Chapter 1 – A World Away
A girl with midnight black hair and sparkling, ocean blue eyes sat at a desk in a classroom, surrounded by other students. While it appeared she was listening intently to the teacher speaking at the front of the class, in reality Kagome's thoughts were 500 years in the past on a half-demon who just never seemed to get it.
'I wish he would just open his eyes! I stop her from killing him, and he gets mad at me! I just don't understand.'
The distracted girl thought back to three days ago, when she awoke to find Kaede's hut missing one important member.
'I wonder where he went.'Deciding that she wouldn't be able to go back to sleep without knowing Inuyasha was safe, Kagome got up to go look for him. The miko carefully extracted herself from her sleeping bag and the kit snoring softly beside her, grabbed her bow and quiver, and set out.
Kagome had been walking for only a few minutes when she caught sight of a strange glimmer through the trees. While she gazed at it, entranced, she felt a sharp pain tugging in her chest; a fairly normal occurrence since Kikyo was brought to life. Part of her soul had been trapped in Kikyo's body of clay, bones, and graveyard soil, and Kagome had been learning to live with that pain ever since. Missing a piece of her soul was excruciating, especially when the missing bit was nearby. The pieces wanted to come together so badly that it felt as if she would be torn apart.
It had taken a while, but through meditation with Miroku, she learned to push the pain out of the forefront of her mind into the background noise, thus making it bearable. Miroku was the only one in their group that knew of her suffering. When he first met the strange girl, he immediately sensed the missing piece and the agony she was going through. Kagome made him promise not to tell anyone, especially Inuyasha. While the monk agreed, he questioned the wisdom of it, but of course, he also understood. She hid her pain to protect Inuyasha, trying to shield him from more pain. She suffered so that he didn't have to.
The tugging continued, and immediately Kagome knew that Kikyo was in the direction of the strange glow. Suddenly, something clicked in her mind, and she took off running. Kagome was sure Kikyo was once again trying to drag Inuyasha to hell with her. Without slowing, she pulled an arrow from her quiver and notched it in her bow. Once she was close enough, she released it, the arrow glowing brightly with her powers, and it landed in the ground at the feet of the embracing couple.
Kikyo's eyes flashed with anger at her reincarnation for her constant interference. Inuyasha seemed to suddenly wake from his stupor, not realizing what had been happening to him before Kagome arrived. Upon spotting her, he immediately began to yell and berate her for leaving the safety and protection of Kaede's hut. He thought she was useless, defenseless, and powerless. Never once did it dawn on him that she had just saved his life.
Their fight ended in the usual way. Kagome went home until either she calmed down or Inuyasha came to collect her. While gathering her things, she told the others she would be back in three days time by sunset.
'Does he want to die? If he dies now, how will we defeat Naraku? I know we need him. I need him. Even if he can never see me as anything but a poor copy of her, I will always see him for who he is: my best friend, my first love, my fiercest protector, and the first one I laid eyes on when I was pulled through the well.'
The girl turned her head to gaze out the classroom window, remembering a day that was impossible to forget.
As she wandered the area, she became increasingly afraid. She had no idea where she was and nothing looked familiar.
'I must have hit my head or something,' a fifteen year-old Kagome thought to herself. She walked on, absentmindedly feeling her scalp with her hand for blood, bumps, cuts, or anything confirming a head injury that created delusions, because she was certain what she was experiencing wasn't real. She glanced towards the sky and noticed the top of a tall and very familiar tree in the distance.
"The God Tree!" she yelled happily to herself. "I can always find my way home from there!" The girl increased her pace until she was almost running. When she reached the clearing where the God Tree stood proud and tall, she stopped suddenly. It wasn't at all as she remembered it. Instead of seeing the paper talismans that her grandfather hung around the trunk, she saw a strange boy with white hair, dressed all in red, with an arrow stuck through his chest.
Kagome didn't realize she had moved until she was standing directly in front of the odd sight. It was as if she was drawn in, pulled by some unknown force. As she looked up at him, she noticed an oddity that she had to touch to believe. She climbed up along the roots of the tree and reached out her hands to softly touch what appeared to be white, furry, dog-ears perched on top of the boy's head. She rubbed his ears while examining his face. 'He looks like he's asleep. I must be imagining things. Maybe I'm dreaming. That must be it.'
Suddenly, the girl heard someone shout from behind her, demanding to know what kind of creature she was and what business she had in Inuyasha's forest. From there her adventure began in earnest. She ended up waking that boy who looked so peacefully asleep and releasing him from the spelled arrow that bound him to the tree. The two of them had been together ever since.
With a quick glance at the clock, which validated how slowly time seemed to be passing, she continued her musing.
'He means so much to me. I know he'll never love me. I get that now, but he will always be my friend. I just can't let her kill him, not when he has never really had a chance to live or enjoy life. Things have always been so hard for him. Humans hate his demon blood. Demons hate his human blood, and he lost both of his parents when he was still just a child.'
A small tear escaped her eye as she imagined Inuyasha as a little boy, so alone and afraid with nowhere to turn. She quickly wiped it away, glancing around to make sure no one saw. It went by unnoticed, as everyone was paying attention to the teacher, unlike Kagome, who needed to more than anyone due to her extended absences. When she was sure no more tears would fall she continued on with her thoughts.
'When he found Kikyo, it's no wonder he grabbed hold of her so tight and still can't let go. She was the first person who didn't hate him, but even she despised his demon blood. She wanted to change him, and he was so desperate he would have done it, too, just to be with someone.'
Kagome was still furious that Kikyo had suggested Inuyasha become human in hopes that the jewel would disappear. After much thought, and a few very interesting dreams, Kagome had come to the conclusion that no wish would make the jewel disappear, because no wish could be completely unselfish. She decided that once it was completed, she would have to keep it and find some way to protect it. If Inuyasha had wished to become human it would have backfired. Due to Kikyo's selfish desire to be free of the responsibility of the jewel and Inuyasha's desperate need to not be alone, the wish would have been impure.
'If only he could see that he has something better now! I would never change him and neither would our friends. We all think he's perfect just the way he is, even if he is a little rough around the edges. He's family.'
She pictured their group. They were an odd combination, to be sure, but it worked. When they started out, it was just Kagome and Inuyasha, but they ended up picking up new friends along the way, starting with Shippo, an orphaned kitsune who Kagome loved and now raised as if he were her own. Then, a lecherous monk named Miroku joined them. He had a curse in his right hand that was given to his grandfather by Naraku and had been passed down through generations of his family. His normal hand seemed to carry an invisible curse as well, one of lacking self-control when attractive, female rear ends were present. Naraku had tricked Sango, a demon slayer, into attacking Inuyasha, and afterwards, they persuaded her to join their group to fight against him. She brought with her Kirara, a fire neko, and Sango's constant companion and fighting partner.
Now that she thought about it, Shippo tricked her in order to steal her jewel shards, and Miroku kidnapped her for them. Even Inuyasha had tried to kill her when he was first released from the God Tree over the jewel and mistaking her for its keeper. Her Feudal family came together in interesting ways, but she wouldn't change any of them for the world. She was happy to be able to help Inuyasha be accepted by others.
'Plus, he has my family, too. Mama adores him, especially his ears. Souta worships him like an idol, and even Gramps has accepted him, obviously, since he no longer tries to purify him. It's as if he can't see what's right under his nose, even with his 'superior' eyesight. He doesn't need to look anywhere else for friendship and family. Especially not his past.
'Kikyo could never love him like we do. She could never accept him for who he is. She has no right to drag him to hell with her, and he doesn't owe her anything. Naraku was the one who deceived them, not Inuyasha! If they had truly trusted each other then they would never have been fooled.
'If Naraku tried that on us he would fail; I know he would. Inuyasha and I trust each other more than he and Kikyo ever did. I guess it does no good to get all worked up over it, though. Hopefully, he'll have calmed down by the time I get back. I think I'll return right after school instead of waiting until after dinner. It might be fun to surprise him since he is always complaining about how I'm late. It'll show him, make him eat his words.'
Kagome let out a loud sigh, which drew the attention of those sitting around her. She was spared the coming inquisition when the bell rang, signaling the end of the school day. Relieved, she got up, gathered her things, and left the classroom. She had almost made it to the doors leading out of the school when she heard the voices of her friends.
"Kagome! Kagome, wait up!" Yuka called after her.
"Yeah, Kagome wait for us!" Eri added. Kagome let out another heavy sigh as she stopped and turned to face them.
"What's the big hurry? We haven't seen you in weeks, and we haven't had the chance to talk to you in the two days you've been back! How have you been? Are you feeling better?" Ayumi asked, jogging up to meet her.
Kagome let out yet another sigh. "Yeah, guys, I'm fine. I just want to get home is all." Kagome thought, 'How am I going to get out of here?' when it hit her. She had been out sick, so why not go with it? "I'm just really, really tired," she stressed. "I think I need to get home and take a nap."
"Oh, okay," Eri replied, sounding quite dejected. "We just wanted to invite you to a slumber party this weekend."
"Yeah, we thought it would be fun to catch up and have a girl's night." Yuka looked at her with pitiful puppy eyes, and Kagome suddenly felt guilty. These were her friends, after all, and here she was avoiding them, lying to them. Her life was too complicated!
"I'm sorry, guys. That sounds like tons of fun but I really do need to rest. I think I may have overdone it this week. Maybe next time, okay?" A collective sigh of disappointment was heard before the three girls nodded and sullenly agreed. Kagome gave them a small smile and continued her way out of school.
'I need to talk to Inuyasha about spending a bit more time at home. I'm barely passing math and science. History is a joke! Really, you would think living in the Feudal Era would help me pass a class based solely on the Feudal Era, but no! The textbook is nothing like what life's really like in the past. If they only knew.'
Kagome's thoughts were suddenly interrupted when she bumped into someone and stumbled, nearly falling to the ground. Before she knew it, that someone had a hold of her hands in a very Kouga-like fashion. She looked up to find absolutely the last person she wanted to see on her way home. She was in a hurry, damn it!
Hojo merely smiled at her as he held her hands. "Kagome! It is so nice to bump into you like this!" Kagome gave a half-hearted smile at his weak attempt at humor. "How have you been? Your grandfather said your shingles were very painful. Should you be up and walking about?" Kagome watched as a light blush spread across his cheeks before he quickly released her hands.
Kagome sighed heavily. "Yes, Hojo, I'm alright. I'm just tired. I…"
Hojo cut her off mid-sentence. "Oh dear, well then you should be at home in bed. Here, let me carry that for you." Before she could protest, Hojo had her book bag over his shoulder and was carefully guiding her along the sidewalk as if she might accidently walk right into traffic without his help.
"Really, Hojo, I'm fine! I can carry my own bag."
"Nonsense. Why should you carry it if I am here to do it for you? By the way, Kagome…" he paused, rubbing the back of his head with his hand sheepishly. "I was thinking… Maybe you would… I mean, that is, if you're feeling better… maybe you would… um… join me for a movie, maybe this weekend?" He paused to study her expression, trying to gauge her reaction. "I would understand, of course, if you don't feel well. Maybe a movie is too much."
"Hojo, I'm sorry, but I can't this weekend. I'm feeling awfully tired, and I have so much work to catch up on. It was sweet of you to ask, though." By then they had reached the foot of the stairs leading up to the shrine, and Hojo had sat her bag down on the sidewalk next to their feet. Kagome decided to cut her losses and bolt. She grabbed the strap on her bag and slung it over her shoulder before starting up the steps. As an afterthought she called back to the surprised teen watching her escape. "I have to be going now! See you some other time! Bye, Hojo!"
She continued her way up the stairs while Hojo looked on. "Hmm. She really shouldn't be running like that in her condition," he muttered to himself before he turned and walked away.
Once Kagome made it into the house she dropped her bag and stood bent over, her hands resting on her knees as she tried to catch her breath. There were altogether too many stairs!