Chapter 1: Old Wounds
Author's Note: This story takes place after Kagome Higurashi returns to the modern era through the Bone-eater's well after Naraku's ultimate defeat… But what if Inuyasha and Kagome could never meet again, and the well disappeared for good? How would she meet his again? This story highlights her life under this premise. (Crossover with Bleach)
Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha or any of its characters or rights to publication. All credit goes to the original author, Rumiko Takahashi.
"I'll be down in a minute." Kagome shouted to her mother, looking at her reflection in her bedroom mirror.
Observing her appearance, the young priestess couldn't help but wonder about something. Although part of the experience was still a blur, the memories that she had retained of her time spent trapped within the darkness of the Sacred Jewel would always remain in the back of her mind. That terrible feeling of complete helplessness was something that she had rarely experienced before, and it seemed that every time she was alone, those horrible memories would crawl from the recesses of her mind and plague her like a terrible disease.
Still, she couldn't help but wonder about one thing… What happened to the one person that she had loved? The end of the Shikon Jewel's terrible cycle had finally come, but she could never forget about her friends back in the feudal era. After the destruction of that accursed gem, Inuyasha had returned her to her own time zone through the Bone-eater's well, but shortly after his departure, the doorway between their worlds vanished from existence…
Despite the harsh truth, the situation was actually more complicated to her then it would seem to an outsider. The sorrowful look that Inuyasha had cast her before his departure still lingered in her mind as if she had seen it moments ago. The memory of that small gesture had made her even more curious about the whole ordeal, and for some reason, she was not sure whether she was more angry or saddened by his actions. Had he known that the well would disappear? Why did he leave so abruptly? So many questions remained that would never be answered…
Five months has passed since that terrible ordeal, and she was still not entirely sure what to think about the current situation either. Kagome was never the type of person to display hatred or discontent towards other people, but not even she could completely conceal the feeling of loneliness that had become a part of her.
Even so, she was still happy in many ways… Naraku was finally gone from the world, and all of her friends had survived the last battle with the deadly demon. Although this was true, the one thing that she had always wanted was now beyond her reach. Her beloved half-demon, and the idea of spending the rest of her life with her best friends was now completely shattered…
Shifting the thought aside, she decided to continue her daily routine. Slipping on a pair of shoes, Kagome immediately headed for the door, ready to head downstairs and begin her day. As she took a few steps forward, the young priestess took one last glance in the mirror. Seeing how closely her face resembled Kikyo, she quickly reached behind her head and untied the ponytail that she had made with her hair, allowing the raven-colored locks to flow freely as they usually did.
Dashing down the stairs to make up for lost time, she immediately took her usual seat at the kitchen table. Her young brother Sota raised his head for second to acknowledge his sister before returning to his breakfast. Things were quiet around the breakfast table as usual. Her mother stood by the stove preparing the meal, while the rest of her family gathered around the table in preparation.
"So Kagome… did you sleep well?" an older man questioned, risking a glance at his unusually silent granddaughter.
Kagome yawned slightly, shifting uncomfortably in her seat as she heard his question. "I guess so…" the reluctant girl replied in an uncharacteristic monotone.
Her grandfather nodded in a solemn manner before he resumed the conversation. "Aha… Your reaction says different! The body doesn't lie, but don't you worry, your grandfather has the solution!" he commented, his aged face lighting up with an odd expression.
Reaching into his robes, he began rummaging through his pockets in a frantic manner. "I knew I had it with me this morning…" he said in a hushed tone… After a few moments, the old man withdrew a small, shriveled looking item, holding it out in front of her like a talisman. "Here, eat this and you'll sleep much better tonight!"
"What is it?" she asked, glancing nervously at the strange item dangling in front of her face. While there was a time when she would have thrown her grandfather's odd items to the cat, she was feeling far too exhausted to make a big deal about it right now.
Her grandfather nodded proudly as he dropped it into her breakfast plate. "Why it's a special octopus tentacle, preserved for years in a special solution that makes it ideal for medicinal purposes. It's guaranteed to relax the person who eats it…"
Sota cast a disgusted look at the tentacle, a sour expression etching its way onto his face as he continued to stare at it. "Hey grandpa, maybe Kagome could just take some sleeping pills… it sounds a lot safer than eating that." The young boy replied, pointing to the item that remained untouched on Kagome's plate.
"Nonsense m'boy" the old man replied, standing up and shaking his fist. "I assure you that this medicinal food is perfectly safe for human digestion, and works perfectly well."
The young boy opened his mouth to say something else, but all eyes shifted to Kagome as she stood up from her seat. Without even so much as a backwards glance, the young priestess swept from the room and left through the front door.
Her grandfather glanced at the door in a puzzled manner. "What's wrong with her?" he asked, looking towards Kagome's mother for an answer.
Although the woman had not uttered a single word during the brief conversation, she probably understood what her daughter was going through better than the rest of her family. "She's still recovering from her loss, and I believe that the situation is far more complicated than we could imagine…" she replied. Nodding silently, Kagome's mother smiled at her family in a cheerful manner as she caught the look of concern on Sota's face. "Don't worry about Kagome too much, I believe that she has become a much stronger person than she was before."
"Even if that is true, I'm sure that she will not be entirely thrilled when you tell her about that little surprise you have been keeping from her." The old man added in.
Kagome's mother simply gave her family and understanding smile as she thought about the plans she had made for her daughter. "Nevertheless, I think a nice change of scenery would be a good thing for her."
"Let's just hope that you're right about that." Sota chimed in, shaking his head slightly.
The three family members exchanged a collective nod as they expressed their agreement. After sharing this thought, they finished the rest of their meal in silence.
Kagome continued her stroll through the grounds of the Higurashi Shrine. Despite being a little bit old fashioned, she had truly begun to appreciate the scenery more than ever in the last year of her life. Having lived in the feudal era herself for months at a time the previous year, she had experienced the harsh realities of life at a young age, and had matured quite a bit in that short time. Not only had she experienced true love and happiness… but she had also seen the horrors of the world in ways that most people from the modern era could not possibly imagine.
Turning away from her house, the young priestess caught sight of the Tree of Ages where Kikyo had sealed Inuyasha for fifty long years… Ever since the day that she had personally released the seal that held him, Kagome had developed a certain connection to that location on her family's property. The tree itself held so many memories for her… her and Inuyasha…
Continuing her walk, she couldn't help but cast a nervous glance towards the old shrine that once housed the Bone-eater's well. As she stared at the wooden hut, the many questions that constantly dwelt beneath the surface of her mind had begun to come back to her. Although the idea seemed foolish, there were times in the past months when she would go to the well house to check out the premises, but every time she did that it just seemed to make her feel worse. She knew he was not coming back… So, why did she feel the need to do this to herself? It was almost as if her own home was a testament to her sorrows…
The young priestess crossed the grounds of Higurashi Shrine, and headed towards the gateway where the giant flight of stairs were embedded on the hill. Staring down at the street below, she admired the trees that covered the surrounding hill. Kagome hoped to find some peace of mind this afternoon and quickly decided to go for a walk around the city to ease her weary mind. The subtle sounds of life around her did little to help, but she had developed a type of emotional shell in the passing months as a way of coping with what to her was considered a great loss. She appeared to be an ordinary student on the outside, but in her heart she believed that things would never again be the same as they once were
Her dreams were filled with horrible memories that even she knew would scar her until the end of time. Ever since Inuyasha had left her, she had lost her peace of mind, along with the one person who she truly loved. All of the terrible things that had happened in the feudal era never bother her so much when Inuyasha was around, but now that he was no longer a part of her life, she had begun to wonder what would have happened all of those times if he had not been there to rescue her.
Kagome took a deep breath, cringing at the terrible thought as she began walking down the stairway leading away from her family's shrine. In a few moments, she had exited through the second gate and had disappeared down the road. Anyone who might have seen her that morning would have seen a broken woman… but that was not so. She was physically healthy, but she was emotionally distraught, and she was not entirely sure if time would heal a soul broken between two entirely different worlds.
After a few minutes of walking in silence, she began wondering what her family was thinking about her now, but simply shrugged off the idea of heading back home now and continued her stroll down a few more blocks before heading towards the business sector of town. Sometimes it was good to distance herself from the family's shrine so that she could compose her thoughts.
Looking around at the street's occupants, she sometimes couldn't believe how carefree most of the people on the seemed to be... Each person that she saw today had one major thing in common. They were all content with pleasantly existing side by side with the rest of society as they went about their daily lives, none of them knowing of the existence of demons and other horrors that Kagome herself was all too familiar with.
That was another question that bothered her sometimes. Back in the feudal era, there were so many demons, but 500 years later in her own time zone, none of them remained. There were times when she wondered what had happened to so many powerful creatures, but she never did expect anyone to be able to answer this question. Either way, it seemed somewhat irrelevant to her life. Having been through so much in the last year, the young priestess doubted that anything could possibly surprise her anymore.
Walking past Wacdonald's, she couldn't help but remember the many conversations that she had with her friends in that fast food restaurant... many of them concerning her mysterious "bad boy" boyfriend. Thinking back, she couldn't help but laugh at the things that she had said to them. It was always amusing when she remembered the things that she had said to her friends to cover up the existence of her second life, made even more complicated by the bizarre stories that they had also gotten from her grandfather on several occasions. Letting out a small giggle, she felt surprisingly lighthearted for the rest of her walk.
It was five hours before she finally returned home, but her family had gotten used to her constant excursions, and did their best not to worry about her when she would disappear for hours at a time. It wasn't as if she ever ran into any danger, and she always came back to them before sunset at the very least. Upon reaching the door to her home, she couldn't help but hesitate a moment before reaching for the handle and entering the house.
The place was unusually quiet today. Usually her little brother was off playing video games on his many systems, yelling at the computer whenever he lost a game, while her grandfather lectured the occasional tourists that came to see the family Shrine. Taking a few steps forward into the kitchen, Kagome began looking around.
"Mom, I'm home." She called out, glancing around the room for any sign of her family.
In a matter of moments, her mother emerged from the door leading into the kitchen, giving her daughter an inviting smile as she entered the room. "I'm glad you're home so early today... Would you be kind enough to sit down for a moment, dear?" she replied, gesturing for Kagome to take a seat at the table.
"Where are gramps and Sota?" The young priestess replied, taking the seat directly across from her mother. All the while she had begun to rack her brain for possibilities of what she wanted to say to her, but was suddenly interrupted by her mother's voice.
"Your grandfather took Sota to a nearby shrine in an attempt to convince him to become a shrine priest so that someone can take over when your grandfather can no longer fulfill his duties."
Kagome nodded slightly, a shadow of a smile appearing on her lips as she remembered the last time her grandfather had recommended something like that. The old man had suggested that they shave her brother's head in preparation for the priesthood ceremony, much to her poor brother's dismay.
"I have something that I wanted to tell you…" her mother commented, looking unusually serious for a change. Kagome shifted uncomfortably in her seat as she gave her mother all of her attention.
Kagome's mother placed her hands over her daughter's, her expression softening a little. "I know it's been hard for you these last few months, and I understand how you feel… I felt the same way when your father died, so I know what you're going through… … … I have also noticed that you have been neglecting daily meals and getting very little sleep in the last few months." She added, her expression hardening again.
Ignoring her daughter's confused expression. "Ever since you started High School, your grades have been lower than usual, perhaps even as low as they were when you were constantly faking illness to help your friends beyond the Bone-eater's well…" she continued.
"I'm sorry about that, but there's still so many things that I've been wondering about lately…" Kagome replied, bowing her head slightly. "I just don't know what to do about this."
Her mother closed her eyes for a moment before breaking the veil of silence that had fallen upon them. "I know this won't be easy… but I believe that you need a little time away from here." She replied, nodding in a firm manner.
Kagome's head shot up as she heard these last words, her eyes shifting towards, her eyes shifting towards her mother. "What…" was all she managed to say.
"Exactly… You need to relax a little bit and think about your life. Sometimes things happen to us, but we must pick up the pieces and move on with our lives." Kagome gulped slightly, but her mother continued speaking. "I know this is probably the last thing that you ever thought you would hear, but one cannot live in the past."
Kagome nodded her acceptance, thinking about the irony of the statement as her thoughts returned to a certain dog-eared half-demon. Taking another deep breath, she turned back to her mother. "Are you saying that I have to forget about Inuyasha?"
The older woman shook her head slightly, casting her daughter one of her characteristically warm smiles. "Of course not dear… He was you first real love, and that is something that you can never forget. I just believe that you need to live your life the way you were meant to live. Keep the memories of him close to your heart, but remember that you cannot live life as a shell of your former self."
"Why do you want me to leave my home to do that?" she questioned imploringly.
Her mother nodded her head. "You must, because I believe it would do you some good to escape the pain for a while. Some days I see you staring at the shrine, and glancing at the Sacred Tree when you think that no one's looking… I believe it will be much easier if you have a nice change of scenery." She replied with a reassuring smile.
Kagome thought about the whole situation for a moment, giving her brain time to soak in everything that her mother head just said to her. After a few minutes of silence, the young priestess nodded her head in agreement. "I guess that I understand what you mean… and now… I feel as if I have to do this for myself." She replied with a weak smile. "I just want to know where you're sending me?"
"I made some arrangements with some of our relatives in a nearby town. I think you'll like it, because it's a very lovely place to live." The older woman said. "It's a place called Karakura Town. I made arrangements for you to leave next week, and you'll also be enrolling in a new High School as well."
"I guess that sounds exciting…" Kagome responded in a casual tone. "Either way, I guess I'll be busy trying to adjust to a new school."
Her mother looked relatively cheerful, feeling proud that her daughter was willing to try something new. "I'm so proud of you, dear. You really are handling this change in your life like an adult…" she replied, taking her daughter into her arms. Kagome returned her mother's short embrace, but the young priestess was still conflicted… She wondered what new experiences awaited her in Karakura Town.
Note to Readers: Hope anyone who read this story likes it so far. Sorry about the drama and any possible out of characters moments here, but I needed to set the stage for the rest of the story. Maybe I'll continue it, maybe I won't? Please review and give me your opinions, suggestions, critiques, etc. If you didn't like it, you are free to criticize components of the story, but I would prefer if you guys didn't send any hate mail.