Perception by thetroll

Chapter 1

Kagome Higurashi, a humble office worker who had thus far lived an unremarkable life, had seen many unusual things in her thirty years.

But never, even in her wildest dreams, had she expected to see this.

Her boss, Ito Sesshomaru, stood before her, exiting a known queer bar with his brother, Ito InuYasha, and three others. Two of them, she was familiar with. Sasaki Ayame was one of the senior managers at their company, along with InuYasha himself. Though the company was relatively small, less than a thousand employees, it had one of the most talented board of senior managers in its industry. InuYasha was the manager of the research and development department while Ayame managed the secretarial and accounting departments.

Takao Koga, on the other hand, was Ayame's secretary and rumored to be in a relationship with his boss. 

It was hard not to recognize each of the four. All of them were extremely attractive and were highly regarded as company 'catches' for any singles. Ayame's red hair and classical style never failed to impress, though today she wore a tight green tube dress clearly meant for clubbing. Sesshomaru, on the other hand, generally flaunted tradition and wore a chic, polished look to work, coupled with long hair pulled into a ponytail and several earrings in his ears. He looked nothing like your typical CEO. And yet tonight, he wore a simple black turtleneck, long coat, and slacks that helped soften his appearance.

InuYasha, meanwhile, was rumored to have a couple of tattoos hidden beneath his usual business attire and he often drove a motorcycle to work. Tonight, however, he wore a cutoff shirt and baggy pants and she was pretty sure she did see evidence of a tattoo of a dog on his left bicep. She was equally surprised by Koga, who dressed every bit the secretary at the office, but now he wore leathers and spiked boots. Both Koga and InuYasha kept their hair to their shoulders but tonight, Koga's was in a high ponytail while InuYasha's had been slicked back in a spiky sort of rock band style.

The other man, however, she didn't recognize, though he was dressed in a see-through shirt and skinny jeans. She didn't think he was from their company, but she couldn't be entirely sure. Kagome herself worked in Human Resources, but she focused on the legality and regulation side and didn't interact as much with others in the company.

She panicked and hid behind a light pole before she could think better of it. She was exhausted from her work day and then a late dinner with her longtime married friends, Sango and Miroku, and didn't want to risk being recognized and dragged into a long conversation with her boss and his senior staff.

"Keh, I ain't washted," InuYasha slurred, stumbling as both Ayame and Koga struggled to keep him upright. "I can dzrink more."

"You're an idiot." Ayame sounded annoyed as they made their way to a car parked on the side of the street. "I forbid you to ever drink this much again, InuYasha."

"I ony half a few," InuYasha immediately protested loudly. "Aww, dzont be mad, Azaaami."

"He's going to be useless tomorrow," Ayame said, shaking her head. "Get the door, Koga."

Koga opened the back door of the car and Ayame pushed InuYasha inside, the man still protesting he was sober and could drink more, before she slid in next to him. Koga followed, closing the door behind him.

Her boss and the unknown man were the only two left on the street at this hour—besides Kagome herself.

"Saito-san, please make your way home safely," her boss said with a slight bow.

The other man sighed. "I didn't think I'd be going home alone," he complained, pressing a hand to her boss's chest. "Are you sure you don't want to come home with me, Sesshomaru-kun? I've missed you." He licked his lips as his gaze dropped to Sesshomaru's pants.

Saito's intent was unmistakable.

Kagome's mouth dropped open. Ito Sesshomaru is gay?

She watched her boss gently remove Saito's hands as the other man sulked. "I need to take them home," he said, sounding regretful, though she didn't think his expression matched his tone. He looked as though he had no intentions of ever taking Saito up on his offer.

"Fine," Saito huffed. "My boyfriend will be disappointed too, you know."

Her boss looked amused. "I am not interested in threesomes, Saito-san."

Saito waved a hand. "You would have, once."

Ito merely raised a brow.

"Fine, fine, I'm going." Saito waved a hand to say goodbye. "It was nice seeing you at the bar again, Sesshomaru-kun. Come back soon, okay?"

And then Saito quickly pressed a kiss to Ito's lips before dashing off.

Kagome gasped.

Ito looked up.

Their eyes met and instead of a greeting or other socially acceptable response, all Kagome could manage was a stunned whisper of, "Oh my god, my boss is gay."

He flinched and the car keys fell out of his hand. 

She stared as he bent to pick up his eyes, wondering if she'd entered some sort of alternate reality.

"I do not know who you are," he said, straightening, his tone dry, "or who you think I am, but I assure you, you are quite wrong." With that, he turned to the driver door of his expensive, sleek black electric sedan and opened it.

She gaped as he climbed inside the car and then shut the door without so much as looking her way.

And then he started the car and drove off, leaving her there on the sidewalk wondering if she really had somehow imagined the entire night.

Trudging her way home, she decided that whether she'd imagined it or not, it was none of her business. Her boss was free to love whomever he liked outside of work, as were any of her other coworkers. 

Frankly, she'd sleep a lot better if she ignored the entire situation.

Kagome had been tense the first few hours of work, but nothing had happened and she'd found herself relaxing as she sipped her tea and tried to get through the documents before her. After all, there was always more documents to deal with than there were hours in the day and she couldn't afford to slack off.

Ito paid his staff well and his compensation package was the best in their field, but he expected them to work while they were in the building.

Just before lunch, however, her manager entered her small office with an uncomfortable expression. "Higurashi-san," he said, his voice shaking a little, "have you spoken to Ito-shacho recently?"

Kagome abruptly remembered the night before and flushed, hoping her boss did not recognize it. "I don't think so, Suzuki-bucho," she lied, hiding her wince. She had no intentions of talking about Sesshomaru's private life.

Her manager didn't look like he believed her. "Well, Ito-shacho has summoned you to his office." He looked a bit harried when she didn't move. "Now!"

That started her out of her shock and she stood, quickly leaving her office to make her way to to the elevator that led to the CEO's office.

He didn't even know who she was, she was almost positive of that. She hadn't seen or spoken to him directly since her hiring interview.

So why did he summon me?

She pressed the button for the elevator and tapped her foot, anxious. Does the elevator usually take this long to open?

And then, once inside the elevator, her panic increased. Why is the elevator moving so slow? What does Ito-shacho want? Does he have a problem with my work?

Once the doors dinged, she stepped out on a floor she rarely entered. The executives had their own floor, though they often worked side by side within their departments. They had their own meeting rooms, their own lounge, and even their own indoor garden, all apparently sent up to improve performance.

That was not to say Sesshomaru had left his employees bereft, either, but he'd clearly ensured his senior staff felt they had their own perks for their position.

Warily, she made her way to Sesshomaru's secretary's desk and blinked, surprised to find that Endo Kagura was not at her desk. Kagura had started at the same time as Kagome almost seven years ago, but had quickly been promoted through the secretarial division to Sesshomaru's secretary three years ago. She'd apparently done her best to make herself indispensable, so it was odd that the secretary was suddenly missing.

She hovered by the desk, hoping Kagura had simply stepped away for a cup of tea or coffee, but after several minutes, there was still no sign of her.

Should I just knock then?

She doubted she could return without having spoken to the CEO; her own manager would probably lose it if she blew off Sesshomaru.

Maybe Ito-shacho isn't even in his office, she thought, trying to be positive. Maybe both he and Endo-san left just before I arrived, right after telling Suzuki-bacho to send me up. Maybe there was a work emergency or something that came up. That seems logical, right?

Finally, she resolved to knock so at least she could return and tell her own manager that she tried.

She lifted her hand to the polished wood, noting absently that Sesshomaru clearly preferred a clean, modern look for his office.

"Enter, Higurashi-san."

She froze. Had he known she'd been outside the entire time?

"I'd like to speak with you before lunch, Higurashi-san." He sounded more impatient now.

She swallowed and pushed open the door to find Sesshomaru casually leaning against his desk, one hip propped up against the wood, with a cup of tea in one hand—and what looked like her employee portfolio in the other.

She inhaled sharply. Is he going to fire me? She needed the job; she was supporting her family and their shrine with the generous wages he paid. She'd have a hard time finding as well compensated a position elsewhere if he fired her.

"So," he said lightly, setting aside her portfolio, "it would seem that I am, in fact, your boss, Higurashi-san."

"I'm not going to tell anyone," she blurted out, hoping she could convince him to let her keep her job. "Honestly, I won't. Who you love is your business, not mine or anyone else's."

He took a sip of his tea. "I was surprised to find you did, indeed, work for me and yet there were no rumors of my activities last night floating around the company." He set aside his cup. "Tell me, Higurashi-san, what do you want for your silence?"

Kagome watched as he pulled out what looked like a checkbook. "I don't want anything!" she said hastily. "I really don't, Ito-shacho. Like I said before, it's not anyone else's business so I'm not going to say anything last night or tell anyone that you're gay."

His serious expression transformed to one of surprise. "If it's not money you seek, then perhaps you wish for a better position at the company?" He seemed determined to provide some sort of compensation for keeping his secret.

She waved her hands in rejection. "Ito-shacho, that's not necessary. I'm happy where I—"

"Hnn. My secretary recently went on maternity leave," he mused, ignoring her protest. "Very well then. You may have her position for now until we can find a better suited one for you."

Kagome's jaw dropped and she found herself at a loss for words. Well, that explained where Kagura was, at least, though Kagome wondered who and when Kagura had married. 

"I assume you will be of some use." He clicked his tongue. "Will that suffice for now?"

"I—" She stopped, unsure how to even reject his proposition without inadvertently offending him. Sesshomaru was famous for generally being levelheaded until he was offended, at which case his staff often whispered he could become a yokai on a warpath when that happened. "I am grateful for the opportunity, but—"

"Excellent." He looked pleased. "You may start immediately. I will post a public notice and adjust your salary accordingly, effective today. The position should keep you suitably occupied."

Kagome's stomach suddenly rumbled and Sesshomaru looked a little flustered then, his serious persona melting to remind her of the man she'd spied last night.

"Ah, after lunch," he corrected himself, checking his watch. "I expect to see you at your desk at one, Higurashi-san."

He picked up her file again, evidently dismissing her, and Kagome opened her mouth and then closed it, suspecting he would not accept any further protests. 

Great, she thought glumly, leaving Sesshomaru's office. I had to open my mouth last night and say something and look where it got me. I don't even know the first thing about being a secretary.

Me and my big mouth. She sighed heavily, resigning herself to her fate. Her stomach rumbled again and she decided to set aside her thoughts and focus on lunch because she had the feeling her new boss would uphold his promise and dump a ton of work on her to keep her busy.


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