daniel's disclaimer: Although it seems redundant to have a disclaimer for something specifically posted on this website, I suppose that I am not one to buck a tradition so zealously upheld. Therefor, I claim no ownership to the following characters.
I've noticed that a lot of authors have been ripping off classic Western fairytales for their stories, and Queen in particular does a great job of it. So I figured, hey, I'll jump on the bandwagon!
Higurashi Kagome sighed elaborately and wished that her mother would hurry up and come home.
She was babysitting. Again.
She figured she shouldn't begrudge her mother this, after all. She had gone to their great-aunt's funeral, and since Souta didn't know the lady and Kohaku didn't deal with death well she had stayed while her mom drove their other grandmother and grandfather to the service.
So she, Kagome, had to watch her hyperactive brother and both foster brothers. By herself.
It wouldn't have been so bad if they had been content to just play video games, as was Souta's usual wont, but no. Shippo had proclaimed himself bored, so now they were playing Scrabble.
Or at least, Kohaku and Shippo and Souta were playing Scrabble. Kagome was keeping them from each others' throats.
"No way, Shippo!" Souta shouted. "'Ellipses' isn't a word!"
"It is too!" Shippo yelled back. "It is too a word!"
Kagome, rubbing her forehead to ward off the migraine she felt coming, looked up from the dictionary. "Actually, Souta, 'Ellipses' IS a word."
"No way." Souta said, frowning. He held his hand out for the dictionary. "Gimme that!"
Grunting, Kagome complied, tapping the word with her index finger.
"Dammit!" Souta said.
"What was that, young man!?" Kagome scowled, tugging on his ear.
"Nothing!" Souta yelped.
"That's what I thought." Kagome said darkly, letting go of him.
There was a muffled crash outside.
Kohaku looked up, frowning. "Kagome...?" He asked hesitantly.
Kagome nodded. "I heard it too."
"Shit!" Muffled, but loud enough to hear, the expletive rang out in a coarse male voice.
"Kagome..." Shippo appealed piteously, but Kagome shushed him.
Kohaku handed her a baseball bat and tightened the grip on his own. She nodded her thanks and stepped forward, nervous.
"Get back here!" The voice shouted again, and the fire escape outside their window rattled dangerously.
A flat black... thing... flew through the window, and Kagome squealed as it fluttered past her. "What was that!?"
Souta frowned. " I don't see anything, Kagome..."
"That... that Thing!" Kagome hollered, pointing at the mobile smudge of black that drifted across the floor. It seemed to have a definite shape, almost humanoid, but it was translucent and it kept moving about so Kagome couldn't tell.
"Die!" Kohaku shouted behind her, and she twisted just in time to see him bring his bat down across the back of a wild-looking man's skull.
The man hit the ground, and grabbed his head. "Crap!" He grunted. Kohaku raised the bat menacingly.
The man rolled onto his side, curled in a fetal position. He glanced up at Kohaku angrily. Kagome got a good look at him: a mass of black hair, ancient armor with wolf-furs at the shoulders, around his hips, up to the knees of his otherwise bare legs, and incredibly blue eyes. And he had pointed ears, of all things. Most worrisome, though, was the sword at his left hip.
"Move and you get it again." Kohaku threatened.
In response, the man whipped his foot around, bracing on his forearm and other leg to kick Kohaku right in the stomach with the ball of his foot. With a whoosh of air, Kohaku fell back.
"Kohaku!" Kagome ran forward, brandishing her own bat, Shippo and Souta wide-eyed with fear behind her.
The man popped up, and dismissively dodged her swing, leaping forward.
"Gotchya!" He cried ferally, leaping at the black smudge.
It darted away, huddled in a corner of the ceiling. In response, the man shouted again and leapt at it.
It quivered and flew away again, and Kagome glared at his antics as Kohaku stood up with Shippo and Souta's help.
"What the hell are you doing!?" Kagome shouted.
"Not that you can tell, wench, but I'm trying to catch my shadow." He called over his shoulder and leapt to try and pin the smudge again--and failed, again.
"That inky black thing?" Kagome asked, confused. Now that she looked, he didn't have an actual shadow--as if the light just passed right through him. Her grandparents were steadfast believers in the supernatural, but this was the first time she'd actually seen anything paranormal.
"Yeah!" The man called back absently, landing on the wall. His gaze leapt back, though, as he sprang up off the wallpaper. "You can see--OOOFF!" He was cut off when, not seeing where he was going, he slammed face first into the ceiling. He spun spectacularly before landing in an undignified heap on the carpet.
He sat up, nursing his head. Again. "You can see it?" He repeated, incredulous.
"Yeah..." Kagome replied, frowning.
"See what? Kagome, what are you two talking about?!" Souta asked plaintively.
"My shadow." the man replied. "Most people can't see it."
"I can't see anything." Shippo said suspiciously.
"Exactly." He replied easily. "Ha!" He laughed suddenly, leaping up in a backflip to land squarely on his shadow. "Thought I'd forgotten about you, eh?" He jeered.
In response, his shadow heaved mightily, sending him tumbling head over heels as it darted to hide behind Kagome.
"Whoops!" He called out, catching himself on his hands and feet this time.
His shadow leapt out, fluttering madly through the air to hide behind Kagome.
Kagome squeaked, trying to brush it away from her as it rippled about her. The man frowned, and sighed.
"It really likes you." He said, rubbing his chin, ignoring the dismayed cries of the other children as Kagome frantically hopped around, avoiding something they couldn't see.
"I don't want it to like me!" Kagome "I want it to go away!"
"I tell you what." The man said, lips pursed, "if I take her with me, will you cooperate?"
The shadow paused, and one appendage (the head; the man could tell) wriggled up and down vigorously.
Kagome was less appreciative. "Hell no!" She cried, and Shippo nodded. "Yeah! No way!"
"Well, it's settled then!" The man smiled, clapping his hands together. "She'll come with us!"
"No I won't!" Kagome screeched.
"You'll have to get through me first." Kohaku challenged, stepping in front of Kagome.
"And me!" Souta added, standing behind Kohaku.
"And me!" Shippo said, standing behind the other two boys.
"...Ok." The man said, shrugging, and he leapt forward, pushing Kohaku out of the way, shoving Souta aside, and jumping over Shippo to sweep Kagome off her feet, throw her over his shoulder, and finally leap through the window.
His shadow watched, quivering, as he jumped outside, right over the fire escape.
Kagome screamed mightily and there was a terrific crash as the pair hit the garbage cans stacked next to their apartment complex. Three stories under the window.
"Kagome!" The three boys chorused, running to the window, clambering over the fire escape.
The man's shadow quietly fluttered over, gently wrapped around them, ignoring their protests.
"You want to help us?" Shippo asked timorously, and the thing paused, the head-shaped lump nodding vigorously.
Of course, none of the boys could see it.
"What's going on!?" Souta cried, struggling against an unseen force.
Kohaku looked down; his feet were nearly a meter off the floor. "I think it's that shadow that Kagome and that man were talking about...."
"I think it wants to help." Shippo volunteered, and the shadow took that as permission, drifting out the window to spiral down towards the ground, three floors down.
Kagome groaned, rubbing her butt. That had been quite the impact! The man underneath her grunted in agony, having absorbed her fall as well when she landed on top of him. Those metal lids hurt, too. "Damn you Inu-Yasha..." he muttered, almost incoherent.
"What was that?" Kagome asked, frowning.
He moaned, shifting spasmodically. "Get off!" He grunted.
"Sorry!" Kagome said sheepishly, jumping down. He simply rolled, crashing from the smashed garbage cans to the concrete ground. He moaned again, curling up in a ball.
"Ka-go-meee!" Souta called, shoved against Shippo and Kohaku as the shadow carried them down. "We're coming!"
"Thanks..." Kagome called back, frowning. She looked behind her.
The man was bleeding from the forehead. She would probably have felt better if he hadn't broken into their home and kicked Kohaku; as it was, she was just glad he wouldn't be able to hurt any of them.
The boys drifted down, and then leapt free of the shadow's embrace to swarm around Kagome.
"Are you alright Kagome!?"
"You aren't hurt, are you Kagome?"
"Please say you're ok, Kagome!"
"I'm fine, I'm fine!" Kagome hastily assured them. "He broke my fall." She said, pointing at the man who was lying on the ground, twitching occasionally.
His shadow drifted over, and gently touched his shoulder.
His right eye opened, blinking away the thin sheen of blood. "I'll be fine..." He said. He grunted, and sat up, arching his back, loudly popping a whole series of vertebrae and finally, both his shoulders.
"Ew..." Souta said, scrunching his nose.
The man stood up with a heavy grunt, and his shadow drifted around anxiously.
Kagome swallowed. "Are you ok, then, uh..."
The man blinked. "Oh, I haven't introduced myself, have I?" He smiled roguishly. "The name's Kouga. Leader of the West Wolf Cave." He bowed, grunting when his hip snapped, and straightened.
"My name's Kagome." Kagome politely volunteered.
"I gathered." Kouga dryly replied.
"And I'm Shippo." The last boy volunteered, and Kouga nodded at each.
"Well, we have to be going now." He said. "It's been fun." With that, his shadow reattached itself to his feet and then he leapt into the air. This time, however, he didn't fall on his face but flew up, his magical powers restored with his shadow reattached.
He zipped back down and threw Kagome over his shoulder. "Almost forgot about you!" He admitted, turning to fly back into the air.
"Kyaaa!" Kagome screamed.
Kohaku launched himself, wrapping around Kouga's leg as he took off.
Souta managed to grab Kohaku's leg as they flew up, and Shippo came last, clinging to the leg of Souta's flannel pajamas.
"Gerroff!" Kouga growled, shaking his leg as hard as he could with three growing boys suspended from it. The boys oscillated back and forth.
Kagome thwaped him on the head as hard as she dared; they were getting higher and higher, and she didn't know how he did this flying thing. "Don't shake them off, idiot, or they'll fall!"
Kouga contemplated saying 'I know' but at the last second wisely decided not to. "Ok, ok. They can come along too." He said.
"Come where?" Souta shouted up, straining to follow the conversation.
Kouga pointed with the arm that wasn't holding Kagome. "To there!"
"...The moon!?" Kagome cried.
"No, no, not at all..." Kouga said. "Over to the left a little? You see that bright light?"
"You're taking us 'into the light?'" Kagome screeched.
"Well, of course it sounds bad when you put it like that." Kouga chided. "You won't die from it."
At the bottom, Shippo squeezed his eyes shut and tried not to look down; they were very very high and his arms were beginning to feel very very tired.
His eyes snapped open, though, when they seemed to... shift... and he looked around and gasped.
The whole world was a broad, flat crescent of land that arced around a bay- sized body of water. The whole thing was simply suspended in the air, floating against a surreal blue-green void. Although there was no source of light available, it was still very bright, and Kagome squinted slightly. It was about as bright as a sunny day on the beach.
"Where are we?" She whispered.
Kouga grinned. "Don't really know what this place is. It's some kinda pocket dimension, a hole in the fabric of space and time."
"So, where are we?" Kohaku asked.
Kouga sighed. "Miroku calls it--"
"Who's Miroku?" Kagome cut him off.
Kouga grunted, annoyed at being interrupted. "Miroku is a supernatural trafficker. Sortof a fence of paranormal goods between the Spirit and Normal worlds."
Kagome groaned inside. What kind of people where they getting involved with!?
"Anyway," Kouga said, oblivious to her concern, "Miroku named the place, and the name stuck. Welcome to Never-Never Land."
Hoo boy, this one's gonna be iffy. And the unanswered questions (WHERE'S INU-YASHA!?) that beg to be answered. Hopefully I'll have the next chapter up before too long.
Anyway, I'm also looking for a beta-reader, primarily because my brother (who reads most of the stuff I write before posting) is so used to my sense of humor that he's not really a good drop of phenolphthalein anymore.