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.part one.

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It was raining the night we met. Kagome liked to call it 'raining cats and dogs.' Inuyasha called it 'rain you could drown in so don't you dare step outside.' Grandmother Midoriko called it 'the death of sky spirits.'

I just called it rain. Simple, heavy rain that pebbled my skin and soaked me down past my sweater and blouse to the my very bones, rain that hit like needles on my cheeks, that filled the potholes and dips in the road with puddles that rose to mid-calf. Cleansing rain.

I had waited by the bus stop for half an hour, finally realizing with a sigh that it must have been caught up in traffic and it'd be faster to walk home. After all, my papers and books were in my waterproof bag and I was no stranger to water. So I started off in the direction of my home, the Higurashi house, that stood next to a shrine, at the very end of the town. I lived there with my cousin, Kagome, and her mother.

As I walked, I was thinking about the essay I'd have to write for sociology. The classwork was strenuous; our professor enjoyed working the students to their limit. I didn't care, because I could do as much work as he demanded of me. The others in my class did, and complained all the time. Incompetent and foolish—why take a class if you can't do the work?

Deep in thought, I stumbled into a car parked by the road. The driver's door had just opened. It was your car, and you rose out of it with a black umbrella and a peeved expression. Watch where you're going, you snapped. I watched you impassively, but inside I was wincing at myself for losing my composure and doing something as ungraceful as bumping into a car. Something like what Kagome would do.

You slammed the door shut on your sleek silver Mercedes. I noticed with interest that your had long white hair despite the fact you looked to be barely 30. It reminded me of Inuyasha's hair that Halloween he donned that long white wig as a parody of his older brother.

Remembering the encounter so I could tell it to my cousin, I began to step away, leaving you to your stalled car. Wait, you said. Your expression darkened, pinching aristocratically. I turned and gazed at you. The rain was pelting into my hair, sliding down my skin. It felt painful. Delicious.

You're not even going to apologize?

I blinked. How could I have forgotten that most basic of mannerisms? I bowed.

I'm sorry.

Then I straightened and turned back toward my destination. You switched your attention to your car. I heard you swear under your breath. I kept walking.

Why don't you have an umbrella?

What a rude question. I ignored you.

Answer me.

Your voice is like your face—haughty and high-class.

I turned around and gave you the most withering, disdainful gaze I could muster.

You weren't phased.

I should've known; you've seen that look on your face all the time, don't you? If you aren't frightened by your reflection, why should you be frightened of a 19-year-old schoolgirl with neither horns nor forked tail? You repeated your question.

Because I didn't think to bring one.

You watched me, and I knew what you were thinking. You were a stranger, tall and imposing, and I knew exactly what you thought. I could read it in your face, I could read it in each muscle that composed your disgusted expression.

What an idiot.

There we stood, in the rain. My dark, long hair slicked to my face and skull with the rain, my sweater saving me from immodesty, water dripping down my skin: pitiful. You studying me placidly, taking your sweet time, in a black suit that's getting wetter by the minute. I had half a mind to tell you to get back into a car, dial a tow-truck, and save your pristine clothing.

And then you took your umbrella, the one that saved your hair from the rain, that made sure that your head wasn't as wet as your ankles, and handed it out to me.

Take it.

No, thank you, I said, bowing again. I thought you were as much of an idiot as you thought me. I was already covered head to toe with rain. You weren't; you had hope of salvation. I told you I liked to walk in the rain.

You snorted disbelievingly, nostrils flaring.

If you won't take it, you said, then I'll follow you. You locked your car and came to stand by me, holding the umbrella over my head. I curled my lip in anger.

I never said I needed your aid, I told you coldly.

Don't refuse a Samaritan, you replied.

Somehow, amid the exchange of tempers, we found ourselves smiling cautiously at each other. You were, I realized, very much like me. So I permitted you to walk me home, together under the black umbrella. We walked in silence, neither saying much because it seemed like there was nothing to say but niceties, and we were not about to exchange those so soon after our demi-argument.

When we arrived at the foot of the temple, near where my house was, I thanked you. It was awkward, because I felt strangely awkward around you in a way that had nothing to do with the fact that we were unfamiliar. It was awkward because even if we didn't know each other, we still comprehended each other. Perfectly, in fact.

You started as you realized where we were. Who are you, you asked.

It was rude, again, but by then I didn't care. I had to answer your question out of courtesy, and then I was off, away from this tall man that made me blush, who I couldn't look at because I was afraid he'd notice my expression. Like a crush.

Higurashi, Kikyou.

Higurashi? You're related to that Kagome girl?

This time it was I who started in surprise. Yes, I said. She's my cousin.

Your eyes, amber-brown, traveled all along my face. I felt like I was burning. This must be what Kagome feels like when she's alone with Inuyasha, I told myself. And that's when I realized something that had been nagging at me this whole time. His eyes—amber-brown eyes—were just like Inuyasha's.

Sesshoumaru. The name came unbidden to my tongue. Sesshoumaru, Inuyasha's brother. Your lips parted. You stared at me for another couple of seconds, then suddenly you were dark and unreadable, even for me. You turned into a shadow I couldn't understand, a mirror, a glass figure. You bowed, said goodbye, and left. You took your black umbrella and your black suit and your long silver hair down the steps leading to the temple and walked as fast as you could without losing your self-control back along the way we came.

But I'll bet that you didn't realize until you were in your car, breathing heavily and berating yourself for helping a child out, that you'd already lost your self-control. You'd lost it before you asked me what my name was. You'd lost it even before you showed your surprise in front of my home. You'd lost it as soon as you offered to me your umbrella. You'd lost it when you showed you cared.

I came home to the sound of a drunk Inuyasha singing karaoke, being cheered on by Kagome, her brother Souta, and her grandfather.

I went up the stairs without telling them I was home. I changed in front of my mirror, looking at myself. I looked at my pale skin, at my lank hair, at my pathetic thin figure, and I wondered: would you ever find this little body attractive? I dwelled on this thought for as short a period of time as possible, then dismissed it and threw it away like an broken toy. It whined its death mournfully.

All I knew about you besides what I had gathered of your personality from those ten minutes we spent walking quietly was that you were thirty-four, half-brother of Inuyasha, and reputedly homosexual.

After all, I thought when I curled up in my bed and turned on my Haydn to drown out the singing downstairs, you lived with a man named Jaken. How could you not be…