Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha.
Author: Cassidy Jewell.
Genre: Romance. Angst.
Pairing(s): Sesshoumaru/Kagome
Comments: A lame attempt at getting my muse working again?

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Chapter One
I Want To Go Back!

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The small... scratch that.

The miniscule town of Lady Glory, Texas hardly lived up to its name.

Kagome bit her lip as she lowered her window. The air conditioner in her Stratus was broken, leaving her to rely on the wind - which was too hot to be called wind, in her private opinion. "This is where Grandpa said we had to go, right, 'Yasha?"

She glanced over at the small Pomeranian wilting on the floor before her passenger seat. The dog gave a half-hearted yip, looking up at her sadly.

"I know, I know. Hopefully we can get directions somewhere around here..." Braking gently and slowing to an easy five mile-per-hour crawl, she craned her neck to read the various signs. "Hey, sweetie, there's a pet store! 'For your pet's every need.' Funny, it looks more like one of those barns I read about." The decision was easily made, and she pulled into the nearest available parking lot. "Come on, let's see if they'll get you some cold water."

Immediately the animal's ears pricked up, tail wagging vigorously. Laughing, she reached over and picked him up before making her way to the store's entrance. It really did look remarkably similar to a barn that happened to be attached to a very big... building, of sorts. Well, a one-story building with an extremely high ceiling.

Slipping through the doors, she lifted a hand to shade her eyes, squinting a little. The interior was dim compared to the brightness outside.

"Can I help ya?"

She blinked at the... person standing before her, tilting her head slightly. "I'm sorry, could you repeat yourself?" she asked politely, her grasp of English absolutely strained before what was widely (minus Japan, it seemed) known as the Texan drawl.

"Can I help ya?" she repeated again cheerfully, looking curiously at the little Pom.

"Can you... oh!" Blushing slightly, Kagome nodded. "My dog... can he have some water, please?" she requested hesitantly. "We just got in--"

"Sure ya did!" Nodding in a friendly manner, the woman turned and shouted over her shoulder, "BILLY! Get this scrawny fluff some water, will ya?"

Kagome's smile became a little strained as her dog's ears fell back. He never did have much self-confidence. "Thank you."

"No problem." The employee looked her over again. "Hey, you Chinese or somethin'?"

"Japanese..."

"Oh, yeah." She nodded again. "So, what brings ya to Lady Glory?"

"Well..." Kagome knelt down, placing her pet carefully on the floor, before rummaging through her pockets. "My grandfather bought some land here for me, and I need directions."

"Oh, must be that old Rag Shrine place!"

"Rag Shrine?" She blinked.

"Yeah, has some foreign name or somethin' - Ragashi? Not sure, everyone just calls it Rag Shrine. Supposedly some Buddhist people or somethin' lived there twenty years ago. Oh!" Holding out her hand, the woman grinned. "Name's Annie. As in, 'Annie's Store'?"

"Hig-- I mean, Kagome Higurashi. You own this place, Annie-san?" The Japanese woman grasped the other's hand in a firm shake.

"You shake good. Can tell a lot about a person with their shake." Annie propped her hands on her hips and whistled. "Higarushi, huh? That's the name or Rag Shrine!"

Instead of correcting her, Kagome nodded slightly. "My great-uncles," she explained with a smile. "One was a monk and the other was studying America. I'm not sure how, but they managed to get some land and build a temple here."

"Really? Well hey, welcome to Lady Glory!" Annie grinned. "Rag Shrine's only some 10 minutes away. Pretty close by our standards! Most of our neighbors have quite a drive."

"Ahh." That explained why the town was so... small. Population of 300, the sign said.

"Hey, Billy! You get that water yet?"

"Yeah, Ma, I got it." A lanky teen appeared behind her with a bowl that had to be three feet tall and filled with water. He staggered over, setting it carefully on the ground. "Water for your dog, ma'am," he nodded toward Kagome politely.

She was getting used to the drawl, something she was quite proud of. But... "How is Inuyasha supposed to drink out of that?" she questioned hesitantly, looking at her half-foot-tall pet.

He tilted his head at the metal water bowl, then began to bark at it ferociously.

"Oh, well..." Billy scratched his head sheepishly. "It's the smallest bowl we got, ma'am. Maru took the others."

"Maru's our groomer," Annie explained proudly. "He's good with those dogs. Lots of boys come in, since he don't charge near anythin' to clean 'em up good and cut off all that fur. Gets hot around here, ya know."

"Groomer?" Kagome blinked, but gathered the meaning of the word. "Oh! Inuyasha needs a haircut... he gets too hot around here." As she spoke, she picked up the puppy and hushed his barking, taking him over to lap at the water.

"Yeah? Well, Maru's in the back, and you can have some coffee with us while ya wait. Don't think he has too many clee-un-tell today. It's a fancy word," Annie added with a grin. "He taught it to us."

"Oh...but I need to get to the house before it gets too dark," she apologized. "It might be hard to find it otherwise..." Her brow furrowed in distress.

"Hey, don't worry about it!" She waved her hand carelessly. "But come over anytime and have a cup with Annie. Gets lonely without much women around here. Right, Billy?"

"Uh... yes, ma'am," he agreed, having droned off in his own world long ago.

[...]


It was a lot different than she had expected. Not only was it rundown - in the most horrible of ways - but it reminded her of nothing more than the mini-shrine that had housed her well in Japan. It was square. It was brown. It was ugly.

She wondered if it even kept out the rain.

"This is a temple?"

Making a face, she glanced down at her puppy. "Welcome home, 'Yasha."

He gazed dubiously at the... monstrosity, then back at his owner with a reproachful 'I-better-get-really-good-Kibble' look.

Shaking her head, Kagome pulled her suitcase along behind her and made her way to the front door. Various windows were smashed, giving her nothing more than a feeling of dread. This was where she was supposed to stay?

Well, not that she was going to be here much. Grandpa said there was a well here that should connect to the Sengoku Jidai. After all, there was another God Tree here. It was the reason her uncles had made their lives here for a decade.

Though they could have had better housing.

Shoving open the door, which was barely attached to its hinges anyway, she stumbled into the first room. Oh, but it was dark. Too dark.

Fumbling around the wall yielded her a light switch that didn't work, as well.

Groaning softly, she squinted, trying to make out the layout of the place using the natural light. "It's nearly sundown," she muttered. "How am I supposed to find a place to sleep until morning when I can't make my way around?"

As was normal when she was alone, she spoke Japanese. Though efficient in English (due to many a grueling day of studying after the well had mysteriously sealed itself), it was far from 'natural' to her.

Jamming her fingers through her hair, she exited the house. Perhaps she would be better off looking for that well. Maybe in the back?

"Come on, 'Yasha!" she called cheerfully, snapping her fingers. The fluffy Pom gave a helpless whine and trotted behind her, panting. Though with sundown came a cooling breeze, he was still far too hot, and expending energy didn't appeal. Of course, being alone didn't, either.

For once unaware of her pet's predicament, Kagome made her way through the dead grass - oddly only ankle-high - while looking around alertly. Where would her uncles put that well?

"Inuyasha, where are you... 'Yasha! Get back here!"

The Pomeranian was suddenly darting past her, running excitedly toward her destination while barking excitedly. He completely ignored her words, causing Kagome to run after him with mental grumbling. Fine time for him to remember he could run and be a puppy in such uncrowded surroundings.

"'Yasha, what are you... Oh!" Skidding to a stop, she gazed at the tree with a feeling of awe. There weren't many around her - trees, that was - which immediately made this one a center of attention. But more than that, she immediately recognized it as Goshinboku's brother.

The sound of barking tore her gaze away, and she frowned in faint annoyance as Inuyasha jumped half-heartedly beside what was undoubtedly a well. He glanced behind him, panting happily as his mistress came over.

"You," she lectured sternly, "Are not getting any kibble tonight."

He looked unrepentant, causing her to roll her eyes. As intelligent as he was, he simply didn't understand Japanese. Curiously, she peered into the well's depths, wrinkling her nose as a familiar smell caught at her. Water?

Her shoulders slumped. How was she supposed to get to the Sengoku Jidai if water was in her way?

Three years... The well in Japan had been sealed now for three years. Three Shikon shards were still tied around her neck.

How were Inuyasha? Sango? Miroku? Shippou? What was Naraku up to? And... and Kikyou?

Though she had held no love for the undead priestess, she had always felt an affinity with her. Especially that day she had thought things through and realized that they both cared for the brash hanyou.

As it stood now, the Shikon no Tama could not be completed. How much devastation had been wrought during her absence? And the question that plagued her most of all... why and how had the well been sealed?

All these answers she had thought would be found here. That was why she had worked so hard to become proficient in English, to be able to travel through America. Mama, Grandpa, and even Souta should have accompanied her, but... Grandpa had a stroke, and Mama hadn't wanted to leave him. Then it had been even more imperative for her to be able to move freely.

All that work, and now... now she had a well that could not take her to her second life? To her friends, to her duty?

She squeezed her eyes tightly shut, falling to the ground and pulling her knees to her chest. "Inuyasha..."

How were they faring, without her? Did she cause little Shippou tears? And Sango... How would they feel, when another person they cared for simply disappeared out of their lives?

Inuyasha and Miroku as well...

And oh, old Kaede. How was she doing? Age must surely be creeping up on her, despite her strong heart and great wisdom.

"I want to go back," she whispered, burying her face in her arms.

*`*`*`*`*`

CJ's Blurb: I'm back. Maybe? Uh... I've really been out of the Inuyasha craze. Trying to see if I can butter up my muse to work. *shrug* Not sure if it will.

I snuggles my family. *cuddles Reiku, Profiler, Panda, and Sandy* Luff you all! ^_^

Okay, this chapter was... crap. Do you all still love me? *puppy eyes*