Chapter 3

The Boy Next Door

Kagome pulled the book off the shelf and scowled in concentration as she leafed through it. On the one hand, she wondered if she weren't being a little short-sighted in thinking that finding some kind of answer as to why Sango couldn't carry a baby to term might help. On the other hand, it might exacerbate the situation, too, given that there wouldn't be any way of reversing whatever caused it. Still maybe it would be comforting for her friend just to know that she wasn't the only woman with the problem. She only wished she could do more.

Her first thought this morning when she awoke in her bed was that she ought to go back right away. Sango would be saying goodbye to Hideaki at sunset. Her next thought had been that InuYasha hadn't come after her in the night, and with that realization had come a feeling of complete melancholy. She sighed. How selfish was she, to think of something as silly as that when her dear friend was suffering so much?

At breakfast, Mrs. Higurashi had suggested that Kagome pick up some books at the library that might help Sango understand, even if there really wasn't any good reason for it, in Kagome's opinion. So after eating and washing the dishes, Kagome grabbed her bag and set out.

"Higurashi! How are you?"

Kagome squeaked out a small sound of surprise as she slammed the book closed and whirled to face Houjou. His face was flushed when she dared peek at him and hers was rapidly following suit. It was obvious to her that his first thought had been a memory of the accidental kiss, and she tamped down the urge to turn tail and run as fast as she could. "Morning, Houjou . . . how are you?" she asked as she stepped back in retreat.

"Just working . . . I wanted to tell you I had a great time the other night."

She winced inwardly. "The movie was nice . . ."

His smile was bright, happy. "Would you like to go again? The theater changed showings yesterday, and if you're not busy they're showing a special matinee of Titanic . . .?"

"You, know, I'd love to, but I can't. I've got some things I have to take care of later. I'm sorry."

The crestfallen look on his face didn't last long. Another shy smile surfaced as he shrugged. "Maybe this weekend, then?"

"Uh . . . maybe . . ."

Apparently satisfied with her answer, Houjou leaned casually against the bookshelf, his shy smile widening as he gazed at her in such a way that Kagome knew he was definitely remembering that kiss. "I get off work in about five minutes. Can I walk you home?"

Racking her brain for a reason---any reason---to turn him down, her pathetic mind couldn't come up with even one. "A-all right," she agreed slowly. "I was just finished, anyway."

Houjou finally dropped his eyes to the books she held clutched against her chest. Eyes widening in surprise, he blushed but grinned. "What to Expect When You're Expecting?"

Kagome blushed, too. 'Kami, I forgot that . . .' Forcing a weak smile, she shrugged. "I . . . um . . . My thesis! I need them for my health thesis."

His blush darkened. "Oh, I wasn't implying . . . I apologize! Please, I meant no offense!"

"No, no!" she assured him, an embarrassed giggle spilling out of her. "Well, I need to go check these out."

She turned to go. He hurried after her. "Would it be all right if I still walked you home?"

Kagome turned around with every intention of making up some excuse to keep him from doing that. Her resolve faltered. He looked so hopeful, so happy, so nice that she couldn't do it. "Sure . . ."

"Great! Let me go grab my bag, and I'll be right with you," he said as he hurried away.

Kagome sighed as she checked out her books and stuffed them into her backpack. She headed toward the doors to wait for Houjou, staring out the doors at the noon-day sunshine and clutching the Shikon no Tama. 'We've got to find out why we can't purify the jewel,' she mused, 'but poor Sango . . . I don't think she or Miroku are in any condition to travel, and I can't ask them to . . . InuYasha better not say a thing to them about it, either, or I'll . . . oh, I don't know. I'll think of something . . .'

Houjou smiled as he held the door for her, and Kagome stifled another sigh. "Would you like to stop for a cup of coffee?" he asked as they walked down the sidewalk.

Kagome stared at the ground. "I have to go see a friend," she said in a tone that she could only hope wasn't as irritated as it seemed to her own ears. "Maybe some other time." She made a face. 'What's the matter with you? Stop encouraging him!'

"Anyone I know?"

"Wha---? Oh, no . . . I don't think so."

"You seem awfully preoccupied . . . is everything all right?"

Kagome stopped abruptly and forced a smile. "Well, no . . . A friend of mine is having some trouble, and I promised I'd come by and see how she's doing. I just wish I could help her," she confessed, wondering just why she was telling Houjou any of this.

"Anything I can do?"

Kagome sighed. "No . . . thank you, though. I don't think anyone can help her."

"That sounds serious," Houjou commented, a concerned frown marring his brow as they started walking again.

Turning the corner onto the street that led to the shrine, Kagome sighed and shook her head. "It is," she agreed. "It seems so lame, when all I can do is stand by and watch . . ."

Houjou shrugged and smiled down at her. "I'm sure that's enough. Sometimes just knowing you have a friend is enough, right?"

For the first time all day, Kagome's smile, though small, was genuine. "I suppose it is."

"Don't look so sad, Kagome. She's lucky to have a friend like you."

Kagome sighed. "Maybe," she agreed in a tone that bespoke her doubt.

"Definitely," Houjou remarked, nodding his head toward the shrine. "Well, here you are."

Kagome turned to stare at her home then gasped as a crimson-clad figure huddled in the shadows atop the roof caught her eye. The flash of silver hair, the fire lit in the depths of the golden stare . . . Kagome stepped back quickly before InuYasha felt the need to make his presence any clearer to her. "Thanks for walking me home," Kagome hurried to say, praying that the young man wouldn't look up. "I just remembered, I'm late . . . Bye!" she called over her shoulder as she hobbled up the stairs as quickly as she could.

Opting to ignore the hanyou as she mustered her dignity, Kagome headed toward the front doors as InuYasha dropped onto the path behind her. "You can't ignore me," he growled as he stomped along behind her.

"I wasn't," she answered, carefully keeping her tone neutral.

"Keh! You're trying," he accused.

She sighed and whirled around to face him. Having not realized how close he was, her hair slapped him in the face, and he stumbled back, hands rubbing over features as his pout shifted into a glower. "Oi, bitch! What the hell was that for?"

Controlling her rising irritation, she made a face. "I didn't do it on purpose. I didn't know you were right behind me, and I don't feel like fighting with you."

"Then stop swinging your hair around."

She sighed again. "Why are you in such a bad mood?"

He snorted as she opened the front door and stepped inside the house. "Because you always make me come after you."

"I never asked you to come after me," she informed him. "I was just on my way back, anyway."

"Keh. Guess that means I'm on guard duty again," he snorted.

She narrowed her gaze on him. "I'm not helpless, you know."

"That's debatable."

"Do we have to do this?" she asked quietly. "I'm tired of arguing with you."

"Keh! You should have thought of that before you went off kissing that little---"

"That was your fault, you know," she broke in, hands on hips as she glared at InuYasha as much for the reminder as for his irritation over what he caused. "If you hadn't been growling, I wouldn't have turned my head, and---"

"And you didn't pull away from him, either!"

"I was shocked!"


"Because I'd never been kissed---" she yelled as her temper snapped. "Never mind," she grumbled, face flaming as she let her gaze drop to her feet. "Just go on without me," she went on, turning away and starting up the staircase. "I'll be back this afternoon."


InuYasha watched in stunned silence as Kagome hurried up the stairs toward her bedroom. He had been irritated beyond belief when he'd come to get her only to find that she was gone. Mrs. Higurashi told him that Kagome had gone to the library. He'd been left alone at the shrine while Mrs. Higurashi had taken Souta to a soccer match. Waiting around was driving him crazy, and it hadn't taken long before he retreated to the roof to wait for her to show her face. What he hadn't expected was that she'd have the nerve to let that Houjou-thing walk her home again.

If she hadn't hurried to say goodbye to the boy, InuYasha had been ready to hop down and tear the boy limb from limb, especially if his lips got anywhere within kissing distance of Kagome. Witnessing it once had been more than enough, as far as InuYasha was concerned. 'There sure as hell better never be a repeat of that, damn it,' he thought with a vicious snarl.

Shaking his head in silent confusion, InuYasha sank down in the hallway and hugged Tetsusaiga as Kagome's words came back to him. 'Because I'd never been kissed . . .'

He wasn't sure if it was the idea that she'd never been kissed before that confused him since he hadn't really stopped to think about that before, or the idea that her first kiss had come from that boy . . . 'Keh! Stop thinking about it!' he told himself sternly. On the one hand, he supposed he had always thought that Kagome probably had been kissed before. How could a girl as happy and beautiful as her not have been kissed before? On the other hand, the fact that he knew now that she had been kissed . . . His face twisted into a pout again. That little twerp didn't deserve to be the one to give Kagome that first kiss.

The bottom line was that Kagome didn't want him. Even if it had been 'his fault' that she turned her head, she still, she let that little bastard kiss her. His frown deepened. 'Shocked, maybe, but she still let him. . . Sango would have slapped the crap out of Miroku for that, before they were mated . . .'

He snorted as another voice spoke up in his head. 'Kikyou shocked you. That time she tried to drag you to hell, and you nearly let her . . . and you let her kiss you as you stood there in shock . . . with Kagome watching . . .' He growled low in his throat. If Kagome had any clue of how it felt, to watch her being kissed . . . Balling his hands into fists so tightly that his claws cut into his palms, InuYasha grimaced. 'So you do care more that it was that baka instead of---'

'Keh. Shuddup.'

He winced as her answer plagued him.

"Do you . . . do you like that guy?"

"Houjou, you mean? Sure . . . he's nice enough."

He sighed again as his ears drooped. 'Nice . . . she likes 'nice' . . . so why can't I just be a little . . . nicer?'

He didn't know the first thing about being 'nice', at least, not in any way that Kagome would appreciate. He already provided for her, protected her . . . 'nice' wasn't something that he really knew how to do.

"Keh!" InuYasha snorted as he shot to his feet, stomping toward the back door and the sanctuary of Goshinboku. "If she fucking wants 'nice' then she can have that little bastard . . . I don't care!"


The cavernous darkness was dank, sinister. Somewhere in the dusk, in the half-light of the shimmering purple glow emanating from the single clay urn, something stirred to life. Dormant for so long, the time had come. A drip of water hitting a puddle echoed through the chamber. Stalagmites cast grotesque shadows; stalactites hung from the ceiling like gaping, sharp teeth. In the recesses of the darkest corner, she slowly opened her eyes---lavender smoldered in the dusky violet radiance.

'Is it time . . .? Is it your wish?'

Stepping out of the cocoon-like structure that had housed her, she stretched, luxuriated in the freedom of movement. 'Nice,' she thought as she arched her back, savoring the reawakening of her senses, one by one.

A faded pink silk kimono lay on a nearby rock. She recognized it. 'The remainder of a life I left in the past,' she thought with a dramatic sigh. 'A life I shall never require again . . .'

Gazing down at her naked body in the pale, thin light, she uttered a little whine of frustration. Locked away in the cocoon for so long, she had forgotten what her body looked like. She spared a moment, rubbing her hands over her flesh---cool, silky---and smiled as she felt sensation wash through her. Long dormant nerves sprang to life. She could feel once more. 'A shame to cover this, isn't it?' she mused as she hesitantly reached for the faded garment. 'Ah, well . . . I have work to do.'

Opening her mouth in a silent call, her face broke into a sultry smile as the stalagmites cracked open. Grunts and growls, groveling and groaning as they emerged, she waited as she tied her kimono, waited for the silence, waited for their full attention. Snarling at one another as they seemed to be deciding who was their leader, she smiled tolerantly. 'Yes, my darlings . . . show me which of you is supreme.'

The ugliest creatures---all of them created of darkness, of the marriage of black arts and of the vilest youkai, the merging of the two powers creating a force that would be harder to control. They might have once resembled men. Now they were little more than mindless beasts. They would suit the purpose. They would suit the purpose very well. 'You had complete faith in me, didn't you, koishii . . .? I will not fail you . . .'

Raising her hand, the purple extension shooting from her fingertips like a singular snake writhing in the dark, she drew her fingers back and waited. With a flick of her wrist, the whip extension cracked, silencing the assembly as they stared at her. "You have been created to serve me." She wasn't certain if she was being understood or not. In the end, it didn't matter. These, her children, were nearly indestructible . . . That would be enough. "I am your mistress. You may call me Hisadaicho."


Kagome buried her head under her pillows as she moaned softly. 'Why did I tell him that?' she berated herself. 'He doesn't care, anyway, and . . . I'm so stupid! Stupid, stupid, stupid! Maybe I should just march right back to Sengoku Jidai and tell him, flat out, 'Oh, gee, InuYasha, I've liked you for years' . . . He'd just laugh at me, or worse, yell . . . No thanks.'

Uncovering her head, Kagome sat up slowly, a dejected sigh escaping her as she shook her head. 'Oh, what does it matter? So what if I've never kissed anyone else,' she reasoned. 'We've still got to figure out how to get rid of the Shikon no Tama, and that has to take precedence over how many guys I have---or haven't---kissed, right?'

Still, telling herself that it wasn't a big deal was completely different from making herself come out of her room. She didn't see him in Goshinboku. Maybe he had listened and gone back without her. Tamping down the sadness that suddenly welled up inside her, Kagome made a disgusted face. She didn't want him to wait for her. 'Right, Kagome . . . convince yourself of that, if you think you can.'

That was the trouble, wasn't it? She did care. She always had. She cared too much. The main problem with what she admitted to him wasn't that it had been her first kiss: it was that her first kiss hadn't come from him instead of Houjou . . . Why did she just know that kissing InuYasha would be extraordinary?

'The jewel, Kagome, the jewel!' she reminded herself sternly, her cheeks scorching at her own wayward thoughts. 'Get it together! I have to concentrate on that before I can concentrate on anything else, even InuYasha!'

It wasn't until she heard her mother's voice that she even dared peek out into the hallway. "Kagome, are you still here?" Mrs. Higurashi called up the stairs.

Kagome grabbed her backpack and slowly headed out of her room, peeking up and down the hallway to make sure she wasn't about to be waylaid by a certain deviant hanyou..

"I'm surprised you haven't gone back, dear," Mrs. Higurashi commented as Kagome dropped the bag on a chair at the kitchen table and started rifling through the cupboard for supplies.

"I'm getting ready to."

Mrs. Higurashi pushed a mail-order flower catalogue across the table. "I was thinking about Sango," she said slowly. "I thought that if there were any she'd like, I'd order them."

Kagome smiled as she stuffed the catalogue in the bag, too. "Thanks, Mama . . . a memorial garden, you mean?"

Mrs. Higurashi shrugged as she put away more groceries. "Something like that."

Shaking her head as she stuffed in a few boxes of pocky and some cups of instant ramen, Kagome sighed. "I wish there were something I could do . . . it just seems so sad, you know? Sango would make such a fantastic mother, and that's all she really wants now . . ."

"I know, darling. I wish there were more we could do, too."

Kagome closed up the bag and hurriedly kissed her mother's cheek. "I'll be back for exams," she assured her, "if not sooner."

"Take your jacket, Kagome. It's supposed to be chilly the next few evenings."

Kagome grinned but did stop to grab a sweater. Chances were good that the weather here wouldn't be exactly the same as it would be in the past. Still, she supposed a mother was a mother, and it wouldn't matter if she was here or in the past, her mother would just feel better if she had a sweater.

"Keh. Took fucking long enough, wench," InuYasha snorted as he dropped out of Goshinboku.

"I thought you went back already," Kagome remarked as she struggled to keep herself from blushing all over again.

"Come on," he grumbled as he followed her into the well-house. "Give me the bag, will you? Do you always have to carry around so much crap?"

"I brought ramen for you," she informed him as she handed him the backpack.

InuYasha hopped up on the ledge and held out his hand. "Move it, will you? We ain't got all day."

She sank down on the wall and flipped her legs over the side, gaze slipping away to the side. The already uncomfortable silence thickened, and she bit her lower lip as she tried to brush off his gruff tone. She didn't see him wince. "Thanks, for the ramen," he muttered as they pushed off the ledge and fell into the time slip.


Koishii: Cherished.

Hisadaicho: "Long-Lasting Great Butterfly"

Final Thought from InuYasha:

Fucking Houjou . . .

Blanket disclaimer for this fanfic (will apply to this and all other chapters in Metamorphosis): I do not claim any rights to InuYasha or the characters associated with the anime/manga. Those rights belong to Rumiko Takahashi, et al. I do offer my thanks to her for creating such vivid characters for me to terrorize.