A/N: Well, it took a while longer than I hoped, but I'm back with another chapter. Sorry, but I've been a bit busy lately, and my computer is being a bitch. But I have been working on this, and Hunter's Moon, though work is going very slow. Also I'll probably also start work on a Miroku-centric fic I've been planning out soon, and I have a couple of original fics going too.

Thanks go to everyone who reviewed. I'm staggered by how many I'm getting a chapter, now. It really helps keep me inspired.

Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha.

Synthetic Emotions

Kagome was her normal morning self, stumbling from her bedroom to the coffee pot in a daze, then accelerating through her morning chores as the caffeine hit her blood and got her moving. By 8:30am she was darting about the small apartment searching for her brush, then the mate to one of her socks that seemed to have been lost somewhere between the laundry and its drawer, her tooth brush hanging out of the corner of her mouth as she searched end tables and behind her sparse furniture.

Inuyasha, on the other hand, sat with his back against the wall, making a show of being indifferent to Kagome's quest for her lost sock and misplaced hairbrush. He kept one ear trained on the girl though, while the other twitched from time to time in frustration. Finally he huffed a long- suffering sigh, and told her to check the medicine cabinet for her brush and just find another goddamned pair of socks.

"I never put it in the medicine cabinet," Kagome protested as she marched into the bathroom to check anyway.

No matter how he looked at it, they were acting as though the past couple of days hadn't happened at all. The little fox youkai set his chin on one tiny, balled fist and pondered. Perhaps it was because he wasn't designed with the capacity to understand adult behavioral patterns, but Shippo couldn't help but find the whole situation weird.

Of course, Inuyasha was usually weird. But that didn't explain Kagome.

Then again, the girl had been ignoring him more than normal lately. That was all the hanyou's fault. If they hadn't found him and turned him back on, none of this would have happened, Shippo was sure of it.

But. . . That wouldn't have made a difference with Miroku, Shippo supposed. He just wouldn't have shared his secret with the rest of them. And there still would have been a riot. And it wouldn't have changed things for Sango either, except she wouldn't have met the rest of them. And there was no way to guess what might have happened with Eiji.

'Alright,' Shippo admitted to himself. 'Perhaps it isn't all his fault. But he's still weird.'

"Hey!" he called as Kagome stomped back from finding her brush in the medicine cabinet. Hopping down from his seat on the dining room table and scurrying up the girl's leg and into her arms. "Why are you in such a rush?"

She looked down at Shippo, wide-eyed and obviously trying to decipher his question. Then she blinked, freeing one of her hands to smack herself firmly on the forehead. "I'm sorry, Shippo. I forgot to tell you. I was going to go down to the library today and see what I could dig up on Taisho."

"But aren't Miroku and Myouga doing that?"

She offered him a sheepish, apologetic smile. "Yeah, they are. But I feel a little useless sitting around waiting for them."

"Are you ready to go?" Inuyasha asked, cutting off Shippo before he could reply.

"Just a second," the girl answered him, a little irritation winning its way into her tone. "I still haven't found my sock."

"For the love of. . ." he muttered, rolling his eyes. "Just get another sock, or wear sandals or something!"

"Alright, alright." Kagome threw one hand in defeat, balancing the forgotten Shippo on her hip with the other. "I'll wear another pair of shoes."

"Is the runt coming, too?"

"If he wants to," she told him, carrying the fox youkai as she slid on a pair of low-heeled sandals.

"Well, does he want to, then?"

"How should I know?"

"Ask him!"

"You could ask him yourself!"

Yes, things were perfectly normal, and there was absolutely no way Shippo could explain it. He was tempted to cover his ears as they continued squabbling. How could two people argue so much about such stupid things?

"I'll go with you," Shippo piped, hoping to end the argument before it progressed. Neither the girl nor the hanyou paid him any attention.

"Will you stop being so childish and just ask him?"

"Wait, how am I the one being childish here?"

"Hey, I said I'd go," Shippo tried, a little louder.

"Well I'm not being childish, so it has to be you."

"Process of elimination is not a means of deciding who's childish!"

"Well, you're the one shouting!"

"You're shouting, too!"

"Hey!" Shippo yelled over the pair. "Let's go already. Damn it."

Both combatants blinked mutely, surprise evident on their faces. Inuyasha recovered first, folding his arms crossly and muttering something too low to be understood. Kagome's eyes narrowed and she sent the hanyou a smoldering glare.

"Are we going, you guys?" Shippo put in before they could start fighting again.

"Sure, lets go," Inuyasha said sullenly and turned away from Kagome and the childlike youkai on her hip. Shippo stuck out his tongue at the hanyou's retreating back. After a moment's hesitation, Kagome followed after him.


Kagome eyed the microfiche viewfinder dubiously. At one point in High School, she had been forced to sit through a half-hour long presentation on how to use one of these to look up old newspaper clippings. She recalled clearly thinking, 'Why would I ever have to use one of those? I can look up a new article on the internet.' Sadly, that was the only thing she remembered clearly from that lecture. Fifty years, it seemed, was more than enough to make any number of articles inaccessible by computer. Intersystem shuffling, software updates and mismanagement had long ago closed the electronic paths to that data.

Which left Kagome with this semi-archaic machine.

"Well?" Inuyasha asked, sprawling across a near by tabletop.

"I--I think I can handle this," Kagome told him, with a tentative laugh. "How complex can it be?"

The hanyou drew his face into a skeptical frown, his brow quirked at a disbelieving angle, eyes half lidded, and the corners of his mouth tight. "That's not exactly a vote of confidence."

"It's the best you're going to get," Kagome shot back, forcing down a spark of anger. "Unless you've got a better idea."

"We could just wait to see what that pervert digs up?" Inuyasha suggested. Idle, his claws began tapping out a grating rhythm on the tabletop. The librarian on duty shot a withering look his way that made Kagome squirm uneasily. Inuyasha showed no sign he noticed the glare at all.

"I want to see if I can find anything on my own." The girl planted her hands on her hips, bracing herself for a repeat of the argument they'd been having since that morning. After last night, she'd assumed he'd want to know more--about Amori Ichiro, if nothing else--but if anything he was more reluctant than before.

Through trial and error, Kagome managed to figure out how to work the viewfinder. It really wasn't difficult, once she got the hang of it. Before long she had the first of the promising looking articles displayed on the astringently glowing screen. It was a quick write up on Amori Ichiro's death from the Tokyo News.

"The body of Amori Ichiro surfaced today after extensive searching," the writer began in terse, journalistic style. "Amori, the 20 year-old son and heir of Inutaiyoukai's founder and CEO, has been missing since he failed to return from a kayaking trip May 5th. His disappearance was reported by his fiancée."

'Yeah, I know this bit.' Kagome skimmed over the brief article, scanning the text for any information that might prove valuable later on. "Sources say Taisho has been devastated by his son's untimely death. However, in his only interview, the youkai kingpin claimed that despite this tragedy, Inutaiyoukai's newest projects would not be delayed."

'He only gave one interview? Who with? And when?' The girl asked herself while silently eying the stack of microfiches she had collected. 'Is it in there somewhere?'

"Hey, Kagome," Inuyasha interrupted her thoughts. "Are you almost done?"

Kagome squeezed her eyes shut and gritted her teeth. "Not yet. If you don't like it, then help out."

"Keh," came the hanyou's predictable response.


The sign on Miroku's door read, "Closed." Sango was fairly certain it didn't apply to her, but still, seeing it made her pause a minute to take in the absurdity of her situation. What would happen if her colleagues heard that she had visited a youkai repair shop to see if the owner would take a look at her childhood playmate? Assuming they believed it, none of them would ever take her seriously again.

She glanced down at the box she was carrying, Kirara curled inconspicuously inside. Perhaps the other activists had good cause to snub her. After everything that had happened in the past couple of days, she wasn't sure she'd be able to put the same enthusiasm into her speeches and protests that she used to.

'Maybe I should just put Kirara back in storage,' she thought idly, staring blankly at the door in front of her. As things stood, she could still justify that the only reason she was associating with these people--Miroku, Kagome and Inuyasha, hell, even Shippo--was because of the connection they might have to her rogue youkai who killed her father. But if she revived Kirara. . .

If she revived Kirara, then she'd be giving up on her activism. Sango couldn't rationalize that kind of inconsistency in her life. She couldn't have a youkai and at the same time argue that they were a threat to humans.

Unbidden, a scene of herself facing a horde of frenzied reporters sprang to mind. Pay no attention to the youkai behind the curtain.

"Okay, this is getting silly," the young woman said aloud. "Just pick one and stick to it." If that meant she would have to reassess the direction her life took after they'd dealt with Naraku, then so be it. Steeling her resolve, she decided, and pushed into Miroku's shop.

The front showroom was empty, save for the regular merchandise arranged on the shelves. Everything seemed to be more or less as it was the last time she'd seen it. A shiver raced up her spine. Something didn't feel right.

"Hello?" She called, wondering why Miroku hadn't emerged yet. Normally he was quick to appear when the bell over the door announced someone.

No answer. Sango set Kirara down on the countertop. Was he out? The door hadn't been locked. "Is anyone here?"

Faintly, she heard something shift in the back, and what sounded like a stifled groan. Following the sound, she discovered Miroku on the floor of his workroom with the mangled remains of a youkai. The young man was leaning against the wall, his face stoic as he struggled to get to his feet, but his cheeks were flushed and sweat stood out on his forehead. His breathing was coming in an uneven pant.

Ignoring the youkai, Sango threw herself to her knees beside him, feeling his face for his temperature. He was running a low fever. "What happened?" she demanded as she pulled back to look at him more closely.

One dark eye cracked open, followed by the other. "Hello, Sango," he said, the thready sound of his voice ruining his attempt to sound casual.


A/N: Wow! I finally got it written. Sorry again for taking so long. My computer keeps freezing up, so writing has been difficult. I'll try to be quicker with the next chapter, but I make no promises.

Until next time.