A/N: Hello to all fellow Ranma ½ fans! I bring you my own Ranma ½/InuYasha crossover. I have read quite a few on here and loved the idea of bringing these two works together! I hope I don't do anything too clichéd. I love originality and I always try to stick to ideas that are mine and mine alone. I hope you enjoy this fic!
(I haven't read all the manga for Ranma 1/2, so I'm going to pretend that anything to do with Saffron never happened, Akari has never met Ryoga etc. I'm only up to volume 25, but I'm going to say that the ageing mushrooms and the Cursed Tunnel of Lost Love happened. I have watched all the anime, however, so I will be using references from both. For InuYasha, I haven't read any of the manga for that, so it's all anime referenced. It carries on from the last episode: 167.)
Disclaimer: The only thing I own concerning any works belonging to Rumiko Takashi is the 3rd and 4th InuYasha movies on DVD, the first Ranma ½ movie on video and I'll own the first season of Ranma ½ on DVD very soon. Did I mention copyrights anywhere in that list?
Chapter One: What's Normal Anymore?
The noisy blaring of car horns ripped through the night air every now and then. A number of people were irritated by this, but one person heard nothing. It was all a dull, fuzzy background noise to him.
This young man was attracting quite a few stares from those he passed by. After all, it wasn't everyday you saw someone as travel-worn as him. He ignored the looks that were directed at him and the whispers that invariably followed.
Ryoga Hibiki was used to such reactions.
Ryoga, as usual, was wandering. He also, as usual, had no idea where he was. He didn't waste the energy it took to shout out his trademark question, however. He hadn't felt this drained in a long time. He was currently looking for somewhere to camp for the night; he didn't think he could find a hotel.
He walked on, the sensation of going uphill completely ignored. He came back to his senses in time to avoid crashing into a rather large tree that was right in front of him. Too tired to grumble about it, he fell to his knees and shrugged off his backpack. He sat there for a few minutes before slowly reaching out to unpack his tent. Just as his fingers found the pack's clasps, a soft voice interrupted him.
"Um, excuse me…?"
Ryoga blinked, wondering if he was hearing things due to fatigue. His eyes swung around, landing on a girl that looked about his age wearing some type of school uniform and carrying a bulging yellow bag.
The girl gave him a small, concerned frown. "Are you alright?"
"Huh?" he sighed wearily. "I'm fine, just tired."
The girl eyed his large backpack. "You weren't going to sleep here, were you?" she asked in bewilderment.
"Uh…I was, yes. I'm sorry, I'll leave." He didn't want to, he was too tired to walk much further, but he wanted to argue less. The girl, however, looked aghast at this.
"What? No, don't leave, I didn't mean you should go! I just thought it was a little strange to find someone about to camp in my front yard, that's all."
Ryoga blinked again. "Front yard?" he asked, barely able to suppress a yawn. "Oops, sorry…"
The girl giggled. "That's okay. You look exhausted, why don't you come inside and spend the night? It'd be a lot more comfortable than out here," she asked, smiling at the strange boy.
"Really?" He was sincerely hoping this wasn't a dream but, for him, it was almost too good to be true.
"Of course! I'll have to ask my mum, but I'm sure she'll say yes. Come on," she said, walking towards a building he hadn't noticed before.
Almost desperate not to get lost at the moment, he quickly grabbed his pack and jogged after the girl.
"So," she said when he caught up, "what's your name? I'm Kagome Higurashi."
He gave her a tired smile. "Nice to meet you, Kagome. Name's Ryoga Hibiki."
She beamed at him before opening the door. "Hello?" she called. "I'm home and I brought a visitor!"
Ryoga saw a young boy poke his head into the hallway. The boy pouted a bit at seeing him. "Aww, I thought it was Inuyasha…" he mumbled, retreating.
'Inuyasha? That's an unusual name…' he thought to himself.
"Don't worry about him, that's just my little brother, Sota. Come on, I have to find my mum." That said, she led him up the hallway and into the room Sota had come from which turned out to be the lounge room.
Ryoga was too tired to take in any details of the house besides the people in it. He saw Sota sitting in front of a rather podgy cat, a woman who could only have been Kagome's mother, and an old man. He could feel his eyelids threatening to droop and didn't know how much longer he could stay awake.
Kagome bounced over to her mother. "Hi mum! This is Ryoga Hibiki," she stated, pointing at the Lost Boy. "I found him about to camp under the God Tree. Is it okay if he stays here the night?"
Mrs. Higurashi looked at Ryoga with interest. "Camp in our yard? Oh no dear, I can't let you do that!" She gave him a wink. "Of course you can stay here! You'll have to sleep on the lounge though…Is that okay with you?"
Ryoga nodded sleepily.
Mrs. Higurashi frowned. 'This boy can't be much older than Kagome…I wonder what's happened to him? Poor thing looks ready to collapse!' She took in the appearance of their guest. 'Black hair, looks like it needs to be washed, a yellow and black bandanna that's at least keeping most of it out of his pretty brown-grey eyes, yellow shirt and black pants with cords tied around the calves…they look in need of a wash too. And a backpack about as big as Kagome's! Did he run away from home?' Shaking herself out of her thoughts, she told him to wait while she fetched some blankets for him to use.
Kagome was watching Ryoga with growing concern. After spending so much time in the Feudal Era in dangerous battles, she had become quite good at recognising and healing various things. 'He's absolutely exhausted! He looks like Inuyasha does when he pushes himself too much…Wonder what happened to push him into this state?' She did want to know, but knew it was none of her business.
Her grandfather was also keeping an eye on the youth. He had to make sure the boy wasn't a demon in disguise, after all. He wanted to make sure this Hibiki boy didn't try anything funny. He shambled off to get some sutras, just in case.
Just then, Kagome's mother came bustling back in, her arms full of blankets and a pillow. She set about turning the lounge into a temporary bed. It wasn't very wide, as lounges generally aren't, but it would do for the night. Her task finished, she turned to face Ryoga. "There you go. You can put your backpack down, dear." She watched as he complied, setting down his pack at the foot of the lounge. "Just don't roll too far, will you?" she joked, trying to get a smile out of him.
Ryoga barely heard that last line. The room seemed to be moving on him, which was odd because he knew he wasn't moving himself. Everything started to blur together into a hazy mess in front of his eyes. 'What the…?' he thought in dismay. 'I must be in worse shape than I thought…' That was the last thing he knew before complete darkness overtook him.
Kagome and her mother gasped. All of a sudden, Ryoga had swayed to one side before his knees buckled and he collapsed in a limp heap on the floor.
Kagome, from much practice, walked over and knelt beside him.
"Oh my goodness! Is he alright?" The worried voice of her mother came from behind her.
"Hold on," she replied. She quickly positioned him onto his back and reached for his wrist. Grabbing it, she checked his pulse. 'It's not as strong as it should be, but it's not weak enough to worry about too much.' Swiftly coming to a conclusion, she turned and met the concerned eyes of her mother. "He's fine, just completely exhausted. He looks a little malnourished, too…When he wakes up he should have something to drink and eat right away."
Her mother nodded in complete agreement. She herself had noticed he looked a little dehydrated and underfed. "Well, Kagome dear, we can't leave him on the floor. Grab his legs for me and we'll lift him onto the lounge. One, two, three!" she counted out, her arms wrapped under and around his. She and Kagome heaved. After a brief struggle, they had succeeded in laying him on the lounge.
"Wow," Kagome huffed, "he's heavier than he looks!"
Mrs. Higurashi had a contemplative look on her face. "I know it's none of my business and I shouldn't pry, but I'm worried about him. After he's had a good meal tomorrow, I'm going to try to find out why we found him in such a dreadful state. But first, perhaps we should check his things in case there's someone we can contact?"
Kagome had a thoughtful frown on her face as she regarded the question. "No, I don't think that's such a good idea, mum. What if he's running from somewhere and doesn't want to be found? I think we should just stick to asking him some questions when he's ready."
"It's a good thing it's the start of the weekend tomorrow, I'm going to need your help, Kagome."
Things were slowly starting to make themselves known to Ryoga as he regained consciousness. 'I'm lying on something softer than my sleeping bag…and I can smell something cooking. I'm definitely not in my tent.' The events that had transpired last night had now begun working their way to the front of his memory. 'That's right…I was about to set up my tent when this girl came. What was her name? Ka-something… Ka… Ka-gome? Yes, that was it, Kagome. She brought me to her house and her mother said I could spend the night on the lounge. That must be what I'm lying on now…but I don't remember lying on it! Wait…I remember feeling dizzy and light-headed. I thought the room was moving and everything went blurry. I don't remember anything after that… Did I pass out?'
After taking a moment, he opened his eyes. He had to blink a few times to get rid of whatever had tried to glue his eyes shut. When that was done, he wished he'd kept them closed. The light was a lot brighter than what he was used to waking up to and it hurt his sensitive eyes. He involuntarily let out a small groan at this. He attempted to sit up but something immediately stopped him and gently pushed him back down.
"You just lie there, okay?" came Kagome's voice to his right. "You gave us a bit of a scare when you suddenly collapsed. Mum's cooking you breakfast right now. Do you feel well enough to eat?"
Ryoga took a deep breath. "Yes, thankyou, but you really didn't have to go to all that trouble."
Kagome shook her head. "It's no trouble at all. This is a shrine, you know. Travellers are always welcome here."
"Yes, this is the Higurashi Shrine."
Ryoga turned his head so Kagome couldn't see his face. "This is probably going to sound like a stupid question, but are we in Tokyo?"
Kagome blinked, caught unawares by the odd question. "Yes, we are…"
Ryoga breathed a sigh of relief. He attempted to sit up once more and succeeded, propped up by pillows. Kagome was about to ask him why he wanted to know such a thing when her mother walked in carrying a breakfast tray. She had heard them talking, so she knew their guest was awake.
"Good, you're finally awake. Here you go dear," she said, handing him the tray. It just had a simple bowl of rice with a few vegetables on the side and a hot cup of tea. She thought it would be best if he had something small and simple first off. "So, why don't you tell us a little about yourself, Ryoga?"
Ryoga, who was eating slowly, paused. "There's really not much to tell. I'm a wanderer and travel all over. I tend to get lost fairly easily though, so I'm usually wandering around longer than I'd like."
"You must have seen some interesting sights. Oh, I'm Yakume Higurashi." She dipped her head in a short bow.
"It's a pleasure to meet you properly, Mrs. Higurashi," he said, dipping his head to her while trying not to spill anything.
'So well mannered!' she thought with a smile. "Well, that would explain the backpack at least."
"Lost, huh? So that's why you asked me that question?" Kagome said, looking at him curiously.
"Uh, yeah…" he mumbled, a faint blush making itself known.
"Do you work out?" Yakume asked out of the blue. Kagome looked askance at her mother.
"I'm a martial artist," Ryoga replied. He set down the now empty bowl and reached for the tea.
"Ah," was all she said in response.
"So, Ryoga," Kagome said, eager to break the slightly awkward silence, "are you headed somewhere?"
Ryoga put down his half-empty cup and let it rest in his lap. "Yes, I'm on my way back to Nerima. I don't suppose you could point me in the right direction?"
Yakume gathered up the tray. "Why yes, I can show you which way it is. But I'd feel much better if you stayed here another night. You really aren't in any condition to be wandering around. And certainly not that far!" she exclaimed, pinning Ryoga with the no-nonsense look that only mothers can pull off.
"But -" he started to protest, but a stern glare quickly made him clamp his mouth shut.
"No buts, mister. You're not leaving here until I think you're ready." She walked off to the kitchen leaving both teens with stunned expressions.
Ryoga turned to Kagome for some way out of this, but she nodded at him. "She's right, you know. I think it's a wonderful idea for you to stay here for a little while!" He gave a small huff but was inwardly happy at the chance to rest somewhere other than his tent.
The Lost Boy drained the last of his tea. He felt a lot better already. He caught the sound of footsteps coming up behind him but relaxed when Kagome greeted her grandfather.
Her grandfather shuffled into Ryoga's view and he saw a faint glimmer of suspicion in the old man's eyes. Ryoga unconsciously tensed his muscles, wary of some type of surprise from the frail-looking man. He suddenly lurched towards the young martial artist, a slip of paper in his outstretched hand. Ryoga reflexively moved his head to one side, out of the way.
Kagome blinked, trying to understand what she was seeing. It didn't take her long to figure it out. 'Oh no, Grandpa must think Ryoga's a demon… I better stop him before this gets out of hand.' She swiftly got up and stood behind her grandfather, hands on hips and an angry scowl adorning her face.
Grandpa, sensing an angry aura right at his back, timidly turned around and came face to face with his enraged granddaughter. Choosing the better part of valour, he wisely high-tailed it out of the room quickly slapping one of his sutras on Ryoga's forehead on his way.
Kagome sat back down, grumbling about paranoid old men. She glanced at Ryoga, ready to apologise, but had to try and hold back a sudden bout of laughter that threatened to overtake her. The poor boy was sitting there with a look of blank shock, the sutra clinging to his hair. She reached out and gently pulled it away. "I am so sorry! My grandpa has the annoying habit of doing that to new people, please don't think too badly of him."
"Uh, no, that's okay… First time that's happened to me. With the strange things that I see or that keep happening to me, I guess it was only a matter of time," he said, giving a brief chuckle. Kagome blinked at this announcement. She was spared from finding a response by the arrival of her mother.
"Ryoga, would you like me to wash your clothes for you? No offence dear, but they look like they could use it," Yakume offered.
"Oh, uh…you really don't have to. It's far too much trouble and I'm imposing on you enough already," he said, a little too quick as he was embarrassed by the attention.
"It's no trouble. I'd feel much better if your clothes were clean. If I let you leave with them like that, I wouldn't be able to forgive myself," she finished a bit dramatically.
A short while later found Ryoga, blushing brightly, sitting on the lounge in nothing but a pair of boxers, wrapped in a blanket. Mrs. Higurashi had made him fish out all of his clothes. She promptly hustled them from him and took them straight to the washing machine.
It wasn't until after lunch on Sunday that Yakume Higurashi declared Ryoga fit for travel. Ryoga was both relieved and saddened by this. He had enjoyed the family atmosphere, it was something he secretly missed greatly. He was eager to get back to Nerima though.
Slipping on his backpack, he stood ready to go at the top of the shrine steps. He faced the family that had temporarily taken him in. "Thankyou for all you've done for me, I'll never forget you and I'll try to visit if I ever come this way again."
Mrs. Higurashi felt a few tears threatening to spill. She had taken a liking to Ryoga and knew she would miss him. They had chatted quite a bit and she enjoyed his stories. Giving in to her motherly instincts, she rushed forward and enveloped him in a loving hug. "You better come visit! Here, take this and promise to keep in touch. I want to hear of your travels!" She handed him a slip of paper with the shrine's phone number on it.
Kagome, a little more reserved towards Ryoga than her mother, simply shook his hand. "It was nice meeting you, Ryoga. I hope you come back to visit soon." Her fingers were starting to tingle. She quickly let go of his hand. 'What was that? Maybe it's just because Ryoga's pretty cute and my hormones are betraying me? No, I don't like Ryoga that way.'
Sota shook his head at his sister. He turned and waved to Ryoga. "See ya!"
Grandpa just muttered under his breath. He had noticed that Ryoga has fangs and was still wary of him. He was glad to see the Hibiki boy leave.
Ryoga grinned at them all, accidentally flashing his fangs, before he walked off in the direction that Mrs. Higurashi had told him to go. He was soon out of their sights.
"Did you see that?" Sota breathed out with a hint of awe. "He has fangs! Do you think he's part demon?"
"I don't know, honey. He's such a sweet young man, though. I can't wait to hear from him!" his mother answered, heading inside with Grandpa and Sota close behind.
Kagome stood there a while longer, deep in thought. 'Is it possible? Is that why my hand tingled when I shook his? That doesn't happen with Inuyasha… There's definitely something strange about Ryoga Hibiki. I'll ask Kaede when I go back through the well.'
'A week. A week! But I'm finally back! Oh, Akane…at last I can see you again…' Ryoga had wandered past the Cat Café so he knew he had made it back to Nerima. He had travelled through some type of desert he was sure shouldn't have been there on his way back. Surprisingly, that was the worst of the detours he had taken.
The fanged boy was currently on his way to the Tendo Dojo to give Akane a small gift he had bought while in the last town. He was hoping to run into someone who could lead him there, but he hadn't come across any familiar faces. It was Sunday, so he knew they weren't in school.
Ryoga was concentrating so hard that he jumped a little when a voice cried, "Yo, Ryoga!"
Stopping, he turned in the direction the voice came from. There, balanced on top of the fence he was walking beside, was Ranma Saotome.
Ranma hopped off the fence and landed next to Ryoga. "So you finally made it back I see. Where'd you end up this time? Hokkaido? Okinawa? Shikoku?"
"No," Ryoga snapped at him, "I didn't leave Tokyo."
Ranma blinked at this news. "Really? Wow, you were gone for nearly three weeks and didn't end up leaving Tokyo? That has to be some kind of record!"
"Shut up!" the Lost Boy growled. "How dare you mock me!" He suddenly threw a punch aimed straight at Ranma's head.
Ranma had predicted such a response though and was well prepared. He had dodged to the left and felt the air from the punch's force whistle past his ear. "Still too slow, Mr. P!" he taunted.
"Don't call me that!" Ryoga snarled. The two boys traded a few blows, weaving and blocking, when Ryoga swiftly lashed out with his foot; determined to make the other pay for his sarcasm.
The pigtailed boy had to twist himself right around to avoid the foot from caving in his skull. Thinking of a quick plan to end the fight, Ranma's hands flashed at near Amaguriken speeds and locked around Ryoga's ankle. He tensed his legs and shot up into the air, taking the fanged boy with him.
Ryoga, taking a swift glance down, figured out Ranma's plan. 'He's going to toss me into the canal! Well if I have to go in the water then I'm taking him with me!' With that thought planted firmly in his mind, he ripped off one of his many bandannas and snapped it around Ranma's leg.
"It's been fun catching up, but I have to get back before Akane decides to cook lunch!" Parting line said, Ranma gave a half-spin to build momentum and let go of his passenger. The smirk he gained from this small victory only lasted a brief moment as he felt a tug on his leg and splashed down in the canal. "W-what the…?" he, now she, spluttered before spotting a yellow and black bandanna tied around her leg. "Why that sneaky little pig!" she huffed, searching for the aforementioned swine.
She waited for a tell-tale squeal of outrage, but none came. Starting to become a little worried for the piglet, she stood up and whirled around. She was about to shout out for him when she saw a large black canine sitting in the water. It had a yellow and black bandanna tied around it's head and a large pack on it's back that had a red umbrella strapped to it. Ranma gasped. "R-Ryoga…? Is that you, buddy?"
The canine lifted its head, revealing eyes that belonged to the Lost Boy. It was sitting there in shock, jaws working but no sound coming forth. It stared down at its paws and gave off a loud whine.
"Come on man, answer me! Is that really you, Ryoga?" Ranma watched as the animal slowly nodded. Determined to get to the bottom of this, the redhead scooped Ryoga up, pack and all, and ran to the dojo.
"Welcome back, Ranma. I've just started lunch if you're hungry," Kasumi said with her gentle smile. Her eyes came to rest on the wet bundle of fur in the girl's arms. "Oh my! Is that a new pet?"
Ranma shook her head. "Actually, Kasumi, this is Ryoga. We were fighting near the canal and both ended up in it. When I saw him, he was like this. Could you heat up some water so he can tell us what happened?"
On the relatively short run to the dojo, via rooftops, Ranma had asked Ryoga if he wanted this to be kept secret like his piglet curse. Ryoga had motioned that he didn't want this hushed. 'I feel so bad for continuously lying to Akane…I won't do that again! Keeping it a secret last time was a mistake, I see that now. Though I have NO idea why I didn't turn into a pig!'
Kasumi nodded to show she understood and left the two cursed martial artists alone while she grabbed the kettle from the table and headed to the kitchen.
Ryoga let out a soft sigh, glad Kasumi hadn't asked any questions yet. He didn't have the ability to write on signs in this form and so had no way to answer. As the Lost Boy's luck would have it, Akane chose that time to arrive home.
"I'm home!" she announced. Walking into the main room, Akane had to pause for a moment. 'Why is there a black dog here?'
"Hey, Akane, what's the hold up?" Nabiki asked from right behind her. "Doorways were made to pass through, not stand in," she added, a little sarcastically. Nabiki had just come down from the furo, so she knew nothing of what was going on. Having Akane block her path was not helping her mood.
Akane scowled lightly at her sister, but obliged her by walking in the room with Nabiki right behind. "Hey, Ranma. What's with the dog?" she asked, one eyebrow raised.
For some reason, when Akane said 'dog', something didn't ring true within Ryoga. He was feeling a little overwhelmed by everything that was happening, a bit too quick for his liking, so he ignored it. He raised his furry head and looked at Akane eye-to-eye. He dipped his head in a canine version of a bow and uttered a couple of soft barks.
"Wow, it's well trained!" she said, beaming brightly.
Ranma resisted the urge to bang her head on the table at her fiancée's ignorance. "This is no ordinary animal, Akane-" she started to explain before Nabiki interrupted.
"Well, well, Hibiki! What trouble have you gotten yourself into now?" she asked in a vaguely condescending tone.
Akane's gaze swept over the area. "You mean Ryoga? Where, I don't see him here, Nabiki?"
Ranma gave a long-suffering sigh. "Nabiki's right, Akane. Ryoga IS here," she exclaimed, gesturing her hand towards the furry form of her sort-of friend. "This is Ryoga."
Akane blinked and turned her attention back to the animal in question. "R-Ryoga? Is that you? Did you get cursed too?"
Ryoga was feeling a little dizzy. 'So many questions! I don't even know how to answer them! How can I tell them what I don't know myself?' he thought frantically. His state of mind was inadvertently made known to the others as he made small whimpering noises.
Ranma frowned, studying the Lost Boy. "Akane, how do you expect him to answer when he can't speak? Something's tellin' me that even Ryoga doesn't know much about this. We'll just have to wait for Kasumi to bring the hot water."
Kasumi walked in carrying a kettle full of hot water just as Ranma finished speaking. "Here you go, Ryoga," Kasumi said, smiling, as she poured it over him. She had noticed that Ranma wasn't carrying any of Ryoga's clothes, so she had guessed that Ryoga kept his clothes for the transformation like Ranma's father does.
A hiss of steam filled the air as a sort of suspenseful silence sprung into existence. It didn't last long. When the air cleared, the others watched as Ryoga wrung the water out of his bandanna. "Thankyou, Kasumi," he said simply.
Ranma silently accepted the kettle from Kasumi and poured the rest of the water over herself.
"B-but…how?" Akane stuttered as Nabiki observed the scene impassively. Kasumi was sitting back, as though she was a spectator at a sporting event.
"So, Ryoga…" Ranma trailed off expectantly.
The fanged boy heaved a sigh, tying his bandanna back in it's place.. "I-I don't really know…" Ranma quirked an eyebrow at him. "What I mean is, that's the first time I've turned into a dog… I don't know how or why, either!"
"So you suddenly gained a Jusenkyo curse and have no idea how it happened?" Nabiki asked sceptically over Kasumi's soft gasp of, 'Oh my!'.
Ryoga just nodded glumly.
"Are you sure? Maybe someone splashed ya with cursed water while you were sleepin' and dumped hot water on ya before you woke up?" Ranma suggested with a distinctive stare at the Lost Boy.
"Not likely," Ryoga said with a bit of a strain to his voice. "I'd know if someone was sneaking up on me, even if I was asleep."
"Then how do you explain the situation?" asked the middle Tendo daughter, a faint glare on her face from the lack of information.
"I told you…I don't-don't know…" he replied, his breathing becoming increasingly ragged.
"Ryoga?" Akane asked inquiringly.
"You okay, man? You don't look so good," Ranma added, expanding on his fiancée's inquiry.
Ryoga simply screwed his eyes shut and tried to get his breathing back to normal.
Kasumi, now worried, sat next to him and brushed back his thick bangs so she could lay her hand against his forehead. A concerned frown graced her face. "You're burning up!" she announced. "You really should lie down. I'll go get a damp cloth."
After she once again left the room, Ranma took pity on his greatest rival. "Kasumi's right, you really should lay down. You can use my futon if you like," he offered.
Ryoga shook his head, fighting off the wave of nausea that the action induced. "No, it's okay. I'm fine, really!"
'He doesn't look very convincing,' Akane thought as she watched him rise shakily to his feet. 'He's so pale! How come I didn't notice before?'
Nabiki was watching him with a critical eye. 'If he leaves now, he won't get very far in that state. Hibiki's a tough guy, but being physically strong won't protect him against a fever or something.'
Ranma, despite being clueless to many things, also noticed these conditions as Ryoga shuffled to his pack. "Hey, you goin' somewhere?" he asked in an accusatory tone.
"Yeah, I am," Ryoga shot back. "I have something I have to do."
Ranma narrowed his eyes as Ryoga knelt down to fix a strap that had come loose. "Can't it wait? You should take it easy for a while. Listen to Kasumi and go lie down before you fall over!" Ranma almost shouted, irritated by the fanged boy's stubbornness.
Aforementioned Tendo had re-entered the room in time to hear Ryoga's reply; a damp cloth held in her hands.
Ryoga felt a hot wave of dizziness wash over him. "I promised to call…" he said, barely louder than a sigh. Unable to fight the invisible waves that swept through him anymore, he gave in and let the darkness fill his vision.
Ranma had only just heard the last line, and wondered what the Lost Boy had meant, before he saw Ryoga suddenly slump over his backpack. He darted to his feet and bounded over to the unconscious boy. Swiftly checking him over, he stated, "He's passed out, the idiot. I'll take him up to my bed and lay him down." Matching actions to words, the cursed martial artist lifted Ryoga over his shoulder in a fireman's carry and headed up the stairs. Kasumi quickly trotted after him with the cloth clutched firmly in her fingers, Akane right on her heels.
After the test she had come back to do on Monday was over, Kagome had repacked her bag, said goodbye, and gone back to the past.
She was on her way to see Kaede. The old priestess was wise and knew many things. Kagome thought she might be able to shed some light on what happened with Ryoga.
Ah she neared Kaede's hut, she saw some of her friends. Inuyasha was lying on Kaede's roof and Sango was sitting near the doorway polishing her boomerang with Kirara at her feet, Shippo right beside the two-tailed cat demon. Smiling brightly, the schoolgirl shouted a greeting.
Shippo instantly launched himself at Kagome and hugged her tightly. "You're finally back!" he said enthusiastically.
"Welcome back, Kagome," Sango said in a cheery voice. Kirara mewed her agreement to her mistresses' greeting.
Inuyasha jumped off the roof and landed in front of Kagome. "'Bout time!" he grumbled, but Kagome could tell he wasn't really angry. "Took you long enough."
"Yeah, well…I had to study first!" she gently reprimanded him. "I do have something to ask Kaede, though. You coming?" she asked her friends. Sango and Shippo nodded and walked inside. Inuyasha huffed, but followed the others. Kagome smiled at his back and went in.
Once inside, she found Kaede and Miroku already there. The others sat down and waited for Kagome to speak.
"Welcome back, child," Kaede said in a grandmotherly way.
"Nice to have you back with us, Lady Kagome," Miroku chimed in after her.
"Hello!" she replied brightly. "Kaede, I have something to ask you," she said, turning serious.
When everyone had gone upstairs, Nabiki took the opportunity to search through Ryoga's pack. She wasn't looking for money or anything incriminating, though. No, Nabiki was actually looking for his personal identification. 'I know I'm known as the Ice Queen of Furinkan, but I'm not heartless,' she thought with a tinge of bitterness. 'Hopefully he has a phone number or address written down somewhere. As long as I can contact someone who knows him better. He's never mentioned his parents, so I wonder… Does he live with a guardian or does he just wander without anyone knowing where or how he is?'
In the right-hand pocket on the side of his pack, Nabiki's fingers brushed against a box of some kind. Pulling it out, she examined the small, metal container. Itching with curiosity, she gently lifted the lid. Inside was some paper and a few pens. Extracting the top piece of paper, she turned it over and gave a self-satisfied grin. A phone number was written on it. Closing the box and putting it back, Nabiki took the slip of paper and walked to the phone.
After a few rings, she heard someone answer. "Hello, Higurashi residence, Yakume speaking," said a woman's voice.
'Higurashi? Maybe she's a family friend?' Nabiki thought, confused. "Hello, my name is Nabiki Tendo. May I ask you something?"
"Of course you may, Miss Tendo," Yakume said in a slightly puzzled tone.
"Mrs. Higurashi, correct?" Nabiki asked professionally.
"Do you know someone by the name of Ryoga Hibiki?"
"Ryoga? Yes, I do. Is he there?" she asked eagerly. She had been waiting for the young man to call.
Nabiki gave a small cough to clear her throat, wondering how to word the news. Kasumi had come down just as she was about to dial the number and informed her of Ryoga's condition once Nabiki had explained what she was doing with the phone. "Yes, he's here at the Tendo Dojo. Are you his guardian?"
"Not really. He stayed here for a couple of nights a week ago after my daughter found him in our yard. Poor boy collapsed after she brought him inside. Why, is something wrong? He hasn't collapsed from exhaustion again, has he?" Yakume inquired anxiously.
Nabiki was a little taken aback by the impromptu interrogation. Gathering her wits, she prepared to tell the older woman the news, deciding to leave out the curse. "One of our houseguests, Ranma, found him and brought him here. He was fine, but a short while after he arrived he seemed to suddenly get very sick. He started breathing heavily and he went pale. He passed out a few minutes ago and Ranma took him upstairs."
Kagome had stayed in the Feudal Era for almost a week, coming back yesterday. Kaede had been as mystified by what Kagome described as the fifteen-year-old herself. All of them had spent the entire time trying to figure it out. They had come up empty-handed, though. Sango had suggested that maybe she imagined it. 'But I know I didn't!'
At the moment, Kagome was debating on whether to tell her mother about what she felt when she shook Ryoga's hand or not. Her internal debate was rudely interrupted as the phone rang downstairs.
"I'll get it!" she heard her mother yell. Wondering if it was one of her friends from school, Kagome slowly walked downstairs and stood near her mother. She heard her mother gasp and instantly became intrigued.
"Oh dear, is he okay?" Yakume asked worriedly. She was silent as the person on the other end of the phone line spoke.
"He'll be fine. Kasumi says he just has a high fever. The guy's tough, Mrs. Higurashi, he'll be over it in no time," Nabiki said reassuringly.
Yakume frowned thoughtfully as she digested this news. She was trying to think of something to say when she felt her daughter tap her on the shoulder. She turned to face Kagome's inquiring expression.
"What's wrong, mum?" Kagome asked, a little dismayed by how worried her mother appeared.
"It's Ryoga, dear. He got to where we wanted, but the poor boy's fallen quite ill. I knew I should've made him stay here at the shrine longer…" Yakume said, trailing off wistfully.
This little titbit of information made Nabiki's mind race. "A shrine, did you say?"
"Yes. We live at the Higurashi Shrine, why?" Mrs. Higurashi replied.
"Do you know anything about curses?" Nabiki boldly asked.
Yakume was silent for a moment. "Curses?" she parroted.
'Curses?' Kagome repeated in her thoughts. 'That's it, maybe Ryoga's cursed! Because I have spiritual powers, it was affecting him and maybe that's what the tingle meant?' Proud of this theory, Kagome motioned for her mother to hand over the phone. Mrs. Higurashi did so willingly. She knew her daughter knew a fair bit about this sort of stuff.
"Hello," she said in a vaguely professional tone. "My name is Kagome, I'm the one that found Ryoga. Did you want to know something about curses?"
"Yes. I'm not sure if I should be telling you this, but you might be able to help. Are you a priestess?" Nabiki asked, trying to quell her rising excitement. She could only imagine how much the various cursed individuals in Nerima would pay for information about a possible cure.
"Yes, I am," Kagome confidently replied.
"Ryoga seems to have recently acquired a curse that turns him into some type of canine. He has no idea how it happened and, apparently, today was the first time it activated. I was wondering if it might be responsible for his sudden attack of fever," The Ice Queen delicately stated.
Kagome was sad to hear that Ryoga was sick, but this girl had answered her most important question. "He was cursed and now he's some type of dog?" she asked, hoping she hadn't just been hearing things.
Nabiki gave a barely perceptible sigh. "It's a bit more complicated than that, I'm afraid. He turns into a dog when he comes into contact with cold water and changes back into a human when he's hit with hot water," she patiently explained.
"Hmm…" Kagome hummed, deep in thought. "Can you hold on for a minute?" she asked quickly. After getting a positive reply, she rapidly told her mother what Nabiki had disclosed.
"I think that we should go to this place. Inuyasha should come too, he might be of some help being half dog-demon," she suggested. She saw her mother nod.
"I'll leave Sota here with my father. I'll make sure to tell him to ring your school to excuse you from tomorrow. Oh, dear…I never imagined that Ryoga was cursed!" Mrs. Higurashi said in a rush.
"Mum, calm down. Here, take the phone," Kagome said, handing it back. She found herself rather thirsty, so she headed to the kitchen, leaving her mother holding the phone.
"Miss Tendo?" Yakume asked hesitantly.
"Yes, Mrs. Higurashi?" came the swift reply.
"Would it be alright if my daughter, one of her friends and myself came to the dojo? My daughter and her friend would like to try and help poor Ryoga. I really think they would be a big help," she gushed out. "Is that okay?"
"I'm not sure," came the uncertain reply. "If you intend to stay over the night, or however long you'll need, you'll have to sleep in the dojo as the house is full. We usually rent the dojo out, however, as we're a little strapped for cash."
"That's fine, I can pay you some sort of rent for the use of your dojo," she immediately said. "I'm sorry if I seem a bit forward about this, but while he was here Ryoga became like an extended family member to me."
"I understand," Nabiki interposed smoothly. "When do you plan on coming? I'm not sure if you know of Hibiki's direction problem, but he'll accidentally wander off and get himself lost shortly."
Yakume nodded, even though Nabiki couldn't see the gesture. "Yes, I know about his problem. If we leave here within the next hour or so, we should be able to get to Nerima by sunset. Is that alright with you?"
"That's fine. So I'm telling my father that we'll have three guests renting out the dojo for a while?" she asked, wanting to completely confirm it.
"Indeed. Please try to keep Ryoga in bed so he rests and doesn't wander off," Yakume practically pleaded.
"Will do, Mrs. Higurashi. I guess I'll be seeing you in a few hours. I have to go now, so I'll say goodbye," Nabiki said, wrapping up the conversation. Her dad and Mr. Saotome had just arrived back from wherever they had been and Nabiki had to inform her father of what was going on.
"Of course. Goodbye, Nabiki," Yakume sighed as she hung up. Kagome was standing in the doorway, waiting for her mother to tell her what was going on. "Go fetch Inuyasha, dear. We're leaving for Nerima as soon as possible, so be quick."
Kagome merely nodded and swiftly exited the house, heading for the well.
"So you want me to come why exactly?" Inuyasha demanded, curious but wary.
"Because," Kagome said, as patiently as she could. "She said he has a curse that turns him into some type of dog. I thought you might be able to help."
The half dog-demon gave her a pointed stare.
"I'm not trying to make fun of you, Inuyasha! Please? This is really important to my mum…" she begged, pinning Inuyasha with a puppy-eyes look. He caved in a moment later.
They stopped off at Kaede's hut and told the others they would be gone for a couple of days. They headed for the well in Inuyasha's forest with the good luck wishes of their friends ringing in their ears.
A/N: Did you know this is the longest fic chapter I've ever written? 7070 words minus the notes and disclaimer! I feel rather proud of that fact. I know I've seen longer chapters, but it's an accomplishment for me.
I have no idea what Kagome's mother is called as it's never mentioned. So, I called her 'Yakume'. It means 'duty' and I choose it for the simple reason that Mrs. Higurashi is such a dutiful mother.
I hope I've attracted your interest and that you enjoyed it! I love constructive criticism, I'm always looking to improve my writing. Flames really aren't appreciated in the slightest. If you didn't like it, please let me know why and what I could do to make it better instead of simply saying, 'It sucks!'.
Reviews always motivate me, so if you want more you'll have to review! Pretty please?