Disclaimer: I do not, in any way, own Inuyasha. If you sue me, about the
only thing I can offer is hugs. Please don't hurt
Revamp: In progress.
Chapter One: Homecoming
The house was empty. It wasn't simply the lack of commotion from various people living in the house. Things had disappeared; off the walls, tables, counters...
Higurashi Kagome finished her careful inspection of the living room, her eyes bleak and confused. Most of the family pictures were gone, though the TV was in its normal place, normal and powered off and oblivious to the questions flying through her mind.
What was going on? No one had met her at the airport terminal, although she'd waited for three hours. No one answered the phone, either, and she'd run out of cash in her futile calling. She checked the answering machine; eleven messages. They were all from her.
"Mama? Grandpa? Souta?" she called out in frustration, despite knowing she was quite alone in the house. Even Buyo had done the magical disappearing trick.
With a sensation of foreboding, she ran lightly up the stairs into her room.
Only the furniture remained. Even the pillows and blankets had disappeared. She threw open her closet; yes. Her clothes, too, were gone. She groaned and sat on the edge of her naked bed, closing her eyes tightly. Where are you all? And where is everything?
She'd gotten off the plane at four, just as she'd explained in her letter a month ago when the plans had been made. Her mother had written her back, assuring her that all the information was now on their calendar and that they'd all be there to pick her up. Last week she had sent a confirmation e-mail along with another letter, just in case. Although she hadn't received an answer, that hadn't worried her. After all, her mother never forgot anything.
Until now, anyway.
Sighing, Kagome padded despondently downstairs to grab the bags she'd dropped in the doorway. She had no one to call, as no one was particularly close to the shrine family, and though she knew that her mother had started a job while she was away, she didn't know the name or number of the workplace. Mama wouldn't work nights, anyway. She always wants to be at home for me and Souta... well, only for Souta now, since I've been gone for a year.
She bit her lower lip, drawing her brows into a frown. She had classes in the morning—her mother had registered them for her last month. If no one was home after school, she'd call the police. They had to know something. There wasn't much else she could do now.
If her family had simply run into problems getting to the airport, they knew she was fully able to get back home on her own. She felt better at the thought, though it didn't explain everything missing from the house.
It's obviously not robbery. Who would take a family picture album and ignore Grandpa's computer? She shook her head, frowning down at her two suitcases. They were heavy, and she really didn't feel like dragging them up the stairs. Her laptop, safely ensconced in its bag, was haphazardly tossed onto the living room couch.
Dinner, she decided firmly, pushing all the problems into the back of her mind. When in doubt, ignore the situation. I haven't eaten since I left California. All these time zones are so confusing; how many hours ago was that?
It had been ten at night when she left, but it was eight in the evening – night? – now. Kagome rubbed her forehead with a sigh. Oh, that makes no sense. Didn't Aubrey say it was a 14 hour flight? There we go. Two hours before my flight, three hours waiting at the airport, an hour to get home... That would be twenty.
It probably would be smarter to skip dinner and go straight to sleep. Kagome yawned at the thought, eyeing the kitchen balefully. Much better to ignore eating and concentrate on sleeping, especially if she wanted to wake up for class in the morning.
Kagome grabbed the lighter of her two suitcases and lugged it upstairs, stumbling twice in her sudden weariness. All the tears she spent earlier were coming back to haunt her now; she had absolutely no energy. She missed her family, her friends – both Japanese and American – and she wanted life to be normal, or at least something close to it. She had no idea what was going on in her house, or where anyone was...
Ugh. Better to sleep on it. And not worry about it until after her first day back at classes.
Of course, there was always the problem of having no uniform, but she could explain the problem to her teachers. They would understand; they had to, right?
...once she found her schedule, anyway.
Kagome entered the office with some trepidation, glancing warily at the secretary busily typing away on a keyboard. Her presence hadn't yet been noted, and she wasn't sure if she should be relieved or annoyed. Although she had been in Yotsubadai for a couple months before lucking out as a foreign exchange student, she was still unfamiliar with the school. Indeed, it felt almost alien after the wide-spread campus of Marina. The large, multi-story buildings were almost intimidating, and she found herself wistfully thinking about things like no stairs and sunny days.
"May I help you?"
The cool, professional words startled her. Blinking past her thoughts, Kagome smiled politely, noticing the none-too-subtle once-over, presumably at her lack of uniform. "Well, first I wanted to ask for a note for my teachers, because I only recently returned home from a long absence... I didn't get the chance to buy uniforms." At the secretary's slight frown, she added quickly, "Actually, I was also wondering if I could get a copy of my schedule. My mother signed me up for classes while I was gone, but I can't find the copy she sent me..." she faltered somewhat at the enlightened expression on the secretary's face.
"Your name?" she asked calmly, turning her attention to the computer screen.
"Higurashi – ah, of course. You were in America for a year as an exchange student."
"Yes," she affirmed, shifting her weight absently to her right foot. Her left thigh felt somewhat bruised, though she wasn't certain why. Perhaps she had bumped it against the wall during the night.
Her schedule was quickly printed and given to her, along with a signed note, and the woman unbent enough to offer a warm smile. "I am certain, with everything going on, that you have more to worry about than finding classrooms. My daughter, Sango, has the same classes and will be more than happy to show you around." Her eyes were gently curious, but friendly, staying on Kagome before her gaze drifted to somewhere over her shoulder. "Ah, Sango, could you show Higurashi to the classroom? She's also in 2-C."
"Yes, Mama," came the dutiful reply, and Kagome turned to greet her guide. The automatic smile gracing her lips warmed and became genuine as she studied the other girl; her hair was pulled into a high ponytail, carelessly flowing over one shoulder, windswept and natural. Dark eyes were filled with friendly curiosity, and the crimson eyeliner she wore gave her a somewhat serene look – though on any other girl it would have looked... well. It would have looked. "Good morning, Higurashi-san."
"Please, call me Kagome," she was quick to reassure. "Sango-san, isn't it?" Kagome held out her hand, smiling again when the daughter grasped it firmly.
"Yes, Taijiya Sango. So you're in my class? Have you just transferred?" she inquired artlessly, glancing over the schedule she was handed. Her eyes widened slightly as the two names connected. "Higurashi Kagome – oh, of course. You were in America, weren't you?"
Her left brow rose in surprise. "For a year," she confirmed, wondering how many people knew.
"Sango, love, why don't you show her around?" her mother interrupted quickly, with a benign smile for the two schoolgirls. "I'm certain you will have much to talk about." The dismissal in her voice was clear, further prompted as she turned her gaze back to her monitor, already typing away. Sango grinned as she led Kagome out of the office.
"We have Takahashi-sensei as our homeroom teacher. He's not so bad, but he's a little weird. He's pretty young for a teacher, actually, which is why I guess he's a little different." At the new girl's raised eyebrows, she shrugged. "You'll see what I mean. We have him for the core classes. The other teacher we have is Misato-sensei, and she's there for English and History. Oh, and of course there's Sato-sensei for P.E."
"I think I've got it," Kagome ventured hesitantly. "What are Sato-sensei and Misato-sensei like?"
"Sato-sensei's just a big lump. No one has any respect for the man, but then again, he lets all the kids do anything they want, too. Misato-sensei is pretty great, though. She knows everything about the history of Japan. I'm so glad we have her this year." She chatted cheerfully as they meandered through the halls, occasionally afforded glances by the other students, gossiping before class. She paused by one door, pointing in quickly at the classroom. "Misato-sensei is usually in here in the mornings. Hey, do you really change classrooms in America for each class?"
"History and English, right?" Kagome peered through the door quickly as Sango moved on. "Yeah, we do. It's... different, but when you get used to it, it's not so bad." A few of the desks were occupied by giggling girls, who slanted pouting glances at someone who was standing by the window. Silver hair fell past his waist, and his profile showed off his rather patrician bone structure. He was beautiful, intensely male, and his tawny wolf-eyes were... looking at her.
Flushing as she attracted his attention, Kagome hurried her steps to catch up to her guide, who hadn't seemed to notice her brief absence. She was still talking. "...brother Kohaku keeps talking about how much he wants to visit America. He's obsessed with American singers, really. It's not so bad, because it helps my English, but that rock music he puts on is so loud!"
"Try going to one of the concerts," she retorted flippantly, with a dramatic roll of her eyes. "I wasn't sure I'd get out of there alive, and even if I did, I was certain I was going to be permanently deaf. It was sheer horror," she added succinctly. "And I couldn't even understand the lyrics!" Sango laughed as they ascended stairs, moving up to the second level, bypassing it, and settling on the third.
"You're so lucky to be able to go to America," she noted wistfully. "It must have been wonderful. I would have jumped at the chance, but my mother works so hard and needs my help with Kohaku, so..." she spread her hands helplessly. "And I work, too." She stopped suddenly, a blush covering her cheeks. She sounded mortified as she breathed out, "Not that I was implying anything..."
"Oh, that's all right," Kagome laughed. "It was a hard decision for me to go, too, but Mama was so adamant about me taking the chance..." The words came slowly as she recalled her mother's pleading. "Anyway, Souta had Grandpa there when Mama was out, too."
The other girl looked slightly surprised. "Actually... never mind," Sango said quickly, sliding open a door to her right. "Here's our homeroom. Don't worry about missing anything important," she added suddenly as they took seats near the back of the class. "Takahashi-sensei hasn't started the lessons yet, and Misato-sensei was only introducing us to what she would be doing for the year."
"That's a relief," she began, only to be interrupted by an excited squeal.
Turning, Kagome's eyes widened at the sight of one of her best friends advancing on her in pure delight. Short-cropped ebony tresses bobbed fashionably around her face as she tackled Kagome, squeezing her breathless.
"Yuka-chan," she offered weakly, trying to wriggle out of her embrace. "I...need...to breathe..." she whispered, and collapsed to the floor when the arms wrapped around her were quickly snatched away.
"I'm so sorry," she squeaked, horrified. "It's just that I was so happy to see you, Kagome-chan! And where have you been? I thought you were supposed to be back tomorrow!"
Carefully raising herself to her chair, the girl in question smiled, gently amused. "I only came back yesterday evening, silly."
"But Souta said you were coming back on the eleventh!" Yuka exclaimed.
"No, no—I left on the eleventh. That is, the eleventh in California, which was actually the twelfth, here." She frowned slightly. So that's what happened! They must have come the day before, and were worried when my plane didn't arrive. Of course, that still didn't answer the question of where they had been yesterday, or why the house had so many things missing...
"Hmm. Well, it must have really sucked to miss everything." The short-haired girl looked sympathetic. "I know your mother was really unhappy about it."
She always seemed happy when she talked to me—well, of course, she was always saying how much she missed me, but... was she trying to keep me from worrying about her? "Oh?" Kagome's brow creased slightly. "I had no idea."
"It went off beautifully, though—" she stopped, glancing over her shoulder as a tall man walked in. The teacher, of course, as he wasn't wearing the school uniform. With a quick "I'll talk to you later," Yuka scurried out the door, presumably to her own class.
What did she mean, that it 'went off beautifully'? Kagome wondered. And how did she find me here...? Oh, of course. I bet she checked in here specifically for me. She had the oddest feeling that everyone knew something she didn't, which was ridiculous, in her mind. Yet, for some odd reason, she thought of indifferent golden eyes.
Sango had settled into her seat, talking quietly to a boy with a small ponytail. She must have struck up the conversation while Yuka had distracted her. Kagome offered a shy smile, which the other girl readily returned as she continued talking, one eye on the teacher. He really was young, being perhaps in his mid-twenties, and nice-looking without being handsome. Blandly nice-looking, but nice-looking all the same.
"Good morning," Takahashi-sensei began, smiling warmly and impartially at the class in general.
Sango groaned loudly. "Houshi-sama, can't you stay serious for more than two seconds?" The 'sama' came out with a rather acidic, sarcastic tinge in her otherwise frustrated words.
The boy with the ponytail, the one she'd been talking to earlier gave her a wounded look. "Sango," he protested, "I am perfectly serious in my question." He turned his attention back to Kagome, squeezing her hands warmly. "Please, Kagome-sama, consider my request..."
"No!" she blurted out, finally stunned out of her frozen shock. She jerked her hands away from his. "Y-you... that's so..." she spluttered, narrowing her stormy blue eyes angrily. Asking her to bear his children indeed! He was even more forward than the Americans she'd met. And calling her 'sama'... she gritted her teeth. He had "playboy" written all over his face. Too bad she'd been raised to be polite.
"Ah, Kagome-sama..." he bowed his head low, holding his hands to his chest as though in pain. "You wound me, sweet lady."
She frowned at him, trying to recall his name. Sango had mentioned it earlier—ah, yes. Houshi Miroku. "Look, Miroku-sama," she said finally, "I'm not like that, and I never will be. So... oh my God what are you doing?!" Slapping his hands away from her thighs, Kagome blushed furiously as several pairs of eyes turned to look at the little drama unfolding in their corner of the classroom. Most everyone was eating lunch during this little break, though their little trio had finished their food earlier. Well, they had finished Sango's food, anyway.
Sighing in defeat, he sat back in his chair with a little pout, though his hand was reaching for a new goal. "Well, if that's how you feel..."
He didn't even wince when Sango slapped him, and simply put his hands carefully in his lap. Looks like she almost has a sixth sense about when he's about to grope her, Kagome mused, still fuming over his rude question.
He brightened suddenly. "Ah, Kagome-sama, you don't have any health problems barring you from attending P.E., do you?" At her wary look, he smiled warmly. "No? Ah, what a lovely thing, the sight of new legs—"
Her eyes widened in dismay, and Sango groaned again. "I'm sorry, Kagome-san," she offered sympathetically. "At least if he bothers you, you can tell me, and I'll deal with him." She glared at Miroku at this last sentence. He smiled unrepentantly.
"Thanks, Sango-san," Kagome sighed. "And please, don't be so formal. Kagome is fine."
"Only if you stop as well," the other girl dimpled, effectively ignoring the pervert's presence.
"As you wish... Sango-chan." She glanced up at the clock, noting that they had five minutes before it was time to rush off to PE. "Hey, let's get going?" she asked quickly as Miroku turned his attention to a trio of giggling girls.
Sango glanced briefly at the flirting man and tossed her head sharply. "Yeah, we may as well," she muttered. One last fulminating glance at his back, before she started dragging Kagome into the hall, heading for the stairs. "So, what did you think of Takahashi-sensei?" she asked curiously.
"He wasn't so bad. He was actually really nice, I guess? You know, like he really wants to teach people and make a difference. He hasn't been burned out yet." Laughing, she added, "He probably will be by the end of the year, though."
"Ah, Kagome-chan, don't say such pessimistic things! It's nice to have a fresh teacher."
Said pessimistic girl rolled her eyes and laughed again, skipping nimbly down the stairs. "Okay, okay, I'll stop," she agreed. "Besides, I should be nice to him and keep him happy with me, or else I'll have another lump-teacher, right?"
"I don't think Takahashi-sensei could ever be as much of a lump as Sato-sensei," Sango reflected. "I think Sato-sensei actually hates all of us. Though you should be fine, because he's scared of Sesshoumaru-senpai."
"Sesshoumaru—" her question was cut off as something slammed into her back. She fell hard to her knees, her breath knocked sharply out of her.
"Sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry!" Wide green eyes stared up at her, filled with tears. She blinked, her vision blurring for a moment, then sharpening once more. She heard Sango exclaiming, her hand warm on her back as she rubbed carefully.
"Kagome-chan, are you okay?"
"Fine..." she groaned and straightened carefully, looking at the culprit. A young boy, no more than seven or eight years old, danced from foot to foot anxiously, his lower lip trembling.
"I'm sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry," he said again, sniffing almost violently to keep the tears in his eyes. "I f-fell down the steps on accident and it-won't-happen-again-I'm-so-sorry," he blurted.
"It's okay," Kagome soothed automatically, taking him into her arms and gently brushing dark strawberry-blonde hair from his face. "I'm fine. Are you all right?" She looked him over, concerned, but he nodded quickly.
"How did you fall down the steps?" Sango inquired gently, kneeling beside her friend to look him over herself.
"I was running," he admitted sheepishly, hanging his head. "Auntie is probably worried about me 'cause I didn't stay where I was s'posed to."
"Where were you running to?" she persisted, by now curious. After all, why would a young child be in Yotsubadai high school?
"I saw this guy with really really really really really really long white hair," he explained happily. "I wanted to touch it." His joyful expression faded to a little pout. "I couldn't catch up to him though and he went somewhere..." he raised both hands to point in opposite directions, his arms crossed over his chest. Kagome giggled at the sight, though a faint flush colored her cheeks. Long white hair? Perhaps he was the one she'd seen in Misato-sensei's room...
"I'm Shippou," the little boy said importantly, fluffing out his chest. He beamed as the two girls introduced themselves with proper gravity, and promptly threw his arms around Kagome's neck to squeeze. "I like you," he announced firmly.
Sango glanced around as she noticed the near-empty hallway was now completely empty. They were probably late for class.
"I like you too, Shippou-chan," Kagome stated firmly, running her fingers through his hair. "Come on, how about we take you to your aunt?"
He froze and lowered his eyes. "Dunno where she is," he mumbled. Sango frowned slightly.
"Well, Mama works in the office..."
"Can I stay with you?" he interrupted pleadingly. "Maybe you could tell Sango's mommy that I'm with you? Auntie won't mind, she doesn't really like me—" he closed his mouth and frowned.
"Of course you can," Kagome said smoothly, tossing her friend a worried glance over the top of his head. "Come on, we're going to be late. When we get to class I'll ask sensei to tell Taijiya-san where you are, okay?"
He brightened considerably. "Okay!"
The child effectively knocked all questions of who Sesshoumaru-senpai was, and why Sato-sensei's fear of him had anything to do with her, out of mind.
Though her mind still fluttered over long white hair and a piercing gaze, even if she didn't really care who he was. It was simply that he was the type of person to stick in someone's mind, and... well, he was stuck.