"Kagome, why is your face all red?" Yuka asked as they hurried down the stairs. "It's not because of health class is it?"
Kagome didn't respond.
"Your mom signed the permission slip."
She acknowledge with a nervous nod.
"You did the homework?"
She nodded again.
Yuka frowned, "Then why is your face red?"
"Why isn't yours?" she ejaculated. "We're going down there to sit in a room full of people - boys - and talk about...about..."
Kagome exhaled as though to release frustration. It didn't work.
"Kagome, it's fine."
"It's not fine! We're talking about menstruation today!"
Yuka rolled her eyes, "Honestly, what's so terrifying about that? So what if a few boys get a little uncomfortable. They can just grow up; we're sixteen for Pete's sake."
They were in the health wing now, their shoes clacking as they marched down the hall. Kagome clutched her book protectively to her chest, walking hunched as though being pelted by a hailstorm. Ever the polar opposite, Yuka strode beside her wearing an expression of nonchalance. A gaggle of boys loomed ahead of them like a cloud of black fog, peals of laughter jumping spontaneously out at the girls nearby.
"They're going to make jokes," Kagome muttered to Yuka.
"You're such an idiot," Ayumi's voice cut through the fog, sharp and cold and metallic.
Kagome soon saw what she was talking about. There on the wall - dab in the middle of the crowd of boys - was sample of the wealth of posters to be found all around the health wing. One a day keeps the doctor away, it had advised, only now it had been edited. An arrow pointing between One and a placed the word kiss in a rather ideal position; ideal, Kagome supposed, in the mind of every single guy in their class this semester.
"Real original guys," Yuka drawled.
Kagome marched forward, pushing past the snickering boys. Dropping her bag, she tore down the poster with an obscenely loud rip, making the boys groan in shared disappointment. Kagome deftly crumpled it up and stuffed it in her backpack, where she hoped no one would be able to get to it.
"Way to spoil our fun," someone said.
"You're so stupid," Kagome grumbled, entering the classroom before anyone could retaliate.
Since this was the only class were the students actually chose to sit up front, Kagome moved strait to the back, her friends and a few of the meeker girls following suit.
"Don't let them ruin your day, Kagome," Eri said. "They're just kidding."
"Shh," Yuka said, and Eri hushed as the teacher began lecturing, pointing to a vivid diagram of a woman's reproductive organs.
Kagome groaned, letting her head fall into her arms.
"Higurashi," the teacher said, making her jump, "pay attention."
A couple of the boys snickered, but they were quickly shushed. It was enough, however, to give Kagome a tomato face until class ended.
It was very dark in the well, dark and a little chilly. Kagome looked up through the shaft. The sky was moonless, starless, cloudy. The air carried a dreamy scent, flowers blooming after midnight. She groped for the vines that would carry her to the top, the place where she often stood and looked down into the darkness. This time, however, it was someone else standing there, a sentinel, peering down at her as she climbed.
"Hey, Kagome," he said.
"Hey, InuYasha," she replied, taking his hand so he could pull her the rest of the way. "Sorry I'm late."
"You're not sorry."
"I am," she insisted. "I hate to leave you here."
He grunted. "Then why?"
"You know I have school. Let's talk about it later, okay?"
InuYasha shrugged, "Keh. Who needs to talk later?"
They commenced walking toward the village, Kagome enjoying the freshness of the air and the sound of InuYasha's voice. He'd stayed here, he said, to wait for her, even though Sango and Miroku had already left to do some exploring. Shippou was around, but Kagome didn't find that information helpful. She scratched his head playfully, missing him.
"Hey, stop that."
"Stop that," Kagome made fun. InuYasha barked a laugh, then scratched her head back.
"Not so hard," Kagome cried. "You have claws, you know."
"So do you," he retorted.
Kagome delighted to see him smile. She felt the warmth of welcome envelope her as they entered the quiet village and strode to Kaede's hut.
"Is she here?" Kagome whispered as she swept the door aside. She set her backpack down, taking only a few book with her as she strode back outside. InuYasha was eying her inquisitively.
"It's a nice night," she said. "Why stay indoors?"
"Jeez, woman, you took me all the way here for nothing."
"Not for nothing!"
"Keh. Just come on," he said, pulling her but not quite pulling. Leading her. "God Tree?"
She followed him. It was a matter of time before the sky cleared and she could see the stars again. Their light streamed through the trees as they hiked through the forest, and when InuYasha brought her up into the God Tree, the lights poured down like a myriad candles from times even farther down the well.
"I wanted to do homework," Kagome said, indicating her books, "but now I'm just too tired."
InuYasha took them from her, flipping through them. He drew out a crumpled paper from between the pages and examined it as Kagome lay against him, her head pillowed on his chest, her body cradled by his. She had grown used to sleeping like this, though nights away had robbed her of the privilege.
"Is it true?" he asked softly. "One a day keeps the doctor away?"
"Huh?" Kagome was struck by the sudden, odd question. "One a day? Why'd you think of that?"
"It's here on this paper of yours," he shook it. "So? Is it?"
"Well sure," she said vaguely. "One a day keeps you healthy. They taught us that in school. Not just school, actually; Mama used to tell me that all the time when I was little.
InuYasha stared at her. Letting her books fall softly to the ground, he fingered a piece of her hair, relishing. He didn't say anything, just felt, looked. It was the strangest thing Kagome had ever seen in him in all the time they'd been together: the curiosity in his face, as though he were on the very cusp of something great and new, and he were unsure whether he should jump or retreat.
Then he kissed her very gently. He almost closed his eyes, but not quite, as he opened and then closed his lips over hers. They drew apart silently, separately, yet connectedly. Kagome watched him as he avoided her eyes, then lay back again the thick tree trunk as if it were the softest pillow in all of Musashi. And Kagome fell asleep, dreaming dreams that made her wonder what the following days would bring.