What was I going to do?
As I stood there in the hallway, motionless, I failed to notice the other students staring at me, failed to notice Annie place a hand on my shoulder and Sango looking down at the hallway, as though expecting to see Ayame run back to us.
No, the only thing I was aware of was the loud thudding of my heartbeat. I was sure that the demon students in the hall could hear it...
"Kagome?" Sango said gently.
Her voice snapped me out of my reverie. I blinked. "What happened?" I mumbled. "Why did Ayame...?"
Sango and Annika glanced at each other. "C'mon," Annie said, leading us away from the hallway and away from the curious eyes that stared after us. "Let's go somewhere private—we still have thirty minutes to the next class, anyway."
Annie's idea of 'private' turned out to be none other than the library. Situated at the far end of the high school building, the library was several minutes away from our next classroom ("So we won't be late," Annie explained). The moment we stepped in, my eyes bugged open. The library was a vast room—no doubt a cathedral would have fit inside of it. The floor was made of pure marble. Shelves upon shelves of books spread out as far as the eye can see. There were balconies with more bookshelves. An elderly human librarian—her hair in a bun like Annie's—was sitting behind a desk just near the door.
"Over here," Annie whispered. She led us to an elevator near the librarian's desk. We stepped in and Annie hit the fourth floor button. We were wrapped in silence as the elevator ascended and came to halt.
We stepped out into a marble hallway, lined with polished wooden doors, the intricate rose symbol of GARA carved into each. Annie walked down the hallway and stopped at the fifth door. She grasped the bronze handle and stepped in. The door led to one of the many balconies. There was just one table here and two bookshelves. I looked over the balcony, down at the library. Several students were milling about the bookshelves at the ground floor, most of them sitting at the tables, their heads buried in books.
Annie and Sango sat down at the table and I hesitantly joined them. "So..." I began quietly. "Can someone tell me what's up with Ayame?"
Sango let out a small sigh. "Well," she began. "You probably don't know, but—"
"Ayame is in love with Kouga," Annie cut in.
My suspicions were confirmed. It suddenly felt as though I were in a vacuum—everything was suddenly quiet as the surprise set in. Surprise for me, that is. It suddenly made sense—why Ayame was quiet when Kouga approached me, her indifferent mien towards me in the lab...
I should have known.
I groaned and buried my face in my hands. "Just great," I mumbled. Love was one of the most complicated topics to discuss. Why did it have to be love? This was really cliché.
"It's not your fault," Annie said in her accented Japanese. I looked up at her. She pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose and frowned at me. "Honestly," she went on, "that look on your face is rather pathetic—get rid of it. As I said, it is not your fault."
Sango was about to say something, but Annie plowed on. "Kouga takes a fancy to you—it's not your fault. It's not like you seduced him or anything—that would then be your fault, obviously."
"But Ayame is mad at me," I groaned.
Sango sighed. "She's not mad," she said.
"Then what do you call her yelling at me in the hallway?" I asked, raising an eyebrow.
"She's just upset," Sango said. "She's been in love with Kouga since he first saved her life, she says."
"How did they meet?" I asked, curious.
Annie and Sango shrugged in sync. "We're not quite sure," Annie said, matter-of-factly. "We never bothered asking."
Sango gave her a flat look. "Actually, she wanted to share with us, but you kept on telling her that you hated love stories," she pointed out.
The Duchess shrugged. "Love stories are such a waste of time, don't you agree?" she said, rolling her eyes. "Anyway, back to Ayame."
I sighed and leaned back in my seat, chewing my lower lip. "What do you suggest?"
"Just give her time to cool down," Sango said gently, smiling at me. "You'll see. Sooner or later, maybe even tonight, she'll come straight to you with an apology."
I sighed. I hoped so.
Five minutes before the bell rang, Annie, Sango and I stepped into the classroom for Literature. The moment we entered, whispers flew around as people glanced pointedly in my direction. Several girls threw me looks of deepest disgust, and I felt myself blush as Annika led us to several seats at the back.
"Ahem," Annika said sharply to the people who were craning their necks to get a good look at me. They immediately looked away. "Like idiots without manners," Annika muttered, crossing her arms and huffing. "And to think they're born in families with class."
I smiled weakly at her. "Thanks," I mouthed.
She nodded. I leaned back in my seat and closed my eyes. I was dimly aware of Sango getting up to get herself a cup of coffee from the vendo at the back of the room. I was more preoccupied with thinking about Ayame. Where was she? I'd have thought that three years of being with Annie taught her to be on time for class...
Please don't let her skip because of me. I already felt bad about Kouga. I mean...I'd just started out here, and I'd already managed to make an enemy of my friend...
"Kagome?" Sango asked, setting her cup of coffee down.
"Huh?" I asked.
"You alright? You look really spaced out," she said.
I shrugged weakly. "Stop thinking about Ayame," Anne said dismissively, folding her arms across her chest. "She'll come off it, you'll see. Besides, it isn't really your fault that that moron of a—"
"Hey!" a high-pitched voice snapped.
We looked up. Three girls were standing in front of our desks. They were insanely beautiful. One girl had golden pigtails that fell to her knees. Another had eyes so dark and wide, you'd feel as though you were drowning in them. The last girl had skin so white, snow would look pale next to her.
"You're that charity case, aren't you?" Golden Pigtails said, raising a perfectly shaped eyebrow at me.
I flushed. "Her name isn't Charity Case, Fancy," Anne said, leaning her cheek against her palm. Fancy's eyes—bluer than the sky—snapped to her. "It's Kagome. I think it says so clearly on her ID...unless, of course, you're too stupid to read."
The girl glared. "No one asked your opinion, Four Eyes," Fancy snapped, pigtails bouncing dangerously.
"Tell us, how are things at the library, Nerdzilla?" Dark Eyes said, sniggering.
"I'm surprised you know how to use 'library' in a sentence, Angelique," Anne said, smirking.
Sango and I stared at her. I was touched that she was taking the insults for me and, at the same time, awed that she could counter them so quickly without slightest blush on her cheeks.
Angelique glared. "Hey, Westerholme," the last girl, Snow White, said. "You know what looks pathetic?"
"Why, I believe that would be having your pallor, Charlene," Annika said, chuckling. "You look badly in need of a blood transfusion."
"You little Nobody!" Quick as a flash, Fancy grabbed Sango's cup of coffee and hurled the contents at Annie.
Annie held up a hand, and it was as if the dark liquid stopped in mid-air, just inches from her face. "Boo," Annie said as, with a flick of the wrist, the warm liquid splashed towards the three girls, who shrieked.
"Fight!" several boys shouted. "Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!"
"Westerholme, you bitch!" Angelique shrieked. Coffee dripped from her hair. I felt a sharp rise in her demonic aura as she glared at Annie, who stood up and threw her a look of deepest loathing.
"Annie, don't," I said, standing up and tugging on her arm.
"Fight! Fight!" several boys chanted.
"Shut up!" Sango snapped, standing up, and glaring at them.
"Don't you dare call me that!" Annika snapped. I felt her aura rising, but it was strange—I couldn't place it. "I am the Duchess of Westerholme, granddaughter to the Crown, and I will not allow you to call me a bitch!"
Um…wasn't she the one who said that everyone was equal in GARA? The thought slipped my mind as a sharp voice suddenly rang throughout the room.
"What on earth is going on here?"
Everyone turned to the front, where a middle-aged man with black, cropped hair, and copper skin stood. He was wearing a taupe turtleneck, and his arms were crossed. His black eyes were narrowed severely at the class, his angular jaw set.
"Professor Saunders, Miss Westerholme purposefully spilled her coffee on us!" Angelique declared dramatically.
"They were harassing Miss Higurashi!" Sango spoke up.
"We were not!" Angelique snapped.
"Quiet!" Professor Saunders barked. He turned a severe eye on Angelique. "I do not tolerate any kind of bullying in my class, Ms. Dugrand. Keep that in mind, or I will drop the three of you"—he pointed to her, Charlene, and Fancy—"from the subject. Do I make myself clear?" They nodded. "Now, get out of my class, and get cleaned up. Don't bother coming back for today."
They glared daggers at Annie, Sango, and I as they walked haughtily out of the room. "And as for you, Miss Westerholme," Professor Saunders said, turning to her. "I expected better from you, and you reacted to their bait."
"They were about to spill coffee on her!" I defended. Annie threw me a cautionary look, and shook her head. I bit my lower lip.
"But she isn't the one soaked, now, is she?" Professor Saunders said, frowning. "Miss Westerholme, it's only fair that I ask you step out of my class for today."
I felt my stomach drop. What have I done?
"Yes, Professor," Annika said, nodding as she retrieved her things from her desk.
"I will not put this on your file, but let this serve as a warning," the professor went on. "Do I make myself clear?"
"Good, now go."
Annika sighed as she walked past us. "See you guys later," she mumbled.
I bit my lip. This was all my fault! I felt Sango clutch my arm. She gave me a small smile, as though she could read my troubled thoughts. "It'll be alright," she whispered. "Annie won't hold it against you."
That didn't stop me from worrying.
"We have to find Annie," I said as the bell rang an hour later.
"I know just where to look," Sango said as she led me in the direction of the library. She walked past the library door, and turned right. I blinked when we suddenly found ourselves in an open corridor that led out to a small courtyard, in the middle of which was a fountain. Vines snaked around the pillars of the corridor, their white buds tightly furled. It was a very picturesque place.
Annie was standing by a stone bench near the fountain, but she wasn't alone. Her arms were crossed and she was glowering at none other than Sesshoumaru Taisho, who gave her an impassive look.
Sango and I glanced at each other, surprised.
"Well, no one really cares what you think, Taisho," Annika was saying, as she picked up her book bag. She turned her back on him and saw us.
"Annie," I said. It was safe to say Sango and I were embarrassed to be caught eavesdropping.
"Oh, hello," Annie said nonchalantly as she approached, without another backward glance at Sesshoumaru, who gave Sango and me a look of pure annoyance as he turned on his heel stalked off.
"Uh…what was that about?" Sango asked hesitantly, watching Sesshoumaru leave.
Annika frowned. "He was passing by, and wondered why I bothered myself with the likes of you," Annie told me, rolling her eyes. "Arrogant, pompous jerk."
Sango scoffed. "When isn't he?"
I bit my lower lip. "Annie, I'm sorry," I said as we walked past the library. "It's because of me that you got sent out."
She scoffed. "Don't trouble yourself, Kagome, I'm the one who got coffee in their pretty hair."
"Forget it," she said tersely.
I hesitated. "Thank you," I said quietly. "Thanks for standing up for me."
Annika turned to me, an eyebrow raised. "You shouldn't be thanking me, since it's a friend's job, but if it makes you feel any better, you're welcome."
I smiled. "Now, what did you lot take up in Literature?" Annika went on.
"The Iliad," Sango said.
"Professor Saunders spent half the time explaining his views on The Judgement of Paris," I added.
Annika rolled her eyes. "No class orientation? If that's the case, I'm glad I was sent out. Paris was an idiot."
PE was the last subject for the day. It was held in the east wing of the high school building, with the entire wing being understandably soundproof. The wing was divided so that several tennis courts, and a basketball court could be accommodated inside. At the far end of the wing, the wall was covered in rock climbing holds. The ceiling was high, reaching about two storeys. The floor at my feet was rubberized.
"Cool," I muttered.
Sango chuckled as she led the way towards the girls' locker room. We were early, so thankfully no one was around yet. "By the way," Annie said as she changed. "Did Ayame come in for Literature?"
I was about to change into my PE shirt when Annika's question froze me. I bit my lip. "She didn't," I said quietly. "Sango and I waited. I hoped she'd just be late, but…she didn't come into class at all, and it's my fault." I sat on the wooden bench, my shoulders hunched. I twiddled my thumbs together, frowning.
Sango clicked her tongue as she sat beside me. "It isn't your fault," she said firmly, placing a hand on my shoulder. "Ayame is just upset, is all."
"But she's upset because of me!" I insisted, looking desperately at them both. Honestly, I felt like such a total jerk.
"She's upset because of Kouga," Annika said, rolling her eyes. "Honestly, it's rather daft, skiving on classes because of some boy." She shook her head. "I'll talk to her later, if she doesn't show up for PE."
My eyes widened. "But…but…she's gotta show, right?" I said. "I mean…that would be two classes that she'd miss out on, on the very first day! Maybe we should find her?"
Annie sighed. "The thing about Ayame is," she began. "If she doesn't want to be found, she will not be found. I should know, I've tried looking for her when I was sent out."
"Where could she be?" I wondered, as I pulled on my jogging pants.
Annika was about to say something, when the door to the locker room swung open, and a bevy of girls entered. Annika, Sango, and I glanced at each other as we quickly changed to avoid another scene.
"Anyway, after PE, I think we can go and look for her," Sango said as we walked out of the locker rooms without incident.
I sighed as I pulled my hair into a ponytail. I wanted to find Ayame right now and apologize to her. "Stop worrying so much," Annika said as we made our way to the middle of the wing, where PE lectures were usually held.
Sighing, I turned to face Annie, who suddenly stopped in her tracks, an eyebrow raised petulantly. "On second thought," she said. "Be worried."
Sango and I gave each other curious looks as we looked towards middle of the wing. There, standing in all their glory, were none other than Miroku, Inuyasha and Kouga, all of whom wore the PE uniform.
"Oy, Kagome!" Kouga called out the moment he caught sight of me. Several girls who, were about to scream their love and adoration for the Elite, froze and turned to stare at me with steely eyes.
"This…is a joke, right?" I muttered as Kouga came closer. With every step he took, I felt like I was on the verge of my doom.
"Nope, no joke!" Kouga said as he casually slung his arms across my shoulders. "You are one lucky girl, Higurashi Kagome." He winked at me.
I flushed as Miroku and Inuyasha approached us. That's it!
"Will you please stop that?!" I screeched as I roughly shrugged off his arm. He looked surprised, while Annie and Sango looked smug. "Can't you take a hint? You're annoying, you're rude, you're irksome, you're crass! How could you think that I could possibly like someone as insensitive as you? Do us both a favour, and stay off my back!"
Kouga blinked, looking as though someone had hit him on the head with a sledgehammer. It had gone very quiet around us, and I noticed that a small circle of people had formed around Kouga and I. Annika and Sango looked very smug. Miroku chuckled, enjoying Kouga's bewildered expression, while Inuyasha looked…satisfied?
"Wow," Kouga said. "You must really like me a lot."
I was dumbfounded. Seriously, his obliviousness was beyond astounding.
"I do not like you!" I hissed. "I'm sorry to say this, but you're not even my type!"
Kouga only smirked at me. "I like a chase, Kagome," he warned, grinning. "And trust me, I'll catch you in no time."
My eyebrow twitched. Why did that line make me feel as though I was easy? I felt like screaming at the ceiling! "You…you!" I stammered, too pissed off to form a coherent sentence.
"You're speechless, I know," Kouga said, shrugging. "Don't worry, sweet, I tend to do that to girls sometimes."
"Hear! Hear!" a random boy in the back shouted, to which several more boys wolf-whistled.
"That charity case is sooo lucky!" a feminine voice piped up.
"I wish I was in her shoes."
"Nuh-uh, her shoes are old."
"I want Kouga to catch me!"
"Will you please control your friend?" Annika snapped at Inuyasha.
"Keh!" Inuyasha said, crossing his arms, and pouting. "It's his love life!" He gave Kouga a very annoyed look.
"You can't deny true love, you know," Miroku said, winking at Sango, who glared at him. All around us, the voices of the other students grew louder, and I inwardly groaned. Was I doomed to be the unluckiest girl on the planet?
Annie massaged her temples, and let out a frustrated sigh. "If you can't control Kouga, I'm sure your elder brother can," she told Inuyasha grudgingly. "Where is he?"
Inuyasha raised an eyebrow. "Chem was the only subject he had with us, you know," Inuyasha said, giving her a meaningful look.
"Don't bother yourself, I can handle Kouga," I reassured her. No need for her to get worked up because of me again.
"You can handle me anytime you want Kagome," Kouga said, winking suggestively.
My eyes bugged out as a violent flush spread across my face. "You…you…you…!" I snarled.
"I can hold him, while you punch Kagome," Sango said menacingly as she cracked her knuckles.
"Scheisse!" I screeched.
Kouga blinked at me and grinned. "You know, you're adorable when you curse in German."
"What on earth are you people up to?" a loud voice boomed.
Everyone turned to the great doors of the east wing. A woman stood there, her violet hair in a tight ponytail. She wore a white tank top and a pair of navy blue yoga pants, as well as a heavy scowl on her face. Her arms were crossed, and her violet eyes were narrowed menacingly at us. Obviously a demon. Judging from the way she walked, and the intense aura she gave off, she was a supermodel/demon/military woman/PE teacher.
The male populace of the class—with the exception of Inuyasha and Kouga, I noted—were understandably dumbstruck.
She stopped in front of us, placing a hand on her hip. She held a clipboard with the other hand. For a fleeting instant—I felt guilty for thinking of it, but I was just too mad to think otherwise—I imagined that clipboard striking Kouga on the head and knocking some sense into him.
"Mr. Yorozoku," she said, a stern eye on Kouga. "I do not tolerate public displays of affection in my class, or harassment, for that matter."
Kouga tried his best to look innocent. "Won't happen again, Ms. Sharpe, I promise," he said, keeping his fingers crossed behind his back. Urgh! I wanted to throttle him!
"As to you, Ms. Higurashi," she said, frowning at me. I inwardly cringed. She was scary. "I'd have thought that scholars know better."
"But—" I protested.
She held up a hand. "Enough. We've lost a total of five minutes, standing here and talking about your love lives. Now…GET INTO LINE!"
Feeling disgruntled, I stood next to Annie and Sango as the other students began to file into line. If I wasn't so absorbed with thinking about how to get Kouga off my back, I would have noticed that everyone—even the Elite—stood perfectly straight, with their shoulders back, as though the woman pacing in front was not a PE teacher, but a general about to lead her troops off to battle.
"Another year with me," Ms. Sharpe began, pacing back and forth. Her voice was loud, as in, reach for the ceiling loud. "PE, as you all know, is seen by most as being synonymous with throwing balls around, running back and forth, and having senseless fun. I am here to tell you that you are WRONG in your assumptions."
"Yes, Kagome," Sango whispered as Ms. Sharpe strode past. "She was a lieutant in the Canadian army, before she decided to come here."
My eyes bugged out.
"Ms. Taijiya!" Ms. Sharpe was suddenly in front of us. "You know perfectly well I can't stand people talking when I'm talking."
"Yes, Ma'am," Sango said hastily. "I'm sorry, it won't happen again."
Ms. Sharpe nodded. "And to ensure that it won't happen again…give me fifty wall push-ups. Now."
My eyes widened even further…
Oh boy. Why did I get the feeling that this was going to be a really rough year?
Aside from the spectacle of Sango doing fifty wall push ups—much to Miroku's amusement—nothing out of the ordinary occurred during PE. Like Ms. Tsuruga, Ms. Sharpe spent the first day orienting the class on what to expect during the entire school year. She ended the class orientation with a rather ominous announcement that we would be wall climbing tomorrow ("So I can gauge how fit you are before we proceed," she had said).
Throughout the class, I kept an eye out for Ayame, but, as in Literature, she didn't show up. I felt even guiltier now. Now that the last subject for the day was done with, I wanted to find Ayame, and find her fast.
"She'll show up for Trig, I'm sure," Annika muttered once we were back in the changing rooms. We were the last ones to get changed. "She wouldn't dare miss out on it, she's already failed it once."
"Maybe I could just go and find her, before Trig starts," I offered as I combed out my hair with my fingers.
Annika closed her locker. "I've already told you that I tried looking for her when I was unceremoniously dismissed from class," she reminded. "I couldn't find her in the entire building, and mind you, I've looked in every nook and cranny."
I chewed my lower lip. "What if something bad happened to her?" I asked.
Sango shook her head. "She would never leave the school grounds, no. I think she went for a nice, mind-clearing hike in the mountains," she said as we made our way out.
"Wait!" I exclaimed, stopping Sango's hand from pushing the door open.
"What?" Sango said quickly, eyes alert.
"Could you…could you check if he's out there?" I asked hesitantly. I did not want Kouga trailing me all the way to our Quarters!
Sango peeked. "No Kouga, but Inuyasha's out here," she announced, pushing open the door.
"Hey, Inuyasha!" Sango called out cheerfully.
"Hey," he said gruffly. His eyes slid to me for a moment, before turning to Annika. "Anne, we have to talk."
Annika raised an eyebrow. "Well, you're talking already, so continue," she said.
Inuyasha gave her an annoyed look. "It's important!"
"Well, then, don't waste your breath."
Inuyasha made an annoyed sound at the back of his throat. "Yeesh! I need to talk to you alone, can't you take a hint?" he snapped, his voice louder.
Annika frowned. "We've talked about it before, Inuyasha," she said, pushing her glasses up her nose. Her voice had lost its briskness. She sounded subdued. "And I don't want to talk about it again."
"This isn't about that," Inuyasha huffed, pouting (admittedly, he looked like a child when he did that—a cute one, though). His eyes slid to mine again, before snapping back to Annie. "It's about something else entirely."
Anne looked thoughtfully at him. "Right, then," she said. She turned to Sango and me. "I'll catch up with guys back at the Quarter. If you get hungry, there's food in the fridge, and be sure to clean up after!"
"C'mon, Kagome," Sango said as she led me away. "Truth be told, I am quite hungry."
I glanced over my shoulder. Anne and Inuyasha were talking in hushed voices now. Annika was looking at Inuyasha with a frown on her face, as though she didn't like what she was hearing. For his part, Inuyasha looked frustrated as he tried to drive his point across.
"I wonder what they're talking about," I muttered as we left the east wing. "They seemed pretty serious."
Sango shrugged. "Could be anything," she said. "Anne seemed to know Inuyasha ever since our freshman year, but she wouldn't elaborate. She doesn't like the Elite, she thinks they're very annoying."
I suddenly remembered all the girls who screamed whenever any one of the Elite were around. "Well, I'd be annoyed too, I guess," I said.
"I love it when Annie keeps this fridge stocked," Sango said as she fished out a tub of ice cream from the freezer. We were both in the kitchen, and I was sitting at the table, watching. "Hey, do you like Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, or Blue Berry Crumble?" Sango asked, holding two tubs of Häagen-Dazs.
I blinked. I'd only ever tried Häagen-Dazs twice in my life, and both times they were free samples. They were unnecessarily expensive. "Uh…Cookie Dough?"
She grinned. "Excellent!" she said. "Straight from the tub?"
"Let's pray Annie doesn't find out," I said, chuckling.
"You and I will get along just fine, Kagome," Sango said, winking.
I grew quiet as we ate. "Something bothering you?" Sango asked.
"Um…Ayame," I said. I couldn't get her angry eyes out of my head.
Sango leaned back in her seat. "I'll be frank, I've never seen Ayame this upset before," she began. "But I've never known Ayame to hold a grudge. She's just not capable of it. I think she knows you did nothing wrong Kagome. I think she's just very upset with the situation. She's been in love with Kouga for a long time now."
I sighed. "I just don't understand why Kouga would even bother with someone like me!" I exclaimed, frustrated.
Sango dug her spoon into the ice cream. "I can't really answer for him," she said apologetically. "Stop worrying, Kagome, I'm sure Ayame will get over it."
"Sango, are you guys back?"
I froze as Ayame's voice echoed from the hallway. I glanced at Sango, who nodded at me. Abandoning our ice cream, we both stood up.
Ayame was standing in the hallway, looking hesitant. The moment she saw me, she stiffened. She looked like a deer caught in headlights. I wondered what I must have looked like, with all the guilt I felt.
"Ayame," I said hesitantly, reaching a hand out to her.
She took a step back, placing a hand on the doorknob behind her, as though she wanted to go out. She hesitated…and then she threw herself at me, crushing me in a hug.
"Kagomeeeeee!" she cried, her arms holding me tighter. "I'm so sorry! I'm so sorry I shouted at you even though you did nothing wrong! I'm sorry I was such a total jerk to you this morning! I'm sorry I skipped on so many lectures because I was upset! Urgh, this is all Kouga's fault, annoying wolf! I'm sorry!"
I blinked in surprise, and glanced over at Sango. She gave me a knowing smile and shrugged, as though to reassure me that this was how Ayame normally apologized to people.
"Ayame," I said as I felt her arms tighten even more. "I…can't…breathe properly."
"Oh," Ayame sniffled as she loosened her hold. "I'm so sorry!"
"You've been a very good friend, and I've been such a jerk to you!"
"I swear, I won't ever be mad at you because of Kouga again!"
"AYAME!" I said, raising my voice. She immediately kept quiet, and gave me a curious look. "I'm sorry, too," I said. "I didn't know you liked Kouga."
"No, no, no!" Ayame persisted. "It's not your fault…its Kouga's! That jerk!" She wiped her eyes with a handkerchief. "You…you don't like him, do you?"
"No!" I said, surprised by the vehemence in my voice. "He's…I'm sorry to say this, but he's really annoying…and a schmuck!"
Ayame smiled weakly. "He can be," she admitted. "But he's actually a very nice person."
"How long have you been in love with him?" I asked as we made our way to the living room. We sat down on the couch, and Sango and I looked expectantly at her.
She shrugged. "Ever since I was a little girl, and he saved me from demons," she admitted. "I think that was…over…five hundred years ago? Before humans and demons decided to co-exist."
"What?!" Sango and I couldn't keep the astonishment from our voices.
"That long?" Sango said, to which Ayame nodded.
"How…how did you two meet?" I asked.
"I was training during that time," Ayame said, a faraway look in her eyes as she remembered. "I wanted to be able to use an iris flower as a weapon, you see. I was still a child then, and every inexperienced. I got lost near the nest of the Birds of Paradise demons."
"I tried to hide," Ayame went on. "But they still found me. I was about to be devoured, but then Kouga came and saved me. I've loved him ever since. However…he doesn't seem to remember all that."
"It was centuries ago, Ayame, what do you think?" a snide voice said.
We all turned to the hallway. Annie was standing in front of the door, her arms crossed, and an amused expression on her face. Had she been listening there the whole time?
"Besides," Annie said as she joined us on the couch. "You should have reminded him. You should have told him how you felt."
"Well, that was very tactful," Sango told her sarcastically, raising an eyebrow.
Annie shrugged. "It's true."
Ayame let out a heavy sigh of frustration. "Well, I regret not telling him," she said, giving me a pointed look. I inwardly cringed. "But there's nothing I can do about it, though. What's done is done."
It was then an idea hit me with the same impact as the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs. "Wait…" I said slowly. "Ayame…what if I helped you and Kouga get together?"
"What?" Ayame said, her eyebrows rising.
"You heard me," I said. "Kouga likes annoying me every chance he gets. What if…what if I somehow helped you two get together?"
"And how," Annie said snidely as she stood up and made a beeline for the kitchen, "will you do that? Drag Ayame on dates with you and Kouga? In case you haven't noticed, Kouga is head-over-heels for you."
"Leave it to me," I said, grinning as the enormity of the idea sank in. I liked it! I was sure I could push them together, I just knew it! Sango grinned and Ayame looked at me with hopeful eyes.
"You'd…you'd do that?" Ayame asked slowly, hardly daring to believe her ears.
I nodded. "Of course!" I was more than eager to make up for 'stealing' Kouga away. Besides…it was a very good idea to get him off my back.
Ayame's eyes watered again. "Oh, Kagomeeeee!" she cried, launching herself at me. "Really? Thank you so much!"
I grinned at her. "Between us, I'm sure we'll be able to deal with Kouga," I said, happy that she was once more cheerful.
"Who on earth ate the ice cream straight from the tub?!" Annie shrieked from the kitchen.
"Damn," Sango said. "We forgot about the ice cream, Kagome."
"Yeah," I said. I turned my attention to Ayame. "I think we should deal with Annie first, though."
Firstly, yes, I am still very much alive. I've been very busy over the years, but not quite as busy now, so expect regular-ish updates from me in the future!
Second, I've gone through all the stories I've ever written, and let me tell you guys this…I cringed. I absolutely cringed when I re-read my older stories. The writing was in very poor style, some characters were OOC (especially Sesshoumaru), I had typos (I actually used 'loose' instead of 'lose'! Kill me now!), there were redundancies. Yeah…cringed. I cannot promise to re-write those stories (that would take several lifetimes xD), but I can promise you guys this: I will improve my writing, and make it even better : )
Last, but not the least, I want to thank you all for reviewing, for following, and for putting this story in your favorites! Your reviews really mean a LOT. So thank you : )