Nyanko was firmly stashed in his bag as Takashi made his way up the rather long set of stairs. He could have asked the cat to fly him up, but the last thing he needed was to spark a misunderstanding due to being lazy.
As he trudged up the steps, he couldn't help but think of why he was stuck staying with yet another cousin for possibly six months at least. At least this time he was welcomed back to the house.
Touko's younger sister had fallen rather ill, and she refused to allow Takashi to stay for any length of time. Rather than argue, Natsume had offered to stay with yet another of his many cousins, as long as they could put up with his pet cat and pet fox.
The young kitsune, who had very eagerly bound himself as Takashi's ONLY shiki, was currently curled around his neck like a sort of scarf to the untrained eye. In reality, he had fallen asleep on the train ride and Takashi had allowed him to ride piggyback.
Since they were likely going to be vacant from the house for several months, Takashi had opted to go for the digital route, allowing him to finish his assignments at his leisure online rather than deal with having to use the mail system. As long as they were filled out before the month was over and turned in on a timely manner, he could stay in the same class as his friends.
Touko and Shigeru had decided to update the house a bit, as none of them would be there to hear the racket, and it was due for some upgrades anyway. Like a new stove and fridge, as the ones they had now were about to go out.
Takashi had high hopes for this family. Despite being moved around a lot because he hadn't learned to keep quiet about the ayakashi he saw during his childhood, this family belonged to a shrine.
Which meant A) youkai wouldn't be inclined to stick around and bother him as much, and B) there was a higher chance than normal that if they did show up, then someone would believe him.
When he finally reached the top, he took a deep breath of relief. He did not look forward to walking up those steps every day. At least he'd get some decent exercise from it though.
"Ah! You must be Takashi-kun."
"Hai. I'm sorry to intrude on your home," he said with a polite bow.
"It's no problem. Touko explained why you'd be staying with us for a few months. We were about to go in for lunch. I'll have Kagome set an extra place for you," said his cousin. She noticed the fox and the pudgy cat face.
"This is Nyanko, and this is Rakan," said Takashi, patting Nyanko's head and gently nudging the little fox awake.
It took little time for him to settle in, and he could honestly say he felt at peace here.
Rakan seemed to thoroughly enjoy exploring the shrine grounds. Nyanko and the Higurashi's pet cat looked at each other once before ignoring the other feline.
Though Nyanko seemed on edge for some reason, and not just because he was inside a shrine. It took all of a week before Takashi found out why, and he had been about ready to study one of the strange hand-written books he found in his grandmother's things. He knew it wasn't her handwriting because it was too neat and tidy.
From what he could tell, it was a book on shikigami. It looked fairly interesting too.
"Nee-san! I think Buyo fell in the well!" said Souta. He was the youngest child, and Takashi got along fairly well with him.
"What happened?" asked Takashi.
"I was looking for Buyo to feed him, and I saw him go into the Bone Eater's Well," said Souta.
Takashi didn't like the well. He could fell the youki coming off the thing, and he knew that the seals were almost ready to break. He even had Nyanko confirm it.
Rakan, curious as to what the excitement was about, bounded up to Takashi. He was so used to Nyanko that he didn't even register the kitsune sitting on his shoulders.
"I'll go in and see if I can find him. Did you wish Kagome-san a happy birthday yet?" asked Takashi. Kagome had just turned fifteen today...she was a few months younger than he was, and he was about to turn sixteen in a few months.
"I did this morning," said Souta. Like Kagome would let him forget.
Takashi barely registered Nyanko coming into the well house. This place gave his instincts a bad vibe, and he had learned to detect ayakashi that meant only harm by dint of experience.
Whatever was sealed inside meant nothing but harm.
"What's going on?" asked Kagome.
"Souta-kun said he saw Buyo entering the well house. I'm not sure that cat would come in here though... the feeling alone would keep most away," said Takashi absentmindedly.
Kagome went inside to help him look for the cat. She yelped when Buyo rubbed against her leg.
"Really Souta, why couldn't you come in yourself?" she said to her younger brother. Though she fully agreed with her cousin that the well house did have a creepy feeling to it.
Takashi barely had a chance to register something going wrong when he heard the rattling, which he had paid no attention to, become loud as the wood broke.
"Kagome, look out!"
She dropped the cat, and was dragged into the well by the ayakashi that had been sealed inside. Takashi didn't think twice. He reached in to grab her, only to be pulled in with her.
"Natsume-san! Onee-san!" shouted Souta.
Inside the well...
Takashi didn't have much experience with the youkai realm, but he knew when he was passing through areas that humans shouldn't enter, unless they wanted to be spirited away.
He just didn't know the well was one of those places.
He woke up to the sound of bird chirping above, and it took him a few moments to realize what was wrong.
The well house was gone, and the sun could be seen clearly above.
"BAKA! What were you thinking, jumping in like that?!" scolded Nyanko.
"EH?! Your cat talks?!" said Kagome, staring at Nyanko.
"He's not really a cat. Where are we, sensei?"
"If this is where I think it is, we're in the distant past. Though I'm hoping I'm wrong. I really don't want to deal with him back before he mellowed out," said Nyanko, his eyes more shifty than normal.
"One way to find out," said Takashi, reaching for the nearest root. He was so used to stuff like this that falling into the youkai realm didn't really phase him that much anymore.
"Takashi-kun, what's going on?"
"We've fallen through the well, possibly into a realm where youkai are more prevalent. Just stick close and we might be able to find our way back," said Takashi.
Kagome took some solace in the fact her cousin wasn't even bothered by the change. He clearly knew what he was doing, so it was probably a safe bet to follow his lead for the moment.
Takashi got out of the well first, and helped Kagome out.
He took one look at their surroundings and sighed.
"I knew it. We've either fallen into an ayakashi realm, or somewhere else. Either way this isn't Tokyo anymore."
"How are you so calm?" asked Kagome.
"Bah. The brat's been in far worse situations thanks to his meddling nature. It's not like being dragged into another realm is going to bother him that much," scoffed the fat "cat" on his shoulder.
"And why is there a kid on your shoulders?"
Takashi paused, then turned to look at her with an odd expression.
"You can see Rakan's true form?" he asked slowly.
"I see a kid with cosplay ears and a tail on your shoulders," she said flatly.
Takashi rubbed his eyes tiredly.
"That might be why you were targeted by that yokai earlier. If you can see Rakan for what he really is, then she might be trying to eat you," said Takashi.
"Yokai have a habit of going after those who can See into their world. We have more power than normal people, and eating those who can See gives them more power."
"If this is about what I think it is, it's not because she has the Sight," said Nyanko.
Kagome raced to a familiar sight. She knew if the Sacred Tree was here, then her house was nearby as well.
"Kagome-san, wait! She doesn't get it yet, does she?"
"That would be a no."
"You seem to have an idea of what's really going on. Care to explain why, sensei?" asked Takashi, following Kagome. If he heard screams, then he'd run. Right now he was going to set a brisk, but maintainable pace.
"It's a long story, but the short answer is that I recall my father mentioning how his younger brother used to go between realms using a well near the village of an old lover."
Takashi nearly stumbled.
"Like I said, it's an old tale he used to mention, generally when he was drunk. He wasn't exactly fond of his half brother."
"What sort of yokai was your father?"
"A very old, very powerful inuyokai. If I'm right, then odds are we'll be seeing him very soon. If not, then I'll talk about it later when we're home."
"Wonder what he'd think about you being stuck in a cat statue."
"Likely the same way he felt about the fact I liked hanging around Reiko so much. We didn't really get along, despite the fact I was the only one of my siblings to live this long. I have to prove myself worthy before I get anything out of him," said Nyanko annoyed.
Hearing voices, Takashi managed to go by the trees until he found Kagome.
Only an idiot stuck to the ground in an unfamiliar place, and odds were that the local yokai would leave him be if he made it clear he wasn't out for a fight.
Seeing the period clothing and the odd hanyou (he could tell that much at least) stuck to the tree, Nyanko made an irritated noise.
Takashi looked at the hanyou, and noticed his hair was roughly the same shade as Nyanko's fur...in his true form.
"He's your uncle, isn't he?"
"Yes. Which means the girl is the reincarnation of a miko that sealed him up."
"...Things are about to become hectic and migraine worthy, aren't they," said Takashi.
"If we stick around, yes. On the plus side you'll have plenty of practice with any shikigami you make," said Nyanko.
Kagome was officially regretting not sticking closer to Takashi now. She was betting he was rather smug about not being tied up.
She wasn't even in the miko's home for more than five minutes when someone knocked.
"Is Kagome inside? Someone mentioned a foreign girl being taken to the priestess' house," said a voice. It was Takashi, she was sure of it.
"Come in," said Kaede warily, reaching for a knife.
Takashi poked his head in.
"There you are Kagome. I told you not to run off."
"Very funny Takashi!"
"You know him?"
"Distant cousins. I did try to warn her that running off after being dragged into a well by an ayakashi was a bad idea."
"Ye sound like you have experience."
"I'm a spiritualist with yokai friends. It's not the first time a yokai has dragged me out of the realm of humanity," deadpanned Takashi.
Seeing the kitsune on his shoulders, she believed him.
"So ye were dragged here?"
"An insect ayakashi broke through an old seal and brought us here. I think she mentioned something about a jewel," said Takashi. Kaede wasn't fully relaxed, but she wasn't as wary now.
There was something about Takashi that got people to lower their defenses. A sort of aura about him that got people to trust him without realizing it.
Kaede's eye flew open wide.
"Shikon no Tama?" she inquired.
"That's sounds about right."
"This is not good. This is not good at all."
"I take it this jewel is either dangerous, or boosts the natural powers of the yokai in some way?" asked Takashi. From the way Nyanko spoke of it, he was guessing it was similar in rarity to the Book of Friends, which he thankfully had on him. Which meant yokai wouldn't hesitate to kill in order to get their claws on it.
"Ye are well versed in yokai," said Kaede in approval.
"I've had the Sight since I was a child. It's not something I enjoy talking about," said Takashi evenly.
"Wait, is that why everyone in the family calls you a 'pathological liar' and a troublemaker?" asked Kagome, eating a little bit of stew. Kaede had unbound her when Takashi came in.
Takashi leveled a flat look at her.
"Unfortunately most of our family can't see yokai, and I didn't know enough to keep quiet. When they realized I saw them, they caused no little trouble around me, so the family kept moving me around a lot," said Takashi flatly. Kagome winced, recognizing the reprimand for what it was.
Hearing a commotion outside (his ears were very sharp when he knew he was being targeted) Takashi looked.
There, outside, was the centipede youkai from earlier.
"We have company," said Takashi grimly. He looked around until he saw the white form of Nyanko. "Sensei, can you lead that thing away from the village?"
"Brat, that thing isn't here for the Book! It's after the girl!" barked Nyanko. However, while he had no interest in protecting Kagome, he was interested in finding out what all the fuss was about over a silly jewel.
He allowed his true form to show, and stomped hard on Mistress Centipede.
"WHAT IS THAT?!" yelped Kagome, seeing Nyanko in all his glory.
"Nyanko-sensei," said Takashi, as if it were perfectly obvious. Seeing the massive canine toss the other demon around like it was a toy, Kaede had to wonder how powerful a spiritualist he was to order around a demon like that.
Mistress Centipede fled the village, heading deeper into the forest outside the village.
"Tch. The weakling got away," said Nyanko, turning back into his lucky cat form. He gave Takashi a Look. "You owe me some daifuku brat!"
"Hai, hai," said Takashi with ease. Nyanko was easy to deal with, so long as you were willing to bribe him appropriately. "I'll buy some once we're back in Tokyo."
"Make a list. No telling when we'll return at this rate," said the annoyed yokai.
"It's getting away!" shouted the villagers.
"It's heading into Inuyasha's forest!"
"You mean where that light is in the east?" asked Kagome, already heading there.
"That girl is going to be even more trouble than you are brat. She has less power and even less sense," said Nyanko in disgust.
"She is kind of slow when it comes to ayakashi," agreed Takashi, allowing Nyanko to jump on his back. "Rakan, you stay here in case more trouble shows up."
The young kitsune nodded, and stayed on the roof of Kaede's house. He'd rather stay and keep watch anyway.
Takashi could hear Nyanko laughing. Then again the lazy 'cat' was on his shoulder right next to his ear. It took Inuyasha five full minutes to realize that the fake cat was laughing at him.
"Keep laughing you stupid tanuki!" snarled the hanyou. He flexed his claws.
Takashi's lips quirked up in amusement as well.
"He might be sealed in a maneki neko statue...but at least he doesn't have to deal with smashing his face into dirt whenever someone says 'osuwari'," said Takashi.
Without warning, the beads glowed again, sending Inuyasha face first into the dirt with a loud thud.
Nyanko lost it. He laughed so hard he literally fell off Takashi's shoulder.
"What just happened?"
"I believe the blood relation between you and Kagome, combined with your naturally strong spiritual powers, allowed you to use the beads of subjugation around Inuyasha's neck," supplied Kaede helpfully.
"So all I have to do is repeat the word and send him face first into the dirt whenever he gets on my nerves?"
"It would seem so," said Kaede, openly amused and more than a little vindictive.
"I would say it's too bad I don't have a set for Nyanko, except he's easily bribed and nowhere near as high-strung as Inuyasha-san," said Takashi. That and they had moved past that point months ago.
"You had better not find a set for me, brat," said Nyanko with a hiss.
"Again, it's easier to bribe you. Besides, if I had a set like that I'd be more likely to use it on the head of the Mataoba clan," said Takashi. Nyanko snorted, but that train of thought amused him anyway.