Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Chapter Three

The tension was still pretty thick by the time they reached the ryokan they would be staying at. But luckily they were all pretty distracted by the sight of all the workers excitedly greeting Bon, who was just as surly and rankled as ever making Kagome wonder if the boy had any other setting. He was worse than a cranky InuYasha.

The owner of the ryokan, an oddly familiar, kindly middle-aged woman politely greeted them as they entered. She seemed like a mild mannered woman until she spotted Bon. Her personality took a drastic one-eighty as she rounded on the young monk.

"Ryuji, you actually went and dyed your hair huh! You wanna turn into a chicken or something next," she angrily reprimanded him. Kagome and Renzo started to snicker as Bon was scolded while the others else looked on, confused.

It was then that Bon's mother finally took notice of the other guests with her son. "Neko-chan, Renzo, it's good to see that you're both well. It must have been tiring protecting Ryuji."

"Actually it was Kagome-san who did most of the protecting," Renzo said, earning an elbow to the ribs for his trouble.

"Kagome-san," Ryuji's mother repeated, quietly to herself. The name did sound familiar but before she could ask, Bon started to yell again.

"Don't make it sound like they were protecting me, especially that slacker," Bon shouted, jerking a thumb in Kagome's direction. She childishly stuck her tongue out at the back of his head, earning a chuckle from Rin.

Completely ignoring her rampaging son, she bowed to her guests. "Oh dear, how terrible of me. Pleased to meet you, I'm Ryuji's mother."

"Eh? But isn't Bon's home the temple that got destroyed," Rin interjected. Kagome raised an eyebrow at that. She hadn't known that Bon came from a temple home.

Switching back to her polite persona, Bon's mother answered the half-demon. "That's right. Even though our temple couldn't hold out, I took over this ryokan which was my own family home."

"As it turns out, you really were the Bon-Bon of a ryokan," Izumo added, causing more snickering to break out.

"I can still hear you guys you know," he yelled.

Shura spoke up, making her presence and their mission once again known. She ordered the three Kyoto natives to visit their relatives, while Kagome and the others were to assist the wounded. Well only her and the other two girls. Rin was given different, more minimal tasks that Kagome suspected was just to get him out of the way.

She quickly volunteered to start picking herbs and disappeared to the garden before anyone could offer to help her. It was a familiar task for her, one that would give her ample time to think and spend some much needed time to herself. Though Rin certainly was friendlier than the others, there was still that disconnect between her and her classmates.

She sighed dejectedly as she pulled a few more plants. It didn't take her long to get lost in her methodical work and before she knew it she had lost track of the time.

The sound of footsteps broke her from her trance. The timid blond was standing by the gate, staring intently at a slip of paper. Kagome wondered if she knew she was there.

"I'm so useless."

The way the girl said it pulled at something within her. And before she knew what she was doing, Kagome had spoken up. "I doubt that's true."

The blond jumped, tripped, and fell to her knees. Kagome quickly dropped the plants she had been picking and rushed to her side.

"Are you alright? Sorry, I didn't mean to startle you," she hastily apologized, helping the other girl up.

"I-it's alright. It was my fault for not noticing you," Shiemi said, accepting her help.

"Sorry, but I've forgotten your name," Kagome sheepishly admitted.

"Oh, that's okay," Shiemi said, smiling brightly to show no offence was taken. "We haven't been really welcoming. I'm Moriyama Shiemi."

Kagome smiled and bluntly said, "Well Moriyama-san, why do you think you're useless?"

The blond started to shed tears again, sending Kagome into a panic. "Ni-chan won't come out because I'm so weak," she cried.

"Ano, why don't you start from the beginning," Kagome asked as she placed a comforting arm around the other girl's shoulder. She had no clue who this Ni-chan was, or why they would think she was weak. The girl certainly possessed quite a bit of power.

Shiemi continued to cry, "I just wanted to be of help to everyone. And Rin and Yuki-chan wouldn't tell me anything, even though it was something so important!"

Kagome still had no clue what she was talking about. She doubted she would be able to get much else out of the upset girl.

"But I'm so useless to the others," she pathetically added, tugging at Kagome's heart strings.

"Well, the fact that you want to help shows that you're not useless," Kagome attempted to soothe the girl as she patted her back. "And whatever your friends were hiding, I'm sure they had a good reason for it. They probably just thought they were doing what they felt was right, not that they didn't trust you."

"You think so," she sniffled.

Kagome smiled and nodded her head. "Yep, trust me on this. You just need to have a little faith in yourself and your friends."

Her words seemed to have done the trick as Shiemi began to calm down. She gave her a bright, watery smile and said, "Thank you, Kagome-chan."