All of you were confused last chapter, weren't you?
Good…-evil, muffled chuckle-
And now, the last installment of GET A LIFE!!! Enjoy!
(Explanation and link to the SNOW TUBING chapter X Marks Everything Baby, and even MORE bloopers, after the chapter!)
"Kagome." He said, now his voice sounding a bit huskier. "That…was your first kiss?"
And that was when I woke up.
I'm not sure if that was supposed to be some kind of a nightmare, or a very realistic embarrassing moment, but when I sat up straight, sweat drenched and strawberry red; I knew I had dreamt something I would never mention to the guy sitting next to me.
It must've been the sudden heat wave that set the alarms off in Miroku's head.
Like the big ADOPTED brother he was, he shut off his radio and turned to grin at me. "So," He whispered in his first-class seat, "Dreaming about that again?"
I swear…I should've never given in on telling him about my 'problems'. Even if he had threatened to throw my palm pilot off of the skyscraper.
"No." I grudgingly mumbled, and turned the other way. I kept with my promise and sealed my mouth. At least I had the window seat to distract my thoughts.
Honestly, I could practically remember all the details about my dream…it was a reoccurring thing that kept nagging me for the past two years…ever since…that,happened. And yes…everyone that was involved in the accident/demise/collapse/the-destruction-of-a-great-company now labeled it, 'that'. Everyone; including the authorities and Sesshoumaru.
"The reunion must be getting to your head, sis." Miroku yawned. "Waking me up during nights; that's pretty acceptable. But even during naps? Major wipeout."
I growled. "We're not in Hawaii anymore. So stop babbling like an idiot."
"You're 17, sis. Pretty much legal." He gave a chuckle, full of merriment. He knew that I knew that he knew that I would know who he would be indicating.
I didn't bite back. Because I noticed, clearly, that this was the first time he was teasing me. Acting like the brother he was supposed to be. Ever since 'that', and the split up with Sango.
Now, to make the long story short, the sweet couple decided it was good not to worry about each other when our very homey group abandoned their pack, and went their separate ways. That happened 2 weeks after 'that'.
But in my mind, the date was also known as a week after they dug up Naraku's body from under a cracked ceiling light; which, inadvertently, ended his life. He hadn't burned, but getting cracked on the head was probably the next best thing on my list.
Ayame had gone back to Hawaii, to see if she could fix up what she left behind. I had completely lost contact with her, and pretty much had no idea if she was coming to our reunion.
Sango was back in Japan, where we were now currently heading towards, and last I heard she was sorting out her family situation. But nothing else out of place after that.
Kouga had went to Australia after Ayame left, saying he was going right back to his stunt job. Time was money, as he had said…which was highly unlike himself.
Kagura had, actually, been arrested right after we all separated, because she had broken the police's agreement over her Protection program. From what I gathered they had released her on the same day, so she didn't spend any overnight stays. I think she had gone back to her program again; because, like Naraku had said before his 'accident'; he had companies all over the globe. Anyone that wanted revenge could hire a hit-man, and be done with her. And she was Naraku's relative, after all.
Sesshoumaru. I had a slight suspicion he helped with Kagura's release terms. Miroku said he had seen Sesshoumaru lit a few cabinets of private files before he had shut the lights down during that fateful escape mission. This probably helped cover up everyone's identity, with an exception towards Kagura.
Miroku was pretty depressed after him and Sango 'broke up'. (Even if they were never officially a couple.) Like I said, this was the first time he was smiling after that. His right hand…well, it had never really healed. Because he hadn't immediately gone to the hospital with the wound, it had gotten infected. It was probably going to be a bit stiff for some time. He was pretty much content, though, and went straight to Florida when we paid our dues, farewells and goodbyes to everyone back in Japan.
…and there was Inuyasha.
My face burned every time I thought about him.
Miroku was the one with a lot of connections, and even he couldn't quite figure out what happened to that dog. I knew Inuyasha had given up his career, and had also been arrested and released like Kagura with his brother's help. But, like Ayame, we had no idea what happened to him after that.
I turned to Miroku. "Huh?"
"I asked what you would be most nervous about. Going back to Japan for the reunion, I mean. It's been 2 years."
I shrugged. I wasn't worried about my family. We had visited Mama, Souta, and Grandpa just last year for Souta's birthday.
"I'm hoping no one forgot our pact." Miroku sighed. "Two years…just like we all agreed."
I nodded. "Two years. The anniversary of 'that'." Yes…we had all agreed to meet each after everyone had enough time to bear with the impact of it all. Two years could be a long time for anyone… "The anniversary…that's tomorrow, right?"
Miroku eyed me. "Yeah…we should be getting to Tokyo by about…oh, during the afternoon in their time zone. Enough time for me to catch up on my sleep too." He smiled at me.
…yes, I've been waking him up at nights when I had my bad share of the reoccurring nightmares. Bad enough until he decided to save up his own money and order suites, so he could actually get up early in the morning.
"How long is the ride to Akihabara?"
Miroku paused in his stretch. The name still held a little spark. He didn't answer.
I shook my head. "You don't have to answer that." I had blurted out for no reason. This was all nerve racking. We were going back to the exact spot to meet our separated group, on the exact day of Naraku's demise. After two years…god, I still had to absorb so much in.
Miroku ordered a can of soda from an attendant. He smiled when she came back, and the attendant left with a blush. He didn't seem to really give that much care for it.
I wondered what everyone looked like…I wondered how I would look to everyone. Well, I had cut my hair, and it was mostly up in a bun all the time…Miroku's hair was a bit longer, and more untamed. I guess I was taller too…let's not talk about my suit, though.
What even Miroku didn't know about was Kikyou. Something so mysterious it probably bugged him to this day.
Yup, no one had being informed about her after the police found Naraku's body, a week after 'that'. No one but me…
And, hopefully, someone else I was admittedly anxious about.
Get A Life!
Konnichiwa! Reality Check
By: Double S
I nodded as the white, not to mention air conditioned, taxi drove away. I hadn't given much explanation when I left Miroku in the hotel, just near where 'that' took place.
Not one of us, I'm pretty sure, wanted to see the sight until every one of the group was there. That's why Miroku had immediately gone to sleep, and I had asked for the long way to my destination instead of passing that area. Longer drive, more money, happier driver.
I looked at the hospital I was facing.
Kajiyama. The sanitarium of Akihabara.
I took a breath in, and walked up the front steps.
The first thing I noticed when I went in through the sliding glass doors was how cool, and sort of homelike, the walls were. I think some people exaggerated the whiteness of hospitals. I mean, the inner rooms must be pretty white, but the lobby was pretty colorful. Almost child-like.
I fiddled with my purse, and checked my watch. It was nearly 9 PM. A bit late for my appointment, but it would have to do.
"Yes?" The secretary looked up from her phone as I approached. My suit gave the business vibe. "Can I help you?"
For a moment, just a moment, I had a flashback of Ayame. Then Kagura's face. And I was back to reality to the face of the REAL secretary. "Ah, yes. I made an appointment with…Kikyou?"
First names. Probably threw off my adult look and my lawyer-like stature. Well, I hadn't ever heard of Kikyou's last name…and that probably didn't make me sound intelligent.
The old woman nodded nonetheless, and held up a finger. "Okay, please hold on."
I backed up a bit, waiting for her to finish her conversation. Another mistake of mine. The rule - always sit when someone's on the phone. Oh well. I was trying to hold my shaking hand.
The woman finally hung up, and looked through her list with a pen equipped in her right hand. "Ah yes…well, visiting hours are over. But since you've made an appointment…Kikyou…she's free today, so we'll make an exception…yes, the patient's in the garden. You'll need a guide to open the security doors…Taichi?"
A male, around 20, came in from the office. "Yes, Tashimi-san?"
"Could you lead the visitor to the garden? I know the visiting hours' over, but she made an appointment…please go through the quiet hall as well."
The male took an ID card, and gave a visitor's pass to me. 'Just in case', he had said. I guess people still noticed how I had similar features like Kikyou's.
The 'quiet' hall was more like a snoring zone. Every patient in all the rooms were napping, resting, or loudly sleeping on their wheelchair or couch. I guess it was better than going through halls with people wailing or bawling…
'Taichi', again, used his ID card to open the locked swinging doors, just as he had used it to open the doors leading through the hallway.
The garden, as they called it, was a large cubical area, build within the hospital without any ceiling and revealing the sky. Seeing as today was a bright spring day, a few people lounged by; either sitting on benches or sauntering along the overshadowed corners.
"The patient should be over by the fountain in the center of the garden. She's in a wheelchair."
I nodded as he held the door, and I entered alone. There were two councilors sitting by the benches. I guessed they were sort of those security guards for the patients, or the baby-sitters for the visitors. I noticed there were a lot of cameras moving from side to side, recording everything it saw. I ignored it, and walked over towards the sprinkling fountain.
The garden seemed pretty peaceful. But the walls made the place…artificial. It practically ruined the spring mood.
And there she was. 19, silky haired, pale faced…peaceful eyes. Sitting in a wheelchair as told, and staring at the trickling water with a serene look. She didn't turn when I walked over to her side. But she knew I was there. I just knew that she knew that I was there.
"Long time no see." I lightly smiled. I didn't expect a respond. I just had to know…
I blinked. Oh. So she spoke…
"It's been nearly two years. And now I get a visit from someone else." She turned to me, not bothering to move her wheelchair. She looked – no, she stared at me. "Well…you've changed."
I looked down at my suit. My purse. My hair. "Yeah…so have you."
Kikyou kept staring at me. She really did look beautiful, even if she was in a wheelchair. Intelligent even; probably to the extent of knowledgeable and wise. I couldn't believe this was the same girl tortured before 'that' happened. "Well, no make-ups on my face." She turned back to the water. I guess she was done.
I sighed. "It was nice to see you. After such a…long time." I waited for any response. I did feel guilty for coming here after a long time of absence. But she could learn to lighten up a little…but, without many visits…
Wait…she said she got a visit from someone else.
…as you noticed, I do a lot more thinking now.
I turned to Kikyou after a minute of silence.
She stared at the water.
I turned away, about to leave with sagged shoulders.
"Ah?" I tilted my head.
"Inuyasha…came earlier today." She turned, and gave a faint, but an extremely rare smile. "You missed him this afternoon." A simple statement; and she turned back to the water. She had known why I came.
So he HAD kept track of Kikyou!
Did that mean he kept track of me – I mean; everyone else too?
Tap, tap, tap, tap…
Tap, tap, tap, tap…
"Miroku." I said, more firmly but still calmly. "What now? Didn't get a good enough sleep last night?"
The soundless rails beneath us made the silence in the train even more nervous. It wasn't a magnet train, but it was still noiseless than most we've been on overseas.
My 21-years old brother stopped tapping his finger on the window and clucked his tongue. "Just nervous…maybe it would've been better if we'd planned to meet in our shrine…"
"Yeah, and have Souta and Grandpa bug us to get autographs for them?"
I leaned on the soft cushion of the seat. "Be glad we actually found a peaceful shrine. You of all people should know how disrespectful it is to try and rent a holy place…ever."
"At least we got the deal." He shrugged. "Money makes the world go round, right?"
"So not." I grudgingly replied. Hasn't that been what Kouga had said? Yeah…we all grew up…we all made our goals towards the business industry.
Like how I had.
Shirokami Temple. A few hours out of the border of the technological streets and into the land of peace and quiet. Sakura and temples.
The odd thing was, we had gotten a phone call just this morning, from the owner of the temple, and had been quite warningly notified that we were going to have to bump our time of the usage of his land. Much, much earlier than originally appointed.
So, we were heading there. For apparently no reason. It was supposed to be that special resting spot the two of us picked out, so everyone would have a place to rest after sightseeing where 'that' took place.
But…since we did make a large deal renting that place, we would just have to go and sightsee to rest our minds. Maybe we needed that.
The type of temple we were heading to was slightly different than Grandpa's Tokyo shrine. It was…bigger, for one thing, and it had its own Koi pond. (Remember that a pond in Japan respectively meant a tiny little Well-sized water hole. Nothing you can't fit in a backyard.)
It even had a little tiny trickle of a creek that ran down from a mouth of the fish statue near the entrance. The entrance was grand, and revealed just what the visitors would see. Of course, for the morning, we were going to be renting it.
A few more minutes in the train, two more hours in the taxi, and we were finally there.
Okay, so the description I had of the temple was a vague one; something from a brochure. To simply put it; it was more serene and grand than how the picture had shown it.
It was the blossoming season. Meaning lots and lots of blooming Sakura petals falling from the ripened trees. It just made the temple all that more old and luxurious looking.
"Are we allowed to enter?" Miroku asked after a few minutes off the cab and staring at the ground foundation.
It was large. No long staircase like the one back home, but it was still the size of a mansion. Or a castle.
"Umm…I guess. I'm sure the owner's expecting us…"
I could just imagine a hermit-looking man walking out of the looming architecture.
We ignored the 'Closed' sign, and entered unceremoniously under the towering symbol of 'Tranquility'. It was really odd, being back in Japan, I mean. Small food size, tiny cars, narrower streets…I just felt so fat and big after going around the world, and then some.
Miroku gave a low whistle after a short hike towards the back part of the temple. We hadn't paid the man for the rent just yet, but a promise, honor, and all that meant so much in Japan. Suddenly canceling an already agreed rent day was of high rudeness.
But, then again, so was unexpectedly calling a person on a cell phone at 4 o'clock in the morning, and informing them that the rent time was moved earlier with no explanation.
"I'm almost jealous that we're not living here."
Right…big yard, a large cement ground…almost perfect for soccer teams.
Clip, clop, clip, clop…
"What's that sound?"
Clip, clop, clip, clop…
"Wooden sandals…" Miroku mused, probably remembering the old times when I used to wear them during festivals.
I slowly turned around, expecting the owner or the wife to come around the corner and greet us ever so politely. I swear – Japanese people had such policies for politeness, they forgot how to be friendly. It's so…ironic.
What I hadn't been expecting was for a girl to come. A girl about my age.
With brown chestnut hair hanging from her single, long ponytail…
And those kabuki eyebrows…
…that one, familiar Japanese (Ayame) flower behind her ear…
Yes, Ayame. Ayame, wearing her thin band around her forehead, rushing towards us with her mossy green kimono and holding a pair of running shoes in her hands.
"Kagome! Miroku!" She called, her chipper voice so familiar, yet so foreign. There was something in her voice…maturity.
When she approached us, I realized she was taller now. Almost tall as how Kagura had been…nearly Miroku's height, but somewhat shorter in comparison.
She gaped at me. I gaped at her. She gaped at Miroku. He gaped at her.
Time had done its best to change us all into grownups.
"So it was all a hoax." It was a statement. Not a question.
Ayame giggled nervously. "Well, I thought it would be funny if I told my grandfather to call you guys earlier. To add a quality of…surprise?"
We were back in the quiet train ride, going ALL the way back to our first intended destination. This was getting tiresome, to say it in the least.
"What a joke." Miroku yawned. "Well, if you girls don't mind, I'll be going back to my beauty sleep."
"Better look best for Sango, right?"
He only twitched at my remark, and kept his eyes closed.
"So," Ayame smiled and looked at my casual jeans and extra large shirt. "You've been busy, I presume?"
I didn't want to talk about it. I felt so old seeing her childish demeanor…there I go again, using words I never used before…
"How about you?" I grinned. "I thought you weren't Japanese…and the last time I knew, you wanted to be a singer or an American Idol or something."
"Well, turns out I didn't have a sense for music. And I was never told about my history." She stuck her tongue out and stared out the window. "My great grandfather was a very wealthy, and very young, Japanese businessman. But he married, or got hitched with a foreigner, against his lineage, and settled in California. Turns out his parents literally kicked him out when they heard he wanted to marry a girl different than the one they planned for him. They owned the temple too. My grandfather finally learned about it after I went to Hawaii, and when I went back to my old place to get my job back, my boss said I could go back to my old family so he could hire someone else."
I raised my eyebrow. "Well, no wonder Miroku lost contact with you."
She shrugged. "Yeah…I've been living here in the temple. I would've contacted you, but I was just so busy babysitting my siblings. At least the temple ground's big enough for them to burn their energy."
"Is that why your grandfather switched the rent time so abruptly? Because you were busy and you just found out about the rent today?"
"Actually, last night more like. My grandfather mentioned couple of young 'sports' people were coming to rent this place for a high price the next day. When he mentioned your name, I went ballistic."
"So, you thought it would be better to call us in the early hours than the late hours?"
"…I sort of forgot you were a morning person."
I only eyed her wearily.
Miroku jumped out of his seat when we jerked him out of his sleep, just as the speakers announced our approach to our destination.
The three of us decided to walk through the already crowded streets of Akihabara. I was still getting used to the gigantic pack we had to travel in; like a school of strangers traveling in a group.
This was like old times again. The first time Ayame, Miroku and I met was when a crowd of fanatic girls had chased us into the traveling truck…
The truck was now sold off. We were probably never going back to Hawaii, and the same fame was beginning to ebb away…
"– well, at least it's not a tourist's attraction…"
I noticed Ayame and Miroku, a bit ahead of me, standing a little ways off of the now practically deserted street. The street…
I held back a tear. My ankle. This time, it was really broken.
And yet, my lips were warm.
Still warm from my first kiss…or maybe because the flashlights shining at me from the police were burning a hole in my tongue. Where was the rest of our crew? Were they in stretchers too; getting rushed to the hospital and away from the disaster area?
Away from…from what happened. Away from…yes, I'll call it 'that'. Where 'that' took place.
…oh, my head. Too much flashing lights…gosh, I hope this isn't some disco night and I'm dreaming all this.
I snapped out of my flashback. Yup…I could even remember my own thoughts after 'that' happened.
"I heard this place stayed a restricted area even a whole year after 'that'." Ayame stared at the spot, where the once great structure had been constructed on. Trees surrounded the quiet street.
No cars, no city noise. They were all below us, beneath our foot and the hill.
"I presume you haven't been here until now, too?" Miroku also stared.
It was more of a crater. Or a large space surrounded by trees. A bare spot among the woods. Yes, that was more like it. A bare spot of solid surface with nothing on top. Just like how I felt at that moment.
So many memories. So many memories of how I left it all behind. Including Inuyasha.
So we stayed there. We stayed on that exact spot, waiting for something. Waiting for someone to come and greet us. Waiting for our old group to be reunited.
After two hours, no change. Except for the part where we found a green bench to sit near the 'that' area.
We had a long talk. A very long, and a very detailed talk, to be exact.
You should've seen the look on Ayame's face when she heard Miroku had retired his sports career…nearly 10 months ago.
"Why?" She had asked. "I didn't think taking care of my siblings would make me less aware of the social world…but man…"
Miroku smiled. "I'm 21 now. I think the sports industry would've gotten tired of me either way."
The real reason? Sango, Sango, and Sango. He wanted more time to think things over. He wanted to get away from the past. We all wanted to start over. I think Ayame's kimono could be a good example; instead of that skimpy bikini or the secretary's dress she used to wear, I mean.
"We're still going to have to pay for your grandfather's place, right?"
"Oh, no! When he heard that I knew you guys, he told me to convince 'those odd siblings' to keep the place without any charge for the day."
"Convince? Anyone would agree to that!"
"The catch is; you got to let my family stay on the grounds while it's your renting time."
"Well, if you guys were strangers, you wouldn't like seeing a giant pack of kids running around the place. Besides, it's hard enough traveling to a hotel with those guys…"
"Hmm…sounds like Miroku, when you put all the kids together."
Miroku coughed. "That's so sweet, sis…but you know…?"
I waited for him to continue…I thought he was going to mention what happened back in Illinois, but his sentence was never finished.
Because another taxi showed up.
If I had looked at the driver, I would've noticed he was the same guy that had driven us from the airport to Akihabara, what with the strange cap that overshadowed half his face; but I was too stunned to notice that.
Because I was staring more intently at the backseats, equally speechless with the two others at my side.
The first man that walked out of the car had an obviously unshaven chin, with a thick amount of ponytail swinging from shoulder to shoulder. It was shorter than I remembered, but he was still equipped with his headband, and his eyes were still as sharp as ever.
Except…he was also tanned. VERY nicely.
"Kouga…" Ayame and I choked out. But Miroku was intently staring at the second passenger.
The girl, wearing a jean dress and a tank top, stepped out a bit cautiously. Her long hair was exactly the same length, except now her hair that was kept down didn't have the end tied, making her hair sway to the wind as wildly as imaginable. Her sparkling eyes met with Miroku's eyes for a momentarily, and immediately averted with a blush.
"San…go…" Miroku whispered. He was as stiff as a stone.
I should've noticed how the cab driver was so oddly patient. He stayed sat on his seat. Quietly. Almost insignificantly.
And we all stood. Staring at one another.
Then a leaf fell between my eyes, and I coughed, waving it away. That seemed to wake everyone up.
"Umm…Miroku." Sango looked up at him. "Hi…"
What no one else knew, or at least suspected right then, was how nervous Sango was. More so than Miroku. Why? Because I've been getting and sending back emails with her for the last two years. Yup; I was lying about nothing significant happening between me and Sango.
She didn't look at me, but I knew what she was thinking.
Was Kagome lying about Miroku not getting hitched with anyone else after I said my farewells with him? Oh god; does he have a kid? Does he have an engagement ring around his finger?
How did I know this? Because this was what Sango had basically asked me…every stinking start of ALL her emails sent to me. Oh, she wasn't this haste in her questions…but it was too obvious.
And another thing that I was keeping from both Miroku and Sango was that I knew something I shouldn't have.
This morning, I had unpacked the wrong bag, revealing a shiny black box inside Miroku's knapsack. (And also a smiley faced boxer…but let's not go there.) Inside the little box was a ruby ring. I would've expected a pearl for an engagement ring…then again; I wasn't the one getting proposed.
As you could've imagined, I was practically…excited enough to do the blitz when the silence began to subside.
The driver coughed. "…" Yes, the silence was his speech.
I walked towards his side of the car. "Here's the –"
"Take it." It was a quick whisper. He took the money. Then, delicately, slipped a FIVE THOUSAND (yen) with his sharp nailed fingers into my stretched hand.
"What?" I asked.
"Open. Read." He leaned his head, so that I could see his eyes directed at me and my four companions.
"Sesshoumaru?!" I hissed.
His nod was his only reply.
I turned to Sango and Kouga, who had taken out their bags from the back, and gave them a very, very confused look. They frowned at my expression.
They had no idea what had happened until the taxi drove away as swiftly as a blink of an eye.
"That…that!!!" I pointed to the disappearing car behind me. "That…-!"
"…you know, taking photographs from here and there. Traveling around Britain, then going back to Australia to rest with the animals…"
"Rest? Seems like the wolf aged, eh?" Ayame smiled a toothy smile.
Kouga chuckled. A bit nervously, but more with his ego pride. All this time, and Ayame still never found out about the lemon kiss incident…someone really should tell her…
And it wasn't going to be me.
"Guys!!!" I whispered furiously. "Guys!!!"
"– split the cash with Inuyasha, then separated our ways half a year after 'that'. I just came back from a vacation in Beijing with my brother, and I left him there with Kirara, and my Uncle and Aunt for the rest of the vacationing time. Everything's back to normal with my family, and I just started directing a little studio. I met Kouga at the airport in Tokyo, so we shared a cab." Sango scratched her head as she joined in the greetings with Miroku and Ayame.
"GUYSSSSSSSSSS!" I bit my tongue, rocking from side to side.
"What?" Miroku turned to me. "Don't tell me you got stung by a bee just when we're all here again!"
…the bee incident. Something I told him never to talk about after what happened, or else I would have to kill him for it. And now I had to kill him for it.
But that would have to wait for a second.
"The driver…the driver…the driver!!!" I grabbed Miroku's arm and shook it while jumping like an excited lunatic.
"What? What did the driver…hey, he gave you money?" He noticed the yen in my hand.
"It was Sesshoumaru!" I indicated for the others to join the conversation.
"Where?" Ayame blinked.
"The driver! It was Sesshoumaru!"
"Yeah right." Kouga gave me a raised-eyebrow-smirk. "After two years, and you're still acting crazy."
…I swore Kouga had just acted like Miroku. A big brother. ANOTHER BROTHER!!!
"No! Look! Look!" I showed them the piece of paper stuck in the folded fifty, and unfolded the clump. "Read! It's…it's…Kagura's handwriting?"
Silence fell, and we all bowed to look at the paper.
To Priest, Wolf, Dog, and the rest of the crazy bunch;
I'm sorry I can't make it to the reunion. Stuck in Paris (not that I'm complaining much). The best part? I'm able to study a course in acting and literature! Like a dream come true. It's amazing here. Lots of good food too. And people weren't kidding about all the couples here; it's like dating is the community's ritual or something. Thankfully, I'm still single. Anyway, I hope I can see you guys in the future. I can't say much, because my dear roommate doesn't want me saying too much – but between you and me, I'm guessing the messenger will be able to deliver this letter by the anniversary date.
"…wait…roommate?" Ayame spoke first after a few more seconds of reading.
"This is definitely Kagura's handwriting." Sango stood up straight. "Wendy Wind…her new name?"
" Paris…she's still in the Eyewitness Protection Program?" Kouga stated. "I thought the police would think of something else after they realized it failed the first time."
"I'm guessing this messenger and roommate is one in the same?" I quirked.
"Sesshoumaru." We all muttered with a grin in unison.
"He's keeping an eye on her?" Ayame, with the same grin, giggled. "That's so nice…and going undercover so he could send this personally; it's almost like they really did make it to the reunion."
"You know…I did hear rumors that the famous Fluffy actor disappeared when he was 'kidnapped', and a guy that looked a lot like him was found in a police squad near France…"
"The Tabloid?" I asked, knowing what Miroku was talking about. "It's amazing how they just poke around to concoct fake stuff, and sometimes lands bull's eye on an unintentional target…"
"Coming here knowing the program wouldn't have allowed any outside contacts with Kagura's secret info…seems like Sesshoumaru changed after two years…"
"Yeah." I smiled at Kouga.
"I didn't say that." He blinked.
I turned to Miroku. "Did you just make that comment…?"
"Well then it had to be a male…"
Sango looked back. "…guys?"
A Sakura petal fell from one of the trees.
I straightened up and looked through the thickets of the trees. I looked at the guy with the leather thong around his silver hair, and slinging a bag over his shoulder.
"I also heard that Rin and his servants moved to France just last year." He smirked, particularly at me.
I stared back; unaware that everyone else was eyeing me.
"Inuyasha…" I whispered.
He shrugged with a teasing sigh. "Looks like I made it after all."
When world peace would be achieved. When people will evolve into species with wings and fins. When mimes finally learned to get a life and use their vocal cords for once in their 'explanations'.
That was when I would actually submit to my feelings. That was when I would learn to get on with my life and try to live the fantasy I always dreamt about.
That would be the day.
Lunchtime was quiet. Peaceful, but too quiet.
I eyed the people when deserts came. Green Tea Ice Cream.
Ayame with her wistful serenity.
Sango with her closet-romanticizing.
Kouga with his adult dexterity.
Miroku with his goals for the future.
Something that made me uncomfortable to the core. He had become a small company owner. Small, being the keyword. To him, it was just one of his father's companies that didn't need much care or an exact boss. He had gone back to his family, gone through a crazy chase around the world trying to tie things back together, and gotten back to Yokohama (where his family's mother company stood) and took a course in engineering. Overall, in his words, it was a waste of time.
That was when I noticed how the group was affected by him. How I was affected by him.
Compare me with Ayame. Her childish happiness and youth all tucked and folded under her, controlled and released whenever she pleased. And there was me…a full grown premature adult born from the same incident that had aged so many of our group.
But when Inuyasha, who was obviously older than I, entered our reunion, everyone seemed to…well, lose their wrinkles.
…and yet, I still stayed mature. I watched the others mess around with each other's hairs, pull their sleeves while saying things like 'my mom would really like this' as we walked down the street. The image of how we were two years ago seemed to fit the pieces that were missing from the puzzle.
There was one missing. And that was with me; walking through the street a further back from the loud shouting group of 'teens'.
Teens…I was 17 now. I had passed through my sweet sixteen like just another breeze of a birthday. I had missed the chance of a lifetime.
And I still didn't have a life.
It was much later in the day, after a long time in the train and choosing to walk to Ayame's temple, that I realized how pessimistic I had grown to be.
Kouga blew a low whistle when we got through the large entrance. "You live here now? Nice."
Ayame shrugged. "My home's a little way through the temple and backed up near the trees. It's quiet…if you can keep the kids to go to sleep."
He chuckled, and continued to look around.
Ayame gave a distorted frown. "Kouga…I was saying it literally."
"What?" He turned around, looking down at her. He made her look like a child standing so straight and tall like that. "What do you mean, literally?"
An evil, evil grin. "Well, there was a certain price for renting the temple," – insert a glare from Kouga to me and Miroku – "And there was a matter of scores we never got to settle between you and me." She fisted her hand and waved it carefully in front of Kouga's nose.
"But one of the reasons I came here was to take pictures of –"
"I know, I know…the whole 'Life in Japan' for your freelancing journalistic photographing thingy. I'll tell you about this temple, while you help me feed, play, and tell bedtime stories to my brothers and sisters. Okay?"
Ayame promptly took Kouga by his vest collar and started dragging him towards the vast wooded areas, where the cement steps led to the back of the temple. "You guys walk around and enjoy yourselves! Don't you dare leave-!"
"Oh crud…" Kouga muttered after her happy-go-lucky yelling, and disappeared behind the grounds.
With my heightened sense of suspicions sharpened from the last two years, I noticed the fact that I was alone with Inuyasha. I knew I was going to be alone with Inuyasha, to be matter-of-fact.
Because Miroku was going to…well, from the bulge in his pocket, I knew it was that same black box I saw inside his bag. He was ready to bring out the question. He was going to take his last risk, and get ready to settle down; once and for all.
"Ah…Sango?" He smiled at her. Nervously.
"Could…do you want to, I mean, look around the Sakura trees? The blossoming process is today…" His smile was getting sheepish.
Inuyasha frowned and started along with them, but I stayed put and grabbed his sleeve.
"You know, we'll just go the other way…look around the pond, I guess."
Sango and Inuyasha gave me an odd look, while Miroku, slightly hesitant, mouthed me a quick 'arigatou', and chuckled when Sango turned to follow him.
Before they were out of sight, Sango gave me a confused look, and I gave two thumbs up with a cheesy smile.
Inuyasha watched me gave that expression until Sango and Miroku were gone. Actually, until two minutes after they were gone.
"Why are you still smiling?"
Because I was now officially alone with Inuyasha; just like how I had predicted. Just like how I was dreading the most out of this day.
He eyed me warily. "Right. It might've been two years, but I think I would still remember at least the odd bits out of you."
"What was that?"
"Nothing." I mumbled, turning with a fake yawn. "I'm tired. I'm going to follow Ayame and –"
"Hold it." He grabbed my wrist. "I want an explanation."
With a shudder of a sigh, I let him lead me to the other side of the temple, near the stream that followed from the fish statue that widened enough to be a perfect miniature river. This day would've been really sunny and perfect if Inuyasha wasn't dominating over me…
…since when did I get the better of me?
"– and you found the ring in Miroku's bag?"
"Mm? Oh, yeah. It was in his bag…" I looked away, staring at the water as we stopped, and he finally let my wrist go. I hunched up and leaned over the side. Sakura petals were fluttering down the river, the lush grass, and the pebbles that made this part of the pathway. Peace…
"Miroku…propose." He muttered the two words, as if trying to add them together.
"You know," I cut him off, "Miroku's adopted."
"Miroku's the one who's adopted." I looked up at him as he leaned down to my face level. "Two years ago, he told you guys I was the adopted one…"
"That was a joke." He grinned. "I knew he was adopted before I learned he had a sister. He told us that morning about how he always pestered his 'little sister', and how we should join in the fun. It was all a joke."
It was all a joke?!
"A joke?" I hissed at him, mustering a practiced death glare. "It's been bugging me for the past two years about how you got it wrong about me, and you never bothered telling me?" I said it so quietly only his high sense of hearing could pick it up. And he wasn't one bit nervous.
"Oh by the way," He changed the subject, "I heard from Kikyou this morning that you visited her last night?"
…he just had to bring her up right now. I mean, I didn't hate her or anything. It's just; every time I thought of her, I thought of Naraku. And then I would think of…'that' again. Then Naraku, then 'that' again, until it was an endless cycle and I would make myself go to sleep. Then I would dream about…what happened with me and Inuyasha…
"You've been visiting her, then?"
I looked back at the water's reflection of me. So adult-like. My hair was up in the same old bun. "It was my first time. I just recently found out where she was staying at."
Inuyasha nodded. "Yeah; like you, it took me some time to even figure out she was alive. You know, she seemed more cheerful this morning. More cheerful then usual, I mean."
"Really?" I didn't really think about my impact on Kikyou. "So you guys are going steady?"
Was I jealous? Heck no…but somewhere in my subconscious mind, this must've been bugging me for quite some time.
"What do you mean steady? Dating?" He scrunched his nose before I could reply. "I told you before; we're friends. Long childhood friends. The only time she seemed like my girlfriend was when those 'drugs' were in her nervous system. And she's off that stuff now – off of it for good."
Kikyou. My mind seemed to rest. I was calm now – knowing the fact that she was going to be just fine. And probably the fact that he was…free? Single?
"So, what've you been up to, lately?"
That struck a cord. A low cord.
"Anything unusual? Something worth telling your old pal?" He nudged me on my shoulder and rested his arm halfway on my shoulder. Like he was going to embrace me, or he was just resting his arm because he was tired…or for some other reasons I couldn't think of.
There was something…but should I tell him? Yes…he had been truthful with Kikyou and him – I mean, it was the fact that it wouldn't hurt anyone if I told him. Yeah, that's what I'll believe.
"Well, something did happen when I was in Florida…"
"Oh? Details please?" He kept his arm on my shoulder…somewhat.
I took a deep breath, and told him. EVERYTHING.
I told him how Miroku had quit his career, followed by an onslaught of crazy fanatics stocking him from day to day until a month later, when we moved and hid away in Illinois for a while. How Miroku decided to teach ABC (American born Chinese), and American born Japanese, their oriental language for part time payment in the Asian community service. How he had decided I should chase the dream I wanted. How I managed to get myself in the business world, trying to learn the skills to become a businesswoman.
And…how I had been approached by one of Miroku's students. A student that was learning Japanese, whom I had dated for nearly five months, who had apparently thought we made an intimate couple, and had also, incidentally, proposed to me…
"I had to keep myself busy…" I mumbled when I mentioned about the dating. I noticed his arm was off of me.
There was a very uncomfortable silence that followed.
"…you know; I got stung by a bee when I told the guy I had to think about it…" The bee incident. I wanted to lighten the mood a bit.
Then a chuckle came from him. A very awkward chuckle.
"So…you dated while I was gone, huh?"
My throat seemed to close up, and I couldn't even breathe correctly.
"I guess you weren't the only one keeping yourself busy."
I cleared my throat. "You…dated while I was…mm, away, too?"
"Well, my face was known when I became the boss of my company. I never officially quitted my old job, but it's still all hushed up. Girls come to you either way, and I pretty much got along with them."
"Oh…oh, how nice…"
I never realized just how intensely Inuyasha was staring at me. "So?"
"Did you accept his proposal?"
"Oh…umm…well, I couldn't refuse, since he was a nice –"
"Where's your ring then?" Inuyasha stared coolly at me.
"Would you listen?" I rubbed my bare fingers though. "Like I already said; I told him that I wasn't sure about it. I didn't accept his proposal…but I didn't refuse it either. It's…been a few months now. And…he's expecting a call from me…"
Inuyasha watched me.
And watched me.
And watched me.
And so on…
"What?!" I yelled at him, getting extremely shaky from his stare. What did he want from me?!
"What's your answer?"
"Kagome, you're going to have to answer some time."
"…I don't know…I just had to see you first…"
It was so crazy. And it was true. Because I didn't have a life ahead of me; I was hopelessly stuck.
Inuyasha, surprising me again, laughed. "So, you want my opinion, huh?"
Was that relief in his voice? "Umm…well…I…"
"Here's what I think!"
And you know what he did? Do you want to guess?
He pushed me into the river! The cold stream of water, for crying out loud!
Just picture a quiet, peaceful sky with Sakura petals falling from the trees, then a high pitched scream, and a very loud splash. Followed after that was a wave of joyful laughter.
"Inuyasha!!!" I screamed when I gathered myself up and stood from the water. Half my body was still in it, and I was trying to stand up on tiptoes because of the chill. It wasn't winter, but it wasn't summer either. Not the best time for a cold bath.
But he had already jumped into the water beside me.
"Inuyasha, stop!" I yelled when another onslaught of splash caught me off guard. "What do you think you're doing?!"
"Showing you what I think about your proposal!" He brought down his hand on the surface of the water, and smacked a large wave of water on my waist.
"And that hairstyle!" Inuyasha approached me; grabbing my shoulder and reaching down for the hair pins. "You look like my aunt!"
I stayed speechless. By the way he was standing in front of me and taking out the pins from my hair, it was like he really was about to…wait; did he grow taller?
My hair slipped as one by one, the hair pins fell into the water.
"Just like before…" He whispered, leaning down and fiddling with the wet hair of mine. "That's much better…"
He smiled brightly. "C'mon. At least try to act like your old self. Maturity isn't a good thing for you."
He bent down to my face, settling his face above mine. For a moment I really thought he was going to…to…
"You know, I think I see a wrinkle."
"You jerk!!!" I brought my fist out and punched him square in the gut.
Yes, he never expected that. He went down into the water, making a large wave subsiding into the grass. And before he had the chance, I jumped into the water after him, and we were suddenly wrestling underwater, trying to take the dominant role.
I was trying to strangle Inuyasha.
I didn't even realize what Inuyasha was intending to do until it was too late.
As I grabbed Inuyasha's collar, he yanked on my sleeve and flipped me over with a horrendous 'splat', and had enough time to say –
"Feisty, aren't we?"
And hastily gave me the hardest kiss I could've imagined.
…I have the right to say I was unimaginative, because I was fighting wildly, trying to get some kind of air through my throat. I was underwater, his fingers were around my throat, and he was kissing me wildly while he floated over me.
I was red when he finally let go and brought me back to the surface. I coughed, hot, tired, out of breath and trying to catch air.
And yet Inuyasha insisted on wrapping my waist with his arms.
"I hope your 'boyfriend' back in Illinois never did that."
He was crazy. He was insane. And I think he was horny…it was just a suggestion.
"Too…tired…to…" I stopped, resting my head on his chest, my back against him and looking up at his face.
"Well, what do you say?"
"Mm?" I continued panting.
"You can come to my company. My dad will probably give you permission to become the CEO, or something. House, wealth…ha! Maybe even kids?"
…I think I stopped breathing.
Did he just…propose to me?
"Now Kagome, you're going to have to dial the guy's number and tell him you're already taken."
"Wait, what?" I turned around, staring at him. His grip on my waist was strong. "I didn't even accept your…proposal or whatever!"
He cocked his innocent head to the side. "It was just suggestion."
…I think I already chose my answer before he even popped the question. Well, this wasn't really a question, as he said…but…I think, I really think this was how –
"Whoop! Look at the lovemaking, baby!"
Inuyasha and I snapped my head to the grass, where the audience all stood and watched the entertaining episode of my life.
"C'mon! We want more love-!" Kouga howled with Ayame rubbing her temple beside him.
"Guys, you know you woke up my sisters with that loud splash?" She complained. "They're practically trying to climb over the brick wall wanting to see what's going on!"
Miroku stood with a stupid grin on his face, his arm around Sango's shoulder. She was smiling. Smiling with a red face. He had popped the question, and she had a happy expression…
Who wanted to bet Sango would be pregnant with twins by the time their wedding came by?
I looked at Inuyasha while he fumed.
"Inuyasha?" I asked with a sweet voice.
"Huh?" He snapped out of his rage and frowned down at my innocent eyes. "What?"
"It's a definite yes."
He froze; speechless that I had the courage to answer in front of everybody.
"Of course, until you get me an engagement ring; I'll be the one pulling all the legs!" I jumped away from his embrace and grabbed each of Sango and Ayame's legs, yanking and pulling them into the water in a matter of seconds.
"No fair!" Inuyasha yelled in the middle of all the shrieks and threw himself on the grass, taking a hold of Miroku's ankle and Kouga's shoes, both already knowing what would happen to them. "My turn!"
Another loud splash, yells, and not it was all fun and game in the war of water fighting.
"You're pulling my hair!"
"Dang it stop with the kicking!"
"Who the hell just punched me in the groin?!"
I was enjoying this. This was the return of the group's spirit.
We may live in different places now, and we may have to separate once again to reach for our own dreams, but we still knew when to come back at exactly what time. We had our special days. And we had our special times.
And we all had our special place.
But, as I struggled for my life among the flailing arms and legs splashing water into my face, I knew this was how I liked it to be.
This was how my life would be set.
This life – Miroku, Sango, Kouga, Ayame, Sesshoumaru, Kagura…and Inuyasha – was finally set.
I actually had a goal. I knew I would be visiting Kikyou soon enough.
To live happily. To live with hope, and acceptance. I had to tell her – teach her that.
This was my life. And I was going to live it the way I wanted to live it.
…and for the first time –
I didn't mind all the sappiness!
AN: Just what is a snow tube? That's the question I've been getting lately in reviews. I was surprised how so many people had no idea what snow tubing was, because the description of the tubes alone could've been a hint.
Okay, do you know what a waterslide is? Yes, a slide with water in it. Now imagine yourself riding an air-filled, tire-shaped float, going down the slide in your bathing suite.
Now imagine this all happening in slick snow. With you wearing a jacket and boots instead of a bathing suite.
Here's a link if you want a picture of what I mean; http :// www. Odeasmountain. com / …(without the spaces).
Double S: -Takes out a bag of popcorn from the microwave, and brings out some sushi from the fridge-
Kikyou: Preparing for a party?
Double S: Not really. Just getting ready for the final bloopers.
Kikyou: But we didn't have any bloopers from this chapter.
Double S: Exactly. That's why we're having a movie time, so we could watch all of our favorite bloopers!
Kikyou: …you don't mean the –
Double S: Yes! THOSE horribly embarrassing scenes that we had to take out in order to finish the story! Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha!
Kikyou: …how ducky…
- Movie Starts -
Chapter: Nerds, Jellies, and Chocolate Chips, Oh My!
Forgotten Scene 4, Take 1
Jackaroo: Food Fight!
Kagome: -Takes a handful of nerds- Take all the ammunitions! Destroy the oppositions!!!
Sango: -Flings a spoon of jelly, which, incidentally, splats onto one of the rolling cameras- Oops…
Ayame: -Throws a packet of the extra sour nerds, and crashes her shin on a chair in the process- OW!
Miroku: They must go down!
Kouga: I'll lead the – AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH! -the same packet of extra sour nerds lands in his eyes- THE PAIN! THE BURN! THE AGONYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY-!!!
Inuyasha: You coward! We must defend ourRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH! -a whole pie hits him square in the face, and trips on a puddle of jelly, falling off of the stage-
Double S: …where did the pie come from?
Kikyou: -Muttering offstage- I'm glad I'm not in this scene…
Sesshoumaru: -Also offstage- I agree.
Kagura: -Just coming into the studio- What did I missssAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! -Gets hit in the head with a FULL soda can-
Double S: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! My actress! Wait; who the heck's using full soda cans?!
Forgotten Scene 4, Take 2
Jackaroo: Food Fight!
Kikyou: So, it doesn't matter what the characters are saying in this scene?
Double S: I'm sure they won't even be loud enough to drone out the food fight…
Kagome: Lead the attack! KILL THE ENEMY!
Double S: …yeah, just a friendly food fight.
Inuyasha: DESTROY AND CONQUER!!! -Flings a pizza slice at one of the girls-
Kagura: …hey, that was my lunch…
Miroku: -About to throw a bowl of punch, when his cell phone rings- Oh! -throws the bowl away and takes the phone out of his pocket, which was covered in custard cream- Hello? Oh, what good day to you too mother!
Double S: You idiot! Don't you remember the policies?! All phones must be turned – -Gets hit on the head by the rogue punch bowl-
Miroku: Oh, a lovely day actually. Yes mother, I love you too. I'm filming, so would it be okay if you – -The phone gets knocked out of his hand as a large amount of donuts bombards him from the other side-
Sango: -Looking dramatically somber- SACRFICE THE DONUTS! GO THROUGH THE DEFENSES – AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!
Inuyasha: -Looking dramatically somber himself- SACRIFICE THE RAMEN! GO THROUGH THE DEFENSES!
Sesshoumaru: -Looks down at the swirl-eyed author- Okay, who's going to stop the scene if the author's out cold?
2 Hours Later
Kagome: Must…destroy… -Faints from exhaustion-
-The battlefield is littered with food covered bodies, resembling the sight of Gettysburg during the Civil War-
Kagura: -Pulls out a Victrola and starts playing the Star Spangled Banner-
Kikyou: Amazing how a small stage can turn into a mass battlefield tragedy…
Inuyasha: -Coughs- I'm not dead…
Chapter: Let It Snow, Let It Sprinkle, Let It Screech
Forgotten Scene 5, Take 1
Kagome: -Sitting in the lodge-like hotel with a mug of coffee- Is it really okay? I mean; sitting and playing around in the snow…
Ayame: I'm sure it's fine! Besides, we need a break anyway…
Kouga: Yeah, stop worrying about that stuff…who would look for us in a sleazy hotel room anyway?
Sango and Ayame: -A light bulb pops on top of their head-
Kikyou: That's not good…
Double S: Shush, this is good…
-Music suddenly blares from the ceiling, and Sango and Ayame suddenly starts dancing in a very…very…graphic manner-
Miroku and Kouga: O.O
Ayame: I'm sitting in this sleazy hotel room, Somewhere along the rocky road of doom
Sango: Looking back at my life and wondering what went wrong, Trying to turn these feelings into a song
Ayame: I guess I've always been some kind of a fake, And sometimes I do feel like a flake
Sango: But I see where I have come from so clear, And the weight that I've been carrying many years
Double S: This song's title is Fresh Blue Waters, Music and Lyrics by Tolkki.
Kagura: Yes, sound like a professional while we're wasting film on this scene…
Forgotten Scene 7, Take 1
Inuyasha: -On a snowboard- C'mon Miroku! Let's race!
Miroku: All right Inu, but I warn you, I won the last championship!
Inuyasha: Championship my ass! -Starts off before Miroku says anything-
Kagome: Idiots! We have to look for the others -? Hey what the…
-As Inuyasha and Miroku starts down the slope, the unstable snow starts to collapse on one another, and the fake trees starts falling like a domino-
Inuyasha and Miroku: AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! -Trying to outride the avalanche-
Double S: This is perfect! The drama! The action! And the helpless damsel watching her love from the top of the mountain!
Kagome: Excuse me?!
Inuyasha and Miroku: -Still riding down the avalanche-
-The author notices too late that they're heading right towards Camera #8 while rushing away from the avalanche-
Double S: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! JUMP AWAY! CRASH INTO THE TREES! CRASH INTO THE TREEEEEEEES! ANYTHING BUT THE CAMERA!
Inuyasha and Miroku: -Thinking smarter and ignoring her- I'M SORRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRYYYYY!!!
-Bam, crack, clonk, whoosh, bang, boom-
Chapter: X Marks Everything Baby
Forgotten Scene 9, Take 1
Inuyasha and Kagome: -Riding down the lane on a snow tube- AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!
Miroku and Sango: -Also in the same situation- AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! -Miroku's throat closes up and, while he thinks no one's watching, takes out a mint and plops it in his mouth-
-Suddenly, the grooming truck appears from down the lane-
The four riding: -Now even more panicked- AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!
Double S: Oh crud! I thought we told the guards to close the area for film production!!!
Inuyasha: -Frantically steers the snow tube off to the side; which evidently leads to the frozen lake-
-For a second, the four seems to be flying in midair on their snow tube, then suddenly plunges into the ice headfirst-
Double S: -Watches the four unconscious on the unbroken ice surface- I guess the ice is harder than it –
-The ice cracks, and the four plunges into the water with a gurgled yell-
Double S: …I stand corrected.
- Movie Ends -
Double S: So, what do you think of the good old times, huh?
Inuyasha: It sucked.
Double S: …golly gee; you'd think he would be happy after that romance scene with Kagome…
Miroku: Quite true…
Kagome: –– I have nothing to say.
AN: Adieu and so long! Look out for my new story – JUST DANCE!