Disclaimer: I do not own InuYasha or any of its characters, trademarks, or copyrights. All rights are reserved by Rumiko Takahashi and her affiliates. I do, however, own the non-existent and too-sappy soap opera "Heart Wounds" and the characters Mayasu and Tsukino.


Kagome sat on the edge of the living room couch, eyes glued to the television where a striking young man stood before a pretty young schoolgirl as the sun set behind them.

"Mayasu…" the girl began, the camera zooming in for a close-up of her tearful eyes, "Mayasu, why can't you just be sincere with me?!" She turned on heel, her hair whipping around her shining face as she began to dash away, but Mayasu recovered from his surprise just in time. He leapt forward and threw his arms around her, holding her tight.

"I'm…sorry, Tsukino," he began, his brow lowering as he searched the inner chambers of his heart. "I was a fool for treating you so distantly." Tsukino relaxed, closing her eyes, as he held her to himself.

"Mayasu, you don't have to - "

"No," he cut her off with a light squeeze. "No, I do have to, Tsukino. I owe you an explanation. I was confused as to how I felt. I didn't understand before and I didn't want to commit to something I wasn't completely certain of. So, I tried to stay away until I understood, until I could sort everything out - but I waited too long. I should have just been straightforward." Tsukino turned and pressed herself against his chest.

"Mayasu!" she said, new tears streaming down her face. "I'm sorry! If you're unsure, then take time to see how you feel! I…I can wait for you to understand."

Kagome watched with a fluttering heart, sighing at the couple's confessions. Love was so…warm.

"But, Tsukino…" the man began, pulling her away from him to look into her eyes. He smiled. "I do understand now." The girl watched him expectantly and, before long, he lowered his face slowly to hers. Then, just before he kissed her, he said, "I know now…I love you, Tsukino." The girl blushed lightly as she whispered,

"I love you, too, Mayasu…" Kagome sighed, putting her face into the palms of her hands to contain herself as the couple kissed at last.

"Yo." Inuyasha appeared in the doorway beside the television, making Kagome shriek and grab the remote.

"What are you doing here, Inuyasha?!" she demanded to know as she pounded the power button for all she was worth. The screen blinked off just as it was reading Heart Wounds, To be continued… She was blushing like mad.

"What do you mean, what am I here for?! I came to get you, you were taking so long coming back!" he shouted defiantly, crossing his arms and looking up at the ceiling.

"I still have an exam. I told you I was coming back tomorrow," she grumbled testily, placing the remote on top of the television. She turned and adjusted a cushion on the couch before walking towards the staircase. Speaking of her exam, she ought to start studying again.

"Why do you have to go to school all the time, anyway? We'd have probably already killed Naraku and got the jewel if we added all the time you spent here to shard hunting." Kagome climbed the stairs and started down the hallway to her bedroom, trying to hold her patience.

"I still have a life in my own era, you know. It's not like I can just stick an arrow in somebody here and get a good job," she sighed, looking over her shoulder. "Battling doesn't solve anything in this time period. You have to be smart to win." She opened her door and went into her room, Inuyasha following close behind.


She sat down and cracked open her biology book. She skimmed the first couple of pages in the chapter before groaning and smacking a hand to her forehead. 'I'm dead!'

"What?" Inuyasha asked from just behind her.

"I'm totally lost! I've been gone from school too long again!" Inuyasha smirked and grabbed her arm, dragging her toward the door.

"Good! Since you're gonna tank anyway, we can just head back through the well and start looking for the jewel shards!" Kagome jerked out of the hanyou's grip and whirled on him like a typhoon.

"I've already told you, school's important in this era! I have to do my best or else I won't get anywhere!" Inuyasha turned sharply.

"You're just wasting time that could be spent looking for Naraku!" Kagome scowled and balled up her fists. Inuyasha detected his mistake and hastily tried to explain, "All I'm saying is if you're going to stay and take the exam, at least do well on it!"

She swelled with rage. Strike two.

"Uh! What I mean is you shouldn't just groan and whine about not understanding anything! I mean, that's not making you any smarter, right?" Kagome crossed her arms and pursed her lips in that way she always did when she got so angry that she couldn't express it properly. It was like she imploded or something…and Inuyasha always knew what came after that. He inched towards the door, making a last-ditch effort to appease her. "Er…not to say that you don't know anything! It's just that you can't expect to pass if you get lazy after only a few seconds of trying!" Kagome had been watching him creep towards the door and Inuyasha knew it was all over once her eye twitched at the word 'lazy.'

"Inuyasha…" The poor half-demon turned tail as he prepared to leap out the bedroom door.

"Brains isn't everything!" Strike three.

"Sit, boy."


"With you here, I will flunk! Grr!" Inuyasha whimpered dazedly under his breath about the cruelty of women as Kagome stepped over his immobile form in front of the open doorway. "Souta! Come and play with Inuyasha, would ya?"

"Sure, Sis!" Kagome's kid brother called up the stairwell, his footsteps thumping irregularly as he took the steps two at a time again. Inuyasha struggled to his feet, dusting himself off with a put-out look on his face.

"Don't say that like I'm a little kid…"

Then don't act like a little kid, she thought, sighing as she half-smiled. Souta led Inuyasha out of the room, lured with talks of ramen in the kitchen. Kagome turned and looked back at the open biology book on her desk with a sinking feeling. What was Inuyasha going on about anyway? All that stuff about her just complaining and being lazy instead of trying! And then he had the nerves to imply that she didn't have any brains?! I mean, that's not making you any smarter, right? She growled ill-spiritedly, her shoulders slumping. She wasn't lazy! She was doing the best that she could under the circumstances.

"Kagome!" her mother's voice called from down the stairs. She poked her head out of her door, leaning against the frame.


"Houjo's here to see you!" Kagome sighed. She supposed that one more interruption wouldn't affect her grade anymore than her frequent time-traveling habit already had. She came out of her room, pulling the door shut, and went to answer the front door. As a rule, visitors usually weren't allowed entrance into the Higurashi home when dog-eared youkai were sitting on the couch. She opened the door with the smile she forced with Kouga.

"Hey, Houjo! What brings you by?" Houjo lifted up a notebook he'd been holding in his hand. Inuyasha started to creep off of the couch to see who was there and Kagome slipped outside, closing the door behind her. "Eh, sorry, we're trying to keep Buyo inside today. Hasn't been feeling well," she said by way of explanation. Houjo looked concerned and Kagome suddenly felt guilty.

"First you come down with typhoid fever and now even your cat's sick? There really must be something in your water. Try to drink juices high in vitamin C, okay?" She nodded, forcing another smile.

"Mm-hm. I'll try that." Houjo smiled brightly.

"I'm glad to hear it." A slight silence passed before he realized what he'd initially came for. "Oh! And you left this at school yesterday but I couldn't catch up with you before you left." He held it out to her and she took it gratefully.

"Thanks. It'd be even harder to study without my notes," she said, trying to hide her unease. Houjo, sharp as ever, caught it regardless.

"You're having trouble studying for Ms. Takayama's exam?" He was worried about her again. She tried to smile good-naturedly.

"Well, just a little. I'll just have to study extra-hard, is all." Houjo looked at her skeptically. Whoa. That was a new look.

"It'd be hard to study straight from the book if you don't have any notes to help explain it." Kagome put a hand up cautiously, trying to signal that it was fine, but Houjo continued. "Why don't I lend you my notes? I could even help tutor you if you like." Kagome guessed that it wouldn't hurt to borrow his notes. Unfortunately, though, she was going to have to refuse tutoring. Though it would be nice to have someone around that she could ask questions, what would happen when Inuyasha's dog-ears were spotted?

"Thanks. Your notes will really make things a lot easier. But, about the tutoring…"

"Oh! I left my notes back at the house with my school things. I'll come right back, okay?" And then Houjo dashed off at the speed of light. Kagome watched him, thinking of how she wouldn't be the least surprised to see an officer get him for breaking the speed limit. He was always so nice to her.

Kagome turned and opened the door, knocking an eavesdropping Inuyasha toppling to the floor in the process. She growled.

"Inuyasha, can't I get even a moment's privacy in my own home without you - eh?" As she shut the door, she saw that Souta, her mom, and even the cat was sprawled on the floor next to Inuyasha. "Oh boy…" she sighed, picking up Buyo.

"So that Houjo guy's going to help you study for that exam?" asked Inuyasha, casually putting his hands behind his head. Kagome glanced to him as Buyo leapt from her arms and onto one of his cat toys.

"Mm. I'm borrowing his notes." Kagome went over to the couch and sat down, her family following. Inuyasha leaned against an alcove near the doorway as though determined to answer the next visitor's knock. Over my dead body.

"Kagome, dear," her mother began, drawing her attention away from the sullen Inuyasha. "Why not accept his offer to tutor you? You've missed more school than usual; I'm worried you might need a little extra help." Kagome sighed.

"Yeah, I would, but we have a little problem at the moment." Kagome glanced toward Inuyasha and Souta caught it.

"Why not just use this again?" Her little brother took the baseball cap he was wearing off his head.

"Oh yeah! I forgot all about that!" She snatched it from Souta, ruffling his hair affectionately, before striding over to Inuyasha and putting the cap over his ears. He adjusted it a bit before leaning back against the doorframe again. "Perfect, now I'll definitely ace the test!"

A knock came at the door again and Inuyasha beat her to the punch. He really had been intent on answering the door himself! Kagome put a hand to her forehead. He was unbelievable!

"Uh…who're you?" came Houjo's confused voice the moment he saw Inuyasha.

"Just a friend of Kagome's," he answered, walking away from the door without inviting him in. Geez! She knew that the Sengoku era wasn't the most civilized time period to be raised in, but Inuyasha had to know better than to just leave visitors standing on your doorstep. Or did he really not know after all? Kagome reached for the door, giving Inuyasha an appraising once-over as he passed by her. He seemed pretty collected about it…but who knew what that meant with Inuyasha? She smiled brightly as she appeared in the doorway.

"Sorry about that. Inuyasha's a bit more…casual than most people. C'mon in! I really appreciate your help." Kagome side-stepped out of the way to let Houjo pass. He was still all smiles, despite being treated rudely by her friend. That was Houjo, all right.

"It's okay, really. I know a few people who're laid back like that, so it doesn't bother me." Kagome smiled, knowing he was totally oblivious to the idea that maybe Inuyasha really had only been being impolite. Houjo wasn't the type of guy to question somebody else's intentions toward him. It was a nice trait, but one that Kagome could see someone getting annoyed with.

"Well, I guess we can study at the kitchen table. Is that okay, Mom?"

"Dinner's going to be started soon, dear. Why not just study in your room?" Kagome gave her mom a worried look. "Of course, the door will stay open - but it will be easier to not have to carry your books from upstairs all the way to the living room." Kagome started to explain that she only had to carry down her biology book when Inuyasha plopped down on the floor and grabbed Buyo's tail, making him yowl. Her mom gave her a "now do you get it?" look. Kagome sighed.

"She's right, Houjo. There'll be a lot less distractions if we just study in my room. You don't mind, do you?"

"No. Not if you aren't uncomfortable," he said quietly, a little less certainty in his voice than Kagome found to her liking. She knew that Houjo liked her; that's why she usually didn't prolong conversations with him or ask him for favors. She didn't want to lead him on, but she really needed help with her biology exam. Takayama Sensei was known for her killer tests. She smiled that too-bright smile that she employed with every visit she received from Kouga before she turned and started up the stairs. It wasn't as though she didn't like Houjo, really - he was great for a normal girl who could at least be in the same era as him on Saturday nights - but she didn't really know him well enough to have serious feelings for him. Maybe if she had a regular life things would be different, but…well, she didn't now, did she?

She opened the door wide and walked over to her desk, sitting down. Her biology book was still opened to the chapter she eventually had to sit Inuyasha over and, as she gave it another quick skim, the old frustration churned her gut once again. This was going to be mind-wrenching!!!

"Heh, I warn you: you have your work cut out for you with me." Houjo smiled and knelt down next to her, opening his notes and opening hers as well. He glanced at her notebook and an expression of surprise overcame his features.

"No kidding. You really didn't have any notes, did you?" Kagome sighed deeply, reaching for Houjo's notes.

"I warned you, didn't I?" She began reading Houjo's neat handwriting with growing confidence. He explained it so clearly here! She barely saw the need for Houjo's additional tutoring. She turned the page and found a surprise.

"I thought I'd be a little creative when I asked you, so…" Houjo laughed as he nervously scratched the back of his head. Kagome looked down at the two tickets to "Swan Lake on Ice" with an almost painful sense of guilt. She should never have asked him to help her study. "I thought, since Swan Lake is tomorrow and you haven't been out of the house in a while, that we could go in celebration of your good health." Kagome picked up the tickets and held them in her hands, looking at Houjo with what she hoped was a kind prelude to a refusal. He took hold of her hand with the tickets and held it gently. "It would be a nice treat for you after working so hard to pass your exam." Yeah, it would, except that a particularly stubborn dog hanyou is hell-bent on dragging me down a well the evening before. She sighed.

"I'd really like to, but Inuyasha and I have something planned…" She hoped that maybe he would give up right then and there…but Houjo could be just as stubborn as Inuyasha at times, though in a much more pleasant tone. He leaned in and looked her directly in the eyes.

"Is he your boyfriend, then, Kagome?" he said, his tone more solemn than she'd ever heard it. He was this serious about her?! Oh no! And she was horrible at lying! He was looking her right in the eyes! What was she going to do?!

"Well, erm, you see, it's kinda…complicated," she stammered, turning as red as said hanyou's fire-rat kimono. She wished that Houjo would stop looking her in the eyes with such an earnest look on his face; she'd never known him to be this grave.

"You have feelings for him, then?" Kagome broke eye contact when she began to actually feel the heat coming off of her face. She nodded once, trying not to think of how she was telling Houjo her true feelings before she'd told anybody else at all. Not even Inuyasha really knew how she felt yet. "And…?" Kagome's blush vanished as she turned to look at Houjo.

"What does 'and' mean?" He looked at her with a discerning expression for a few moments before standing up and nodding to himself. "So, it's as I've expected. He's…unaware. Why haven't you told him how you feel?" Kagome patted Houjo on the shoulder with a friendly smile, leading him to the door with his notebook and tickets.

"Thanks for all of your help Houjo but I think I understand everything pretty well now. Thanks for coming over and helping out." He gave her a confused look as she began to close the door on him.

"But I've only been tutoring you for fifteen minutes, Kagome. Are you sure…?"

"I'm sure. Thanks again." She closed it for sure this time. Well, she thought she had. He'd placed his foot in the door at the last moment. This was really unlike Houjo. Kagome wondered if something strange had happened to him to make him suddenly act so forward with her. She looked through the gap at him and he looked down at his intrusive foot, a miserable look on his face. He looked up at her, gloom tracing his every feature.

"Kagome, I really thought you had feelings for me. I…" he paused for a moment to squint over her shoulder at something. She glanced over her shoulder at the window, but all she saw was the reflection of her room. "I just want you to know that I don't think anybody with half a mind would reject you if you confessed your feelings to them. And…if they do…" Kagome turned back to face him as he spoke. His face was full of a strange depression. "I want you to know that you can always come to me. Wherever I may be." Kagome blushed madly, but nodded because Houjo's eyes were still full of resolution and sincerity. She just couldn't find the words to put together a suitably non-committal reply.

When Houjo dislodged his foot from her door, she shut it and walked over to her desk, looking down at the open biology book. She groaned again. She really hadn't learnt anything at all. She sighed and flopped back on the bed just as a rap came at her door. She hopped back up and called,

"Come in." The door opened a ways and Houjo stepped back inside. "Oh, it's you." He took several long strides towards her, his face overwrought with a deep emotion. Kagome took a hesitant half-step backward, giving him an odd look. "Houjo…what…?" He had reached her. He scooped her into his chest and wrapped his arms around her tightly. He held her so closely, so securely…what was the matter with Houjo today?

"Kagome, I didn't tell anyone at school today but…I want to tell you." He leaned away from her to look into her eyes. This seemed so familiar. It was like an episode of Heart Wounds where a character was about to make a beautiful confession of feelings or… Kagome blushed. Or if someone was about to kiss! She nearly made up her mind to shove poor Houjo clear out the door again when he said, "Kagome, I'm moving to America to become a doctor." Kagome's blood froze. She'd known Houjo for a really long time. He'd always been so nice to her! They'd grown up through school together and everything and now he was just suddenly going to be an empty seat in Advanced Physics? Not that she was in Advanced Physics…but she saw him in there once or twice on her way to Algebra! It just wouldn't be the same without Houjo showing up to force-feed her health food when she came back through the well.

"Houjo…is that why you've been so serious today?" Houjo looked away, releasing her shoulders with a light squeeze.

"I'm glad," he said. Kagome watched him as he turned away from her and looked down at his notebook. "That you rejected me. I'm glad." Kagome started, staring wide-eyed at the back of Houjo's head.

"No! Don't say it like that!" She went and stood in front of Houjo, looking up at his cheerless face. " I really did want to go out with you before, Houjo. When you first asked me out, actually. But then I started…erm, getting sick…and I didn't get to see you so much as before." He looked at her, seemingly uncertain.

"You wanted to go out with me? Do you mean that or is it just because I'm moving away?" Kagome sat down on the edge of her desk, hooking a finger under the cover of her biology book. She lifted it up, slamming the book shut. She smiled at Houjo.

"I mean that." Houjo sat down on the bed and gave her a hard look.

"So how do you know Inuyasha?" Kagome looked at him for a moment before looking back at the window to look in at her room. She smiled.

"He started coming around about the same time that I started getting sick. He's always looking out for me through the difficult spots." Okay, so maybe she was exaggerating a bit on that part. That made him sound more like a devoted nurse at her bedside than it did a half-demon that killed anything that dared to threaten her. Hm. She guessed that they about leveled out…sorta.

"I can see why he holds your heart," Houjo said. Kagome blushed, giving Houjo an uneasy stare.

"It's not like that, really. He's only like that some of the time," she sighed. She was sighing a lot. "He's usually really irritating, egotistic, insensitive, stubborn, difficult, and not to mention he keeps going after his ex-girlfriend all of the time. So it really isn't like he has a lot of great qualities or anything." Kagome scowled at her reflection. "Sometimes I wonder why I even bother. Especially since it's obvious that he's in love with Kikyo."

"Kikyo, huh?" Kagome's eyes widened as she whipped around to look at Houjo. He was smiling at her. "Well, at least your name is prettier than hers." Kagome looked at her knees.

"So, you're really leaving Japan?" Houjo stood and stretched.

"Yep, and I've got a long flight tomorrow, so I'd better go rest my arms." Kagome gave him a flat look. "Aw, I can't even get by with one lame joke?" Kagome smiled and Houjo held out his notebook. "Go ahead and keep this to study tonight. I want you to do well on that test tomorrow so you're in a good mood to see me off." Kagome took it with a soft smile. She opened it and immediately saw the tickets. There was no way she could take these! She took them out and started to hand them to Houjo but he pushed her hand back toward her. "Go ahead and keep them. Maybe you can find somebody else to go to it with." And then he turned and slipped out of the door. She put the notebook on top of her closed biology book and, irritated, rubbed her forehead. Things were getting way too dramatic.

"As though my life isn't complicated enough as it is…" She turned and opened her window, taking in a good long breath of night air. "Like I can study now…" Kagome turned out her light and plopped down on the bed, clothes and all.

The next day...

Kagome sat in biology, fully rested and alert, but without a scrap of biology-related information in her muddled-up head. Every time she sat down to study the notes Houjo gave her, she'd start thinking about today being his last day and then about his confession and then all sorts of other things would start piling in. Kikyo, Inuyasha, shard hunting, the list was never-ending. She bombed the test, just like Inuyasha had predicted, and half-wished she'd just gone back through the well with him when he tried to drag her off last night. Then she would have been blissfully unaware of Houjo's leaving. And she could've made up the test with a clear mind, too! Why hadn't she just listened to Inuyasha?!

Okay, now she knew something wasn't right in her head.

She sighed as she walked down the hallway after school. Yuki, Eri, and Ayumi all but dog piled her when they saw how depressed she was. "Was it that two-timing, violent boyfriend of yours again?" they wanted to know. She just flashed them a nervous smile and took off for her place. She didn't want to say good-bye to Houjo; she wouldn't see him off. She gave him back his notebook during his lunch period so that she wouldn't have to see him again after that. She didn't even go straight home like usual. She went to the park and sat on a shady bench, looking up at the sun-streaked treetops.

And there was Inuyasha, reclining in the fork of the tree, his baseball cap pulled down over his face.

"Inuyasha! What are you doing?!" she called up, surprised to find him there so unexpectedly. He pulled his baseball cap back over his ears and sat up, looking down at Kagome.

The previous night...

It had been about fifteen minutes since Kagome had went up to her room with that Houjo fellow. Mrs. Higurashi was making dinner, Souta was playing video games, and Gramps was at some auction somewhere. The cat wasn't doing anything of importance…so he grabbed hold of its tail and pulled it towards him to pet it. The cat instantly whirled on him and attacked his hand with its sharp claws, hissing and dashing up the stairs to glare at him through the railings. He leapt up with a shout and growled back at the cat. Souta got annoyed.

"Inuyasha! Sit down and leave Buyo alone! You're messing me up!" Inuyasha grumbled, leering at the cat conspiratorially as he sucked on his wound. I'll get you back for that one, cat. You just wait and see. Stupid thing. Unfortunately, now his only form of entertainment had been brought to a very unsatisfying stand-still. With nothing else to do, he decided that he'd go up to Kagome's room and see how her studies were going. A glance towards the cat at the top of the stairs told him that he was going the less conventional way. He went outside and, turning the corner of the house, leapt up onto the lower roof. He silently made it as close as he could manage to Kagome's balcony and leapt on over.

"Kagome, I really thought you had feelings for me. I…" Inuyasha looked over and saw Houjo standing very close to Kagome at her door. He seemed to be leaving, but not fast enough, in Inuyasha's opinion. He didn't like that guy. Right now both he and Kagome were looking straight at him, but then Houjo started speaking again, apparently not noticing him. "I just want you to know that I don't think anybody with half a mind would reject you if you confessed your feelings to them. And…if they do…" Inuyasha could only imagine what Houjo and Kagome had been talking about before he came along. Was Kagome intending to confess to someone? "I want you to know that you can always come to me. Wherever I may be." Kagome started blushing and nodding, much to Inuyasha's surprise. Souta had been telling him that Kagome had been avoiding this guy's gestures toward her. So what the hell was this all about?

Houjo stepped away from the door and Kagome closed it, walking toward the window. Inuyasha was right out in plain view, but she didn't see him for some reason. He may as well have been a ghost. Then he realized that at night it was always hard to see out of Kagome's bedroom window because of the light reflecting on it. Kagome was staring at that book he'd gotten sat over before and groaned just like she had the first time she'd opened it that day. Inuyasha didn't see why she put up with school if it just worked her up like that. Sheesh, how important could it be really? Suddenly, Kagome power-bombed her bed. The moment her body landed, someone knocked on her door again. And he'd just about been ready to go in the room, too! She sat up and said,

"Come in." Houjo came back into the room. Inuyasha "keh"-ed. "Oh, it's you." Inuyasha noticed that Houjo was going at Kagome pretty fast and prepared to shatter the guy's jaw in about three seconds if he didn't back off. Kagome took a step back, coming toward the window, and Inuyasha grit his teeth. Kagome would kill him if he threatened one of her friends without good reason. "Houjo…what…?" Houjo grabbed her and Inuyasha's hand snapped to the door handle…then he realized that he was just hugging her. So then he really tried to open the door! But, perhaps fortunately, the door was locked.

"Kagome, I didn't tell anyone at school today but…I want to tell you." He looked down at Kagome with a really lovesick expression. Inuyasha got uncomfortable, looking away and feeling somewhat like Miroku peeping at the hot springs. He glanced back and saw that Kagome was blushing. It kind of…looked like they were about to kiss. This was starting to get on his nerves. "Kagome, I'm moving to America to become a doctor." Kagome was obviously shocked and upset. She stared at Houjo as though she'd never seen him before in her life. It wouldn't have surprised Inuyasha to see her burst into tears right then. Keh. Good riddance. He acts like he's missing part of his brain anyway… But Inuyasha couldn't smirk or anything. Kagome's distraught face was killing his mood.

"Houjo…is that why you've been so serious today?" Inuyasha listened intently. It was like watching that box in the living room. Except with people that he knew.

"I'm glad." Houjo turned around and looked at the notebook he'd brought for Kagome. "That you rejected me. I'm glad." Kagome and Inuyasha's eyes went wide at the same time. Houjo confessed and Kagome rejected him? So what's with the hugging…? I should be watching this with popcorn…

"No! Don't say it like that!" Kagome ran and made Houjo look straight at her. Inuyasha leaned forward to get a better look. " I really did want to go out with you before, Houjo. When you first asked me out, actually. But then I started…erm, getting sick…and I didn't get to see you so much as before." Inuyasha's drop dropped. What?! With that half-wit? Inuyasha was less interested in popcorn now and more interested in examining Houjo for what on earth Kagome could ever have saw in him.

"You wanted to go out with me? Do you mean that or is it just because I'm moving away?" Kagome sat down on her desk and shut her biology book with a light 'thud,' smiling at Houjo.

"I mean that." Houjo sat down on the bed, looking at Kagome curiously.

"So how do you know Inuyasha?" Inuyasha was well near against the glass the moment his name was brought up, but he quickly retreated as Kagome stared in his direction. She was staring right at him! As he prepared himself for the biggest sitting of his life, however, Kagome suddenly smiled. Phew. She hadn't saw him, after all.

"He started coming around about the same time that I started getting sick. He's always looking out for me through the difficult spots." Inuyasha was pretty surprised to hear Kagome say this and gave her a determining look. If by "difficult spots" she meant how he constantly had to save her from demons that wanted a bit of jewel shard, then he understood. Otherwise, he was clueless.

"I can see why he holds your heart." Inuyasha suffered a stroke. What on earth had Kagome been talking to this fellow about?! By the look on her face, she was pretty shocked at Houjo's words, too.

"It's not like that, really. He's only like that some of the time." She sighed. Inuyasha looked at her with complete loss. Were they still talking about him? "He's usually really irritating, egotistic, insensitive, stubborn, difficult, and not to mention he keeps going after his ex-girlfriend all of the time. So it really isn't like he has a lot of great qualities or anything." Inuyasha was pretty sure they were still talking about him now. By the tone of her voice, it had his name written all over it. Yep. And there was the scowl - directed straight at him even though she couldn't see him. I think the Wind Scar is a pretty great quality… he grumbled to himself, put out. "Sometimes I wonder why I even bother. Especially since it's obvious that he's in love with Kikyo." Inuyasha raised his eyebrows, surprised. He turned around and scratched the back of his head guiltily. Did it bother her that much? Why was she always getting so upset with him and never just telling him what he was doing wrong?! Geez! She was more complicated than a Rubik's Cube. (And smashing the thing to tiny pieces of plastic probably wouldn't work in Kagome's case…)

"Kikyo, huh?" Kagome turned and looked to Houjo in surprise, just realizing that she'd said Kikyo's name. For some reason, she saw that as a problem, he guessed. Houjo smiled at her. "Well, at least your name is prettier than hers." Inuyasha considered this. Kagome…Kikyo…Kagome…Kik - he was right. Kagome rolled off the tongue better. Much prettier. Keh. But he'd never admit it. She'd just give him grief about it. Inuyasha figured that he ought to get outta there before somebody started to notice him and then he got in huge trouble for hearing all of that. God, Kagome would sit him to death. He looked up at the overhang on the roof and hopped up, landing gracefully. Like a cat. Inuyasha looked at his hand where the cat scratch was already beginning to disappear. He didn't care. He was going to get that cat back. The door to Kagome's room finally opened and, after a deep sigh, he heard her mumble,

"Like I can study now…" A few minutes later, Kagome's bedroom light went out and he heard the familiar creak of her mattress as she crashed. Inuyasha leapt down off the roof and climbed up into the tree outside her room, settling in for the night. He tried and tried to stop thinking of those things that Kagome said. Especially since it's obvious that he's in love with Kikyo. How could it be obvious when it wasn't true?


"Inuyasha! What are you doing?!" Inuyasha hadn't caught her scent thanks to the musty-smelling cap he'd set over his face, but there she was, right under his tree.

"I had to get out of there. That cat has serious issues with me today," Inuyasha said, propping his head up on his hand as he leaned back against another tree branch. "How'd you find me so quick? Usually I'm the one that has to come find you." Kagome looked out over the wide park.

"I wasn't even looking for you. I just thought I'd spend my afternoon walking around the park….that's all," she said, smiling sadly at the grass blades. I'm going to America to become a doctor. Inuyasha sighed, annoyed. So that was why.

"How did you do on your test?" he asked, jumping down from the tree. It was time he got Kagome back to being her usual self again. It was like she was a totally different person, being this down.

"I tanked, just like you said," she laughed. Inuyasha looked at her in astonished disbelief. No way…and she was laughing? No. She wasn't really laughing.

"Sorry," he grumbled, crossing his arms and looking away. Kagome looked over to him out of the corner of her eye and smiled.

"It's okay. I had other things to worry about so I didn't really get to study last night." Inuyasha, just waiting for a lead in, leaped for the chance to get her to start talking about last night.

"Wasn't Houjo tutoring you, though? What were you guys doing if you weren't studying." Kagome gave him a sidelong look, trying to see if he'd meant something lecherous by the comment, before answering.

"We were talking." Kagome looked up at the treetops. "Houjo's moving to America tonight. He's going to be a doctor." Inuyasha stayed quiet, waiting for her to give him a hint as to what he was supposed to say. She didn't speak again. The two of them ended up running back to the house at breakneck speeds (Kagome riding atop Inuyasha's back, of course) to avoid an incoming rainstorm.

Inuyasha stepped inside and the cat instantly started hissing.

"Inuyasha! What did you do to Buyo to make him so mad?!" Souta demanded as he wrestled Buyo into the next room and shut the door. The cat scratched madly on the door to get to Inuyasha. Kagome gave Inuyasha a suspicious look.

"I didn't do anything! Really!" Kagome sighed. Sure, you didn't.

"Um…sorry to interrupt." Kagome whipped her head around to look straight at Houjo standing in the doorway to the kitchen. "I just wanted to stop by to see you one last time. My flight's going to be here in a couple hours so I have to get going now." Kagome smiled at him, trying to keep her spirits up, but it was no use. This was why she didn't want to see him off!

Her eyes welled up and she started crying. She gave up. She ran over and gave Houjo a strong hug that would carry him safely overseas.

"You'd better send healthy American recipes to me from now on when you get over there, okay? You have my email address so you'd better drop me a line every now and then to let me know you're alive, okay? Okay?" Houjo reached up and hugged her back, smiling into her hair. He knew that she didn't love him like he loved her - this was just because they'd known each other so long and she'd miss him. But…just once…

He pulled her away from him and looked into her eyes. He smiled softly at her, a sad smile.

"If we'd only spent more time together, Kagome…" Houjo lowered his face to hers and, for the first and last time, kissed the girl he'd been pursuing so passionately for years. He broke the kiss and brushed some hair out of her face. "I should have stayed by your side when you were ill all those times. Maybe then…it would have been me that you chose." Houjo walked toward the door, passing Inuyasha momentarily. Inuyasha was staring at the door that the cat was behind, trying to pretend he hadn't just saw what he just saw. Kagome put a couple fingers to her mouth, surprised.

"One last thing I have to say before I go," Houjo said, walking back into the room and stopping next to Inuyasha. He turned and looked at the human boy, obviously annoyed.

"What?" he snapped. Houjo leaned over and whispered something in his ear. Inuyasha didn't make any response at all except to lean back against the alcove and stare at the door where the furious feline sulked.

"Well, I'm off everyone! I'll definitely keep in touch!"

"Bye!" everyone chided. Well, except for Inuyasha, of course.

Later on after the excitement of Houjo's farewell visit had waned somewhat, Kagome decided to start packing for her journey beyond the well. She took her books and set them on top of the rest of the things in the bag. She was definitely going to be using those a lot this time! She wouldn't fall behind again!

"Yo. About ready?" Kagome looked up from her perilous battle with the backpack's zipper to nod, then yanked with all her might and finally got the back closed. She plopped down on the bed, exhausted.

"Finally!" she said, panting. She'd been packing all evening! Inuyasha crouched down next to her, staring at her. She felt the hanyou's eyes and sat up a little, looking at him. "What…?" He gave her one last uncertain look before standing up, stretching, and grabbing up her backpack.

"Whoa! This is heavy!" Kagome gave him a sidelong glance.

"I'm not leaving my books here this time!" she explained. "I'll only fall behind again and then I might really be in trouble!" Inuyasha threw it over his shoulder.

"Then," he started, heading for the door, "I'll carry it for you this time." And then he walked down the stairs with her backpack in tow. He'd never offered to do that before. What had changed?

Souta stuck his head in the room.

"Inuyasha says you'd better hurry up or else he's going to open the ramen and stuff right now." Kagome growled.

"Inuyasha! That food is for everybody!" She clambered down the stairs and headed for the shrine where Inuyasha was already waiting. She sprinted over. "Did you hear me? You better not have eaten anything yet. Besides, do you know how long it took me to get that zipper, zipped?!" He already had one foot on the edge of the well. Inuyasha clutched Kagome to him by the waist, smiling at her. Kagome blushed.

"You didn't have to worry about Kikyo, Kagome…" Inuyasha leaned closer to her, his eyes growing soft like she'd never saw before. "I chose you." And then they spiraled off into the portal that resided in the Bone Eater's Well.


Houjo leaned in and put a hand to the side of his mouth, whispering to Inuyasha, "Tell her how you feel before it's too late. Time runs out faster than you think."