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Distance by Chie

Chapter 1

Chie: Written as per a prompt from my friend. Rated for language.

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Kagome looked at the dinner laid out on the table before her and clasped her hands together.

Her voice rang small and hollow in the room as she called out her itadakimasu.

The delicious smell of food was making her stomach rumble, but hungry as she was, Kagome had little appetite. The taste of the food fled her tongue whenever her gaze landed on the empty chair across from her.

Why she had bothered to set the table for him? Had it been the force of habit, or some silly bout of wishful thinking? Sesshoumaru hadn’t been home for dinner for a week now. In fact, as of late he hadn’t come home until she was already tucked in for the night. He would try to be quiet, creep through the house, but she would always wake up. She would feel the mattress dip as he laid down next to her. She would hold her breath and wait – but he never reached for her or wished her good night.

Sesshoumaru’s company was trying to expand, looking into opportunities to export their products abroad. Currently, they were in the process of trying to woo a big Korean client to sign a contract. It was all very important, and their success would be a huge victory for the business…

But a part of Kagome resented the expansion, not just because it was keeping her husband away from home, away from her – but because of how it was affecting him. The long hours were wearing on Sesshoumaru, the building pressure to seal the deal heaping on more and more stress. He’d grown much more short-tempered, enough so for even Kagome to notice, despite the fact that these days she only saw him in passing in the morning, before he left to work.

It would not be forever, Kagome tried to remind herself, scooping another helping of rice into her bowl. As soon as he could secure the contract, things would calm down and go back to normal. She just needed to be patient and understanding, to wait it out…

But still, it was such a shame not to have him here, with her, at such an important time as this.

Kagome felt something shift within, like ripples running across the surface of a pond. She rested her hand on her rounded belly. She had only recognised the occasional flutters to be the baby’s movements three odd days ago, but she still hadn’t told Sesshoumaru about them. She hadn’t found the time to bring it up; when they sat down for breakfast together in the mornings, he was in no mood for chatting. More often than not, he’d already be hard at work, staring at the screen of his phone, going through all the e-mails that had arrived overnight.

And just like that, they kept piling up, small everyday matters she’d like to tell him about. He was just too busy with work these days to ask her about her day.

Kagome sighed and put down her chopsticks.

As she cleared the table, putting away the unused bowl and chopsticks she had laid out for him; as she carefully packed and tucked the remaining rice and side dishes into the fridge, she decided she could not take this anymore.

She didn’t want to be that woman; she couldn’t stand one more day of just sitting around at home, waiting for her husband to come back from work.

She grabbed her phone from the kitchen counter.

“Hello?”

“Hi, Sango.”

“Kagome! Hi! How are you? How’s the baby?”

“We’re both fine,” Kagome told her friend, a smile touching her lips. “Listen, I know this is on a short notice, but do you want to go and grab a dinner with me tomorrow?”

“Oh I’d love to! Tomorrow should be a quiet day at the dojo, too, so my evening’s all free.”

“Great! Meet you at the train station?”

“Sure! Half past five ok for you?”

“Sounds good.”

“Good, it’s a date, then.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow!”

Kagome hung up, already feeling much better. For the first time all week, she was actually looking forward to tomorrow.

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“Thanks for this,” Kagome said as she and Sango walked along the street, trying to decide which restaurant to go to. “I was starting to go a little stir-crazy.”

“Anytime, girl. I’m always ready for a lunch or a coffee or shopping for babyclothes.”

“You know, I should actually get some shopping done. I’ve been working on the nursery and the cupboards were looking a little sad and empty.”

“Great. I have next Monday off, we can go then.” Sango grinned. “So, how’s life?”

“All right,” Kagome said with a small shrug.

Sango slanted a quick glance at her.

“What is it?” she asked.

“It’s Sesshoumaru. And the baby. It’s – I dunno. A lot of stupid little things.” Kagome draped her arm over her stomach. “He’s trying to get this new, important contract at work so he’s just never home these days, and when he is, he isn’t really paying much attention to me. And though I know it’s just because his work is so crazy right now and it’s making him stressed, I feel…”

“Lonely?” Sango suggested, her voice empathetic.

“That, too,” Kagome sighed. “Really I guess I’m just feeling insecure? My stomach, it’s starting to show now, you know, and I’ll only be getting bigger from here on. I’m really starting feel like this isn’t my body anymore.”

“Kagome,” Sango huffed, scowling. “Don’t you dare say you’re fat. Because you’re not. You’re pregnant, and you’re beautiful. And you need a proper dinner. Now come on, I’ll treat you.”

They decided on a restaurant and had a very nice dinner, and though the food was great, the company was even better. Trust Sango to save the day and cheer her up.

They talked and laughed, Sango telling about her students at the dojo and blaming Kagome for having infected Miroku with a serious case of baby fever. Kagome talked about the baby and how she had been in a full nesting mode for a while now, thanks to the pregnancy hormones.

“I want to see the nursery as soon as it’s finished,” Sango said.

“Sure thing,” Kagome replied. “I’ll let you know when it’s done.”

“Also, if you want, I can give Sesshoumaru a stern talking to. I think he might be overdue for one.”

“Thanks, Sango, but it’s fine, really. It shouldn’t be for much longer. Once they have the contract, it’ll ease up.”

“All right, as you wish. But if you change your mind, let me know,” Sango replied, the corner of her lips twitching in a smirk.

“I will,” Kagome promised with a little laugh. “Thanks for the food! I’ll go visit the bathroom real quick.”

“You do that. I’ll get the bill,” Sango offered.

All done, they left the restaurant a few moments later. The two of them strolled down the street, linking arms as they doubled in laughter over Sango’s retelling of Miroku’s latest mischief. They rounded the corner and the laughter died as they came to an abrupt halt. Kagome’s breath lodged in her throat and Sango’s fingers dug into her arm in an iron grip as they mutely stared at the scene playing out before them: out there on the street ahead was Sesshoumaru – and in his arms, her lips pressed against his, a beautiful woman.

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Sesshoumaru loved his job and he was fully devoted to the company. That said, he wasn’t sure how much longer he would be able to take this.

Over the past week or two, work had got insane and stressful. They wanted that contract with the Koreans, which meant that even after leaving the office, Sesshoumaru was stuck dining and drinking with the representatives of the Korean company. He’d much rather have spent that time at home with his wife; he was sorely starting to miss Kagome’s cooking. He came home every night, exhausted by yet another busy, long day, and all but collapsed into his and Kagome’s bed.  He would’ve loved to scoop her into his arms and just hold her as he drifted off, but he never did – she needed all the sleep she could get and he didn’t want to risk waking her up.

And while all that was wearing Sesshoumaru down and trying his patience, the straw breaking his back, the big, fat thorn in his side, was one of the Korean representatives herself. Her name was Kagura, and Sesshoumaru supposed the company had sent her over to negotiate because she was originally from Japan and was thus well-versed in the language and customs.

She was much less versed in keeping their negotiations strictly professional, however. She kept flirting with him, despite the picture of Kagome prominently displayed on his desk. He kept subtly working his wife who was currently pregnant with their first child into the conversation, but Kagura wasn’t deterred even by that. He tried to signal that he wasn’t interested, never encouraged her advances – but nothing he did seemed to work.

He just didn’t know how to deal with her, especially when he couldn’t risk offending such an important client until the contract was signed. That was why he was reluctantly waiting it out, even though his patience was wearing thinner day after day.

He almost thought it couldn’t get any worse – when somehow, on Thursday evening, Kagura had managed to ditch all the others and Sesshoumaru found himself alone in her company. Sesshoumaru had never been less enthusiastic about dinner as he was when he and Kagura were making their way down the street towards the restaurant.

And then the unthinkable happened – the bitch actually dared to lay her hands on him.

Stunned by disbelief and the sheer gall of this infuriating woman, Sesshoumaru just dumbly stood there – until a furious shriek grated on his ears.

“You fucking bastard!”

Sesshoumaru pulled Kagura off him, and saw his wife’s best friend Sango striding towards them, her fist already pulled back, ready to break his nose.

“Oh, my,” Kagura commented mildly, her hand still curled around Sesshoumaru’s arm, but he paid her no heed; he was staring at Kagome, looking forlorn and white as a sheet as she cradled the swell of her stomach.

“Sango, don’t,” she managed to choke even though her voice was breaking. “Just take me home.”

Sango glared at Sesshoumaru and dropped her hand, though it was still clenched in a tight fist as she turned on her heel and walked back to Kagome. She wound her arm around Kagome’s shoulders and began steering her away, without throwing a single backward glance to his and Kagura’s way.

“That was quite a reaction,” Kagura murmured, her voice laced with amusement.

Sesshoumaru whipped around and all his pent-up anger and frustration that had been building for the past few weeks finally boiled over.

He brushed Kagura’s hand aside and levelled her with a cold stare.

“I have tried to be patient with you,” he said slowly, his voice a harsh whisper. “I have tried to be polite, for the sake of good business. But you presume to kiss me – out in public? In front of my wife?”

Kagura was looking at him, her eyes wide, her hands trembling.

“I was just –”

“I know what you were doing, and so did you,” he snarled, not the least bit fooled by her feeble protest. “Forget it. If you want to have a dinner, you’d better call your lawyer and our head of marketing, maybe they can keep you company, I most certainly won’t.”

“But – where are you going?”

“Home, to my wife.”

Kagura pursed her lips, her eyes sparking with determination as she stood her ground.

“But what about the contract?”

“The contract,” Sesshoumaru sneered. “I’m not sure I want to be offering it to you after all; I don’t think I wish to co-operate with someone who’s so unprofessional.”

Kagura’s cheeks flushed an angry red colour as she gaped at him.

“We had an agreement, you can’t just –”

“Nothing has been signed yet,” Sesshoumaru reminded her silkily. “And your company is not the only potential partner. Perhaps we should approach one of your competitors instead.”

All colour drained from Kagura’s face. “No, please, I –”

“I’m going now,” Sesshoumaru cut her off. “And I’ll sleep on it before I make any decisions. We will discuss the contract at the meeting tomorrow morning.”

And with that, he walked away, finally ridding himself of the insufferable woman.

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When Sesshoumaru arrived home, he found Kagome curled up on the sofa, clutching at their wedding picture. Her eyes were red and her face was puffy and she looked downright miserable. With a sigh he knelt before the sofa and gently pried the picture from her slack grip and placed it back on the side table.

“Kagome,” he began, guilt churning in his gut as he clasped her hands in his own.

“I know,” she spoke, her voice little more than a broken rasp. “I know that you would never, that you… But still for a few moments I thought that maybe…” she drew in a shuddering breath.

“Shhh, it’s all right.”

It really wasn’t, though – he had a lot he needed to apologise for. But for now, he just wanted to reassure her. “I know it must have looked pretty bad but I swear it wasn’t –”

“I know,” Kagome repeated, “I trust you. It’s just that you’ve been so distant lately and I’m getting all clumsy and fat and with all the crazy hormones, I just… For a second there I doubted you, I’m sorry.”

“You’re not fat, you’re carrying our baby,” Sesshoumaru said firmly.  He squeezed her fingers and placed a kiss on her knuckles. “And I’m the one who should apologise. I’m sorry that I haven’t been around, I’m sorry I’ve spent more time with that horrible woman than I have with you.”

“Who is she?”

“One of the Korean representatives. She’s tried to make advances all week no matter how many times I mentioned you or the baby. I have been trying to be on my best behaviour for the sake of the negotiations so I’m almost glad she crossed the line today. I could finally give her a piece of my mind.”

Kagome sat up, her eyes wide. “Sesshoumaru, you didn’t! What about the contract?”

He met her gaze and held it. “No business opportunity is worth my marriage,” he told her. “I threatened to take the contract to their competitors, that should put her in her place.”

Kagome’s eyes looked incredulous, but the corners of her mouth were twitching.

“You’d really do that?”

“I would. I’m proud of what I do, but at the end of the day, you are the reason I work so hard.” He slid his hand to cup her stomach, “and the little one, right here.”

A smile bloomed on Kagome’s lips then, bright and sweet.

“Please bear with it for a little while longer. Once the negotiations are over and our contract has been signed, I’ll take time off. So we can be alone, just the two of us.”

“Before there’s three of us,” Kagome murmured.

“Indeed,” Sesshoumaru grinned.

“Oh well,” she sighed. “I guess it can’t be helped. I’ll keep waiting – but only for a little while longer.”

Sesshoumaru sat next to her on the sofa and pulled her into his arms. He kissed her, soft and slow, and then rested  his forehead against his.

“I promise you’re the only one for me.”

Kagome smiled, and pulled him into another kiss.

 

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