrong now. Uncomfortable. He was never uncomfortable around her though.

What could he do? He could feel the hurt, the rejection, emanating from where she sat next to him. He hated it. He was her protector, and now he had hurt her. It was intolerable.

So what could he do?

Coming to a decision, Sesshomaru set down his glass with a clink. “Kagome.” He reached over and gently used a lock of her hair to turn her face towards his. The tears he saw her fighting clenched his heart and hardened his resolve.

“I’m going to go away.”

She narrowed her eyes, the action causing some tears to spill over the corner of her eyes.

“What do you mean? Where are you going?”

“Away. I’m going to request from my father a sabbatical. I’d actually planned on doing this eventually, to research and travel the world. Now…seems like the best time.”

She flinched back. “You’re…leaving.”

“Not forever,” he corrected, “Just for a year, at most. You…I…We need some distance, I think. We need to discover ourselves outside each other.” For once, he pleaded with his gold eyes for her to understand.

She shook her head. “You’re leaving me.” She glowered at him furiously, allowing her tears to fall freely. “Am I that repulsive to you, Sesshomaru? Am I that stupid  that you have to run away from the country to get away from me? You probably think I’m ‘ridiculous’ again, to actually ask you to give us, me, who knows you better than anyone else, a try. Well you know what? Screw it. If that’s what you want, go ahead, Sesshomaru. I can’t stop you, and I guess I don’t want to. Maybe you’re right. Maybe we need some distance.” She grabbed her purse before he could even say a word. “Goodbye.”

He grabbed her arm. “Wait, Kagome. Please. Understand,” he implored.

She gazed into his eyes with her own watery ones, and sighed, relaxing slightly. “I do, in a sense, because I understand you, Sesshomaru. So go. Find what you’re looking for.” She bit her lip. “I really do hope you find what you’re looking for, and I’m sorry I wasn’t enough.”

With that, she pulled away, and left him alone, hanging his head.

~~**~~

Sesshomaru gave the post card to the man at the front desk, who tipped his head at him, knowing exactly where it was going.

It had been almost a year since he left for his sabbatical, and he’d so far visited ten different countries, living at least a month in each. This month, he was in Bulgaria, and the culture was…interesting. The town was quaint, the peace was blissful, but he still hadn’t found what he needed. In fact, he hadn’t even attempted to date during his travels. He couldn’t bring himself to, for some inexplicable reason. Perhaps because he was still feeling guilty over Kagome.

Kagome. He missed her. Very much. He missed her reliable presence, her warm empathetic emotions, her undying support. Every week, he sent a postcard to Kagome from wherever he was, and though he never received a response, he knew from his father that she’d gotten all of them. But still, no contact from her. This was the first time he spent this much time away from her, completely cut off, and he felt strangely, almost painfully empty.

Sighing, Sesshomaru walked out to the bustling streets of the small town in the countryside he was staying in. Bulgaria was pleasant, but he would be leaving soon, for the next country. He had something to find before he did, though.

Not only had he been sending postcards to Kagome, but in every country, he’d find some suitable frog and send that too. Sometimes, it was harder than it seemed, especially in the small towns he tended to stay in, wanting to truly enjoy the country at its roots. The frog had to be just right though. He couldn’t just send her some half-assed souvenir. He had yet to find the right frog in Bulgaria, but he was determined.

After meandering through the street market for the hundredth time, though, he finally decided to simply approach a local carpenter.

“Could you carve a frog for me?” he asked in slightly stunted Bulgarian.

The old man looked up at his speculatively. “A frog?”

“Yes, if you please. You will be paid well.”

The little senior scrutinized him, making Sesshomaru uncomfortable with that knowing look in his eye. “What type of wood?”

“Anything sturdy. Rich in color.”

“Wait here.” The older man turned back toward his stores.

Sesshomaru used the time look at some things around the store. It was mostly filled with furniture, but there an elegant display that caught his eye on the far side of the room.

It was a shelf full of ornate boxes, each carved in unusual shapes, embedded our emblazoned with intricate, complex designs around the sides. Each work was beautiful in its own right. There was however, one plain, simple kutiya in the center, carved to look like it was made of brick.

Sesshomaru picked it up lightly in his hand. It reminded him of something. Something nostalgic.

Flashes of an old story passed through his mind; an old bedtime story that led Sesshomaru to this fruitless search for a perfect match in the first place. About a man trying to escape a box, making his hands bleed, trying to figure out a way to escape…

When the answer had been right in front of him.

Flashes of memory raced through Sesshomaru’s mind. A stubborn, but clever girl weaseling a friendship out of him; a promise of intelligence in return for the right to his hair; a girl declaring she’d worry enough for the both of them; quiet, comfortable picnics in the sandbox; treasured moments of working hard together and celebrating after; a heated, all too-brief kiss…

A girl that balanced him in every possible way. Outgoing where he was introverted. Empathetic where he was aloof. Spontaneous where he was meticulous. Intelligent. Witty. Understanding. Warm.

His supporter.

The one he trusted above all.

The one he spoke to about everything.

His match.

Not because she was like him. But because she completed him.

He sprinted out of the store, just as the old carpenter came back empty handed, smiling knowingly.

~~**~~

Sesshomaru put himself on the first flight to the states. Now that he knew who his match was, he missed her. Accutely.

But when he got out of the taxi in front of his house the next morning, he received a shock.

His father and brother were both leaving the manor, in tuxedos.

“What is happening?”

Masaru stopped, frozen, as he caught sight of his eldest son. “Sesshomaru! You’re…back…now?” Masaru almost groaned. Of course. He always did have impeccable timing. “Welcome back, son.”

Sesshomaru narrowed his eyes suspiciously. His father hated black tie occasions, and it was the middle of the day. Company parties were usually in the evening. “Where are you two going?”

Before Masaru could even think of an excuse, Inuyasha opened his big, naïve mouth. “To Kagome’s wedding. Duh.”

Sesshomaru face lost all color. If one looked very closely, one could see the minute trembling in his hands. “W-what?” he stuttered for the first time since he was seven.

Masaru sighed. The cat was out of the bag. “Kagome’s getting married, son.”

“…To who?” His voice was strained, raw. Masaru looked at him sympathetically, though he knew his son had no one to blame but himself. He had given his angel up, and realized too late.

“Not long after you left, she met someone through one of her friends. They were set up, but he was very persistent. He took an immediate liking to her, see,” Masaru tried to rush the details.

Of course he’d taken an immediate liking to Kagome. Who wouldn’t?

Sesshomaru closed his eyes painfully.

“I’m coming with you.”

~~**~~

For all his planning, all his caution, he’d made a mistake, just as his father had, though a mistake of a completely different nature.

He’d allowed his match to slip away.

His heart clenched painfully, almost crippling him with the agony at the thought. But then the music started, and he watched Kagome, shimmering, smiling, and beautiful in white, walk down the aisle. Her eyes, sparkling blue, doe eyes, were trained at the end of the aisle, and though Sesshomaru he couldn’t take his eyes off her. She was radiant. Stunning. Other-worldly. Angelic.

And he’d almost lost her.

“Kagome.”

The girl whirled around from the mirror, where she had been admiring her dress. “Sesshomaru,” she breathed in shock. She stood frozen, for a long moment, before her expression grew angry, though not enough that Sesshomaru couldn’t see the hurt just behind the ire. “What are you doing here?”

“I came back.”

“I can see that,” she sniffed, looking away. “I didn’t invite you. How did you know about the wedding?”

“I didn’t. I only found out when I got back to the manor and my father and brother were coming out in tuxedos.” He took a hesitant step forward. However, she took another back.

“Why did you come back early, then?” she said softly, still refusing to meet his eyes.

“Because I was blind.”

She finally looked at him in confusion.

“All along. You were right in front of me all along. The answer was just in front of my nose.”

“What are you going on about, Sesshomaru? Look, I guess we can…discuss this and work things out later. But I’ve got a wedding to show up for in fifteen minutes. My wedding.” She turned away, so that she faced a wall.

“Don’t go,” he almost pleaded.

She looked at him sharply. “What? What right do you have to ask that of me? Kentaro, he loves me, Sesshomaru. He took care of me. He stayed with me.”

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry I left,” Sesshomaru stepped forward again, and this time Kagome stood her ground. “But I love you, Kagome. I only realized that by leaving. I love you. You are my match. Please, don’t go.”

Kagome stared wide-eyed at him. He knew she knew the significance of his words. He never apologized. He never pleaded. But he was now.

“I love you,” he repeated, “Please, don’t do this. Please.”

“You…you left me. Like Dad.”

He winced.

“It wasn’t because I didn’t think you were good enough, Kagome.”

She shook her head. “No. I wasn’t good enough for you.”

He took another step forward. “No! No, I was the blind one, Kagome. Please. I thought I was leaving for your sake, so that you could heal. the last thing I wanted was to hurt you, Kagome, because you deserve so much more than that. I knew that much then. I only realized while I was away how much I don’t deserve you, and how much I want you anyway.”

Her eyes watered. “Sesshomaru, stop…”

He ignored her, and took another step, so that he was right in front of her. He cupped her cheeks. “Please, please, forgive me. Don’t do this.” He lowered his face toward hers. “I love you, please stay with me. Free me.”

Their lips were impossibly close, but she shoved him away. “I can’t, Sesshomaru,” she sobbed. He felt his heart breaking apart. “I made a promise to  Kentaro. I can’t just break it. He doesn’t deserve that. And…he was there for me. You weren’t.”

“Kagome…”

“I,” she sniffed, “I think you should go, Sesshomaru.” Her voice broke at the word ‘go’, but her firmness didn’t waver.

It felt like everything inside him was breaking under the stress of the pain and regret. But, he loved her, and so he turned away and left. He had to.

And now, as he gazed at her walking down the aisle, he was filled with more memories. But they all took a back seat.

Because she was at the end of the aisle.

His father grinned as they reached the end of the aisle and he handed Kagome to the waiting groom.

“Thank you, Masaru-papa,” Kagome whispered, kissing the old man on the cheek, before wrapping her arm around her groom.

Masaru kissed her forehead. “Thank you.”

Sesshomaru fought to keep the pain and regret off his face. If he could just stop this wedding…

He’d hurt her.

He closed his eyes miserably, loathing himself for even thinking of it, then loathing himself more when he realized he had  the rest of his life to loath himself.

Could he? Could he dredge up painful memories for her, for the sake of his own selfishness?

Would he give anything for her? Or would he give anything not to lose her?

The priest was giving his long sermon, but Sesshomaru didn’t hear a word. He fought with himself, with his rational mind, and his howling heart.

Could he? Would he?

“If any object to this union, speak now, or forever hold your piece.”

Could he?

No, he couldn’t. He could never hurt her again.

So he resigned himself to his hell, only to snap his eyes open when he heard a hesitant, female voice from the girl in white standing at the alter. “I object.”

Thank god she did.

It took time. It took time for her to properly apologize to Kentaro and get over her guilt. It took time for Sesshomaru to rebuild her trust in him. It took time for them both to work past each other’s pain and issues. To bond with and explore each other again. And, most importantly, it took time for him to romance her properly like she deserved.

But it was all worth it in the end.

And now, they both stood in front of the alter, listening to the priest’s long, monotonous sermon with no complaint, because this moment simply couldn’t be broken. They were both blindingly, obnoxiously happy, and no one could intrude on their moment. Not even a church-full of people.

Under the watchful smiles of those who loved them, the matched pair bound themselves to each other, and set each other free.

--------------------------------

A/N: Whewie, what a doozie. Another long one. And actually a lot of scenes had gotten cut out too. I'm actually unsure how much I liked this one. But oh well, right? 

So, like it? Hate it? 

Tell me in a review please! And again, go to Tangie's Second Annual Fanfiction Tournament's forum to check out the other entries!

 

INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
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