Disclaimer: Still don't own Inuyasha, nor make money off of it.
Chapter 2: From Kagome's Point of View
Ever since I was little, I had this vision, this dream of America. I know that It's not a realistic one, or one inspired by anything I am aware of. It doesn't even make sense. In time, of course, other images have appeared before me, of a sunny, desert land, of strange people with weird accents who call black people 'niggers' and use them as slaves, or of fat people in department stores, rushing for Christmas gifts, of naïve and cheerful idiots whom I cannot understand no matter how hard I try. I don't know how correct any of these disjointed pictures are or how much they reflect of the truth, but I can trace their origins back to films of Las Vegas and California, to Huckleberry Finn, to youtube videos circulating on the net, to that couple I met three years ago and couldn't convince that I don't know where the nearest karate dojo was – and yet they still liked me and called me their friend. How can you be friends with somebody whom you just met? How can you stereotype us all into martial arts or ikebana practitioners?
Still, I liked them too. I took them to our shrine and marveled over them as much as they did over us. I practiced my English, sorely aware of how it must sound to their ears, despite my attempts to get better and better at it. Granddad told them some of his old tales, which I translated, and they were thrilled.
So loud, so trusting, so invasive, so impolite. So free, though, so willing to see us happy. So friendly. Are we a cold people? Were they just on an excursion high, away from home and uninhibited by either their rules, which may not apply here, or by ours, which they don't know?
But that has nothing to do with the dream I've had since I was little.
That is a blue dream, blue and grey, and black, a crisp smell of wet asphalt and wet dust on a rainy night, with pale streetlights and distant sounds of cars, of ambulances and police sirens that seem to be so far away. So strange, so alien, so familiar, tasting of a distant childhood that I have mostly forgotten but can almost recall when, for an instant, I get a glimpse of this dream. What did I do when I was three or four? What did I see to retain this impression, this parallel life, this.... this thing? I feel as if I had a double life even before Inuyasha, and lost it all to time, to be brought back to the front of my mind only as a nagging feeling of something I've been missing for the past 15 years and which used to be mine. It was something in my inner world, almost as if I'd been a grown-up woman around the time I was three, a detective wrapped in a long overcoat, walking down the street between tall sky-scrapers. It never happened, but I remember it.
A phone call at midnight precisely, as a discreet clock's hands all point upwards. No sound, no chimes, just the phone ringing, a man with eyes hidden by the shadow that covers the upper part of his face, unshaved, answering in a deep, manly voice. "Hello." It is the sound of this dream, of a story that made so much sense, of a world. Maybe I dreamed it all one night, many years ago, fallen asleep after a movie or show of some sort. But it feels so real. Maybe there's also jazz playing softly in the background, a lone, sad saxophone in a bar far away, a cartoon-ish woman, orange-haired, big breasts, red dress, smiling and singing, swaying her hips in a gesture I'd never imitate and never would admit to admire. What a vamp. She's there, with Al Capone, in a gangster's world.
What dreams I had. Maybe this is why I chose to study English, when we finally got all the fragments of that jewel. Well, this, and the fact that I pretty much failed everything else. There's not enough people who know English here, I thought, so I can make a living off of it even if my accent is terrible and half of the time I feel as if I were getting just the right word to say something very wrong and very embarrassing. Not very good living, but decent.
I didn't need to choose American Studies as a Master's course, though. No, it must be this dream, coming back to me again and again. It doesn't even reflect reality, but I love it, I adore it as a key to a mystery I never remember, so I can never solve. Ah, there's so much I learned about the United States, but I can't get rid of this, of the rainy night, the phone, the sirens, the voluptuous woman. My heart leaps when walking down the streets of Kyoto, an umbrella in my hand, and I think I almost see a corner of that dream.
So right now, I don't leap, but float. It's a perfect night, the gentle drizzle, my umbrella, so few people on the streets, the puddles, gods, the puddles, the smell. I feel as if I were in LA – my dream takes place in LA – and I remember Meiko Kaji's songs, an artist I first heard on the Kill Bill soundtrack and have forever since associated with this dream. I, too, feel like a woman on the road of life, with my single umbrella. I am in love and don't want this dream of mine to end. I want to walk in it and remember, remember whatever it was that was so precious to me so that I'd always have this joy within me when remembering the blueness, the smell, the feeling of what I have come to think of as the Midnight Call in LA and never refer to during classes (I know better). It's a good time for floating into fantasy, this night. Why shouldn't I do it, why should another fantasy be denied me just because I am a girl, or used to be a girl, I must remind myself that I am a young woman now, anyway, a young woman who's seen the dream of the past, another impossible world? I traveled with Inuyasha and Miroku, lost my heart to the past and came back to the future when the boy I thought I'd marry chose his old love. Am I selfish, to want another marvel than the one I got? To wish for this America when I have been offered old Japan?
I don't care. I really, honestly, don't care how selfish I am. I want my dream. I have the right to dream, to wish, to yearn and think that just for a second I feel the universes align and give me the impossible, that I am transported to that elusive mystery. I want to know it, to unravel it and if this longing doesn't stop I'll soon start mixing rain with tears again because sometimes the dream, the story, the mystery are that much stronger than reality.
I see the tall building, fifteen stories or so high, that I have been called into. It's so stupid to just answer a letter's request like this, but the writing was elegant and it made me trust it. Stupid reason. I am such a romantic. But I have been called by name and made to understand that this person has not just picked me off the street randomly, but knows things about me. About my family, my friends. My life. Things that happened before I came to Kyoto to study and never really shared with anybody. You weren't ill in school, but missing.
It must be the strange hope that one of them found me, after all this time. Shippo, grown big. Inuyasha and Kikyo? Or maybe just some strange stalker? Jack the Ripper, or the Headless Horseman, come to finish what one of the worst demons in history could not.
I feel brave tonight, even if lonely.
I use the elevator and can't help but enjoy the prickle in my body as the dream wraps even closer to me. Please, don't go. Am I doing something potentially life-threatening? Maybe. But I want to see who sent me the letter.
I am a fool. I am risking my life in a quiet way for no real reason and this can come crashing down around my ears before I can even understand what's going on, a girl, not a young woman, who wants her game to never end because real life is just so hard and cold and there's nobody who really knows or cares and I want something to make it all interesting again. The thought of spending a lifetime behind a desk, even a teacher's desk, a translator's desk, any desk, or getting married and quitting my job and having children scares me – I want something more, something better, and deeper and darker and more profound, even something greater than I had in the past. I am more afraid of this future than of death right now. Silly girl. That is what I am. I am a silly, silly little child.
Who thinks she saw a paw-print on the bottom of a letter.
Why did I ever love that demon? So hard to recall now.
Please, dream, stay with me, let me feel you closer, let me unwrap you and inhale you with my breath, caress my lips and remind me of what you represent, of what you were like, oh, you, old mystery that I can't remember. Reveal yourself.
I step out of the elevator and look around for the door of the apartment, shaking my umbrella. I finally find my destination and step into this home – or this deposit, as I now see with a jolt. There's furniture around, silhouetted against the walls, some covered with sheets. Out a window I can see the city below, beautiful, shining. Almost as an afterthought, I try to turn on the light and feel both thrilled and afraid when I find that I can't. It's perfect. If I were to die now, it would still be perfect. The story seems to grow, to get bigger, to come out and envelop the world, for the apartment is beautiful, old, dusty, blue, smelling of leather and of cigarette smoke. I walk around inside and can almost take off from the ground as I take a deep breath. So dark.
"Whoever is there, I can use a gun," I say, because it suddenly feels like the right thing to say. I want to jubilate and laugh and cry and dream and wish and explode at the same time. It is almost here, my childhood, the key to this haunting mystery. I can taste it, feel it under my fingers. Is the unshaved man with the phone here? Or the woman, with a long cigarette to her lips, waiting for Al Capone's orders?
"This Sesshoumaru has no doubt that you can, but he doubts you have one on you."
It's Japanese, undoubtedly and I recognize the tone – but never heard it this way before. His voice! Dear gods, his voice! Another piece in a perfect puzzle and I turn, amazed to find that this is not America I've run into, but Japan, a dream collapsing on itself, gaining even greater wonder as the most traditional person I've ever met speaks to me in the most alien of ways, here, now. I almost can't believe it, but do. His voice is soft, his manner cool, he's leaning against something and talking like the very man in my dream.
"Kagome," he nods. I was wrong. The phone call isn't going to happen. There is no phone call in this story. It was a letter. I am in it now and it takes over, for all my invocations, it is finally happening. "It is an honor to be remembered." To be remembered by him, no doubt. "Please. Take a seat. Anywhere. There is a piano somewhere, if you enjoy playing."
I remain still. Am I the orange-haired woman, then? But I am not wearing a red dress. My hair is not bleached. And I cannot play. Still, he is here and I am here and there will be an order, or a demand, or something strange and quiet and it occurs to me that he himself might have assured I can't turn on the lights, but that makes me even happier.
Why is he smoking?
"I'm not dead," he says. He says it like a hero, like my unshaved man. Of course he isn't dead. Am I staring? "Now, sit. We need to talk."
So I do sit. I can't help but pose, put one leg over the other in an American fashion, my left ankle resting next to the right knee. It would be undignified to the extreme, if this weren't already surreal. But I like my pants, creamy leather, wet from the rain, I like showing them off to his eyes that can see better in the dark than my own, I like the way this position seems to impose itself on others. This is whom I would be, were I a Westerner. A cool, sophisticated woman with little care for how unwomanly her way of sitting is. Concerned with the man in front of him, what he wants and somehow still on top of the situation. It's too dark to chicken out. I don't need to put my usual cute-girl mask on. He probably thinks I'm acting. In a way, he'd be right. I'm acting in a way I've been wanting to act since forever. This is not my real personality. I am not confident. The smile forming on my lips is not my own. The assuredness is not something I've gained. But right here, right now, I delight in this me. This dream me that feels herself secure.
"What about?" I ask.
"I need somebody to act as my assistant in the human world," he says in a soft, deep voice. He makes it sound like a work of espionage. "I cannot always appear in person in my transactions. It would make me seem alone."
He pauses there and I think that he probably is alone. Voice aside, what he offers me doesn't seem like an overly glamorous job from the description, but all I can do is raise a corner of my lips and let my eyes half-close. I rest my chin on the fingers of my left hand in a thoughtful gesture, measuring him up, deciding. I even let a "hmm" escape me.
"What's your offer, demon?" I ask, observing the lights play upon his face. The lighting is odd, reflecting every gesture in strange ways. Was my memory of a dream a premonition? But this is not America.
"500.000 yen a month." My breath catches in my throat. That's higher than any job I've managed to find on my own. I almost wish he'd said it in dollars, though. 5.000 dollars a month. I've got a job for you for 5.000 dollars. Yes, that should be about it. "Your job will be to meet people in my name. You will be told what to say. You will take no decisions. You must know what I do very well to answer all questions. If you must, you will call and ask me during meetings, but this had better not happen for anything other than a very good reason."
I wonder briefly if his name is still spelled with the character for murder. I feel it radiating from him. In daylight, it would frighten me. If I were backed up by his brother, by Miroku, by my parents and grandfather, by my brother, it would frighten me. Right now, alone, I feel strong and I smirk. Those people do not know I smirk. But Sesshoumaru now does.
"No worries," I say, almost lazily. "How often do I meet these people?"
"Twice, thrice a week."
"How often do I meet you?"
"As often as necessary."
"Give me an average."
"Once a week."
"When will the meetings take place? Mornings or afternoons?"
"Mornings, but not always."
"I see. Well. It sounds like a good offer. However, I have one condition."
"This Sesshoumaru does not agree to any other conditions. Other employees can be found."
"Tsch. In a hurry, aren't you?" I feel like toying with him, like stepping just a bit beyond the line of where I am allowed to go. As if I actually held strength, power. But I am a miko. I was a miko and I am still a miko and if I must, I shall purify to save myself from the results of my cockiness. He might beat me in the end, but we aren't enemies here, so I doubt he would attack. "Listen. One condition. It won't be a strain on you. It costs you nothing, I think. And I doubt you'd be opposed to it, seeing how this meeting started. How it goes."
He remains silent and I pause for a few seconds, watching him, feeling something not very different from delight, from victory. "I want," I say, "...I want us to meet like this. No daylight. No crowded restaurants. You are the great Sesshoumaru. I want to always see you this way." And I want my dream to go on. Give me my mystery. "I want to see your claws and your eyes and your hair the way they are now. I want to feel you like a demon. This is my condition. In turn, I shall be anything you want me to be." Just don't make this too a part of routine, of a normal life.
I wait to see how he reacts behind his impassive mask. I can't, but in the end he responds to me himself. "That is how this Sesshoumaru intended it."
I nod and almost grin at him. I get up and look around. "Don't turn on the lights. Just tell me where that piano is. I accept."
So he points me to the piano and I walk to it through the darkness that doesn't seem quite so black as before. I find it soon enough, remove a cover and sit down, making myself comfortable. I can't play. I never even had the chance to touch a keyboard like this one – it feels sacred. I caress it with my fingers and finally settle for a note, press it down and am surprised by how worldly it sounds. How disruptive. How hard can it be to play something on this? I don't know, but I'll go slowly, one single note at a time, savoring it in the darkness. He watches me. I don't mind. I press one somewhere higher on the scale and it sounds like a drop of water fallen in a cave. I like it and wait for it to fade before it is another's turn.
"Is this house yours?" I ask.
I nod and touch another key. I am the orange-haired woman in the red dress with the voluptuous smile, even if I have none of those qualities. Even if I'm just plain black-haired Kagome in leather pants and girl smile, I am still her. Still the person between the dark and the light, the normal and the strange, playing not quite a tune in a disused apartment belonging to somebody else. Right now, the world seems to make sense and life does not worry me anymore. I've dodged it.
AN: Don't forget to review and tell me what you think :)