Dedication: ------------- original dedication on this piece struck.

Disclaimer: Don't own Inuyasha. Don't even want to own Inuyasha. I'd say I owned Aerie, but then she'd beat me up. Ah, well, at least I can lay claim to the plot….Aerie, you liar! This never actually happened to you! Give me that back!…Ahem. Moving on.

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Aerie woke up. She had gone to bed in a wigwam beside a river, but she definitely wasn't there now, because she could feel planed boards under her back. Most people would have been very startled by waking up somewhere quite different than where they went to sleep, but this had already happened to her three times, and she was adjusting. Time to see where she'd wound up this time. She opened her eyes. A very annoyed, surprisingly familiar face stared down at her. Tawny eyes, fangs, silver hair, and those absurd ears…. She groaned and shut them again.

"Please tell me," she calmly begged the universe at large, "That Inuyasha is not standing over me."

"Sorry," another girl's voice replied, "Can't do that."

"You could," corrected another voice, that of an old woman, "It just wouldn't be true."

Aerie sighed. "So he is standing over me, and in a minute he will probably go 'Keh,' and start being his usual charming self, and then Kagome will probably sit him," she said, her eyes still closed. "This is insane," she proclaimed.

"What the hell!" said Inuyasha. Aerie sighed. She never dreamed like this. It either made so much sense that she never questioned it, or made no sense at all, or she wasn't herself in the dream but someone else, and all events made perfect sense to that someone else. So this must be real. Just weird even by her standards. You could go inside a manga? She sat up. She was in a very Japanese building, with Inuyasha, a girl who was less utterly identifiable due to being fairly ordinary but was probably Kagome, and an old woman who had to be Kaede. She looked a lot more dignified flesh-and-blood than drawn in ink.

"Er - hello." she said. "Would any of you know how I got here?"

"Who are you?" Inuyasha demanded.

"Oh, yeah. Right. Forgetting my manners." She dragged herself upright. Her back felt like she'd fallen off a roof. It was amazing she hadn't woken up right away. "I'm Aerie Gannon." she said. "From Massachusetts, United States of America. Er, born," she hunted for a date that would mean something to anyone besides Kagome, "Uh, Higurashi, what year is it on your end of the well?"

"Two thousand five." said Kagome, looking mystified.

"And you're fifteen, right?" Kagome nodded. "Born one year after Kagome, then." She extended her hand to Inuyasha, who was the only one near enough. He looked at it for a moment, then raised his eyes and looked at her as if wondering if she would do something that made sense anytime soon. She wilted visibly. "Oh," she mumbled, "Right. You don't shake hands around here, do you? I would bow, except I'd just do it wrong." Curse it, every time she did something like that she felt stupider than the last time. "So, you're Kagome, Kaede, and Inuyasha? Honored," she said, changing the subject.

"That's us, and likewise, I'm sure," said Kagome, "But how do you know?"

"Oh…." said Aerie. Trying to explain that they were the subjects of an extremely popular manga and anime where she came from would take a lot of work. And probablt be a bad idea in all kinds of ways. "My Gramma used to tell me stories about you," she said instead. This wasn't exactly a lie. She had read the Inuyasha mangas as a sort of a tribute to her grandmother's memory. The dear old woman had owned the whole anime on DVD and had watched it repeatedly. She had liked to tell Aerie her favorite parts of the plots. "I don't even speak Japanese," she muttered, "Especially not feudal Japanese."

"I don't speak feudal Japanese either." Kagome replied. "It just kind of…comes naturally once you're here."

"If you say so." Aerie replied.

"What are you doing here anyway, wench?" Inuyasha snapped, breaking an uncharacteristic silence.

"Damned if I know." Aerie snapped back.

"You're polite." remarked Kaede.

"I'm freaked." said Aerie. "I'm in a room with a miko, an inu-hanyou, and-" she smiled weakly at Kagome. "Sorry. Every epithet I can think of for you is either pathetic or potentially insulting."

"And you think 'inu-hanyou' is a polite thing to call me?" Inuyasha said, ire definitely roused.

"No," snapped Aerie, "In fact, considering you're one, all the other inu-hanyou's must hide their faces in shame to bear the title." Inuyasha snarled and lunged at her.

"Osuwari!" Kagome shouted. Inuyasha plummeted face-first to the ground…right…on top…of Aerie. They vanished through the floor with a loud splintering and dual shouts of protest. A moment later there was a thud.

"Kagome," said Kaede, "Did you have to do that to my floor?"

"Sorry, Kaede-baba." replied Kagome. A muffled groan issued from the hole, followed by an equally muffled 'Gerroff me.'

Kagome relaxed slightly. "I guess she's alright." she said. There were an assortment of noises of the I-just-got-bashed-through-a-floor variety, and Inuyasha's head appeared over the lip of the hole.

"Do I have to pick her up?" he asked.

"Huh?"

"This…ningen…fainted directly after telling me I was way heavier than I looked. Do I have to pick her up now?"

"Yes." Inuyasha sighed and vanished into the floor again, reappearing with Aerie over his shoulder. He dumped her at Kagome's feet.

"Happy?"

"No," replied Kagome, stretching the other girl out.

"Nothing seems to be to serious," Kaede announced after a cursory inspection, which meant nothing that would take more than a couple of weeks to heal or anything that would result in crippling or death.

Aerie opened her eyes. "Kagome," she said weakly, "You baka. I'm not half demon like dog-boy over there. I don't get magically better when you drop a spell on me."

"I didn't drop a spell on you. I dropped dog-boy on you. And I didn't do it on purpose."

"Well, that makes it alright then." said Aerie sarcastically, before slipping back into unconsciousness.

"Well," said Kagome, sitting back on her heels, "I'd say this one has the Miss Untactful of the year pretty much wrapped up."

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It took Aerie three days to heal. It probably should have taken longer, but she was in a hurry. Miroku and Sango had just gotten back from Sango's latest trip to her village, and the gang was moving out soon. Shippou had been there all the time, just not in the room when she arrived. He had developed a liking for her during her recuperation. Lucky her. He was cute, and it wasn't as if she had anything better to do than play with him. Kagome didn't seem to mind her, either, when she was around, and Kaede was hard to read, but Inuyasha despised her. It wasn't any kind of burning hatred like he felt for Naraku, or even the kind of feeling he had about Sesshomaru, just a low-grade dislike and disdain. Not that she really minded. She didn't much care for him, either. She had always felt people ought to be understanding about his gruffness, but the truth was it was a lot easier to be understanding about a character in a manga than about someone you actually had to deal with. It did cause a problem for her, though, because she was going with them when they left. They weren't going to be happy about it, but she was going.

They weren't happy about it.

"You?" Inuyasha spat. "Feh, you'd be worse than useless."

Aerie narrowed her eyes. "Would I?" she asked.

"You would." the hanyou affirmed. "You're human, you have no powers, and you are untrained. You couldn't possibly do any good."

"Oh?"

"Aerie," said Kagome, "As much as I hate to admit it, Inuyasha's right. You can't help us. Stay in the village and wait for Kaede-baba to figure out how to get you home." The Bone-eater's Well hadn't let her through when Kagome, anxious to get her back to her proper year, had tried, which was just as well as far as Aerie was concerned. She was far enough from home as it was, she didn't need to go messing around with time-warping things. What if she got back home but it was five hundred years after she'd left?

"No." she said. "I'm coming. The Shikon no Tama is an interesting artifact, and this world is a fascinating one, and I am not going to sit in a village pretty much like a hundred thousand others and wait. Waiting is not what I do." Although these three days had been educational…

"For the last time, wench, you aren't coming. You're useless." Inuyasha repeated.

Aerie's eyes flashed. She knew she was going to regret this, but didn't care. It was always like that. Very bad character trait, she'd always felt, but it did mean that people took you seriously, as long as you pulled things off. "That's it." she said. "I am not going to be insulted by you again, dog-breath." She turned around, and, seeing a villager with a number of broomsticks over his shoulder and one snapped one in his hand, hailed him. "Hey! Can I have that?" she asked.

"Hai…." he replied hesitantly, approaching her. She got along OK with people here, but she hung around with that peculiar crowd with the Inuyasha. And anyway, she was too tall and all the wrong colors, and she wore weird clothes. And given the fuss people made about Kagome's school uniform around here, she supposed worn-out jeans and a black T-shirt could seem pretty odd.

"Thanks." She took the broken broom and pulled the head off. The ends where it had broken were jagged. The two staves were about half again the length of her arm. She offered one, splintery end first, to Inuyasha. He regarded it with the same expression he had favored her hand with the day she had arrived, with perhaps a bit more scorn. "Take it then, you baka-inu." she directed. "Or are you afraid you'll get a splinter?" His lip curled and he jerked it from her. Judging from the slight change in his expression, he had gotten a splinter.

"What is this about?" asked Miroku, wandering up. He had propositioned Aerie directly after meeting her, like he did all pretty girls, and there was no denying Aerie was pretty. Not a raving beauty, certainly, but her river of pale brown hair was nice and, in ancient Japan, somewhat exotic, and her face, if distinctly stubborn, was quite good looking. He had gotten a harder slap than even Sango usually gave for his trouble. Other than that, they got along quite well. Aerie had an interesting little trick of catching a wandering hand and bending the pinkie finger back until you wanted to yelp. It was almost as painful as being stabbed, if much more temporary, and a much better deterrent than any number of slaps. He had begged her not to teach it to Sango. Just now, she was looking particularly dangerous.

"Quite simple." she replied. "Dog-breath here has been insulting me for the past five minutes. I really don't like being insulted."

"She wants to come with us, monk." snapped Inuyasha. "You know we can't have a human girl-child along who won't do a shred of good and will probably get herself killed and then we'll all feel guilty-" he caught himself. "Anyway, she can't come."

She prodded him with her half broomstick. "Hey, fatso, I'm talking to you." she said. "Duel."

He snorted. "Feh. Surely you're joking."

"I am not. Duel. Now."

"With broomsticks?" Miroku asked mildly, raising his eyebrows.

"I haven't got a sword," responded Aerie, smiling sweetly, "And even had I, that blade of his would slice right through it. Besides, someone might get hurt if we used real swords, and I'd feel just awful if I cut off Inuyasha's head by mistake."

"Aerie, I don't think you know what you're doing." said Kagome seriously. "Inuyasha is dangerous. He could kill you by accident."

"I wouldn't lower myself-"

"Osuwari."

Inuyasha crashed to the ground and Aerie bent over him. "What's the matter, Inu? Scared I might make a fool of you?"

"I am not scared of you!" he spat out, along with some dirt and a few pebbles.