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The Red String by ruuruu-chan

The Red String Chapter 1

The Red String

By: Ruuruu-chan

Disclaimers: I do not own InuYasha or any of the characters associated with it. I'm only borrowing the characters to amuse myself and hopefully others. ^__^

           

Ch. 1: The Business of Working

Predestined relationships are woven with the red sting of fate, which is tied to the pinky fingers by the gods so that the two souls can find each other in life. When these twin souls connect the thin vein running from the heart to the pinky finger extends through the invisible world, eventually ending its course in someone else’s heart. Legend has it that the two people who are connected by this thread will have an important story, regardless of time, place or circumstances. The red string might get tangled, stretched or contracted, as surely often happens, but it can never break.

Worldly eyes will never know the glow of the red string, nor will they have the knowledge of where it might lead them. Unbeknownst to the miko, her destiny was about to unfold in a beautiful way…

Kagome had the receiver pressed to her ear, turning about to reach a document on the other side of her desk. As she did so the cord wrapped itself around her trim waist, binding her within the cubicle.  Within in moments she quickly switched to her computer, her fingers ticking meticulously across the keyboard while balancing the phone between her shoulder and cheek. “We’ve been working on this project for over a week and you’re telling me that you can’t reach the deadline? We can’t make any compromises on this,” Kagome paused, waiting for her colleague to reply. Her eyebrows knitted together in frustration. Clearly the answer she received was not the one she wanted to hear, “Send me the paperwork through my email and I’ll finish it on my own. Yes I’m sure because this can’t be delayed.” Kagome nodded, “Yes, that’s the correct e-mail…”

Kagome didn’t waste any time to say goodbye as she hung up the ridiculously outdated office phone. She untangled herself from the cord and exhaled deeply. She straightened out her skirt and briskly sat down, tapping her well manicured fingernail, waiting for the email to arrive. Time felt like it was stretching out into eternity until she heard a ting coming from her computer. Without skipping a beat she opened her inbox and began to download the PDF so that she could complete the unfinished report.

The report she was working on was in regard to the completion of a contract that would combine a smaller company under the umbrella of Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (SMFG), a conglomerate company that held one of the largest financial institutions in the world, with assets that reached over $1.84 trillion. With well over 70,000 employees, Kagome and her team were specifically chosen to handle this particular client. The area that the smaller business hailed from was prime real estate and would be beneficial to SMFG.

SMFG is a form of conglomerate that is called keiretsu, where companies own small shares in one another and are centered on a core bank. This business structure is in some ways a defensive one, protecting companies from wild rises and falls in the stock market and hostile takeovers. This allowed for fair opportunity within the company to rise within the ranks and invest in stocks and bonds. Kagome had purchased numerous stocks, putting all her hopes and dreams within the company. Her desire was to someday become her own director of a division within SMFG.

Kagome couldn’t accept failure and she was very disappointed on how her team handled this opportunity. She had to pick up the slack and was spending long hours in the office and this was one of many reasons on why she was given multiple promotions. All she cared about was being noticed for her commitment to the company and accelerating her career further. One final stroke of the keyboard found the document completed. With a satisfied smile Kagome printed out the report and placed it in a manila envelope. The end product would be inspected by the President before being presented to a board. As she was setting her hard work in the delivery trolley, she felt a light tap on her shoulder.

When she turned around she was face to face with her mother. “Hey mom, what brings you up here?” Kagome questioned, genuinely confused on why her mother would come up to the 10th floor.

As always, with affection, Mrs. Higurashi smiled at her daughter, “I came to get you for lunch, or are you not done with your client yet?”

Kagome’s mother usually worked on the 3rd floor and their routine consisted of meeting in the lobby to go grab lunch together. Kagome checked her watch and realized that it was already well past noon time. “I made sure to wait a little longer because I remember you telling me about the deadline being today. If you’re still too busy then I understand dear. I can always bring you something back?” Kagome’s mother asked, never skipping a beat.

Kagome shook her head, “No mom, I’m done. I’m sorry you had to wait on me. You know you don’t have to do that.”

Mrs. Higurashi shrugged her shoulders, “The more time I get to spend with my daughter, the better.”

Kagome couldn’t help but chuckle as she grabbed her purse and jacket, “You’re always the same. Alright let’s go. The sooner we leave the sooner we can get back.”

As they got in the elevator Mrs. Higurashi sighed, “You know you don’t have to work so hard. You’ve been with the company for barely a year and have been promoted a few times, so I don’t understand the need for working such long hours. I’m worried that you’ll burn yourself out.”

Kagome selected the ground floor button and groaned, hearing the same speech over and over again, “Mom, every time you bring this up I tell you the same answer. I won’t get burned out. I did the same thing in college and it didn’t affect me, so this won’t either. When I reach my goals then I’ll slow down, but until then I have to do this.” Ever since she permanently came back from the Feudal Era, her mother has acquired the irksome habit of fretting over the smallest of things. She never used to be like that.

“Honey, I know you want to reach your goals, but what I don’t understand is the need to wear yourself out over work. There is so much more to life than this job,” Mrs. Higurashi explained, already an employee at the company for over a decade.

Kagome looked away, already knowing the answer on why she pushed herself so much. She made sure she was so busy that she didn’t have time to think about the hurt and resentment that was still inside her. It was her choice to leave InuYasha behind because she realized that the only one that would have to sacrifice anything was her. If she stayed in the Feudal Era she would never have the chance to see or speak to her family again and that pained her to think about it. On the other hand, if InuYasha left the Feudal Era then he would leave nothing behind. Neither of them was willing to give up their world and it ended in them going their separate ways.

Kagome shuddered as her emotions flicked through her like a flame. She exhaled, trying very hard to keep herself together, “Mom, can we please just stop talking about it?”

Mrs. Higurashi reluctantly nodded, “Okay dear. What do you want to eat?” Mrs. Higurashi didn’t want to keep pushing her daughter because she felt if she did that then their relationship could become strained. This didn’t keep herself from worrying about Kagome and how she was conducting her life. If her daughter was not at the office then she would remain home as a recluse, only going out when necessary. Mrs. Higurashi knew this type of behavior wasn’t healthy.

Once they decided on their destination they headed out to a nearby restaurant and had a small meal together. Kagome kept the conversation neutral to try and avoid any issues that could arise between herself and her mother. When they returned to the company they went their separate ways. At the end of the work day they would reconvene and walk together to catch the train home, unless Kagome had another long night at the office.

~

As the sun was setting Mitsuri Tōga was focusing her golden-brown eyes on finalizing the reports that were strewn about her desk. She picked one up to read it to find that it was scrupulously accurate. “Who wrote this?” she inquired to no one in particular. She scanned to the bottom of the report and peered at the name ‘Kagome Higurashi’. Mitsuri looked at her secretary, Mr. Chen and said, “Kagome Higurashi sounds very familiar. Remind me who she is again.”

“Ms. Higurashi has been with the company for a little under a year. During this time she has obtained numerous promotions, becoming a team leader for her division. She is well known for being a dedicated, hard-worker with a drive that could possibly match your own. Her work has always been impeccable and her name more than likely sounds familiar because of the multiple documents she has sent to your very desk,” Mr. Chen explained while showing his superior the stats from a company tablet.

Mitsuri shoved the device away from her face and back into the hands of her secretary, “Ah, I remember her now. I saw her a few times in the building. I believe her mother works here as well. From what I can gather, they are both loyal employees.” As a thought struck her a smirk slowly spread across her face, “Mr. Chen, get me as much information as you can in regard to the Higurashi family.”

Mr. Chen was perplexed by the sudden interest in a no name employee that was only one of thousands. Mitsuri twirled her black hair around her finger, waiting for the anticipated response from her secretary. Mr. Chen bowed and did as he was directed, “I will have everything ready for you by tomorrow morning Mrs. Tōga.”

“Good boy,” she quipped as she set to finishing her own work for the day. She couldn’t help but smile because she felt she may have found the perfect candidate.

~

Kagome came rushing through the lobby with a to-go cup of coffee in her hand. “Hold the door!” Kagome called out as she saw the elevator doors closing. By the time she reached the elevator it was already too late. She hopped from one foot to another, worried about being late for work. Kagome berated herself for going to the coffee shop because she knew that was the reason for her tardiness. She couldn’t allow herself to be late because that would ruin her perfect record and it could possibly cost her that promotion she was eyeballing. With a newfound determination she headed to the stairs and in the process she was taking off her high heels so that she could bound up two steps at a time.

As she juggled her coffee, shoes, purse and files in her hands, she astonishingly made it to the 10th floor and to her desk to clock in at the final moment. Relieved that she was able to make it she plopped down in her seat and fanned her face with a folder. Once she was able to catch her breath she was ready for another day. As she began to organize herself she accidently hit her coffee with her elbow, causing it to spill all over her desk and onto her lap. She instinctively pushed her office chair back to stand up and get the liquid off her skin. She was thankful that the coffee was already cooled down or she would be suffering burns instead of just a sticky skirt.

She took out some napkins that she stashed in her desk and began dabbing at the stain that developed on the material. Kagome grumbled to herself, “God I hope I can get this coffee washed out. This is one of my favorite skirts.” 

After she cleaned off her workspace and the crisis averted, she was able to focus her attention on her morning tasks, although, she was looking forward to enjoying her coffee. As the day progress it seemed that one incident after another plagued Kagome. Bad luck followed her as she was trying to make copies and the printer jammed. In the process of fixing the piece of junk, ink got all over her blouse, blemishing the white satin. She was walking back to her desk with a stack of papers in hand when she tripped over a pencil. When she tried to catch herself not only did papers fly everywhere but she heard the heel of her shoe snap. Kagome had no choice but to snap the heel on her other shoe so that she could walk without going around barefoot. After all these incidents she was behind on work and was unable to meet her mother for lunch. Her day was not going as planned.

“What in the Hell is this, Murphy’s Law?” Kagome whispered to herself as she tried to calm down. “This day couldn’t possibly get any worse,” she bemoaned, praying for the best, but preparing for the worst.

~

Mrs. Higurashi wrung her hands together as she was called to the president’s office. She was sitting in the overly comfortable chair, waiting for the woman of the hour to arrive. It was nearing the end of the work day and she beseeched the gods that this wasn’t a premonition of getting fired. She racked her brain to try and figure out if she somehow offended her boss, but nothing came to mind.

Mr. Chen noticed the older woman quaking with apprehension, “Do you want something to drink Mrs. Higurashi?”

The woman jolted in her seat, startled by the sudden noise in such a quiet room. She waved her hand back and forth and replied, “N-No, that won’t be necessary. Thank you though.” She tried to smile, but it was impossible at the moment.

The door to the office swung open and President Mitsuri Tōga strode in conveying a sense of confidence that washed over her in waves. Instinctively, Mrs. Higurashi stood up and bowed to her employer, “Good evening president.”

Mitsuri smirked at the impeccable manners the woman displayed. “Please sit down Mrs. Higurashi,” she motioned, noting the worried look on her guests face. “Allow me to relieve any stress you might be feeling at this moment. This meeting has nothing to do with your position in this company, but rather to discuss a proposal that would mutually benefit each of us.”

Mrs. Higurashi cocked an eyebrow, unsure of what Mrs. Tōga was implying, “I’m sorry, but I don’t understand what benefit I could provide for you president.”

Mitsuri chuckled at the innocence the woman portrayed, “Allow me to elaborate. I would like your daughter, Kagome, to go to an arranged marriage meeting with my son.”

“Your son is the director of the company and has much to offer, but my daughter comes from a very humble home with no money to speak of. What could she possibly offer your son? Wouldn’t it be better to seek an alliance with another wealthy family?” Mrs. Higurashi questioned.

“I’ve made countless arranged marriage meetings for my son and he’s rejected all of them for one reason or another. Wealth is apparently not a priority for him, but I will see him married to a woman who at least has prestige. Your daughter is a miko at the Higurashi Shinto Shrine, correct?” Mitsuri probed, already knowing the answer.

Mrs. Higurashi nodded, “Yes, she is… but how do you know?”

Mitsuri snapped her fingers and her secretary automatically provided a folder. She laid it on her desk and opened up the first page, having already read it in its entirety. “I have my ways of getting information,” she mentioned, motioning to Mr. Chen. “Kagome will offer status and a long lineage of priests and mikos who have not only built the Higurashi Shinto Shrine, but have also taken care of it since its inception, approximately five-hundred years ago.”

Mrs. Higurashi was about to say something, but Mitsuri cut her off, “Your family may not be rich in worldly goods, but they are rich in a prestigious background. This will be sufficient enough for me to accept your daughter into my family.”

Mrs. Higurashi felt that she was trapped between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, she thought that if she turned down the president then she and Kagome could be in jeopardy of losing their jobs. On the other hand, she knew that her daughter had no interest in marriage, but this was an opportunity that shouldn’t be dismissed easily. With her mind made up she bobbed her head in understanding, “When did you want this meeting to take place?”

Mitsuri’s eyes twinkled, “As soon as possible.”

 

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