Warnings: I do have plans to stick some mild smut somewhere in here, so if that offends you, you're forewarned. It'll probably be fairly tame — I'm not overly keen on graphic anything, really, and I'm certainly not brave enough to write it. And a long author's note, which you're welcome to skip if it bores you.
Notes: This is a sequel of sorts to Perception. It's not completely necessary to read Perception first, but you might want to. I'd originally planned for Perception to be a one-shot (it was written for a contest on LJ), however the idea took hold and I came up with a three-chapter story arc for it. I wrote that, and figured I wad done with it, except the nagging plot for a mild lemon that was niggling the back of my brain. So, I figured, fine, I'll write the lemon as a companion piece (I'd already rated Perception T, and didn't want to scare anyone off by changing the rating halfway through). Then at about 2am this morning this idea came to me.
The idea of Kagome writing an essay about all this was way too good to pass up. So here I am. Again.
I make no promises for this story — I don't know how long it will be (if I say anything it's bound to change anyway), and I don't know if I'll be able to update continually. But please read, and enjoy. Consider this the companion piece (look! It's multi-chaptered…. isn't that nice?), and the promised smut will be somewhere within this. I will let you know which chapter it's in, so you can skip it if you want and still read the rest of the story.
… That was extremely long. Please let me know what you think — I really appreciate good feedback (especially on a topic as provocative as this one), so it would be nice to know what you think of this.
- The Second Coming.
A fog cannot be dispelled by a fan.
Part I: Variance
Opinions are some of the most lethal weapons at the disposal of the human race. There is an old adage, "sticks and stone may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." This is wrong. When a society forms one general opinion, the weight that is carried by that thought is astronomical. Opinions or beliefs can cause both the raise of a tyrant, and the fall of one.
Opinions, like all things, serve their own purpose. They are neither good, nor bad, by nature. They become those things depending on how they are used. So the unwitting use of them remains a misuse. To follow someone else's opinion without taking the time to truly form your own is evil. To agree based upon your own conclusions is not.
Opinions, like the people who form them, are unique, and potentially dangerous. Each person has the potential to become a danger. It is the line between potential and reality that makes all the difference.
She waited, butterflies flittering madly in her stomach, as the teacher began to hand back essays. Anxiously she began to bite her lip, and she leaned forward as the teacher passed by her desk. With what seemed like unnecessary and agonising slowness the essays were passed back to the class — returned to everyone but her.
With a brisk click of her heels the teacher turned and stalked past her desk. "Higurashi-san, see me after class," she said as she passed. With a small groan, Kagome sunk down as low as she could in her desk, and wondered why she'd bothered to write the stupid essay in the first place.
"Kagome," Ayumi hissed from the desk behind her. "Kagome." Gritting her teeth, and clenching her pencil so tightly it was in serious danger of snapping, Kagome tried to ignore her.
Thump. Ayumi had kicked the desk. "Kagome," she hissed again. Cursing her friend for her obvious obtuseness, she pulled a sheet of paper towards her and scribbled 'what?' at the top of it. With the well practised finesse that only a high-school student could pull off, she passed the note back.
It had barely touched Ayumi's desk before it landed back in Kagome's lap.
'You did the essay, right?'
Gritting her teeth she scribbled 'yes' underneath Ayumi's writing, putting rather more pressure into the word than was strictly necessary. Within moments the note had been passed back to her lap, with an additional line of Ayumi's neat handwriting at the bottom.
'Why do you think Moushin-sensei needs to talk to you?'
As quietly as she could Kagome crumpled the note into a small ball and stuffed it in her bag. She wished again that she'd never written the stupid essay.
After about five minutes Ayumi started kicking the back of her chair again.
When the bell finally rang, Kagome packed up her things with the air of someone going to their own execution, and steadfastly ignored her friend's persistent questions. Slowly she walked between the desks, and stopped right in front of her teacher's desk. She stood there, staring at her feet, until the teacher tossed her friends out of the room.
"Have a seat."
"Is everything all-right with you, Higurashi-san? Is there anything you want to talk about?"
No. She swallowed, the action taking more effort than she expected in her unusually dry throat. "Why do you ask?"
Her teacher's eyes narrowed, and her lips tightened into a thin line. "I think you know."
"Did I not complete the assignment satisfactorily?" Kagome asked flatly. Stupid assignment. Stupid essay. Stupid school…
"I asked you for a thousand word essay focusing on an aspect of today's society, and suggesting ways that a part of our current society might be improved, and this," she picked up Kagome's essay off her desk and waved it at her, "is what you gave me." She flipped the essay open to the second page, and began to read. "The generalisation and stereotyping of demons as monsters is both harmful and limiting to our society. Just as we realise that because one person might be bad, our entire race is not at fault, so should we understand that demons are not a single entity, and have thoughts, wills and emotions of their own."
Her teacher tossed the essay down on the desk, it skittered madly across the surface and came to a stop in front of Kagome.
"What do you call that?" she asked tightly.
"Do you think this is funny, Higurashi-san? Is this some sort of a joke?"
"No." Kagome sighed and picked up the essay. "If this is unacceptable, then may I redo it?" She stood up and put the essay in her bag.
"Sit down," her teacher snapped. "Why did you write that?"
"I thought," Kagome said flatly, "that I was fulfilling the requirements that you set down —"
"— that has nothing to do with my requirements!" her teacher said suddenly, standing up and slapping her hands down on the desk. "Why would you write such a thing, Higurashi-san?"
Kagome stared at her feet. There was a small smudge of dirt on her left shoe, which she tried to discreetly rub off with her right foot.
"Are you even listening to me?" Her teacher was practically vibrating with anger now.
Stupid assignment. Stupid essay. Stupid school…
"I'm recommending that you go for counselling. You will redo this assignment. And if I find one hint of - of this," she gestured vaguely at Kagome's bag. "I will give you a zero."
Her teacher stood there, staring at her for a moment, her mouth open as if she were about to say something.
"Is there anything else?" Kagome asked.
Her mouth closed with an audible 'clack'. "No."
As soon as she was outside the classroom door she started running.
When we leave our houses for the day we lock them. When we park our cars at work, we lock them. This is common sense. But it is not the fear of demons or monsters that tells us to lock away our possessions to prevent their theft, but a fear of our own 'kind'. It is not the fear of demons that forces us to teach our children about the dangers of drugs that may be slipped into their drinks, nor of people who would sit behind the wheel of a car while drunk. These, like the dangers that demons present, are very real.
Yet those who commit these crimes are still human.
It was foolish thing to have done. She knew it. She'd known it ever since she'd handed it in two weeks ago. Still, with such an open ended topic the idea had been what had first popped into her mind, and it had refused to leave.
She wanted so badly for someone else to understand it, and this had finally seemed like an opportunity to convey something of what she was feeling inside.
She should have known that her ideas were unacceptable.
Opinions are some of the most lethal weapons at the disposal of the human race.
Sticks and stones…
She tossed the essay across the room in frustration, and watched as it hit the wall with a thud, and sunk to the floor. The room blurred, and she wiped her cheeks, startled to find that her hand was wet.
She should have known this would be what would would happen.
So why did it have to hurt so much?
The assumption that humans are better than all other creatures has been around as far back as history allows us to go. We pride ourselves on those things which set us apart form the so-called 'lower creatures', rational thought, emotion, speech. We spend our time advancing our own species' knowledge through science and art, seeking a greater understanding that lurks permanently just beyond our grasp. It has become second nature to overlook the fact that taiyoukai are capable of those things which we prize so highly, and consider exclusive.
She slipped out of the house, wearing nothing but her favourite pair of fuzzy pyjamas, and crept across the courtyard. Her breath misted in the cool night air, and she shivered as the cold earth chilled her feet.
She stopped at the foot of the Goshinboku and rolled her essay into a small scroll. Carefully she tucked the scroll into a small knot in the tree and stepped back.
It was nearly invisible — but she knew he'd find it.
Rubbing her fingers together for warmth, she took one last look, and then turned and hurried back inside to warm her feet. Next time she'd have to remember to wear shoes.
It is not an unreasonable fear — demons are easily capable of killing a human. I am not suggesting that demons be welcomed with open arms. I submit though, that not all demons deserve to be typecast. That they, like us, have their own thoughts, emotions and opinions; and that these things rule their actions. I believe that some are capable, just like us, of rational thought, and thus of understanding. If we do not actively lump them all together and stick a single label on them, perhaps they will do the same.
He was standing silently in his customary position under the Goshinboku when she got back from taking the garbage out, one Saturday afternoon, nearly a week later. He raised one hand, and she saw that he was holding her rolled up essay in it.
"An interesting topic," he said mildly.
"It was stupid idea," she said flatly, turning away to look at the doors of the well house. She could still feel his gaze on her.
"Yes," he said quietly. "However it was not the idea within the essay that was stupid, but the way in which you presented it, and the people you presented it to. You must learn to adapt based on your situation, or you will always lose."
"Know your enemy?" she said sardonically, her lip curling up slightly in wry amusement.
"I don't want to have any enemies. I don't like fighting."
"It is necessary."
Survival of the fittest. "Perhaps."
Once again she felt his gaze on her. He gave her a scrutinising look, a slight frown marring his usually placid features. "You must not allow your association with me to cloud your judgement," he said finally. "There will never be peace between demons and humans. We are your natural predators. It is unwise to befriend your dinner."
She grimaced at that, unsure if she wanted to laugh or gag. "Do you — do you eat people?"
She nearly laughed at his expression. His lip curled up slightly, looking suddenly as if he had smelled something awful, in a perfect imitation of the aristocratic sneer. "No," he said, as if the very idea offended him. She barely refrained from pointing out the fact that he had brought the topic up in the first place.
"Oh," she said, a smile pulling at the corners of her mouth.
"But I am not adverse to killing them if they get in my way."
Her stomach plummeted to her feet, and she suddenly felt ill. "Oh," she said again. "Um…"
"Why do you not fear me?" he asked quietly, the cadence of his voice sending shivers up and down her spine.
She wasn't even sure if she didn't fear him. "I don't know," she said. "I don't want to."
Casually he tossed the essay at her feet, and turned around to leave.
"Should I?" she called out desperately after him. He paused, but didn't turn around. He paused long enough that she was almost sure that he wasn't going to respond. Finally, without turning around, he said, "I don't know."
And then he was gone. Her essay was slowly beginning to uncurl at her feet. She picked it up, and unrolled it, wiping bits of tree bark off of it. In the top right-hand corner was a small hand-written message, the neat writing clearly not her teacher's.
"A fog cannot be dispelled by a fan."
She tore the essay into pieces and scattered them in the wind.
In conclusion, I believe that learning to understand these beings as individuals, and recognising them for their differences, will allow us to better ourselves as a species.
Higurashi Kagome, Second Year Civics.
A/N: I'm sorry to stick another one of these in, but just a few notes on the Japanese language and culture.
Firstly a fog cannot be dispelled by a fan, is a Japanese proverb, and thus it is not my own.
Secondly hopefully I've used the honorifics correctly. I did do research, but since I don't speak Japanse (or know anyone who does), I had to rely on what I could glean from the internet. So if any of it isn't correct, please let me know and I'll fix it.
Thirdly the name Moushin was chosen for the teacher because it (according to an online dictionary I found… Yes, I'm well aware that it's a shady way of doing things), means 'blind belief, or acceptance'. I thought it was appropriate. If however, it's a big no-no when it comes to naming people in Japanese, please let me know, and again I'll fix it.