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L'esprit De L'escalier by Midnight Song

Chapter 1

Slam. Slam. Slam. Slam. SLAM!

His jaw clenched and Sesshoumaru closed his eyes with each harsh sound from the other room. Not for the first time, he wondered why he had agreed to keep her on. Her blasted temper threated to make him deaf. At the same time, she was the most efficient office manager he had ever had, even if she was only temporary for the season. He had toyed with the idea of hiring her to remain full time but his regular manager had already called to let him know she would be back shortly after the New Year and he was nothing if not loyal to those who were loyal to him.

His regular assistant had been with the family for two generations, passed down from his grandfather and father. She was ancient of course and the young businessman didn’t doubt she only had a few more good years of work left in her. Numerous times he had offered her the opportunity to retire and every time he’d gotten her patented ‘go eat dirt and die’ look; the same look his father had complained about getting nightmares from.

Sighing, he dropped his eyes again to the papers before him, determined to tune her out. The sooner he could finish the reports, the sooner he could get her out of the office and out of his hair. Blasted female…

o.O.o

Maybe it was childish. Perhaps it was infantile. It was most certainly immature. But it sure as hell felt good. He probably couldn’t hear it that well in his fancy little…well…big office, but it gave her a certain amount of derisive pleasure to slam the stapler into each and every file. The sound echoed around her small office and admittedly, the ball of her hand was starting to sting a little. But Kagome could not bring herself to feel care.

He had actually yelled at her. For one tiny mistake that hadn’t even been entirely her fault. Now he was making her stay even later than normal, normal being seven o’clock in the evening, to fix said mistake. So here she sat, at ten minutes to eleven o’clock and only a quarter of the way done re-stapling all of his precious files for his precious reception in two days’ time.

Gritting her teeth to keep any foul language to herself, determined not to give him that satisfaction, Kagome slammed the stapler closed again and cried out when the small tool went flying. She tried to catch it and ended up slicing her hand open as the thing clattered to the floor and proceeded to break into a few pieces.

Ignoring the broken tool, she looked down at her hand and bit her lip. It took real effort to hold back the tears, more from frustration than actual pain. It wasn’t a large cut by any means but she could tell it was a little deep. Not enough to need stitches or anything, but enough to be a pain. Sighing, she slipped from the chair and paused only long enough to crouch and pick up the pieces of the broken stapler.

He had heard the surprised cry and the sound of the tool breaking on the tile floors and forced himself not to curse; she certainly wasn’t worth it. Standing sharply, he went to the doorway of the office and studied her as she sat staring down at the floor, her back to him. Her shoulders were slumped and in the huge chair his manager typically filled, she seemed suddenly small and fragile. He felt the smallest bit of guilt then for yelling at her earlier in the evening and sighed, forcing himself to try and relax. When she moved from the chair to kneel, he spoke. “Higurashi---

Startled, she lost her balance and threw out her hands to catch herself, wincing as her palm hit the tile. Grimacing, she remained that way, glaring at the floor. “What do you want?” she demanded, voice somehow heated and cold at the same time.

Narrowing his eyes, all thought of attempting to apologize left his mind at the terse words. “The stapler will be docked from your pay,” he said, his words filed with just as much ice as hers had been.

“Great,” she muttered, not bothering to look up at him as she gathered up the pieces with one hand, using the other to keep her balance; admittedly, the cold tiles felt a little good against the heat of her cut skin. “They ought to dock your pay for the stick up your….never mind. You aren’t worth it.”

He glared at her, a look that had been known to turn lesser men to putty. Disregarding her insult, for it was not the first she had thrown at him over the past three weeks, all he said was, “You will need to get another one. They are downstairs in the office supply room.”

Finally, she looked up at him and returned his glare head on. “I know where it is, thanks. Mind your own business and let me get back to mine.” Not bothering to wait for a response, she threw away the useless stapler and pushed herself up, striding past him in three short steps, her hand fisted at her side.

The sight of the red handprint on the tile confused him for only a moment, before he realized it was blood and it belonged to the particular woman who was stomping away from him. He wasn’t at all surprised she had managed such a feat; it wasn’t the first time she had hurt herself in his office and he knew it probably wouldn’t be the last.

It took only three short strides of his own to catch up with her; he was much taller after all, his legs longer. Surprised by the amount of gentleness he used, he grabbed her arm and swung her around to face him. “Show me your hand, Higurashi.”

Kagome scowled and kept her hand closed and at her side. She had enough pride, enough dignity, to not ask for his help. It was his fault she was hurt, after all. “I’m fine!” she snapped. “Let go of me.”

The amount of time it took him to make up his mind about how to handle the situation was less than the amount of time it took the body to act on a decision the brain had made, once it was made. He moved his hand down her arm, still gentle and with little trouble held her still enough to pry open surprisingly strong fingers to get a look at the cut. Again he felt that niggling bug of guilt as he studied the small injury. “You will clean this first, before you continue. This one does not want your blood on my work.”

She stopped pulling against his hand only because his words shocked her so. Her mind literally went blank as she processed that, the simple, complete arrogance of those words, of his attitude. Blue eyes usually light went even darker with anger and she finally managed to snatch her hand free. “Of all the pompous, self-righteous, sanctimonious bull---  He was walking away, not even listening!

She couldn’t do anything but stand there, gaping after him, her hand mostly forgotten as she wondered at the sheer level of disdain he had for anything less than him. Even as she watched his door close, the rebukes came to her, well worded, perfectly phrased and filled with just the right amount of venom. She was tempted to stomp in there after him and give him hell but Kagome knew she had missed her chance.

Sighing, she turned on her heel and headed for the bathroom.

Chap. Fin.

o.O.o

A/N - I know I shouldn't have, I just couldn't resist. I've been wanting to do this one for such a long time! Anywho, this is only meant to be a handful of chapters and that works perfectly too for the holidays. So this will also be my first holiday fic. ^_^ As always, read and review lovelies! 

 

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