It was amazing how such a small portion of a person’s life could shape it in ways they could scarcely imagine. She realized this as she sat next to her friends speeding along in a bullet train dashing through Tokyo. Just that morning she had decided that she was in desperate need of literally anything that could pull her out of her yearlong malaise. So she sat there thinking about her life trying to gain some sort of perspective.
She had spent 15 years as a normal girl. She’d had a happy family with a dad, a mother, a brother, and an eccentric grandfather. They’d lived in a family run Shinto shrine nestled into the heart of the country’s capital. They weren’t rich by any means but they were comfortable. So long as you defined comfortable as always at least having food on the table.
About 6 of those years she’d spent without her father. She tried not to think about him much after he died on his business trip. There was something to be said for losing someone so soon. She had been just old enough to have memories of him, to remember loving him, but not nearly enough to miss him. Such a declaration would have seemed sad to most but kids adapt to those kinds of things quickly, or so she’d been told.
But she was 15 when her world inexorably changed. That was when she’d fallen through her family’s sacred well and somehow traveled through time to start an adventure that almost didn’t seem real these days.
Nearly 5 centuries in the past...that was where her true friends were. This was not to say that she didn’t enjoy the company of the girls chattering beside her but once you’ve shot an arrow riding a flaming cat at a monster, killing it just in time to save the life of the girl who you were closer to than a sister, it’s hard to go back to regular school friends.
She’d spent 2 years in Japan’s feudal era. She, as it turned out, was the reincarnation of a long dead priestess and through a bizarre turn of fate both brought back and destroyed a magical jewel that could grant your heart’s desire. She’d spent those two years traveling with friends dearer to her that any she could have ever imagined having. Among them was a child who was also a fox demon that was smarter and braver than anyone his age should have been. Next a demon slayer and her demon cat who was as fierce in battle as she was kind to those she surrounded herself with. And of course, a monk who was as greedy and lecherous as he was charitable and wise...And one other. The one that hurt the most.
It had been one year since she’d seen the first member of their merry gang. Inuyasha, the half demon who’d stolen her heart. The boy who’d traveled across timelines with her and showed her what true love felt like. The one mostly responsible for the emptiness she now felt.
She’d spent 3 days laying in that well crying once she’d finally destroyed the jewel. With her purpose fulfilled she’d been magically returned to her own timeline without Inuyasha. Without any of them. And now she sat next to her three friends. The only one not talking even though the reason for their trip was basically her fault to begin with.
The sun hadn’t quite fallen yet as there were still a few hours left before nightfall. She wistfully remembered when she found sunsets beautiful. She remembered enjoying the smell of flowers and the feel of grass beneath her feet. In her memories the wind blew through her hair and the stars lit up the night’s sky like one giant street light on a hot summer’s eve.
But now the many colors of the city somehow seemed less vivid. The noise of the teeming mass of humanity droned on every day like a humming murmur in the back of her head forcing her to take headache medication regularly. Even things she’d once found fun and relaxing only seemed to be killing time until she went to sleep and could once more dream of where she truly belonged.
Slowly she began to pull herself out of her thoughts realizing that one of her friends was talking to her. “Kagome, are you okay? Are you feeling sick?”
It was Ayumi. The most innocent of the four of them. She had curly hair that cascaded down in waves that Kagome had been jealous of since she’d been young. The girl had a way of comforting people that even Kagome couldn’t deny. There were plenty of days over the past year that she’d actively sought her out just to have some little bit of warmth and joy in her life. “Huh, oh. Yeah I’m fine.”
She, of course, wasn’t which was very plainly obvious to anyone with eyes.
“Are you sure because we can stop and get some medication if you want.”
That time the voice came from Eri. She had shorter shoulder length hair and was the one Kagome always got along with the best. They’d gone through school with most people confusing them for sisters. She could remember how they used to just laugh it off making light of how similar they were in both temperament and personality. Though they could both admit that Kagome’s temper rand quite a bit hotter.
Kagome smiled apologetically, “No it’s okay. Seriously I’m fine. Just a little tired I guess.”
“Lookin’ up hot guys all night on the internet again? Can’t say I blame you. You’re a growing girl after all.”
The last voice came from Yuka. She had the shortest and most colorful hair of them all wielding a snappy and outspoken attitude to match. In high school she’d died her hair brown as a joke and then kept it after she kept getting complements. Now it was a copper shade of red that looked fairly natural. She had always been quick with a joke in good times and bad though in her studies she hadn’t exactly excelled. Her poor grades matched Kagome’s though Kagome at least had her time traveling as an excuse.
The joke made at her expense forced a small amount of color to rise in her cheeks.
Before Kagome could respond Eri jumped in chiding her, “Kagome wasn’t doing that and you know it. She was probably just looking for any apartments we’d missed. Right?”
Kagome sighed, “Yeah, I’m sorry I dragged you guys into this.”
Yuka patted her on the back, “Hey, it’s no problem. Heck, I’m practically the queen of procrastinating and you’ve always been there to help me out.”
The sentiment did slightly alieve Kagome’s guilt over the subject, “Yeah, but if I just listened to you guys and found one before the school season got this close we wouldn’t be hunting down roommates right now.”
Ayumi smiled as only she could, “It’s not so bad. Besides meeting new people is exciting.”
Yuka raised a humorous but slightly annoyed eyebrow, “That’s because everyone loves you the moment they lay eyes on you. It’s like you’re a witch or something.”
The two playfully bickered back and forth as Eri pulled out the list they’d gathered. At first glance the paper almost looked like it had more red than black ink on it. They’d spent the last two days visiting each of the people on the list crossing them off and circling the ones that had potential.
Two of the crossed off names they hadn’t even met as they’d taken one look at the apartment complex and turned right back around. Two more had been crossed off for simple clash of personalities between her and the person who would have been her roommate. One was a little too into a specific anime character that she was obviously infatuated with decorating the entire living room with toys and posters of the one character. The other one gave off a biker gang vibe that made Kagome wonder if the cartoonish scenario of her strapped to the girl’s bike as they fled a rival gang waving bats and pipes was actually as farfetched as it seemed.
Several places had been promising though the prices were still a little high for her tastes. She’d found part time employment as a cashier at a small bakery but it didn’t pay well enough for her to realistically live alone and feed herself unless she committed to living off stolen cupcakes.
She loved her mother and had no problem staying home other than the pile of bills that she’d seen a few weeks ago as she watched the woman who’d been so supportive of her in the past struggle to make ends meet with the cost of utilities and food.
No, the time had come for her to spread her wings and make it on her own. She just wished it was as easy as it sounded.
The crackling sound of the next stop being announced over the intercom jarred them from their seats as the train slowly came to a halt. The four of them disembarked among a crowd of travelers making their way through the station and into a long street decorated with sprawling skyscrapers.
Yuka nudged Eri as she fumbled with the paper. “Are you sure it’s around here? These are some pretty high end apartments.”
Eri squinted double checking the address, “Yeah, I found it in the paper. Not sure about this one though.”
Ayumi budged herself closer as they walked through the bustling crowd, “Why, is it too expensive?”
Eri shook her head, “No, that’s the problem. It’s too cheap for this area. Plus listen to what the ad said: Applicant must be timely with rent, tidy, respect personal space, and keep loud noises to a minimum. One pet allowed if well trained.”
Yuka grimaced, “Sounds like a total control freak. Probably why the rent is so low.”
Ayumi tried to imbue some hope into her friends, “Well, we should at least give them a chance.”
Kagome shuffled along behind them half listening as the four of them made their way down the busy street. After several mistaken addresses they found themselves before a large apartment complex that jutted up like a sword pointed into the sky. The doors in front of them were lined with painted gold and beyond the glass a woman sitting at a desk could be seen typing away at a computer.
The four of them exchanged concerned glances before stepping through the entrance and approaching the woman before them.
The attendant was a middle aged and wore just enough makeup to appear a few years younger than she probably was without looking like she was trying too hard. She wore a black business suit that was clearly cut to show off her moderate features. And on her collar was a nametag that read: Ayame.
Looking up from her work she smiled cordially at the group, “Hello, can I help you?”
Eri cleared her throat, “Um, we’re going up to room 1712.”
The woman extended her hand gently motioning down the hallway behind her. “Go down that hall and take the elevator to your left. It’ll be on the 17th floor several doors down on your right.”
Eri smiled back at her, “Thank you.”
The woman nodded and went back to her work.
Following the woman instructions the group found themselves walking along a short hallway decorated with expensive artwork and pottery. With each passing renaissance painting each of the girls began to feel more and more out of place in their street casual clothing.
They quickly snuck their way to the elevator before some high end business man saw them and noticed how pitifully dressed they were in relation to the building’s normal clientele. Ayumi hit the button as they all waited next to the painstakingly cleaned silver plated elevator with a growing sense of unease.
Once the doors opened they were treated to a floral scent and pattered walls with mirrors on three sides of the elevator. And though the elevator was spacious enough they all crowded together as if for safety.
By the time they reached the 17th floor none of them wanted to budge an inch.
But it was Ayumi who took the first step, confident and smiling as always, hooking a right and following the numbers down to room 1712. However she stopped just shy of the door and turned back to meet her three friends who had followed but stayed a few steps behind her.
“Well, here we are.” Announced Ayumi a little quieter than usual.
“Yup...” The rest of them said in unison.
There was a long pause before Yuka promptly turned around and began to march back towards the elevator stopped only by Eri who snatched Yuka’s collar before she could escape. “Where do you think you’re going?”
Yuka looked like she was about to start sweating bullets, “Come on, I didn’t pick this place. Besides, were you even paying attention? We. Do. Not. Belong. Here. Do you see the carpet in this hallway? This is not a carpet that these shoes belong on. The price on the ad was probably just a misprint.”
Eri looked down at the eloquently designed patterns they were currently standing on and waivered, “Yeah...by the looks of this place that’s probably the most likely scenario.”
Ayumi gently guided them forward, “Guys, we came all this way. Besides, don’t you at least want to know what an apartment around here looks like?”
The two girls looked at each other and silently agreed that Ayumi made a good point. It wasn’t every day that they got to look at some place that was so obviously out of their price range.
Kagome stood there observing the finely crafted patterns on the hallway rug and the smooth engravings that seemed like they were built into the walls and lighting. When she spoke it was almost out of the blue. “So, who’s gonna knock?”
The girls paused having not quite thought that far ahead. Or at least they did until Yuka smiled and raised up her fist. The other three girls sighed raising their fists as well.
What followed was a short but sweet game of rock paper scissors that Yuka lost immediately. Yuka stood staring at the flat of her palm in disbelief as Eri watched on clearly amused, “Why do you always pick paper?”
Yuka seemed on the verge of fake tears, “Don’t make fun of my always paper strategy.”
Eri smiled, “Not...much of a strategy if we know you always pick the same thing.”
Yuka shook of Eri’s logic and gathered her confidence. Striding towards the door and hesitating only for about half a minute before knocking.
Each of the girls stood in rapt silence waiting for the door to open. And when it did Yuka put on her best first impression face and waved at the person before her. The three other girls packed together a short distance away seeing only Yuka as she introduced herself.
“Hi, I was responding to your ad in the paper that said ya you wa I...uh ma gha...haaa...”
The girls took a moment to try and understand what was happening as Yuka’s words began to fall apart in her mouth. The consensus was that she was either terrified or having a small stroke. That was when they noticed a deep blush develop on her face as she stood frozen in place.
“Must be a guy.” The three of them quietly sighed in unison.
Eri and Ayumi rushed to her aid as Eri grabbed hold of Yuka’s shoulders addressing the occupant, “I’m so sorry, my friend Yuka’s just a...little...uh...uh...”
Kagome watched from the sidelines as all three of her friends stood there gaping like deer in headlights. Sighing once more Kagome marched forward to see what all the fuss was about. But once she reached the doorway she stopped dead in her tracks. Though not for the same reason as her friends.
It was plainly obvious why the three of them had caught a bad case of slackjaw. The man before them was in the purest sense absolutely gorgeous. He was tall with sharp exotic features that seemed both masculine and feminine at the same time. He wore slacks and a tight fitting t-shirt that showed off his ridiculously toned but not oversized muscles. With his short scruffy silver dyed hair and his piercing eyes he had a presence about him that could have made a nun rethink her vows.
These were the reasons that her three friends were turning red. But it’s not why Kagome’s heart had skipped a beat.
Amber eyes fell upon her giving her terrifying flashbacks of a large tomb filled with bones and an old sword that she’d nearly died over. She’d left that place nearly three years ago. But in that instant she was back there staring down the man with a predatory gaze, markings on his face, and long silver hair as he prepared to kill her.
The only difference now was that those amber orbs no longer held casual arrogance and hatred but instead a cold indifference that struck her as somehow just as frightening as the former. That and the lack of markings across his face as well as the pointed ears he’d usually kept hidden under his flowing locks.
She stood there staring at him with her friends for a short time before his voice flowed through them like dark water washing onto a beach. “I assume you’re here to look at the apartment?”
Eri was the first to recover, “I...um. Yes...I’m sorry. Uh, I think we’ve come to the wrong place though. My friend here is actually looking for a female roommate so-“
“Sesshomaru?” The word escaped Kagome’s mouth before she even thought it.
The silver haired man regarded her with no emotion, “Do I know you?”
There was an awkward silence as Kagome’s mind raced realizing the precarious position she’d just placed herself in. Of course Sesshomaru wouldn’t recognize her. For him it had been five hundred years and he’d only barely known her for the two years she’d been around.
But Kagome recovered quickly remembering the sorted web of half-lies she’d woven over the years and her many excuses for never being in school. Granted the whole thing hinged on Sesshomaru playing along but she was willing to bet that he wasn’t willing to out himself as a demon in front of a bunch of humans either.
Kagome smiled timidly only half forcing the emotion, “Yeah, sorry it’s been a while I guess. I’m Kagome...I used to date your brother Inuyasha.”
Though Sesshomaru’s expression remained exactly the same she could see a small glimmer in his eyes. Kagome assumed it was his brief memory of her coming back to him though, for all she knew, it could have just as easily been his innate hatred for his half-brother welling up inside him. The demon lord took a moment before giving a measured response, “Kagome...Ah, I remember you. This is...unexpected.”
Yuka shook off her dumfounded expression with one of her usual outbursts, “This is Inuyasha’s brother? Holy hell Kagome where are you keeping these guys?”
Eri nudged Yuka in the side, “What...my friend is trying to say is that it’s a pleasure to meet you mister...”
Sesshomaru turned his attention to her, “Itami.”
“Mister Itami. We didn’t mean to stop by unannounced but your ad didn’t have any contact information. If we’re bothering you-“
Sesshomaru didn’t smile though somehow, through some trick of the mind or some slight alteration in his tone, he seemed to soften, “Not at all, if you’re responding to the ad then please come in.”
The four of them hesitated for a moment before filing into the apartment. Kagome kept her eyes affixed to Sesshomaru who spared constant glances at her only diverting his attention to her friends whenever necessary.
Kagome heard but paid little mind to the ample praise Sesshomaru’s apartment was getting from her friends. If she was being honest she didn’t even notice her surroundings as she focused on the man before her. Instead her mind was hard at work trying to process exactly what was happening.
For an entire year she’d felt like she was stuck in a pit of despair that she could never explain to anyone outside her family. The two years she’d spent in the feudal era were the happiest and most fulfilling of her entire life and up until this very moment she’d had no link to it. She had only memories and the sadness that came along with them knowing she could never return.
Yet here, in front of her, stood a living link to that past. In that moment she didn’t even mind that the link was Sesshomaru. The only thing that mattered was that for the first time in what felt like an eternity she wasn’t alone.
Sesshomaru’s voice snapped her back to reality, “So, you’re the one looking for an apartment?”
Kagome blushed realizing that she was staring, “Huh, oh! Yeah, I guess I’m more roommate shopping to tell the truth. Don’t really mind too much where I’m living so long as it’s not too expensive and the roommate isn’t gonna...you know...kill me or anything.”
“Understandable. You can never be too carful these days.” Sesshomaru’s softer tone hadn’t changed but Kagome couldn’t help but notice the hidden implications in their conversation and the gleam in his eyes that unnerved her making her want to bolt out the door.
She remembered the two of them parting on somewhat cordial terms but there was no telling what the demon lord had been through in all these years. Still, the small measure hope that his mere presence invoked was enough to keep her firmly rooted in place.
Kagome tried to keep their coded conversation going, “So...what have you been up to since last time?”
“...I traveled for a time. Then settled down here.”
“You must have a lot of stories.”
“I’m sure you also have an interesting story or two. Considering when we last met you look quite well.”
“Doctors have me on some pretty good medication these days.”
“That simple is it?”
“You’d be surprised.”
Their conversation was interrupted by a quiet voice standing next to Kagome. Ayumi smiled gently as she politely inserted herself, “Does Inuyasha live here as well?”
Sesshomaru stared at her for a moment, “No. He does not.”
Ayumi blushed, “Oh, does he still live in the city? We haven’t heard anything about him since he and Kagome broke up last year.”
The demon glanced at Kagome then back at Ayumi, “He’s in Canada studying abroad. He found a university there that would give him a scholarship him despite his poor grades.”
Kagome’s heart soared as life rushed back into her. Inuyasha was alive? The world spun around her filling her with a giddy warmth that she had nearly forgot was possible to feel. This elation quickly spun into embarrassment as realized that she’d just involuntarily laughed out loud causing both Sesshomaru and Ayumi to stare at her. Kagome did her best to transition out of her awkward chuckle, “Ha...Ha. Yeah...he never was the bookish sort was he.”
Sesshomaru paused, “No...he wasn’t.”
Ayumi continued on ignoring Kagome’s strange behavior, “Is that where he’s from? Canada? The first time we got to meet him Kagome mentioned that he was only half Japanese. We noticed because he didn’t look...well...” Ayumi stopped, clearly nervous that she might be bringing up a touchy subject with the slightly foreign looking man in front of her.
Kagome smiled knowing that Sesshomaru probably understood the misunderstanding. She could swear that there was a hint of amusement in his voice, “She mentioned that did she? Yes...he’s from Canada.”
Yuka walked towards the group, “That’s cool. So you’re half Canadian too?”
Sesshomaru didn’t miss a beat, “No. We’re only half-brothers. His mother was Canadian...mine was from Austria.”
Yuka’s eyes sparkled with excitement. “Oh wow! That’s so cool! I heard it’s beautiful over there.”
“There are advantages to spending your childhood in the mountains. Among them is the scenery. If you ever have a chance you should visit the Alps at least once in your life. The view is breathtaking.”
Yuka stared, with what could only be described as longing, at the handsome man blushing as if drunk on his presence alone, “Yeah...totally...uh-anyway, this place is great!”
Eri chimed in, “She’s right this apartment is amazing. Why’s the rent so cheap?”
Sesshomaru hesitated, “The rent is much more than what I posted. I recently lowered the amount I expected from those interested because I have trouble keeping roommates either due to cost or...the fact that some consider me difficult to get along with.”
Spirits improved Kagome gave a quick snort for the understatement of the century then realized that everyone was now looking at her again. Slightly self-conscious Kagome backtracked, “Sorry...uh, I was laughing about the cost part. I bet you spend a small fortune on an apartment like this in this part of the city.”
This was a bold faced lie but her friends dismissed it as the likely truth, not for a second believing Kagome would be purposefully rude. Sesshomaru didn’t seem to care. “It is. I’ve had to adjust my budget quite a bit to justify lowering the rent to the amount I’m asking for.”
Eri put her hands on her hips and turned towards Kagome, “Well, this is perfect then.”
Not sure what she meant Kagome stood in oblivious silence for a moment, “...What?”
“This, the apartment...with Mr. Itami. It’s within your price range, you already know the person you’d be rooming with, and it’s a thousand times nicer than literally anything else on the list.” Eri blushed and quickly interrupted herself turning back towards Sesshomaru, “I mean, if it’s okay. I don’t want to presume anything.”
Sesshomaru calmly regarded her, “It’s fine. Normally I only room with men but because I’m acquainted with Kagome I don’t have a problem with it.”
Eri smiled warmly, “Great, so what do you say Kagome?”
She could hear Yuka half joke from beside her, “Yeah, cus if you’re not moving in I am.”
For the first time in nearly a year Kagome was beaming. Some god had heard her countless prayers and finally answered them. She was going to see Inuyasha again. “...Yeah, if you’ll have me I’d love to. Plus it’ll give us a chance to catch up.”
And then she noticed a strange look that she knew she’d seen from Sesshomaru before but just couldn’t place. “Indeed. I expect we have quite a bit to talk about.”