DISCLAIMER: The characters of Inuyasha are not mine. They are property of Rumino Takahashi, Shogakukan, Yomiuri TV, Sunrise, and Viz. Unfortunately, because I could really use some, I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

Forsaken Memories

Chapter One…

"You have already died. You haven't even noticed. You live, and yet you're already dead…"

Kagome's eyes fluttered open and stared at the ceiling above her. For an instant, for a mere second, she could make out the smallest details of the tiles above her head. Then the sound that had awoken her reached her sleep numbed brain. Turning in her bed, she watched, almost as if it were happening in slow motion, as her hand reached out and shut off the alarm clock.

Laying back against her bedding, a sigh escaped her lips as the feeling of contentment, of satisfaction, slowly slipped away to replace the numbness she knew so well. When had she lost herself? When had she realized that who she was wasn't who she was meant to be? Had she ever known herself at all? Or was her mind only playing wishful tricks on her and this was all that life was meant to be?

She closed her eyes against the rays of bright morning sun that were pouring in through the windows of her bedroom. Images, tattered and torn by waking, flashed through her mind. She'd had another dream, she knew. The details of it were so fresh, so real, it was amazing that it hadn't actually happened to her. But, she knew, that the longer she remained awake, the more the dream would fade until it hunted her down again. Who was that man that called to her? Was he real? Was she meant to find him? And why, when she saw him, when she knew he was there waiting for her, did she cringe with horror?

She had no name for this being of her dreamscape and only called him, privately, the man in black.

All her life she'd had dreams; horrible nightmares of futures and pasts untold. Sometimes the dreams drove her to crying in her sleep and she'd wake with tears streaming down her face, not understanding why because the reason vanished as soon as her eyes opened. Sometimes the dreams, no matter how bloody and grotesque, had her waking feeling as if she were queen of the world and nothing could touch her. And those were the dreams that scared her the most…

Once upon a time she'd tried to talk to her friends about this man that continually seemed to hunt her in the sleeping world of her mind, but they'd latched on the romanticism of the idea, the thought that there was a man out there searching for her, yearning for her. While Kagome had not doubted that this man searched for her, she did doubt that his attentions were those that her friends seemed stuck upon. And so, after realizing that her friends were too caught up in their own ideas and not listening to the words she was saying, Kagome had found talking with them on the matter mind-numbing and pointless.

After a particularly bloody dream that caused her to wake up almost screaming, Kagome had even gone so far as to talk to her grandfather about them. While she doubted Jiji had any actually spiritual powers, he did oversee the shrine she'd been raised in. After carefully telling her grandfather about her dreams, without mentioning how often or long they'd been repeating in her mind and without giving too much detail, she'd awaited his wisdom and had not been surprised when he'd launched into tales of youkai and magical powers and how spiritual abilities ran strongly through the Higurashi bloodline.

Jiji had become agitated and worried over the matter, saying that some evil spirit was trying to gain access to her soul. He worked himself up so much that Kagome had feared for the older man's blood pressure. After promising him that she would tell him as soon as she had another dream, she'd turned his attention to other matters all the while with her fingers crossed behind her back.

It was the one and only promise she'd ever broken to her grandfather as she'd dreamed of the man in black thousands of times since then. And while this pained her, she knew it best to keep such things to herself where he was concerned. Jiji was getting on in years and too much excitement would not be good for him. Especially over something so trivial as a dream. She was a twenty-four-year-old adult, for Kami sake! Dreams, night terrors, were for children to fret and worry over. Not for someone like her.

"They are meaningless anyway," she said aloud to the empty room around her.

Forcing her body to move, Kagome rose from her bed and padded the short distance between there and the bathroom. She started the shower first, letting the room fill with steam and heat, as she stared at her reflection in the bathroom mirror. "Who am I?" she questioned the face there. "What do you want with me?"

The only answers she received was in the haggard appearance of her eyes. Always, after a night like this, it showed on her face how tortured her dreams truly were. Her friends would notice, she knew. They would notice and wonder and talk amongst themselves. Of course, they would only have her best interests at heart, but Kagome was tired of everyone else trying to solve her life's mysteries.

With resolve, she striped out of her pajamas, leaving them in a puddle on the floor at her feet, and stepped into the hot shower. She washed herself, trying to keep her thoughts from wandering towards the dreams. When she was done, she took care of other morning necessities and then dressed for the day. It wasn't until she'd left her small apartment and was walking towards work when she realized she hadn't eaten anything yet. "Damn," she cursed softly under her breath. "So much for not being distracted."

*FM*

Kagome stopped along the way to work to buy herself something to hold her hunger at bay. She moved through the day like a zombie, doing what work came her way to be done. Sometimes she hated her job; the easy-going, mindlessness of it. Other days, like today, she was glad she did not have to put forth much effort. As a little girl, she'd had childish ideals of changing the world through some fantastic job, but, as she'd grown into womanhood, she'd found a strange satisfaction in blending in with the rest of society. Yes, she'd completed her schooling with high marks, but hadn't wanted to take the jobs those marks deserved. When her mother had questioned her choices, Kagome had merely shrugged and said there would be time later.

Time. What an illusive thing…

The day ended and Kagome began the walk home. She didn't live far from the small office she worked in and rather enjoyed the walks, no matter the weather. Today the sun was shining, the sky clear. She detoured from her usual route to walk through the small park that was near her home. Stopping at the koi pond, she stared into the placid waters. "I'm already dead?" she mouthed to the fish swimming lazily by. "What would a dream know?"

All day the last words of the man in black had haunted her, distracted her, and held her enthralled. Yes, he said them to her every time she dreamed of him, but they still held power over her. How was it that he knew her so well? How did he know all her secret fears and how to control her? Why did he seem so real?

The vibration of her cell phone made her jump and Kagome mentally berated herself for it. She fished the phone out of her pocket and looked at the call screen. It was Ayumi. Kagome answered it and was immediately deafened by a high pitched squeal of joy. "You answered!"

"Of course I did. This is my phone."

"Don't give me that bullshit, Kagome. You never answer your phone any more. I swear you are turning into a recluse."

"I've been busy, that's all. And I just saw you less than two weeks ago, Ayumi."

Ayumi gave a huff of indignation and disbelief. "I see more of your brother than I do you, Kagome."

At that, Kagome smiled. Little did Ayumi know that her brother, Souta, had developed quite a crush on the older girl and was secretly "stalking" her in his own way. "Could it be because he has a crush on you, Ayumi?" she teased. Ayumi would never believe it, never see Souta's feelings for what they were. Kagome had tried to explain this to her brother, but love was love. Hardly rational.

"Oh Kami, Kagome! Don't say things like that. I've known him since he was in diapers." Ayumi gave a shudder of disgust that was visible even over the phone and continued talking as if Kagome hadn't said anything about her brother. "Any way, you have to come out with us tonight."

"Tonight?"

"Kagome, I will not let you wiggle out of this one."

"I don't wiggle, Ayumi," she argued pointlessly. It almost felt like they were high school all over again.

"No, you bury your head in the sand and let life pass you by."

"Now that's a little harsh—"

"I will not accept no for an answer, Kagome," Ayumi interrupted. "Listen. I'll be at your place by eight to pick you up. We're meeting the girls at the new bar at eight thirty. Dress sexy, Kagome. You never know when a fresh piece of meat will come your way."

Before Kagome could get another word in, Ayumi had hung up. Sighing to herself, Kagome pocketed her phone and walked the rest of the way home. She let herself into her small apartment and looked around at the familiar furniture. Each piece had been selected with loving care, she remembered. She'd been so excited to have her own place, to no longer be living at home with her mother, Jiji, and Souta. Now what she wouldn't give for her mother's comforting presence to come home to and for the smell of her oden filling the house. Perhaps the man in black represents my dreams unfulfilled? she thought to herself as she went through the motions of undressing from her work clothes and putting on a pair of black jeans and a simple shirt.

Ayumi had said to dress sexy, but Kagome was not in the mood for men this evening. Maybe, after a few drinks, they might look appetizing, but she seriously doubted it. She wasn't sure what she was looking for in the opposite sex, but it definitely wasn't the ones who were attracted to her. They were either assholes or so nice they seemed to made of sugar and think her an angel capable of no wrong. Like Hojo, Kagome thought. Thankfully Eri had snatched Hojo off the market shortly after high school and after confirming with Kagome that she didn't want anything to do with him other than friendship.

At eight o'clock exactly Ayumi was knocking on her door. As soon as Kagome opened it, Ayumi was practically dragging her out the door, chatting with her usual vigor. All of it was complete nonsense and of no importance, but that is what girl friends were best for, it seemed. The nonstop talk erased Kagome's memories of her troubles for the time being as she tried, in vain, to get a word in edgewise.

Ayumi talked the entire way to the bar, which ended up not being a little hole in wall like Kagome had thought it would be. It ended up being a massive three story dance club complete with dark shadowed recesses, flashing lights, and loud, throbbing music. As they walked in, after being ID'd and stamped, Kagome looked around the massive room filled with bodies. "This isn't a bar, Ayumi!" she yelled over the noise of the music.

"It serves alcohol. Therefore it is," Ayumi answered back while scanning the crowded room for the others. She spotted them, latched on to Kagome's arm, and dragged her across the club to where some tables were set up. Hojo, Eri, and Yuka were already there. "We've finally arrived!" Ayumi cried out with a flourish of her hands. "First round of shots are on me!"

This, of course, was met with a rousing cheer from her friends and Ayumi pushed her down into the nearest seat. "Watch Kags and make sure she lives a little. I'll be back in a sec."

Before Kagome could respond to that barb, Ayumi was gone towards the nearest bar and her friends were engulfing her in questions.

*FM*

Several mixed drinks and shots later Kagome found herself finally feeling relaxed. It had been a while since she'd been out with her friends—not including going to see them at their homes—and she found herself actually having a good time. Eri and Hojo had been dancing almost all night long and Ayumi had dragged her out onto the floor a few times. She could feel the alcohol working its way through her system, though, and so sat the next number out, being the one to keep the table claimed.

She was sitting at the table, stirring her straw around in her drink and staring off onto the dance floor at the strangely lit shapes gyrating there, when the hairs on the back of her neck rose up and goose bumps covered her arms. The dance club was in no way cold and, in fact, Kagome was feeling almost feverish from the combined body heat of those there. Wondering what in the world had made her feel this way, she stood, feeling as if she were being watched. As she did a wave of dizziness came over her and she had to brace herself against the tabletop to keep from falling over. Her eyes immediately sought out her friends. Hojo and Eri were on the second level, she knew, but Ayumi and Yuka were around here somewhere.

Kagome spotted them dancing with a couple of guys not too far away from her. Feeling an overwhelming need to escape, she pushed herself away from the table and stumbled towards them. She wasn't drunk, but her body felt as if some outside force were trying to overtake it. She had to fight her own muscles to move.

When she was only a few feet away from her friends, her world seemed to freeze. The bodies dancing around her stopped. The lights stalled. Even the music fell silent. Unsure of what was going on, Kagome froze, as well. Then she saw him; standing not too far beyond where her friends were dancing, preternatural golden eyes seeming to glow in the darkness as they connected with hers. He was covered by the shadows of the club and so Kagome could not see what he was wearing, but she would know this man anywhere. After all, he'd been living in her mind for years now.

Then, just as suddenly as everything had happened, the world unfroze and crashed back down on her. Kagome stumbled forward, her eyes immediately drawn back to where she had seen him. The spot was empty.

Tearing around, she tried to see where he had gone, but it was if he hadn't ever been there at all. Then her friends noticed her. "Kagome?" Yuka asked as she stopped dancing and came over to where she was standing. "Are you okay?"

Kagome couldn't speak, still stunned by what she'd thought she'd seen. Instead she nodded her head yes, but she could see that Yuka didn't believe her. Taking her by the arm, Yuka led her off the dance floor, shooting Ayumi a look that she'd find out what was wrong. They moved over to one of the alcoves where the music wasn't so loud. "You don't look okay, Kagome."

"I'm fine, Yuka," Kagome assured her once more. The feeling of being watched had dissipated within an instant. As had the dizziness and chills that had raced through her body. "But I'm getting tired and better go home."

Yuka glanced at her watched and gave a silent curse under her breath. "Damn, it is late. Come on, Kagome. I'll take you home. Let me tell Ayumi that we're leaving."

Kagome only nodded her head and stayed where she was, her eyes racing around the dance club still trying to catch a glimpse of the man she'd seen that so closely resembled her nightmare in the flesh. Yuka returned a moment later and, together, they left the club. Once outside in the cooler night air, Kagome almost felt foolish for the fear that had gripped her. Almost.

*FM*

When Kagome made it back to her home that evening, she turned on every light in her small apartment. Not a shadow existed in the safety of her realm. Then she sat on the couch, legs drawn back against her chest with her arms wrapped tightly around them. Her eyes stared at the empty television that sat across the way and she briefly entertained the idea of turning it on. The gyrating music of the club ran through her mind then and Kagome quickly decided that silence was better. In silence she might find the illusive peace that had been stolen from her this evening.

Closing her eyes, Kagome calmed her breathing and willed herself to relax and unfold. She thought back to those times she and Jiji had meditated together, something her grandfather had loved doing with her as a young child. They had sat in the gardens meditating together for many long hours and Kagome had always thought she'd felt better after focusing herself and her energies. Deciding that was what she needed now, she let the silence of her apartment fill her, complete her, and blind her to all else.

Moving herself into the half-lotus position, she folded her hands across her lap and concentrated on her breathing, on the air filling and leaving her. Slowly, as she focused solely on her breathing, her mind relaxed. As her mind relaxed, her body followed and the tension that had haunted her since leaving the dance club slipped away as well.

When she next opened her eyes, Kagome felt like her old self once more. She stood, stretching and smiling, and moved back to her bedroom. After a quick shower, she changed into her pajamas and slid underneath the covers of her bed. For a moment she thought of getting up and turning off all the lights, but then she changed her mind. Maybe they would keep her dreams at bay…