Genre: Drama, Romance
Warning(s): Language, innuendo, non-explicit sexual situations
Summary: All he ever wanted was a considerate roommate…but she turned out to be so much more. When they’re unwillingly thrown into a world of cutthroat business intrigue and family secrets, she quickly becomes the most important person in his life – if only he can find a way to truly trust her, body and soul. AU; Serial.
Author’s Note: This serial was written using prompts from un_love_you [table here]. Further author’s notes (and other assorted goodies!) can be found in the mega-meta resource thread.
un_love_you prompt: #17 – “Wish I didn’t love you.”
All he could do was stare.
He didn’t want to look, but he couldn’t look away.
All he could do was stare.
Stare, as Inuyasha wrapped his arms around her, his mouth parting from hers, trailing soft kisses along the line of her jaw, into the hollow of her neck. Stare, as Kagome leaned into his embrace, closing her hands behind his neck, resting her head on his shoulder.
Stare, as the last vestiges of control slipped through his fingers.
Sesshoumaru turned off the ignition and killed the headlights. Her words from that afternoon came rushing back to him – “Then you’re gonna have to learn how to yield, because when you break, no one is going to be there to pick up the pieces.” Well, he had no intention of breaking. In order to best his father, he had to be just as ruthless as his father. It didn’t seem like such a difficult concept to grasp.
But maybe, he considered, as he continued to stare at them, now shrouded in the darkness of the night, she hadn’t only been addressing him with her words. Maybe she was trying to tell him that he wasn’t the only one in need of support at such a trying time.
Maybe, if he hadn’t been so single-mindedly focused on his own rage and frustration, she wouldn’t be standing on their doorstep right now, wrapped in his brother’s arms.
A myriad of emotions tumbled through him: shock, disgust, need, sorrow, anger. The urge to flee itched just beneath his skin, adrenaline suddenly coursing through him as the notion gathered traction in his gut. He didn’t want to see this, and he didn’t have to – he was sitting in his car, still buckled into place, his keys still dangling from the ignition. Clutch, brake, reverse, and he could be out of there in less than a minute, free from the sickening scene before him –
– but he’d never really escape from it. The image of them – together – Inuyasha nuzzling her neck as she clung to him – was burned into his brain, and was fast becoming seared onto his heart. Is this what it felt like to truly lose everything? His family, his inheritance, and now – the woman he loved?
I didn’t know…that she was mine to lose, he realized belatedly, a tide of horror and anguish rising high within him. He’d worked so hard to protect his heart throughout this entire endeavor – from the pain of his father’s never-ending disapproval, from the knowledge of Inuyasha’s existence, from the disgust of Takeda’s treachery – that he hadn’t even noticed the cracks in his armor until now, until this – until he felt his heart break and shatter like shards of glass, each tiny, jagged piece a sharp reminder that he had nothing. Everything he’d been through over the last few years – every battle with his father, every sleepless night with his thesis, every fleeting moment of need and desire and lust, awakened in a heart long feared free of such feelings – had been for naught.
He was well and truly alone in this world.
Was this to be his punishment, then? The knowledge that it would be Inuyasha who shared her bed that night – and possibly many more nights in the future? That his vile, half-breed, unwanted sibling would now and forever be under their roof, separated from him by one thin wall, celebrating the spoils of his unearned victory?
He reached for the door latch and pulled, pressing his car door open at the same moment that he heaved the contents of his stomach onto the ground below. The seatbelt cut painfully into his chest and abdomen, holding him partially in place, keeping him from doubling over into the pool of vomit. He pushed his hair back as he struggled to breathe, and to keep the rest of that day’s meals in place.
When he finally found it within himself to sit up again, he noticed that they were still there, standing outside of the apartment. He was still touching her, gently stroking her cheek as they talked quietly; she was nodding, and then turning away, opening the door –
– and disappearing inside. Alone. By herself.
Closing the door, leaving Inuyasha on their doorstep. Alone. By himself.
Sesshoumaru watched his brother carefully for a reaction, but there was little to be seen. Inuyasha rested his hand on the door for a moment, appearing to gather his thoughts, but then he simply stepped back and turned way, his expression thoughtful as he walked into shadows of the night.
All the same, Sesshoumaru stayed in his car, unwilling to join his flatmate in their apartment just yet. He waited for his brother to disappear, for the bile in his throat to settle back down into his stomach, for the heaviness of his head to recede as his emotions whirled into numbness. He pulled out a napkin from his stash in the center console, and unbuckled his seatbelt, so that he might search for the bottle of water from the emergency kit, which was hidden somewhere in the depths of the backseat. He moved slowly, feeling as though he was pushing through thick, tarry mud. Finally, he found the kit and extracted the water; finally, he was able to clean up, to rinse the horrid aftertaste from his mouth, and to wash away the remnants of his retching from the parking lot.
As he sat there, watching the last of the water trickle away, he thought about what had just happened. Somehow, Inuyasha had accompanied Kagome to their door, but had gotten no further than that. Her distress had been obvious, even in the dark…so why had she denied her comforter entrance? He was fairly certain that neither of them had realized that he had witnessed their little scene, so wrapped up in each as they were – but even if they had somehow been aware of his presence, he doubted that would’ve stopped them. If anything, Inuyasha would’ve put up more of a fight, if only to really rub it in – Sesshoumaru’s loss as his gain.
But no. They’d parted company that evening. Maybe it was only because she wished to be alone.
Or maybe – just maybe – it meant that he hadn’t lost everything just yet.
Sleep eluded him that evening.
It was not due to lack of trying on his part; he’d been very deliberate about his routine. He’d left his laptop in its case, putting it on the floor beside his desk with the bag containing the rest of his Genkin Katsuro business materials. He’d disrobed, changing into what passed for summer sleepwear and moving tomorrow’s clothes to the side in his closet. He’d opened his window and turned all of the fans, situating them so that air would circulate throughout the room. He’d even chosen the biggest, thickest, heaviest book from his bookshelf to accompany him to bed – Ancient Greek Mathematical Theorems had never failed to send him straight to sleep. When he felt his eyes grow heavy, he tucked the book away, turned off his bedside light, and sank back into the mattress.
Only to lay there, like a stone.
He tossed and turned, stretching out this way and that, alternately tucking his hands beneath his pillows, curling into a ball, shifting onto his stomach – but nothing helped.
He could not sleep. His thoughts plagued him, restless and anxious and full of trepidation.
Finally, with a rather annoyed sigh, he rolled onto his back and stared up at the ceiling. Perhaps if he took the time to think through everything, in clear, precise terms, logic would trump emotion and he could get some damn rest.
At the top of his troubles list, perhaps unsurprisingly, was his father. Turning down the reigns of Taisho Industrial, the company that was to be his inheritance, had set his father on the warpath. He was to retire soon, and he wished to go out in a blaze of glory: as the most powerful man in the financial world, having taken down his biggest competitor in the twilight of his career. It would be a fitting end for a man who’d always worn his ambition on his sleeve, who’d always done whatever it took to get what he wanted, no matter what – or who – was destroyed in the process.
But Sesshoumaru had refused to play the part of a pawn, to have his inheritance in name only, to forever be under his father’s thumb. He’d had his own plans for conquering what was truly his – he’d taken a job with SHK, the only large, competitive holdings company in the country with an active mergers and acquisitions department. He’d learn the trade from his father’s biggest rivals, and use that knowledge to take what was rightfully his – to earn Taisho Industrial, and the rest of Taisho Enterprises – on his own merit, and on his own terms.
Sesshoumaru’s defection hadn’t dissuaded his father, however. He’d set his sights on Hidecki Financial Group, a small but powerful up-and-coming firm that was staking its claim on the market. If Taisho Enterprises could absorb Hidecki and its formidable investment bank, it could broker a hostile takeover of SHK that nothing – not even the market itself – could stop.
His father would win, and everyone else – including Kagome, who was poised to inherit SHK – would lose. Sesshoumaru didn’t care to contemplate what his punishment would be, what his father’s wrath could possibly dream up for daring to defy him so publically. Taking away what had always been promised to him would only be a start; it was a threat he’d lived with for most of his life. No, it was the unknown that he feared, understanding well his father’s ruthlessness. He would be made to pay for his rebellion, of that he had little doubt.
Once he’d learned of his father’s plans for Hidecki, Sesshoumaru had attempted to engage the interest of his supervisors at SHK, to be granted permission to dig into the little firm’s background and financials in order to discover why his father coveted so much. He’d been met with stark opposition from Takeda, the vice president in charge of the division of finance. Takeda was from the old school, a fiercely loyal careerman who’d served SHK for years, rising steadily through its ranks. His burning hatred for Taisho Enterprises permeated every aspect of his professional duties; he’d been vehemently against hiring Sesshoumaru during the internship process. When he realized that he was stuck with him, however, he’d taken great pleasure in spelling out just how much he loathed anyone associated with the Taisho name. Sesshoumaru walked a very fine line at work, knowing that one toe over would be grounds for insubordination in Takeda’s book.
In hindsight, taking the Hidecki proposal to Takeda himself had been a mistake. Of course it had been rejected out of hand. Of course Takeda had taken great glee in putting Sesshoumaru in his place and dismissing him with his tail between his legs (or so he thought). He hadn’t broken Sesshoumaru’s spirit, but he had spurred him into action. Without the help of SHK to stop his father, he’d have to go it alone.
The very same afternoon that his proposal was personally rejected by Takeda, he’d set up his own, independent trading company – Genkin Katsuro. He’d written the plans for it as part of his master’s thesis; all that was left to do was put it into play. Which he had – slowly, thoroughly, painstakingly. His days were spent at SHK, but his nights were spent at Genkin Katsuro headquarters, putting his newly-gained knowledge to work in a carefully thought-out plan. His company was a tiny fish in Taisho Enterprises’ sea; his father would underestimate its power, only to be blindsided when it bested him in the bidding war for Hidecki.
Night after night after night, Sesshoumaru worked, gathering his company’s potential in small yet powerful chunks. He’d invested in stable stock, plucking small holdings from larger firms, spreading his fast-growing wealth across the plate. He was operating under his father’s radar, just as he’d planned. Everything, in fact, was moving along perfectly in accordance with his strategy. He’d even opened a line of communication with Hidecki, expressing Genkin Katsuro’s interest in merging with them.
Only for disaster to strike, in the form of Takeda.
The backstabbing slimeball apparently had made use of Sesshoumaru’s proposal, looking into it on his own time before approving it and assigning it to his elite team of negotiators. Takeda might have hated him, but the same could not be said of Sesshoumaru’s coworkers. He’d worked hard over the course of his internship to gain their trust – and it had finally paid dividends, when his immediate supervisor just happened to mention, offhand, that the Hidecki proposal had been passed along. She’d remembered looking at Sesshoumaru’s application a month before, and thought he might be interested to hear that SHK’s negotiators were finally moving forward on a modified version of it.
“Modified,” indeed – the only thing Takeda had changed was the name of the person who’d submitted the proposal in the first place. Sesshoumaru was unsurprised to learn that Takeda himself was taking credit for the idea. What had surprised him was just how aggressively he was going after it.
The house style of SHK was very methodical, Sesshoumaru had learned. They tended to build a very solid offer from the ground up before making their first bid, which was generally half of what they were willing to pay. SHK liked to negotiate up, a unique feature that set it apart from its competitors – Taisho Enterprises included. This surprise tactic often worked to their advantage; rare was the time when they ever agreed to an offer that was as much as they’d budgeted for it.
This was also the tactic that had enraged his father on more than one occasion, he’d discovered. Taisho Enterprises liked to bid hard and fast and snap up their stakes; his father ruled with an iron hand, but at his own personal whims. SHK hadn’t grown quite as quickly, but it did have a steadier foundation. Sesshoumaru had yet to have an impression that anyone at SHK, much less the CEO, ever worked as hard or as long as his father did on the same deals.
Still. The fact that SHK’s opening bid for Hidecki was already five million yen above the going rate spelled trouble for Genkin Katsuro. It was an independent company, funded mostly by Sesshoumaru’s own personal wealth; though its portfolio was beginning to support itself, it would never be able to match bids that the more established SHK and Taisho Enterprises could offer, especially if SHK meant to drive the price up. Though being shut out of this deal would not doom Genkin Katsuro, it would potentially harm SHK. Even if they made the winning offer on Hidecki, it wouldn’t stop Taisho Enterprises from brokering a hostile takeover.
His father would do anything to get what he desired, and he wanted to own SHK, by any means necessary. Even if that meant selling off Taisho Enterprises’ assets, effectively destroying everything he could’ve left to his heir. It would be worth it to his father, of course: he’d have what he wanted.
Everyone else would lose, though. Not only would Sesshoumaru be cheated out of his inheritance, but Kagome’s would be taken from her as well. Who knew what potential price she’d have to pay in order to get it back – but it had been in her family for six generations, and supported hundreds, if not thousands, of livelihoods. Kagome’s heart was far too large – her capacity for compassion far too great – for her to simply stand aside and give it all up without a fight.
Takeda had no idea why his father wanted Hidecki, at least as far as Sesshoumaru could surmise. He’d simply seen interest in the company grow exponentially – Taisho Enterprises and Genkin Katsuro were hardly the only firms courting Hidecki’s favor at the moment – and had decided that it was worth getting on board. No doubt Takeda saw this bidding war as a way to stick it to Taisho Senior, which only made his entrance into this process all the more ironic: he had no idea just how high the stakes truly were.
Sesshoumaru did, however, and it only made his ambition burn brighter. His desire to best his father mingled with tenacity now that another heavy-hitter had entered the fray. He’d need his every wit about him – and, though he was loath to admit it, a bit of luck – if he was to win this war. It would mean buckling down, making riskier choices to keep his portfolio strong enough to stay in the running. It would mean extra security precautions, to keep his personal identity as deep under cover as possible – he didn’t want his father (or Takeda) to find out that it was him behind Genkin Katsuro, not until after his company made the winning bid for Hidecki and had formally merged with them. He was running the risk of losing his job as well as his inheritance – and he had no backup plan.
He had to do this. He had to be successful in this venture, if he wanted to have anything to his name at the end of it.
So many people were simply waiting for him to fail, to fall, to be put back in his place: his father. Takeda. Inuyasha – who had happily pursued Kagome in order to help further their father’s ambitions for her family’s company, who was obviously all too willing to continue his pursuit of her, if it meant taking yet another thing from him that Sesshoumaru held dear. He’d been given everything in life; must he have her, too?
Kagome. Sesshoumaru sighed, rubbing his hands over his face. Kagome, the pretty social butterfly who’d signed on to share his apartment a little less than a year ago. Kagome, with her sparkling blue eyes and short skirts and tantalizing smile, who’d pulled him into her whirlwind last Halloween with a last-minute party invitation that truly had changed his life. Kagome, who’d wanted him and left him and returned to him; who’d pursued him and kissed him and unlocked so many of his hidden recesses. Kagome, the first woman to show such intense interest in him – to give herself freely to him – to be his equal, in every societal measure.
Kagome, who had slowly but surely ingratiated herself into his life, until he couldn’t remember what it meant to live without her.
She wasn’t as innocent as the freshly-driven snow, but she had no ulterior motive. She didn’t need the power or wealth of his family or his name. She’d wanted him for him, and had stuck by his side from the moment he’d let her in. Their romance had been short but intense, destroyed by lies and misdirection and betrayal; yet, they had never quite been able to let go of each other. They’d managed to weather the storm of their breakup, clinging to a tenuous link of friendship, and had steadily grown close again over the course of the last few months. She had a summer job at SHK, and they commuted to work together; she’d been there for him when he’d learned the truth of his father’s intentions against him (and SHK); she’d insisted on aiding him in this war of attrition. She acted as the intermediary between him and Inuyasha (who was supposedly spying on their father for him) and somehow, she’d made their uneasy truce work.
Was it possible – had they grown so close and comfortable with each other that he’d simply taken her for granted? She was always there for him, it seemed; she’d accompanied him into the depths of the public library, where he’d set up Genkin Katsuro headquarters; she’d taken it upon herself to act as his personal assistant in company business; she was there, every single night, sitting by his side – tempting him, consoling him, supporting him. He couldn’t wait to be done with this business of buying Hidecki and defeating his father, because it would mean that he could finally give her the attention she deserved. He could finally show her just how much he loved her – just how much she’d come to mean to him – just how important she really was to him.
He could finally give her everything that he’d denied her in their first stab at a relationship – he could finally give her himself, the entirety of his heart, his mind, his soul, his body.
He closed his eyes and thought back to their encounter earlier in the day, before it had turned ugly. He remembered every single touch – the softness of her hands brushing through his hair, the heat of her grip on his arm, the easy and unhesitating way that she’d embraced him, the moment he’d needed it most. He remembered the warmth of her arms around him, the way her fingers threaded through his hair, the way her body felt, pressed against his.
How could I not have realized it? he thought to himself, feeling his body heat along with the memory. In a world of people waiting for him to fail – there she was, offering her support so effortlessly, so easily, so quietly that he’d missed it completely. He’d taken her strength without hesitation, but also without comprehension.
She’d fortified his resolve, and he’d repaid her with selfishness. He’d meant what he told her – his loyalty was primarily to himself, and his number one goal was to stop his father, by whatever means necessary…
Oh, God, he thought, bolting upright, his breath suddenly short in his chest, what have I done? He pushed away the covers, swinging his legs over the side of the bed. Who have I become?
“The one person I never wanted to be,” he whispered aloud, in response to his own question. “My father.”
The realization made him sick to his stomach.
SHK might’ve simply been a means to his end, but it was her family’s company. Her father’s legacy. Her inheritance. Sure, perhaps she’d been helping him out of the goodness of her heart, but a larger part of it must’ve been for the same reason he was fighting so hard: to secure the future. To keep SHK in her family, as it had been for the last six generations. She was the reason that he was even there, and she’d be the one blamed if the company fell, especially to their most hated business rival.
And what had he done? Disregarded her concern completely, so intent on following his own path that he didn’t care who was hurt along the way.
Just like his father.
She hadn’t slipped through his fingers this time – he’d pushed her away. Probably straight into Inuyasha’s arms – and straight into his father’s trap. After all, he wanted SHK any way he could get it, and if his original scheme of gaining it via a backdoor method of seduction worked? Well, at least he wouldn’t have to risk his own company in the meanwhile.
He pushed his hands through his hair as he stood, moving to stand beneath his ceiling fan. Would winning this war against his father be worth it, if he lost her in the process? Would finally having what was rightfully his make him happy, if he didn’t have her to share it with?
What would he do if she walked out of his life again? Could he figure out a way to live without her? Did he even want to try?
No, he thought to himself, casting a glance at the wall that separated her bedroom from his. I can’t wish I didn’t love you – I can’t go back to that. I can’t lose you. Not now – not when we’re so close to having everything we ever wanted…
“That is, of course,” he mused wryly, still eyeing the wall, “provided that you still want me as much as I want you.”
Being raised in privilege meant very rarely having to admit fault. He’d practiced his apologies as a child, of course, just as he had with all the other niceties that came with being a member of polite society, but he couldn’t really remember the last time he’d said those words and truly meant it.
He rose with the first rays of the sun, having barely slept at all. For a moment, he simply sat at the end of his bed, watching as the rosy pinks and yellows and oranges filled his room, inch by precious inch. He listened to the gentle rustle of the morning breeze just beyond his window – and the murmurings of neighbors only now making it home.
He quietly showered and changed, acutely aware of the silence emanating from Kagome’s bedroom. He wondered if she’d slept at all, or if she’d lain awake, like him, restless and upset and anxious about everything that had happened. He wondered if she was thinking of him – or of Inuyasha, instead. He wondered if she’d ever find a way to forgive him – or if she was making plans to break her lease and move out.
He caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror, of the solemn expression that had laid claim to his features. I suppose I’ll find out soon enough, he mused, closing the last of the buttons on his shirt.
He padded through their common room and into the kitchen in stocking feet, picking up her tea kettle in one smooth, graceful motion on his way to the sink. He filled it with water and placed it on one of the burners, and turned his attention to her tea cabinet. Its contents had thinned as summer wore on; most of what was left was simple and light, generally of the breakfast variety. He peered into the back of the top shelf, reaching behind her boxes of baby green tea and English Darjeeling, and extracted a fragrant box of peppermint. Must be new, he thought when he opened it, the bags still rather tightly packed, their minty scent still sweet-smelling and strong.
He took two and replaced the box in her cabinet, plucking two clean cups and spoons from the dish rack before settling himself at the table as he waited for the water to heat. He hadn’t been much of a tea drinker before she entered his life – tea being more of the common man’s drink – but peppermint had quickly become his favorite flavor. It had soothed his loneliness over winter break, and had comforted him through the lousy night of their breakup.
If ever he needed fortification, it was this morning – and perhaps if she had a cup of tea in front of her, she’d be more amenable about listening to what he had to say.
The kettle whistled, and he shut it off, preparing his cup as he waited for her to show. The world was silent around him; he eyed the wisps of steam that rose from his cup, from the hot water hitting the cold ceramic. He let the tea steep until it was a rich, golden brown before taking a sip, the cool taste of mint a pleasing contrast to the hot liquid.
He waited for her with a heavy heart, unsure of what she might say or do when she saw him again. She always wanted to ignore him after they fought, but was rarely successful at it – her eyes were far too expressive, betraying the emotions that simmered just beneath her surface. He closed his eyes and thought back to the day before, to the trepidation that had been shining so brightly in her gaze when she’d looked at him for the first time.
He could always tell when she was about to cry, too – he could see the tears glittering in the corners of her eyes moments before they fell, and how she sometimes fought them back, but sometimes let them flow freely. She’d cried yesterday, too, more in anger than sadness – and he remembered how he’d shielded himself from her pain, wanting no part of it, never realizing that he had, indeed, been the cause of it.
He sighed. I’ve made a mess of it, he thought, taking another sip of tea, and now I have to make it right.
He’d spent part of his restless night trying to figure out how to apologize to her – what to say, what to do, how much to concede. He wanted to convey the depth of his sorrow, but without guilt, and without begging for her forgiveness. He wished for her to understand why he’d said what he’d said…but he wasn’t entirely sure that was possible. She was so sensitive to others’ needs, so caring and compassionate – so very much his complete opposite.
It was part of the reason why he loved her. She was worth fighting for – she was worth waiting for.
Time seemed to crawl by as he sat and watched and waited for her. He listened for the subtle signs of her presence in the apartment – the creak of the bathroom door closing, the faint sound of the running taps, her footsteps as she crossed the hall back to her bedroom. He stayed the urge to get up and check on her, to look around the corner of the hallway from the entrance of the kitchen.
He remained seated, draining the last of his tea, and waited.
Five minutes, then ten, then fifteen…
She isn’t coming, he realized after half an hour had passed. He didn’t know what to think – so he didn’t, moving through the motions instead: of rinsing out his cup, of reheating the water, of preparing the second cup of tea, pressing the curved end of the spoon down onto the bag as it steeped, just the way she liked it. He gathered his resolve before leaving the kitchen, carrying the cup of tea with him as he crossed through the common room, drawing to a halt in front of her bedroom door.
He stood there for a long moment, feeling the heavy thud of his heart in his chest, listening to the rustlings just beyond her door. He could hear her voice, low and muffled, moving around the room, and surmised that she was on the phone with someone. He closed his eyes and tried to conjure up an image, but all he could see was the unrepentant sadness in her eyes.
After what felt like forever, her phone call seemed to end. Before he could change his mind, he lifted his hand and knocked, steeling his spine as he waited for her response.
A moment later, she was standing in the doorway facing him, lifting her eyes to meet his. It was just as he’d imagined – even with the rest of her expression a carefully blank slate, her eyes told him everything: of her pain, of her hurt, of her wariness.
“Kagome…” he started, only to feel his throat close up. The neckline of her t-shirt had been fashionably ripped out, the resultant oversized opening spilling over her shoulders, the satiny softness of her skin beckoning to him. His fingertips tingled with the anticipation of touch, but he resisted, knowing it would not be welcomed.
His eyes met hers once more. “I apologize,” he said softly, plainly, offering the cup of tea he still held. “For yesterday – for…everything.”
She nodded, drawing her lower lip between her teeth as she accepted the tea, bringing it close and inhaling its sweet fragrance. “Thank you,” she murmured, a small smile curving the corners of her mouth.
Before he could respond, her phone rang again, buzzing insistently on her bedside table. She hurried over to answer it, glancing at the caller’s information before flipping the phone open and pressing it to her ear. “Hi, Inuyasha,” she murmured, sending a long look in Sesshoumaru’s direction before turning her back to him and moving closer to the window, away from the door.
Whatever tension that might have been eased by their simple exchange of words suddenly returned with a vengeance, heating the air around him to the point of stifling. He narrowed his eyes as he regarded her, but said nothing, slowly pulling the door closed and granting her privacy once more.
If Inuyasha thinks I’ve given up on her, he is sorely mistaken, he thought, his hands curling into fists at his sides. I will not simply stand aside and allow him to have her – he’s going to have to take her from me.
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