A/N: I forgot about that little rule at FF that says that we can't put song lyrics with a post. Anyway, so here's the edited version. It was originally done to the song Girl Next Door by Saving Jane.
Disclaimer: PrincessMelissa83 does not hold any rights/titles/licenses to any of the characters of Inuyasha: A Feudal Fairytale. All rights are reserved to Rumiko Takahashi. Further, PrincessMelissa83 does not hold any rights/titles/licenses to the lyrics of Girl Next Door which is performed by Saving Jane.
Girl Next Door
If there was one thing in life that she detested more than all of those awkward social events that she was forced to attend for the high school, it had to be this. This was probably one of the most singularly embarrassing, esteem dwindling, traumatizing and useless activities that had ever been thrust upon her in her lifetime.
This was summer camp.
Two long, horrendous months during which time she would be forced to bunk in a poorly ventilated, hot cabin where she would have to sleep on a hard, uncomfortable cot. And worst of all, she would have to share that torture chamber with her cousin, Kikyou, and her cousin's best friend, Kagura.
The only upside to all of this was that this year, unlike previous years, she would also be rooming with her own best friend, Sango.
She sighed and glanced across the bus aisle to where her cousin sat, deep in discussion with Kagura, probably about some boy or the latest designer jeans she'd bought. Those always seemed to be the most frequently brought up topics when having a conversation with the other girl.
Kikyou was a year older than she was, which would have been a huge relief, had she not failed her last year of middle school and had to be put into the same grade level as herself. Up until that point, their relationship, while strained, had been manageable. But once she had to endure her cousin's perfection every single day, all day long it had become increasingly difficult to keep up the facade until she had finally broke down and acted out on her feelings. Since then, family relations had grown worse.
As toddlers they were constantly mistaken for twins. Even now she had a hard time telling their baby pictures apart. As they aged, they had never really lost their similarity in features although Kikyou had matured at a much more rapid pace than she had. By the time they were in junior high, Kikyou could have passed for an upper classman while she still seemed to belong in middle school.
During those awkward few years leading into high school, she had suffered from breakouts and freckles while Kikyou's skin had remained smooth and blemish free. Her hair was wavy, bordering on frizzy, and she kept it cut just past her shoulders for easier maintenance. Her cousin's hair was soft, like silk, and amazingly straight. She had let it grow so long that it brushed the beds of her knees when she wore it down completely.
Boys drooled when she walked by. They followed her every step she took, hung on her every word. When she deemed it appropriate or necessary to speak to one of them, they bragged for weeks that Kikyou had lavished them with attention, even if it was just to ask for the time.
She sighed and leaned her head against the bus seat, looking past Sango to the passing buildings and cars on the highway. It really wasn't fair.
"Hey, Kagome, did you and Sango hear about the banquet?" Kikyou asked suddenly, leaning across the aisle to get their attention.
Sango blinked and took a deep breath, bringing her mind back to the present place and time since she'd been daydreaming through the entire ride. "You mean the welcoming banquet? What about it?"
Kagome frowned, wondering what the news was as well. Perhaps they were canceling?
The Jewel-Stone camp grounds were located on a lake in a forested area of the mountains. It had started as one large, co-ed camp, but had been separated some years back into two separate camps on either side of the lake: Camp Jewel for the girls and Camp Stone for the boys. Every year, when the campers arrived, they were sent to their cabins and given the night to meet their fellow camp members, their leaders, and to settle in. The next day the rules and announcements were given and that night they were all required to attend the Camp Jewel-Stone Welcoming Banquetin the common hall at the north end of the lake. The building had been the original camps mess hall and stood between the two grounds as a barrier. It was the only building that was large enough to accommodate everyone.
Kagura leaned over Kikyou's lap to be able to talk to them as well. "Yura's aunt is a camp leader, you know," she told them conspiratorially. "She heard that this year, instead of having a banquet like we usually do, they're turning it into a welcoming dance."
She groaned and banged her head against the back of the seat. "It's official - the kamis hate me." The banquet and the farewell dance had been bad enough, but at least at the welcoming banquet they were placed in assigned seating with the boys one end and the girls on the other. At that all they had to do was listen to the guest speakers, eat and return to their cabins. At a dance, however, they were actually expected to interact with the boys from Camp Stone.
"I think it's going to be fun," Kikyou said with a shrug and smile. Kagome would have sworn that she was looking directly at her and that her smile was just a little too smug.
It wasn't that she couldn't talk to boys or that she didn't like them or anything like that. Her problem with the male species was that most of them compared her to her cousin. While she was not runway model material like some people, she was fairly easy on the eyes. Still, most of them couldn't begin to grasp that idea. They strove for the ideal of perfection.
She could have gotten a boyfriend if she'd wanted one. She had, in fact, been in several different relationships since reaching high school, but none of them had lasted over a month. Instead, she had decided to swear off guys until she reached a point in her life where she could venture out into the world, unhindered by the presence of certain family members who made her seem inferior.
Besides, the entire time she had been in those relationships, she had spent her days worrying that her boyfriend was only with her to get to Kikyou. It wouldn't have been the first time something like that had happened. The first time it had happened, she'd been devastated; the second she'd been angry; by the third she'd just been counting down the hours until he dropped the bomb.
Some people just had it so easy and didn't even realize it. If they knew how hard it was for normal people, they'd be a lot more grateful for what they'd been given in life.
"Come on, Kagome, get up already," Sango muttered, giving her a light push so she'd get up out of the seat quicker. They'd arrived at the camp and were unloading the busses. She followed the flow of traffic out onto the grass and gathered her few suitcases. Sango shouldered her overnight bag and hefted up an old, green luggage bag. "Which cabin are we in?"
"Cabin Twenty-Three-C," Kagome answered pulling the handle on her rolling suitcase so she could tug it up the slope towards their cabin. "It's one of the last cabins on the grounds and the furthest from everything. We get stuck there every year, which means we're late to everything every year."
By the time the two had managed to carry all of their things to the cabin, they were both out of breath. Wood slats made up the walls with a green tile shingled roof. A screen door with sliding lock provided a meager security while two screen covered windows on each wall allowed air flow and light. There was a bunk bed against the north wall, to the right of the door and another on the south wall, to the left of the door. On the far wall were two wood dressers and a mirror between them. Sheets covered the mattresses, but each camper was required to bring a sleeping bag and pillow as blankets would not be provided.
"I call the top!" She exclaimed and threw her sleeping bag onto the top bed of one of the bunks. "I'm usually the last one here and have to sleep under."
Sango put her sleeping bag on the bunk below her and started to unroll it. "Doesn't matter to me, so long as no one snores. Ugh, when I had to share a cabin with Ayumi and her friends...you'd have thought Jason was walking around."
The screen door slammed open again and Kikyou and Kagura dropped their things inside. "Damn, I hate that climb!" the latter exclaimed and drew in a deep breath before tossing Kikyou a challenging look. "I call tops!"
"Hey, no fair!" Kikyou pouted and put her hands on her hips. "I'll fist you for it. Paper, sicsors, rock?"
"No way am I giving up my bed. Are you kidding me? That lock ain't keeping anyone out." Kagura shook her head and threw her backpack and sleeping bag to her bed and started climbing the ladder. "And if the boys do decide to raid our camp, I am not going to be in easy access."
Kikyou slumped slightly and then turned to the other two girls who were already preparing their beds and unpacking. "Kagome? Trade with me, please?" She pleaded, clasping her hands in front of her. "You know I can't sleep underneath. I have that silly fear the other bed's gonna fall down on me. Please?"
Kagome closed her eyes and counted backwards to ten. If she didn't trade, Kikyou wouldn't sleep and she'd mention it to her aunt who would run and tell her mother who would then call her and get on to her for not having traded with her cousin.
Feeling she was calm enough to respond, she took a deep breath. "Sure, no problem." As she descended the ladder, dragging her things with her, Sango gave her a sympathetic look.
It wasn't the first time she'd had to give up something for her cousin. When it had come time to announce candidates for the senior counsel, she had been prepared to run for class president until she learned that Kikyou was also planning to run. Her mother had sat her down and had a long discussion with her about how it wouldn't be right for her to run against her family and one of them should drop out of the race. Kikyou had refused and so it had been up to Kagome to renounce her candidacy
The next morning after announcements, they had begun a friendly game of volleyball which had turned into a friendly tournament of sorts. There were just enough girls for four teams and so four captains were chosen. One by one, each girl was picked by a captain to join a team. Two One would face off against Team Two; the winner would go to the next round against the winner of the face off between Teams Three and Four.
They'd been attending Camp Jewel for the past four years and the majority of the girls were returning campers. They participated in a number of sports challenges over the years and so the team captains knew fairly well where the strength and the weakness of each camper lay. And they all knew that Kagome, while fairly fit, was not all that graceful when it came to sports. She was not the worst player in the world, but she wasn't going to be guaranteeing any victories. Therefore, it came as little surprise to her when she was one of the last girls picked for a team.
Personally, she didn't care for sports. At least, not this sort of sport. Her strength lay in swimming. Not even Kikyou could measure up to her in a swimming challenge, but put her on land and she morphed from a swan to a waddling duck.
She did, however, manage not to twist anything or injure herself or anyone else in any other fashion and she was mildly surprised that her team won the competition.
Perhaps this summer would not be so bad after all? She prayed that it was a good sign.
Any and all thoughts concerning better summers flew out of her head halfway through the Welcoming Dance when she rediscovered all of the reasons she hated dances.
Music blared over the speakers. boys and girls ranging from fifteen to seventeen crowded the inside of the Common Hall, dancing, talking and sipping punch from the buffet table. Sango had been lucky. Her boyfriend, Miroku, was a Camp Stone member and provided her with an instant dance partner. She hadn't even been able to third wheel with them because the girl had been too busy making sure her boyfriend kept his eyes and hands off of her fellow campers.
Not sure how much more she could stand, she pushed her way through the crowd, following the wall until she got to the back of the room where she could exit onto the deck overlooking the lake and have a momentary respit from the insanity within.
For a short while her evening had been looking up. Not long after the entire thing started, one of the Stoners had approached her and asked for a dance, spending several songs flirting with her. He was cute with long black hair and bright blue eyes . He'd joked with her about some of the other couples and had kept her entertained for a while until they had both gotten thirsty and he'd offered to go get them both a glass of punch.
An hour later, he still hadn't returned.
That had been when she'd remembered why she'd had reservations against this party before. It had also been when she'd begun to make her escape.
Stepping out into the night, she slid the glass door closed behind her and straitened the skirt of her light blue, sateen dress. A full moon hung in the sky, reflecting off the water and bathing the area in golden light. She leaned against the wood railing, bracing her arms on the rail and closed her eyes, breathing deep in the fresh air.
A sound to her right caught her attention and she looked around to see two figures, one male and one female, running away from the hall and down the path towards the buildings that housed the canoes, oars and other water equipment. They stopped under one of the trees, kissing for a long moment before taking off at a run again. Squinting, she was able to identify them as Kikyou and Kouga, the boy she'd danced with earlier. Another one bites the dust.
Well, at least now she knew why she never got that punch.
Speaking of which, she'd have liked to punch her cousin at that moment, but settled for ditching the rest of the dance instead. At least she could have an hour or so alone in their cabin to vent her frustrations to her diary.
The deck was completely closed in by rails. The only way out of the Common Hall was through the kitchen, which was probably where Kikyou and Kouga had snuck from, or through the main door which was guarded by several camp counselors. With the crowd, it would be difficult to get back in and to the other end where the kitchen was and even more difficult to sneak her way out.
The end of the building where she was at that time was located on a slope, leading down to the lake. The shortest end of it was a three foot drop from the wood flooring of the deck. If she climbed over the side of the rail, removed her shoes for better landing, and sat on the edge of the deck, she could slide off and hit the ground with no problem.
She was still straddled the railing about to climb over when she heard the door slide open and cursed her look. Looking back, she saw a boy with long silver hair, pulled back in a braid, come out. "Want some help?" He asked, amusement written on his face.
She blushed, knowing that her hitched up skirt was close to giving a full on view of her undies and could just imagine what horrible thoughts must be going through his mind. Ignoring him, she felt along the railing with her toes until she could touch the edge of the deck and then struggled to bring her other leg over.
He dug in the pocket of his black slacks and pulled out a cigarette and a lighter, once the stick was lit, he put the lighter back in his pocket and leaned against the rail she was trying to climb off of.
"You look familiar."
Again she ignored him. She had both feet planted on the edge and attempted to turn herself so that she could jump. It had seemed a lot easier when she was standing on the other side.
"Higarashi, ne?" He frowned in concentration, trying to dredge up a name from somewhere in his memory. "Ah...Keiko...no...Kikyou. That's it. Higarashi Kikyou."
She stopped what she was doing and looked at him, irritation sparking in her eyes. "Kagome," she corrected sharply. "Higarashi Kagome. Kikyou is my cousin."
He narrowed his eyes, studying her features. "Cousins? Huh, no wonder you look so much alike." He took a drag from the cigarette and blew the smoke away from her. "She come to camp this year?"
She wanted to slap him. She wanted to scream at the top of her lungs in irritation. What was it with every man on the planet? Why were they all so fascinated with her cousin? She had almost reached her limit. "Yes, she's here, but if you're looking to get to her through me, you're already too late. Kouga already had that pleasure and they're at the boat house right now."
To her surprise he laughed, flicking the ashes . "Been there once already and I don't plan on going back. I'll leave that to someone with a death wish." He blew out another breath of smoke and then turned golden hued eyes to her. "I take it you and your cousin aren't real close."
"Hardly." She narrowed her eyes and gave him a pointed look. "You aren't allowed to smoke on camp property, you know."
He looked at the cigarette in his hand and then up at her. "Guess I'd better go where I won't be seen then, huh?" He placed the smoking stick between his lips and easily scaled the railing, landing smoothly on the ground below. "You got some shoes around here somewhere don't you?"
"Right there,"she answered, pointing to the two heeled shoes lying on the ground below here and then grabbing the railing with her hand again. "Why?"
Not answering, he bent and picked them up, brushing the grass from them. "Stick out your foot." When she didn't comply he grabbed her ankle and gently pulled her leg back and slid her shoe on then did the same to the other foot. "Now, squat down so I can grab your waist. If you jump like that, you'll break your neck."
She complied, for lack of argument, and felt his hands wrap around her waist, pulling her backwards. Then she felt her feet hit the ground and stood on her own, freeing herself from his grasp. She straitened her dress and turned to thank him, only to find him looking at her with a funny expression, like he was trying not to laugh.
Her face reddened and she tried to regain her composure. "Well, thank you..." she grasped for a name, but he'd never introduced himself.
"Right. Thank you, Inuyasha. Good night." She made a quick, stiff bow and turned to walk off, but he followed and then grabbed her wrist, pulling her towards the beach surrounding the lake. Once they were on the sand, she removed her shoes again and wiggled her toes. It was still warm from the day's sun, but cool enough to be just perfect.
He left her then and walked closer to the water before sitting down, legs crossed Indian style. He threw the stub of his cigarette away and pulled out another, lighting it as she joined him.
"What'd you bring me out here for?" She asked curiously. She smoothed her skirt under her and sat with her legs drawn up, putting her shoes next to her. He shrugged and she rolled her eyes. She wrapped her arms around her legs and watched him as he took one long drag from the cigarette and slowly blew the smoke out, seemingly planning to ignore her now that he'd brought her out there.
After another long moment of silence, she tried again. "So, you and Kikyou were...together?"
He snorted. "Together? Yeah, I guess you could call it that. We used to sneak out at night and get 'together' in the boat shacks."
"Last summer." He laid back with one arm under his head and stretched his legs out, crossing them at the ankles. "At the dance I mentioned going to see a movie once we got back to Tokyo. She looked kinda funny and said it'd been fun, but she wasn't ready for a committed relationship.
"For what? You didn't do nothing."
She paused and then looked over her shoulder at him. "I guess I'm sorry I'm related to her."
A wicked grin spread across his features. "I bet you are. She do this to you often?" He flicked the ashes off the end of his cigarette and waited for an answer. When she gave him a confused look, he elaborated. "I saw you talking to Kouga back there before he ran off with Kikyou. She do that often?"
She looked away, a slight sneer curling her lips back as she ran her hand through the sand beside her. "She doesn't do anything except exist," she replied coldly. "She's always innocent. It's them that cause the problems. They are the ones who dump me to be with her. I'm just a middle man, a means to getting to her. And if they've dumped me before asking her out, then how can she be at fault?" It was a rhetorical question.
He sat up, curling one leg under him and bending the other at the knee so he could rest his arm on it. He balanced his wait on his other hand. "So it has happened before."
"It's why I quit dating. It got to the point where I was so paranoid all the time that I couldn't enjoy myself." She shook her head. "Maybe if I didn't look so much like her or if I didn't have to attend the same school...maybe if she hadn't been held back that year...maybe then it wouldn't be so difficult, but the way things are now...I don't know.
She didn't know why, but she felt she could talk to him. Maybe because he'd been screwed over by Kikyou as well and seemed to share in her feelings of distaste for her. Whatever the cause, she found herself opening up to him more and more.
"We weren't allowed to compete against one another," she told him, looking out at the water. "Not ever. Our mothers thought that if we competed it would put a strain on our relationship. So, if we both wanted to do something, one of us would have to concede and let the other have it. I was usually the one who had to give up. We both went out for cheerleading and we both probably would have made it, but there was only one open position left. I skipped our last tryout so she could have it and became a flag girl with the band instead. Our uniforms are just as skimpy and our routines are a lot harder, I think, but we don't get half the credit or attention the cheerleaders do."
The wind picked up and the breeze lifted her hair, causing several strands to go in her face. "We had counsel elections last month before school ended. She's senior class president now. I was gonna run, but then she wanted to run too and...well, I guess you get the picture."
She shook her head. "I know that people don't mean to, but they can't seem to help it. They always compare us and I'm never going to measure up. I'm never gonna be talented enough, or smart enough or pretty enough or strong enough. I'm always going to be second best and I hate it. I hate her. And I hate feeling this way." She gripped a fistful of sand, scratching her palm with the rough grains. "I don't even know if she's making my life miserable on purpose or if she doesn't even realize what she does. There are times when it seems like she's totally innocent to it all and then there's times when I see a spark of maliciousness whenever she acts towards me. I don't know if it's in my mind because I'm sick of all the 'why can't you be like Kikyou's or if it's really there.
"Just once I want to have something that she can't have or be something that she can't be. I want people to see me for myself and not a carbon copy of her. I'm so tired of it all. It's like, she's this beauty queen, Mrs. Universe or something and I'm the frumpy, plain Jane, everyday neighbor that no one really notices. Just once I want to wear that crown, you know."
He didn't say anything and she quieted down, resting her forehead on her knees. He'd buried his last cigarette sometime during her rant and hadn't brought out another one. Probably he was ready to go back to the dance or his cabin and turn in for the night, sick of her self pity. She started to get up when she felt his hand on her and then felt him brush the hair away from the side of her head and lean in, lightly brushing her cheek with his lips.
Her eyes widened and she lifted her head, turning to look at him and possibly obtain a more proper kiss. Due to their close proximity, however, she head butted him and they both groaned, holding their heads in pain. The moment was ruined.
"The kamis hate me," she moaned still wincing slightly she rubbed her sore temple and he did the same, leaning back a bit to give her more room. "The signs are all there."
"Screw the signs." He reached out and grasped her chin, holding her head still and then pressed his mouth to hers. Her eyes fluttered closed just as he pulled away. When she opened them again, he was giving her a cocky grin. "Well, you do at least one thing better than she does. How's that work for you."
She couldn't help it. His grin was contagious and she flashed him one in return. "Really? She's that bad?"
His laugh startled her and she loved it. It wasn't the dry and bitter laugh he'd cracked out back on the deck when she'd accused him of using her to get to Kikyou. This one was real. "Or maybe you're just that good, ever think of that?" He grabbed her arm and leaned back, pulling her down beside him so they were both lying in the sand, looking up at the stars.
"You know, Mrs. Universe might be good for a few fantasies, but she's not really all that obtainable," he said, turning his head to look at her. "The truth is, most men are really looking for the girl next door."She blushed and he grinned again, liking the fact that he could bring the blood to her cheeks so easily.
"We should probably gt back. The dance is probably over by now and we're bound to have been noticed missing." She sat up and shook the sand from her hair. He stood and offered her his hand, helping her up. "So, Inuyasha? What're you doing tomorrow night?" She asked, grabbing her shoes and following him back to the path.
He shrugged. "I was thinking about sneaking out and taking a midnight swim. Wanna join me?" She laughed and nodded, taking his hand.
She'd been right. The dance was over and the Stoner boys had returned to their side of the lake and the girls had gone to bed. They'd both likely be called into their counselor's offices the next morning. For a brief second she wondered if Kikyou and Kouga had been late returning as well.
Before they parted ways he paused. "So, what're you doing when you get back to Tokyo."
She tapped her chin thoughtfully and then smiled. "I was thinking of seeing a movie. Wanna go?"
He shrugged. "Why not? Night, Kagome." He kissed her cheek and started walking back to hike to Camp Stone. She watched him go and then climbed the hill to her own cabin, feeling as if she were walking on air.
Maybe the summer wasn't going to be so bad after all.