A/N: Konichiwa, minna-san! I'm back again with yet another oneshot! This story is a bit more personal than my other ones. It's dedicated to anyone who has ever had and emotional or nervous breakdown. I have plenty of full-fledged emotional breakdowns and I decided to write a story with that as its main topic to show anyone else out there like me, that they are not alone. There isn't as much romance in this as in my other stories, but there is still some. InuYasha is a bit OOC, but I kind of needed it that way. If you want justification, he does get softer towards Kagome when they're in private as the series progresses. I hope you like it! Tanoshii omoi o suru!
Important: If you need any help with the Japanese, there is a dictionary on my author page with the translations to help you.
Disclaimer: I own nothing!
Dedication: To any and all who have ever had a mild, moderate, or severe emotional or nervous breakdown. May you find comfort in the fact that you are not alone…
"No! I don't want to hear it you pompous, arrogant, immature, jack-bastard, fucking ass-hole!"
Her hands flew to her mouth, horrified shock reflecting in her misty, blue-gray eyes. All members of the travel party stared in silence, frozen where they stood. None of them had ever heard the raven haired miko become so violently enraged, even after two years of traveling together. If the vicious retort had been thrown at a villain such as Naraku, no one would have batted an eye, but this…this was InuYasha. Never in any of their innumerable arguments had the girl lashed out so thoroughly.
Kagome took a step back, eyes wide, body trembling. Why had she said that? It was just another argument, same as all the others. Tears came unbidden to her scared eyes. Their stares, she couldn't take the way her friends were looking at her. Her breath came in harsh, erratic pants as she staggered another step backward. She couldn't stay there any longer. Her mind was screaming at her to run. So she did. As quickly as she was able, she clumsily turned on her heel and ran, stumbling over rocks and clumps of grass as she raced toward the tree line, hot tears now streaming down her flushed face.
Only then did the others in the group snap out of their daze. Sango and Miroku shared an uneasy look behind the red clad hanyou who simply continued staring after the fleeing seventeen year old with worried golden eyes. InuYasha was stunned silent. Anger out of frustration or annoyance was common and, in his own way, easily dealt with, but this was…different. He had no explanation for it. It was mindless, unbridled…rage, even if only for that one moment. There had been no reason for it. They had had hundreds of fights before this one. It was common, no different from any other time... No, there had been a difference. It was hidden, non-existent to those without enhanced abilities, but it was there.
The wolf, Kouga, had come again, right as they were coming back into Kaede's village. It had been the same as all the other times for the first half of the confrontation. He sped in, trampling InuYasha, flirted with Kagome, was pushed back by the angered hanyou, and exchanged a few smart-ass comments that snowballed into a yelling match. Soon after that was when he noticed the slight difference from all the other times. Kagome's sent began to tinge with, not the usual irritation, but distress and intense anxiety. Her heart had sped up and beat in a slightly erratic pattern. He had checked on her from the corner of his eye as he and Kouga argued and was somewhat confused at what he saw. She was nervously chewing her bottom lip, her hands were shaking slightly as they wrung together, eyes darting around every few seconds as if afraid something was stalking her. None of the signs had been very obvious, and he was quickly engulfed back into the argument by another snide remark from the mangy-fleabag.
The fight ended soon after when Kouga gave a hasty good-bye to the girl in question and sped back along his way. Having written off Kagome's strange behavior, InuYasha gave in to his need to get the last word and made an irritated crack at the full demon. It was then that things rapidly went down-hill. She had skipped the usual harsh scolding words and went right to yelling at the hanyou. Not thinking anything of it, he yelled back and they were drawn into a seemingly routine pace until the silver-haired boy had discredited her loyalty to the group. It was then she had screamed at him. Thrown all suitable reason out the door and actually cursed at him. He kicked himself for not paying more attention to her odd behavior sooner.
It wasn't until her retreating form had cleared the rice patties and stumbled through the tree line that InuYasha fully came out of his shock and quickly followed after the futuristic girl. Anything could happen to her in those woods, especially now that it was getting dark. She was vulnerable in the condition she was when she had run off, he had to make sure she was alright…
She didn't pay any attention to the familiar surroundings that flew past as she ran. None of it mattered. She just had to get away. Streams of hot, unchecked tears ran down her face, her hands still clenched over her mouth in a mixture of shock, shame, and fear. She was scared. It was completely unreasonable, but she was more scared than she could ever remember feeling before. There wasn't even anything to be afraid of. She couldn't understand why she had done that, why she was acting the way she was. It had just been Kouga. Every time he came about she had only felt annoyance and a slight twinge of pity. She had only ever gotten frustrated with InuYasha for fighting him. This time, though,…it had been different. She could barely explain it.
She had woken up feeling only slightly odd that morning. Like something was churning in her blood, but not to the point were she didn't think the nice quiet walk the rest of the way to the village couldn't cure it. They had been traveling for a little over three weeks this time. She had welcomed it. Things on her side of the well were just getting too stressful. The feeling had diminished a bit as they grew closer to their destination, but had not gone away completely. It made her feel restless. She tried to shrug off the feeling, but again, it hadn't gone away. It was just after they had gotten into the valley of Kaede's village that Kouga had come, racing in, just like always. At first she had just felt the normal frustration and annoyance, but it began to change rather quickly.
That churning sensation in her blood made itself known again, and grew to a point where it made her uneasy. She could feel her hands start to shake slightly and grow moist with the tiniest bit of sweat, like she was nervous about something extremely important. The feelings continued and grew a little more as the two demons carried on insulting each other. She found that she was unable to stay still, wringing her hands together discreetly, and shifting from foot to foot every few seconds. As she watched the verbal volleyball match continue, she felt a wave of anxiety wash over her in a tense ripple. She began to worry her bottom lip as her heart began to betray her and speed up to an erratic, untamed pace. The anxiety began to mix with fear as her breath started to follow her heart's example. Her eyes began to dart from side to side, trying to locate anything that could make her feel this way…though she had no idea what possible could.
She was beyond the point of paying attention when Kouga yelled out on last insult, said his hasty good-byes, and sped off in the direction he had come. All she heard was InuYasha's half-baked attempt at having the last word. She couldn't take it anymore. She felt like a coiled spring was clenching around her heart. She was half panicked by this point, though still mostly on the inside, so no one seemed to notice. She needed a release, some sort of outlet. So she began yelling at the only person she could; InuYasha. It only helped slightly. Not nearly as much as she needed it to. The coil around her heart slackened only a bit, before clenching once again at the hanyou's hurtful words. Somewhere in the back of her mind she told herself that this was normal, that he always did this, but it didn't help. The feelings she had during the fight with Kouga returned and grew once more. He yelled at her for wanting to go home, she yelled right back. He yelled at her about not letting him kill the stupid wolf, she yelled back once again. He questioned her loyalty to the group…
She couldn't take it anymore. He had gone too far. She felt the coil spring break, letting all her emotion out at once. She screamed at him, cursed at him in an uncontrollable rage. And then it was over. All the feelings, the nervousness, the anxiety, the tenseness, the anger…were gone. All except the erratic heartbeat and labored breathing. She stood there in front of them, feeling completely empty, alone, and afraid. Then it was joined by utter sadness and sorrow. Why hade she done that? What were those feelings? She didn't know, and it scared her. They just stared at her, as if they barely knew her. The tears came, and she ran.
Now she was running toward the forest, their eyes at her back. She felt as if she had lost all control of her body. She just ran. She had no destination. Her only goal was to get as far away as she could. To escape the things she was feeling. She stumbled many times on rocks, lumps of grass, and potholes. She couldn't stop the tears. She felt as if her heart had just been coated in lead. She stumbled into the forest, almost falling completely, but she couldn't stop now. She had to get way. The looks one their faces. They had been stunned, they had just gone quiet. Sango and Miroku had both just stopped moving. InuYasha had actually taken a step back from her, pulling away from her. Shippou had been hugging Kirara for dear life, almost as if…she choked…as if he had been afraid of her. She had never seen those looks on their faces directed at her. It reminded her…it reminded her of why she had been thankful for the long jewel hunt. It reminded her of them. The people back home, on her side of the well.
She had noticed that they were starting to pull away from her. At first it hadn't really been that much. People she rarely talked to anyway had stopped saying their friendly hellos in the hallway at school. As time passed it got worse. Her classmates began to ignore her when she asked them a question about a math problem or science formula. They would just give her a snide look and continue talking to their friends. A few months ago she had even noticed Yuka, Ayumi, and Eri become more reserved in her presence. She would come toward their group as they discussed something and then they would just stop talking and look at her once they realized she was coming to join them. It hurt, to see them like that. Then, only a month back, things seemed to just drop out from under her. She had been held after school, and called to speak with the principal. She clenched her eyes at the nerve-racking memory…
Kagome knocked on the light colored wooden door marked 'Principal' in the main office. "Enter," an older, slightly gravely, yet still strong with authority, distinctly female voice called out calmly. She slowly opened the door and warily walked inside the spacious office. A wooden desk was situated in the center of the room, back towards the far wall. A computer and several folders, bulging with various papers, had their spots on top of it. Two book cases, one on the same wall as the door, the other on the right side wall, were home to many books, pictures, even a few potted plants. Several official looking documents and awards hung on the otherwise bare wall to her left. It would have looked almost homey if she knew she was there on good terms. But the fact was…she didn't, and so it looked just a bit intimidating.
The principal herself was sitting behind the wooden desk, eyes trained on the second-year student she had summoned. She had only met the principal once or twice in person herself. Those times she had reminded her of a sterner version of Kaede. But, as of now, she seemed only like a no-nonsense business woman. Kagome swallowed slightly and closed the door behind her. The older women gestured for her to have a seat in one of the two padded chairs in front of her desk and the girl complied by walking slowly forward, footsteps made silent be the carpeting of the room, and slid her beat-up faded yellow school bag off her shoulder to the ground, before taking her seat. Every move she made was carefully calculated, as she had learned to do in the feudal era while hunting. Kagome sat with her back strait, ankles crossed, hands resting in her skirt-covered lap. She prayed that her nervousness was masked well enough.
"Miss. Higurashi," the woman greeted without a smile, her voice bordering on cold indifference. Kagome wanted to shiver. It reminded her too much of Kikyou. But she refrained.
"Takeida-san," she greeted in return, trying to be as business as possible. There was a small silence as the older woman assessed the younger. "You wanted to speak to me about something…?" she offered finally, feeling rather unnerved by the gray haired woman's scrutiny. It seemed to work, but Kagome quickly began to wonder if she should have just let the silence stretch.
Ms. Takeida sat straighter in her chair and put a hand on a light blue student record folder. Kagome had a sudden dreading suspicion of why she was here. "Yes," the woman began, "since I'm sure you are anxious to get yourself home to…study," she said the word almost mockingly, "I will make this as brief as possible and get straight to the point. I wish to speak with you about your several long absences over the past year and a half you've been at my high school."
"I have often been very sick, ever since I was fifteen ma'am," Kagome supplied the answer she had used so many times over the past two years, trying, and succeeding she thought, to make it not sound rehearsed.
The woman eyed her with suspicion. "Yes, your mother supplied me with the same answer. And yet you look as strong and healthy as a girl should." She lowered her voice as she said the second part, as if to herself, yet still wanting Kagome to hear it. Kagome didn't respond. The less she said, the less she could incriminate herself…at least she hoped. It was getting hard not to fidget. "Now Miss. Higurashi," she opened the blue folder in front of her, "I have here your records from both this school and your middle school. Your grades were more than satisfactory until halfway through your ninth-grade year, around the time you turned fifteen. This is when your grades dropped significantly, no doubt from being so…sick, with so many illnesses. Despite this you were able to keep your grades at high 'C's and low 'B's, and to get a score on the entrance exams high enough to go to this school. But, there is a problem Miss. Higurashi."
Kagome swallowed again, but kept her voice relatively calm. "And what's that ma'am?"
Ms. Takeida folded her hands and leaned forward slightly. "You don't seem to care enough about your education."
Kagome stiffened, her eyes becoming slightly less wary and more intense. "Excuse my abruptness ma'am, but I care plenty about my education. I am not happy with having to settle for grades close to bordering shameful."
"No one who cares for their education 'settles' for grades such as these, Miss. Higurashi. One who cares for their education strives with all their potential to better such grades, and I know, looking at your old grades, that you have more potential than this." The older woman shot back, eyes narrowing slightly.
Kagome held strong. "It is only because I have been sick ma'am. Since you have seen that when I am sick I tend to be so for a while, I obviously miss a lot of school, and thus a lot of school work. My friends have been exceedingly generous with me by taking more time than they should out of their own studies to help me understand the concepts I have missed in my absences. I cannot ask more than that from them."
"And what of a hired tutor? That would solve both your problem and your friends'."
Kagome did not like the way the principal's tone was progressing. She was trying to make her crack about something. Kagome couldn't afford to crack. "My mother has enough of a hassle keeping up the shrine and taking care of my grandfather, my brother and me. I don't need to put her through the financial strain of providing a tutor for me even though I already have passing grades." This wasn't good. She was starting to loose her temper. That would not help her situation.
"There are always other options for your mother, Miss. Higurashi," she stated as if she were speaking to someone she felt was significantly inferior to her, "I understand your grandfather can be a handful. But there are specialized places with specially trained personnel to take care of people like him. I also understand shrines can be very expensive to keep up. Apartments are much cheaper, yet still accommodating for a family of your size. Besides, your brother is almost old enough to work, isn't he?"
That was the last straw. This woman would not insult her family. Kagome's eyes grew sharp as they glared at the woman across from her. "Are you suggesting, ma'am, that I convince my mother to split my family up and leave the place that has been in her family for the last several hundred years? Are you suggesting that we take my brother's childhood from him, putting some of our financial troubles on his shoulders, making such a young boy feel responsible for our wellbeing? All just for my grades to be a little bit higher?" Kagome stood, "I will not stay here and allow you to tell me what my family should do about situations that you do not understand, nor are even a part of!" And with that Kagome roughly picked up her forgotten bag and headed towards the door.
"Just remember, Miss. Higurashi," the older woman's gravely voice was calm once again, sounding almost if she had accomplished a great goal, "I pride this school in being for students who wish to do something with their lives. Who strive for something greater. Not those who 'settle' for something less that satisfactory." Kagome reached for the door handle and turned it as she listened to the last thing the woman wanted to say, an emotionless mask on her youthful face, "If you continue to be absent from school for long periods of time, and your grades do not improve, I will be forced to exclude you from the list for next year's students belonging to this high school."
Kagome gave no acknowledgement to the woman as she opened the door and walked purposefully out of the room, shutting the door behind her.
Kagome let out a strangled cry as the memory left. They were questioning her. She would be expelled if she didn't come to school more and get her grades up. She would have to take another set of entrance exams to qualify for another high school. None of it would work. InuYasha would never let her spend more time in her era for either school or taking more thought intensive entrance exams. She'd been exhausted for almost a month last time and he had made it clear he didn't want her doing that to herself again. Though, he had said it in a much less caring way. There was no way she could survive in her era if she didn't at least finish high school.
She ran faster. Her face was soaked from the crying. It wouldn't stop. She just wanted it to stop. She couldn't take it anymore. Her dark green school uniform was being torn slightly in several places due to the thick foliage of the forest. Scratches were appearing on her exposed skin. She didn't care. She just wanted to get away. Her shoulder hit a tree as she ran past, throwing her off balance. She regained it as quickly as she could, knowing there would be a rather large bruise there soon. Yet another thing she wanted to get away from. She didn't want to be hurt anymore. She wanted things to be like they were before, when people knew her to be a good person.
She was gasping for breath now, not only from the running, but the periodic sobs as well. They didn't know she was a good person anymore. They were questioning not only her integrity, but her moral standards. Another loud sob racked her form as the next memory came to the surface. If the principal hadn't been enough…
Kagome leaned on the cool concrete side of the school building. Almost no one ever came over here. She would be safe to catch her breath and calm herself. She let her hardened mask down. It had not been good that she had lost her temper towards the principal. It had probably been a move that sealed her fate. 'Damnit,' she thought, closing her eyes. And then out loud, "I'm really spending too much time around InuYasha."
A familiar voice interrupted her musings. "Oh, is that your boyfriend's name?" Kagome's eyes snapped back open to try and discern who the voice belonged to. A tall girl in a mini skirt and short-sleeved shirt stepped into view. "Obviously he doesn't go to this school, or I would have heard of him."
Suddenly the voice clicked in Kagome's head. "Akui-san. Why are you here? School ended almost an hour ago." Kagome stood up a little straighter. She and Akui had once been friends, but had grown apart over the years. Why was she approaching her now?
"I heard you got called to the principal's office. I wanted to know what a goody-two-shoes like you could have done to warrant such attention." The brown haired girl replied with a smirk. "And you still haven't answered my earlier question." She added. At Kagome's confused look she sighed in annoyance. "InuYasha. That's your boyfriend?"
Why would she care? "No," she replied with a mental sigh, "He's just a friend." But that only seemed to widen the smirk that Akui had put back on her face.
"Just a friend, Kagome? Are you sure? He's not, oh I don't know, a…make-out buddy perhaps?" she smiled as if she had a secret.
Kagome was taken aback. "What? No. He's just a friend of mine."
Akui smiled a bit more, looking almost evil as she stalked closer to her once friend. "Oh, come on Kagome, you can tell me. He's your boy-toy isn't he…?"
Kagome pressed her back against the wall behind her. She didn't need this now. "No! Stop it already!" Her heart began to speed up again. 'Kami, I'm going to have a heart attack if it keeps doing this.' She thought sarcastically.
Akui's heels made a clicking sound on the pavement as she kept coming forward slowly, as if she were stalking her pray. "Why so defensive Kagome?" she taunted, "Don't want anyone to know you have a live sex-toy?" She came to a stop only a yard away from the girl now pinned against the school's outer wall.
Kagome did not need this now. She was already riled up and if this kept going she swore she'd have a panic attack. "I said stop it! Why are you doing this?!"
She chuckled in a low, rich voice. "I'm not the only one who thinks so Kagome. Everyone's starting to suspect it. You're never in school, when you are you don't look like you've gotten enough sleep, you daydream during class, you fall asleep during lessons, you rant about him to your friends, and then defend him when they talk bad about him. What do you want people to think? I'll tell you what they think, you've been sleeping around."
Kagome's face went white. That's what people thought of her now? That's why they were avoiding her? They thought she was… "I'm not like that and you know it Akui-san." Kagome glared at her.
The girl shrugged. "People change Kagome. If they didn't then we'd still be inseparable."
"You're the one who told me to get lost Akui-san. You're the one that changed."
"Are you pinning this on me? Face it, you're nothing but a lowly little girl trying to feel grown up by screwing around."
"I do not! Damnit, I'm not like that! You don't know what you're talking about!" Not good. She was loosing her temper again.
"You're a whore," she stated simply, "That's why you were called to the baba's office. She doesn't want girls like you here."
Kagome lost it for the second time that day. "You're no different Akui! I see all of the men that hang off of you! How many nights a week do you actually sleep alone?! I love him Akui! You can't say the same!" It wasn't till then, she realized her mistake.
Akui laughed evilly. "So you admit it then! You admit to the fact that your just this guy's personal slut! That's what it's called, little Kagome, even if you love him, if he doesn't love you back!"
"No! I-I didn't mean it like that! You know I didn't mean it like that!" Kagome's breath was labored, her body was starting to shake. Akui just laughed. Just then the voice Kagome had silently been praying she'd hear reached her ears…and unfortunately made things worse.
"Oi, bitch! You're late!" InuYasha yelled from across the pavement. His usual fire-rat robes exchange for black, slightly baggy jeans, a red T-shirt, and a black bandanna covering his ears.
Akui gave Kagome another evilly pleased smirk. "Oh, so you're his bitch are you?"
"Stop it…" Kagome said almost pleadingly…almost. She tried to catch her breath as she clenched her eyes shut.
InuYasha saw the girl he'd come to know so well clench her eyes shut at something the other, unfamiliar, girl had said. He sniffed tentatively at the air and growled lowly. Her normally cheerful scent was tinged with frustration and exhaustion. What was that girl doing? He quickened his pace to reach them sooner. He came up next to Kagome and placed himself slightly between her and the unfamiliar girl. He glared at her as she smirked. Then, as if he wasn't even there, she addressed Kagome again.
"Just remember what I said Kagome. You'll be better off if you come to terms with it."
In response Kagome did something completely out of character, still acting on what was left of her anger. "Go fuck yourself, whore," she ground out, eyes still clenched.
Akui laughed lightly. "Whores don't need to fuck themselves, Kagome. You of all people should know that." She backed away slightly, getting ready to leave. She looked at InuYasha, let her eyes trail down his lean, muscular form, and smirked. "I will say this much Kagome, you know how to pick 'em." And with that she walked away, InuYasha glaring daggers at her back. Kagome waited until the click of her heels had faded away before sighing.
InuYasha turned to face her. She still didn't open her eyes. Now that he was closer he could tell that her breathing and heart rate were off. He put a clawed hand on her shoulder, his worry overpowering his previous anger. "Oi, wench…" he pressed gently, feeling that this was at least a bit of a delicate situation. Said girl opened her eyes part way to look at him. "Are you…ok?" She sighed again, and then surprised him by leaning forward to rest her forehead on his thinly covered chest.
She nodded against the fabric. "Yeah, just tired." And she was. Those two incidents had left her with no energy. She just wanted to go to sleep and forget they ever happened. If only Inuyasha had his normal clothes on. They were soft and smelled like the forest in the Sengoku Jidai, prime cuddling material. But alas, all she could do was rest against his hard, yet giving muscular body…it would have been much more enjoyable if she had been awake enough to appreciate it. His arm came up around her waist for support, and his chest rumbled when he spoke up once more.
"Keh, tired? You're exhausted. What the hell've you been doing, taking those ridiculous tests again?" She didn't even pay attention to the gruffness of his voice. She couldn't tell him what was really going on. It was just too much.
"Yeah, tests," she offered lamely. The hanyou quirked an eyebrow at her, but changed the subject instead of commenting on it.
"What was all that about before?" She turned her head so her cheek was against his heart instead of her forehead. It was so calming…
"Nothing," she answered quietly, "It was just…just nothing." InuYasha ran his hand up and down her back absently.
"You sure you're ok?" he asked.
"Yeah," she said, closing her eyes again, "Just…just take me home, ok?" The hanyou nodded and leaned her back so he could turn around. Pulling her arms so they rested around his shoulders, he leaned back into her and picked her up by her exposed thighs, so she was on his back as she normally traveled. He took off at a run, enjoying the fact that her head was resting right next to his. "But when we get there, you're changing back into your fire-rat robes. I need some normalcy right now." She yawned and InuYasha gave her a gentle smile.
Kagome gave another choked whimper as a branch lashed out at her face. That day had been the most stressful one she had ever had. How could they think of her like that? They knew her. How could they think such a thing? The tears had begun to drip off her face as pained whimpers were torn from her choked throat. Fate was being so cruel to her. In all the two years she had been leading this double life she had been lucky enough to not have been questioned or faced with things she couldn't handle on her side of the well. It was like a safety net. Even with all the battles here in the feudal era, she could go home to the future and live a sheltered life again, if only for a few days. Now the net had vanished. People weren't trusting her anymore. She didn't know how to answer their questions. She felt so alone.
She didn't know where she was or where she was going. She didn't care if some giant demon just came out of nowhere and thrust its claws through her stomach. Anything to get rid of this feeling, to distract her from how utterly broken she felt. Suddenly she broke out into a small open area and tripped on a protruding root of a large tree. She covered her face as she fell to the ground. Without the wind and the blurred images brought on by running to distract her, she felt the full force of the panic and gut-wrenching sorrow, the complete emptiness of her soul. More memories came unbidden to her mind, and she only cried harder…
Kagome sighed with longing while she soaked in the hot spring with Sango. The slightly older girl looked at her friend with sympathy. "You should just tell him already, Kagome-chan." Sango stated gently.
Kagome sighed again. "I can't Sango, you know that."
Sango shook her head. "You need to. You owe yourself that."
"And what if he just shoots me down, huh? What if you're wrong and he sees me as no more than he sees you?" She shot back. It was the topic. They'd been over this before. She didn't want to have the discussion again. It was getting irritating.
"He won't shoot you down. Are you saying that you're wiling to just stand by his side and not even take a chance? Is that really enough for you?"
"It has to be, Sango."
"What has to be and what you want are two different things Kagome! You've been doing what has to be done for long enough. Do something that you want to do. And I know you want to tell him."
Kagome did not want to have this conversation. "And why should I listen to you Sango? You're no better than me. You can't even drum up the courage to tell a man that doesn't have a past love to deal with that your head over heals for him! I don't want you lecturing me about not fessing up!" And with that Kagome dried herself off, changed and stomped back to the campsite alone, leaving a stunned and hurt Sango at the spring.
"Mama! I'm back!" Kagome called as she dropped her oversized yellow bag in the foyer. When she didn't get a response she headed for the one place Mrs. Higurashi could almost always be found. Kagome peeked into the kitchen, and sure enough, there she was. "Mama?" Mrs. Higurashi was sitting at the table, one hand propped up against her forehead, elbow on the table, the other holding a large mug of tea. She looked as if she hadn't slept at all the night before.
It wasn't until Kagome called her again that she looked up. "Oh, Kagome dear, you're home," she said as if she hadn't heard Kagome's earlier proclamation…which by the looks of her, she hadn't.
Kagome took a few steps closer. "Mama, are you alright?"
The woman sighed and patted the seat next to her. "Come sit by me Kagome." The girl complied, a worried look on her youthful face.
"What is it Mama?"
The woman sighed again and hugged her daughter. Her voice was strained. "Your Ojii-san…well he…Jii-chan had a heart attack last night Kagome." The girl gasped, eyes widening. "He's ok. He's in the hospital, but he's stable," she reassured both herself and her daughter. "We are all going to have to help him out a bit more than we used to when he gets home though, no matter how much he protests."
Kagome just looked at her lap with unseeing eyes. 'Jii-chan…'
Kagome followed her enraged brother up the stairs to the second floor. "Souta, be reasonable!"
Said boy turned and glared at her. "Be reasonable? Be reasonable?! I never get to see you anymore! It's a treat for me when you come home! Do you know how pathetic that is?!"
"Souta, please…I have a duty."
"No!" he shouted, "I don't care! I barely know you anymore! We used to be so close, Nee-san! We used to talk to each other! We used to tell each other things!"
"Souta, it's just…it's just like if I had moved off to college…" she offered hoping to placate him.
"No it's not! If you had moved to college I would still be able to call you when I have a problem! If you had moved to college I wouldn't have to pray to Kami every day to bring you home safe again! If you had moved to college you would have come home to be at the hospital to tell me that everything would be alright! Mom cried that night, Kagome! Do you know how scary that was for me?!"
Her voice cracked, "Souta, I'm sorry…"
"No you're not!" he screamed, "You're not sorry Kagome! You want to be with InuYasha all the time! You want to be with them. Why? Because you love them, you love him, more than us!"
"That's not true! Don't you even think that! What happened, Souta? You used to idealize InuYasha!" Now she was getting upset too.
"I was 10, Kagome! I idealized a cartoon superhero back then too! You want to know what happened?! He stole you from us, that's what happened! He stole you from me!" He stomped toward his bedroom, Kagome following close behind, pleading his name. He put his hand on the knob. "I'm almost 13 now Kagome! Did you even bother to remember that?! Dad's gone! Jii-chan might never be the same old man again! And now I'm loosing you! What do you want me and mom to do?! Huh, what?!" He stormed the rest of the way into the room, ready to shut the door, but Kagome stopped him.
"Souta, I'm not leaving you. I'll always be your sister…"
"No," he said, his voice deathly calm as he looked at her with sharp betrayal in his eyes, "My sister is dead." He slammed the door in her face.
She couldn't stop sobbing. She hadn't cried through any of it. She hadn't realized how much she needed to cry. She lay there on the dirt and grass, strangled, pitiful noises coming out of her nonstop. The tears wouldn't go away. The pain wouldn't leave her alone. She couldn't do this. She wasn't strong like Kikyou, or Sango, or Mama. She was weak little Kagome. She couldn't do this.
She wanted it all to stop. She didn't care how. She just wanted everything to be normal again. She hated feeling like this. Her soul had broken, her heart ached with every erratic beat. Her breath came in short, quick, uneven pants. Her heart was beating so fast and so out of rhythm it made her feel dizzy and confused. The memories, they wouldn't leave her alone. She clenched her eyes shut. She just wanted them to go away…
"If you aren't in school more and your grades don't improve, you will be excluded from attending here next year."
"No…" her voice was weak and cracked.
"You're a whore…"
She sobbed, "I'm not…"
"He's had a heart attack…"
"He stole you from me…"
"If your grades don't improve…"
They were all so painful…
"You're his bitch…"
Why wouldn't they leave hear alone…
"We'll have to help him more now…"
Why couldn't things go back to the way they were…
"She cried that night…"
Why couldn't she do this…
"We don't want you here…"
"Never the same…"
"Do you know how scared I was…"
"My sister is dead…"
Her eyes snapped wide. "Stop it! Leave me alone! Don't…don't do this to me…" She collapsed as completely as you could without going into unconsciousness, no strength left in her body at all.
That's how InuYasha found her; in the clearing of the Goshinboku, lying in a heap on the ground, her entire body shaking from the force of her sobs. Her clothes were torn and dirty, her skin covered with little scrapes and cuts. Her hair was wind swept and matted. Her head was buried in her arms, hiding what he knew to be a tear-stained face. He'd never seen her like that before. Sure, she had cried, usually because of him, but this was so much different. She had always been so strong. He had never seen her so utterly defeated before. He walked forward, but stopped. He knew he needed to comfort her, but he didn't know how. What had happened? She had gone from antsy, to anxious, to enraged, to…broken. He stepped closer slowly, trying not to startle her.
No response. She just continued to sob into her arms. He knelt down beside her and reached out to touch her shoulder as he called out to her again.
She shot into action. Obviously his plan had failed. She swung her arm and her entire body around trying to get away from him.
"Don't touch me! Leave me alone!" she sobbed, not even trying to register who it was who had come to her. He tried to touch her arm again, only to be met with the same reaction. Frustrated, he grabbed her upper arms, mindful of his claws, and held the crying girl in front of him, causing her mussed hair to hang partially in her face like s curtain. She tensed and whimpered.
"Oi! Snap out of it wench, it's me!" She opened her stormy blue eyes, tears still streaming down her cheeks, and looked at him.
"InuYasha…?" she asked with another sob.
His ears lowered at her tone. She sounded so defeated. He sighed. "Yeah, it's me. What's going on with you Kagome? You've never…I've never seen you like this before." Without warning she wriggled out of his grasp and lunged at him, burying her head in the crook off his neck and knocking him on his butt. Instinctively, he drew his arms around her small form, keeping her in place. "Kagome, what…?" But he was only met with painful whimpers and tearful gasps once again. Slowly he sat back against the firm trunk of the Goshinboku, Kagome huddled in his lap. Her crying wasn't getting any better.
After a few minutes, she tried to speak, but it was hindered by her incessant sobs. "Inu...Yasha…I-I don't…I'm not…I c-can't…" He held her tighter. She couldn't even get a sentence out. She tried again. And what she said shocked him. "I…I c-can't…d-do…this. I can-…"she started sobbing once more. She couldn't do…what? What was she saying? She had never been the type to just give up. Where was the little spitfire he knew so well? What had happened to her?
"Kagome…" he prompted gently, as he began to rub her back like his mother used to do for him, "What can't you do? What are you talking about?" Kami, he hoped she wasn't talking about him. What if she couldn't handle being with him anymore? She did go into this fit right after his fight with Kouga. But, that was something that happened all the time. She had never reacted like this before.
Her response could hardly be called a response at all. She only repeated what she had already told him. "I ca…I c-can't d…do this. I can't…I can't…" She held tight to the front of his haori, fisting her hands in the material at his chest.
He was getting frustrated with her little mantra, but tried to keep his patience. "Wench…you've gotta tell me what you can't do. I can't protect you if I don't know what's wrong."
She shook her head against his now wet shoulder. "Yo-you can't…can't p-protect me fr-from this." She whispered through her tears.
Again he tightened his grip and his voice became stern. "The day I can't protect you is the day I die, Kagome." She only shook her head again. "Then tell me what wrong. Why can't I do anything about it?" She tried to speak, but it took her a few times to actually succeed.
"My…my sc-school is g-getting suspicious ab-about me…missing s-so m-many classes…" She had to stop to try and regain herself again.
"Is that all this is about?" the hanyou asked incredulously. She once again shook her head, so he let her continue.
"Jii…Jii-chan is having pro-problems with his…his heart. He had to-to go to th-the…hospital. The k-kids at m-my scho-ol think I'm not there be…because I'm sleep-ing around…They..they think I'm a wh-whore…Souta hates me…I'm…I'm getting more irritable…" she swallowed hard, "I'm…I'm sc-scared, InuYasha…" she whispered. Her breathing was getting erratic again. It was heavy and fast.
InuYasha was stunned by what he heard. She'd been keeping all that to herself. It had been eating away at her for who knows how long. Why was she doing this to herself? He heard her breathing speed up. 'Shit, she's hyperventilating.' He stopped rubbing her back and just held her to him. "You've gotta breathe, Kagome." She nodded, obviously trying to slow her own breathing. It wasn't working. "Calm down. Close your mouth. Breathe through your nose, damnit." If she hadn't been in a state of distress, Kagome probably would have laughed at how he sounded. It took a few minutes, but she was able to get her breathing back in check. She was still crying and whimpering on occasion, but it wasn't like it was before. A low, but gentle purr-like growl started up in the half-dog-demon's chest in an effort to calm her even more.
She sat there in his arms for a long wile, hands fisted in his haori, her ear on his chest, letting the growl's steady rhythm soothe her. After she had stopped all sounds of crying, the growl lessened to be replaced only with the strong beat of his heart. When he spoke, it was quiet as to not ruin the peace of the moment. "Why didn't you tell me…?"
Kagome snuggled deeper into his haori-clad chest. "Tell you what?" she asked in the same quiet voice.
He grunted. "That all that stuff was going on."
She sighed. "I didn't think you'd care…"
He rested his chin atop her messy black hair. "If it upset you that much, then of course I'd care." A comfortable silence stretched over them, and they just sat there looking at the few stars they could see through the trees.
She fidgeted. "I didn't mean it, you know."
He tensed. "Mean what?"
"What I said before I ran off. I don't know why I said that."
He relaxed again, holding her a little tighter. "Keh, I figured that much out." Again, they fell into a pleasant silence.
He sighed. "Yeah…?"
She shifted slightly and placed a small kiss on his cheek. "Thank you."
The hanyou blushed. "For…for what?"
Kagome giggled and settled back into his arms. "For everything."
A/N: Yatta! It's finished! I'm not quite sure if I'm happy with how it came out. It's just something I had to write though, for myself. When I have an emotional breakdown this is usually along the lines of what happens. The stress builds up without me even noticing, one small normal thing makes me break, I go into a second long rage, I sob uncontrollably, and I just have to ride it out until I calm down on my own. Some may think the ending was rushed, well people, too bad, 'cuz that's the way it happens. The calming down part just isn't all that interesting. 'sigh' Kagome's just lucky she has Inu-kun to hold her. Wish I had someone like that. Anyway, Review!