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Allowability Notice by CookieAsylum

Allowability Notice

Disclaimer: I own nothing. Also, do not use this as a guide to US patents.

Note: I originally had ir set in Japan, bur Japan doesn’t examine their patents. So had to set it in the States.

ALLOWABILITY NOTICE

***

Kagome sighed. “I want to go home.”

Pursing her lips, the young woman checked her watch for the umpteenth time. As she stared beyond the security counter and the lobby’s revolving doors, gray clouds drizzled onto the empty streets of Alexandria, Virginia. He’s going to be late.It was five minutes until their arranged meeting and the man had yet to make an appearance.

A tangle of dread knotted in the pit of her gut. Please, kami! Please make him late!

She should have known he would be trouble the moment the Automated Interview Request email pinged in her inbox. The name, Sesshoumaru Kobayashi, glared in bold letters in the subject line.

She’d phoned Sango immediately.

Sesshoumaru Kobayashi. Kagome pouted.

There were a handful of attorneys who tended to trouble the Office, but as co-founder of Kobayashi, Suzuki, & Hojo, LLP., he was only the most notorious, ruthless patent attorney to ever grace their desks. In the age of modern technology, most meetings between attorneys and examiners were conducted over the phone - except for Sesshoumaru Kobayashi. He insisted on meeting in-person. In her tenure, she’d heard her share of nightmare stories from other examiners who had the misfortune of getting one of his cases, and so far she’d been able to dodge that bullet.

Until today.

Behind her, the elevators dinged, and a woman with brown hair approached with a wave.

“Hi, Sango.”

“Hey, Kagome,” she replied. “Going to lunch?”

Kagome frowned. “No, not today. I have an interview…”

“Oh, crap! Is that today?” Sango cringed. She quickly eyed her friend, inspecting the other woman's choice of attire with an approving thumbs up. With a black blazer-skirt combo, a sharp cobalt blouse, a matching pair of heels, and her stylish up-do screaming business, Kagome looked prepped for a fight. “C-Can I bring you anything? Coffee? A snack?”

“Can we trade places?”

No.”

Kagome huffed, folding her arms. “I thought we were friends.”

Sango grinned, patting the younger woman on the shoulder. “You’ll be fine. You’re a capable examiner. The worst case scenario is you don’t come to an agreement and he files an appeal.”

Nodding, Kagome signed. “I know… but I still don’t want to go through with this.”

Sango shrugged. “Yeah, but what’s life without a few battle scars?”

“Comfortable!”

As the women shared a laugh, a tall stranger stepped in from the rain.

“Ms. Higurashi.”

Kagome froze, turning at the call of her name. No!

And there he was, Sesshoumaru Kobayashi in the flesh. Dressed sharply in a black tailored suit and carrying a briefcase, he folded his umbrella and took a moment to shake off the excess droplets. His silver hair was cropped short, and the slashes of magenta and blue moon on his brow proclaimed his youkai heritage - a rare sight in America. Waiting by the security counter, he towered over most others in the lobby.

She never expected him to be… handsome. Or a daiyoukai at that! The waning moon displayed prominently between the part of his bangs.

Kagome had painted the image of a gruff, cold, horrid man in her mind to cope with the approaching interview. For her to discover that Sesshoumaru was anything but was difficult to swallow. Refined, defined, and any other term she could think of to describe how attractive he appeared escaped her.

And that made him dangerous.

Calm down, Kagome! Her mind snapped. It’s just your hormones acting up. Get it together!

Now was not the time to get all weird about a man...

“I’ll see you later, Sango,” Kagome said, badging through security to meet her client at the counter. It wasn’t possible for him to proceed through the building without her.

Attention turning to the daiyoukai, she smiled and bowed politely. “Good afternoon, Mr. Kobayashi. I’m glad you were able to make it. I was afraid you’d be late.”

Returning the gesture, Sesshoumaru sniffed. “Nonsense.” Tilting his watch in her direction, the stylish Breguet Classique 7147 gleamed in her face. “Our interview is scheduled for 12:30 pm. I’m exactly on time.”

Ass! Kagome held back a grimace. “Of course! Let’s get you through security, then we can head upstairs.”

Signed in and badged through, it was a quiet ride to the eighth floor.

“Unfortunately, all the conference rooms are booked, so I hope you don’t mind discussing the case in my office,” Kagome said, once they exited on her floor. She turned a corner and paused to unlock her door.

Sesshoumaru stared, studying her floral-decorated name placard. “It is no concern.”

It was a jungle.

Gray light filtered through gossamer curtains, a shelf of potted golden pothos trellised, and a two large dieffenbachia plumed in a corner. The rest of the decor was a menagerie of smaller potted plants and vintage tea sets, while the eastern wall was an arrangement of colorful prints and framed butterfly specimens. The portion of her L—shaped desk not littered with office equipment — for two monitors, a laptop, and a large printer took up a lot of space — was cleared and arranged for their meeting.

He hummed, faint delight at the perfume of nature over the acrid smell of the city. A far cry from the green scent of his home, but it was refreshingly appreciated. Golden eyes drifted to the woman puttering in the corner. Hers is not unpleasant either.

He was not ignorant to her earlier stares. Being as long-lived as he was, Sesshoumaru was more than aware of his appeal to the female persuasion, and he had very little trouble getting his way. He could hardly tear his gaze from the tantalizing slit of her skirt. Perhaps she… no.

That was a thought best saved for another time.

“You have quite the collection,” Sesshoumaru remarked, gently touching the forked leaf of a staghorn fern. “An admirable green thumb, Ms. Higurashi.”

“I try!” Kagome brightened. “Do you keep plants, Mr. Kobayashi?”

He hummed. “A few bonsai I’ve tended to over the centuries.”

“That’s… impressive.” Centuries? Whoa! "Do you have a favorite?"

"A Yamaki pine. Inherited from my mother."

Kagome gaped. "Oh! Like the one that survived Hiroshima?"

"Hardly. That one is younger than I."

"Oh." Stifling a nervous laugh, the young woman returned to prepping for their meeting, the room lapsing to silence.

And as the daiyoukai continued to observe his new surroundings, Kagome stole covert glances of her own.

He really was too big for her office — in both stature and strength. Broad shouldered and business, she had a delectable curiosity to what he could hiding beneath that suit. And though he appeared to keep it under tight control, the telltale buzzing of his youki burned at the fringes. A jitter chased down her spine, and the inkling of an idea — an image far too lewd to be work appropriate — flickered in the corner of her mind. Don’t you dare go there!

Blushing, Kagome tried to slow her nervous heart.

“Tea, Mr. Kobayashi?” she offered, heading for the electric kettle.

“No, thank you.”

“All right.” Seated at the desk, she withdrew a manila folder from her drawer. “Before we begin, I have to be clear. Your name wasn’t originally on the Power of Attorney. I believe I was speaking with a ‘Hojo Akitoki’ before. Legally, I can’t discuss the case without an updated Power of Attorney.”

“Yes,” Sesshoumaru replied, tearing his gaze from her unconventional office environment. “He brought your arguments to my attention. He was woefully inadequate, and I felt it best to relieve him of this burden. You’ll note a new Power of Attorney form has been filed.”

Damn. “I see. Do you need printouts of the previous Office Actions then?”

He took a seat across from her. “No, thank you. I have my own copies.”

“Certainly,” Kagome replied, lacing her fingers. “Well, shall we begin?”

“Of course.”

***

Thirty minutes into the interview, whatever progress Kagome had hoped to make was non-existent. We’re going in circles. They thoroughly discussed the bullet points noted in her initial rejection of the application, brought out different views of the prior art, and Kagome reiterated her comments in her argument. All the while, Sesshoumaru offered calm rebuttals. He had highlighted certain points in her argument and drew on past court cases to bring her own reasons into question. When he wasn’t trying to catch her in a verbal trap, he listened intently.

Even so, his youki betrayed his mood.

While his expression rarely altered, and he never interrupted - which Kagome found refreshing for a change - she could sense the shift in his aura as it simmered at the edges of her senses. He’s getting impatient. Minute upon minute, it compounded, and it took all of her control to keep her own powers in check.

"Ms. Higurashi, you have no proof of publication date," Sesshoumaru said. "You visited the cited prior art on March 3rd of this year."

"Mr. Kobayashi," Kagome began. "According to MPEP 2128, section two, subsection B, prior art disclosures on the Internet are considered publicly available as of the date it was publicly posted. The prior art I cited has a publication date from three years prior to your filing date."

"Yes, but you did not visit it on that date. Therefore, you cannot say for certain that my client's specific product was what was posted."

"Sir, I do not own a time machine."

"Clearly."

Ass. "Also, if we followed that argument, it would render any non-patent literature invalid."

"Therefore you have no argument."

For kami's sake! A sharp, pulsating sensation grew behind her eyelids.

“Mr. Kobayashi,” Kagome started, pressing her fingers against her temples. “May we pause for a moment? Please?”

Sesshoumaru sniffed. “As you wish. I still believe my client’s application is patentable.”

Praying for patience, Kagome rose and started the electric kettle. She was this close to snatching that pretty silver head of his. It was a shame that name-calling was unprofessional. She had few choice labels for the stubborn man. “That’s a matter of opinion, Mr. Kobayashi. Are you sure you don’t want any tea?” She stepped around the desk to take down two cups, filling two infusers with loose ingredients. “Calling my arguments — and I quote — ‘arbitrary, inconclusive, and unsubstantial’ when I have pertinent prior art is not the best way to persuade me to grant your client a patent.”

He paused. “Perhaps.”

Golden eyes followed her around the room, lingering longest on the curve of her hips. His voice took on an unexpected rumble. “Is there any way I can change your mind? My client is desperately seeking an allowance.”

Kagome understood. She never liked rejecting the hard work and ingenuity inventors put into their designs. Be it for a watch or even a simple coffee mug, someone’s heart and soul went into creating it. Sometimes it just boiled down to poor filing or not doing a proper search before applying that landed their cases in the reject pile.

The kettle chimed, and Kagome poured water into cups before passing one to Sesshoumaru.

“This is one of my favorite blends,” Kagome offered. “From a small shop off King St - by the town hall. Very eclectic.”

“Ms. Higurashi.”

Taking a slow sip, she glanced between the drawings and Sesshoumaru’s yellow gaze. There was something feral — and extraordinary — in that cat-slit stare. His aura crackled, pressing against her from all sides.

She’d had enough.

“Mr. Kobayashi,” Kagome warned, setting down her teacup with a deliberate clink. Her reiki leaking out little by little until it drifted in a shimmering haze above her skin. “I don’t appreciate you trying to intimidate me.”

She saw the shiver race through him — the way his eyes widened and nostrils flared - as he sat up a little straighter. In the places where their powers clashed, the air tasted sharp and clean. Ionized.

“You’re a miko,” he stated.

She nodded, cheeks warming. “I’ve had some training.”

Even with her modest training, Kagome had a fair amount of knowledge about modern holy and youkai relations, and with most youkai deriving from animal spirits, it was customary to let them have their displays of dominance - so long as no harm was done. Sesshoumaru's aura was so distinctly canine, she could only picture the large dog that used to live near her childhood home and how it would chase her down the street after school. But she wasn’t a pushover - not anymore - and especially when it came to her work.

A rumble coursed through him, a strange look glinting in his eyes. “There are few humans who have such power. Fewer still of those with ties to Shintoism.” He eased back in his seat, taking a moment to bask in her reiki as it coalesced and tingled against his own aura. The points of his fangs glinted between the part of his lips - testing, tasting. “How is this possible?”

"My family runs a small shrine - near Front Royal."

He hummed, intrigued. "I see. Your power is certainly more than I've felt in a long time."

She blushed. “L-Let’s focus back on the matter at hand.”

He smirked. “Of course.”

Arranging the printouts in front of her, Kagome finished the last of her tea and set it aside. “Based on everything we’ve discussed, I don't have much to suggest. The prior art is good. You can always appeal.”

Across from her, the daiyoukai sighed heavily.

“Ms. Higurashi,” he rumbled, rising from his seat. Power thrummed as he stepped around to her side of the desk. Instincts screaming, Kagome leapt to her feet. Trapped in the curve of the table, his palms flat on either side of her, she squeaked as Sesshoumaru loomed close. Leaning in, hushed words tickled her ear. “That is not what I wanted to hear.”

“M-Mr. Kobayashi, please—!” Kagome started, stumbling over her tongue as she trembled at the scrape of his fangs along the column of her neck. He was close — much too close. Please, wait… She didn’t dare run, not with those pointed canines pressing against her pulse. Palms flat against his suit, heat seared beneath her fingers with each rise and fall of his breath. If she thought his power was smothering before, she was surely mistaken. Now he was everywhere at once — breathing down her neck, lips lingering on the edge of her jaw, noses brushing in the small spaces between them. Up close, she could smell his cologne, a spicy mix of ginger and cardamom just subtle enough to suit a daiyoukai of his tastes.

Sesshoumaru was on the attack. Prowling close, he barely gave her a chance to process as a warm hand slid to the low of her back, kneading and coaxing with gentle pressure. Well bred and bred well, he was aware of his magnetism amongst his kind, but curiously wondered if his allure worked on the hallowed.

He'd never dallied with a miko before.

It would take some gentle coaxing and no small amount of charm to woo this one out of her business attire, but he was up for the challenge. It’d been too long for him, and she was just the right mix of naive and sensual to get his instincts howling. Even as her reiki erupted from her palms, tumultuous and enticingly powerful, everything that led up to that moment was quickly washed away in a tide of burnished youki. Her powers doused like a light.

"Come now, miko." Warmer lips brushed under her chin. An inuyoukai plea. “Can we not come to a more… mutually beneficial agreement?”

She hissed as he pressed his advantage, going so far as to wedge his knee between her weakening limbs. Wha-What? It took a moment to wrap her mind around his words.

“A-Absolutely not!” Kagome snapped. She pushed against his chest, but the daiyoukai remained unmoved. “I could lose my job!”

The knee between her thighs shifted, pressing against her core so pleasantly, Kagome stifled a whimper.

“Then it will be our little secret,” Sesshoumaru growled, boldly working loose the buttons of her blazer. Not once did his lips stray from her bared throat, and he delighted in how she attempted to temper her reactions. Every smothered gasp, every choked whimper, fueled him on, and he branded the images into his mind. With each passing moment, her scent flourished and bloomed into an aroma most intoxicating, setting his fangs on edge. “There’s a lot riding on this application, Ms. Higurashi.”

“B-But—!”

“Come now, Higurashi. I saw how you looked at me in the lobby.” The smug light glinted in his eyes gave her pause. “I could smell it. Even now, here, in your little office. I'm drowning in it.” Expert hands worked her blouse free from her skirt before diving under the cobalt fabric to the soft skin beneath, deft fingers freeing her bra hooks in a snap with a brazen brush of claws. “Ms. Higurashi… no, Kagome.”

She’d never heard anyone growl her name so deeply.

Kagome knew she shouldn’t. She knew that if anyone were ever to find out, she’d be in a lot of trouble. Though, she’d be lying if she denied harboring fantasies of her own. Her mind had wandered those halls - illicit office hookups, scandalous meetings in empty conference rooms. But she never suspected it could actually happen, least of all to her.

Maybe… just this once.

Biting her bottom lip, she carded through silver hair behind his ears before sliding along the velveteen stripes on his cheeks.

“Sesshoumaru,” Kagome whispered, blushing. “Lock the door.”

He needn’t be told twice.

The miko shivered as his heat was momentarily replaced by the chill of the room, the sound of the lock clicking behind her. It was just a moment — a chance for her to steal a breath of clarity — and drag her senses back to the forefront. I shouldn’t do this. It was playing with fire. Taking a huge risk. Not only for herself, but for the integrity of her work.

But as they touched cheek to cheek, the words stilled on her tongue. The heat of his kisses, his mouth slanting against hers, and the brush of his knuckles along the swell of her breast was electrifying. There was no backing out now.

“How quickly you change your mind,” Sesshoumaru growled against her lips as he plucked pins from her hair. Inky curls tumbled through his fingers.

She blushed, angling for another kiss. “Lucky for you.”

His chuckle was dark — like the very aura that burned her senses. Overpowering. Demanding her submission.

Determined to do her own exploring, Kagome worked at the buttons of his shirt. Parting the fabric to peer hungrily at his bare torso, the rippling muscles flexing beneath. Broad shoulders tapered to a narrowed waist, reminding her more of a swimmer’s build. And as he paused for her inspection, she delighted in his soft groans with each kiss she pressed to his throat.

His hands drifted to her hips and he gently kneaded them as he allowed himself to drunkenly wallow in her scent. It tasted of her reiki and something sweet, and as he dipped one hand beneath her skirt, he pressed and stroked the spot that elicited a most needful gasp. The heady aroma stirred his blood and he slowly worked himself down her body, until she was partially seated on the desk with his face buried between her thighs.

“S-Sesshoumaru!”

She’d never felt like this.

Elastic snapped at her hip, and Kagome squeaked as something warm and slightly rough swept over her…

there.

He can’t be!

A soft cry puffed from her lips as her nails scraped through silken strands, the other clamping over her mouth to muffle the sound. Unsure if she was trying to push him away or pull him close, Kagome clung to him all the same.

Desperately, she shifted to invite more of that sweeping bliss.

She was so responsive, and he was happy to oblige. He who valued preparedness in all things - even here, parting wide his meal before an equally hungry gaze. And as any good attorney learned, his true skill was that of a golden tongue.

Gently spreading her open to lap up more of the spice that dampened his chin and burned a path down his throat, it tingled with power at every pass. And as he sucked at the tiny cluster of nerves at the top of her sex, he couldn't tear his eyes away. Careful of talons, and at the end of a generous long lick, he watched her unravel at his touch. He could taste it on his tongue — could hear it in her quickening heartbeat. He tugged her closer, spearing her with swift, hungry strokes.

Face burning with a smothered moan, Kagome bunched the fabric of her skirt to steal glances at the inuyoukai between her thighs.

Yellow snared. Don’t look away.

She didn't. She couldn't. Kagome was right there, teetering at the edge. Just a little more.

A rough suck was all it took to send her arching into his eager mouth.

And suddenly, he was gone, and she dizzily faced the door.

Firm fingers tangled in the long waves of hair at her nape, while the other urged her to rock her hips against his own. Kagome moaned at the empty squeeze of her sex, the thick evidence of his arousal nudging against her rear.

“Be calm, miko,” Sesshoumaru rumbled, easing the blazer from her shoulders. Ever mindful, he lifted her blouse and bra over her head. He wanted her bare.“We have time yet.”

“Not much,” she breathed.

She was on fire. Warmth seeped from every pore, and there was no stopping the constant tremble of her thighs. Flushed from head to toe, the throbbing heat only seemed to multiply. Every searing touch — the dangerous drag of his claws down her spine — elicited a barely muffled whimper. And with each pass, Kagome pressed ardently against the inuyoukai at her back.

He snarled, nipping at her ear. “Careful, girl.”

It was too much.

It wasn’t enough.

Leaning forward, she propped her forearms against the desktop, the cold surface grazing her bared nipples. A whine snuck past her lips, a sound just short of begging. He hadn’t hiked up her skirt yet, but she knew it was only a matter of time.

She should be ashamed, whimpering and grinding against him like a bitch in heat, but as he gathered her hair over one shoulder and set his fangs to the curve of the other, she couldn’t find it in herself to care. The weight of his chest against her bare back was delicious.

It felt right to have him there.

Pleased with her submission, Sesshoumaru gave her right hip a squeeze. “Does the good examiner find this one’s arguments more persuasive now?” Not bothering to wait for an answer, he rucked up her skirt to palm the soft flesh of her rear. Thumbs spreading her dewy flesh to peek at the treasure that lay ahead.

There was a finality in the sound of a belt buckle and zipper. Fabric rustled as it dropped to the ground, and the scorching heat of a blunt something pressed against her core. Kagome mewled as she lifted a little higher on her toes. Yes!

His wide palm covered her mouth even as he coated himself in her wetness. “Quiet now.”

She gasped at the initial intrusion, arching against him. She hadn't a chance to see his actual size, but she could guess based on the stretch and sting. She tensed as she struggled to accommodate him, mild discomfort as he eased inch by torturous inch. Even as wet droplets flecked her lashes, she ached for that raw heat he’d ignited deep within her belly. She couldn't help the tight squeeze of her sex, but stole a small delight in the daiyoukai's guttural groaning of her name.

A nip to his palm. Keep going.

“Patience,” Sesshoumaru rumbled, pulling back only to slide forward a little more, until finally settled firm and full within. "Relax." A jumbled mix of syllables - his name riding on a smothered moan - tumbled past her lips, and he rewarded her low tones with a kiss. Instinct roared with every passing flutter of her silken warmth.

To claim. To conquer.

Fangs set to her throat, threatening but never once breaking the skin. Kagome sobbed under his unrelenting grip, teeth snaring and leaving sharp impressions on his palm. And what started as a leisure rhythm of thrust and withdraw gradually increased, intensifying with each deepening plunge. Tingling. Scorching. It was an inescapable burning, and Kagome shuddered under the force of his youki. Her powers bucking against his, she cried out as they clashed like claws raking between her shoulders. Her eventual surrender, bowing beneath his might and fervent pace, wrangled from him a growl of approval.

Heat pooled in her belly and she groaned behind his hand at the mounting tempo. Fierce. Passionate. Like never before. She'd had her share of partners in the past, each skilled in their own way, but this was different. The way he wrapped himself around her, devouring the distance between their bodies despite their clothing, was almost possessive.

"Yes." He hissed, hardware gripping at the back of her neck. 

Slipping his fingers through sodden curls to tease at her clit, he lengthened his course. He couldn't help but marvel at the little human moaning needfully beneath him.

Higher and higher, power crackled between them. Her nails carved crescents into the hand smothering her moans, bringing it away to steal a high-pitched gasp. Urgency colored his thrusts, and she chased the growing ache until it finally snapped, ricocheting through her.

The daiyoukai snarled into her hair, the tension sliding down his spine. On spasming thrusts, he emptied everything into her, silken walls convulsing around him as he swelled in place.

“Now,” he said, catching his breath against a warm curve. “Where were we?”

***

She'd really done it this time.

Kagome couldn't say what occurred after the interview. The remainder of her time passed in a blur, caught somewhere between the door and the flashbacks behind her eyes. She tried not to recall those earlier events, even as she pressed chilled fingers to her warming cheeks. She could still feel it - phantom claws down her back, teeth nipping at her throat, or the rough press of his hips against her rear. Kagome clenched at the memory, the spare panties she kept in her gym bag were already a lost cause.

She really screwed the pooch on this one.

"No, please. No puns," Kagome groaned, dropping her head against the desk.

There was no good way to put this.

She'd fucked an applicant. No if, ands, or buts about it. Whatever line there was, she'd crossed it. And she couldn't help but be reminded of the awkward silence after he eventually withdrew, dressed, and cleansed his presence with a burst of youki. Or the discomfort of accompanying him to the lobby to see him out.

What now? Worry ate at her insides. Is he going to report me? I can't lose my job! Kagome, you idiot!

She didn't even want to wonder if her birth control was youkai-strength.

"Please, ground, just swallow me now," she muttered.

"What's got you in a funk?"

Peeking up, Kagome almost cried as Sango peering through the partially ajar door. Instead she slumped in her chair, hoping the cold surface would anchor her back to reality.

Kagome huffed. "Oh, the usual. Sometimes you just... screw up irreparably and see no way to fix it, you know?"

"Been there," Sango agreed, entering and closing the door behind her. "Was it the interview? Something you should have allowed?"

Biting her lip, Kagome shook her head. She was in deep, and the truth teetered on the tip of her tongue. Best friends since middle school, Sango was her closest friend and confidant. If there was anyone she could count on, it was Sango.

"C-Can you keep a secret?" Kagome started.

Sango nodded. "For you, of course. What's up?"

"I... may have done something I shouldn't have."

"Okay. Care to explain?"

Kagome paused. Shook her head. Nodded. She wasn't sure which, until she leaned to whisper into her friend's ear.

Sango's gasp was telling. "No way!?"

A nod.

"With Kobayashi?!"

Another nod.

"Wow." She was at a loss for words. Of all the people Sango knew in the office, Kagome was the last person she suspected to pull off a stunt like that. All throughout university, she always pegged Kagome as the polite, cheerful, outgoing one who happened to follow the rules a little too well. And while most of her understood her friend's nervousness, a little bit of her was proud. Still, she had to ask. "Well... was he any good?"

"Sango!" Kagome hissed, face burning red.

"What? It's a valid question," the brunette teased. "I saw him too. He was very attractive, but looks mean nothing if he doesn't know what he's doing. So was he any good?"

Kagome could swear she was as red a tomato, but that didn't stop her from grinning like a fool. "Y-Yeah, he was." But that was beside the point. "But I'm really worried!"

"Why? Pregnancy?"

"Wha-no! Work!"

Shrugging, Sango shook her head. "Nothing to do about it right now. Come on, let's go meet the guys. Get you drunk so you can stop fretting it."

She was right, though Kagome loathed to admit it. Aside from Sesshoumaru's work number, she had no way to contact him about it. And while she should have discussed it prior to him leaving, she hadn't a clue where to begin. A simple, "We had sex, now what?' should have sufficed, but she choked and missed her chance.

"Okay," Kagome sighed.

Making sure to grab her purse and badge, she met Sango in the elevator bay. Swapping tales of phone calls and meetings, they eventually reached the misted streets of Alexandria. It was no longer drizzling, but gray clouds overhead still threatened rain.

"Inuyasha and Miroku went on ahead," said Sango, leading the way. "To Trademark."

"Sounds good to me," Kagome replied. "I'm starved."

"I bet."

She groaned. Self-induced puns were one thing. Now that her best friend knew of her sordid adventure, there'd be no escape. "Just please - please - don't tell Miroku."

"Absolutely not! I'm not cruel!"

It was pointless to try to reign her friend in, but at least the man with the most active imagination wouldn't find out. That was the last thing she needed. And as the pair entered bar, Happy Hour was in full swing. A few faces she recognized from the Patent and Trademark Association, sparing greetings, before making their way to the rest of their group.

From a defensible corner, Inuyasha and Miroku waved. Already working through a plate of loaded fries, the guys flagged down a server to order drinks.

"Took you two long enough to get here," Inuyasha groused. "Starting to think you actually like work."

"Hello to you too, Inuyasha," Kagome snipped, smirking.

The four attended university together, grumbling about GenEd classes and campus drama, despite having different majors. And somehow, they'd all landed jobs at the Patent Office, albeit in different departments. Sango's knack for biology immediately put her in the BioChem unit, while Kagome's artistry placed her in Design. Miroku worked in Petitions, fielding calls from pro se inventors and disgruntled attorneys. And Inuyasha, despite his gruff tongue, worked with the Federal Circuit court, bringing cases before the Board for review.

It was all quite amusing to Kagome, and for awhile she was able to take her mind off the day's events. Sipping her cider, she casually scoped out the wash of people crowding the bar, one ear still tuned to the conversation.



"-bastard of a brother's in town. He's supposed to meet me here once he's done."

Kagome grimaced. "Inuyasha, please."

"What? He is a bastard!"

Miroku chuckled. "You know, we've been friends all these years, and I still forget you have a brother."

Inuyasha sneered, glowering into his beer. "Because he's a bastard."

"Yeah, but what's his name?"

He shrugged. "Bastard Kobayashi?"

Kagome choked.

Knowingly, Sango snatched napkins before Kagome could spill.

It was too late. The cider burned the back of her nose as she forced it down, pounding on her chest to beat back the pain. It could be a coincidence. Kobayashi was one of the most common last names in Japan. Perhaps his was written with different kanji. Even so, she couldn't quiet the voice that hinted at the intersection of canine daiyoukai with the surname. She coughed. "K-Kobayashi? Not Takahashi like you?"

Inuyasha shook his head, looking skeptical. "Nah, he took his mom's last name. Don't blame him, but he's still a bastard."

"You should not be calling anyone a bastard, Inuyasha."

The cool tone and frigid aura couldn't be mistaken. And as the table turned - as Kagome turned - golden eyes drifted across the gathered party before finally staring down the half-demon.

"Yeah, whatever," Inuyasha grumbled, setting down his beer. He gestured with a half-hearted wave. "Kagome, Sango, Miroku, this is Sesshoumaru. Sesshoumaru, meet Kagome, Sango, Miroku."

The daiyoukai's nod was subtle. "Pleasure."

It wasn't coincidental.

Kagome shivered. She had to run, flee, anything to get her out of this situation. It was getting more complicated by the second, and that quote about mixing business with pleasure was starting to come back to haunt her. His stare didn't linger, but she could still feel it prickling over her skin. She hadn't expected to see him again - or so soon. And while it was never smart to run from a predator, Kagome couldn't stop herself from excusing herself to the bar.

"She okay?" Inuyasha inquired, darting a look at Sango. He leaned in his seat, trying to keep the smallest member of their group in sight. "She's acting weird today."

Sango shrugged. "Haven't a clue. Seems normal to me."

"Could be a guy," Miroku supplied.

Inuyasha scowled. "Better not be! I'll-"

"Why not?" Sango interrupted, frowning. "You're not dating her. She's free to see who she wants."

"That's not the point," the half-demon pouted, ears lying flat. But the look in her eyes had him snapping his fangs shut before another complaint could come. Instead, he focused on the daiyoukai lingering quietly to his left. "Anyway, Sesshoumaru, what'd you want?"

Sometime throughout the conversation, Sesshoumaru's focus drifted to the woman standing at the bar. When he had agreed to meet with his half-wit brother, he thought it would just be the two of them. Not with him and his collection of human followers. And certainly not the little miko he'd sampled earlier. He hadn't expected to see her again. At the initial introduction, it'd taken a considerable amount to hide his surprise from her wide stare. And even more so to keep his youki from unconsciously reaching out to her.

A hand waved in front of his face.

"Yo! Earth to Sesshoumaru!" Inuyasha called, frowning. "You in there?"

The daiyoukai glared. "Hn."

At the bar, Kagome hid amongst the throng. Eventually flagging one of the bartenders, she placed her order: a Jack and Coke. "Heavy on the Jack."

Her stomach was in shambles. Her face itched just thinking about the daiyoukai waiting for her back at the table, and was sorely tempted to flee through the connecting hotel lobby. She felt measured and found to be sorely lacking. He hadn't said anything to her. But maybe that's a good thing. All her secrets didn't need to be aired to the table. And while part of her didn't regret what happened, it was increasingly difficult to ignore the part that did.

Tapping her nails against her glass, Kagome glared into its murky depths. What a mess...

Then, first, it came in a wave of heat. Skittering up her spine like claws, Kagome bristled at the distinctly familiar youki. It tugged at her reiki, teasing little brushes against her radiance in coaxing tendrils as she felt him approach.

Until he stood at her side, his warm palm on the small of her back.

"Moscow mule."

His voice was still as smooth as she remembered. Dark, sensual, and dipped in honey. Heart hammering behind her ribs, Kagome gnawed at her lip, worrying the poor flesh until a claw tip freed it from her teeth.

Yellow stared as he soothed the abused skin. "Now, now. There's no need for that."

"K-Kobayashi, I-"

"I believe we are beyond surnames at this point," Sesshoumaru began, the slight lift of his lips quirking into a hint of a smirk. "Wouldn't you agree, Kagome?"

She stammered. Deny as she'd like, he had a point. And as she stared into cat-slit eyes, she couldn't ignore the pull. Whether it was curiosity or the spark of something more, Kagome couldn't turn away.

"I suppose so," she replied. Looking for something - anything - to keep the silence at bay, she latched onto her first thought. "I-I didn't know you were Inuyasha's brother."

"Half-brother," he immediately corrected.

"Still brothers all the same."

He conceded. "I did not know you were his friend."

She nodded. "We met in university and have been friends ever since."

Conversation faded as they sipped their drinks quietly. Every now and then, Kagome caught him stealing glances. Though, she doubted he was trying to be sneaky about it. He was a daiyoukai; he could move about and she'd hardly sense him, if that was what he wanted.

Casting a look back at their party, Inuyasha looked ready to leap from his seat, but it was Miroku's firm grip keeping him in place. From under the table, Sango gave her a covert thumbs up.

Shoulders squared, Kagome took a steadying breath. "About today..."

"I'm sure you have questions."

"Yes."

Sesshoumaru nodded, setting down his copper mule. Gold lingered, taking note of the dark curls that draped over her shoulders. "Today was... an exception."

"An exception?" Confused.

"Yes. Something I do not do often."

Tightness squeezed in her chest. So it was a one-time thing. Kagome wasn't sure why she felt disappointed, but thought it best not to let it get to her. She only just met him today, subsisting off of rumors and stories, and now to find out he was her friend's older brother just complicated the ordeal even more.

Sensing her unease, Sesshoumaru quietly observed. It was difficult to pick up her scent in this crowded establishment, but he could distinctly recollect its flavor. A decadent mix of freshness and vitality of life - or the clarity of her powers - that tugged at him like nothing before. It was partly what led to their little misadventure. The urge to take and taste had been impossible to ignore.

Especially when she was panting under his attentions.

Which brought him to now, stumbling between his wants and obligations. Times had changed, and while he wasn't beholden to any particular rule, even he was inclined to rebel now and then.

Clearing his throat, he continued. "However."

Blue eyes peered up, intrigued. "Yes?" Hopeful.

Sesshoumaru reached, almost hesitant, for the curls he'd loosened earlier. Twining it about his fingers as he pressed close, he drank deep the scent that rose from her skin. "I find myself ensnared. It is odd. I have not been tempted this way before."

Kagome blushed, a familiar warmth washing under her skin. Swallowing thickly, her lips tingled into a grin. "You know, this doesn't change my stance on your application."

He huffed, shrugging. "Honestly, I'm in agreement with you. They pay me to fight for their cases. I'm just doing my job."

Barely stifling a laugh, she shook her head. Blue locked with gold, bright and eager. "So... how long will you be in town?"

"How long would you like?"

***

End Note: Whew! 6,594 words! It's finally done! I've been working on this for awhile! Un-beta'd because I just needed to get this out. This was my first attempt at writing an adult scene, so please treat me kindly. lol It took several shots of rum before I got it to some semblance of smooth reading. Also, I just love office romance settings. They are my bread and butter. Enjoy!



 

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