Disclaimer: Disclaimer: I'm poor, I live in a house that's falling apart, and my internet doesn't work half the time. Do you really think I own anything other than a hentai/yaoi/yuri closet? No, I didn't think so.

A Deadly Disease
Chapter 1

Four seconds…

Three seconds…

Two seconds…

One…and then time apparently decided to go off on a tangent and froze.

Higurashi Kagome put a hand to her forehead in an attempt to suppress her boiling rage. Something, maybe an abnormally large Dust Bunny of Doom, had stuck itself in time's gears and halted everything. Why today, of all days for the dust bunnies to escape from Hell, why today? Apparently she was being punished because Enma and her professor had made an agreement and part of it was that all Kyoto City University art students should be made to suffer. Well…hooray for mentally harassing certain damnable professors for a bit longer.

Wait…was that movement she saw? And the hand of the almighty Kami-sama shall smite Enma's evil dust bunnies, she prayed. The hands moved forward at a speed of what seemed to be a micrometer per second…if seconds really even existed anymore. Onegai, Kagome prayed, just let today end. And it would seem that through the prayers of herself and the other forty-two students in her class, Kami-sama had decided to banish the Dust Bunnies of Duem back to the of the couches from Hell where they'd come from.

RRIIINNNNGGGGG!

The thunderous sound of forth-three students all standing up simultaneously was the second of the only two pleasant things she'd heard all day. The first pleasant sound, or voice rather, had been that of the man at the coffee shop just down the street from her apartment declaring in a very loud voice that her order was up. Coffee, being the nectar of the Kami and all, was enjoyed by all Kyoto City University students and thus it had taken her nearly half an hour to actually get her coffee; but in the end…it was all worth it…well, the coffee part at least.

Professor Nanada had known better that to shout out her usual warnings of when which projects were due; such a gesture would be utterly pointless. Instead, the aging woman simply shook her head and muttered under her breath about college students and Fridays. However, through all of her infinite wisdom, she had also become the source of her students' disquiet. Oh yeah, this lady was slick, spent all of the class acting as if nothing important was going to happen, then, ten minutes before the bell, declare the worse news of the week.

Midterms. A series of paintings assigned to the students covering all of the art forms they'd been suffering through over the past five months. Every year it was the same, she'd give the assignment and this year the students had bitched and moaned endlessly, but the old hag had held firm. They were to paint six different perspectives in three weeks, each one connecting in some way to the others; no wonder they called them the "cursed canvases".

Sketch paper got off easy; it got to make a rather pleasant trip to the recycle bin if it wasn't any good or it was given the honor of being stuffed into a crowded and cluttered portfolio if it was. But the six completed canvases, they were to be handed in for the Professor-From-Hell's scrutiny. That is, it one could find the proper inspiration in order to even begin, because if one had no motivation, then one was screwed, and if one was screwed, one failed their course not long after.

Kagome raced out of the door and down the front lawn, numerous waves and greetings met her as she proceeded towards her apartment across the street. Conveniently enough, that very complex was home to almost every other student that went to Kyoto City University, and hopefully, with at least one of them helping her, she'd be able to fix her problem; find a decent enough cure to the deadly disease that had befallen her. Inspiration was an artist's lifeblood, what gave them the ability to live through the day, and Higurashi Kagome was deathly ill, nearly dead in all actuality.

Yes indeed, ideas that she'd been carting around for months no longer seemed quite as intriguing; it was as if someone had sucked all of the excitement out of them. She had downplayed them over and over again so that they would fit inside the parameters some higher order had set; they quickly became boring, too normal and rational for her tastes, and then were quickly replaced by better ones. Unfortunately, she had rethought and downsized and replaced her ideas so many times that she'd turned all of her incredibly artistic brilliance into a tremendous artistic flump.

"Hey, Kagome chan!" came the familiar voice of her best friend.

"Hey," she responded rather destitute, complete with false smile and semi-cheerful wave.

"Still nothing, huh?"

"I'm just in a block, Sango chan, it's like I'm staring at a piece of drywall waiting for it to turn into a castle."

Sango tucked a loose strand of her long, jet-black hair back up into her messy bun with a sigh. "Well…why don't you just go over to the library and look up some of the legends again? I'm sure they'll give you some ideas. Besides, you always paint scenes from ancient Sengoku Jidai fairytales anyway, ne?"

As then two crossed the bustling street alongside nearly a hundred other students, Kagome replayed all of the sketches and paintings she'd done prior to her meltdown.

The majority of them had been done in the images of a miko and her hanyou lover standing before the very shrine Kagome herself had grown up in. These scenes mostly took place around the time when the sakura blossoms bloomed and fell, but this was only to give the two occupants of the scene an air or romance.

Some had been about the betrayal of the silver-haired hanyou and how the miko had dealt her heart-breaking retribution to keep him from taking something of great importance from within the temple. Scant few of Kagome's sketches portrayed a great daiyoukai and the fierce passion between himself and his beautiful youkai mate; then his despair when death had separated him from her, and finally, the same lord taking a ningen onna into his home to overcome the grief that had consumed him by the loss.

"Cheesy old romances,' Kagome huffed.

Walking up the stairs to the seventh floor, she shook her head in self-disappointment. Right when she opened her mouth to say something, Ayumi, Yuka, and Eri all yelled out a loud konnichiwa" and waved enthusiastically. The two returned aforementioned pleasantries, not daring to stop to chat for fear of being subject to the other girls' mindless chattering. When they were out of hearing range and finally on their own floor, Sango shuddered.

"They," she said pointedly, "are far too happy. They act like they should still be in high school."

Kagome snickered, "They're entitled to happiness should they want it. Besides, we look like a pair of hobos."

Sango and Kagome looked down at their attire and laughed heartily. Both of them wore paint-covered loose jeans and overly large button-up male dress shirts. Neither had any make up on or clean shoes, and their hair was tucked into sloppy buns at the back of their heads. The two could have been sisters what with their sleeves rolled up past their elbows and books with brushes as place-holders, paper and pencils tucked under their arms.

As the two of them continued laughing, Sango unlocked and opened the door to the two-room flat they shared. They took off their shoes and set down their supplies on their respected desks, and then Sango turned to her friend.

"So what were you going to say before?" she asked, curiosity clearly written on her features and her chocolate eyes imploring with that same curiosity.

Cerulean eyes blinked out from a momentarily dazed state and Kagome found her voice soon after. "Oh, that…well, it just feels like I've managed to miss something somehow…I dunno. I'm not exactly sure what it is, but I've got the feeling that it's important, almost like if one of the main characters was missing from one of the manga you've drawn.

"I need a rivalry over something ... something that someone needs to want more than anything else, but I get the feeling maybe they can't have it because someone else controls it. There's something in my mind screaming for action, but when I try to figure it out…every time…my edge goes dull and my ideas just turn into mush." She mentally cringed at the image of her little thoughts running around then swelling up and combusting shortly after, leaving her with a horrid mess to clean up.

Kagome sighed as she pulled her hair loose from the bindings around the bun and shoo it out so that the wavy strands wouldn't stick out at odd angles. But, as usual, her efforts were in vain and she let out a frustrated groan. "I just don't know anymore," she huffed, flopping down onto the too-cushy couch like a sack full of bones. "Ne, what do you think? Am I being unreasonable and reading way too much into this or am I still sane?"

Kagome watched her friend as she thought for a moment; hell, every idea Sango had advised up to this point had helped her out, so…for mentioned savior to save the day…again! Then Sango began to rub the bridge of her nose, a dead giveaway that she didn't think any of her ideas would mesh with Kagome's. The cerulean-eyed girl watched as the other's color-coated fingers moved in relaxing motions from the bridge of her nose to her temples; Sango had a migraine.

"I'm sorry to bother you with my problems, Sango chan. Why don't you go ahead and lie down, I'll make tea," she offered, getting up off the couch and heading for the kitchen.

"No, no, please don't worry about me," Sango said waving her hands, "I think that you should go to the library, though. You're sure to find what you're looking for there. That's how you first started seeing these people anyway." She flopped down in Kagome's spot on the couch; for a moment, cerulean met ebony and a form of understanding passed between the two of them.

flashback

A thirteen year old Kagome stood before a huge shelf full of Sengoku Jidai fairytales and she was awestruck at just how many there were. Then, shaking herself out of her stupor, she ran her finger down each title untilo she would find one that caught her interest and take it off the shelf. By the time she found one titled "Inu no Taisho" she already had four other books with her. Technically speaking, she was only allowed to get three books, but she'd known the head librarian her whole life, so it wouldn't be a problem taking the fourth as well. But there was something about that particular one that caught her interest the most, something that made her want to drop all the other ones adn run out of the library with it. So, she pulled it from the shelf after putting away the other books, and when she opened it up, she was in another world entirely.

There were no shelves full of books, no people mulling around carrying papers and grumbling about getting into a decent college, there weren't even any buildings. Kagome stood there, in the middle of a sunlit meadow with the warmth of a summer breeze blowing on her face. The trees were tall and healthy and the entirety of the place was pleasantly devoid of all the city sounds she'd grown so accustomed to over the years of her life.

"Who are you?" came a boy's voice from behind her.

She spun quickly on her heel to find a young boy with beautiful silver hair and eyes that looked like they were made of molten gold, she absently noticed his elfin ears and the huge boa-looking thing wrapped over his right shoulder. His skin was smooth and pale and she thought she was either blushing or drooling ... or both, and at the moment that was undignified. But he was sooooo pretty.

"Are you going to answer this Sesshoumaru?" he demanded, giving her a look of pure annoyance.

She opened her mouth to speak to him, feeling rather stupid holding an open book while she was standing in such a person's presence. Then she was snapped back to the library before the shelves upon shelves of Sengoku Jidai fairytales. Later that day she'd gone to Sango's house and they'd talked about it in hushed tones until the next day when they went back to the library to try out the book again, but it wouldn't work. Kagome, of course, was devistated, she'd so looked forward to sharing what she'd seen with Sango. But when she turned to her friend, Sango only smiled and told her that she was special if the book had let her see that. After that, Kagome had opened up many other books, sometimes being allowed to see and participate in what was happening in her brief journies, other times she'd only been allowed to watch what was unfolding around her. However, she'd never seen that silver-haired boy after the first time, a pity, too, he was so beautiful.

end flashback

A slight yet gracious smile crossed Kagome's features, Sango had problems of her own to deal with and what with midterms coming up, she sure didn't need anyone else's to deal with as well. So the bright blue-eyed girl hugged her friend, kissed her on the cheek and then strolled over to the front door. As she pulled on her horribly abused shoes and opened the door she called out over her shoulder:

"Domo, Sango chan, and drink some tea, you'll feel better!"

-.- NEKO!

The entire three hours after she'd left her apartment, Kagome had spent at the library looking for…something…anything other than what she already had. It had taken her all of an hour and a half to hunt down and make copies of nearly twenty different stories from the Sengoku Jidai. But nothing she'd found seemed to fit the certain criteria she was looking for; it was all very interesting, the stories themselves were amazing, but nothing seemed to jump out and yell, "Hey, it's me, I'm the one, pickmepickmepickme!" Now that she was on her way back to her apartment, she wondered why she'd bothered with going to the library at all.

So, she trudged warily back up the stairs to her seventh story flat, carting at least a thousand papers in both of her arms. Despite what everyone told her about her drawing and painting skills, she almost wished that she'd become an actress, or a musician, or even an author instead. Then all she'd have to worry about was a fifteen-page paper full of her own words and thoughts of No Inspiration Syndrome. But did she take the easy road? No, she had to be a hard ass artist…a painter to be exact. Here she was, her freshman year in college, end of the first semester, and she'd already lost her passion. Who was she kidding, what kind of artist lost their passion for doing what they loved in only five months?

Kagome shook her head, I'm not gonna quit, she re-assured herself, I'm going to do this assignment and I'm gonna get a damn GRIP!

So she held her head a little higher and put a little more bounce into her step…all of the remaining three meters to the door, then she giggled at herself. Yep, that's MY idea of getting a grip, damn good job Kagome, damn good job.

Wouldn't that be something, an artist really, actually going insane from a lack of inspiration? She could see it now, headlines in the newspapers all around the world; "No Inspiration Syndrome Squeezes the Life From Japanese Art Student." Oh yeah, maybe she should have been a doctor instead. Symptoms of No Inspiration Syndrome include loss of passion over short periods, looking like a crazed person at random points of the day, going to the library for no reason at all, talking to oneself, unexplainable ripping out of one's hair on a consistent basis, and last but not least…making up stupid, redundant, and rhetorical questions. Yup, Higurashi Kagome was definitely ill, fatally ill, HOORAY FOR BEING INSANE!

"I'm back!" she called out to Sango after she had managed to let herself back in, what with her arms being full and all.

"Oh, good. I'm making oden for dinner so go ahead and take a shower if you need to, it won't be done for a while," came the other's voice as it echoed off the cheap formica and tile surfaces.

In an instant, Kagome had gone from the threshold of the foyer to the kitchen and was standing just behind Sango chanting: "Oden, oden, oden, oden, oden", as if it would somehow hasten the cooking process. Sango covered her mouth and snorted before both she and Kagome laughed at the childish antics. Then the older girl became quiet suddenly, as if someone had just turned off a switch or something. She had been doing that a lot lately, just shutting down like some kind of broken machine, and Kagome worried about her despite being told not to.

"How's your family doing?" she asked, concern evident in her voice and on her face.

For a moment she thought her friend wouldn't answer her question, but when Sango smiled she knew everything would be all right.

"They're busy keeping up the business, some…complications have been slowing down their progress. But all in all, things have been looking up." She smiled a little, "Kohaku's even talking again."

Kagome threw her arms around her friend and hugged her tightly, "Oh, Sango-chan, I'm so happy for you!"

She released Sango from her bone-crushing grip after a few seconds more, then placed her hands on her hips and grinned like the cat that had eaten the family canary and not gotten caught. "Besides, I know a certain Souma Miroku who would love to be graced with at least a moment of your valuable time," and then the two of them laughed some more.

And so the afternoon turned into evening and evening into night, all worries and frets of the impending midterm forgotten. They laughed and ate oden and laughed some more until it was late and their eyes would no longer focus. Lights went out after they'd both taken showers and "oyasuminasai" were exchanged before their bedroom doors were closed. The copies of the tales from the Sengoku Jidai lay forgotten on the floor beside Kagome's shoes, a loose sheet or two not in line with the others, but she wouldn't worry about it until tomorrow…or maybe the day after…

-.- NEKO!

Fwee! I checked over it for grammitical errors and now they are no more ... kudos for Souji. Thanks for reading!
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