Disclaimer: Oh… If I owned Inuyasha… ::grin::

"…" – speech

'…' – thoughts

- change in scenery or time

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Limited Choices

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Kagome grunted as she tried to haul herself and her over sized yellow backpack out of the Bone Eaters Well. She had decided to go back to the feudal era a day earlier than usual since she didn't have to go to school.

The girl sighed, remembering a time when she would have been at the mall with her friends instead of planning to traipse through Sengoku Jidai confronting ugly oni, collecting Shikon shards and willingly placing her life in danger. And now, since she had come back earlier than expected, there wasn't even anyone to help her out of the stupid well!

"Heelllooo?" Kagome called into the square of blue above. She listened for a response before sighing and grabbing hold of some of the many vines growing over the edge. It was hard work, but the teenager eventually made it near the top of the well. "Al…most… there… Ah... I had to pack all these things, didn't I?"

Suddenly, a clawed hand shot down from the hole above and grabbed the pack from the girl's shoulders. Relieved, Kagome quickly scrambled out of the well after her pack and smiled gratefully at the person who assisted her.

"Thanks, Inuyasha."

"Keh." He snorted at her. "You're such a weakling. You would've taken forever to climb outta there."

The smile on the girl's face became a little more strained. Kagome abruptly turned her back to the hanyou, and started to march back to the village. She wouldn't give Inuyasha the satisfaction of watching her react to his comments.

She was too drained for the game today.

Inuyasha watched as Kagome turned around and started towards Kaede's village.

He was confused.

He had insulted her, yet she hadn't responded.

He would offend the girl from the future, and she would yell at him. They would exchange choice insults before either he left in a huff or she finally snapped and sat him.

Well… that's how the unofficial 'game' usually went. Whoever got in the last word would be the winner of that round, and so far, Inuyasha was in the lead.

But today, she wasn't even playing with him!

How could he win if she didn't argue with him?

That usually meant something was wrong. Either that or she was purposely ignoring him. Racking his brain for something- anything he might have done wrong the past few days, Inuyasha slowly followed the girl's path towards Kaede's small town.


Kagome called tiredly to her friends once she reached the outskirts of the village. The straps of her heavy bag were cutting almost painfully into her shoulders. A blur of orange flew from seemingly out of nowhere and attached itself to the girl's midriff, knocking the wind out of her.

Sighing slightly, the untrained miko hugged the child.

"Hello, Shippou-chan."

"Kagome! You're back early! I knew you couldn't stay too mad at that dumb Inuyasha. How many times did you sit him this time?"

A rustling of clothing brought her attention from the fox cub to a man wearing dark purple outer robes over black ones. There was a recently acquired handprint on his cheek. A woman dressed in a pink patterned yukata with a green skirt-like addition over the bottom portion stood beside him. Her left fist was clenched, and her other hand grasped Hiraikotsu. Her face was a dark shade of red.

"Hello Kagome-sama. You chose to return early today. I hope Inuyasha has not done anything to offend you. How long will you be staying this time?"

Sango cut in, "Thank kami-sama you're back. I don't think I could have survived another minute alone with the lecherous houshi."

At that moment, a certain cloth-covered hand groped Sango's backside, causing the demon exterminator to stiffen almost comically, her eyes widening. Then, closing her eyes as an eyebrow began to twitch ominously, she swung her weapon around, making it come into contact with Miroku's skull.

He fell to the ground with a dazed yet happy expression on his face. "It was worth it."

Shippou shook his head sadly.

The teenager chuckled at the couple's antics and smiled at them.

"Inuyasha didn't do anything wrong, and I haven't sat him today. I came back because school was… cancelled today. And I'll be able to stay for much longer periods of time from now on, guys."

Kagome's happy expression fell slightly at this, and her friends looked at her in concern.

"Is anything wrong, Kagome-chan?"

Said girl pasted on another happy façade and replied in a voice that was too cheery to be genuine, "Nothing's wrong! I'm fine. Just eager to go on another shard expedition."

The others exchanged perplexed glances but chose not to pry any further.

Kagome would tell them on her own accord.

They followed her into Kaede's hut.


Inuyasha glared suspiciously at the girl who was walking slowly beside him.

It had been nine days since she had come through the well without playing the game with him. During the period of the first seven days, she had carried an unfaltering grin that seemed to be pasted onto her face, yet when she thought nobody was watching her, it would drop, and an almost weary expression would remain.

But that wasn't all.

Usually, after seven days of being in the feudal era, Kagome would have been pestering the hanyou to turn back to Kaede's village. She would have claimed to either have a test she had to study for or some other pathetic reason, but not this time. Now, she was just staring thoughtfully into space as the group travelled to another area with a rumoured shard.

The dog demon was itching to know what was going on, but since none of the others were bothering her about it, he wouldn't either, for the risk of seeming too caring. Everytime someone had asked, the girl would have brushed it off. Whenever someone mentioned school, Kagome would flinch slightly and purposely steer the conversation away from that topic.

Nobody insisted for an explanation. She would eventually tell them when she was ready. However, if this dragged on for too long, he would force the answer out of her whether she was ready or not.


Kagome sighed.

It had been two weeks since she'd been home, and the others were becoming suspicious. She'd have to tell them inevitably, but she didn't know how they would respond. They would either force her back to her era to straighten everything out, or they would keep her here to finish up the shard hunt.

Then again, there was also the possibility of them not understanding the problem.

The teenager was so absorbed in her thoughts that she didn't notice a pair of golden eyes staring at her suspiciously from across the campfire.

The group had settled down for the night next to a small lake. Sango was on the far side of the camp, sleeping with a hand positioned on Hiraikotsu, ready to defend herself from enemies or certain perverted monks. Said perverted monk was a few feet away from the exterminator, sleeping upright against a tree. The kitsune kit was curled up next to Kirara, who was on the other side of the taiji-ya, opposite of Miroku.

Inuyasha approached the thinking girl cautiously. His dog-ears flicked as they caught another soft sigh. He circled around her and crept steadily closer until he was only inches away from her back.

She didn't notice him.

"Oi, Kagome."

The girl started badly and slugged the inu-hanyou over the head before she realised who it was. Once she did, she immediately rushed to his side, apologising profusely, "Oh Inuyasha! I didn't know you were so close! I though you were some perverted youkai…"

He brushed her away with some degree of irritation.

"It doesn't hurt, wench. You can't hurt me like that. You just took me by surprise." Despite his words, the hanyou winced as he touched his cheek.

Damn.

She hit pretty hard- for a girl, that is.

Kagome's concern turned to suspicion once she determined that Inuyasha really was all right.

"What were you doing behind me anyway, Inuyasha?"

The hanyou met her glare with one of his own.

"Keh. It's your own fault you were scared. You were thinking too hard, and didn't notice me coming." His eyes narrowed. "What were you thinking of, anyway?"

She looked away.

"Nothing." Was her quick answer.

"Damnit Kagome, just tell me what's wrong. You've been facing everybody with a fucking smile that's way too cheerful- even for you, and you haven't been whining about going home! What happened to that sk-ool thingy of yours?"

At the mere mention of school, the teenager predictably winced, and Inuyasha pounced at his opportunity.

"Does it have something to do with 'school'? What happened?" His voice turned darker and more menacing. "Did anybody hurt you? 'Cause if they did, I'll rip their fucking throats out…"

Kagome remained stubborn and looked away.

"Nothing's happened. I'm just… taking a break from school, that's it." "An extremely long break." She added under her breath.

But the hanyou's excellent hearing caught the whispered words. He turned curious.

"Why're you taking a long break from 'school'? I thought you had to take your precious 'tests'?" He quieted, but the girl didn't respond. The boy looked away. "Can't you tell me, Kagome? Don't you trust me?"

That was the golden ticket.

Hearing his words, the girl snapped her gaze back to Inuyasha. His face was downcast and even his doggy ears drooped from disappointment- he looked so much like a kicked puppy. The dog demon was thouroughly startled when he was encased in a warm hug.

"Oh, Inuyasha, Of course I trust you. I just don't know how to tell you the news. I didn't know how you guys would react." She laughed nervously. "And I suppose that even I haven't really accepted the situation…"

He pulled back slightly and, taking advantage of the situation, carefully lifted the girl so that she was nestled in his lap. He made sure Kagome faced away from him so she couldn't see his pink face.

"So what's wrong?"

Kagome bit her lip, a warm blush spreading across her cheeks as, and began slowly, "Well, you know how I've been spending a lot of time here with you and the others to look for the Shikon no Kakera, right?" She studied the embers in the crackling fire.

Grunt.

"And you know that jii-chan's been making up illnesses to explain my absences from school, right?"

Another grunt.

Kagome sighed.

"All this time, the school bought jii-chan's lies, and they let me continue into high school when I finished ninth grade. But just a few weeks ago, the idiots finally decided to check my medical record. They found out that none of the stories matched up with my hospital visitation dates. And they found out that I had been perfectly healthy for that entire time." She paused and was content to just be with Inuyasha for a moment. "When they demanded an explanation, I couldn't very well tell them the truth."

Inuyasha cut in.

"Why not? Just tell 'em you're looking for the Shikon fragments."

Kagome snorted.

"Right. Like they would believe that I have the ability to travel 500 years into the past where youkai and magical items exist. That the reason why I was never at school was because I was travelling with a half-demon, half-human, looking for the fragments of a jewel powerful enough to grant wishes." She sighed again. "They would think I was crazy, Inuyasha."

There was another pause.

"So, what happened?"

Kagome took in a deep breath.

"They expelled me."

Inuyasha was confused. "Expelled? What does that mean?"

"It means I'm not allowed to go to school anymore. I don't have anymore tests, and I don't have to study," Kagome simplified.

Inuyasha's face broke into a grin she couldn't see. "Well, what's so wrong with that? You can stay here and collect the shards like you should have done a long time ago."

Kagome sighed again and turned herself around, looking solidly into the hanyou's ignorant eyes.

"You don't understand, Inuyasha. In my world, everything is based on an education. People need to take tests and get good grades in order to survive. Nobody hunts, except for recreation, since there are people who raise animals for the consumer, and everybody has to have a job in order to work for money to buy that food. In order to get a good job, you have to have a good education. If you don't it can be extremely hard to get by in my era."

A few tears had leaked out of the corners of her eyes during her explanation, and Inuyasha was momentarily speechless. "So, if you don't have an ed-u-ca-tion, you can't provide for your family?"

She smiled sadly. "Basically."

He stared at her, stunned.

One he'd found his voice, Inuyasha raised his voice in slight panic. "Then go to another 'sk-ool'! There can't be just one in your world!"

"There are several public schools, but all of them share the same records. They won't accept a student like me because I have 'problems'. And the ones that would have are way too expensive for mama to send me to. She has to take care of Souta and Ji-chan. The shrine income and government contributions are too little for something as elaborate as private tutoring."

Kagome began to cry.

Inuyasha panicked.

"H-hey. Don't cry! You know I hate it when you cry!" He hesitatingly wrapped her in his arms and rocked her back and forth gently like his mother had done so many years ago.

"Wh-what am I going to do? When the Sh-shikon no Tama is complete, what's going to happen to me? I can't get a j-job in my world without a high school degree, and mama and jii-chan can't provide for me forever! The shrine income will barely be able to support me…"

The hanyou hugged the crying girl and carefully rested his head on hers. After a few moments of thought, he spoke, "Who says you have to stay in your world when this is all over?"

Kagome's sobs stopped suddenly and she backed her head away from his, looking at him in shock. "Wh-What?!"

He stared at her unblinkingly.

"Well, you don't have to go back, you know. You could stay here with m- er- us. You can take over after the old hag passes on as miko."

Kagome gaped at him.

"You can't be serious! I don't belong here! I-"

She was abruptly cut off.

"And you belong there? How're you gonna survive, huh Kagome?"

The girl couldn't respond.

"Exactly. So stay here with us. It'll much better than that weird smelling world of concrete. You can live with me- I mean, in the village." Inuyasha's voice was a lot calmer than one would have thought possible.

Kagome remained silent, thinking about the hanyou's words. A thought suddenly struck her. "Hey… if you're going to be here after this is all over… Does that mean you're not going to hell anymore?" Her voice was laced with hopefulness. "You're not going to die?"

They both knew this was a test. They both knew that his answer would change a lot. They both knew that it was either one or another, and not something in between.

She stared intently into his eyes. "Inuyasha?"

Inuyasha looked away.

Kagome turned his head to face her. "Well? Answer me!"

The half demon swallowed hard. If, for some reason, she took this the wrong way then he would really be screwing up his chances with the girl. But eventually, he decided to take his chances. After all, if not today, it would have to happen some time in the near future. "If you stay, then I have no reason to die. You're my life, Kagome." He winced. Those words hadn't sounded nearly as corny in hsi head.

Shocked by the sudden confession she could do nothing but gape at the boy. He had never been so blunt like that before- at least, not concerning this. Her mouth opened but no words came out. She was speechless for quite some while before, "Wh-what do you mean?"

Inuyasha swallowed. Well, it was now or never. "I mean, that I… I… er… have feelings for you." He turned away with a blush staining his cheeks. "I… er… kinda like you." This kind of speech was not his expertise.

Kagome blinked.

And then frowned.

"You kind of like me?"

"Y-yeah. I… I… er... do like you."

"…So you DO like me?" she moved in closer.

Frustrated, the inu-hanyou spun his head around. Damn it, didn't this girl know how to take a stupid hint?

"Damn it, wench, I love you, got it?!" He glared at her hard- hardly the expression one should be wearing when they've just spilled their feelings out.

But nevertheless, he was rewarded with a kiss.

Once they had broken apart, Inuyasha smirked at the slightly dazed look on Kagome's face. "So does that mean you'll be staying?" His embarrassment evaporated like fog in the sun as he tried desperately to control the colour of his face.

Once the miko had recovered from her stupour, she raised an eyebrow at the hanyou. She glared at him with a non-serious air. Kagome kept the silence long enough to make him squirm uncomfortably, and it was then and only then that she gave her answer.

"I'll have to think about it." Her expression was filled with all the seriousness she could muster, but it was ruined by a smile.

Kagome pried herself from a disgruntled half-demon's grip and she sauntered off to sleep, feeling happier that she had for days.

Being expelled from school had never been on of the 'To Do' items on her list, and before this whole mess had started, Kagome would never have dreamed of leaving the education system before graduation. But now, with her shard hunting, her future in the present had been severely limited.

However, the same thing that had practically destroyed her career forecast in the future, had opened up another life in the past.

A life with her friends and Inuyasha.

Maybe being expelled wasn't so bad after all?


[A oneshot I wrote in the beginning of my 'career' ::cough:: so it's a little bumpier than my current style. I brushed it up some, and I'm trying to hone in on my romantic style... (not working well, is it?) I might do some more editing and fine-tuning for this one, but for now, it's... okay?

And in case you're wondering, the school system in Japan is different from the North American system. From what I know, middle school there extends until grade nine, and people enter high school in grade ten. But that's just what I know, and it could be wrong.

Eh. I had a little bit of trouble deciding on a title…]