Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha or Naruto.
He was alone.
In a sea of black, he was the only thing that stood out. It was strange, unworldly, and it gave him a sense of dread.
To get rid of that feeling, he closed his eyes, and envisioned himself standing anywhere but in that never-ending darkness.
He opened his eyes, and found himself standing outside Ichiraku Ramen.
He blinked. The lights were on, and he could see that there were people there—or to be accurate—one. One person was there.
'That orange looks familiar,' he thought, his blue eyes sliding down to his own pair of pants before they widened in shock. Just as he was about to barge inside, he heard a pair of footsteps. He turned to see who it was.
"Kago…" He trailed off, since dream Kagome didn't even seem to acknowledge he was there. Instead, she kept her gaze on the ground, and when she finally lifted her head, all he could see was the tremendous amount of worry in her eyes.
'Here we go,' she quietly muttered to herself before asking out loud, "Ayame-chan, are you here?"
'Hey,' Naruto thought as it hit him just then. 'I know this!'
This was his and Kagome's first encounter! Their first encounter as friends! The encounter that started it all! And it was just seconds away from happening!
"Kagome-chan!" He yelled. "Before you go in there, you should know that…" His voice became quieter and quieter. Though his mouth continued to move, no sound came out of it. He drew back when he noticed the change and tried to shout.
'What the hell is going on?' He wondered. 'Why can't I say anything?' He tried speaking again but to no avail. He clenched his fists in frustration and tried once more.
Fed up, Naruto decided to just run up to her, but right at he took the first step, he stopped dead in his tracks, because Bankotsu (of all people) stepped out of Ichiraku.
Naruto's face turned red in anger and if he wasn't so worried over the fact that his voice was gone, he would have pummeled the guy. His dislike towards Bankotsu became the least of his worries though when, to his shock, the look of apprehension on Kagome's face became one of glee. With a bright smile, she ran towards Bankotsu, and threw herself into his open arms.
No…this wasn't how it went. Everything was completely wrong. Kagome was supposed to go into Ichiraku, get the shock of her life, then he, Naruto, was supposed to save her by smoke bombing the place and getting her the hell out of there.
Bankotsu wasn't supposed to be in the picture at all!
The two pulled away from their embrace, and Kagome finally noticed him standing there. Her smile widened and she tore herself out of Bankotsu's grip and ran over to him, and things only became stranger from there.
"Naruto-kun! Guess what? Bankotsu has asked me to marry him! But because my father and nobody approves of our relationship, we decided that we're going to elope! Isn't that exciting?"
A smirking Bankotsu strolled on over to them, and wrapped an arm around Kagome's waist. "Thanks for being one of the few people who does approve of our union, man. Much appreciated."
Naruto gaped. 'I don't approve of your union, you piece of—!'
He watched as Kagome patted Bankotsu on the arm. "It's because Naruto-kun is so kind! Isn't he kind, Bankotsu?"
"Yeah," Bankotsu agreed, staring down into Kagome's eyes with sparkles and lights illuminating the background. "Real kind."
Naruto finally found his voice.
"WHAT THE HELL?!"
"Holy crap!" Naruto shouted as he woke himself up and fell out of his bed.
He hit the floor with a hard thud, and groaned at the pain that shot up his back.
This was the third night in a row he had had that dream. He didn't know why, exactly, but it was frustrating and it drove him crazy. It was always the same thing too: he'd be in that same spot outside Ichiraku, Kagome would appear, then Bankotsu would show his face and it would all go downhill from there.
It bothered him. Either all the beatings from Sakura had finally knocked something loose in his head or someone had trapped him in a genjutsu or something...
Lifting himself off the floor, Naruto sprawled back on his bed.
This was insane. He didn't know what to do anymore, and he was losing sleep and nothing seemed right anymore.
All his thoughts revolved around the happy, the pretty, the smiling—
He sighed and covered his face with his pillow. "Just what the hell is going on?"
It was early. Too early, in Renkotsu's opinion. But, squad eleven had a mission and because it was in a different village, they had to get an early start.
"This will be the first serious mission we've gone on in a while, so I'm going to be stricter with you guys than I normally am," he said.
At Sai's badly timed chuckle, he paused, even stopping in his tracks as he looked back at his student. "What's so funny?"
"Nothing," Sai responded. "Is to wrong to laugh at nothing?"
Renkotsu turned back around, willing himself not to get angry. They had only been traveling for 20 minutes at the most and it wouldn't do any of them any good if he lost his temper already.
"Wonderful," griped a grouchy Inuyasha. "The one who normally keeps his mouth shut won't shut his mouth, and the one who usually yammers on and on is sulking."
"I'm not sulking," Kagome countered from her spot behind the group.
"Yes, you are," Inuyasha argued. "Look at you!"
All three males of squad thirteen regarded their female companion in that moment.
She wasn't even standing five feet behind them. There had to be a good thirty feet separating her from them. Not only that, but she was being strangely quiet. She was never quiet. There was obviously something wrong with her.
"Kagome! Get up here!" Renkotsu demanded. Kagome winced at his tone of his voice, but listened.
Once she was standing a reasonable distance from them, Renkotsu gave his insufferable students one final warning. "I'll warn you all right now— if you annoy me even the slightest bit within the course of this mission, I will leave you to fend for yourselves. I am not in the mood to deal with your teenage angst."
Three pairs of eyes watched him make his declaration with placid wonder. None of them said a word.
Then, the silence was shattered by Inuyasha's chuckle.
"Fine with me. I've kinda always wanted to see Kagome's dad kick your ass," he said.
Sai joined in on the chuckling. "It'd be an easy win for Shikaku-san."
Inuyasha smirked and nodded in agreement. "Embarrassingly easy."
Their merriment didn't carry over to their female teammate, who only sighed as she watched Renkotsu give Inuyasha and Sai a good whack on the backs of their heads.
However, she reacted in her usual manner when Renkotsu suddenly directed his fury onto her. Luckily, he never raised his hand at her, but he had no problem voicing his rage. "What about you, Kagome? Do you have any witty remark that you'd like to make?"
She nervously giggled. "N-no, I'll pass."
He took a step back. "Good." With that, he resumed stomping down the dirt path out of the village.
Kagome waited until he was out of hearing shot to address her teammates. "Please don't provoke Renkotsu-sensei anymore," she pleaded.
Inuyasha was quick to point fingers. "Yeah, Sai. If you feel like laughing over nothing, stuff your fist in your mouth."
The pale artist frowned. "That does not sound very pleasant."
"Inuyasha, that applies to both of you!" Kagome snapped. "Let's all try to get along like we normally do. For our client's sake, okay?"
"Who the hell cares about the client?" Inuyasha grumbled to himself as he rubbed the back of his head, the same spot that Renkotsu had hit. Then he gave Kagome a hard stare.
"Mind sharing why you look so down?" He asked. Before Kagome could refute his claim, he added, "And don't lie! It's obvious there's something bothering you so spill!"
Sai, too, stared expectantly at her.
Kagome met their gazes, and searched for something to say.
It was strange. She had gone to bed feeling okay, but when she had woken up, she had felt nothing but anxiety. She felt incredibly nervous for some reason, and she had a feeling part of it had to do with the mission. Just their client's name alone—Onigumo—gave her the chills. All they were doing was making sure nothing bad happened to him while he was being escorted by another group from one hospital in Amegakure, to another hospital in Kusagakure. It sounded simple but this was a guy with a lot of enemies, and someone had managed to get to him already since the reason he was in the hospital in the first place was because he had been caught in a suspicious fire and now lay in critical condition. She seemed to be the only one who felt queasy about the whole thing because Inuyasha, Sai, and Renkotsu-sensei were all acting normally.
Also, Naruto seemed to linger in the back of her mind. She wanted to apologize to him for having to deal with so much just for helping her, but she hadn't seen him for a couple of days now and she couldn't do much about it at this point because she was leaving the village and going to be gone for three days. Everything was a mess and she couldn't even fix it.
She just felt so unbalanced. But she didn't want to hear her friends badmouth Naruto, so all she told them was, "I just have a bad feeling about this mission."
"Is that all?" Sai asked her.
"Well, that's the main issue," Kagome truthfully answered.
Inuyasha responded this time. "Keh, you're worrying over nothing! We're capable of handling whatever gets thrown at us!"
Sai nodded. "And when we are finished, we can anger Renkotsu-sensei for fun."
At her friends' words, Kagome couldn't help but smile. She felt so much better. Not entirely reassured, but at least she felt calmer than before.
Up ahead, Renkotsu finally realized how quiet his students were being. Unused to that, he turned to glance back at them.
He nearly did a face-plant when he realized the three teenagers were still back where he had left them—they hadn't moved at all!
"What the hell are the three of you doing so far behind?! Hurry it up!"
It was with urgency that Naruto knocked on the Nara household's door.
He didn't mean to sound like a madman pounding on the door the way he was. He just needed answers. He needed to know what was going on and why his thoughts were going into overdrive. If he didn't, he would never ever find peace, and he was going to end up dying because he couldn't focus on anything other than—
Before his musings could go any further, Shikamaru answered the door. He looked somewhat surprised (bored too, he always looked bored) to see him.
He didn't waste a second. "Where's Kagome?"
If Shikamaru found it strange that he was asking for his sister, he didn't show it. "She's gone."
Naruto choked as he thought of what those two words implied. "Gone?" He repeated.
"Don't say it so menacingly," Shikamaru said with a hint of annoyance. "She left today on a mission with her team. She'll be back in three days. You can come back then."
"Three days?! I can't—I can't wait that long. I have to talk to her!"
To his chagrin, Shikamaru didn't seem to be the slightest bit sympathetic. "There's nothing you can do about it now. Come back in three days," he said.
Naruto frowned. "But it's urgent!"
"What do you want me to do about it?"
"Use your shadow jutsu to trap her and bring her back—!"
"Come back in three days, Naruto," Shikamaru repeated for the last time before he closed the door in Naruto's face.
End of chapter.