Disclaimer: I can't believe I'm saying this after all these years—I do not own InuYasha. (I'm almost crying from nostalgia over here! Ah, it's a good feeling.)
Author's Note: Wow, I doubt you guys even remember me, huh? It's been a while! How are you, loves? You've been good children, hmm?
Well anyway, I've been re-reading and re-watching InuYasha after a sudden bout of nostalgia combined with my discovery of a cute little series called "Her Majesty's Dog." It's kinda like an InuYasha AU… sort of. In any case, it's where the idea for this oneshot came from.
I hope you enjoy it— but please don't take it too seriously. It's just supposed to be some near-crackish fluff. XD
Culture Note: "Kotodama" is a Japanese belief in the power of words. It's kind of like a spell that uses no special incantations… the words themselves hold the power to make people do things. A great example of this would be InuYasha's rosary and Kagome's command to "sit," which in the Japanese version is referred to as kotodama.
She blamed it all on math.
Well, perhaps she should be a bit more specific. After all, Kagome blamed a lot of things on math: the endless stream of homework she had to bear, the countless hours of studying she had to suffer, the evil red marks that marred her once-perfect report card… all these qualms and more could be traced back to her hellish geometry class with the vindictive prick she had to call teacher. It was a grievance she was sure she had done nothing to deserve, and as she told Kaede-baachan—as Kaede was the only one who would listen anymore, as she did not have to endure Kagome's complaints daily— she didn't know what to do at this point.
"Memorizing doesn't help," Kagome whimpered, blinking blearily at the textbook in her hands and half-heartedly contemplating tossing it into the hearth, "'cause it doesn't mean anything to me. It's like trying to sing along to an English song— I can mimic the noises but it doesn't make any sense. And whenever I ask my teacher to explain, all he does is rattle off long streams of equations that mean even less! I'm going to fail math, I just know it! I'm going to fail, and then I'm going to flunk out of high school, and then I'm never going to get a degree in anything, and then I'm going to be a worthless bum on the side of the road who has to beg for scraps!"
Shippo, who had been coloring on the floor beside the fire, glanced up in surprise. "We'd let you live with us even if you were a worthless bum on the side of the road who had to beg for scraps, Kagome."
Kagome seemed to visibly wilt. "Thanks, Shippo-chan…" she mumbled, patting the kitsune cub on the head. Shippo beamed and returned to his depiction of himself ruling all of the known universe.
Kaede on the other hand, who had listened to Kagome's woes in a thoughtful silence, straightened slightly and cleared her throat. "Kagome…" she began, her voice both hesitant and musing, "have you ever considered working on your supernatural studies rather than your era's education…?"
"What?" The young girl snapped her elder with a pouting glare. "Kaede-baachan, haven't you been listening to me at all? I'm already swamped with—"
"What you said to me," Kaede interrupted coolly, "was that you were having trouble understanding the power of words. Correct?"
Lowering the study guide she'd been brandishing in frustration, Kagome blinked. "Um… well, sort of… I guess…" She coughed discreetly, and quietly added: "If you stretch it the right way."
"The miko-in-training studies many arts," Kaede continued, eyes lightly shut in the same way her Grandpa's did when he was about to ramble off some long, enlightening story about the past. It was a true testament of her respect and love for the woman that Kagome managed to swallow her instinctive yawn. "One of which is the sacred magic of kotodama, or word power. An accomplished user of kotodama can manipulate people and emotions with their words alone… it is a power you have tapped, but only barely."
"Tapped?" In spite of herself, Kagome felt her head tilt in curiosity. "But I've never…"
"The subduing spell you have over that stubborn fiancé of yours," Kaede explained, a faint smile on her face as she privately relived the memory of their first meeting. "That is a core of this technique; you speak a word, and he must obey. That is the power of kotodama. If you could master this skill, not only would you take a bold step on your way to becoming a very powerful priestess, but I'm sure you could use it to better understand those math problems you have so much trouble with, too."
That actually sounds… kinda tempting, Kagome thought, eyes wide with intrigue and wonder. And cool. "So you're saying I have… the ability to do all of that?" she asked, breathless. Excited fingers clenched around the study guide in her lap. "I could really become a kotodama master?"
"With time and practice," Kaede nodded, looking quite solemn and wise in the glow of the hearth. "If nothing else, I could certainly teach you the basics needed to pass your class."
"Oh, Kaede-baachan—!" Kagome sniveled, voice throbbing with emotion and gaze bubbly with affection. "I am your humble grasshopper! Your open book! Teach away and rid me of the awful geometry grade!" She sank into a deep, traditional bow…
…And was met by utter silence. Sans Shippo's bewildered mutter of: "Grasshopper?"
One of the three coughed.
Kagome's cheeks turned scarlet.
Feeling properly mortified as she recalled the time she was currently inhabiting, the young miko offered Kaede an apologetic grin. Kaede, in turn, graced the girl a feeble smile, as if trying to put a positive spin on a horrible situation she was only just beginning to grasp. "…with that unusual word choice of yours, Kagome, you will certainly be an… interesting… kotodama student."
It was all much harder than Kaede made it sound, that was for certain. In fact, Kagome was starting to wonder if studying impossible math equations might be easier than this…
Especially when factoring in who was supposed to be helping her master this magic.
"Let's see…" Kagome screwed up her face, thinking hard. First rule of kotodama, she mentally repeated, echoing the words Kaede had taught her, you have to sincerely, genuinely, actually mean what you say! "Um… jump! Or, er… dance!"
InuYasha favored her with a bland stare. "No," he then droned, allowing his eyes to slide shut once again. Then, as if to rub in her face the fact that she couldn't make him do anything, he wriggled enthusiastically down in the soft spring grass on the outskirts of the village. Above, warm rays of mid-afternoon sunshine bathed the pair in golden light, reflecting softly off the cherry blossoms clinging to the nearby trees. "Not a chance."
Kagome's cheeks puffed out in indignation. "If you don't stop being such a brat," she snarled, "I'll use the one word I know you'll respond to!"
"Is that the reason you're forcing me to suffer through this stupidity with you?" he snapped, though he remained comfortably lethargic in the grass. "Because if I don't do as you say, you can sit me?"
"No," the girl retorted dourly, returning her gaze to the scroll in her hands. "It's because Kaede-baachan says that it's easiest to use kotodama on people we have a deep emotional connection with, since they are already attune to the meanings behind our words."
"And I suppose your connection with Sango isn't strong enough, eh? Or Miroku?" InuYasha groused, eyebrow twitching once as a familiar hand gave his ear a sharp tug of reprimand. "Don't do that, bitch."
"It's either that or the s-word," Kagome huffed. "Besides, you should feel flattered that I asked you to do this! It's a symbol of our deep bond!"
"Like shit." The hanyou scrunched his nose in distaste, as if he smelt something rancid nearby. "You just want an excuse to control me even more than you already do."
But the miko paused then, having noticed something strange in his voice. It was faint, and had she not known him so well, imperceptible… but her well-trained ear had picked up the slightest hint of… sadness. Bitterness.
She felt her heart soften, fingers drifting to her lips. "Oh, InuYasha… I'm sorry, I didn't…"
"What?" InuYasha's golden eyes snapped open; he shot her a disgusted look. "Oh no. Ooooh no. You are not looking at me like that. I do not see pity in your eyes. What the hell, Kagome? What's gotten into you?!"
Obviously feeling uncomfortable, the half-demon scooted a bit to the left, away from the sympathetic gaze of his fiancée.
"You know, InuYasha, I wouldn't use the power of kotodama to hurt you… Well," she amended with a half-teasing sort of smile. "Anymore than I already do, that is. I mean, kotodama can be used for all sorts of things… good things, you know?"
InuYasha snorted, unconvinced. "Yeah, whatever."
"No, really, I—!"
But Kagome fell silent as InuYasha rolled onto his side, his back towards her: the universal and entirely tactless sign that you're being ignored. Which was wholly unacceptable—not only could she not practice anymore, but worse still she had hurt his feelings. She'd never once stopped to consider what the power of kotodama might mean to the people around her; she'd only ever thought of it as a means of passing 12th grade. But to InuYasha… to InuYasha, who was so used to people trying to control him, to force his hand, to bully him…
She had to show him. She had to show him, somehow, that kotodama could be used to help… to heal…
Sincerely, genuinely, actually mean it…
One snow-white ear twitched. With a strange jerk, he twisted his head— only to find his sun patch blocked by a looming face. His eyes widened in the unexpected shadow, gazing up into Kagome's pink countenance.
InuYasha gaped at her, spellbound. But just as he was about to open his mouth—to spew out some flustered insult or complaint— his features smoothed. All traces of embarrassment vanished, leaving only a small smile and soft, half-lidded eyes of molten gold.
Kagome felt her breath stick in her throat as he gingerly lifted himself up his elbows… and brushed his lips to hers.
For a moment, the girl thought her heart might pop. But just as suddenly, the reality of the situation—of what had just happened to her—came crashing down with the force of a tidal wave. "Oh my God…" she gasped, voice trembling as InuYasha lowered himself back onto the grass, eyes still somewhat clouded. "Oh my God, I just…
I just performed kotodama! I did it!"
With a squeal of delight, Kagome leapt to her feet and tore down the small hill, nearly bowling over Miroku as she did so. Without so much as a pause to apologize for knocking a bushel of firewood out of his hands, she sang: "Miroku, I did it! I used kotodama!" before racing off for Kaede's house.
"Kaede-bachan!" the two men could hear her cry triumphantly. "I did it! I did it!"
"…you don't say." Miroku blinked, momentarily bewildered, before allowing his usual expression of faint amusement to overtake his features. Arching an inquisitive eyebrow, he bent over to collect his sticks. "Did she really do it?" he asked as he worked, glancing towards a surprisingly smug InuYasha—who had been watching the girl's antics with eyes full of laughter.
"Nah," the hanyou smirked, sounding triumphant as he nestled nonchalantly back in the warm afternoon grass. "I just felt like kissing her."
The monk snorted. "Smart dog," he muttered under his breath as he wandered away, wooden bundle in his hands. And InuYasha, for the sake of his contented mood, let him get away with it.
You're not the only one who can manipulate words to their advantage, Kagome.
With that cheerful thought—not to mention a jolly lick of his lips— InuYasha closed his eyes and took a well-earned nap in his sun patch.