I am on my way running,I am on my way running,Looking towards me is the edge of the world,I am trying to reach it,The edge of the world does not look far away,To that I am on my way running. - Anonymous"Song for a Young Girl's Puberty Ceremony"Translated by Frances DensmoreTaken from A Child's Anthology of Poetry edited by Elizabeth Hauge Sword
London, Late March
Sesshōmaru pushed open the door of the tiny bookshop and tearoom, breathing deeply as the scent of old books and hot tea wafted over him. It was the sort of old fashioned tearoom that had been common in the early part of the century but had since been replaced with more "modern" shops.
The eatery was unoccupied except for a young woman curled up on the window seat, her black hair cut just below her ears in a shining bob.
The shelves were stuffed full of both new and old books, and the Black Horse Tearoom had become something of a lending library to the locals. Sesshōmaru pulled out a worn copy of Ayn Rand's Anthem and sat at an empty table near the woman. Mrs. Willow waved at him from behind the counter and Sesshōmaru nodded back. She knew his usual order by this time, he had been coming to this tearoom regularly for close to close to twenty-five years; even the last five he had spent in Northern Ireland working his way up through ParaPsyCorps ranks.
He had a free afternoon between pack business and corporate meetings and he had retreated to the London bustle.
Brushing his silver bangs out of his eyes and opened to the familiar first page. The door to the shop opened and a gust of wind flowed across the room as the delicate bells over the door tinkled. All at once Sesshōmaru went ramrod straight, pupils dilated with only the tiniest ring of chatoyant amber still visible and his mouth slightly open.
She was here—he could scent her through the smells of tea, printing ink and binding glue. He mouth watered unexpectedly at her natural aroma twined with some delicate floral essence.
His eyes immediately went to the customer walking in: an elderly male. He made a quick scan of the quiet shop his eyes stopping on the girl with the night-dark hair. Her neck curved delicately as she lifted her light blue teacup halfway to her rose colored lips and paused for a moment—arrested by something she was reading. Leaning forward slightly he took a deep breath—yes it was her. After three hundred years he had found his mate. Sesshōmaru continued to stare at the back of her head and just focused on breathing deep and even. How had he not noticed her scent immediately? He had been waiting for this meeting for so long, perhaps he had begun to take his desires for granted.
"Here you are love." Mrs. Willow's familiar voice cut through Sesshōmaru's thoughts.
"Hnn." He inclined his head and glanced down at the familiar spread: two sandwiches on dark bread, a pot of black tea brewed strong and a full plate of scones, today they smelled like oranges.
"Lookin' at that pretty lass?" Mrs. Willow lowered her voice and winked conspiratorially.
Sesshōmaru took a hasty bite off the first sandwich and blinked up at the proprietress innocently. He didn't taste anything of his lunch and he didn't read a single word of the book for a full thirty minutes. The girl continued gracefully sipping her tea and reading her book, oblivious to Sesshōmaru, giving him time to study her. She was wearing business casual clothes, dark slacks and a plain dove gray turtleneck sweater. She wore no jewelry except a plain watch. A light purple wool coat was laid over the window seat near her. She turned to pour more tea and Sesshōmaru noted the light dusting of freckles over her pale nose.
Sesshōmaru's mind raced as reviewed his options and approaches.
For no particular reason, there had been no human matings in his pack over a hundred and fifty years, since his father and Izayoi. This called for an exceptional strategy.
Obviously the first part of his strategy: find out everything he could about her.
Standing, he fished out his wallet absently and left the pound notes tucked under his teacup saucer and walked through shop. Sesshōmaru replaced Anthem on the shelf and headed for the street. From across the busy road he kept his eyes on the window she sat in.
It was a full half an hour before the girl shut the book and rose from the window, disappearing as she walked deeper in the shop. Sesshōmaru pulled up the collar of his overcoat and ducked back across the street as she paid her bill and returned the book to its place. Sesshōmaru followed her from a distance to a shabby apartment building a block over. She walked slowly with her head down but her stride was strong and graceful.
Noting the street and apartment number carefully he headed to the nearest phone booth.
"Jaken, this is Sesshomaru."
"Yes Lord Sesshōmaru, how can this lowly servant be of service to you?"
Relaying the address he did not linger on the line. "Utilize any means necessary. I will smooth any backlash."
Sesshōmaru started pacing and stopped himself, sending a longing glance towards the shabby brick building she had disappeared into. Just as he turned away the public phone rang. He answered it absently.
"Lord Sesshōmaru! I am so pleased to have caught you. She works for ParaPsyCorps. I pulled the personnel file." Jaken sounded even more smug than usual.
"Her name?" Sesshōmaru ground out; his throat was tight from anticipation.
He turned the name over in his mind, tasting its rightness.
"Hnn. Pull transfer sheets also."
"For the human girl?"
"No, I require them. I am on my way to the London office."
Jaken squeaked, "I'll have every thing ready for your eminence."
Sesshōmaru jogged back to the Black Horse and nosed through the shelves smelling the books until he found the one she had been reading. Taking deep breaths of her scent he carried it to the counter.
"Just this." He said, counting out the bills with elegant fingers.
A Child's Anthology of Poetry was an interesting choice for him. Mr. Willow raised an eyebrow but wisely made no comment.