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Falling by Stella Mira

Laws of Nature

Kagome gazes at the state of the art building that houses Taishō Inc., at her reflection on its glassy surfaces. She is miniscule in comparison, nothing but a distortion of black and woman and uncertainty. I don’t…belong here. The urge to retrace her steps, her previous life, return to the dark and its illusory safety is overwhelming. But she can’t do that. He will not allow such cowardice. Her lips twitch—laughter gurgles in her throat at the perfect irony. Kagome is in this position because she is a coward. Jaw hard-set, eyes staring straight ahead, she takes that first step, stabs indecision with the jagged shards of her pride, until both are shattered and bleeding into unsound laughter.

Breath in, breath out. Step by step, she comes closer and closer, walks past the threshold of elitism and old-sought aspirations, toward the man who holds her leash—but she no longer burns. All that remains is coals of obsession, black masses nesting in her organs, cancerous cells in a state of remission. How long will it take to spread once more? Not long—soon…if I’m not careful. The rate of survival will be tantamount to nil if this occurs again, Kagome is well aware, but means of prevention elude her. She has taken the fall but she has yet to fully rise. A lizard with a severed tail will writhe on the ground until it regenerates or gets eaten by a predator—and Taishō Sesshōmaru seems the type of carnivore who likes to toy with his prey before devouring it.

Kagome gives her name, her information, states the reason for her presence more times than she can count on the way to his office. Security, at least, is not a laughing matter here. When she finally stands before the lacquered doors of his office on the highest floor, she takes pause, touches the marks on her neck, concealed under layers of foundation. The mirror lies, shows a mockery of tiger stripes, grotesque and vicious, now faded into strips of tanned skin, but they are still there…they will always be there. Her arm rises—her palm slides over polished wood, almost tentatively, but the rap of her knuckles is raucous with finality when she does knock. The light buzz startles her, smooth electrical sounds, and she turns toward the intercom. Teeth sink into her lower lip, nervous habit, as she realizes her blunder. I should have pressed the button…not knock. Security is, indeed, quite high-leveled.

The doors are parting then, drawing back and sliding open, inch by inch, and Kagome finds herself standing before him. Light filters through the glass pane, washes over her, bright gold, and she feels as naked as that time in that room under his gaze. The office is stripped bare, merely the absolute necessities to be ergonomic, but he fills the space beyond its capacity. He sits on black leather, quite natural in this environment, but all she sees is an animal wearing the guise of a man. Does his blood run hot or cold, Kagome wonders, though she never asks. Instead, she is walking inside, leg muscles burning and features strung tight, until she is close enough to mistake his pupils for slit-black.

“Ohayō gozaimasu, Taishō-sama.”

Something flashes in his eyes, brighter than gold, gilded displeasure. Perhaps she should not have spoken first this time.

“You will refer to me as Director.”

She bows in respect, and to hide the smile curving her lips. Instinctive response, so foolish. Is she truly so pathetic to be happy by what his order insinuates? Yes, Kagome understands well what he means to tell her—this is not Ginza, she is not called Yamato Nadeshiko, he is not her customer. A fluid motion of her spine, she rises, strict-poised, thin-lipped.

“Yes, Director.”

He leans forward, elbows resting on dark wood, neck slanted, and she fancies he is pleased in the way an owner is when his pet shows good behavior. Even that thought is not enough to lessen her delight—but then she notices other things, hazardous in cognizance. Like the fact that he wears neither jacket nor tie, that his sleeves are rolled up to his elbows, that his dress shirt is unfastened down to his sternum. Her eyes trace hard lines, accented bones, muscle and cool skin…or maybe his skin is hot like hers. Kagome watches the rise and fall of his Adam’s apple, realizes he speaks, then raises her eyes to his lips but no higher than that. If she falls into the lust of that gold, into the snare of the hunt, she will surely die this time.

“The secretarial office is on the twentieth floor. They have been alerted to your addition in the company. I expect you back in one hour fully briefed. The office next to mine belongs to you. Use the private line for all communications between us and do not disturb me for inconsequential things.”

“Understood, Director.”

A tilt of her chin, another deep bow, she takes her leave, fathoms more than she likes—this is Taishō Inc., she is called Higurashi Kagome, he is her boss.


Skye’s Weekly Challenge: Evolution


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