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Vice by susie

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Not made lightly; the decision as to where was instantaneous. The route, reflexive.

Operating independent of rational thought; instinct is a survival mechanism. It can outrun your better judgement, maintaining just enough of an edge on apprehension to keep you breathing, first and foremost.

But as she stood in the lonely hallway at 2 AM with a hastily packed bookbag dangling off her rain-soaked shoulders; the roaring in Kagome's ears began to taper, allowing hard, sobering reality to worm its way through and plant the seeds of doubt she couldn't afford to sow any sooner.

Drained of all fight; she stood at the tail end of her flight, overwrought and underdressed and clashing aggressively with the elegant hallway's otherwise tranquil ambiance. Flooding it with the chaos she brought with her, not to mention the storm she'd collected in her clothing that was quickly becoming a modest puddle at her feet.

She'd put all her energy into getting there; and now that she was, logic and reason – unbidden and unwelcome - were attempting to creep out from the cracks of survival mode and demand she consider her next recourse.

But that would lead to analyzation, which led to some very hard decisions.

She was just too tired right now. All she needed to do was get herself to safety, and that meant getting out of this posh hallway. Everything else could wait.

Adjusting the half-filled pack more comfortably, she mulled knocking again. She'd yet to detect any movement from inside, but it was late.

'Too late,' she considered. 'Maybe I should have called.'

Or at least shot a warning text. But had she a moment to spare for base courtesies, she could not risk rejection. She knew that she was far better in person, and much harder to refuse.

The handle's rattling remedied her posture before brazillian rosewood cracked and parted, revealing an intelligent gaze - brilliant - but at the same time dull, somehow, and brassy.

The guy had range, she'd give him that - a devastating catalogue written in an alien tongue - the extent of which made him incredibly dangerous to trifle with. Even after all these years, she could only decipher what he wished her to; and right now, he appeared something downward of annoyed.

She yanked on her straps a little as his cursory assessment endured, but her bottom lip bore the brunt of her anxiety. It took work not to squirm as she consciously resisted the impulse, until he finally opened the door just barely wide enough for her to squeeze through.

She would have too; but his daunting stature was sturdy, and he made a fine barricade as he leaned his shoulder against the door jam.

"A bit late for dropping in," Sesshoumaru drawled.

Prideful, powerful arms folded tauntingly - less the sadistic air she normally associated with that pose. She never thought she'd miss it.

A white undershirt much too crisp for the hour clung to his finely formed musculature, and she worried she'd woken him. His always-perfect hair would give her no clues, but a glance down at his dark slacks told her he was still in work mode. It was anybody's guess, but she knew that to be a good one.

She muttered a guilty apology - and meant it - before prying.

"Am I interrupting?" she asked hopefully.

It was presumptuous of her, she knew. Not to mention rude. But even if she didn't like her odds, her lack of options made the gamble an easy one to take.

He leveled an admonishing glare that made her feel about six.

"You could have called to find that out."

She had nothing to say to that as his intrusive gaze roved over her again, just in case he missed something – unlikely as that was.

Not that there was much to see; so when his displeasure became more pronounced in his lips and brow, she attributed it to either her drowned-rat status, or the havoc it was wreaking upon the expensive hardwood floor. She was mildly surprised the doorman let her through this time.

"Do I need to ask?"

It was hard to tell if his arched brow was meant to look more condemning or put-upon, or even either.

She huffed, more out of exhaustion than frustration, and deflated defeatedly. Hopeless and helpless, she knew she looked pathetic; she just prayed she looked sympathetic enough for him to move aside already so she could get out of this pretentious hallway. She was already tired of this dance.

She knew why he was doing it, though; what he was always trying to ingrain. Choices had consequences, and suffering them guided behavior - one would hope for the better. Cruel to be kind was his mantra as of late, and the man practiced as he preached.

Still, for a man as cruel as he was, he was surprisingly sparing with the 'I told you so's.' No matter how many times the puppy piddled on his shoes, he was remarkably merciful with the rolled newspaper.

Then again, here she was, lifting her leg once more to prove his point for him.

Though his patience was more threadbare than before... or maybe it had just been a while. Either way, she was right there with him, and so very tired.

"Look, I wouldn't be here if I wasn't desperate." Weathered blue eyes surrendered, stripped of anything else for him to sort through and hopefully saving them some time. It took him less than a second.

"How long?"

"A few days," she said, restlessly shifting her weight to evade cramping. "But I'll settle for just tonight. I can figure something else out."

There was as much challenge in her unwavering stare as plea, and both were aware she'd just called his bluff with one of her own. It was on him to call right back – another bet she was more than comfortable making.

His expression was inscrutable, but she could sense his irritation… and there was no denying her culpability. Despite her energy reserves being critically low – and despite having no shortage of her own irritations to manage at the moment - she tapped her nearly depleted well to feel awful for that.

It was quickly discarded, however - forced away for a more convenient time - when a subtle push threw his door gently aside in wordless welcome. He still hadn't moved from his comfortable post against the door frame; simply waited there, resigned and expectant. Patiently impatient.

A wave of desperately needed relief crashed over her body, flooding her system in an instant like morphine through her bloodstream.

The pain was gone, if only for a moment, but it was enough to offer him a smile.

To be continued...

***

A/A (Author's Announcements):

I vowed to only do oneshots for a while, and this was going to be another of them – but I feel like writing in shorter bursts rn, and god knows I need to practice stifling myself lol, so here we are.

As far as Rendezvous, rest assured it has been on my mind, and I will get to updating it once I clear out a little more clutter. Starting this story should help with that, so just know that I do have it in my sights, and thank you to those who have expressed interest in the new chapters – follow me or the story to get an alert as soon as its updated! (and feel free to nudge me with reviews, it really does help keep me working on it lol)

And lastly, I have a new account on ff dot net, where I am posting my stories translated into spanish! So if you prefer or enjoy reading in spanish, I will have chapter 3 of Only Human (Solo Humano) out this saturday. With the help of RakelLuvre, my lovely translator, new chapters will continue to be posted on saturdays. If this is something people are into, I can open a spanish account on A03 and post them there as well, but for now I'm on FF under the name maldita susie. Let me know what you think!

 

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