Dream A Dream
Chapter 5: Here's Lookin' At You, Kid
Version 1.1 - Spelling Revisions, no more Fangirl Japanese (4/24/05)
An Inuyasha Fanfiction
By: Azurite - azurite AT fanfiction DOT net
Okay, I'm trying to keep this short and simple, so you can get right to the story.
(1) Doujinfic. Got Clara's
Permission. My Plot. No Stealing.
(2) I No Own Inuyasha. Takahashi Own Inuyasha. Takahashi Rules.
(3) Notes/Thank-Yous At Bottom!
(4) Am Trying VERY HARD to have original chapter titles. Currently not succeeding all that much...
(5) Sticking to Japanese school calendar, Japanese names, etc. Same goes for Japanese sports season. )
(6) This chapter title comes from the movie Casablanca. Go watch it. D
(7) This whole fic is in the process of being revised-- no more 1st person POV! It'll all be 3rd person!
Oh, and of course, go check
out Clara's website hopefully she'll update SD there first
"like, this is speech"
and these are thoughts
and these words are EMPHASIZED!
SLIGHT RECAP: Kagome is your ordinary highschool girl-- that is, until she's sent to her brother's private school on the other end of town to be his keeper-- but there's just one problem: Souta goes to an all-boy's school! Kagome gives up her feminity and pretends to be a boy, but it gets her in a lot of hot water and sticky situations. For starters, now her best guy friend, Miroku, knows! Worse, Kagome's been having weird dreams-- and visions, especially surrounding the hypnotist-girl, Yura! Kagome wakes up from a nightmare with Yura in it, only to find a hair that moves of its own accord around her wrist! What's going on here-- how does she know everyone, and what of Souta's predicament?
PLEASE LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK!
"All that we see or seen
Is but a dream within a dream."
--Edgar Allan Poe
After that nightmare, Kagome wasn't sure she could sleep for the rest of the night. She sat there and heaved for a few moments, while she stared at the hair she'd torn in two, out of sheer desperation. It was just a limp hair, shining in the moonlight like any other piece of dust on the floor. Not gleaming colors, and not slithering like a snake.
But maybe it would-- the moment Kagome closed her eyes. The moment she touched it, maybe? She knew she had to dispose of it, so she dared to stumble out of bed --luckily Hojo didn't awaken, the boy slept like a log-- and toss the offending hair into the toilet. It made no attempt to jump out of the water and strangle the girl.
She hadn't been imagining things. A slender red line lay on her wrist, plain as day. If anyone saw it, they'd surely think Kagome had made an attempt on her life. That was, after all, what it was supposed to have been, right? That thing -- whatever it was -- wasn't meant to simply cut off the circulation to her arm, it was meant to keep binding her until it sliced clean through my artery.
Had she not awoken when she did, it might have done just that.
And... and she would have been a bloody mess in bed. Literally. Hojo would try to awaken her, to no avail. He'd call the dean, the headmaster. The whole floor would wake, and her friends would storm the room. Miroku would hover around the fringes of the crowd, wondering if Kagome had been found out. Headmaster Kaede would pull the blanket off her, and in front of all the guys, in front of all her friends --in front of Souta too, no doubt-- Kagome would be revealed as female, and dead as a doornail.
Souta would be chastised too, unable to mourn. No one to protect him. And her friends? And Kagome herself...? How strange; she felt a sense of duty, of desire around these people that she just met.
How foolish to be thinking along those lines! But when one couldn't sleep, those sort of thoughts tended to race through your brain.
Kagome didn't sleep for the rest of the night-- which would explain why she slept in Psychology class the following day. Since the teachers for that course were an endless stream of substitutes (and who really knew why?) no one paid it any mind.
It was a welcome relief when Inuyasha told her, four days and very little sleep later, everyone would be meeting at the ice cream shoppé on Friday night to celebrate the end of a long week.
Since the first week of school proved to be the most difficult in recent memory (well, given that everyone had been used to a two-week break between their last school year and this one), everyone wanted an excuse to stuff ourselves with as much food as they could afford.
Despite the welcome change in setting and atmosphere, Kagome was still much too tired to pay any mind to the various conversations going on-- Inuyasha, Kouga, Miroku and Eiji all arguing about something or another, and Sango and Kikyou exchanging quiet words about something unintelligible. For Kagome's part, she was content slurping on a chocolate malt as slow as possible, sucking up the freezing ice cream through the straw at a snail's pace.
This would have been much more fun had it not been for the thickness of the malt-- every now and then, she sucked up too much at once, and it felt like someone had jammed an icicle up her nose. She was positive that my the time she finished the glass, she'd give myself literal brain freeze.
"Hey," Miroku started as he popped a fry in his mouth. "What are we going to do this weekend? My house is off limits"
"Don't look at me. You guys know what's on at my place..." Inuyasha mumbled, a cross expression coming over his face. Kikyou nodded solemnly in agreement, which only confused Kagome more. She had no idea what Inuyasha was referring to, or what situation both he and Kikyou were in that always excluded them from every situation. Curious-- but she had the sense not to ask. The two were stiff and closed-mouthed enough as it was, and they didn't need someone new in their group to prod into their personal life.
Eiji paused, glancing up at Kagome while she sucked on my malt. After massaging my straw a few times, she managed to get some more of the malt up without additional 'brain freeze.' She was merrily sucking away at her malt when Eiji's face blossomed into what could only be called a devilish grin. He looked up at the others with that selfsame grin on his face, and...
Kagome's straw was still hanging out of her mouth when Eiji spoke.
"Hey," Eiji said with a grin. "I know where we can go, provided that he agrees"
Kagome figured he'd say something like "Go to Kouga's" or somesuch, as Kouga was the only one who hadn't yet spoken. She continued sucking on my malt, listening with half an ear, while Inuyasha leaned forward curiously.
"Kagome's!" Eiji declared proudly, slapping her on the back as he did so.
Kagome coughed, swallowing down an entire mouthful of freezing cold chocolate malt, all at once.
"WHAAAT!" Kagome screamed.
Kagome, try as she might, couldn't get out of the situation. She begged, she pleaded, she practically whined at her friends, but they wouldn't budge, In a last ditch-effort, she tried pulling Miroku off to the side, hoping he would come to her defense with some over-blown lie. He would understand, wouldn't he?
But he only smirked and refused to listen. Kagome was in a rut, to say the least-- and since most everyone was intent on spending the weekend, as of the following morning, when the students were officially allowed to leave school grounds after morning class, Kagome had no way of getting out of it.
The problem, then, was simple-- at her house, at the shrine, Kagome was female. 100 female. There was no 'brother' Kagome. Everything at the house was related to Kagome's female-side, and there wasn't so much as a shrapnel of evidence pertaining to other relatives-- not a twin brother, and certainly not an even OLDER sister that lived in Texas.
Kagome winced, remembering that ridiculous lie, and the mess it had gotten her in.
Sango, Kagome, and Miroku ended up in the same car on the way back to school; everyone met in the school parking lot to discuss a meeting time to go to Kagome's place. The aforementioned, for her part, was busy sulking against Miroku's car-- and trying to recover from the latest insane ride. Sango had practically choked Miroku to death, and she was one of the many people supposedly used to Miroku's "style" of driving, if you could even call it that!
On more than one occasion, both she and Kagome had told Miroku to pull over and let one of them drive -namely Sango, as Kagome couldn't drive- but Miroku resisted. The girls suffered for the remainder of the ride, and when Kagome turned a sickly shade of green, Miroku made an innuendo about her "secret" that snapped her right back to health. Sango didn't say anything to it, passing it off as another one of Miroku's bad jokes, but she did wonder what was going on between the two 'boys.'
Kagome flopped right into bed the moment she got to her room, glad to find Hojo already sound asleep. Everything was a total mess-- she'd barely paid attention in classes most of this week, and though tomorrow had originally promised to be a short, relaxing day, now it was the equivalent of Doomsday for the Higurashi girl-gone-boy.
'What in the seven hells am I going to do about this one?'
The next day, classes seemed to drag on for an interminable amount of time. By the time the last bell rang, Kagome bolted out of the classroom like a shot-- but not before Inuyasha yelled to her,
"We'll see you at five!"
Kagome only groaned as she dashed out of the school. She met Souta near the bus stop heading toward their home-- his black leather satchel was stuffed full of papers, but he wasn't sporting any new bruises.
"Hey kid, ready to get out of here?" Kagome asked quickly, practically dragging Souta along the sidewalk to the bus shelter.
"Ka-Kagome! You're pulling my arm! And besides, I said I'd wait for Ri--" Souta didn't even get the chance to finish before Kagome dragged him onto an approaching bus. She slammed several coins into the machine and stomped back towards the back of the bus.
Several minutes later, when the bus was well on their way, Kagome had caught her breath and seemed to have calmed down some. Souta rubbed his arm and glared at Kagome the whole time.
"Kagome, what were you thinking? I told you I was waiting for Rin!" This time, Kagome sighed and took a deep breath before responding in a quieter tone than she'd yelled at Souta with earlier.
"Sorry, but... look Souta, I've gotten myself into a mess this weekend. Everyone's coming over to stay at the shrine. At five tonight!" Kagome hoped her words would illicit a sympathetic reaction from her brother who, being the focal point of Kagome's even being at YSG, understood her predicament.
"REALLY? Inuyasha and Kouga and Miroku and ALL OF THEM?"
Kagome eyed her brother strangely and nodded, "Yes... all of them..."
"COOL! The most popular guys in the whole school, staying at MY house!" Kagome coughed slightly, to which Souta sported an embarassed blush. "Uh, our house! Mom's house? The shrine?" He offered weakly.
Kagome didn't grin, but she leaned back, slouching into the seat. "What am I going to do?"
"Ah, don't worry about it, I'm sure you'll figure something out..." Souta grinned as he stood up, as they neared their stop, "Bro."
Kagome only scowled.
Kagome barely had time to think of anything that would aid her, as the first thing that happened when she stepped into the house was a half-hour interrogation session from her mother and grandfather. They had welcomed her home with open arms, of course, but Kagome barely had a chance to get a word in edgewise-- at least, concerning tonight's "problem."
All the same, Kagome openly and honestly detailed everything about Souta's situation thus far-- and she watched as her mother's eyes widened, and began to water, and her grandfather's expression grew blanker and blanker. The wrinkles on his face became evident, creased with worry and sorrow.
"I'm watching him, though," Kagome assured them hurriedly. And it was the truth-- she made sure to peek in on Souta whenever she had the chance. But it wasn't easy, even though they were on the same campus. And younger students stayed in an entirely separate dorm, with different rules and curfews than the high school. Not to mention Souta wouldn't take kindly to being coddled. Still...
Kagome saw tears on the lashline of her mother's eyes, and bit her lip from continuing. She wouldn't be able to stand it if her mother cried, she knew that much. If her mother cried, Kagome knew she wouldn't be able to stop herself either. And she was already in a big enough bind as it was.
'Souta... Miroku knows the truth ... Everyone coming over soon...These weird dreams...' The last thing had been an afterthought, one on the farthest reaches from her mind. The night previous, she hadn't dreamed at all, but she had, for the first time that week, slept peacefully. Why then, had the very thought of the dreams, come back so suddenly, and given her such a chill?
"They'll have to get through me before they can touch Souta..." Kagome nodded firmly, rising to her feet. She wanted to get to her room as soon as possible and try to sort things out. Kagome cast one last glance back at her mother, who was smiling a solitary tear rolling down her cheek.
"Kagome, you... you're such a good brother!" She wrapped Kagome in a hug, who stood stock-solid, sweatdropping.
"MOM, I'M A GIRL!"
Kagome cast a sidelong glance at my clock while she threw things around in the guest bedroom at the house. She had to make it look like she actually had a brother named Kagome, that he had a room here, and that Kagome --the boy-- lived in it! It was more difficult than it seems. The red digits blinked a merry 2:26. She'd gotten home at 12:45, but Mom and Grandpa's little "interrogation session" had taken a good half hour off of her slate.
Trying to gather 'Kagome-like' things took another hour or so, so there she was, in the midst of a dark, dank, dusty room, trying to make it look 'boyish' enough for the guests. It didn't help that she wasn't comfortable in her school uniform (not to mention she'd been wearing it all week; it was desperately in need of cleaning), so she'd changed into a large shirt and a pair of short, green shorts.
Despite her haircut, her bangs were still long, so she'd pushed them back with a pair of bobby pins on either side. A bright green bandana covered her hair, to protect it from 'vicious dust bunnies,' but as it kept sliding off whenever Kagome ducked under some table or chair, it didn't seem to do much good. Though she was dust-covered and crawling on my hands and knees, she somehow looked more the part of a girl than usual. But wasn't that the point? Everyone was due to arrive at 5:00 p.m. and Kagome barely had three hours.
The room that was really Kagome's -- the one filled with girlish jewelry, my old school's uniform, and bookcases upon bookcases of shoujo manga-- that would be "Kekki's" room. Though there was no chance in hell that any of the guys would ever have the opportunity to see it... There wouldn't be any reason for them to, would there? Kagome decided she would just fabricate some lie about Kekki staying over at a friend's for the weekend, and then nothing would be out of the ordinary. Even Kagome's mother could play along-- after all, she'd already tripped up once, thinking Kagome was her 'son,' so maybe that was a blessing in disguise. Or so Kagome hoped.
Kagome spent most of her time dusting off the walls, sweeping the floor, and tottering on a step ladder to replace the room's old, long-since-burnt-out lightbulb. After that, it was just a matter of making the place look 'boyish.' So she took out some of the old posters of the Central League Teams that she had lying around-- namely, those of the Yomiuri Giants, since they were the closest team to home, and Kagome's personal favorite. They hadn't won the pennant enough to go to the Japan series in a while, but she still adored the team over any of the other five in the Central League, and certainly more than any of the six in the Pacific League, no matter how 'dynamic' sportscasters said they were.
Grandpa had tossed a picture of some Japanese model --Yuko Aoki the name on the poster read-- into the room, though Heaven only knew where he got it. Kagome plastered it up on the wall. She stood back and admired her work so far-- the poster unnerved her slightly, but the model was fully clothed, so she had nothing to worry about-- at least, nothing to worry her female self about. At least the poster's presence made it look like Kagome might actually be attracted to the female gender. As a boy, that is. Not as she was at the moment-- which is what she is all the time, really: a girl.
"Hey Grandpa?" Kagome called out down the hall, while still figuring out how to arrange the furniture. "Why do you have a picture of..." she glanced back at the poster, reading the name off, "Yuko Aoki?"
"I plead the fifth," Grandpa called back.
"We're not in America, we don't HAVE a Fifth here!" Kagome's grandfather only chuckled nervously and ambled back down the hall. She turned back to the atrocity facing her in the room. It was as good as gold, except...
"There." Kagome smirked to herself proudly, having pulled several sheets and blankets off the bed. Now it looked like a guy's room. Souta might be much younger than Kagome, but he was the best example she had when it came to the nature of boys. Kagome messed up her bed, strewn school papers over the old desk, and tossed an old shirt over a lampshade so that it hung crookedly.
When Kagome turned to leave the room, Grandpa stood in the doorway, a slight grin cracking the sides of his face. He rolled his eyes while he sipped his iced tea, obviously amused by Kagome's pride over her newly messy room.
"You're never going to pull this off, you know. What you need is" He whipped out a small amulet from nowhere, while I rolled my eyes the minute my glance caught on the tiny amulet. "A lucky charm! Legend has it that" Kagome snatched the charm from Grandpa before he could get into one of his long-winded 'legends' once again, then looked over the amulet.
"Hey! This would make cute hair accessory" Kagome mumbled, testing it out as she pulled the bandana off my hair. Kagome pranced around with it for a while, much to her grandfather's dismay.
Grandpa snatched the amulet back, scowling at the girl. "Kagome!" Her only reply was to grin back sheepishly.
Kagome's grandfather was a fellow of the most interesting sort-- being the sole believer in Higurashi family in the 'legends' that surrounded the family shrine. Lots of legends dated far back-- hundreds of years even, but Kagome guessed real religious belief wore off as it got down the line.
Except... well, except for her. She's quite the exception to the rule, but... again, that's spoiling the story before we hit the plot.
Grandpa also happened to be quite... well, superstitious. At baseball games, he was always seen holding one "good luck" charm, one amulet or another. Once, he'd even brought a 'dried hand of a kappa,' which is that legendary duck-thing-- some water sprite that has all its power in this bowl on top of its head. Spill the water and the kappa becomes weak, and has to do your bidding. So you can imagine what a dried HAND of one of those things would do...
Freak an entire row of fans out, that's what. Kagome and her grandfather been sitting next to a group of schoolgirls, cheering on their favorite players-- undoubtedly the youngest and most handsome from the team. Kagome herself was too focused on the sport to be like those girls, but when Grandpa whipped out that dried hand and held it up like a banner, Kagome screamed just as loudly as those girls.
Kagome managed to snatch the thing away from him before he could bring it to another game and get them kicked out-- and had lazily tossed it aside to Buyo, the fat family cat. He'd promptly chewed the thing to bits, so no more wishing-hand. Grandpa nearly had a hernia when he found the bones-- and the family was just lucky Buyo didn't get sick from that rotten old meat!
Finally satisfied with her work in the room, Kagome headed toward her room to change into something more suitable-- but the doorbell rang before she had the chance. She shot her grandfather a withering look, telling him to remember that she was Kekki, his granddaughter, and not Kagome, his grandson. She walked past the living room and into the entryway, twisting the knob and pulling the door open-- she was all ready with a polite, declining smile, expecting a solicitor with enough guts to troop up the 215 steps to the temple.
'So not a solicitor.'
To Kagome's great surprise, Inuyasha blinked back at her. Suddenly she realized that the things that had the most profound effect on her emotions tended to be things that could be expressed in little to no words at all.
'They're not supposed to be here now! Two hours! I look like a girl!'
"Ummm" Kagome stood there, slack-jawed and open-mouthed for a what felt like an eternity. Behind Inuyasha, Miroku grinned sheepishly. Kagome felt the bile rising in her throat-- along with the desperate urge to throttle Miroku for bringing everyone so early! It was either Miroku or Eiji, because it was all Eiji's fault that they were here in the first place! And whatever reason Miroku might have had for bringing everyone early, Kagome was in no mind to hear it; Miroku had, in that short span of time, rocketed up to the top of Kagome's "Revenge List."
"Uh, you must be Kekki" Inuyasha mumbled, suddenly twisting a foot behind his other ankle. Kagome suddenly realized that Inuyasha probably didn't associate with any girls outside of the group-- that meant he only regularly spoke to Sango and Kikyou. Going to an all boys' school would do that to you, Kagome surmised, but she couldn't know for sure-- not when she herself was a girl!
For a moment, it almost looked as though Inuyasha was blushing-- and when Kagome realized that his line of sight was directed at her exposed thighs, she realized why. The shorts had ridden up her legs since she'd been crawling around on the floor, and now Inuyasha and Miroku both had a a fantastic view of her legs.
"Kekki?" Another voice chimed in. Kagome practiced the Gestalt approach and looked at the entire picture, instead of the details. Then she swallowed a cry of unfairness when she realized that no, it wasn't just Inuyasha and Miroku there, but, in fact, everyone. Kagome suppressed a groan as she opened the door fully as an invitation, and let everyone come inside. She was greeted with six surprised stares.
Kagome quickly plastered on a fake smile and took a step backward, sending a quick prayer to whatever god would hear her.
"You must be Kagome's friends." Kagome felt as though she was talking to herself in third person. She cast a threatening glance at Miroku, as she continued speaking.
"He's upstairs right now-- he said when you got here that he wanted to talk to you-- Miroku?" Miroku swallowed and nodded-- he knew full well that he was in trouble."I'm sure he'll be right down in a minute," Kagome smiled and motioned for Miroku to follow her upstairs.
"Come on, I'll show you to Kagome's room."
Once there, she growled at Miroku. "What the hell were you thinking, letting them come this early? I can't believe that heinous lie worked..."
Kagome rolled her eyes, catching sight of Yuko Aoki's picture on the wall. She quickly glanced away, feeling embarrassed once more.
"I couldn't exactly stop them, you know!" Miroku cried, shrugging helplessly.
"Kouga and I both pestered Inuyasha and Eiji to call before they came, but they figured we'd be on the road long enough not to worry about it."
Kagome sighed heavily, flopping down onto the messy mattress. Instinctively, she started making the bed, but she was halted in the process when Miroku sat down as if she hadn't been doing anything at all.
"But what are you going to do now?" he asked pointedly, making a wide gesture from Kagome's legs up to her breasts. She reddened and glared at him menacingly, forcing him back a meter. She pulled her knees up to her chest, staring off into space.
"I don't know. I can't be Kagome and Kekki at the same time, and now that Kekki's here, she can't just disappear-- not when Kagome needs to be 'entertaining guests!'" Miroku nodded sagely, while Kagome felt like socking him in the ribs.
"Tell you what," he said, grinning brightly, "why don't you have Kagome run off somewhere-- a sick grandma or grandpa or something, and you can be Kekki --yourself-- for the whole weekend!" Kagome shot Miroku a look that plainly said "You better not be trying to come on to me."
He shook his head vehemently, "Look, I'm just trying to help you out here." He smiled, an almost genuine smile, "Really." Kagome would have believed him, had his hand not snaked up her thigh. She swatted him away and sent him downstairs.
As she readied to slam my door shut, she heard Miroku say "Bad news guys!" Kagome kept her door open slightly to listen. "Kag's grandma from out of town just came down with a bad illness, and he's gotta go see her in the hospital. Something about his grandma askin' for him 'specially."
'Nice one, Miroku!' Kagome had to admit, it was a pretty decent excuse. The hard part was getting 'Kagome' to leave, but 'Kekki' to stay! After all, Kagome couldn't leave the temple, hop into a taxi and leave, and then mysteriously reappear as 'Kekki,' without an excuse as to where she'd gone!
Kagome dashed to her real bedroom as fast as she could, grabbing her YSG school uniform shirt and dress pants. It was the closest thing she had to a real guy's outfit, and in the week since she'd 'become a guy,' she hadn't had much time to sort through the mess Grandpa had gotten her on that shopping spree. She tumbled down the stairs while shifting a duffle bag full of old laundry onto her shoulder.
Thankfully neither her mother, grandfather, or little brother were around to hear Miroku's horrible lie-- one of them would have said something, considering Kagome's grandfather's wife --Grandma-- has been dead for seven years now, and her father's mother... well, she wasn't on the best of terms with the Higurashis since her son died.
"Uh sorry about this guys. It really came up last minute..." Kagome faked her best distraught expression. It seemed to be working; everyone looked sympathetic.
"What about Kekki?" Kouga immediately piped up. Kagome's cheeks reddened slightly, so she quickly turned away, pretending to adjust the strap on her bag."Uh, she'll stick around this weekend. So uh... yeah, watch out for her and uh, don't try nothin' funny, 'cause you know I'll hear about it." Kagome would have yelled up to 'Kekki' but she had no ventriloquist skills to show for a reply back.
"Yeah yeah, dude, she'll be in good hands. Let us know how your Grandma's doin' though!" Eiji called.
"Give us a call when you get there, so we know when you're coming back." Miroku added, winking slightly. Kagome nodded slowly, unnerved by Miroku's attitude, but she figured there was a way to actually pull the heist off-- if Miroku played his cards right, and so did she.
"Uh, better go say bye to Mom now..." Kagome ran off into the kitchen, whispering that 'Kagome' was going to visit his sick grandma, while 'Kekki' stayed the weekend. Mom tapped her on the back twice to assure Kagome that she understood, and amazingly enough, she pulled off the perfect posture and expression as she pulled away from our hug.
"Take care of Grandma now, Kagome! She wanted to see you!" Kagome nodded and grinned at her mother as she dashed outside, slamming the sliding doors closed on her way out. She curved around the side of the house, ducking into the old well house to change. It was pitch black in there, but she only needed to be in there a second, to strip out of her uniform and back into her shorts and big t-shirt. She was fumbling out of her pants when she heard the noise.
'Wh... What the hell was that?'
Kagome stared at the well down the stairs. She swallowed a lump that suddenly formed in her throat. Shafts of sunlight managed to peek through the roof of the old well house, and she could barely make out the lid of the well... blank as a fresh sheet of paper. Not a single ward or charm on it.
Something wasn't right. Kagome's grandfather always said that the well house was cursed, that a great magic was at work inside... of course, Kagome had never believed him, but the few times she'd snuck inside, there'd always been wards and charms decorating the well lid. She moved down, stepping towards the lid lightly, fear bubbling in her stomach.
'The lid... it's crooked. Like it was recently replaced.'
Kagome knew Souta was too afraid to go inside the well house, and her grandfather, no matter how superstitious he was, wasn't dumb enough to risk falling down a well. And Mom? Mom didn't care about these places...
"Buyo?" Kagome called out, timidly. There was no one else it could be but the fat, stupid cat. The door to the well house never closed completely, so it was entirely possible that Buyo sought a quiet place to sleep the day away. He'd probably chosen the well lid, knocking it --and all the wards- askew. Kagome searched the floor for the fat cat or the misplaced wards, but there was nothing. In fact, the soil had no prints in it whatsoever, except those she'd just made in her school shoes-- and... another pair?
Indeed, a pair of bare footprints walked the distance from the well to the stairs, and then vanished altogether.
'Th--This isn't happening! I'm dreaming again, this is some whacked out dream... a result of eating too much cafeteria food or something! It has to be!
The sound was louder, and this time, Kagome was sure it came from INSIDE the well.
The Bone-Eater's Well.
Kagome's grandfather's legends suddenly rung loud and clear in Kagome's mind. Legend had it that the bones of demons were at the bottom of the well. No one knew how they'd gotten there, but there they stayed, buried under centuries of sand and dirt. Kagome swallowed hard again, edging her hand towards the well lid. What was there to be afraid of? None of her grandfather's silly stories were ever true, and... well, worse case scenario? Termites! Or Buyo, that stupid, fat cat!
Swallowing her fear along with a lot of bile that had crept up her throat, Kagome slid the well lid partially open.
And she nearly screamed when two, glowing, hollow-eyed creatures stared back at her, holding something bright and warm in their bug-like claws. Kagome shrieked, shoving the lid closed before the oversized bugs could escape. Kagome began hyperventilating as she backpedaled as fast as her legs could take her, until she flopped down onto the old creaky stairs.
What... what did I see just now?
Kagome wandered back into the house, looking somewhat worse for the wear, and more than a little shell-shocked. Her face was pale and her eyes wide, and she made quite the sight to the guys and two girls gathered around the living room table.
"Ah... Kekki?" Miroku was the first to speak, rising to his feet when Kagome veritably stumbed over the entryway step, forgetting to take her outside shoes off entirely. Soon she'd gained everyone's attention, and had to shake herself out of her stupor.
"You okay? What happened?" Kouga asked, his brows creasing. Kagome gulped, not liking the worried tone that pervaded Kouga's voice. As far as "Kekki" was concerned, they'd just met, and hadn't even been introduced. Who was he to be so familiar with her... unless...
'He couldn't... he doesn't know! He can't All the same, Kagome couldn't take that chance, so tried to speak as flawlessly as possible.
"I was just uh, looking for my cat. I'd gone out the back way, but I couldn't find him, and I nearly fell down the temple stairs..." It was a ridiculous lie, but they seemed to eat it-- though Miroku looked a bit more concerned. Kagome fisted her hands at her side, hating the double life she was living.
"So, Kagome's gone now... I guess you guys are stuck with me for the weekend, eh?" Kagome tried to smile brightly, hoping that this would allow her to be more open with the people she already recognized as friends. Surely she'd be more comfortable like this, right? And maybe even get along with the girls better?
Kagome cast a wary glance at Sango and Kikyou. Sango was staring at her hands on the table, while Kikyou was giving Kagome an odd look, one that unnerved the younger girl into looking away.
"I dunno, stuck isn't really the case here..." Miroku laughed. Kagome glared at him. "You're Miroku. Kagome told me a lot about his... perverted friend."
Miroku raised an eyebrow."He did, did he?" He leaned forward, purposely flustering the girl, "Did he tell you that you're beautiful?"
Kagome blushed to the tips of her toes, and then chewed on the inside of her lip."I think that'd be a little awkward. After all, Kagome is my brother." Kagome smirked at Miroku, who drew back, embarassed.
The guys all shared a hearty laugh at Miroku's expense, though Sango and Kikyou looked less than enthused with the current line of conversation. Kagome settled herself next to Kikyou, diagonal to Sango, and made to introduce herself to them.
"Uh, hi, I'm Kekki, Kagome's--"
"Twin sister. We know. He's told us about you," Kikyou interrupted icily, waving her hand slightly, Inuyasha shot her an irritated glance, but she ignored it, frowning slightly as her gaze met Kagome's. She seemed to be inspecting the girl, but her eyes never really left Kagome's face.
"He has?" Kagome asked, feigning innocence, "Only good things, I hope."
"O-Of course!" Miroku interrupted, quickly sensing the dangerous path the two girls were treading on. "Uh, Kekki, this is Kikyou," he gestured to the older girl, who made no move to shake hands or otherwise formally acknowledge Kekki other than to sniff up at her. "And this is Sango." He smiled at Sango, but she merely raised an eyebrow at him, nodding curtly to Kagome.
'Not good. I'm already off to a bad start with the girls!' Kagome thought, sinking down. She fumbled, trying to come up with a way to get on their good side without blowing her secret. It would be one thing if she told Sango -she'd sort of WANTED to, from the start- but Kikyou was a different matter altogether.
"Say!" Miroku suddenly exclaimed, breaking the defeaning silence,
"Didn't you shadow Sango last year over at YSJ? I'm sure I saw you around, maybe that's why your brother was familiar to me!" Inuyasha, Kouga, and Eiji all raised an eyebrow, wondering why Miroku had chosen this time to mention that little tidbit.
"Uh--" Kagome started, unsure what to say. Sango looked at her strangely, but nodded. Kikyou's eyebrow shot up in surprise, and Kagome gulped.
"You two know each other, then?" Kikyou asked, her tone suspicious. Kagome swallowed nervously, wondering what Sango would say.
"Maybe. A lot of girls shadowed me last year. You and me didn't have many classes together back then, so that's probably why you never saw her." Kikyou nodded slowly, seeming to accept this excuse, and went back to looking at her nails.
"Uhm, 'scuse me, I think I'll go get drinks in the... uh, the kitchen!" Kagome dashed off to the kitchen, but not a second behind her was Miroku, saying "I'll help!" before Kagome could even protest.
The two were alone in the kitchen, quiet for a moment before they were sure no one had folowed them or was listening in.
"From the beginning, please," Miroku said, simply.
"What? You're the one that brought them here early!" Kagome hissed.
"You think I had much of a choice? Sango convinced everyone it would be easier if we all came in my van than if we all took separate cars, and those that couldn't fit were stuck on the bus! And they wanted to leave then, and..." Miroku trailed off, going through the cabinets looking for snacks.
Kagome opened one angrily, the handle slamming on the wood door behind it. She took out some iced tea mix and slammed it on the countertop."And..." Her voice grew quiet, "I saw something out there, Miroku. When I went to change in the well-house. Something..."
"Hey, are you guys makin' out in there or what!" Eiji's voice called out to the pair, followed by a whoop from Kouga and a snicker from Inuyasha.
Kagome immediately poked her head out the doorway, glaring at Eiji."No, we were not! We were making iced tea, thankyouverymuch!"
"Oh, is that the new word for it?" Kouga laughed, though his expression seemed slightly disappointed. Kagome thought, just for a brief moment, that he could be jealous -of all people- of Miroku. How silly!
"Augh! I give up! Miroku, can you please make the iced tea on your own! I'm going upstairs to change!" Miroku called out "sure" as Kagome tromped upstairs, not looking back.
Kagome scrambled into a pair of cleaner clothes as fast as she could. The first thing she grabbed from her closet just happened to be a bright yellow sundress, patterned with a flowers. She didn't care that it was a dress and that Miroku would probably gawk at her; she would have a talk with him later.
When she got downstairs, Miroku was just entering the room, trying to balance an assortment of cups and an iced tea pitcher on a tray while everyone else was sitting around, either looking about the room or talking amongst themselves. Everyone, that is, except Inuyasha.
"Where'd Inuyasha... goooah...!" Miroku stumbled on the slight step leading from the kitchen to the dining room, and if Kagome hadn't slid down the rail and jumped, everyone probably would have been covered in sticky iced tea. And that wouldn't have been fun.
"Hah... thanks, Kekki." Miroku smiled sheepishly, while Kagome shot him an angry glare.
"He went to check out Kagome's trophies. I think he spotted them as we were coming inside." Sango answered Miroku's earlier question, rolling her eyes at him. She clamped an iron hand around his arm, seeing how close he was getting to Kagome, and Kagome mentally thanked her for that. Sometimes, Miroku was just a bit too lascivious...
That's when Sango's words hit Kagome dead on. Inuyasha. Looking at Kagome's trophies. But those trophies were really Kagome's --er, Kekki's-- which meant they had female statuettes on top, but Kagome's name on the plaques, and--!
"Hey, Kekki." Inuyasha looked a bit confused, scratching behind his head as he flopped down in front of the table, "Why does your brother have a trophy for the Central League Women's Junior Pro Championships?"
Kagome gulped, hard. 'Think fast, Higurashi!'
"Ah... well, for a while Kagome and I went to the same school-- he was on the baseball team, and I was on the softball team... and uh, we had the same coach. But come championship time, they always mixed the plaques with our names on them up. We're still waiting for the right ones to come back from the school." Kagome nodded quickly, grabbing a glass of iced tea and chugging it down.'Please let them believe that, please let them believe that...' she chanted in her head like a mantra. It was ridiculous, really -- some of those trophies were YEARS old, but...
"Oh!" Inuyasha said, nodding. "That'd explain it then." Kagome blanched, and cast a sidelong glance at Miroku, who seemed to be trying awfully hard to suppress a chuckle. The others didn't even seem to pay any mind to the exchange that had just taken place- they went right back to whatever it was they'd been doing.
'If they trust me this much...' Kagome didn't want to think of the possibility that they'd find out the truth about her identity. If they did, after putting so much trust into her, they were sure to hate her. And Kagome couldn't take that-- she liked them too much already. Kagome's mother eventually peered in, going into what Kagome nickanmed 'Mama-mode.' She started to make more iced tea and prepare snacks for everyone, chastising 'Kagome' for not telling her sooner about how his 'sweet friends' were coming over.
Silently, Kagome heaved a sigh of relief; at least she wasn't the type of Mom to start rattling off about her children's baby years or their most embarassing moments-- but it wasn't as if she could show them baby pictures.One thing Kagome always appreciated about her mother --or at least, once the whole switching genders mess happened-- was that she never seemed to have time to make baby picture albums for either Kagome or Souta. She always said she would, but she just never got around to it-- and thank goodness for that. Had the guys seen Kagome's baby pictures, they would have noted a lack of boyishness -- and then what would Kagome say? That we'd sent 'Kagome' off to live with Aunt Keiko in Hokkaido until he reached a suitable age?
Sure, maybe the guys trusted Kagome, but she knew they'd never swallow that load of bull. Kagome started to head to the couch, but she noticed Inuyasha and Kouga both staring at her oddly-- so she promptly made a 180 and instead headed to the loveseat, where she sat beside Sango and Miroku. Their gazes followed her there, to the point where she started feeling uncomfortable.
'Why would they be comfortable around you?-- they barely hang out with girls outside of Sango and Kikyou, if at all... besides they just met "Kekki".'
"Well, uh, would you like to watch some movies?"
Kagome toddled over to the video and DVD case and started to pick titles out at random. Despite the whole shelf being arranged in her mother's perfect alpha-numeric order, the majority of the movies she ended up selecting were what could have easily been branded 'chick-flicks.' Among the assortment were The Breakfast Club, The Audrey Hepburn Collection (Breakfast at Tiffany's, Sabrina, and Roman Holiday), Sixteen Candles, and... Terminator 1 and 2: the Collector's Edition.
Everyone was crowded around the TV in various spots-- and somehow Kagome ended up squished against Inuyasha on the couch. Maybe Miroku had had something to do with it, but Kagome couldn't be sure, given that him and Sango seemed to be getting pretty cozy throughout the movies. Kagome wasn't sure how she managed to get the guys to agree seeing so many 'chick-flicks,' but she supposed the assortment of Schwarzenegger movies in the playlist made up for it.
Kagome, for her part, didn't mind one bit, being just as much of an action fan as the next guy-that's-not-really-a-guy.
People were fading in and out of various stages of rest and relaxation; Kikyou had fallen asleep sometime during Roman Holiday, and Eiji and Kouga drifted off once Terminator 2 finished. As far as Kagome knew, her mother, grandfather, and brother were already sound asleep upstairs-- Kagome hadn't even seen her mother since the older woman had given her a brief lecture in the kitchen.
Ms. Higurashi wasn't mad, but she did tell Kagome to let her know in advance --one way or another-- when a group of people planned on staying over. Luckily, she didn't insist on kicking anyone out, which would have made things even more awkward for Kagome. And it was already awkward enough. Why? Well, Fate had decided to deal Kagome a tricky hand that night, and it just so happened that in the middle of Casablanca, Inuyasha and Kagome discovered themselves as the last two people awake.
Kagome was quite wired from all the iced tea she'd drunk, and the movie was interesting enough to keep her eyes open longer than the other girls, and most of the other guys, as well. When she snuck a sidelong glance at Inuyasha to see if he was even sleepy, she was surprised to find that he didn't look the least bit exhausted-- just a bit thoughtful.
"Enjoying the movie?" she whispered softly, mindful of those sleeping around us. Miroku and Sango in particular, looked awfully cute, with Sango's head pillowed on Miroku's shoulder, and Miroku's head resting gently atop Sango's.
"...I have a lot on my mind." Inuyasha answered, picking up his glass of iced tea, with nearly-melted ice cubes still bobbing along the surface. It wasn't really an answer, but Kagome decided that if his thoughts were preoccupied with something else, he couldn't very well enjoy the movie. He too, was courteous enough to keep his voice down, his eyes darting to Miroku and Sango, the sleeping pair closest to the Inuyasha and Kagome.
Kagome swallowed when her gaze wandered from Inuyasha's hands to his lips, pressed firmly against the glass as he drank the last of his beverage. As he pulled his mouth away from the now-empty cup, Kagome found herself staring at his moist lips, thinking how nice they were--
'And completely inappropriate to be thinking about!' Kagome chastised herself. 'But it could be worse. I could be "Kagome," Inuyasha's guy friend, eyeing his lips with a certain kind of desire... How ridiculous!'
"Care to share?" Kagome quickly fixed her eyes back on the screen, not exactly pleased with her line of thoughts. "You're keeping something back from me, I can tell. But that's okay, I don't expect you to tell me everything, since we just met and all..." Kagome reassured Inuyasha hurriedly.
'Geez! I'm so nosy, no matter what gender I am!' Kagome thought. 'Or whatever gender I'm pretending to be...' she amended a moment later.
Inuyasha shrugged easily. "Just some family issues."
Kagome noticed him glancing at her out of the corner of his eye, so she smiled slightly.
"I hope you don't mind us imposing here, for the night. We all have our own reasons for not wanting to be home tonight." Kagome nodded, accepting his reason, though, of course, wanting to know more. Instead of prying, however, Kagome just stared at the screen.
Rick was just telling Sam to play the song he had composed for Ilsa.
"You must remember this... a kiss is just a kiss..."
"It's nothing big, though. Well, actually, it kind of is, I suppose. I was planning on telling your brother this tonight, but he isn't here, so you're the next best thing." He smirked slightly at those words.
"Anyway, my dad's will was found recently..." Kagome stared at him, shocked.
'His father is...?'
"Yeah," Inuyasha murmured, slumping lower, "My dad died a while back. We all figured he didn't leave a will, but my older brother insisted he had. So now that the will's been found, there's this big to-do about who gets what, and whether it's even legit or not." Inuyasha scowled, "Sesshomaru's always had something against me, you know in that 'brotherly love, I hate you' kind of way, I guess, but he just won't back down from this. And Mom... well, she's not getting any better..."
Kagome stayed silent.
'His father dead, his brother selfish, and his mother sick. Poor Inuyasha...'
But Kagome doubted he wanted any pity, and she couldn't exactly offer him honest sympathy-- her family probably seemed like a dream compared to his. Despite Souta's abuse and school and the Higurashi patriarch having died some years ago, Inuyasha seemed to have a lot less to fall back on than Kagome did.
He sighed quietly, refusing to even look Kagome's way. "Losing Dad was hard..."
"I know," Kagome mumbled. She vividly remembered the day her father died-- and all the days leading up to it. She remembered his funeral, and how she hated herself for not being able to cry. And from that day forward, she hated the smell of almost every flower, save sunflowers --her father's favorite-- and roses.
"A sigh is just a sigh.."
"How do you know?"
"My-- my Dad died too... about four years ago." Kagome swallowed, my eyes suddenly watering. But Kagome didn't want tonight to turn into some big sad sobfest, so she quickly rubbed her face to prevent the tears from falling. Silence reigned after her brief confession.
"The fundamental things apply as time goes by.."
"I'm sorry to hear that, Kekki," Inuyasha said, and it sounded like he really meant it.
"It's okay. I got over it." Kagome gulped-- it was yet another lie, but one she'd been telling myself --and all her sympathetic friends-- for years. She hoped that pretending she was strong would somehow make her stronger in reality.
"You shouldn't have had a reason to have to get over it, though, if you can understand what I just said," Inuyasha said, stretching his arms over the couchframe. If Kagome leaned just a little back, his arms would be around her... 'But I'm strong-- I don't need comfort, I don't need help!' At least, that what Kagome convinced herself of.
"I understand perfectly, don't worry. I guess we all have our inner demons, huh?" Of course, back then, she had no idea how true that statement was.
"It happens to the best of us. I'll get over it. Maybe my brother will get over it, too. He probably just wants to find something in himself that believes he loves Dad still. I mean... even if..." He trailed off and shook his head, stopping. Kagome didn't press further.
"And when two lovers woo, they still say 'I love you'..."
Kagome nodded reassuringly, then reached over and rubbed in Inuyasha's shoulders in a comforting manner. "I'm sure everything will be all right, Inuyasha."
She smiled at him, and he smiled back.
"Thanks. Sorry for keeping you up. You can go to sleep, now." Inuyasha murmured, turning away quickly. Perhaps it was her imagination, but Kagome swore she saw him blush.
"On that, you can rely."
Kagome kept smiling at him, and eventually he met her gaze again-- the two of them were probably staring at each other for a good five minutes, while Kagome remained oblivious to the movie playing in the background. Once she realized that the movie had just gone on for about ten minutes since she last even looked at the screen, and she was still staring at Inuyasha, she turned tomato red, swiftly looking away from his piercing gaze.
Thankful for the dark, Kagome curled up on her side, letting her eyes drift shut. She could have sworn she heard Inuyasha whisper Humphrey Bogart's famous line.
"Here's lookin' at you, kid."
"No matter what the future brings as time goes by.."
Kagome was sound asleep during the ending credits of Casablanca when Souta suddenly came thundering down the stairs, his eyes wide and his face pale. The noise quickly awoke Kagome, along with Sango, Kouga, and Miroku. Everyone tiredly rubbed their eyes, staring at the youngster who'd caused the commotion.
Souta was panting slightly, leaving a groggy Kagome wondering what was wrong.
"B-B-Big Sister! B-B-B--" Kagome raised an eyebrow at Souta's stuttering, whether he was actually out of breath or he was just unnerved at the presence of so many of his 'idols' and the 'popular guys' from YSG.
"Spit it out, Souta, I was sleeping, you know." Kagome glared at her little brother, wanting to get back to the comforting, warm recesses of her newly-formed niché-in-the-couch.
"It's Buyo!" Souta spoke in a rush, his eyes wide, "He's still missing, and I can't find him anywhere!" Kagome rose from her sleeping position immediately. While sometimes annoying, the fat feline was a family pet, one that Kagome and Souta both loved dearly. And it wasn't like Buyo to be out of the house at this time of the night; he was a housecat, and not the type to go stalking off in the middle of the night, searching for adventures.
Since he was little, Buyo had often slept on Souta's bed, providing a source of comfort to the boy in difficult times. Occasionally, Buyo found himself on Kagome's bed, rather than Souta's, and it was on those nights that the boy had trouble sleeping. But, since he spent more days in his dorm room at YSG, that never appeared to be a problem anymore. Yet it was, this one particular weekend, as Kagome and Souta were both spending the weekend at the temple.
"What'samattah?" Miroku grumbled sleepily, "Jus' let the dumb cat wander and he'll be back in the morning." Kagome frowned slightly; the temptation was there to do just that, but one look at her brother's upset face forced her out of her comfortable place by Inuyasha's side.
"Can't do that, Miroku," she grumbled. "Buyo's a housecat, anyway, it's not like him not to be back at this time."
When Kagome approached Souta, he informed her in a raspy pant that he'd already searched most of the house and grounds, and that was why he was still up so late-- he hadn't been able to sleep, knowing that Buyo wasn't there.
"Guys, you can go back to sleep," Kagome said, smirking at Sango, who was tiredly trying to move Miroku's hand from her leg, It just kept flopping back there, and Sango seemed too exhausted to do anything about it after the umpteenth time.
"I can find Buyo on my own." Inuyasha gave the girl an odd look, as if he was about to ask her if she really needed help or not, but he kept silent. Souta and Kagome slipped out into the dark night, flashlight in hand, looking for Buyo.
"Did you check all the buildings?" Kagome asked, eying the shrine building, the main house, the laundry room, and... the old well house. She gulped. She wasn't sure if what she'd seen earlier was a dream or not, but she was trying quite hard to forget all about it. Maybe Buyo would really be in there this time, and Kagome would have an excuse to check the well and confirm her fears-- for better or for worse.
"D-Did you check the old well house?" Kagome asked, trying to keep her voice smooth. Souta stopped in his tracks and stared at her, disbelieving.
"Are you nuts? I'd never go in there, Sis, you know that!" Kagome rolled her eyes, wondering how Souta could be such a scaredy-cat at twelve. And here he was, proclaiming left and right that he was a "big boy," and could take care of himself.Kagome sighed heavily.
"I thought I heard Buyo in there earlier... maybe the cat got stuck in the well or something." Souta frowned a little, but nodded, starting to walk again and head in the general direction of the well-house.
Kagome felt an odd chill creep down her back when she neared the door of the place; it was slightly ajar and had been swinging in the wind. The creaking sound it made unnerved her to the core, even as she stepped inside the well-house with flashlight in hand. Souta remained behind, standing in the doorway nervously as his eyes searched the area for their obese cat.
"Okay, I'll check the well... don't go anywhere, okay, kid?" Kagome's voice echoed as she started to walk -ever-so-slowly- down the steps to the well. Once again, she found the well-lid bare, and slightly open. Her hand trembled as if frozen, and Kagome had to swallow to muster up her courage to push the lid back. When she did, and shone her flashlight, she couldn't see anything. For some odd reason, the light didn't reach the bottom of the well.
Kagome couldn't make out the sides of the well, the dirt at the bottom, or anything else. Rather, her flashlight illuminated a rope ladder fixed to the side of the well, with two of its loops nailed firmly into the rim of the well, securing it in place.
Kagome fingered it lightly a moment, wondering why on Earth there would be a ladder going down a well. But then again, this well was strange-- never in Kagome's life had it ever had water in it, and it never appeared to, either, given that there was never any pulley-system attached to it. It was simply a big hole in the ground, with a wooden box built around it-- and a ladder going down into its inky depths.
"Buyo?" Kagome called out, timidly. There was another noise, and something that sounded suspiciously like Buyo's pitiful meow. Kagome rolled her eyes and looked at the flashlight. Yes, the cat had gone and gotten itself stuck in the well. How in the world he'd managed that, only the gods knew. She juggled her flashlight for a few moments, setting it on the well-rim once she'd climbed over it and slipped onto the third rung of the ladder. She tucked it into her pocket, the light shining upwards, as Kagome descended down the ladder.
But her feet never touched ground, and her eyes never saw Buyo. She suddenly dropped from the ladder, and fell into the inky blackness with a scream.
"Kagome? Kagome!" Souta yelled, suddenly running into the well house. He shone his flashlight into every corner, finally scuttling on wobbly legs to the well-- but she wasn't there. She wasn't anywhere. The bones at the bottom of the well gleamed right back at him.
When Souta looked up, he yelped-- Buyo sat on the well-lid, meowing as if nothing was wrong.
'Where... am I?' Kagome moaned, rubbing her head.
'I fell to the bottom of the well?' Kagome looked up, rubbing her eyes. Still dark. She thought she saw some odd shadows hovering above her, in the distance, and called out.
"Souta! Souta, hey! I know you're there! Come on, I need you to help me get out of here!"
But there was no reply.
'That coward! He probably ran off.' In retrospect, Kagome realized that Souta rightfully thought something had happened to her when she screamed -instead of taking it as a potential joke, or an accident. Kagome wasn't the type to play mean practical jokes on her brother, but the younger boy was still scared of many things.
"Great," she mumbled to herself, trying to find her flashlight. In her fall, it had slipped out of her pocket, and she resorted to groping around the well-floor to find it. But it wasn't there.
"Huh. Maybe it got caught in the ladder...?" Kagome slowly started groping the sides of the wall, hoping to at least brush upon the last rung of the ladder. She remembered falling-- and it had felt like quite a distance, but she could at least hold out some hope. But instead of her fingers brushing against rope or packed soil, her fingers felt...
Indeed, thick vines wound all the way up the walls of the well, and Kagome was sure they hadn't been there before. After all, where would they come from? There were no ivy plants anywhere near the well's base on ground level...
A sinking sensation blossomed in the pit of Kagome's stomach, and she realized she had little choice but to try finding her way up by climbing the vines, and hopefully finding some rocks or holes to stand on. For a good hour or so, this was what Kagome did, until she finally made it out of the well, panting and glistening with sweat.
She rose, trembling to her feet, and then realized with a start that she was no longer in the well-house. Rather, she was outside, surrounded by tall trees and waving grasses. Above her, thousands of stars glistened in the late night sky, the moon hanging low towards the horizon.
'What-- the ... where...?' Kagome gulped hard. This was impossible. But as she stumbled forward on tired legs, touching trees and shrubs, she realized with a sickening sensation that it was all very real. She wandered for a few minutes, suddenly seeing the tall shadow of the Goshinboku tree on the ground.
'The Goshinboku! Now I know I'll be able to find my way home!' Kagome didn't give her current scenery much thought, not realizing that, given the position of the Goshinboku from where she was currently standing, she should, by all rights, already BE in her home.
But she wasn't, because her home hadn't been built yet-- wouldn't be built, not for another five centuries...Kagome reached the tree, brushing branches and vines out of her way as she ran towards the monumental tree. She stared at it, in awe and a strange sense of familiarity. This had to be the Goshinboku-- it couldn't be anything else-- but... it wasn't.
Her Goshinboku didn't have such large, tangling roots, and didn't have such a large, white scar, ripping the bark in the middle of the tree clean open. It almost appeared as if something had been fixed to the tree, and then was forcefully ripped off.Everything was strange and frightening, but still somehow familiar.
Off in the distance, Kagome saw a light, dim and flickering, like that of a small fire. Resolutely, Kagome headed towards it, hoping she'd find someone -anyone- that could explain things to her.
Meanwhile, 500 years in the future, a shocked Souta ran back to the house, tripping over the entryway, letting the cat in his arms skitter up the stairs.
"U-Upperclassman Inuyasha! Upperclassman Miroku!" Souta called, easily awakening all present. Eiji grumbled as Souta's hollers awoke him from the recesses of a dreamless sleep, along with the others that had heard the younger boy's cries.
"Wha?" Miroku asked, 'accidentally' groping Sango while he fumbled to sit upright. She socked him in the arm, causing him to wince, but he said nothing, immediately seeing the fear and worry creasing the youngest Higurashi's face.
Inuyasha was already awake, and upon hearing his name called, he turned to the source, his eyebrows raised when he realized it was Souta. His one encounter with the boy had been back with Kagome at the carnival, when his friend had been teasing his little brother about the girls he was with. Inuyasha had thought it cute, how much the boy blushed, but couldn't have imagined the two boys -the one from then, and tonight's Souta- being one and the same.
"It's K-Kekki!" Souta stuttered, almost revealing Kagome's real identity, "S-She fell down the well while looking for Buyo, and she's not there anymore!"
Inuyasha rose slightly, his arm tensing on the arm of the sofa.
"'Fell down the well'?" Inuyasha saw that Souta had a small flashlight sticking out of his pocket, and gestured towards it. "Didn't you check down the well with your flashlight?"
"I did!" Souta cried, taking the flashlight and angrily throwing it to the floor with a clatter. "But there was nothing at the bottom of the well but the old demons' bones..."
"'Old demon bones'?" Sango repeated, her eyes wide. She too, rose to her feet, eyeing Souta.
"Y-Yes. It's the old Bone Eater's Well. There's some legend attached to it, but Sis never put much stock into them. But then she went down the well, and I heard her scream, and--"
It didn't seem as if any more words were needed. Everyone --save Kikyou, who sat in the corner of one couch, her face expressionless-- rose to their feet.
"Got some more flashlights?" Inuyasha held his hand out to Souta, who grinned.
When Kagome reached the source of the light, it was indeed a fire-- but one growing dim quickly. Whoever had been there before -if anyone had- wasn't there now. The fire was dying, and fast.
Kagome looked around, hoping to find someone -or traces of where the person who'd made the fire had gone- but there was not a soul in sight.Rather, she saw the dark shadows of a small village-- huts and shacks, put together using wood and clay, many with straw and bamboo roofs.
"What kind of a place is this? Some sort of virtual reality... or role-playing game?"
She wandered from place to place, wondering where she was. Many of the buildings had windows, which revealed the still-glowing embers of dead fires, cooking pots left unattended and boiled over, and...
Inside the largest of the huts was a small fire with a pot hanging over it, herbs poking out of the cast-iron lid, their infusion casting a strong smell throughout the room. And on the floor lay a series of strange weapons-- a sword in its sheath, a long staff, and...
'A giant boomerang? Waitasec, what kind of a place is this?' Kagome backed away from the building, looking about her hastily. This had to be some sort of a joke, an illusion, a dream. But-- the trees had felt real. The smell of the boiled herbs, the charred embers, and the boiled-over stew... And when a slight breeze ran through the village, that felt real.And suddenly Kagome believed it all. She wasn't in any kind of an illusion, and it was no dream. Everything she saw, smelt, heard, and felt was VERY real-- and very familiar.
'The... the vision I had at Yura's! It was of this place! And... and that is the Goshinboku. But... it's a long, long time ago...' She wasn't entirely sure how she knew this, but as she stumbled back towards the Goshinboku, every ounce of doubt drained from her mind. This place felt familiar to her --maybe too familiar, as if it had become more comfortable than her own home-- but, being alone in a cold, dark, ancient village didn't do much to assuage her fears.
The moon was even lower in the sky now-- almost touching the horizon, and Kagome realized that it was probably long after midnight, perhaps into the earliest morning hours already. She had no idea where she was, or how to get back home. Upset, scared, and lonely, she crumpled onto one of the largest roots of the Goshinboku, clutching her knees to her chest and crying into her arms.
"Inuyasha...!" she whispered softly, unsure why it was his name that came to her lips when she felt she needed comfort and protecting the most.
"Kekki?" Inuyasha paused in front of the great Goshinboku tree, looking around. For a moment there, he'd been sure he heard her voice-- crying out his name. 'Feh! Wishful thinking, idiot. Keep looking!'
Inuyasha shook his head and looked around, not seeing Kekki anywhere. Hefting his flashlight once more, he continued looking, making his way farther and farther from the Goshinboku... and the well-house.
The stars were beginning to fade when Kagome finally rose, and silently stumbled back to the well. She looked at it, staring bleakly into the darkness. She'd found herself coming out of this well when she fell down the well in her home. Maybe there was some connection?
But why? Why would a well in her house -shrine or no, legends or not- lead to a place so much like her own home, but hundreds of years in the past? Where there didn't seem to be any people in the village, any animals in the forest, or any...
'Any what? Is there supposed to be something else here? Someone else?' Kagome wasn't sure. An uneasy feeling swept over her. Yes, she was sure, there was something she was forgetting. But she had to get out of here, because it was cold, lonely, and... dangerous. Yes, dangerous.
'Who was it that never told me to go wandering off on my own in places like this? Bah, how silly. It's not like I go and get lost in strange forests every day...'
Still, something in the back of her mind -a distant echo, a faded memory of a voice- was warning her. Kagome sat on the rim of the well, her legs dangling over into the blackness. In the dark, she couldn't make out the bottom of the well, let alone the legendary demon bones said to reside at the bottom. She'd never believed in Grandpa's strange superstitions and old legends, but now, after having fallen through a well to the past, she was starting to doubt her own beliefs.
Before she could put much thought into what she did believe, a sudden headache struck, like ringing in her ears. A blur of faces and scenery bled past her vision, too fast for her to make anything particular out, but she remembered every single sensation she got from each image.
'Why love? Who did I--'
Before Kagome could give the strange emotions a second thought, she pitched forward into the inky darkness of the Bone Eater's Well.
Inuyasha gathered everyone back up in the living room, with all the lights turned on and the television off.
"Okay guys, it's been three hours now. Kekki didn't strike me as the type to suddenly decide to go on a jaunt around town at midnight, so something must have happened to her."
Souta fidgeted uncomfortably in the corner, wondering if he should tell everyone about the legend of the well. All present were attentive to Inuyasha's words, though some looked surprised that he was taking charge and being logical with his approach of the situation.
"We searched almost all the buildings, and I checked upstairs in her bedroom, and Kagome-kun's bedroom," Sango began, keeping her voice low. Kekki, Kagome, and Souta's mother and Grandfather were still asleep upstairs, and the teens didn't want to uncecesarily worry her family members of Kekki's odd disappearance some hours before.
"Nothing." Sango finished quietly. Like Inuyasha, she believed something was pretty odd about the whole situation. It was really just an odd feeling she got around Kekki -maybe she really had shadowed her last year at YSJ?- but... there was something else. Like Kekki didn't disappear because she wanted to, but because...
'What am I thinking? If I had any idea where Kekki was, she'd be with us right now.' Sango chastised herself, glancing from each face to the next. Beside her, Miroku looked unusually serious and worried, and Sango couldn't help but thing that he felt something for Kekki, and that was why he appeared so concerned.
Geez! That's silly... Miroku is just a stupid, crazy, pervert anyway...' Still, the thought saddened Sango."So we'll split up into teams or something, search the grounds systematically this time, checking every place Kekki might--"
Miroku's eyes widened as a shadow appeared in the doorway,
"Kekki!" Inuyasha looked at Miroku, annoyed, "Yeah, Miroku, we're looking for Kekki, now sit down before--"
The screen door opened fully this time, revealing a pale Kagome, her sundress ripped and soiled in various places. Her own skin had several cuts and bruises on it -who knew where from- and she was pale and trembling, with blank, watering eyes.
She reached a hand out to everyone, her eyes widening as she saw each face, and then she collapsed, Inuyasha luckily catching her before she hit hard wood.
(1) Notice I changed 'Mayu' in the original SD to 'Satsuki.' That's the name of Shippou's first love, which I believe happens sometime around episode 105? Something like that. I didn't use Mayu because I couldn't find a plausible way/reason to bring her back to life- and it would be waay too sad, anyways.
(2) Also, I made Miroku the first to find out, rather than Sango! Sango will find out... eventually. You'll just have to keep reading as to how!
(3) I'm still sticking to the Japanese grade/school day system. They DO have classes on Saturday, but they're half-days, and sometimes devoted entirely to clubs, sports, cleanup, or special meetings. But most of the time, they're just shortened classes. Hence Kagome having classes Saturday morning, and her taking the bus with Souta, instead of having a ride from somebody.
(4) All the movies mentioned herein are property of their respective owners. P
(5) As for Inuyasha telling Kekki about his situation with his brother/mother (which is different from SD) I'll give the same explanation that Clara did-- everyone else in the group knows already, and Inuyasha told Kekki because... well, he wanted to. And he would have originally told Kagome, but, Kekki is Kagome (is "family" anyway, in Inuyasha's eyes) and has understood what Inuyasha's gone through.
THANK YOUs: P Not so many reviews this time, which is sort of sad... Oh well. But THANK YOU, dear reader, for getting this far. I hope you liked it, so tell me what you think!
See you next chapter! Azurite -