Ahem. ::shrugs sheepishly:: New story. ::hides head from reviewers throwing pots and pans:: Gomen ne!! I know I need to work on Inuki and 2bwu, but I just really had to get this written (it was one of those stories that kept going, write me, write me!!) I intend it to be shorter than 2bwu and Inuki; those two are monsters, the longest things I've written to date, lol. This will be a baby story compared to those, here's hoping! Otanoshi kudasai!
Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha. Plain and simple.
Chapter One :: Goodbye to the Days of the Young
Kagome hefted her bag over the side of the well with a soft grunt of exertion, letting the weight of it pull itself off the side and back onto the grass. The junior high schooler clambered over the side, lacking the original clumsiness she'd had the first few times she had crossed to the old world. She slipped off the side, mentally preparing herself for the angry hanyou she would soon be greeted by. She had left without his permission this time. Of course, it wasn't as though such an action was without reason. Inuyasha was like a very violent, spoiled brat, though she wasn't sure where that behavior came from.
But he seemed to think that his needs were more important than Kagome's non-existent life, which was steadily passing her by. But God forbid she should try to "escape" for three day's worth of much-needed rest and peace, that only made him attempt to physically restrain her. Of course, it was at that point Kagome usually fulfilled her own strong beliefs, that being screaming a certain single word that could make the hanyou face-plant hard enough into the ground to leave an indentation of his body in the soft dirt. And she typically had no qualms about using said incantation when she felt he deserved it.
After all, the miko had no intentions of wasting all her time in the Sengoku-jidai, while other girls her age were having dates with cute boys and studying for exams into high school. It's not like I'm never coming back, Kagome thought to herself, I should be allowed to take a break every so often!!
As she walked through the forest, Kagome noticed that the trees were... different. Trees that had only three days ago been saplings were full grown. The forest was thicker, brush and vines winding between the trees. The air itself felt odd, unlike the air she was used to breathing when she came back to this time. It wasn't filled with smoke or pollens or the likes of Tokyo's air, but... it just didn't seem right. And it sent a shiver down her spine when she realized that the path leading to the village was gone.
That's weird, she mused, trying to quell her unusual worries, it's like the trail that leads over here was just blocked off. As though no one has been coming over here for years. With some difficulty, Kagome managed to find the river that ran through the village. It was a geographical landmark after all, unable of being moved. After a half hour of clawing her way through bushes and vines, she stumbled out onto the path, finding that it now led out to the main roads that connected town to town.
Kagome dusted herself off with an air of annoyance, bending to pull off the stickers that stuck to her rumpled socks. That Inuyasha... he probably did all this. Is he that mad I didn't ask him to go home? The jerk. Satisfied that she looked fairly human again --even as she pulled out pine needles from her hair-- the 15 year old continued towards the village.
Not ten minutes had passed before she saw a pair of children playing on the road. One of them had a white cloth over his head, with eyes cut out in the front. The other was carrying a large stick that looked almost too big for him to hold, but he didn't seem to mind as he playfully bopped the first child in the head.
"Tessaiga!" the stick-holding child crowed, "There, you filthy Naraku! This is the final blow! Kaze no Kizu!" The first child gasped melodramatically, obviously playing up the death scene. "Argh!! Damn you Inuyasha... You've killed me!" He fell backwards, his feet sticking up in the air and twitching.
The first child was so amused by his friend's antics he collapsed into a heap on the dirt road, laughing hysterically. The first one sat up and tugged off his 'baboon pelt.' "Alright then, now my turn!" he demanded, "I want to be Inuyasha!" Kagome watched the boys trade as she walked by, laughing almost silently to herself. Impersonating Inuyasha. That's so cute. I wonder whose boys they are; I've never seen them before.
The village was just up ahead, and Kagome made her way in quietly. The village was filled with the usual hustle and bustle; the men farming, the women working in the streets with babies strapped to their backs, the old men and women standing out and about, reminiscing about the good old days. Confusion began to seep into Kagome's mind though, as she made her way to Kaede's home. She didn't recognize any of these people. Not a single one. Worse yet, they seemed to glare upon her with suspicion, and several of the women tugged their young children out of the way, into their homes.
What is this, Kagome wondered, as the confusion began to give way to worry, Where am I? Who are these people!?
"Don't move." The voice, a girl's, came from behind her. Kagome froze obediently. Oh great. This is some serious déjà vu. Suddenly I'm reminded of my first day in this world. "Who are you?" the girl demanded, "A spy? An assassin??"
"Don't talk to me with your back turned, intruder! Look at me when I talk to you!"
Kagome cursed under her breath and turned to face the girl. "What kind of tone is that?! You just told me not to move, make up your mind!" Kagome's mouth dropped open the moment the words were out of her mouth.
The girl standing before her was Sango.
Kagome's face paled, and she suddenly couldn't swallow, her mouth dry. She licked her lips to wet them, and then opened her mouth, barely able to form the other girl's name. "San.. Sango-chan?" The girl's eyes widened marginally and her hand went to Hiraikotsu's tether threateningly. "Who the hell are you?" she cried, "How do you know my mother's name?!" Kagome felt as though she had been physically slapped. She raised one eyebrow, mouth hanging open. "Mo... MOTHER?!"
Now that she looked closer, the girl obviously wasn't Sango. Their hair was the same style cut, as was common in the past, and mostly the same color. But in the girl Kagome also noticed a little bit of Miroku's characteristics. The same hairline, the same eyes.
Then this girl is... Sango-chan and Miroku-sama's daughter? What is going on?!
Abruptly snapping back to focus, Kagome squealed as she realized the girl was rushing toward her, bringing down Hiraikotsu in a powerful attack. She deftly moved to the side, and the spectators who had stopped to watch gasped in awe. Kagome slammed her hand down on Hiraikotsu's edge, holding it down when the girl attempted to tug it out of the ground. "I'm not your enemy!" she cried, and the girl glared at her.
"I haven't decided WHO you are yet! A stranger comes into my hometown knowing the name of my beloved mother and you tell me you are not my enemy?"
"You're like your mother in personality too, not just looks!" Kagome observed, and the girl yanked hard on her bone weapon, throwing Kagome down. "I'm not going to listen to some youkai! Or spy or assassin, whatever you are!" She raised the end of the boomerang, and Kagome winced, preparing for the assault.
Kagome blinked. This voice...
She looked up and her mouth fell open again. A tall young man had rushed over and was holding up the end of Hiraikotsu, glaring down at the attack-happy girl, who Kagome now realized was named Misa. She knew immediately who he was, even though he was obviously an adult. He was in his twenties, and very handsome, being of a nice height and build. He wore plain clothes that weren't uncommon for the era, but the reddish-brown fur vest over them was. His hair was auburn and shoulder length, even pulled back into a bow.
And he had a long fluffy fox tail.
"Shi.. Shippou-chan.." Kagome whispered. Misa stamped one foot. "Shippou-san, let go! This person just appeared and started talking about my mother! We don't know who she may be!" Without exerting much effort at all, the kitsune tugged Hiraikotsu out of Misa's hands, looking bored with her impertinence. "Don't run around acting like you know how to use this, you brat," he scolded. Instantly Kagome sagged, unimpressed. He sounds like Inuyasha.
He turned then, and his lean face crinkled. Kagome wasn't sure what the emotions playing over his face were, although she saw a hint of anger amongst them. He reached out, clawed hands taking Kagome's gently and pulling her up. "It's been a long time," he said, his mouth widening into a smile. "You haven't aged at all. Although I seem to recall you being a lot bigger."
Just happy to see a familiar face, all the emotions that had been toiling and bubbling underneath Kagome's surface exploded out frantically. "Shi.. Shippou-chan! What's going on?! I don't understand! Why are you an adult?! Sango-chan has a DAUGHTER?! Where is everyone!?!"
Shippou's eyebrows knitted in uncertainty before he finally said, "Kagome... What do you mean? Of course everything's going to be different. It's been twenty years since you left."
Kagome gasped sharply. What?! "Twenty years?!"
It was with great reluctance that Misa allowed Kagome into her house. Shippou insisted, and apparently Shippou meant a great deal to Misa, as she obeyed him without question. Evil glares, maybe, but without question.
Kagome walked the entire distance with her hand to her mouth. Shippou had taken her bag from her so she wouldn't have to deal with its weight, but a brand-new weight beset her small shoulders. From the moment she'd stepped out onto the grass in this time, things had been wonky. She realized now that the feeling she'd had when she arrived, of even the air feeling strange, had been the passing of twenty years in this time.
What does this mean? she wondered helplessly, I'm so confused. It was only three days ago when I said goodbye to everyone and went home. But it's been twenty years here! Shippou-chan was a little boy, and now he's all grown up...! Sango-chan and Miroku-sama have a child... Suddenly the one person she thought should have been first in her mind appeared there.
"Shippou-chan! What about Inuyasha? What happened to him?"
Shippou glanced down at her with wide blue eyes and then looked ahead, seeming indifferent to the subject matter. "Inuyasha left about 2 years after you never came back. He just couldn't deal with it anymore. I haven't seen him since." Kagome looked down at her feet, her face a mask of glazed shock. Inuyasha's.. not here. At her sides her fists clenched into tiny balls. He waited for me for 2 whole years...?
"I'm sorta glad though," Shippou's voice broke into her thoughts, bringing her back to this sudden harsh reality. "If you'd seen the way he was, it would have made you cry." Kagome blinked then, puzzlement sifting through her glaze. "Why?" Shippou looked sadly at her. "Inuyasha was so.. lost without you. The only thing that even remotely seemed like the way he used to be was finding Naraku. And then when we killed him, even that was gone." He set her bag down as they entered Misa's house, holding open the door for her. "We're here."
Kagome walked into the dim room hesitantly, each step sounding heavy and distant, like it was someone else's footsteps. Misa had disappeared to the back of the house, slipping through the next door. Shippou went to poke the embers in the hearth back to life, setting some wood on the low fire. From the next room there was the thudding of running feet, and abruptly, in the doorway, was a woman. She looked just like Sango, except for the few lines in her face, and the sprinkling of gray hairs, and the little bit of weight she had gained, and there was no way this person was...
"Sango-chan!" Kagome's voice didn't sound like her voice anymore, the sound strangled and hoarse, disappearing into the air like dust on a high wind. The bowl Sango was holding fell to the floor with a crash, the lines in her face deepening as she stared, bewildered, at Kagome's form in the doorway.
This can't be real... Kagome told herself again, I must be dreaming. Sango-chan looks like she's about my mother's age!
"This can't be real," Sango said, voicing Kagome's inner thoughts, "It's really you, Kagome-chan?" She smiled then, her shoulders sagging. "You don't look any older than the day you left! How do you do it?" She looked down at herself. "I obviously haven't been told the secret you were!"
"Haha-ue, then... this woman really is Kagome-sama?" Misa demanded, and Sango nodded, stepping forward. "Misa, please put on some tea. Send Kohaku to fetch your father, as well." Misa looked indignant, apparently still unsure of Kagome's intentions or the truth of the miko's claims. But ever the obedient daughter she turned, snatching up a bowl to get water, and stomped out of the house.
Sango tugged at Kagome's hand, gesturing for the girl to sit at her side. She smiled. "So... twenty years. What have you been doing all this time?"
"Sango-chan, it wasn't... I mean, I don't know what's happened, but for me, it was only three days!" Sango's eyes narrowed and she tilted her head, looking like a dog listening to a sound only he could hear. "What do you mean?"
"I mean," Kagome began, "That three days ago, I went home to study for a test and restock on supplies. I was only gone for three whole days!" Sango shook her head, insistent. "No. You left and you never came back. It's been twenty years since then."
Kagome made a soft defeated sound, wringing her hands. Everything was different, as if she hadn't gone through the same well and landed in the same place that was home to the ones she held dearest. Even that which felt familiar was so different that it no longer felt right. Within the course of an hour, her entire world had been knocked askew.
Kagome hung her head, leaning against her clasped hands. Sango left her be for a short while, tending to other things around her home. It seemed like hours before a rustling at the door roused the miko from her quiet state of thinking. She lifted her head, praying to God that she had been napping and that her eyes would find Inuyasha's annoyed face in front of hers, demanding she wake up before he threw her in the river.
Instead she saw Miroku, looking much like Sango did: his hair was graying, and lines drew age across his face. His face seemed even wiser than it had been in his youth, twenty more years of experience taking its effect on him. Kagome was no longer shocked to see another one of the people she cared about aged further than they should have been; she simply sighed and lowered her head. That's right, Miroku-sama would be almost forty now, wouldn't he...
Miroku on the other hand, was as surprised as Sango had been, although he exhibited it less. It was in his voice though. "Kagome-sama!"
The miko didn't respond. She heard Sango reply from across the room, her words accented by an occasional ting when the ladle hit the side of the pot. "She's been like that for nearly an hour. She was really surprised to see Shippou and myself the way we are now." Her voice took on a hint of anger. "It's as though she thought twenty years wouldn't have an effect."
"I'm telling you," Kagome began, her voice muffled against her shirt, "It was only a few days for me!!" She jerked her head up, glaring at her friends. Tears prickled her eyes. "It wasn't twenty years for me!! Can't you tell?! I still look the same!! Time didn't pass in my time like it did here! Something's happened!"
Miroku knelt then, reaching out and taking Kagome's shoulder, patting it with a reassuring firmness that sparked a flicker of familiarity in the miko. He hadn't really changed, it seemed; Miroku had always been firm and kind. "Kagome-sama, don't fret so. Calm down. It will be alright." Sango tilted her head empathetically, her voice soothing things over. "I didn't mean it badly, Kagome-chan. It's just.. when you never came back, without even a word of goodbye..." She turned back to the stew she was cooking. "I suppose I felt a bit of resentment."
"We all did," Shippou admitted, his deepened voice sounding very harsh to Kagome's ears. It was strange hearing such a cruel tone coming from her little Shippou's mouth. But then, he didn't really seem like Shippou anymore either.
Kagome reached up and wiped away the tears that threatened to spill onto her cheeks. "I'm sorry. I don't understand what's going on, but whatever it is... it's real. You're all here, and your feelings are real. And if you feel resentment because I never came home.." She looked up at all three of them, her face crinkling. "I'm so, so sorry."
The three of them paused. Finally, Sango turned to her. Tears glittered in her eyes as well. "It's okay." Miroku nodded. "There's no way we couldn't forgive you."
"Yeah..." Shippou said, looking much like Inuyasha did when he was trying to avoid showing emotion, "I guess I'm just happy to have you back."
Kagome nodded gratefully, lowering her head. After taking a deep breath and collecting herself she looked up. "I know this is because of... something. A spell, or a youkai. Something. And whatever it is, I'm going to find it. I have to return to my real time... our real time. And I'm going to come home this time." A weak smile found its way onto her face.
...To be continued
a/n :: So? What do you think? Let me know!
Haha-ue - mother. Extremely polite. I thought about Misa calling her parents Okaasama and Otousama, but both Miroku and Sango addressed their fathers as "Chichi-ue" so I used the same format with their children.
Arigatou to my wondermous beta, Aile Anna-sama, who puts up with staying up into the wee hours of the morning to correct my spelling and pull the kinks out of my flow! Huggles!!