Disclaimer: Inuyasha belongs to the goddess Rumiko Takahashi, not to me.
written by NeonChandelier (Joy Irene) August 18th 2011
Bringing one hand to rest on the top rung of the ladder in the well, Kagome tensed. Allowing a groan to slip through her lips, she turned to shout at the hanyou who appeared in the bottom of the well beneath her. The girl was bruised from taking a rather nasty fall just that morning. Her hair was full of twigs and knots that were absolutely demonic in nature and no amount of L'Oreal leave-in conditioner and detangler would fix it. Her arms were sore from practicing with her bow and arrows, and her right ankle was just the tiniest bit puffy, the result of twisting it a week before.
Kagome was tired. She was sore. And watching the obstinate half demon's pretty perfect silver hair begin to flow through the slight rip between worlds, she was growing furious.
Not even pausing to think, she inhaled deeply and screeched it at the top of her lungs, turning away just in time to miss the two silver ears twitch.
Finally reaching the lip of the well, Kagome hauled herself over the top and marched straight through the well house doors, ignoring the surprised looks of the tourists invading the shrine on the sunny day.
Inuyasha was beyond pissed. His day had started out well enough, though Kagome was still limping a little from the other day. How the girl could make it through a fight to the death without injury and then manage to almost kill herself by tripping over her own two feet was beyond perplexing. Protecting her, he was learning quickly, was a full-time job.
Naturally, he had decided to carry her while the others walked. Despite her meek protests that she was fine and didn't require his help, he knew that she would only heal if she stayed off of the sore leg. He shouldered her backpack while she pouted, and then because he hated when she was upset over anything, especially something so stupid (he was being nice, for God's sake!) he told the others to take their time with their slow human pace and began leaping through the air. Now, the feeling of running at full speed, even when he had a girl and her rather heavy backpack weighing him down, was exhilarating, but that wasn't the reason why he had decided to run. No, it was because of the way that her thighs, left bare because of her short skirt, would grip his waist and she would laugh and smile with her own wonder at his speed and strength as he raced through the forest. It was all fun and games, seeing how far he could fly with each leap before he had to touch the ground again, watching the black of her hair and the silver of his mingle together in the wind he was creating. Until the demon showed up.
It came out of nowhere, he wasn't paying enough attention to their surroundings, and it knocked into his side, sending both himself and Kagome flying through the air in a completely different direction than the one they had been traveling in before. She hit the ground first, and he barely managed to roll back up into a sitting position after crashing between the trees. The demon let out this freakish, high pitched giggle that made his head ache, and had preceded to explode, covering them both with some sort of chunky green slime.
Sango and Miroku had crashed through the trees on Kirara, Shippou had been shouting in that annoying voice of his, and Kagome had begun shrieking at the top of her lunges because she was covered in what appeared to be demon guts.
And just like that his good day had been over.
Sango helped Kagome onto Kirara, inspecting the rather large bruise that was beginning to develop on her collar bone, of all places, and had berated him about being more careful when Kagome was on his back. Miroku made some wise-crack, and Kirara lifted off into the sky in the opposite direction of where they had been heading, back to the well, with both girls sitting comfortably on her back. He had been left alone with the monk to trek back to the village, smelling of whatever that thing had been. Making it back to the village just in time to watch Kagome disappear into the well, he remembered that he still had her pack and had rushed in after her.
He was just coming out of the time slip when saw her shoe make it up the last step of the ladder, and had begun to call out her name when she sat him, hard, and still between worlds he had plummeted into nothingness.
Now he was stuck in between her time and his own with no way to reach her. He still smelled of demon innards.
Settling back, he began to wait. Unfortunately the hanyou had never been very patient.
Kagome hauled herself into the bathroom and pulled off her shirt. The bruise was big and turning the most interesting shade of blue-black. It spanned from her right shoulder to the inside edge of her collar bone. Hesitantly reaching up, she ran her fingers across it, wincing as the blue-black skin stung in the place where she had scraped it against a rock jutting out of the ground at just the perfect angle to catch herself on.
Sighing, she peeled off her socks one at a time before lowering her skirt to the ground. She had a light cut across her left thigh where Inuyasha had tried to hold her in place when they were knocked from the air. It was shallow enough that there was no fear of scarring, and the blood had already begun to clot, so she decided not to worry about it too much. Stepping over to the tub, she filled it with a sweet-smelling liquid and watched the bubbles multiply as the steaming water filled the basin. Satisfied that she would be getting her well-deserved bath soon, she walked toward the towel cabinet and pulled out a fluffy white towel. Looking over she saw that the tub was only half full, so she began digging through the nearest drawer for a clip that she could use to keep her hair up until she was ready to wash it.
"Aha!" Triumphantly holding her findings in her right hand, Kagome leaned toward the mirror and twisted it up as well as she could into a messy bun. Satisfied, she bent over the steaming water, ripples forming along the surface from the tap water pouring out in a steady stream, and peered in.
For a moment she was transfixed by the rippling water. There, reflected in the bubbles, was the image of Inuyasha. The reflectionof the boy peered back at her from all angles, his golden eyes intense and brooding. His expression was one of bewilderment, his mouth open just a little as though he had been in the midst of saying something. Suddenly, both of his brows knitted together and he opened his mouth to speak. No sound came forth from the water though, and when Kagome leaned in to see if she could hear him, she felt her bad foot slip on the floor and she fell into the centre of the tub, managing to land mostly on her bruised shoulder and sending all of the water that she had just displaced onto the bathroom floor.
Pulled from her revery by the sudden wetness of her skin and the sharp pain in her shoulder, she leaned forward to shut the tap off. Kagome leaned back, choosing to forget about what she had just seen. Clearly, she was crazy. There was no way that she had seen Inuyasha in her bathwater, and if she thought she had then it was just the byproduct of the aspirin that she had knocked back when she stormed through the kitchen earlier and the fatigue she still felt from traveling.
Yes, fatigue, that was it. Because there was no way that she had just seen Inuyasha in her bathwater. No way.
Inuyasha mentally cursed himself. He had been walking for hours searching for an exit but had found no way out. There was no road to follow, no sign to decipher. No one was here to speak to him or give him any hint of direction save a few uncooperative lesser demons whose bones had been left in the bottom of the well like mistress centipede's had been. They had been no help, and had felt the sting of his claws against their skin when they insulted his unusual bloodline.
Once, he had stumbled upon a swirling puddle, and while peering into it he had sworn that he could see Kagome. He was so busy staring at her bruise that it took him a moment to notice that she was naked.
If he was surprised to see her, then she was doubly so to see him.
"Kagome!" he was watching her lean in toward the puddle. Her bare breasts caught his attention, and he grumbled appreciatively, too confused to be embarrassed. Her mouth opened, possibly to reply to him, but he couldn't hear her.
"Kagome!" he repeated her name, more loudly this time. "Kagome! I'm stuck in the well, you have to come and see if you can-" It was no use, she now looked outright disturbed and the confusion in her eyes told him that she hadn't heard or understood a single word that he said.
Just as quickly as she had appeared, the image disappeared, the puddle shattering in all directions and lighting up the area like the Shikon jewel had the day that she- they had broken it.
He wasn't sure how long he had been sitting there for before he saw the first recognizable creature in what felt like days but was probably closer to hours. Flashing in and out of view before him was a rather small kitsune. Much like Shippou, it had pointed ears, fox legs, and a humanoid face.
"H-hey! Wait!" Rushing forward he managed to narrowly avoid a blast of fox fire when he grasped a hold of its bushy scarlet tail.
"What do you think you are doing?" it asked, completely composed. Somehow it managed to make its voice sound impudent, as though it was not being dangled from the clawed hand of an angry inu hanyou.
"Who the hell are you?" Inuyasha snarled in response. His eyes were wild and unfocused, and he appeared to the kitsune to be rather crazy.
"If you must know," the fox replied calmly, "I am the keeper of this time slip."
Inuyasha's eyes lit up in response. This was perfect! Who better to show him the way out than the creator of the slip? As though it read his mind, it cleared its throat before launching into a rather twisted sentence.
"At night they come without being fetched. By day they are lost without being stolen. What are they?" Cackling, the fox launched itself out of Inuyasha's hand and tossed him something that Inuyasha caught on reflex.
Plucking the silver trinket out of the air before him, Inuyasha felt his brows knit together. "Wha-"
"It's a bell," the kitsune pointed out, looking at Inuyasha as though he were a child who had just asked a particularly stupid question. The silver glinted to blue and then black as Inuyasha turned it this way and that. It was odd, but the bell felt familiar. It reminded him, however slightly, of the feeling he had just after crossing times.
"Will this open the well again?" he asked.
"Well?" the fox looked perplexed for a moment. "No." It smirked at InuYasha arrogantly. "I hold all of the answers that you search for Inuyasha. But first you have to prove your worth." It nodded its head assuredly, red bangs streaked with yellow fluttering with the action. "When you can answer my question, ring the bell to summon me. Eh-" it protested when Inuyasha gave it a little shake. "Not until you've solved the riddle!"
With a rather loud 'poof' the kistune was gone, leaving Inuyasha alone with the bell poised between his thumb and fore-finger.
At night they come without being fetched. By day they are lost without being stolen. What are they?
Damn if he knew.
Kagome chuckled merrily as she devoured the meal before her and her family. Buyou sat nestled snuggly against her cotton clad ankle, and she couldn't help but grin. It felt so good to be home! For the first time in what felt like forever she was clean, warm, full, and happy. There was no hanyou sulking in the corner, no friends mulling over the stress of a long day or trying not to succumb to the pain of losing their loved ones. Her heart hurt for her friends in the past, but Kagome recognized what she could not change, and here in the brightly lit kitchen of her ignorant family she was content to be happy for the people that she did have in life, instead of missing the ones that were no longer there for her, like her father.
Having had her fill, she helped her Souta clean up the table before offering to do the dishes. It had never been her favourite chore and she had often switched with her brother in the past for raking the shrine's lawn or shoveling snow off of the steps during the winter, but she felt grateful towards her mother. It was odd how she kept thinking that she didn't quite fit in here like she used to. Everyone was still happy to see her, but she could tell that they were no longer used to having her around.
They fed not only her, but her friends as well when she took food through the well with her. Her mother bought her a new uniform each time that she accidentally got blood stains or other unpleasant substances and rips in her old ones. She knew she should stop wearing them when she went through the well. They just got destroyed on the other side, and they weren't warm enough to protect her from the harsher elements, or thick enough to keep her from getting scraped up when she fell. She was positive that Inuyasha at the very least had see her panties more than once. She knew what the people there thought of her. Compared to their women who covered themselves up and acted conservative and responsible, with their hair pulled back and their kimonos down to their feet, she probably looked like more of a tramp than she had ever realized before. Though the thought bothered her immensely and she knew that no one recognized the significance of the outfit, and that it was probably having the opposite effect than she desired, her uniform made her feel whole, complete. 'This girl is a middle school student.' she imagined it would say if it could talk. 'She may not look it to you, but where she is from she is normal and loved. She is unique in her own way, but still, she is a normal girl.'
It was a stupid reason, but she found it comforting. And what else would she wear? All of her other clothing, save this one pair of pajamas would have the same effect, and she refused to wear a miko's uniform. She had tried on Sango's regular outfit once, but the thick materials and multiple layers had been heavy, and the outfit itself was so restrictive of movement that she wasn't sure she would be able to walk more than a few steps in it.
So lost in her internal pondering was she, that Kagome almost missed what was happening in the dish water. Swirling strangely, the dirty water spun three times more before settling on the image of Inuyasha. The boy was lost in thought, but when she breathed his name he turned abruptly and looked straight into her eyes.
It was just like before! Did this mean that she was going crazy? Possibly. It was probably head trauma from her fall earlier. But then, wasn't it odd that Inuyasha hadn't come back for her yet? Even at his angriest, he always came back. She knew Inuyasha; sitting around made the hanyou anxious until he drove everyone else insane when she was gone. No one could stop him when he wanted to get her back, unless...
Her eyes opening wide with realization, she turned and ran toward the well house, pausing only to open the door. The air felt odd, stagnant, causing her to stop where she stood and look around her.
Something was off and while she couldn't place it exactly she felt her pulse pick up and her eyes open wide.
"Kagome!" she heard her mother call. What? Why was her mother looking for her? Oh, yes, she had left the tap running. Moving forward slowly, she ran a hand across the lip of the well, biting her lip to keep from crying out when she didn't feel the familiar power of the well brush against her like it normally did. It was dark inside of it, and for the first time in her entire life, she was scared of what it contained.
"Kagome?" She didn't turn when her mother placed a hand on her arm, but tears escaped her eyes and she whimpered.
"Mama," the sentence was left incomplete and her mother pulled her into her arms.
The woman helped her daughter back to the house where the girl stumbled up to her room in the dark and preceded to cry herself to sleep.
It didn't make any sense. What had happened to the well?
"At night they come without being fetched. By day they are lost without being stolen. What are they?"
Inuyasha swore under his breath. It wasn't that difficult of a riddle! He knew that he had heard it before. It was on the tip of his tongue, laying in wait under a layer of thoughts.
Yawning, he stretched back until he was laying down, suspended in space. Bringing one clawed hand up, he scratched his head. He had run into another time puddle earlier on, and again it seemed as though Kagome could not hear him. He had heard her earlier, so it appeared that the bad connection was only one-way. Great. And knowing Kagome, she had probably gone out and done something stupid since their encounter.
"Night and day. Seen and unseen," he murmured quietly to himself. What did the night have that the day didn't? He would say the moon, but there was only one of them. The sound of crickets chirping? They seemed pretty loud after everyone had begun to dream. Again, it didn't seem likely.
Dreams? No. He knew this! Damn. He knew he did.
"Night and day. Seen and unseen..."
"Stars!" he screamed into the void. Wicked laughter escaped from his lips which had curled up into a triumphant smirk. His fangs gleamed in the weak light and he chuckled again. He looked positively mad, and it was a wonder that when he raised the bell and rang it the kitsune didn't run screaming at the sight of him. Instead it settled for smoothing the nonexistent wrinkles from its clothing.
"Very good!" the creature seemed a little sad though, that he had figured it out.
"So then, does this mean that you'll tell me how to escape from here?"
"What gave you that idea?" the kistune asked curiously. "I didn't say that I could help you escape, just that I could answer some of your questions.
The smile died from his lips, the colour drained from his face, and his eyes almost bugged out of his head.
"Well you see-" it began, wringing its hands together in frustration.
"Are you, or are not, the creator of this portal?" he demanded.
"What gave you that idea?" the fox asked curiously.
"That I was keeper of this place, but I am not the creator." It interrupted.
Inuyasha's patience was wearing thinner with each word. "Well then, where the hell is the creator?"
Er... "Dead, possibly. No one has seen him in well over..." the fox decided that counting time within a time slip would be too hard to explain to the irate hanyou, so it compromised. "well, no one has seen him in a long time."
"Can you, or can you not help me?" His voice was dead, his eyes were cold. Inuyasha was past anger, now he just felt cold inside. Icy. He was trapped in the time slip. Kagome was likely back in her time and who knew what would happen if she tried to come or go through the well! He had to get out, and quickly.
"I see," he whispered when the fox looked at him with sympathy.
Turning on his heel to walk back towards where he had been when he first got stuck, he was stopped by the kistune's voice.
"W-wait! I can't get you out directly, but I might be able to help."
"Keh, no thanks, I don't need help from a good-for-nothing like you!"
"Inuyasha!" it admonished in Kagome's voice. A kitsune was a kitsune. It was a creature of mischief and trickery, just as Shippou was. "I can help," it whispered quietly, in its own voice, and in that one moment it looked so hopeful that he had to give it a chance.
"Keh, fine, tell me what you know."
Kagome slept fitfully that first night. Waking before the sun, she pulled herself from her bed, untwisting the covers that she had tangled around herself in the night before.
She made herself breakfast, making sure to keep away from the cupboard full of junk food. She wasn't sure yet, whether this was for good or just for now, so she decided to have some faith. Doing something productive would help.
First, she decided to plan her life. It had been an exercise she and her father had worked out when she was a child. She could no longer be a princess, but maybe she could work out a more plausible life in the modern era.
The first thing that she would have to do would be to catch up on her schoolwork. Her grades would need to improve if she ever wanted a decent job.
Once she was closer to the top of her class, maybe she could go to university for something, provided Inuyasha did not come for her before then. Or that the well didn't start working again. Maybe the two of them had just tired it out by always going back and forth through it. Maybe they had used all of the magic up. Maybe if she got some more wood from the God Tree and fixed all of the parts where it had started to crumble...
Shaking her head, she got up from her desk, leaving her math text book open, and wandered out to the sacred tree. Her fingers brushed uncertainly against its trunk, unsure of whether it would make her feel better or worse to be calmed by it. She sank to her knees in front of the tree, sniffling pathetically and leaning her forehead against it.
This tree was powerful and ancient, she knew that she was not the first person who must have tried to share their pain with it. Kagome tried to picture Inuyasha sitting in its branches, and blanched when she realized that she couldn't remember him properly. His face, she knew. The strength of his arms, the way that he looked at her when he thought she wasn't paying attention, the power that radiated off of him when he drew the Tetsusaiga... They were all things that she knew very well. But which way was it that he sat when he was in the trees? Did he spread his right or left leg out, or both? Did his head lean against the tree or did he continue to scan the area with his eyes? And did he cross his arms, or tuck them away, or grip the branch?
She had seen him do it a thousand times over the last year. And yet every way that she tried to picture him sitting among the leaves felt wrong, a little off.
She hugged the tree to her for a moment before getting up and brushing herself off. For now, there wasn't much that she could do besides search for someone who could give her an answer. Someone would know. There were billions of people in the world, after all. How many of them could truly be ignorant to demons and Japan's true history?
She all but ran to the shrine gift shop where her grandfather sat snoring. Among the many useless trinkets and silly charms was a shelf of books on ancient Japanese lore and legend. Pulling three different titles from the shelf, she returned to the roots of the god tree and sat against it, immersing herself in what she knew as the history of her country, and smiling brilliantly when she found a section on different creatures and people who could supposedly influence time.
"First I need to know where you came from," the kitsune declared. "And second, I need to know where you were planning to go."
"Keh, you're the keeper of the time slip, right? So shouldn't you know?"
The kitsune cleared his throat. "I am merely the keeper of the slip. I am here only to retain order among the creatures within, and to make sure that the slip does not rip holes into any of the many dimensions attached to this world. I do not have such an attachment to this place as to know where it was that you came from. I did not even realize that anyone had been passing through until I stumbled upon you yelling at that puddle."
"What creatures?" Inuyasha snapped back. "I've seen only three low level demons since I came here. They couldn't be very good company."
"Well, they aren't. I have half of a mind to keep you here-"
"Listen you little runt!" Inuyasha growled. "I need to get out of here! So suck it the fuck up and help me!"
"As I said, I want to keep you here, that doesn't mean that I will. It's not like you're that pleasant to be around anyway," it muttered.
"Anyway, I believe that you were explaining your situation to me."
Inuyasha swore at the fox before launching into a hurried and confusing explanation.
"Well," the fox began. "This is quite the predicament indeed. I knew nothing of the well that you speak of, though if it was channeling the power of the time slip than I am certain that my master will know of its disappearance. The creator of the slip, and those who have been chosen by him to keep control of it after he perishes," it explained, "is the only one capable of adding doorways to this time rift. So, in this case, master would have had to build the well after leaving the slip himself, and will probably notice that it isn't working sooner or later and will come to see what happened to it."
"Okay, so what can we do?" Inuyasha asked.
"At this point?" the fox replied. "All we can do is wait."
Settling back, he began to wait. Unfortunately the hanyou had never been very patient. "Fuck."
Kagome skipped school that day. And the next. She told her mother that she was sick, but the intuitive woman knew that it was simply a matter of having something more important to do.
She read through every book in the shrine gift shop, and began skimming through the books in the history and mythology sections of the library. She read up on witchcraft, though she doubted that even if she had the potential to become a witch, she would be able to train herself well enough to be able to control time.
When her friends came to visit, they were surprised to see her buried in books that were obviously not for school.
"How is your blindness doing Kagome?" Yuka asked hesitantly. For over a year, they had believed every excuse she made for not coming to school, no matter how weird her illnesses were.
"Much better, actually," she said with a false cheerful smile.
"This can't be good for your eyes." Eri said. "Look, we know that you want to keep up, but be careful not to overwork yourself."
"Yeah, I'd hate for you to have to be hospitalized again." Ayumi cut in.
The girls handed her a pile of photocopied notes, and a stack of homework to complete for Monday. They also shared some news that she supposed she should be happy about."
"We'll tell Hojo that your feeling better."
"Yeah! He's been asking about you!"
Kagome tried to hide her horror. "That's really okay guys! You don't need to do that! I'm sure that I'll see him at school soon anyways."
"Actually," Eri exclaimed, "You'll get your chance to talk to him right now!"
"What?" Kagome shrieked, noting how oblivious all of her friends were.
"He's on his way over now," she explained. "I just finished texting him with my new phone."
Kagome groaned and rolled over. "Thanks so much Eri."
The girl chirped a 'you're welcome,' as though she didn't even notice the sarcasm in her friends voice.
"You get him Kagome!" Yuka exclaimed, "I have to go home and start supper for my mom now. She'll be done work at six."
"Yeah, we have to get going too." the other two girls explained how they had a double date that night to get ready for.
"Maybe next time you and Hojo can join us!"
The sixteen year old girls left the room together, giggling, and Kagome noted how much each of them had changed while she was away. Eri's bangs had grown out and she now swept them off to the side, having abandoned the brightly coloured head bands that she had been wearing since she was twelve. Ayumi had begun to straighten her curls out, and Yuka's hair was now long enough that she could pull it up into a small ponytail at the back of her head.
It was more than that though; all three of them had matching french manicures, and though they weren't wearing heavy make-up, their eye lashes were a touch darker and thicker, signs that they had all found mascara that worked well for them. They were all together, and alike, like they were one person.
Kagome got up to look in the mirror. Her face was dotted by freckles brought up by the sun. Her hair had grown longer, and it was still shiny and soft looking, but she had horrible split ends. She had kept her bangs cut above her eyes, which looked dull in her bedroom's unnatural lighting. Her eyebrows were unruly, and her lips were starting to get chapped by the changing seasons. A burn that she had received weeks ago when she left her sun lotion on the wrong side of the well had faded into a deep tan, and her body, though definitely curvy enough to belong to a woman, was lean and powerful, like that of an athlete. She noted that her bra had become uncomfortably small, and wondered when she had begun to grow.
She had left her sun lotion on the wrong side of the well, she thought. But which side was the right side for her?
She was pulled out of her thoughts by Hojo knocking on her door.
"Hello miss Kagome!" he called out as he let himself into her room and stepped gingerly over the stacks of books that she left on the floor. "How is your voice doing now? And your nose as well? I heard all about that incident with the rake. You have to be more careful around the shrine steps Kagome, especially with your medical conditions!"
He had come bearing a basket of healthy fruits, which she accepted halfheartedly. Though she didn't say much, she listened to him while he filled the silence, talking about movies, school, his part time job at his family's pharmacy, and how much everyone at school missed her.
He was such a sweet boy, with an innocent face full of enthusiasm and trust. He cared about her without knowing her at all. She thought about how very modern he was, with his short hair and perfectly ironed uniform. She thought about how tame he was, how wholesome and cheerful, and listened as he used modern expressions that sounded foreign to her.
"Hojo," she interrupted his spiel on his volunteer work at a soup kitchen. "Thanks for coming, but I really have to get to work."
"Ah, I'm sorry Kagome," he flushed the sweetest shade of pink. "I didn't realize that I was talking for so long. I didn't bore you too much, did I?"
The young woman gave him a full, genuine smile. "No, Hojo, you just reminded me of something important that I have to do."
"Math homework?" he surmised, and was surprised when she laughed.
"No. I've just lost something rather important and I need to find it soon." She didn't miss the way that his eyes scanned her messy room.
"Best of luck then," Hojo ventured as she followed him to the door. "Have a good night Kagome."
"You too Hojo, and thank-you."
"Oh, anytime Kagome. You know that blueberries are full of powerful antioxidants don't you?"
She let him believe that she was thanking him for the gift basket, and waited until he was a good ways way before scampering off to the shrine storehouse. In truth, he had just reminded her where it was that she truly belonged.
"So what kind of person is your master anyway?" Inuyasha asked, trying to remedy the roaring silence.
"Oh," the kitsune contemplated its answer carefully. "He is very, very tall, with long hair, and he is very, very, very wise and powerful."
The description didn't exactly paint a picture in the hanyou's head. "Powerful, eh?"
"Yes he is, though he is a bit of a pervert as well." the kitsune leaned in conspiratorially. "He is a bit of a skirt chaser, master is. In fact, he's probably with a woman right now! That would explain why he hasn't come yet."
"How long ago was your master last here?" The man didn't sound like someone who he could trust to get him out of the well in time.
"About five hundred years ago," the kitsune answered, pulling a modern calendar out of his pocket and flipping it open. Each page represented a year rather than a month though, and Inuyasha leaned in to watch as new headlines scrawled in different dates. "Of course, we are currently outside of time, so for him it could have been merely a few hours." The kitsune shrugged. I believe he was only going out for a stroll when he left last time. Maybe he just hasn't finished it yet. He could be back at any minute!"
"Or not for another century," Inuyasha surmised. How long was he supposed to wait here for? It had been over five hundred years since the kitsune had last seen its master. For all they knew, the creator of the time rift could be- "What if he's dead?"
The kitsune fell to the floor and cried. "Master cannot be dead! You're mean, Inuyasha, and I'm not going to talk to you anymore!" the kitsune 'poofed' back out of existence, and Inuyasha got up and wandered off to find another time puddle.
"This is just fuckin' great."
The storehouse was full of ancient artifacts belonging not to Kagome's family, but to the shrine itself. Her grandfather always spoke as if it was her bloodline who was responsible for the protection of the artifacts, but what if they had belonged to someone else first? Someone had built the shrine next to the time well. After all, it had been there even back in Feudal Japan, and it had been dry then as well.
She refused to believe that it was a coincidence. Whoever had built the shrine there had to have known about the rift, and they must have left a clue somewhere. An odd noise captured her attention. Kagome brushed away cobwebs and moved aside a number of jars and clay pots until she came to a dusty, faded kimono. The fabric looked like it had once sported bright blue flowers, but now it was so dirty that they had faded to a soft green. As a whole it was a dirty gray colour.
Smiling triumphantly, she pulled the bundle down and opened it up. Inside was a variety of different objects. She pulled an old stopwatch from the group, watching as it ticked backwards at twice the speed that a clock is supposed to work at. She pulled out a dagger that was touched by a demonic aura and whispered into her mind as she picked it up. An hour glass, and a pair of spectacles joined the others on the storehouse floor. She hesitated when she came to a mirror that looked suspiciously like the one that belonged to Naraku's incarnation Kanna, shivering as souls cried out from its depths.
Finally, underneath it all was a buzzing phone that she regarded for a moment before picking it up and flipping it open.
"When I get my hands on you you damnable demon, I am going to ring your scrawny-"
Kagome jumped at the voice as it screamed at her through the phone.
"Er, hello?" Kagome interrupted the woman's rant.
"Oh, hello. I'm very sorry. I'm afraid that I must have dialed the wrong number."
"No, no, no!" Kagome cried as the woman tried to hang up. "I think we're looking for the same person. You see, this is going to sound crazy but-"
"Please tell me that he did not knock up yet another foolish mortal! Gah, the idiot! Don't worry, I'll make sure you get full custody rights and-"
"I am not knocked up!" Kagome shrieked, embarrassment flooding her cheeks. "I just, my, well, I was traveling through time with this dry well, and now it seems to have stopped working."
"Listen, whatever spell that idiot left behind wherever you are probably just wore off. I'm sorry, because you sound like you're a nice enough girl and I know what it's like to have the time traveling bug, but mortals are supposed to remain in their own era anyway. Just get on with your life where you were meant to be. I'm hanging up now and if you notice an idiotic, perverted man who appears to be in his early twenties wandering around wherever you found the phone, tell him that Mizuki is looking for him and remind him that I hate to be kept waiting." That said, the line cut off abruptly.
Sighing, Kagome jotted down a quick note and put it on the back of the shelf with the pocket watch, carrying everything else that was in the bundle up to her room with her and dumping it all onto her bed before heading down to the kitchen to fetch a bowl of water.
Inuyasha had appeared for her twice already. Even if she couldn't speak with him, maybe she could at least ascertain that he was okay.
Tired, restless, and hungry, Inuyasha ignored the pains in his stomach as he walked around in search of another time puddle so that he could see Kagome. He could hear a constant dripping sound from somewhere deeper in, and finally he came upon a spot where it seemed to be raining. The torrent of water slipped down around him, soaking him before sliding down to a spot where a river was was forming.
The kitsune, who had apparently forgiven him, brought him a stone bowl. "Look," it said, "if you collect enough water as it reaches the river, then maybe you will be able to see your friend again. Just don't fall in!" it warned.
He bounded off once more, leaving Inuyasha to go down to the river alone. When he bent over it, the rushing water was enchanting. Rather than being clear or blue or even black, the water reflected the faces of thousands of people and animals from above as they went about their daily lives. The humans wore clothes of Kagome's era and his own, the clothes of people from long before he was born, and those dressed as though they belonged in between. He watched and waited before he saw Kagome, looking intently in at him, before swooping in and capturing her in the bowl, almost toppling in for his efforts.
Whooping ecstaticly, he walked away from the sound of the rushing water with the bowl tucked firmly against his chest.
"Inuyasha!" Kagome exclaimed when he finally sat down, settling the bowl in his lap and looking down at her. The connection was better this time. She didn't sound staticy at all, and he could even hear the sound of her bedroom fan blowing int the background.
"Kagome, you've got to get me out of here!" he yelled.
"Where are you?" she asked him, dreading the answer.
"In the well. I was coming through when you sat me and something broke. How fucking stupid are you anyway, bitch?" he snapped. "Using the rosary when I'm at the top of the well!"
"Hmph," Kagome exclaimed. "It's your own fault for coming after me in the first place!"
"I was just bringing your damn backpack back!" he roared. His ears rang in the silence and she looked at him sheepishly.
"Oh, sorry," her voice was small and her eyes watered. The water in his bowl rippled where her tear fell. "You're really stuck in the time slip?" she asked. He nodded an affirmative and she took it as a chance to deliver her promising news. "I can't get through either. I've found the leads to a demon though, so hopefully when I find him he can help."
"A demon!" an excited voice piped in, "That must be master!"
The fox perched on Inuyasha's shoulder and peered down into the bowl at Kagome's face.
"Hello there, who are you?" Kagome asked, surprised to see another being in the well with Inuyasha.
"I am Suki,!" It declared proudly. "The keeper of this time slip."
"Can you get Inuyasha out of there?" she asked hopefully.
"Unfortunately, no I cannot. Only my master has the power to influence the slip. Did I hear you say that you had located him?"
Kagome explained everything that had happened to her since she had been trapped on her side of the well.
"Don't worry, I'll find him." She promised before bidding them goodnight and leaving Inuyasha and the kitsune on their own once more.
The next morning, Kagome awoke to find a rather good-looking man at her door. With his dark brown hair pulled back into a short pony tail and the way that his eyes swept up her legs in her school uniform, taking in the toned muscle of her calves, she was instantly reminded of Miroku.
"Er, can I help you?" she asked.
He smiled knowingly. "Might I come in?" he asked her, brushing past her and scanning the room. "This is a nice home you have here." he said, taking her hand in his and squeezing lightly. "Saruwatari Shinji at your service!" he explained.
"Ah, nice to meet you. Listen I don't know why you're here, but-"
"I'm here because I seem to have had my cellphone stolen. Now, I would hate to have to inform the authorities-"
"Your phone!" Kagome grinned. That was even easier than she thought it would be. "You're the time demon!"
He looked at her like she was crazy. "How do you know about that?" he asked her, his eyebrows shooting up his forehead and his attention suddenly focused only on her.
Kagome explained about the well, how she had been traveling back and forth through it. Though she was careful to avoid talking about the jewel, she caught him glancing down at where it was hidden beneath her shirt more than once. She told him about Inuyasha and the keeper of the time rift, and finally of finding his things hidden away with her family treasures.
"I didn't realize that that rift still worked," he said absentmindedly. "Oh, well. I guess if it was working before you've broken it now. I might be able to fix it for you, but it would be most unwise to allow you to continue traveling through it like this. Besides, wouldn't you rather stay here with your family?"
Breathing deeply, Kagome looked at her reflection in the mirror across from her bed. She knew where she belonged.
"I want to go back to Feudal Japan. I want to stay there, if I have to make such a choice."
She held his gaze while she spoke. She would miss her family, but she would miss Inuyasha and her life over there even more if she stayed in the modern era.
"I see." he sighed. "Bring me my things. It takes far too much work to recreate such a time slip. I suppose that I will be able to open it for you enough for one trip, though I am surprised that it ever worked for you at all. Although I suppose as one of Fate's instruments, it's no surprise that you found your way to the Shikon no Tama, isn't that right Kagome?"
She smiled at him. "No sir, I suppose not."
She went to get his things for him from her room, bringing them forward and setting them out while he explained the process of letting her go through the well just once more.
"You will have to wear this," he explained, and she watched, fascinated as he shook the dust out of the silk kimono and it turned to a midnight blue. The embroidery depicted the sky. "This kimono once belonged to one of the most important people I have ever known. She was unusually fond of short skirts," he explained when she noticed that it would fall to above her knees.
"The dagger we will use to draw your blood, and the pocket watch, if you will wear it, will help speed up the process of going backward." The ticking picked up. "This mirror, I will keep with me, to make sure that you get to your destination." He cleared his throat. "And we will fill the bottom of the well with the sand from this hourglass, to cushion your fall through the passage of time."
"And Inuyasha?" She questioned.
"You will see him as you pass through," he said. "Make sure to grab hold of him tightly. Don't worry about the kitsune," he added. "I will pull her out as soon as I have the chance to."
"Thank-you!" she exclaimed, beaming up at him. "When can we leave?" Her expression fell when she saw how sad he looked. "What's wrong?" She asked, letting her hand rest lightly on his forearm.
"Nothing," he said quickly. "Don't you want to wait until your family gets back, so you can say goodbye to them? Or maybe take one more modern bath? You should have things to take with you as well."
"Ninja snacks! And my first aid kit!" she exclaimed, hopping up and running to get them. She had forgotten how weird it was having the strange man in her home in favor of her task. There was something about him that was familiar. She was almost positive that she knew him from somewhere, and it had nothing to with him being Miroku's likeness.
"Don't forget to take some candy!" he said when he caught her staring at him from the doorway. "What's wrong?"
"Do I know you from somewhere?" she blurted out. It was his smirk, no, the way that he held himself. Or perhaps it was his aura? She knew that he was glamoured. He looked wrong. Like he was shimmering as he smiled at her. She shook her head and walked toward him, hauling her big backpack along behind her with her pajamas and as much ramen and ninja food as she could fit inside. She included a blank notebook and some pens, and a copy of her mother's favourite book and her family photo. "Never mind." she said quickly. He was helping her, and that was all that mattered. She didn't know anyone named Shinji anyway.
"I just have to find a change of clothes."
"That's alright." he said. "It's like the robe of the fire rat. It will keep itself dry and clean and stuff, so you won't have to change."
"Great!" She spun on her heel toward the door. "Shall we go then?" the air had gotten heavy, awkward, and she didn't like it.
"Don't you want to say goodbye?"
"No," she whispered softly. "Inuyasha is waiting for me, and my family will understand. They might not like it, but they will understand why I left and where I've gone to."
"This is forever you know." he stressed. "You won't get to see them again."
"I know. I've left them a note on the video camera. Make sure they get it for me?" she asked hopefully.
The two entered the well house together, and once they were inside, Shinji closed the door behind them and made his way to the well.
He brought the hourglass from his front pocket and waited until all of the sand had collected in the bottom before he unscrewed the lid on the top and tipped it over. The two were eerily silent as they waited together for the sand to fall. He moved it as it emptied, creating a pattern like the star of Kagome onto the bottom of the dry well. The star burned a bright blue colour, like fox fire, and the colour burned more intensely with each word that he said.
"To cushion your fall through time."
Next, he took the dagger, mumbling an apology as he sliced an angry red line through her hand. This too, burned blue, as though her blood wasn't getting any oxygen.
"So that this rift will recognize you as its passenger."
He wiped the dagger on the cloth of her kimono, and watched in fascination as the butterflies began to glow bright blue as well and flew around her.
"Silk, to protect you from the fire."
He set the pocket watch so that the hands spun five times quicker than they had before.
"For you to know when you have reached your destination."
Finally, he pulled her in for a hug, the top of her head tucked under his chin.
"Kagome?" he asked.
"I've missed you." He inhaled once, enjoying her pleasant scent. "And you are making the right decision."
He squeezed her to him once more before pushing her over the lip of the well, her confused expression shifting to incredulous when his eyes shifted to green and his hair to red. A fang poked out over his bottom lip.
He smiled at her as he added the final ingredient.
She was enveloped by warmth and light so bright that she was blinded until she felt a clawed hand wrap around hers.
"Inuyasha," she breathed.
Inuyasha and the kitsune had been waiting for hours before the world began to shake around them and Kagome came hurtling toward them, her body encased in a blinding blue light and her backpack tipping her back awkwardly.
"Master Shippou is calling me!" the Kitsune shrieked before dashing off up the dazzling trail that Kagome was leaving behind her.
Inuyasha didn't hear it as Kagome collided with him and he wrapped his arms around her, burying his face in her hair and clutching her to him as they hurtled along through the rift until they reached the end and were pushed into the air from the bottom of the well.
He expertly tucked and rolled, landing easily with her in his arms and being careful not to crush her.
He was so happy to be able to see the setting sun that he didn't even notice her crying until the stars began to shine above them.
"Kagome, are you Okay?" He pushed her back to look at her red face.
"I'm sorry I kept you waiting." she sniffled miserably.
"Keh, it's all right. I suppose I could've figured out a way to get out of there on my own if I'd just beaten the information out of the stupid fox.
"Not your fault." she cried against his chest. "It's all my fault."
His ears drooped. All of it? What all was there? So what if he had been stuck for a few days? As long as the well worked again... She didn't stop him when he sprung up suddenly and went to the lip on the well. It was quiet now, no thrumming of energy or promise of interesting times on the other side. He jumped in experimentally, unsurprised when he hit the bottom.
He looked up at her, where she stood with her hands braced against the lip of the well looking down at him intently. "Kagome-"
"I know Inuyasha." she whispered quietly. "I can't go back to my era anymore."
"Baka!" he hissed, jumping up and landing beside her. "You shouldn't have-" He stopped yelling when she started to cry again. "I would have gotten out of there eventually."
"I would have missed you too much!" she screamed at him. The quiet forest made her voice echo, and her heart pounded in her ears.
"I would've missed you too," he admitted, coming forward and wrapping his arms around her once more. "I'm sure we can open it again."
"It's all right Inuyasha." Kagome had never been a girl to have regrets.
"but your family-"
"And what about all of those tests that you have to go back for?"
"They don't matter."
"Inuyasha, it's all right. I knew what I was doing when I came through the well to get you and come here. The truth is, with all of the time that I've been spending here over the last year, that place wasn't really my home anymore. And you guys are my family." Kagome leaned over and took his hand, squeezing it with her own. "I'm happy to be here Inuyasha, as long as you're willing to have me."
"I'm happy to have you here too," he said as he wiped her tears away and took her pack from her. "Oi, wench, what do you have in here?"
She shrugged. "Everything. I can't go back, remember? Now, come on, I have to give Shippou some candy."
"Just because," she smiled secretly to herself. "He deserves it. What do you think everyone will say when they find out that we won't have to stop for my tests anymore? Inuyasha?" She turned to look at where he was still standing, her obnoxious yellow back pack slung over his shoulder and clashing with his red fire rat robe, and his hair shining almost white in the moonlight.
"Inuyasha?" she repeated, and he shook the dazed expression off of his face, breaking out into a smile. She wasn't sure what had made him so happy, but she was glad that he was okay with her staying with him. "Let's go home."
The two walked back to the village together, talking about everything that had happened over the last few days, excited and apprehensive to tell everyone that Kagome was staying.
Inuyasha's smile widened. "Let's"
Future Shippou's name: Saruwatari (monkey on a crossing bridge) Taiki (large radiance)
Okay, so that oneshot was a motherfucking monster. (Excuse my language.) I have now spent two nights and days working on a one shot that reached twice the length of what I intended it to when I began writing it and abandoned it six months ago. I have quite a few half completed fics on my laptop, so be prepared for some more uploads over the next few weeks. ;)
I hope that you all enjoyed Trapped. It was the longest thing that I have ever taken the time to complete, and possibly one of the best things that I've written. I wanted to find a beta, but it's really hard to find any who are active, so if anyone would be interested in editing any of my future fics, it would be really awesome if you could message me.
Finally, not to be a review whore, but I worked really hard on this (as all writers do) and I would really appreciate it if you could tell me what you thought of it!
Thank-you for reading! -Joy