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By the time Kagome was woken for school the next day, Inuyasha was already gone off to his work. Memories of his gentle treatment of her last night were still swimming in her mind and she didn't like the feeling it had on her. It made her emotions go on haywire and she wasn't sure what to do. Overall, it just felt like a massive ball of confusion. This only led to frustration and eventually led to Kagome being bitter over the man for the rest of the morning.
"Ready to go?" Sango asked, peaking her head into Kagome's bedroom.
Shaking her head, Kagome nodded. Sango grabbed her bag and was careful to make sure she was beside Kagome while she was heading down the stairs and out to the waiting car. Once there, Kagome's friend helped her into the vehicle, placing their stuff and the crutches in the back.
Kagome thanked her absently, looking into the reflection of herself. The marks she'd inflicted on herself were gone now, but the circles under her eyes were growing. This was ridiculous. She hated all of this. Why couldn't her life have just stayed the same?
A servant handed her a hot breakfast sandwich through the window, but Kagome declined. Her stomach was hungry, but at that moment, she wanted nothing to do with anything from here. Uneasily, the maid took it away and stepped back.
Sango started the car and drove off the property in silence. Kagome noted that security had been upped since their escape, and their car was briefly searched before they were allowed to leave the premises, and would be searched again when they returned. Given the clear, Sango put her ID away and they began their journey to the school grounds.
Kagome stared in the mirror, watching the tall trees pass as they drove on, sighing as her thoughts stumbled over each other in her head. Why couldn't she hate the man like she wanted to? Why did she feel so uneasy right now? What if this whole dancing thing was a terrible idea of getting revenge?
"Are they going to reschedule try-outs for you?"
Kagome stiffened at the question, her head snapping over to her friend. Her mouth stuttered for something to say, but she was at a loss. Sango kept her eyes on the road, her face expressionless behind her sunglasses.
"I followed you yesterday. Your phone has a tracking device in it, if you didn't know."
Kagome pulled the device from her pockets and looked at it, sliding off the back cover to look.
"Don't bother. I'm the one who put it there and you'll never be able to get it out without destroying the phone… that is if you could ever find it." This time, Sango smirked at her.
Kagome frowned, but put the backing back on and slid it into her pocket. So, Sango knew now. Excellent. "Are you going to tell Inuyasha?"
There was long silence.
"No," she finally sighed. "I thought about it all night, but no. I am going to start picking you up though. I'm nearly done with my training, and I think Inuyasha will be much happier if we started to come home together."
Kagome couldn't help but smile, her eyes welling up. Sango was such a good friend to her. What had she ever done to deserve it even? Leaning across the seat she hugged her friend awkwardly, thanking her.
Sango wrapped an arm around her as best she could. "Of course."
Things were looking up for her, and Kagome was no longer feeling so depressed. Sitting back in the seat, her head filled with optimistic hopes and dreams of how quickly this year would be over, and how Inuyasha would be so mad with everything she was going to do. In fact, she'd make him hate her so much, he'd send her home early!
"You're plotting something. And I have a feeling the fact that your dance company is the one performing at the Christmas party has something to do with it."
Kagome sent her friend a sly smile. "I think we both know that it is better you don't know."
Classes were dull, but everyone was interested in why she was suddenly in a crutch. Her story was simply that she'd fallen outside of school the other day and it was no big deal. Of course, she eventually grew tired of repeating the tale and decided to start changing it up a bit. Her latest concoction was that she had fallen from the top step of her shrine, but since her family had been so generous in their prayers this year, she'd only gotten a sprained ankle from it all. The dummies ate it up like candy.
Lunch couldn't come fast enough, and Kagome was thankful to finally have some time away from the books to be with Eri, Yuka, and Ayumi. Ayumi carried her tray for her as they moved through the busy lunchroom.
"I still have no idea what book to pick for English." Kagome sighed, carefully getting herself into the seat of the table. She looked around for Sango, but didn't see her yet.
"Ugh! Mr. Hinamoto is a total drag! He makes everything he touches dull and lifeless!" Yuka said.
Eri took a bite of her grilled cheese. "Couldn't possibly be because you sleep through the whole class."
Ayumi and Kagome smiled, giving each other knowing glances. Yuka constantly fell asleep in her first period classes. Eri, on the other hand, had never fallen asleep to Kagome's knowledge. Ayumi had fallen asleep once, with severe consequences and had never done it again. Kagome tended to doze during history any time of the day.
"Speaking of English," Yuka said, giving Kagome a sly look. "Hojo was ogling you again today."
Kagome could feel her cheeks heat at the mention of her childhood friend. She was well aware of the crush he still had on her and, had things been different, maybe she would have felt the same. "Hojo isn't really my type, Yuka."
"Who is your type then?" Eri chimed in.
"I bet it's Inuyasha! That man is anyone's type!"
Kagome stuck her tongue out at Yuka, then bit into her own sandwich. "Definitely not."
"Why not? He seemed like he really liked you," Ayumi said.
Kagome felt her cheeks turn even redder at that. Inuyasha like me? No way! He just likes me for sex. If only they knew why he was really there… But still, Kagome thought. Memories of the night before flooded her mind and her heart began to race. His gentle caresses, the way he took such care of her… maybe he did.
Kagome snapped out of her thoughts, noticing the lunchroom had gotten considerably quieter.
"Oh my God. Look, it's her." Eri gestured to a girl across the room.
Shiori was a grade lower than Kagome, but nearly the same age. She had missed the enrollment cut-off by a month, and so she had started later. That wasn't why she was well-known. Her skin was a rich, golden color and her hair was so pale it almost appeared blue. Her eyes were the most gorgeous color of purple and she favored a poppy-red shade on her lips. She was a half-bat-demon, bearing oddly-shaped ears that she kept hidden by wearing her hair down. None of this, however, was why she was singled out. It was because the "necklace" she wore was made of leather and had a tag on it.
Shiori was a pet.
Kagome felt her heart clench when their eyes made contact. Shiori looked so sad, so alone, so unsure. It was like looking in a mirror and Kagome felt disgusted to see it. She turned away and wiped her mouth, her appetite gone.
"I thought she dropped out," Eri added. "She should have. I can't even believe they let someone like her back into school. Everyone knows what she does when she goes home.
"Or rather, who she does," Yuka snickered.
Kagome turned around, to see that Shiori had just taken a seat by herself at one of the tables and began eating her lunch quietly. The lunchroom slowly picked up conversation and Kagome was about to turn away when she noticed one of the boys approaching the girl from behind, a milk carton in hand. Kagome knew what was to happen and her whole body screamed at her to warn Shiori, to help her. Her fist clenched on her crutch and she moved to push herself up.
Then she sat back down, taking her hand off of her crutches.
The boy rounded the table, tossing the milk right into the girls face. The lunchroom burst into laughter as the milk stained Shiori's uniform.
"Got something on your chest there, slut!" Another boy hollered from their table, and the students laughed harder.
Shiori stood, wiping herself off as much as she could while teachers came in to help. Though she looked like she was going to cry, the girl kept it together, assuring the staff that she was fine. Security officers, who would inevitably take Shiori away to the office and send her home, brought more napkins to the table. One of them was Sango, who made a point of giving Kagome a look of disappointment while helping to dry her off.
Kagome just turned away.
When she got home, Kagome went straight to her bed and laid down, still upset by the scene that had been caused at lunch. Seeing her classmate receive such humiliation was a scary mirror of her own worst fears. What would she do should her secret be let out? She couldn't bear the thought of it. It was a bitter taste that was left in her mouth.
Something lodged in her throat as she thought about that poor girl, covered in milk and fighting back tears. She looked lost and worn out just like Kagome felt. What was her Master like? Was he kind like Inuyasha, or was her cruel like that demon who had laid his hands on her? Was he near her age, like Kagome's Master? Or was he older and disgusting?
Was she happy? That was the big question. Shiori didn't look it, but maybe it was because she knew she was no longer accepted where she'd always belonged before. Her world was ripped out from under her and she knew it would never be the same.
Kagome's world would never be the same.
Her head throbbed and she gently laid a hand over her eyes, willing it to stop. She couldn't think about this right now. She would deal with it when it came, though it was hopefully never.
Kagome's pocket vibrated and she lazily moved to remove the cell from inside. Pulling it out, she looked to the ID before quickly answering.
"Mom?" It was suddenly hard to breathe. She'd been avoiding this call for this reason.
"Kagome, how are you doing? You haven't called."
Kagome felt all her emotions suddenly flood into her, consuming her with despair. "I'm sorry," she choked on the lump in her throat, trying to hold back the tears. "I'm doing okay, how are you guys?"
"We're doing fine. Souta has his first game this Saturday and he wants you to be there."
Inuyasha won't let me go. I doubt he'll ever let me see my family again until the year is up, she thought gloomily. "I'll try, Mom. I would love to see him play again," she tried to hold it back, though hot tears were already sliding down her cheeks and her nose was stuffing up. "H-hows Grandpa?"
"Just fine, sweetie. He's keeping us all in line… though he misses you a lot."
A pain struck her chest and she choked on a sob. "I miss you all so much."
"Kagome, please don't cry. Is it so horrible over there?"
Knowing her mother knew she was upset, only made her tears fall faster. "No, I just miss you guys," she sobbed, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand.
"I know, but it will be okay. I promise. You'll come see Souta's game on Saturday and we will all get to see each other!"
No I won't. "Yeah, that will be great."
After that, her mother continued to talk to her about all the comings and goings of the family. Souta had been keeping up his grades, though he had gotten in trouble for passing notes in class and had received a detention. He was helping around the house and asked about his sister often. He'd apparently been spending more time in her room than normal, first out of rebellion, but now her mother suspected it was because he felt lonely.
Buyo ate some kind of artifact that Grandpa has acquired recently and had become so ill they had to make a trip to the vets. After all the tests and prescriptions, their bill had been overwhelming. But they should be paying it off soon. Kagome remembered that she had some money in her accounts and offered to help her mother out. After much reluctance she gave Kagome the account number and Kagome easily transferred money from the accounts Inuyasha had set up for her. Sango had helped her log into her account the first time soon after she'd arrived.
After transferring the money her mother needed-which happened to be all $400-Kagome asked about Grandpa. He was doing well, apparently. He kept himself busy by bossing around all the workmen on the shrine. He'd been upset by his cat's illness, but now that all was well, he was in good spirits. However, her mother admitted that he seemed more melancholy at night and especially at dinner.
"And how are you doing, Mommy?" Kagome asked, noticing she'd left herself out.
"Fine. I miss having you around, but I know you will be back home before I know it. The shrine is getting its repairs done and everything is looking so wonderful!"
Kagome rolled to her side, rubbing her eyes. "Yeah? I will have to see it soon." Though I probably won't.
"Yes! It should be done just in time for you to visit for Christmas!"
Thoughts of the tree all lit up and decorated with ornaments that were filled with memories wrenched another sob from her. "I can't wait."
"Will you be coming home for Halloween as well?"
"I don't know," she sniffled. "But probably not." She never thought she'd miss taking her brother out trick-or-treating so much as she did right now.
"Well, I'm sure you will. I need to go get dinner ready though. I will talk to you soon, alright honey?"
Kagome choked. "Yeah….I miss you Mom."
"Oh sweetie, I miss you too. Take care okay? And get good grades?"
"I will. I love you, Mommy." Her voice was cracking and she knew she sounded pathetic.
"I love you too. Bye Kagome."
She pulled the phone away, watching the screen until it disconnected. When the call disappeared, Kagome felt the connection between her and her family fade away into nothingness. They were still in the same city, but they felt like they were a million miles away and out of her reach at that moment. She missed feeling her mother holding her tight and telling her it would be okay. She missed her little brother nagging her to play with him. She missed her Grandpa telling her boring stories about the shrine. Now, she recalled most of these details as vivid clips in her mind about things she couldn't have and it made her heart break.
Curling up into a ball, she cried into the fluffy comforter of her cold bed until she could no longer summon tears and only the pain of her homesickness remained.
Kagome hadn't realized she'd fallen asleep until a hand, softly stroking her head, roused her. For several minutes she teetered back and fourth between waking up and falling back to sleep. She was warm, comfortable, and the soothing motion on her head relaxed her. When she shifted a soft rumble reverberated in her ears, the scale tipped towards waking.
When she opened her eyes, she realized it was Inuyasha she was laying on. Shirtless. His bare skin felt warm against her own, and very soft. His claws continued to massage her scalp tenderly, but the contraction of his muscles told her he noticed she was awake now.
"How are you feeling Precious?" He asked, his hand moving to her back, rubbing it gently.
"Like shit," she replied. It was the truth. Her eyes were puffy and felt huge, her cheeks felt stiff from the salt in her tears, and her nose was so stuffed she'd had to keep her mouth open. To her horror, she realized she'd drooled on his chest. Pretending to rub her eyes, she subtly wiped it up, hoping her wouldn't notice.
If he did, he never let on…besides, perhaps, a soft chuckle. "You missed dinner."
She shrugged, still refusing to look at him, yet keeping her cheek against his chest. She was too exhausted to move. And he probably wouldn't let her anyways. "I'm not very hungry."
His abs tightened again and she felt him place a soft kiss to her crown. "If you do, your dinner is in the fridge. You can eat it whenever you'd like."
"Thank you." She genuinely wasn't hungry, but she appreciated the fact that he cared enough to give her the option of eating.
His arm tightened around her, pulling her closer to his body. "What has you so bothered tonight pet?"
Kagome struggled to answer, though nothing really came out. The only thing she was aware of at the moment was how his hip was pressed so intimately against her. Her body was reacting to how close he was, despite how hard she tried to keep her mind away from that subject entirely. Somehow he'd gotten her into a tank top and panties while she was asleep. That was a frightening thought. She'd never slept that deeply in her life. Why now?
Her attention was brought back to him, when his chest expanded with a sigh. "I spoke with your mother tonight."
Kagome thought she felt her heart skip a beat and she tried not to let her body stiffen. She still didn't look at him. She kept her eyes on the vanity mirror across the room. She could make out the both of them in it. They looked like two lovers who had just finished sharing intimacy. How distorted reality could look in mirrors, she'd never noticed before.
"She needed the money. Buyo got-"
"Sick, yes she told me. When things like that happen, I would prefer it if you came to me so I could take care of it. I've already reimbursed both you and your mother for the vet bills."
Kagome did look at him then, with a frown. That was something she hadn't expected. She sat up, leaning one elbow into the mattress. "That wasn't in our contract, Inuyasha."
He gave her a soft smile and brushed some of her hair behind her ear. "You're my pet. I can do what I want."
She jerked away from his touch then, rolling away from him. The moment the warmth was gone, her body protested, aching to have it back. She didn't give in. Instead, she sat up on the other side of the bed, feet dangling off the side. She kept her back to him, gripping the mattress to keep herself from crawling back into his arms. Where she felt safe.
He sighed again, this time it was a little more irritated. "Is this about school, then? Sango told me what happened today."
Kagome wanted to turn around, chuck a pillow at his dumb head, and scream that, no, it wasn't about that. But she wasn't so sure it wasn't. She wasn't sure why she was suddenly so angry with him and with herself. All she knew is that she was pissed and she was seriously fighting the urge to punch him, or curse at him, or just start crying again. Damnit, she felt so weak right now! Was there no end to him humiliating her? He probably knew the fucking vet and had gotten him to raise the price through the roof just so he could look like a goddamn knight-in-shiny-fucking-armor.
"It might be best if we transfer you to a different-"
"No!" Apparently she was going to yell now. "You're not taking me away from my friends." And cry. Wonderful.
His arms were around her again, pulling her gently back into bed. She'd resisted for a while, but eventually his will won out—like it always did—and she was back into his arms once again. "It's alright, Pet," he said, stroking her head again. "You can stay in school for now."
The for now stuck out in her brain, and though she could feel rebellion at the idea that she would be pulled from school quietly, she couldn't keep her eyes from closing. Her already dwindling energy was quickly drained with the fresh tears, and she fell asleep in his arms, cursing the fact that her body seemed to fit so perfectly to his.
Friday, Kagome was forced to sit out the auditions, though her ankle was healed enough now that she was able to walk on it fairly well. It was still bruised and ugly, but at least she was no longer suffering under the wretched crutches that Inuyasha had forced her to use.
Currently performing was a young woman, who recently joined. She stood a little shorter than Kagome, with long black hair she often had tied on one side of her head. She was the same age as Kagome, too, but dressed to impress every day. Kagome often heard slurs about the girl's obvious wealth behind her back, but never participated in the gossip. The girl was obviously inexperienced, but she had a lot of potential. When her number ended, Kouga gave her the appropriate praise, but Kagome knew he didn't see her as good enough to have a solo in the show.
The next was the beautiful redhead, Ayame. She always wore a fresh flower in her hair and was one of the most skilled dancers in the entire place. Kagome often envied her ability to pull off complicated moves with such ease and grace, but was often frightened by her bi-polar personality. She was a little older than Kagome, and had all the characteristics of a Prima Donna in the making.
Her act was impressive, and that was putting it mildly. She'd chosen a complicated, yet very sensual piece from a modern instrumental group. The way she folded her body and made perfect turns was amazing, but left a bitter taste in Kagome's mouth. It was always easy to hate the mean people with no talent in your classes, but it was much harder to admit they had a gift. Kagome considered herself talented at dance, but she knew she had many more years to improve. Ayame, seemed to believe she was close to knowing everything about the subject, and watching her now, it was hard to disagree.
At the end, the appropriate praise was given once again, and Kagome knew she was going to be given one of the solo spots in the show.
The company that Kouga worked for, had two other dance divisions attached to it, so it would not only be them, but a few other small groups of dancers in this show they were putting on for her "Master". Each division had three open spots for the performance and she was already certain that there were at least six dances Kagome had seen tonight that were capable of taking them spots.
After a few more acts, one of which was another competitor of Kagome's, Kouga announced the end and shut off the camera that had been filming. Kouga often did this so he could review and offer better criticism later.
"All of you have done well," he assured them. "I can already tell it will be a tough time deciding who should fill the spots. But I will announce my final decisions next week, when our last audition will be able to give us her performance."
All eyes suddenly were on Kagome and she shifted uncomfortably. Not all of them looked like a good expression, especially from the temperamental redhead.
"Alright, you're all dismissed for the rest of the day and I will see you Monday for our next practice."
Everyone thanked Kouga and began to shuffle to the back to collect their stuff to go. Kagome hoisted herself off the seat with the help of Kouga, catching some of the glares sent her way. She already felt guilty for delaying all of this, but she couldn't think of all that now.
"Thank you," she smiled at Kouga, grateful for the help to stand. Under her fingers, his well-defined muscles flexed and Kagome couldn't help the butterflies that flooded her stomach. It was hard not to be attracted to such masculinity.
He smiled and pat her shoulder. "Of course. Thank you for coming here to watch the auditions."
"Of course! I have many talented classmates and I love to watch them show off their skills!"
Kouga chuckled and shook his head. Glancing back at the other dancers, he leaned closer to Kagome.
"Listen," his voice dropped to a whisper. Kagome's stomach felt like it his the floor at the sudden seriousness in his tone. "If there's something going on…in your personal life…"
Kagome swallowed the lump in her throat and fidgeted.
"Something you need help with… you know I'd be willing to help." His piercing blue eyes seemed to beg her to tell him the truth.
She felt the truth of everything rush into her mouth and threaten to spill out. Yet when her mouth opened, she found she couldn't tell him. Something was stopping her from begging him to save her, and she closed her mouth, giving him a grin and waving her hand. "I'm fine, I swear. I've just been so busy with school, family, and all this. You know how it goes." She hoped she was being convincing.
He seemed somewhat reassured and relaxed. "You know you can tell me if you need anything, right?"
Kagome swallowed the lump in her throat. "Yes, thank you, Kouga." Before another word could be said, she collected her stuff and left, quickly making her way to Sango's car.
Why didn't I tell him? She chastised herself. Kouga would at least try and help me! And you know he would be a match in strength for Inuyasha! So why couldn't you tell him? The questions were on constant repeat with no answers.