A/N: Well, it's 12 am and, instead of doing my lovely reading response on a 34-page article about cartography in Naples in the 17th-18th centuries, Kaerra is starting a new fic! Mwah hah hah! School work--who needs it, anyway? : P But anyway, this is an idea I've been kicking around in my head for several months, although just today I decided I wanted to use the Inuyasha cast for it. Oooh, this is going to be so much fun to write! Especially since my labor of love, Kyoudan, is on a semi-permanent state of hold at the moment (sigh...). Anyway, let me know what you think! It's going to start a little slowly, but believe me, it will build quickly. ^_^ Yay for comedy! Especially of the Shakespearean variety... ^__^
This one is for the sangomiroku mailing list, for being such awesome people. You guys rock! Thanks for keeping the discussion and the spirit of that which is Mirosan alive! ^_^
By the way, I've taken a little liberty with the structure of the Japanese high school as well as the ages here, to be able to get all the important folks into the high school environment (well, except for the old fogeys, but more on that later). I ask that those of you familiar with the fact that Japanese high schools really only have 3 grades, not 4, to suspend disbelief for me in this story, since that's really the only way I could work so much of the IY cast into it. But anyway, onto the present setup. Rin and Kohaku are high school freshmen, but they're both really young (13) for their class--they both skipped a grade in junior high. Shippou is also a freshman, and also on the younger side of their class (he's like six months older than Kohaku). As for the others, Sesshoumaru is a senior (18), Miroku is a junior (17), Sango is a sophomore (16 and 1/2, so she's still older than Inu and Kagome), Inu and Kagome are sophomores (16), Kouga is a junior (17), Kagura is a sophomore (16), Kikyou is a sophomore (16) and Naraku is a senior (18). Oh yeah, not that it's all that important, but Souta is 9. I think that's keeping with canon, right? (i.e. if Kagome is 15 in the manga, and Souta is 8, then it would follow that Souta would be 9 when Kagome is 16... I hope that's right... math, ugh...)
Also, for those who might be a little wary of the way I've got the high school drama club set up, this is largely based on my own experience as a costume designer for several years in my own high school in America. I'll try to integrate what Japanese elements I'm aware of, but generally I find it more convincing to write about what I personally have some experience with. Just a heads up. Reviews are welcome, as always. ^_^ Have fun!
Acknowledgments: Thanks to dream_plane, Kylara and Cassie on the sangomiroku ML for answering my questions about Japanese high schools and the mystery that is Houjo. ^_^ Also, thanks sooooo much to Nana and Aino-kaachan for their unfailing support of me while I struggled through perfecting the ideas for this fic. You guys are the greatest! Without your supportive and informative emails, Nana-chan, I'd have never gotten this chapter finished. ^_^ Thanks also for the beta and comments on Japanese high schools! Zen hugs to you both! ^__^
Dedication: To the long-gone William Shakespeare (or Sir Francis Bacon or whomever, if you believe the claims that Shakespeare was a pseudonym for one of the court wits), for writing plays that are relevant in all time periods and for so many cultures. This story would not exist without him (nor would I be having so much fun writing it!). ^_^
The disclaimer: Inuyasha is not mine. Much Ado About Nothing is not mine. Miroku is not mine. T_T Given how depressing this is, let's just get on with the story, shall we?
Much Ado About Everything and Nothing
Chapter 1--Opening Act
"Gentles, perchance you wonder at this show,/
But wonder on, till truth make all things plain."
--A Midsummer Night's Dream, V.i
With a groan, Higurashi Kagome rolled over in bed and assaulted the alarm clock with the back of her hand. It couldn't be morning already... she wasn't ready for it. Besides, she'd been having such a nice dream...
Fifteen minutes drifted by before Kagome was reawakened from her slumber.
"Nee-chan! Wake up or we'll be late for school!"
"Ughn, go away Souta," she murmured, rolling away from him.
Souta began to shake her shoulders. "Nee-chan! Wake up! Mama says you need to bike with me to the elementary school on your way to the high school!"
"What?!" The effect was better than any alarm clock could ever hope for. Kagome was suddenly bolt upright in bed, her face as shocked as if someone had just thrown a bucket of cold water over her.
"I'm supposed to take you to the elementary school?!" she stared at him. "But I'm supposed to bike with Yuka and Ayumi! How can Mama possibly think I'll have time to take you to the opposite side of town?!"
With that, she leapt out of the bed and headed to the closet, where her new school uniform was hanging, clean and crisp, ready for her first day as a sophomore.
"Nee-chan, you forget--you're not going to Mitsuwa High School. Mori Elementary is just four blocks away from Shomingeki, your new high school."
His words froze Kagome in her tracks momentarily. God, how could she be so stupid? Of course. How could she ever forget how surprised she and her classmates accepted into Mitsuwa had been last year when they'd been told that they weren't going to Mitsuwa after all? Apparently there had been so much overcrowding at Mitsuwa that some of the students originally accepted into the school were going to be diverted to a different high school with the same prestige in the Tokyo suburb in which they lived. These students, including Kagome, all lived about halfway between the two high schools. Fortunately for Kagome, her friends Yuka and Ayumi were also being transferred to the other school. Moreover, as far as her daily trek to and from school was concerned, she was no worse off.
"Ne, Souta, you're going to be really early for school if I bike with you there," said Kagome, looking pointedly at the red digits on the face of her alarm clock. "Doesn't your school start at 8:30?"
Souta's brow wrinkled a little at her words, "Oh yeah, it does."
"Well then," Kagome stifled a yawn, "why do you have to leave with me? My school starts at 7:50--Mama knows that."
"Oh, I forgot!" Souta looked at her earnestly. "We're supposed to be there early today, because they're having an extra long assembly to discuss the changes in the school since the 6th grade was just moved to the junior high."
"Really?" Kagome was surprised. "Why did they move the 6th grade to the junior high?"
Souta rolled his eyes, feeling the superior sibling for once. "Nee-chan, didn't you know that there's going to be 9th grade in your school, instead of in the junior high?"
"Of course I know they made a change in the high school, but I hadn't thought--" Kagome shook her head in disgust.
Well duh. Souta really had her on that one. Not only had she found herself being transferred to a different high school than the one she had originally been accepted into, but Shomingeki High school was relatively uncrowded that last year that the school district had decided to move the 9th grade into the high school as well, to relieve overcrowding in the junior high. Both 9th graders and advanced 8th graders across Tokyo had taken entrance examinations last year, which was beyond strange. Kagome knew she wasn't the only one who thought this experiment was bizarre, but at least it had its benefits. She'd never have to experience being at the bottom of the school hierarchy as a freshman, which was always a plus.
Still, if she didn't get moving now, she'd never make it for her first day as a sophomore.
"All right Souta, we'll bike with you to the elementary school, but you have to leave now so I can get dressed."
"Hai, nee-chan!" Souta gave her such a beatific smile that Kagome felt all her earlier irritation with him melt away. He did mean well, after all. And this was certainly the worst of all days to start off on the wrong foot.
The soft thump of the door as it closed behind her was her cue for action. Returning her attention to the closet, Kagome reached for the hanger that held her new school uniform. Holding it aloft in front of the floor-length mirror on her closet door, she admired the dark blue of the jacket, with the gold trim that added such an elegant touch. The skirt was also blue, but lacked the gold edging. Just as well. Too much gold would seem ostentatious anyway. Besides, this was such an improvement over her old green and white uniform from junior high that Kagome couldn't have cared less what the color scheme was. This was a high school uniform, conveying all the prestige and honor of Shomingeki High. Kagome felt herself swell with pride as the significance of that flooded into her. She was going to Shomingeki High, one of the best public high schools in her district. Even though--being one of the newer schools in Tokyo--it lacked the honor associated with Mitsuwa's long history, it was just as prestigious and as well thought of. Honestly, Kagome couldn't have asked for anything better.
Nothing is going to ruin my day, Kagome thought as she stripped out of her pajamas and pulled her new uniform over her head. Today is my first day as a high school student and I'm going to relish it. I made it!
On that positive note, she grabbed her already-packed backpack in one hand and her shoes in the other and raced out the door.
Shomingeki was massive. Made of nondescript gray concrete, it loomed above Kagome, daring her to challenge its prestige and authority. Kagome, however, had no intention of doing so. She was having enough trouble containing her excitement so that her friends didn't think she was acting like a dork.
"Wow, Kagome-chan, it's so big!" Ayumi said from beside her.
Kagome merely nodded in response, her mind running over all the possibilities this place had in store for her. She'd have to decide on a club to join! What fun! And then there were festivals to prepare for, class trips to take in June, and so much more to be excited about!
"Of course it's big, Ayumi-chan," Yuka said from Ayumi's right, rolling her eyes. "It's at least twice the size of our old junior high school."
"I know that," Ayumi huffed. "I meant to say that I hadn't expected it to seem so big!"
Yuka shook her head in feigned superiority, but both of her companions knew that she was just as excited as they were. She just never showed it.
"Right," Yuka broke the momentary silence that fell over them. "Well, the first thing to do is find our homerooms. I'm in 10-2, what about you two?"
"You're in 10-2?" Ayumi squealed in delight. "So am I!"
Kagome felt her heart flutter before sinking into her stomach like a stone. "Oh no... I'm in 10-1!"
Her two friends' enthusiasm dampened a bit at the revelation. "Oh no, you can't be!" cried Ayumi, looking crushed.
"Well there's a simple solution to that--transfer!" Yuka told them matter-of-factly.
"Yuka!" her two companions turned to her in shock.
"You can't just transfer out of homeroom because your friends aren't in it!" Ayumi looked as horrified as though she'd just been told she failed an entrance exam.
"Why ever not?" Yuka looked at her the way a mother would look at her small child. "It's not like you'd tell them that's the reason why you were transferring anyway."
Kagome felt a rush of frustration run through her at the words. While she dearly wanted to transfer and be with her friends, her conscience told her differently. And that she couldn't easily ignore, no matter how much she wished to.
"But it wouldn't be right--" Ayumi was saying.
"I'm not going to transfer," Kagome's determined voice brought an end to the argument.
Yuka looked at her in surprise. "Why not, Kagome-chan? It's not like you're going to know anyone there!"
Kagome took a deep breath. "Well, then I'll get to meet some new people. Come on, guys. It's not like we won't see each other during breaks and after school. We can always join the same club too, you know."
"But that's not the same, Kagome-chan and you know it--"
Kagome, however, was finished with the discussion. "Look Yuka-chan, isn't that Yamamoto-kun from 9-1 last year?" she pointed at a familiar classmate from their old junior high school.
The trick succeeded in distracting Yuka, and before long, the girls were walking down the hallway that led to the sophomore's floor, where their homerooms were situated. 10-1, Kagome's classroom, was the first on the left side, with 10-2 directly across the hall. The girls lingered outside the doors to exchange a few more words before the first warning bell rang.
"Kagome-chan, you'll be sure to tell us if anyone else from our old school is in your class, ne?" Ayumi said, smiling at the thought of renewing old acquaintances.
"Of course, Ayumi!" Kagome laughed. "I'll be just as happy to see someone I know as you will be."
"More importantly, Kagome-chan," Yuka looked at her intently, "you'll be sure to let us know if any really cute guys are in your class, right?" she looked so disapproving at the thought that Kagome might fail in her duty that it was too much for her companions to bear.
Kagome and Ayumi were still doubled over in laughter when the bell rang.
Shaking her head at her friend's antics, Kagome managed to catch her breath long enough to say good-bye to her two friends before turning and entering her classroom. Whatever lay in store for her today, she was determined to meet it with optimism. This was her first day of a new stage in her life--how could she view that with anything other than excitement?
Kachiki Sango slouched in her seat as the first bell signaling the start of classes rang. Another year was about to begin. She wasn't sure how she felt about that, exactly. Sure, homework was a pain in the butt and a definite negative in her book; but then again, there was a fun side to school that she always enjoyed--friendship and after-school clubs. In a school the size of Shomingeki, she was sure to have plenty of opportunities for both. Right now the former would definitely be a good thing, since she hadn't as yet seen anybody she recognized from her old school.
Sango was one of the few students she knew of from her old junior high school that had been accepted into Shomingeki High School. That had been somewhat hard on her, in retrospect, considering that all of her friends were scattered around at different high schools across Tokyo. However, since the sudden diversion of a number of students from Mitsuwa High School to Shomingeki, Sango was holding out hope that someone she knew would be one of those students. She'd had a couple of acquaintances get into Mitsuwa--perhaps she'd get lucky and one of them would show up in her homeroom. So far, though, no luck.
Leaning back in her seat, Sango raised her arms up in the air and stretched. Best to get all the tension out of her shoulders before class started. Things would probably end up fine anyway. She only hoped that Kohaku was faring as well as she was. Her little brother might have some trouble fitting in, given that he was almost two years younger than his classmates. Despite his early entry into first grade at 5 and 1/2, Kohaku had proved to be both bright and highly disciplined. Four years in a juku school, which had provided supplementary lessons to what Kohaku had learned in elementary school, had only led to his skipping up another grade upon his entry to junior high. Sango had also taken a couple of years at a different juku school, learning about the less taught-subjects in junior high. Unlike Kohaku, however, she'd never had the interest or the drive to take the more rigorous academic courses at her juku school. She did well enough in junior high to be pleased with her grades, and devoted herself to a number of sports activities in the meantime. Kohaku had never had the same athletic ability or interest as she had, so their father had let them pursue their separate interests in peace.
Now, for the first time ever, Sango found herself wishing that her little brother weren't so ambitious. At thirteen years of age, he was too young for the high school environment. It never would have happened that he'd be in high school that young, of course, until the 9th grade experiment in Shomingeki that had changed everything. At least she could be thankful that she and Kohaku were in the same school. She'd be around to take care of him if he needed it. That had made her feel better, but couldn't completely erase the worry and tension settled in hard knots in her shoulders. Well, she'd just have to hope for the best, for both of them. There wasn't much she could do to protect Kohaku on this first day of school anyway--not until she was settled into her own new routine.
"Excuse me, but is this seat taken?"
Sango broke out of her reverie and met the warm brown eyes of a girl with long black hair. The girl smiled at her. Her long, elegant fingers were pointed at the desk to Sango's right.
The girl's friendly attitude immediately put Sango on ease; she returned the smile wholeheartedly. "Not that I know of."
"Oh good," the black-haired girl deposited her large backpack on the floor and sank into the chair gratefully.
"I'm Higurashi Kagome," she held her hand out, still smiling happily.
Her happiness seemed to be contagious; Sango found herself grinning back at her. "Kachiki Sango."
"It's so nice to meet you!"
Kagome sat back in her seat and glanced quickly around the room. "Not too many people are here yet, it seems."
"Apparently not." Sango also looked around the room, giving it a thorough examination for the first time since she'd entered through the door five minutes earlier. It was a standard school classroom, she supposed, with a few nice touches. Like the new computer over on a desk in the left front corner of the room, with dangling cables that would most likely attach to an overhead projector. The desks were arranged neatly in rows, the wood tabletops smooth and gleaming. The blackboards were probably also new--no one could get blackboards that perfectly clean without a mega-industrial cleaner, and those sorts of things weren't usually used to clean blackboards.
Not bad at all, Sango thought, feeling herself relax somewhat.
Apparently Kagome was thinking the same thing she was, for she said, "Wow, this classroom is fantastic."
Sango nodded assent. "It makes my old school look like a janitor's closet in comparison."
Kagome laughed, a sweet merry sound. "I know what you mean. Hey, where did you go to junior high school?"
They continued to exchange pleasantries as the other students filed into the classroom and claimed desks. Glancing at them out of the corner of her eye, Sango was glad she'd picked the middle of the room to sit--it kept her close enough to the teacher, but also allowed her some room to observe her classmates as well. Not that she'd have much time to be doing anything along those lines, but at least the option was there.
Shortly before the second bell rang, a tiny woman with an intricately wrinkled face walked into the room--obviously the homeroom teacher. The students straightened as she took her place at the front of the room behind her desk, her eyes moving from student to student with a sharp precision Sango rarely saw off of the sports field.
When the second bell rang, the teacher leaned forward and addressed them in a gravelly voice. "Good morning, class. As I'm sure you can tell, I'm your new homeroom teacher for the year, Kaede-sensei."
She paused expectantly, and the students all chorused a greeting at her.
"Wow, she looks ancient," Kagome breathed to Sango.
"No kidding," Sango whispered back, intrigued by their new teacher's appearance.
"Now I'm going to call roll before we get to business," Kaede-sensei was saying. "There's a special school-wide assembly starting at 8:00 that we're going to in the auditorium. This will be your first chance to see many of the school facilities, so stick close together and I'll point things out along the way."
She shuffled through some papers on her desk and pulled out the roll sheet. "When we get back, we'll need to establish class rules and responsibilities, including roll call, but for now, I'll spare you all from that. Is Ayanami Keiko here?"
A girl in the front corner of the room raised her hand.
The class remained quiet as Kaede-sensei continued calling out names.
"Hai!" Kagome raised her hand and Kaede-sensei checked her name on the list.
The teacher had almost reached the end of the list when the door opened and a tall, striking figure was framed in the doorway.
"No way," Sango breathed as the boy walked into the room, tossing his long white locks over his shoulder in nonchalance, his amber eyes lazily scanning the room.
"Who's that, Sango?" Kagome whispered at her, stunned at the audacity of the guy. To be late on the first day was asking for trouble. If that wasn't enough, how could this guy act so unconcerned about it?
Sango opened her mouth to reply but didn't get a chance to answer. Kaede-sensei's harsh voice cut through the stillness of the room like a knife.
"And who might you be, young man?" she peered at him suspiciously through lowered brows.
"Feh," the boy replied, eliciting shocked looks from his classmates. He totally ignored them, as if oblivious to their existence. "I'M Inuyasha." He emphasized his name in such a way that Kagome wondered whether he was somebody famous that she should have heard of.
"I see," Kaede-sensei looked at him intently a moment, her lips curled into a frown, before looking down at the list. "Ah, Yuuretsu. Well, you just managed to make it before I called your name. Now take a seat--" she indicated an empty desk two seats in front of Kagome, "--and keep your mouth shut until I give you leave to open it."
"Feh," Inuyasha snorted, but did as she bid, tossing his shoulder bag on the floor and practically collapsing into his seat.
Kaede-sensei stared at him for a long moment, obviously debating whether to further reprimand him. Narrowing her eyes, she finally looked down at the list, apparently not willing to deal with the combative Inuyasha further--at least for the moment.
As she resumed roll call, Kagome found herself staring at the newcomer. She wasn't the only one--about half the class's eyes were on Inuyasha, although he appeared either oblivious to it or was deliberately ignoring it.
Who is this guy, anyway? Kagome wondered, dying to ask Sango, whose earlier comment implied that she knew something about him.
In the meantime, Kagome found herself staring at his white head, a brilliant splash of contrast in this room full of darkly attired students. Inuyasha--despite his attitude to the contrary--also wore the same dark blue uniform as every other boy in the room, complete with the crisp white shirt that obviously was seeing use for the first time. Only, where everyone else seemed staid in comparison, Inuyasha's force of personality made the uniform seem like something more than it was... something bordering on dangerous and darkly sensual.
Darkly sensual?! Kagome shook herself inwardly. Where on earth did that come from? He's no more than a foolish rebel, and one you don't even know at that. Just forget about it.
Kagome was not the only one who breathed a sigh of relief as Kaede-sensei finished calling roll and directed the students to leave their belongings at their desks before heading out to the assembly. Quickly stashing her backpack under her desk so no one could trip over it, Kagome hurriedly got to her feet and joined the line of students leaving the room.
Once in the hall, she turned and waited for Sango, near ready to burst if she couldn't find out the details on this Inuyasha guy. The other girl--who was much taller than Kagome had initially realized, being at least 2 inches taller than Kagome herself--smiled as she exited the room and saw Kagome standing there. They quickly fell into step alongside each other and followed the neat lines of students from their classroom and other classrooms. Up ahead, Kagome spied the dark heads of her friends Yuka and Ayumi as they walked together, whispering at each other. Ordinarily, she'd have been tempted to run up and join them, but she felt quite at ease with Sango, and wanted to spend the rest of the way in conversation with her. Besides, there was that fascinating Inuyasha to learn about...
Sango shook her head and smiled, "Iie, call me Sango."
Kagome grinned in return, "And I'm Kagome."
Sango nodded, her smile widening.
Cheered by her smile--something the other girl seemed to do infrequently--Kagome took a moment to study her, the taller, seemingly mature girl she was glad to have made friends with. Sango had long hair like she did, but hers was a lighter brown than Kagome's shiny black tresses. Her eyes, like Kagome's, were also brown, although they were tinged with a reddish hue that reminded Kagome of a warm mug of Irish Breakfast tea. Her eyelids were lightly brushed with magenta eyeshadow, a color that Kagome wouldn't have thought could go well on someone with brown eyes, but somehow managed to look great on Sango. Her uniform was neatly pressed, the blue skirt ending several inches above her knees. Glancing down at her own skirt, Kagome realized that not only was Sango taller than she, but that she had the natural grace and long legs of an athlete, in addition to countless hours of physical training which gave the girl a muscular physique. Kagome idly wondered which sports teams Sango played on, before realizing that she'd barely have enough time to ask Sango about Inuyasha, their strange classmate.
"Hmm?" Sango leaned in to hear Kagome's words, since talking in the halls was obviously going to be frowned upon by Kaede-sensei.
"How do you know that guy, Inuyasha?"
Sango rolled her eyes at the mention of his name. "Oh, Yuuretsu? I don't know him, really. He went to my old school, but he wasn't in my class."
"I take it he had a reputation?" Kagome pressed, surprisingly thirsty for information.
Sango smirked. "You guess rightly. Yuuretsu Inuyasha was always getting into trouble with someone, be it teachers or other students. I'm amazed he managed to get in here, since he got suspended a few times last year, and I've never believed him to be the type to study hard for his exams."
Kagome nodded, realizing that she had drawn the same conclusion. "Well," she said, trying to be fair, "perhaps he's really smart to make up for the lack of discipline."
Her companion shrugged. "Must be, since I can't imagine how else he'd be here. This school isn't exactly a breeze to get into."
"Too true," Kagome agreed. "I barely got into Mitsuwa High School with my exam scores, then I got diverted here with some of my old classmates."
"Really?" Sango looked surprised. "You were one of those who came here from Mitsuwa? That must have been so stressful--to think you knew where you'd be going to high school only to have it change all of a sudden!"
"Tell me about it..." Kagome groaned, and proceeded to tell Sango all about how the unfortunate students who'd been accepted to Mitsuwa had found out about their transfer to Shomingeki.
"You know, that happened to a few people at my school too," Sango said thoughtfully after Kagome had finished her retelling. "Come to think of it, Yuuretsu Inuyasha was one of the people who'd gotten into Mitsuwa. No wonder he ended up here--he must have been diverted like you were."
"Yuuretsu got into Mitsuwa?" Kagome was astonished. "But he seems so indifferent to everything..."
Sango laughed at that. "Well, that's what everyone else thinks too. I guess there's a whole different personality to him underneath all the machismo."
"Hmmm..." Kagome found herself really curious about that. If Yuuretsu Inuyasha really was an intelligent person, why did he go to such lengths to hide it? How could that possibly benefit him? What an enigma he was!
Before Kagome could comment further upon the mystery that was Inuyasha, the class had reached the auditorium. Kaede-sensei had been instructed to seat her class among the other sophomore classes, in the second to last fourth of the auditorium seats. The seniors, by privilege of rank, occupied the first quarter of seats in the auditorium, the juniors the second, and the poor freshmen dead last.
As Sango and Kagome filed into the row of seats Kaede-sensei had indicated to them, Kagome couldn't keep her eyes from wandering around the room. She took in its high dark wooden ceiling, the red carpeting under her feet and the large, elaborate stage at the front of the room, with burgundy velvet curtains tied at the sides. It was a fantastic room; one that Kagome suspected was highly sought after by the Drama Club for their plays.
Her interest quickly shifted to the upperclassmen in the rows in front of her. Would there be anyone she knew, perhaps? Regardless of that, Kagome was curious about her new schoolmates, even if she never ended up having contact with most of them.
A few rows in front of her, a tall guy with long dark hair in a ponytail was standing over a group of seated guys who sported hairdos stranger than his. He waved his arms around vehemently, obviously telling them something that he felt strongly about. Something about his appearance made Kagome want to burst out laughing, a strange reaction indeed.
Well, she thought wryly, that's definitely something I'd better refrain from doing. With my luck, he'll end up being the most popular guy in the school and I'll completely offend him.
She turned to Sango to ask her if she knew who the guy was, but was surprised to find Sango's attention focused elsewhere. Following the direction of Sango's eyes, Kagome spotted a tall, slender guy whose dark hair was pulled into a small ponytail at the back of his head. He was standing in the main aisle, smiling at a pack of four or five girls who were talking animatedly at him.
"Who's that, Sango-chan?"
Sango practically leapt out of her seat at the sound of Kagome's voice in her ear. Her face began to burn as she realized that she'd been caught staring at some guy she didn't even know.
She told Kagome so: "I don't know, Kagome-chan. Just some upperclassman, I guess."
Kagome either hadn't noticed her companion's embarrassment or refused to remark upon it. "He's cute," she said, tilting her head to the side and quietly appraising him.
Sango shrugged. "I guess so."
They watched as he reached down to take the hands of one of the beaming girls in his own and ask her something intently. From the girl's responding blush, as well as the titters of her companions, Kagome and Sango could easily guess what the question was.
Sango found herself rolling her eyes. "Well, whoever he is, he sure seems to be certain of himself around women."
Kagome was smiling in amusement. "Well, he certainly seems to be very popular with them, that's for certain. I guess he's made one girl very happy."
Sango shrugged again, not really wanting to dwell on the topic any further. "I wonder where Kohaku's class is," she murmured.
She hadn't realized she was loud enough to be heard until Kagome's inquiring voice asked her, "Is Kohaku a friend of yours, Sango-chan?"
Shaking her head, Sango told her about her brother and his unusual predicament. Kagome nodded in sympathy as she talked.
"I understand how you feel Sango-chan. I have a little brother too, and I know I'd be really concerned about him if he were that young in high school too. Kohaku is lucky to have a big sister like you in the same school with him," she added with a smile.
Sango found herself smiling back at Kagome, struck by the ease at which Kagome expressed her thoughts and feelings. "Arigatou, Kagome-chan. I'm sure that your brother is thankful to have a cool big sister like you."
Kagome's reply was drowned out by the sharp cackle of the speaker system as a short middle-aged man on the podium at the left side of the stage tapped at the microphone in front of him. The room quickly fell silent, all eyes focused on the man at the podium.
Light glinted off of his bald pate as he eyed the assembly of students before him.
"Good morning, students, I'm Nanushi, the principal of Shomingeki High School," his smile looked forced. "You are a very special group of students, given that you are to play the guinea pigs for our new school experiment. I'd also like everyone to welcome the freshmen, who are the first group of ninth graders in a high school in Tokyo!"
Following his cue, the students--aside from the freshmen, who were whooping with excitement--clapped politely, many turning around to observe the freshmen in the back of the room. Sango caught a glimpse of Kohaku and waved, receiving an excited wave back. She was just pointing him out to Kagome when Nanushi-kouchou resumed speaking, forcing them to fall silent.
"Now, the purpose of this assembly is to acquaint all of you with the changes being made in school this year. Before I elaborate on that, however, the Drama Club director, Myouga-sensei, has a few words to say to you regarding this semester's play," Nanushi-kouchou gestured to a shrunken old man with a drooping white mustache, who was making his way up the stairs at the far side of the stage.
Myouga-sensei reached the podium and pulled the microphone down significantly to speak into it. His voice was low and deep, like a cheerful cello tune.
"Thank you, Nanushi-kouchou," he bowed to the principal, who returned the gesture and stepped behind him.
Returning his attention to the sea of faces before him, Myouga-sensei continued, "Good morning students. As Nanushi-san just informed you, I am Myouga, the director of Shomingeki's Drama Club. My purpose in speaking to you all at this assembly is to make everyone aware of the slight changes of the Club rules for this semester only."
A murmur rose up from the students at his word, but quickly subsided as he spoke again.
"Because half the students in Shomingeki are new this year, the Drama Club is going to open the auditions for this year's play to all students, regardless of whether they are members of the Club or not."
Once again, his announcement stirred up a response from the students. He allowed them to chat for a moment before holding up his hands in a gesture for silence. The students quickly complied--the room fell so quickly into silence that if someone were to drop a pin on the stage, everyone would have heard it.
"The purpose behind this decision is to give students who wouldn't ordinarily commit to the Drama Club a chance for some exposure to it before deciding to join the club permanently. The same freedom applies to all students who join the production crew for this semester's play," he peered at the students intently, clearly hoping to intimidate them into continued silence.
It worked. Taking a deep breath, Myouga-sensei continued, "In light of this special semester and the school's experiment with the 9th grade, the play being performed this semester will also be special and different. For the first time ever, Shomingeki High School will be putting on a play by William Shakespeare."
This time, despite further glares from Myouga-sensei, the principal and all the homeroom teachers in the room, the students broke out into excited conversation. A Shakespeare play? In English? Such a thing hadn't been done in any high school as far as anyone knew. Didn't that mean that all the actors would have to have a phenomenal command of English to be able to speak the lines properly?
Myouga-sensei was quickly growing impatient with all the chatter, as was Nanushi-kouchou. He cleared his throat loudly, the sound echoing throughout the room. The students quieted down, wondering what else he might have to say.
"There will be a special meeting at lunch today for all students interested in participating in the production. Come to the Green Room on the back side of the auditorium at 12:15 pm sharp. All your questions will be answered then."
Abruptly, he stepped down from the podium and exited behind the burgundy curtains at the left side of the stage. The students were once again aquiver with anticipation, despite the various attempts of the homeroom teachers to quiet them down. It wasn't until Nanushi-kouchou returned to the podium and cleared his throat several times that the room quieted down enough for him to resume speaking.
Kagome barely listened to a word he was saying. She was much too excited by the prospect of a Shakespeare performance, in her own high school! She had seen two English movies about Shakespeare plays--"Much Ado About Nothing" and "Hamlet." While both were good, she infinitely preferred the former, which had made her laugh despite the difficult English words. The actors had been so funny, especially that crazy police constable who couldn't get his vocabulary correct in front of the lords. The romantic plot was great too--Kagome hadn't had any trouble following that at all. When she'd first seen the movie a couple of years ago, she'd thought about how much fun it would be to act in that play... but never in her wildest dreams had she thought she'd actually have a chance to try acting in a Shakespeare play for real!
When the assembly finally drew to a close, Kagome leapt out of her chair and grinned at Sango happily.
"Sango-chan, isn't this exciting? They're going to do an actual Shakespeare play, in English even! Can you believe it?!"
Sango's smile was a little forced. "I suppose so, Kagome-chan. I don't know much about this Shakespeare person, though, so it's hard for me to say one way or the other."
Kagome looked horrified. "You mean you've never seen one of those English movie versions of one of his plays?"
Sango shook her head.
"No way!" Kagome grabbed her arm. "You've got to see one! Even though the English can be difficult to follow at times, they're so well acted that you can still understand what's going on. And the comedies are so funny! I was laughing my head off when I saw--"
"Move along now, class," Kaede-sensei's stern voice interrupted Kagome's excited chatter.
Realizing that all the students in the row were staring at her, waiting for Sango and herself to move, Kagome subsided with a blush. She quickly followed Sango past the raised seats and into the main aisle. They joined the throng of upperclassmen making their way to the exit.
Once outside of the auditorium, Kagome latched onto Sango's arm and resumed the conversation where she'd left off.
"Ne, Sango-chan, are you going to the Drama Club meeting at lunch today?"
Sango shook her head. "I don't think so. Like I said, I hardly know anything about Shakespeare, let alone any kind of acting."
Kagome looked crushed. "But you should at least come and see what it's about, Sango-chan! Besides," she looked a little sheepish. "I don't want to go by myself."
Sango was growing increasingly uncomfortable. "I don't know, Kagome-chan--"
She was interrupted by a loud male voice behind them.
Exchanging a surprised glance with Kagome, Sango looked over her shoulder and spied Yuuretsu Inuyasha moving hurriedly through the crowd. Surely he couldn't be talking to her...? She barely knew him. Obviously he was calling to someone he recognized near them.
With a shrug, she and Kagome continued walking down the hallway.
This time, his call was suspiciously close. Sango was about to turn around and tell him to lower his voice when her companion was suddenly dragged to a halt.
Sango whirled around and was shocked to see Inuyasha gripping Kagome by the arm.
"Oi, Kikyou, what's with the silent treatment?!" he shouted in her face.
Sango was about to tell him to back off, but Kagome leapt quickly to her own defense. Fixing him with an angry stare, she said, "I don't know what your problem is, but I'm not Kikyou. My name is Kagome."
To both girls' horror, he began shaking her arm. "The hell with that, Kikyou! Don't try and hide from me now, after everything that's happened!"
Kagome's eyes went wide with shock. How dare he speak to her in that tone, mistaken identity or not! The next instant, her eyes were narrowed with rage. "Look here, you jerk! How many times do I have to tell you that I am not Kikyou?! I've never met anyone with that name. My name is Higurashi Kagome. Ka-Go-Me. Get it? If that isn't enough, I have no idea who you are! Can I make myself any clearer?!" Well, okay, that last part was a lie, but she was so pissed off at him she didn't care.
Inuyasha was taken aback by her angry reaction. "You're... not Kikyou?" he asked numbly.
"NO!!!" Kagome shouted, causing all the passing students to stop and stare at them in curiosity.
Inuyasha seemed uncertain how to continue. His expression quickly shifted, however, resuming an angry scowl. "If you're not Kikyou, how can you look so much like her?!"
Kagome had reached her limit. "HOW THE HELL SHOULD I KNOW, BAKA?!" she roared.
Inuyasha looked absolutely flabbergasted. Sango doubted that any girl had ever talked to him that way before, from that look on his face. The amusement factor in that was pretty high, come to think of it, although now was certainly not the time to dwell on that.
"Now, would you please let me go?" Kagome ground her teeth, her brown eyes flashing dangerously.
Before Inuyasha could respond, they were interrupted by the cold voice of Kaede-sensei, who was clearly not amused by the proceedings.
"Higurashi, Yuuretsu, do you have something you need to discuss in private?" she demanded.
Both of them flushed a dark red, and Kagome hurriedly shook her head.
"Well, then I suggest you refrain from further conversation and return to the classroom," the teacher finished coolly.
"Hai, Kaede-sensei," Kagome said meekly.
Inuyasha glared at the teacher a moment before snorting in disdain. "Feh."
His audience stared at him in shock, amazed at his utter audacity and foolishness to address a sensei like that.
While everyone stood like statues staring at him in disbelief, he dropped Kagome's wrist as though it burned him and stormed past her. Kagome stared after him, dumbstruck.
"Higurashi?" Kaede-sensei's voice brought Kagome back to the present.
Shaking herself out of her momentary shock, Kagome turned her attention to the teacher. "Gomen nasai, Kaede-sensei."
The old lady peered at her pensively for a moment. "If you are having any trouble with Yuuretsu, Higurashi, be sure to let me know," she said not unkindly.
"Iie," Kagome shook her head vehemently. "Yuuretsu had mistaken me for someone else is all. I'm sure he won't bother me again."
"Hmm," Kaede-sensei looked unconvinced, but decided to let the matter drop. "Well, move along, we need to return to the classroom."
"Hai, Kaede-sensei," Kagome bowed her head, then took off into a fast trot.
Sango had to jog a few paces to catch up with her.
"Kagome-chan, are you okay?"
Kagome didn't answer for so long that Sango was afraid she wasn't going to. With a huge sigh that shook her shoulders, Kagome turned her head to meet her friend's concerned gaze. "Well, other than being royally pissed off at that jerk, I'm fine."
She snorted in disdain, apparently ready to vent about the episode. "Can you believe that guy, Sango-chan? To think that he thought I was lying when I told him I wasn't Kikyou! Of all the unmitigated gall...!" she clenched her hand into a fist, gritting her teeth in anger as she did so.
Sango nodded in agreement, still completely floored by the strange scene she'd witnessed. "I've heard that Yuuretsu got into a number of fights back at our old school, but I never thought he'd pick one with a girl."
Kagome sniffed. "Well, obviously that poor Kikyou is in store for a real treat." Shaking her head as if to clear it, she dropped the belligerent edge from her tone. "Whoever she is, anyway..."
Sango shrugged hopelessly in response. "She's not anyone I know, I'm afraid. If she did go to our junior high school last year, I never heard about her."
Kagome only nodded quietly, obviously lost in her diminishing anger and shock from the whole episode.
An awkward silence fell as the girls exited the main hallway and entered the stairwell for the second floor, where the sophomore domain was located. Sango took the steps two at a time, fumbling desperately for something to say to comfort her friend. As she pushed the door to the second floor open, she stepped to the side and held it open to Kagome, who muttered a subdued thank you to her as she passed.
Letting go of the door, Sango strode to Kagome's side, determined to restore her friend's normal good cheer. "Ne, Kagome-chan?"
Kagome turned to her expectantly.
"How about going to that Drama Club meeting at lunch together?"
Kagome's glowing smile more than made up for the awkward last ten minutes.
"Hurry Sango-chan, the meeting's about to start!" Kagome dashed down the hall, beckoning her friend to follow her.
Sango picked up her pace and followed her friend down the long hallway that wrapped around the back of the school auditorium, where the Green Room was supposed to be located. She had been grateful to see that Kagome's good spirits had quickly returned shortly after they entered the classroom. The fact that Inuyasha hadn't made an appearance since the argument had certainly kept things calm, not to mention interesting. Was he so embarrassed by Kaede-sensei's scolding that he'd ditched homeroom for the rest of the morning? Sango was really curious to see how Yuuretsu was going to fare in homeroom for the rest of the year, considering he'd not exactly made a brilliant start.
Shaking her head, Sango switched her focus to the task at hand. Somehow, she'd let herself be dragged along to a meeting on a subject she knew nothing about... and the strangest thing was, she didn't really mind at all! After that explosive encounter with Inuyasha, Sango had found herself so concerned about her new friend's state of mind that she would happily have accompanied Kagome to a home economics meeting on sewing baby clothes. It was strange to her how quickly she'd responded to Kagome's proffered friendship, since Sango was a girl who never really jumped into things without a period of observation and reflection beforehand. Perhaps it was the sheer force of Kagome's personality that had left Sango without any doubt of what a good person she was, not to mention what a good friend she'd be.
"Hurry, Sango-chan!" Kagome's excited voice broke through her introspection.
Smiling at her friend, Sango quickened her steps to a long stride. "I'm coming, Kagome-chan."
A scant few minutes later, they reached the door to what must be the Green Room. Taking a deep breath to prepare herself, Sango followed Kagome through the door, her eyes scanning the room without alighting on any particular person seated in a circle on the floor and the few scattered couches and chairs.
Sango was immediately puzzled at the room's name, since it wasn't actually green. She realized it must be some theater term she was unacquainted with, and quickly moved onto other observations. The room was about the size of her homeroom classroom, although the ceiling was significantly higher. In a corner alcove to her immediate right was a large desk and several bookshelves stuffed to the gills with books on acting, scenery, directing, plus volumes upon volumes of plays. Obviously that area was Myouga-sensei's office. A short distance away and to the left of the desk, a rickety wooden staircase ascended to a loft with a padlock on the door. From the look of it, Sango guessed it to be a storeroom of some sort, perhaps for props, costumes and/or set pieces. In the far corner, about halfway past the wooden staircase, a short hall led to another room, about whose purpose Sango had no idea.
Kagome's tug on her arm redirected her attention to the human element of the room.
"Where should we sit, Sango-chan?" Kagome sounded nervous.
"Uh..." Sango scanned the room's occupants until settling on a face she recognized. With a delighted gasp, she waved at the boy, who was grinning excitedly as he saw her.
"Kohaku! What are you doing here?" she asked, striding over to the sofa he was sitting on.
"I could be asking you the same question, nee-chan," Kohaku smiled up at his sister. "This is the last place I would have expected to see you!"
Sango smiled sheepishly, "Well..."
"She has me to thank for that," came Kagome's voice from her right.
Kohaku looked at her curiously, and Sango quickly made the introduction. He in turn introduced them to one of his freshmen classmates, a small red-haired kid called Naiibu Shippou.
"My onee-san and Higurashi-senpai are sophomores," Kohaku explained to Shippou, who appeared awed by the sight of them.
Kagome smiled gently at the freshman boy, obviously sensing his nervousness. "Konichiwa, Naiibu-kouhai."
"Iie," Shippou shook his head vehemently, his shaggy hair flying across his forehead. "Call me Shippou."
The two senpai nodded. "Of course, Shippou," Kagome said. "And you can call me Kagome."
Shippou nodded eagerly. "Here, Kagome, have a seat," he stood up and gestured to the space on the sofa he'd just occupied.
Kagome was surprised by his gesture. "Iie, Shippou-kun, I couldn't take your seat..."
Sango, who'd been quiet for the past few minutes, asserted herself into the issue. "Kagome-chan, there's plenty of room on the sofa for all of us, as long as you two don't mind scooting over."
Kohaku smiled happily at his sister and shifted to the far left side of the sofa, while Shippou moved to the far right. Sango and Kagome then sat down in between them.
"So how has your day been so far, Kohaku?" Sango asked her brother with a touch of concern.
Kohaku's responding smile immediately put her at ease. "Great, nee-chan! I met Shippou in my homeroom, and it turns out he's the same age that I am!"
"Really?" Sango turned to look at the small freshman that was talking animatedly to Kagome. "Yes," she nodded, "I can see that."
"What made you decide to come to this meeting?" Sango continued.
Kohaku was in the midst of telling her how interested he'd been by Myouga-sensei's announcement when the man himself entered the room from a doorway in the far corner, directly across from the door from which Kagome and Sango had entered the room. The chatter around the room abruptly ceased as Myouga-sensei pulled the chair from behind his desk and positioned it at the head of the circle.
"Well, this is a good-sized crowd," Myouga-sensei said in surprise, raising his bushy eyebrows dramatically. "I take it my announcement was of some use after all."
He was met with several heads bobbing up and down.
"To business, then," Myouga-sensei directed his gaze across the room to a chair where a tall, slender boy with the same long white hair as Yuuretsu Inuyasha was reclining gracefully.
"Yuuretsu, why don't you begin by explaining the club rules to everyone?"
Yuuretsu...! Kagome and Sango exchanged startled glances, each reading the other's thoughts. Did that mean that Inuyasha had an older brother?
Yuuretsu-senpai straightened in his seat, his eyes traveling around the room intently. When he spoke, his voice was deep and melodic, much more commanding than Inuyasha's angry growl.
"I'm Yuuretsu Sesshoumaru, the president of the Drama Club. This is my third full year as an active participant in the club, making me the oldest member present today other than Myouga-sensei."
He paused for dramatic effect. The students digested that information and regarded him in awe.
"The Drama Club meets in this room daily for two hours, beginning at 3:15," Sesshoumaru informed them, his eyes continually moving from student to student. "We also meet on two Saturdays per month, although as a production nears its performance run, we increase the number to every Saturday."
He fixed his gaze on Sango, who had to consciously keep herself from shrinking back at the look of cool authority in his golden eyes. "We put on three plays a year, one per semester. Generally the senior officers of the club, under guidance from Myouga-sensei, pick the plays that will be performed, although occasionally a vote will be put to the rest of the club."
His gaze shifted to Kagome, who had a little more difficulty in acting as unaffected as Sango had. "Once auditions have been held and the cast has been established, the meeting times will be used exclusively for the cast to rehearse with Myouga-sensei, who is our director. It is also time to be utilized by the production crews to begin working on their tasks, whether it be stage design, costume design, lighting design, or other no less important responsibilities. As we progress through the semester," he eyed a young woman with dark hair caught up in a twist at the top of her head and bright red eyes, "actors will be expected to assist the production crew in painting and putting up the set or helping the costume crew with costume repairs."
His eyes settled on a spot on the wall, making the students who'd already encountered his gaze relax a little. "Now, I'll introduce you to the other senior officers of the Club. There are five altogether, including myself. Firstly," he gestured to a blue-eyed guy with long black hair in a ponytail-someone Kagome seemed to know, given her small gasp of recognition--"we have Funjin Kouga, who is the expert on set design and construction."
The upperclassman raised his hand in acknowledgment. "Yo."
Yuuretsu-senpai seemed to repress an irritated scowl and moved onto the next officer. "This is Rakurai Hiten, the lighting expert," He indicated a tall, lithe guy with long black hair tied back in a braid, who was lounging lazily against the wall. He shrugged his shoulders slightly in response to Yuuretsu-senpai's introduction.
"Next, we have Manzai Jakotsu, the costume and makeup expert," Yuuretsu almost looked disgusted as he gestured to a guy with a feminine hairstyle and strange make-up on his face. He was sitting on the arm of one of the sofas, his face in a big grin. Sango found herself wondering if the guy was into the glam rock scene, since he certainly looked like he could have been a band member.
"Hello everyone," Manzai continued to grin at everyone.
"Definitely a weirdo," Sango muttered under her breath. She could feel Kohaku and Kagome nod from either side of her in response to her words.
"And lastly, we have Hinutsu Miroku, who handles publicity and also acts as a kind of human relations officer."
Sango blinked as her eyes followed the direction of Yuuretsu-senpai's hand. It was the guy she'd seen earlier in the auditorium, the one surrounded by all those girls.
Apparently Kagome had also made the connection. "Hey Sango, it's that guy from the assembly."
Up close, Hinutsu Miroku was more attractive than either girl had initially believed him to be. His dark hair contrasted nicely with olive skin and startling lavender-blue eyes set under dark brows. His slender form was relaxed into the armchair he occupied, several seats from Myouga-sensei's right side. Two girls perched on the arms of his chair, smiling insipidly as everyone looked at the three of them.
"Greetings, everyone," Hinutsu smiled disarmingly, earning him a chorus of smiles intermixed with giggles from several areas of the room.
Sango felt her hackles begin to rise as his smooth, confident voice entered her ears. God, that guy was such an arrogant playboy! Just look at the way he was smiling with such self-absorbed contentment. He even had his arms around the waists of the two girls perched on his chair! Did the guy have no shame?
Kagome must have felt her stiffen next to her. "What's wrong, Sango-chan?" she whispered in her ear.
Sango gave her shoulders a little shake, surprised at the strong feeling Hinutsu had elicited in her. "Just disgusted by that guy's arrogant complacency."
"Hmm..." Kagome turned her gaze to Hinutsu, who was still smiling innocently at everyone. Apparently sensing her regard, Hinutsu raised an eyebrow slightly and looked at her suggestively. Kagome stared at him in disbelief before quickly averting her eyes.
"I see what you mean, Sango-chan."
"Arrogant lech," Sango muttered.
Kohaku was looking at her in surprise, obviously having heard her last comment. "Nee-chan...?" he looked at her with a mixture of confusion and concern.
Sango suddenly felt the uncomfortable regard of someone's eyes upon her, and she raised her eyes to meet the lavender gaze of Hinutsu himself. He'd cocked his head, looking at her appraisingly, as if trying to figure out how easy it'd be to get her into his good graces. Sango felt as though a rock had settled in her stomach as the realization that that jerk--that hentai!--could be lining her up as another admirer entered her mind. She shot him the most disgusted glare she could manage, and was rewarded by the momentary expression of surprise that darted across his even features. That would show him what messing with her would be like. Humph.
Aware that the rest of the room had fallen silent, Sango shifted her glance to either side of her and realized that everyone was staring at her and Hinutsu. Horribly embarrassed by the thought that everyone could sense her distaste for him--playboy or no, it wasn't like she knew the guy--she sank back into the sofa, wishing she could disappear.
Myouga-sensei's deep voice ended the awkward moment. "Thank you, Yuuretsu. Now," his eyes met Sango's for a moment, before moving on to encounter the gazes of other students in around the room, "onto this semester's play.
"As you know from my announcement at this morning's assembly, we will be performing a play by the English playwright, William Shakespeare. Shakespeare lived during the English Renaissance, during the reign of Elizabeth I, and his plays were quite well-known even back then. As I'm sure many of you know, they are still widely performed throughout Britain, The United States, Canada and Australia, to name a few. Many of you may also have seen one of the movie dramatizations of his plays in English," he nodded at Kagome, reading the emotions on her face that told him that she was among those students.
"Therefore, I assume that most of you know the difficulty that will placed upon all the actors in this production at handling the difficult English words. Shakespeare is known to give native English speakers some trouble as well, so for us it will be even more arduous and time-consuming to get right. However, I feel that it is something that, albeit with a lot of hard work, we can accomplish. I have taught English literature at this high school for the three years that I've been a teacher here, and for many years of my teaching career before that. Once the play is cast, I will hold several sessions outside of the normal club meeting times where we'll go over English pronunciation, as well as elaborate upon the meanings of many unknown words. I may also ask some of my native English-speaking colleagues to come in and help us out."
He paused a moment, to take a breath. "Now, I believe I've kept you in suspense long enough about which play we'll actually be performing. For this semester's production, I've chosen a play that boasts several female lead roles as well as a number of male leads. The play is one of Shakespeare's dark comedies, titled 'Much Ado About Nothing.'"
A few scattered gasps of excitement met his words, including from Kagome's direction.
"Sango-chan, this is so exciting!" Kagome hissed, grabbing Sango's arm in her enthusiasm. "That's my favorite Shakespeare play! I saw the movie a few years ago, and it was just great--"
"Uh, Kagome-chan..." Sango nodded at Myouga-sensei, who looked like he was about to speak again. Getting the message, Kagome quickly subsided.
"I can see from the reaction that a number of you are familiar with this play," Myouga-sensei said, appearing amused. "For the auditions, we will be reading excerpts from several scenes, so I suggest that those of you wishing to audition find a copy of the play, either at the library or on the internet, and familiarize yourself with the story, the characters, and the English dialogue. A large factor of the casting decisions will be based upon how well you can speak the English. Auditions will be on Wednesday at 3:15. We'll meet here in the Green Room, and then move into the little theater--" he gestured to the doorway that he'd initially entered the room from, "--to read from the scripts. For those of you interested in production crew, there will be a meeting concerning that on Thursday afternoon. Unless there is an unforseeable delay, the cast list will be posted on the bulletin board on the wall--" he indicated the bulletin board hanging just above the sofa where Jakotsu was sitting, on the opposite side of the room from Kagome and Sango, "--on Thursday. Now anyone with further questions may come and see me in private. The rest of you I'll leave to your lunches, since you've got about twenty minutes left."
Myouga-sensei stood up, and a circle of excited students formed around him. The rest of the students, however, began to get up and stretch, while a few, like Kagome and Sango, remained in their seats, talking excitedly.
"Sango-chan, we have to try out!" Kagome was beaming with excitement.
Sango was shaking her head. "I don't think so Kagome. I'm not much of an actor."
"That's not true, nee-chan!" Kohaku protested, overhearing her self-deprecating remark.
Kagome shot him a grateful look, and returned her attention to Sango. "You can always just try, Sango-chan. If you don't like it, you don't have to take a part."
"That's assuming I'd even get one," Sango muttered. "I don't know if my English is up to the task. It sounds really difficult, Kagome-chan."
"Come on, nee-chan, you're great in English!" Kohaku urged her, unwilling to see his sister criticize herself. "You get the highest marks in it every year!"
"Well yes, but that's not based on pronunciation..."
"Pronunciation is still a part of it, Sango-chan," said Kagome, nodding her head at Kohaku. "Ne, Kohaku-kun, are you going to try out too?"
"Hai!" Kohaku grinned at her. "Why not, right? I don't really have anything to lose."
Smiling triumphantly, Kagome turned to Sango, "See, Sango-chan? If Kohaku-kun has nothing to lose, then you don't either."
Sango was starting to feel cornered by their persistence, despite the good-natured intentions behind it. "I don't know Kagome-chan. Drama Club is going to take up a lot of time, and traditionally I've always participated in a Sports Club after school."
"Oh," Kagome's enthusiasm dampened then. "What sports do you like to participate in?" she asked, rallying her spirits somewhat.
"Well, I like soccer and swimming, but my favorite is track and field," Sango said, warming up to the subject. "My events are discus throwing and shot-put."
"Nee-chan is really good at them too," Kohaku said with obvious pride. "She won several medals at the regional championship last year, and even went to the Tokyo prefecture meet and placed in the top 12 there!"
"Wow!" Kagome looked at Sango in awe. "You're really talented, Sango-chan! Were you planning on joining the Track and Field Club, then?"
"Well," Kagome gave her a evaluating look, "I suppose I shouldn't be trying to convince you to try out for the play if you've already got something you want to do."
Sango shook her head, "I'm not totally decided yet, Kagome-chan. Besides, given what Myouga-sensei said about this semester being a 'free' period to participate, I could be involved in this semester's production without having to make a permanent commitment to the Club."
Kagome's eyes sparkled at her admission. "Then you're really considering trying out for the play?"
Sango blinked, caught a little off-guard by Kagome's question. "Well, no... I don't know. I mean, I know nothing about the play, really."
Kagome opened her mouth and was about to say something when Kohaku got to his feet, an apologetic look on his face. "I'm sorry to interrupt your conversation, nee-chan, Kagome-san, but Shippou and I really ought to be getting back to class."
"As should we," said Sango, grateful for the interruption. She also got to her feet, Kagome following suit.
"Well, I'll see you after school, Kohaku," Sango smiled down at her younger brother, who was only a couple of inches shorter than she.
"Okay, nee-chan!" Kohaku returned her smile, then he and Shippou made their way past the circle of students surrounding Myouga-sensei, and out the door into the hallway that wrapped around the auditorium and the little theater. Sango and Kagome were close on their heels, both in a hurry to return to the classroom so they'd have some time to eat at least part of their lunch obento boxes they'd brought from home.
As they fell into step alongside each other, Kagome's face lit up as an idea formed in her mind. "Ne, Sango-chan, why don't you come over to my house and watch the movie of 'Much Ado About Nothing' with me?" Taking Sango's silence as encouragement, she continued, "It's been a few years since I last saw it, and we could rent it on the way home at the video store by my house."
"Uh... well, I'd love to, Kagome-chan, but..." Sango trailed off. While she had originally planned on attending the afternoon meeting of the Track and Field Club, she could always go tomorrow without any hassle. Besides, this was an opportunity to not only get to know her new friend better, but to see whether she even understood the play well enough to consider trying out for it.
"Okay, Kagome-chan, I'll come," she said, and was rewarded by Kagome's happy expression at her words.
Sango was amazed to discover that she loved Shakespeare. She found that such an admission both astonished and pleased her, however paradoxically. Kagome had been right--"Much Ado About Nothing" was hilarious. The dialogue, while difficult to follow at times, had a beautiful flow to it, something intensely powerful and romantic. The humor was surprisingly mature and spirited for someone from the 17th century, and, moreover, seemed fitting for modern society as well.
Most of all, however, Sango had loved the interaction between Beatrice and Benedick, the play's main characters. They were the lovers that refused to admit their interest, hiding instead behind barbed insults and merry jests. She had been hooked by them at the start, and had felt her admiration for both actors grow as the movie progressed. When the mood shifted from light and merry to dark and tragic when the lovers Claudio and Hero fell out from an evil plot engendered by the bad guys, things between Beatrice and Benedick only continued to heat up. They were the foundation of the story, the characters that scorched the screen with their personalities and their dramatic exchanges. Sango couldn't begin to imagine the rush each actor must have felt when reciting those amazing lines and expressing such intense emotion. Why, she'd never seen anything like it in her life!
Now, although she could never admit this to anyone, not even Kagome, she was dying for a chance to read the role of Beatrice, just once. Just to see what it felt like to say such magnificent language, to get caught up in the drama of their stormy love affair. So when she said good-bye to Kagome late that afternoon, thanking her heartily for sharing her home and the movie with her, she had secretly made up her mind. For better or for worse, she would audition for the play on Wednesday.
Endnotes: Hee hee, the audition and its results will be in the next chapter. I've already written part of it, and man, are things going to heat up between Miroku and Sango, not to mention between Inuyasha and just about everyone. ^_^ So please, please, if you like (or dislike) this fic, leave me feedback and let me know! :beseeches readers with starry puppy eyes: Anyway, I'm rather behind in classes right now, so I don't know how long it will take me to post the next chapter--although certainly not as long as Kyoudan ch. 2 (which is an icky evil chapter that I'm still stuck on...).
Because of the large number of unfamiliar words and concepts in this chapter, I've made a glossary of terms (including some American theater concepts that many people may be unfamiliar with). Hopefully it will resolve any confusion. ^_^
Nee-chan--an affectionate way of saying "sis" or "sister"
Shomingeki--okay okay, I was having a little too much fun when I came up with the name of the high school. According to the online dictionary I got it from, it means "drama of ordinary people." Can you think of anything more fitting for this story? ^_^
Ne--has two different meanings depending on where in the sentence it is placed. When placed in the front, it means something like "hey." When placed at the end, it means something like "don't you think?" or "isn't that so?"
Hai--means "yes" (although I think it's a little more formal than that, but don't hold me to it)
-chan--a suffix attached to girls' names, usually as an affectionate term of friendship or endearment (although I guess it can be used for guys as well, since Kagome calls her grandfather jii-chan).
Kachiki--okay, I admit, I did the same thing with the characters' last names that I did with the name of the high school--that is, infuse them with personal meaning for each character's personality. Just my silly way of entertaining myself... ; P Because I am perverse, however, I'm only going to give the meaning of this name--all the others y'all can look up for yourself! (well, unless I get a bunch of annoyed people telling me to give out the darn meanings or else...) Anyway, this word means "determined or unyielding spirit."
Juku schools--Right, where to begin with this? I looked up some information about Japanese high schools (as well as utilized dream_plane's excellent reference on junior highs and elementary schools), and found out about two different kinds of supplementary schools students go to--juku and yobiko. Going to the websites listed below will give you a more detailed description, but suffice it to say that juku schools are places where students would go to get supplementary lessons to the ones they were receiving in their main school. Students could also learn about less-taught subjects in junior high, for example, at a juku school, which is largely what Sango and Kohaku did in this story. Anyway, here's two websites with information about these kinds of schools: http://www.tjf.or.jp/eng/ee/eegls.htm#juku http://www.indiana.edu/~japan/digest9.html
-sensei--basically means "teacher." It's a suffix attached to the surname of a teacher, and included when students address the teacher directly.
-san--a suffix which is polite and formal. Used to address elders or people that one doesn't know (as far as I'm aware of, anyway...)
Iie--basically means "no."
Arigatou--means "thank you" (although there are more formal ways of saying it too)
Nanushi--Well, I was searching around for someone to play the principal, and the only guy I could find who was the right age and personality was Nanushi, the village head from the fake shuijin episode (ep. 27 in the anime)-which, might I add, is also the first time Sango slaps Miroku (hee hee, and I even own a cel of it!!! ^__^) I'd forgotten his name, along with the names of a lot of the minor characters, but was saved by this awesome website: http://www.fangirlfriday.com/~katy/anime_shrines/inuyasha/yasha_smallcharacters.html My thanks to the webmistress for all her pains! ^_^
-kouchou--According to Nana-chan's informative sister, it's the suffix for "principal" used in Japan. Although she's not certain if it's used for direct address or anything like that. Anyone else who knows about that, please let me know! ^_^
clubs and permanence--When Myouga talks about giving the students a "free" period to decide whether to join the club, this is a very unusual thing, as far as I can tell from all my research thus far. Students usually join one after-school club, and they remain in it for the duration of their time at the school. It is rare for students to switch clubs, apparently. So Myouga's decision is both unusual and kind, since he's allowing students a chance to experiment in the club without being forced to commit. Sango's own reluctance in getting involved in the drama club is based on this, since she's always been active in a sports club, and had intended to continue it.
Green Room--okay, I couldn't resist using this. It's an American term for the room where the drama department is located. I don't know the history of where the name came from, but it's usually the room where most meetings are held, as well as where the director's office is located. It's like the central room from which everything else is connected. Usually there'll be several rooms connected with it, like the costume room (in my school's case, it was a loft, which was always fun to hang out in ^_^), and the dressing room (well, one of them, since there was another one on the other side of the little theater). The little theater was also attached to the Green Room, and many actors often entered the stage for their scenes from the Green Room (as well as hung out there when they weren't onstage anytime soon). In my high school, the little theater was on the backside of the massive school auditorium. Depending on how big our shows were, we'd use either the little theater as the main stage and the auditorium stage as backstage--in addition to the green room--or we'd use the auditorium stage and the little theater as backstage (the latter of which was much easier to navigate, in my opinion). Rehearsals usually took place in the little theater, until we moved our built sets onto the auditorium stage (in the case of a larger production, including both Shakespeare plays I did crew for). There will be vastly more information about the set-up of the drama club and the two theaters in Shomingeki high school (since I'm sticking with the model I experienced in high school) as the story continues.
English movies of Shakespeare--the two movies that Kagome refers to here are the 1993 production of "Much Ado About Nothing" with Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Denzel Washington and (uh huh huh huh) Keanu Reeves starring. It's a really great production, especially in the way they handle the scenes between the sparring lovers, Beatrice and Benedick, as well as the scenes between their friends as they try to get them together. The "Hamlet" I'm referring to here is the only one I've seen, which I know is good. It's the old Laurence Olivier version from 1948, the first famous movie version of Hamlet as far as I know (the first-ever movie version of Hamlet, however, was apparently a French silent film in 1907). Olivier is a trademark name in the annals of famous Shakespearean actors of the 20th century. His version is still excellent, despite its age, although I haven't seen the more recent Branagh version (which is supposed to be fantastic and reeeeally long), so I couldn't compare them.
Oi--Inuyasha's ever-rude way of trying to get someone's attention. I think it translates rougly to "hey" or "hey you."
Baka--heh, another word we hear a lot in the Inuyasha series... ^_^ Means "idiot" or "fool."
Gomen nasai--a more formal version of "I'm sorry." I'm not sure what the last part adds to it though... in English, perhaps the equivalent would be something like "I'm terribly sorry."
-senpai--a suffix used by underclassmen when speaking to upperclassmen. I'm not exactly sure what the exact meaning is, but it's obviously a sign of respect and age. The suffix for underclassmen, which Kagome uses to address Shippou, is kouhai.
Konichiwa--basically means "hello."
Phew! Long enough end-notes, ne? Well, they're only going to get longer, I fear, given that once rehearsals for the play begin, I'm going to have to put the definitions of many of the words from Shakespeare's time that most native English-speakers stare at in stupefaction when they read them (myself included). ^_^ Anyway, thanks so much for reading this INSANELY long chapter! I have no idea how long the next chapter will be, but if you guys like 'em long, I'll see what I can do to keep 'em long (well okay, that's not exactly a trial, but still...). ^_^