/.\./.\./.\./.\

Chapter Four

-The Announcement -

/.\./.\./.\./.\

Beep. Beep. Beep.

I groaned as I rolled over in my bed. Not yet…please not yet...

Beep. Beep. Beep.

Five more minutes? Was that too much to ask? I mean…please?

Beeep. Beeep. Beeep.

Click!

"Get up, Kagome!" I groaned as I felt an all-too familiar pair of hands persistently shaking me. That voice...accented Japanese…

It's her.

"Not yet," I moaned, covering my head with a pillow. "Five minutes. Have mercy."

The pillow suddenly vanished, and my eyes snapped open. "Wha—?"

A second later, the pillow fell against my face. Hard.

"Aaargh!" I shouted as Anne struck my head with the pillow again. "Annie!"

"Get up, Higurashi!" she exclaimed, as she raised the pillow threateningly again.

"Stop, I'm up! I'm up!" I said hastily as I sat up in bed and raised my hands in surrender.

Annika was, as usual, already dressed in her uniform, her honey-gold hair in a librarian-bun on her head, and her glasses perched on her nose. She was standing beside my bed, one hand on her hip, and the other still clutching the pillow. She looked threatening.

"What's the time?" I asked, yawning.

"6:30," she said curtly as she dumped the pillow on my lap. She turned towards the door. "Get a move on, I've got breakfast ready," she said, looking at me from over her shoulder.

"Right," I said nodding. I smiled to show my sincerity. Anne huffed as she waltzed out of the room. The minute she was out, I fell back down on my bed and groaned, covering my eyes with my arm to keep out the glare of the lights.

"Hey, Kagome," a tired voice said.

I removed my arm just as Sango and Ayame collapsed on either side of me, both girls still in their pyjamas. They seemed to find it convenient to snooze in my room, what with the bathroom being right next to it.

"Did she beat you guys awake, too?" I groaned, covering my eyes again.

"Uh-huh," Ayame said, yawning. "At least it was a pillow this time."

"What do you mean?" I asked, still groggy.

"The last time Ayame snoozed for fifteen minutes, Annie dumped a bucket of ice water on her," Sango said drowsily.

My eyes popped open. "That's extreme," I said, now miraculously alert.

"That's just Anne being obsessive-compulsive," Ayame said. "Anywaaaay…" She suddenly leapt off the bed. She stretched, her joints popping. "I'll be first, okay?"

"Take your sweet time," Sango said, waving a hand.

. . .

It was amazing how much food Annie could make. By the time Sango, Ayame, and I had finished showering and dressing, we headed to the kitchen to find the table groaning under the weight of bowls of porridge, a plate of sausages, eggs, bacon—to name a few.

"And this," Sango said as she busied herself with the coffeemaker at the counter, "is the reason why it's so hard to despise you, Annie." She grinned as she sat back at the table, a steaming cup of coffee cradled between her hands.

Anne scoffed. She was reading a book, which she'd propped up against the glass milk pitcher. I took a look at the title. "Calculus?" I said, surprised. This was not normal—no one studied that when all this food was in front of them!

To my surprise, Anne blushed. "Preparation is key," was all she said as she flipped a page.

"Annie nearly failed Trig last year," Ayame offered. A vein twitched at Anne's temple as she glared at Ayame from over her book. "She hates math."

"Don't we all?" I said conciliatorily. Ayame was oblivious to the death glare Anne was sending her.

"Don't all scholars love math?" Sango teased, digging her spoon into her porridge.

"Hey, that's stereotyping!" I said, folding my arms and pouting.

"Balderdash," Annika said as she closed her book. "I happen to know that you have astounding grades in math in your old school."

I blinked as I turned to her. "Uh…how did you know? Isn't it illegal to hack personal files?"

"And who said I did any hacking?" Annika said, shrugging innocently.

Okaaay. "I could tutor you, if you want," I offered hesitantly. Anne was, admittedly, stubborn as an ox…maybe even more than ox.

"I'll keep that in mind," she said dryly. "You lot have to hurry."

I glanced towards the clock. "It's only 7:30, Anne," I pointed out. "A little early, don't you agree?"

Her expression darkened, and I inwardly quailed. That look was menacing. I actually expected little black spectres to hover around her.

"The Elite usually leave their quarter at 8:00," Sango explained.

Remembering the crowd of screaming girls that had gathered around the first quarter yesterday, I think I understood Annie's expression. I'd be annoyed too if I had to go through that every day.

Oh wait…I would.

. . .

Sango, Annie, Ayame, and I came out of the elevator to find a small crowd surrounding the bulletin board in the opulent lobby of the building. "Wonder what they're looking at," Sango muttered as we approached. We stood on tiptoe to get a good look at the sign.

Announcement:

Welcome to another school year at Golden Acres Royal Academy! We are reminding secondary and tertiary level students who wish to run for positions in the Student Council for their corresponding level to submit their applications to the Student Affairs Office on or before September 14, 2010.

Students in the tertiary level who wish to run for Overall Head of the Student Body, kindly submit your applications to the Student Affairs Office no later than September 13, 2010.

Have a good day!

"Oh, Student Council elections," I mused, as I read.

"I wonder who'll be running for Overall Head this year," Ayame said as we turned away from the crowd.

"Overall Head?" I asked as we made for the double oak doors.

"Each of the colleges have their own Student Body officers, but the Overall Head is in charge of GARA's entire tertiary level," Annie explained, as she pushed open the door.

We stopped, surprised. Kagura, Abi, and Yura were standing outside the doors. All three had their arms crossed. For an instant, they looked startled as Annie swung the doors open. They quickly recovered and smirked—in synchronization.

"Well, well, well," Kagura said, her brilliant ruby eyes locked on me. "If it isn't the scholar and her…you call those friends?" She raised her eyebrows disdainfully at Sango and the others, who glared at her.

Abi and Yura giggled. "Good lord, Westerholme, you're such an eyesore—as always," Abi said, eyeing Annie's hair and her glasses.

"Yes, yes, good morning WasAbi," Annika said nonchalantly. She held my hand tightly in hers and scowled as she dragged, Sango, Ayame, and I past the Trio, and out onto the porch. I take it she was more concerned about leaving before the Elite came out.

Abi looked as though she wanted to retort, but Kagura cut her off. "Oh, don't worry," she said, her ruby eyes flashing. "Leave Westerholme alone. We all know how pathetic she really is." Their laughter was both high and shrill as they turned towards the lobby.

To anyone else, the insult didn't seem like much, but Annie's back visibly stiffened and she lowered her head. "Anne?" Sango said hesitantly.

Annie cleared her throat as she turned to face us. She pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose. "C'mon, then," she said as she descended the steps. We followed close behind her.

Annie glanced at her watch, her expression both urgent and worried. "Hurry, before they—" Anne was cut off, when a shrill screech suddenly ripped through the air.

"SESSHOUMARU TAISHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

"Damn," Sango said as Ayame slapped a hand to her forehead.

Was it possible for the word 'Tsunami' to be applied to a horde of screaming girls? It seemed that way to me as a legion of squalling girls rushed past us with all the fury of the ocean.

Sango grabbed my arm, and dragged me back to the porch steps. Whoa!

I glanced across the road, towards the first quarter, just as the double oak doors closed on Sesshoumaru Taisho's back. He regarded the horde of girls with nothing more than an apathetic look as he walked down the steps. For an instant, I wondered—how could a guy be so graceful? It just wasn't fair.

The girls didn't seem to think so, because their caterwauling grew louder with each step Sesshoumaru took down the stairs. Though the girls crowded around him, they didn't dare lay a hand on him (it seemed they had no illusions about what those claws of his were capable of).

"They're louder than normal," I commented. My ears were aching.

"That's because it's rare for Sesshoumaru to actually be seen walking from the first quarter," Sango explained. "He usually drives."

Well, I would want to drive, too, if I had all those girls screaming at me every time I took a step outdoors. "He just wants the attention," Anne said sourly.

As though he heard her, Sesshoumaru looked up amidst all the girls, eyes narrowing at her. "Glare all you want," Anne said defiantly, rolling her eyes. She grabbed my hand again. "C'mon, let's go, or we'll miss the wretched shuttle." There was pure venom in her voice as she led me by the hand and dove into the thicket of screaming girls.

"Move it!" the duchess snapped, shoving two girls aside. "If you want to be late for class, fine by me, just get out of our way!"

"Hey!"

"Watch it, Four Eyes!"

I looked back at Sango and Ayame, raising an eyebrow inquiringly at them. Sango only shrugged and shook her head.

. . .

"Looks like you guys barely made it out of there alive," Pricilla Hawthorne commented. She and her two friends, Amy Knight and Kim Darling were sitting at the benches at the waiting shed.

I glanced towards Annie, Sango, and Ayame. After roughing it through the stormy sea of Sesshoumaru's fan club, they looked dishevelled. Annie's hair was threatening to come out of its bun, and her glasses were askew. One of Ayame's pigtails had come lose, while Sango's ponytail looked lopsided. I doubted that I looked any better.

"That's an understatement," Ayame said as she rummaged in her bag for her comb.

"Can I borrow a mirror?" I said, sighing. I gave Kim a grateful smile as she handed me a silver-backed mirror. I had a sneaking suspicion it was real silver.

I was right. I looked worse for wear. "You should have gotten out before the girls attacked," Amy Knight commented. I fumbled in my bag and reached for my comb.

"We would have made it, if it weren't for the Kagura Trio," Sango said, as she brushed her hair.

Amy looked sympathetic. "I think we should wake up earlier," Annie commented as she fixed her bun.

"WHAT?!" Sango, Ayame, and I exclaimed.

"What?" Annie asked, raising an eyebrow. "We should, if we want to avoid another stampede."

I slapped a hand to my forehead as I let out a groan. "By the way," Pricilla said. "Have you guys read the announcement?"

"Yeah, about the elections, right?" Ayame said, tying her hair back in place. She smiled into her compact before snapping it close.

Was it just me, or did Amy, Pricilla and Kim suddenly look uncomfortable? "Well, did you guys hear about…?" Pricilla went on, her voice deliberately trailing off for dramatic effect.

Ayame, Sango, Annie and I leaned in closer. "About?"

"Miroku is going to run for president of the student council," Pricilla finished with a flourish.

"WHAT?!" Sango exclaimed.

"That's impossible!" Annika shouted.

"Why?" Ayame said.

"Er…why is that a bad thing?" I asked hesitantly.

They all turned to me as though I'd lost it. Eh…

"It isn't her fault, she doesn't know," Sango said.

"Well, she is new, she wouldn't know," Pricilla agreed.

"Know what?" I asked. Truth be told, there were still times when I felt out of place among them.

Sango made a noise of disgust. She was about to say something when a silver Honda stopped in front of the shed. The passenger window rolled down to reveal a very pretty girl with a pixie cut. "Yuki!" Amy said as she, Pricilla and Kim stood. "Finally!"

"Can we give you guys a lift?" Yuki offered us.

"No thanks, we won't fit," Ayame said, shaking her head. "Besides, the shuttle should be here any minute now."

We watched as they drove off. "What were you guys going to say about Miroku running for president?" I asked.

Sango's eyebrow twitched. "We can't have Miroku for president," she went on slowly. I could tell she was trying very hard to remain calm. "Because that guy is an irresponsible pervert!"

"Per…vert?" I said, blinking in surprise. My first impression of Miroku had been a heavy flirt, but a pervert? Really?

"He actually gropes the girls, you know," Annie said. "And they, being the idiots that they are, don't mind at all."

"Imagine…if he became president…" Ayame said. There was pure dread in her voice.

Sango shook her head. "He was always complaining about how the girls' skirts were a bit too long," she said ominously.

My eyebrows rose in surprise as I stared at my skirt. It reached roughly two inches above the knee. "He can't simply change the uniforms because he's president, right?" I reasoned.

Three pairs of eyes suddenly snapped to me. "Are you guys thinking what I'm thinking?" Ayame asked Annie and Sango.

Huh?

"I am," Sango said.

Oh dear…I wasn't always wrong, but please tell me I'm wrong now!

"Kagome should oppose Miroku and run for president!" they said in unison.

"WHAT?!" I yelped. "You're joking! You're out of your minds! I'm a Nobody, remember? Not to mention a lot of people don't like me! And I'm new! They all know me as 'the charity case'!" The last part stung, I'll admit.

"But it's brilliant!" Annika said, waving her hand dismissively at my protests. "Bloody brilliant, now that I think about it clearly."

"Then you're not thinking at all!" I snapped. "C'mon, guys, this isn't funny!"

"But we're serious."

I shook my head. "Miroku's one of the Elite! That's a landslide win right there!"

"Unless…" Ayame said, tapping a finger to her chin. Her eyes narrowed for a moment, and she sighed. "Well, it's obvious, isn't it?" she said grudgingly, turning to Annie and Sango. "If we want Kagome to run and win, then we'll need the power of the Elite to back her up."

"Miroku's an Elite!" I pointed out. "You still can't be serious! Joke's over."

"Of course," Sango said, not hearing me at all. "To fight an Elite, we'll need an Elite."

It was as though a light bulb went ding! above their heads as they looked at me with wide eyes filled with realization.

"We'll need Kouga!"

/.\./.\./.\./.\

I slumped against my desk the moment we arrived for Calculus, my head on my folded arms. I ignored the sounds of students whispering about me as I let myself fall into a pit of despair. My misery was more important than gossip!

They were serious! They really were! The traitors! And I thought we were friends! I groaned as Sango patted my shoulder comfortingly.

I had asked them to consider someone else, anyone but me. But no—they had said that anyone else didn't have the guts to take on the Elite (and, apparently, neither did they). Yeah, and I did? Annie had then reassured me that I wouldn't be alone. They would be supporting me every step of the way. Like the kings and queens of England, I would be the figurehead, she had said. More like the puppet to their puppet master. Traitors!

But first, I had to get Kouga to campaign for me, instead of for Miroku.

I had been surprised when Ayame readily agreed to the plan. She loved Kouga, but why was she willing to have me coax him over?

My head suddenly snapped up. Eureka!

What if…what if I used the campaign as an excuse to get Kouga and Ayame together? I could find reasons for them to do things together! It was a perfect opportunity! It was fool proof! I clenched my fist determinedly.

"Wow, you seem pretty enthusiastic," Ayame commented, eyes on my fist.

"Of course I am!" I said. It was so brilliant, I was at a loss for words! "Ayame what if…" Remembering the demons in the room who would still hear me even if whispered, I quietly scribbled my plan on my notebook. I showed it to her.

Her eyes widened in surprise. "Really?" she said, looking up at me. Her eyes appeared teary. "You'd do that?"

"I did promise you," I said, grinning.

"Oh Kagomeeee!" Ayame said, as she leaned across the space that separated our desks and drew me into a python hug.

"Ow, ow, human…need to breathe…remember?" I gasped.

Ayame giggled as she let me go. "Now what are you two going on about?" Annika muttered as she appeared behind Ayame. She reached over and snatched my notebook from Ayame's grasp. Her eyebrows rose, threatening to vanish into her side bangs, as she read what I'd written.

She looked at me. "Really?"

I huffed. "Why not?" I said, shrugging. "It's perfectly fool—"

The other students suddenly burst into claps and cheers as Miroku, Inuyasha, and Kouga made their timely entrance. Miroku waved like a celebrity, his teeth gleaming. Inuyasha scowled as he crossed his arms. Kouga's eyes darted around the room. He caught my eye, grinned, and made a beeline for me. Several girls turned and glared at me. I ignored them.

"He's…he's coming over," Ayame whispered.

"Keep calm," I muttered as she blushed.

"Hey there, sweet!" Kouga said, smirking as he faced an empty desk towards mine. He sat down and leaned towards me.

I leaned back. I could feel the annoyance threatening to surface. Keep calm, keep calm, Kagome. Remember you need him, for your friends' stupid idea, and for Ayame.

"He-hey, Kouga," I said, giving him a smile. I had a feeling it looked insincere. All around us, I could hear the students still clapping and cheering on Miroku.

"Now that's what I like to see," the wolf said, smirking. "You know, you're cute when you smile. You should do it more often."

Oh, I do it often, all right—when you're not around. Keep calm…

"So, um, what's the big deal with Miroku?" I asked, jerking my thumb towards him.

Kouga blinked. "Oh, him?" he said, scoffing. "Just passed in his application for president of the Student Council."

"What?!" Sango and Annie hissed. They were immediately beside Kouga, eyes blazing.

"He submitted already?" Annika said, amazed.

"Chill, Duchess," Kouga said, leaning back and crossing his arms. Annie and Sango both threw me a look, and then glanced pointedly at Kouga.

"Uh, yeah," I said. "Kouga…about that—"

"QUIET!"

We all jumped in our seats just as Ms. Tsuruga entered the room. She was holding the same metallic rod from yesterday and tapping it repeatedly against her palm as she turned to regard us. Her eyes immediately fell on Kouga, who grinned at her.

"Mr. Yorozoku!" she said with a sharp tap of the rod against her palm (that had to hurt). "May I ask what subject this is?"

"Uh…I think it was Calculus," Kouga said, grinning. My eyebrow twitched. Now was not the time to be funny!

"Very good," Ms. Tsuruga said sarcastically. "Calculus. Not Courtship 101. Get back to your seat. Now!"

Kouga immediately returned to Miroku and Inuyasha. Several girls turned to glare at me, as though it was my fault that Kouga had been scolded. As Kouga sat back down, he glanced at me from over his shoulder, and winked.

Inuyasha hit him on the shoulder and pointed to the whiteboard. Ms. Tsuruga drew out a whiteboard marker and began writing on the board. She began talking, and I leaned back, ready to lend me her ears. For an instant, my eyes strayed to Kouga.

What were Annie, Sango, and Ayame thinking? Surely, there was someone else other than me who could oppose Miroku? Why me?

I let out a loud sigh of frustration. A second later, Inuyasha glanced hesitantly over his shoulder at me.

He stared.

I stared back.

He suddenly jerked his head slightly toward Kouga and rolled his eyes. I couldn't help it—I giggled.

"Ms. Higurashi!"

I cringed as Ms. Tsuruga's rod struck her desk, making a loud thwack! as it made contact. I immediately stood.

"Tell me something about functions," she said, tapping the rod against her palm. She looked menacing.

"Functions…" I began, feeling conscious of everyone's eyes on me. Beside me, a boy with pointed ears nudged his seatmate and they chuckled. I blushed. "A function can be thought of as a correspondence from a set X of real numbers x to a set Y or real numbers y, where the y is unique for a specific value of x."

Ms. Tsuruga's lips twitched slightly. "Good. Sit."

Several people turned their heads to stare at me, and I blushed. The moment Ms. Tsuruga turned her back, Kouga spun around and gave me a wink.

Keep calm, Kagome. Just…keep…calm…

. . .

The sound of the bell ringing after History was probably the best sound I've heard all day. Ms. Riddler, the teacher and fraternal twin sister of our Physics teacher, had given us a quiz on the Sengoku Jidai of Japan. It was a breeze for the demons who'd actually lived during that period.

"You were marvellous, Kagome!" Sango cheered as we made our way towards the cafeteria. "First, during Calculus, you didn't flinch once! Not even when Tsuruga called on you to answer on the board! And then, you scored high on the History quiz!"

"I'm not surprised," Annie said.

Ayame was quiet. There was a serious look in her eyes. Uh-oh. "Um…Ayame?" I said hesitantly. Dammit, I was going to kill Kouga!

Ayame turned to me. To my relief, she smiled. "Don't worry about Kouga, Kagome," she said, waving a hand dismissively.

"Listen, Ayame," I said, lowering my voice. "I know it must be hard for you. But it's hard for me, too—I can't stand him, I honestly can't. So, every time he comes near me, I want you to be yourself."

She blinked. "Be myself?"

I nodded. "What Kagome means to say is that you always freeze when Kouga comes around," Annika piped up. "It's no wonder he's never paid any attention to you at all."

Sango and I threw her an annoyed look. "Really blunt, that one," Sango said, sighing.

Annie raised an eyebrow. "I'm just being frank," she defended.

"Annie has a point," I said, sighing.

"See?"

"Ayame, whenever Kouga comes near me, try talking to him," I said, as I slung an arm across her shoulders. "Don't clam up. Show him what a wonderful person you are."

Her eyes immediately watered. "Oh, Kagomeee!" she said as she grabbed me in another python hug.

"Ow!" I said as we stumbled through the doors of the cafeteria.

"Oops, sorry!" Ayame said as she let go of me.

Several people turned to stare at me. A girl nudged her friend, and they turned to glare at me. I inwardly squirmed. It wasn't my fault that Kouga was such a pest!

Annie cleared her throat loudly and everyone immediately turned back to their food. "Idiots," she muttered as we sat at the same table as yesterday.

"Mm…" Sango said appreciatively as she lifted the covers off the food. "Salad Niçoise, Roast Barossa Chook…Let's eat!"

I glanced uneasily at the spoons and forks beside me. I could feel Annie's eyes boring holes into me as I debated over which fork to actually use. Why couldn't I just use my hands?

"This one," Anne said, sighing as she tapped the space above a fork.

Grinning sheepishly, I picked up my fork. "Sorry," I said.

"And don't slouch," Annie said, eyes narrowing. "And your napkin on your lap! Honestly, I don't know how you've been eating properly for the past—how old are you?"

"Seventeen," I said.

"For the past seventeen years," Anne finished.

Ayame chuckled, and shook her head. "Don't worry Kagome. When Anne becomes a meanie, it just goes to show that she cares about you."

Annie raised an eyebrow. "Are you saying I'm a sadist?"

Ayame shrugged innocently. "Hello there, beautiful people!" an all-too familiar voice said. A second later, Kouga had pulled up a chair from the other table and was sitting at the head of our table, right beside me.

"Oh, just wonderful, there went my appetite," Anne said darkly.

"Yeesh, Duchess, I can tell you like me a lot," Kouga said, grinning. Annie choked on her salad. Beside her, Ayame's eyes widened as she blushed and bent her head, keeping her eyes fixed on the salad in front of her.

"Anyway," Kouga said, turning back to me. "Did ya miss me, Kagome?"

Deep breath. Keep calm, Higurashi, you can do it. "We just saw each other in Calculus," I pointed out.

"I'm just that loveable," Kouga said, shrugging.

I gripped my fork so hard, my knuckles turned white. I quickly set it down—I might stab him with it. Urgh, how could Ayame possibly stand him? While Kouga kept talking about himself, and joking with the boys over at the next table, I nudged Ayame's knee with mine. She looked up, and I tilted my head pointedly at Kouga.

She blushed and shook her head. How was I going to get her together with Kouga if she wouldn't even talk to him? This might just be harder than I had initially thought.

Annie and Sango both caught my eye, and looked at Kouga. "Elections," they mouthed at me.

Oh, right. I groaned. Was I really going to do this? Was I really going to make a spectacle of myself? Going against Miroku was going to brand me as more than a pariah, I was just sure of it. Even if Kouga did agree to campaign for me against his best friend—which I didn't think he would—Kouga was just one Elite. He couldn't possibly flip the tables in my favor, not with Inuyasha and that Tsunami-inducing Sesshoumaru backing Miroku up.

I must have been spacing out a little too long, because Annie gave me a kick underneath the table. "Ow!" I said. I glared at her, and she raised an eyebrow.

"You okay?" Kouga asked.

"Uh…Why aren't you eating yet?" I asked. Annie threw me a glare, while Sango let out a sigh of disbelief.

"Oh, I get it," Kouga said. "You're concerned about my health! Gee, that's really sweet, Kagome."

Ayame blinked and once again bent her head. I groaned. How was I going to get her out of her shell? Beneath the table, Annie gave me another kick.

"Say, Kouga—" I was cut off when the double doors to the cafeteria opened and in walked none other than Miroku and Inuyasha. Loud cheers and claps immediately exploded throughout the cafeteria. Girls screamed their love and approval as Miroku smiled and waved. Inuyasha crossed his arms, his ears twitching.

"Hey, Miroku! Inuyasha!" Kouga called out, waving his best friends over.

Several people threw our table looks of disbelief as Inuyasha and Miroku made our way over to us. "Hello, ladies!" Miroku said, beaming at us. He and Inuyasha stood behind Kouga's chair. "Sango, you look divine, as always."

Sango gave him a withering look, and ignored his comment. "Getting even more popular, eh, Miroku?" Kouga asked him.

Miroku shrugged. "What can I do? This school needs a president who isn't afraid to break free from mundane tradition!" he said loudly, making a determined fist. He spun around to face the other students. Several people cheered their approval. "This school needs a president who isn't afraid to try anything new! A president who can take Golden Acres to better heights!"

People screamed their approval, their lunches forgotten. I looked over at Annie and Sango, hoping that the support people were already bestowing Miroku would make them rethink their idea. From the looks on their faces, that didn't seem to be the case.

"Oh?" Sango hissed as she leaned towards Miroku. "Mundane tradition?"

Miroku turned back to her. "Yes, my dear Sango, mundane tradition," he said solemnly.

"And what part of GARA's 'mundane tradition' are you planning on changing?" Sango's eyes narrowed dangerously. "The girls' uniforms?"

"Well, Sango, that will have to come second," Miroku said, winking at her. Her face reddened in anger. "First order of business would be to allow outsiders into GARA any time of the year."

"Why, so you can find more girls to flirt with?" Sango snapped. "Not happy with what's available, are you?"

Miroku looked as though he was at a loss for words. I stared at Sango. I was surprised at the amount of venom in her voice, and the deadly look in her eyes. She was angry—very angry. And I couldn't think of a sufficient enough reason for her to be this angry with Miroku. I had thought that Annie, Ayame, and Sango were just Everybodies, and yet why were they so connected to the Elite?

"My dear Sango, you misunderstand me," Miroku said, a look of mock-hurt on his face.

"You won't win," Sango said quietly.

Miroku threw out his arms. "As far as I know, no one else is running," Miroku said, grinning. "Isn't that right, Inuyasha?"

Inuyasha scoffed. "Always the overconfident one," he said, shaking his head. "Try not to be an idiot this time, Miroku."

"Oh?" Annie said, raising an eyebrow at Miroku. "I do believe you're wrong on that point."

Oh no. Annie…no! You wouldn't…!

"Wrong?" Miroku asked, tilting his head. He looked genuinely puzzled.

"There is someone else brave enough to challenge you," Ayame suddenly said. Kouga's eyes swivelled to her. I take it he just realized that she was there.

Inuyasha, Miroku and Kouga glanced at each other, looks of bemusement on their faces. "Who?" Miroku asked.

Annie grinned as she nodded in my direction. NO! "Kagome Higurashi will run in this year's Student Council elections," she announced. "And she will win!"

No! My short life at GARA was over!

The room suddenly went dead quiet. Miroku, Inuyasha, and Kouga were staring at me with open-mouthed astonishment. The silence stretched on for several heartbeats, and then…

"The Charity Case has totally lost it!" a boy shouted.

Laughter suddenly erupted throughout the room. I felt my face warming. My heart was beating so fast, and the blood was pounding in my ears. I wanted to run and bury myself in the ground!

"Dude, I thought scholars were supposed to be smart!"

"Haha! Like anyone would vote for her!"

Miroku, Inuyasha, and Kouga were still staring at me. They weren't laughing. It looked as though their brains had clogged up.

"How dare you people laugh?!" Ayame shouted as she stood. She slammed both hands on the table, on either side of her plate, as she glared around the cafeteria. "Kagome is a smart girl! She'd make a better president than some popular kid with no brains!"

Silence fell around the cafeteria. And then people began laughing again. Ayame bit her lower lip as a blush crept along her cheeks.

"Everyone shut up!" Kouga suddenly shouted as he stood from his seat.

The silence that followed was total.

Kouga glared around the room. "Ayame's right"—Ayame turned her wide eyes to him—"Higurashi's a smart, nice girl! She'd make a good president."

"Dude, Kouga's siding with the Charity Case!"

"Oh no, Kouga!"

Miroku and Inuyasha both turned to Kouga. Miroku looked dumbfounded, while Inuyasha only shook his head. "Kouga, what do you mean?" Miroku asked slowly.

"Sorry, Miroku, but I'm siding with Higurashi," he said, shrugging.

Everyone's eyes widened in astonishment. Annika looked as though Christmas had come early, while Sango had a smirk of satisfaction on her face.

Miroku blinked, and then he let out a loud peal of laughter. "Kouga, my friend," he said, throwing an arm on Kouga's shoulder. "Not once were you able to win a game against me."

"Is that all this is to you, a game?" I surprised myself when I spoke up. I'd had just about enough of Miroku. In fact, I'd had enough of everyone laughing at me! I stood up. "Student Council elections aren't just a game! They're a big responsibility, and you're not taking it seriously at all!"

I couldn't help but notice Inuyasha grinning, as though he was enjoying himself. Somehow, I felt even more confident as I pointed at Miroku. "Miroku Houshi, I will run for president, and I will win!"

Annie smirked as she leaned back in her chair and folded her arms. "Let the games begin."

/.\./.\./.\./.\

End of chapter.

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