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Where Forever Dies by Nox

Rewind

Eyes fluttering open, the dark blue orbs darted around as the female in question attempted to get an idea of her surroundings. Her pupils undilated as realization settled over her and the gentle sounds of sleep from her bed mate came to her ears.

Houjou’s. She thought and quickly eased out of bed. He was a heavy sleeper so she made no effort to creep about as a thief. I’ve got to stop falling asleep here, he’ll think it’s something more eventually even though he says he knows better.

Bending down, she grabbed her panties and slipped them on, the black boyshorts hugging her hips nicely. She couldn’t remember if she had worn a bra or not, but it didn’t matter. If she did, Houjou would wash it and return it to her when he cleaned up.

She snatched her shirt and pants from a nearby chair and shimmied into them before she padded into the kitchen. Tugging open the fridge, she grabbed a leftover container of spicy udon noodles and tossed it into the microwave. Minutes later, Kagome was leaned against the countertop snacking on an impromptu breakfast.

Chewing thoughtfully, Kagome hummed to herself as the clock caught her eye. 6 AM. She really needed to get home and pack. Her flight left at 7 PM and she also needed to stop by her mother’s house on the way.

Finishing off the rest of the container, she chucked it into the trashcan, grabbed her jacket and purse and slipped on her shoes. As she exited, she pulled her phone out and sent Houjou a quick text saying she’d message him when she returned from her trip and to take care. The door automatically locked behind her as she made her way to the elevator.

Sunshine beamed down onto her tan skin as she exited out onto the street; assimilating into the crowd of early birds easily. It was summer in Tokyo and she was anxious to get out of the city and away from Japan altogether. This time of year, this month and specifically, this day made her skin itch uncomfortably and her heart constrict in a way she could not adequately put into words.

Her travel home was a blur, auto-pilot as one would put it as she found herself lost in thought around her last appointment with her therapist just days prior.

“How are you feeling today, Kagome?” Ms. Adachi asked, her smile soft and welcoming.

Kagome’s nose scrunched up, “Aina, you should know how I feel by now.”

“Mm, I do, but it’s better coming from your own mouth.”

“A weird mix of anxious and shitty. More shitty as the hours tick by of course.” Kagome sighed, running a hand through her hair. Aina was quiet as she sat diagonal of Kagome with her legs crossed and tablet on her lap for taking notes. “I mean, you’d think after five years I’d be less bothered by it, but every year that passes, it feels brand new. I’m starting to think that it’s a lie that time heals all wounds.”

Raising her hand, she did not want Aina to speak just yet. “I know you’ll tell me that some wounds just take longer to heal and some of them don’t get better at all, we just get better at coping with them.”

“And where are you at?”

Silence permeated the room briefly before Kagome spoke, “I’m coping with them better.”

This was very true as the first time she had seen Aina was four years ago. She was a mess, barely having skated her way through high school and only at the sympathy of the administration and faculty of her school. It was not to say that Kagome was an unintelligent individual, quite the opposite, but extenuating circumstances had left her with special difficulties.

Honestly, if it wasn’t for Aina guiding her through the darkness and her understanding friends and family, she probably would no longer be in existence.

“I do feel more confident in myself, my abilities and I'm grateful to be alive.” Unconsciously, she rubbed her wrists where scars of past horrors were embedded on her skin. “I’ll still be taking my trip though.” She gave a mix of a snort and chuckle. “I don’t think I’m quite ready to stay yet, plus… Emmanuel said he’s looking forward to seeing me.”

Keys in the lock, they were silent as the gears shifted and allowed her access into her apartment. While not a high rise suite, Kagome thought she was doing quite well for herself with the sprawling two bedroom and two bath space with floor to ceiling windows that overlooked the city below from the eighth floor.

Peculiar how a graduate student lived in what would be upper middle class given that her family was not exactly well off. That was one benefit of her trying times; they afforded her with items to where she could essentially live comfortably for the rest of her existence and if she invested correctly, she could pass it onto any children if she so decided to reproduce.

Tossing her purse and coat to the side, shoes off and slippers on, Kagome grabbed the tablet that sat on the counter nearby. She scrolled through her emails as she clicked on the light to her bedroom. A black suitcase sat on it, open and waiting to be filled.

She double checked her flight schedule and sent one final email to her advisor. She was taking a six month sabbatical from her studies. Soon she would be Dr. Higurashi with a PhD in Clinical Psychology specializing in neuropsychology, but for now, she was simply Kagome, the tourist.

Another glance at the clock and she chucked her tablet onto her bed and quickly started to pack. “Twelve shirts, six dresses, five pairs of pants, six pairs of shorts…” She muttered to herself as she closed one suitcase and packed another. She would be gone for 4 months and packed 3 suitcases and an all purpose camping duffle bag for when she would be away from her hotel doing excursions.

This was a yearly thing for her… every summer she took off from Tokyo and spent the entire season to explore someplace new or visit someplace familiar. This year, she planned to start off her time in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. She had a soft spot for the French Creole influenced area and the nature of the citizens in the southeast of the country. Many of her friends asked why she didn’t spend more time in New York when visiting the United States, but for her, it felt like Tokyo and she preferred to not be reminded of home when she traveled.

Shaking her head, she continued the task at hand.

 

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Two hours later she was completely packed, showered and had finished up the last touches of cleaning up her apartment. Tablet in hand again, she confirmed that a maid would be by at least once a month to dust and open the windows and that building security had also been alerted of her extended absence.

Ding, ding, ding. Her doorbell rang and the screen next to the door turned on to show a man standing in the hallway. Opening it, the man smiled and she handed him her luggage. She had decided that this trip she’d hire someone to take her belongings to the airport versus struggling on her own.

A few hundred yen later as a tip and the man was on his way with everything except her duffle bag which would stay with her.

Another ding on her cell phone alerted her that it was time to catch her train to her mother’s. With one last soulful look, she closed and locked the door to her apartment.

As she exited her building, the hairs on the back of her neck rose. Something was off, or at least she thought it was off. Sometimes she could not tell if it was her post-traumatic stress disorder, or if it was her tried and true instincts giving her a warning. Living life on the edge for three years would do that to a person. For now she would ignore it and she picked up the pace to the station.

The feeling did not get any better as she traveled, in fact the closer she got to her destination the worse the feeling got. Not one of her coping skills from Aina were working as she overheard the conductor calling out that her stop was the next.

With everything in her, Kagome forced down the screaming alarms in her head and attempted to breath out the tight knot her stomach. Was it because she was going to approach it today? Is that why? She thought to herself as she exited the station and started the walk to the shrine.

She was so focused on her breathing and not crumbling into a ball on the sidewalk that she did not notice that she was making her way up a flight of stairs and by the time the world came back into view around her, she was standing outside of her childhood home.

Her stomach rolled as she dry heaved. No, Kagome. You can do this. Covering her mouth, her stomach constricted one more time before she knocked on the door and waited. The seconds seemed to span into forever before her mother’s arms were wrapped around her.

Warmth and comfort washed over Kagome with the soft scent of her mother’s lotion tingling her nose. It was as if a double dose of klonopin had hit her system and immediately, Kagome was at ease and she returned her mother’s eager hug. “Momma…”

“Oh, Kagome! I’m so happy to see you.” Her mother quickly ushered her inside. “I know… how hard today is.” Hesitating, Hanako waited for a sign from Kagome. She was never exactly sure how her daughter would react, but it seemed in recent years that it was easier to broach the topic and she desperately hoped this year would be the same.

Stepping into her old home, she sat her bag by the door and slipped her shoes off. “It’s ok, momma. Seeing you is enough to help me through this.”

Hanako’s smile grew as relief washed over her. “I wish you would let me come see you instead of having to come here…”

“No, momma, it’s okay. This… this is necessary. It’s good for me. As long as the shrine stays in our family, it will come a time that I will be forced to return whether it is of my own choice or not. I’d like to be able to come here without requiring a mental intervention.”

Five years ago today, Hanako found Kagome shrieking at the bottom of the dried well on their property. Five years ago today, Hanako experienced a small amount of the horrors that her daughter experienced as she had to immediately call her neighbor to assist with getting Kagome out of the well only to find the teenager covered in deep wounds and practically unrecognizable with the layer of grime that covered her skin. Five years ago today, she regretted her choice in letting her daughter travel through time.

Hanako had to push the thoughts aside. She wasn’t going to let the thoughts and fears consume her about Kagome traveling. She understood her daughter’s need to be away, she felt the same way when her husband died and if she had not had two young children depending on her, she would probably be doing as her daughter does - running away to relieve the pain of this day.

For now, Hanako would simply enjoy the presence of a daughter she thought was surely lost.

 

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The hours flew and before she knew it Kagome’s phone was ringing and vibrating loudly to alert her that it was time to take the train out to the airport. It was roughly 4 PM and she would be at the airport within an hour which would give her enough time to get checked in, through airport security and at her gate.

Her and her mother stood at the doorway, both of them reluctant to say good-bye. They knew it wasn’t goodbye, but it did not make the process any easier.

“I’m going to try today…” Kagome spoke out loud as she shuffled her bag on her back and slipped her shoes back on.

A lump formed in Mrs. Higurashi’s throat. “Are-are you sure? You know you don’t have to.”

“I know, but I need to… at least before I leave.”

“Do you want me…?”

“Yes, please.” The two started to walk in silence to the shed that held the well. Kagome’s hands were shaking as they reached the door. She had to grip her own hand to steel herself as she took slow deep breaths. Her aura flared unconsciously, her own spirit reacting in form of protection.

I am safe. Kagome thought to herself as she gripped the wood and slid the door back. Lights flickered on with the opening of the door and she heard her mother mention that she had installed them a while back.

With blood rushing through her ears, she stepped into the well house. Aina would be so proud. Kagome couldn’t help but smile despite her rising blood pressure. Her mother stood in the doorway, giving her daughter the space to process, but the support she needed.

Fingers drifting along the old wood, she thought she felt the well hum and she lifted her hand only to place it down again and get the same reaction. Eyes focusing, she could see the power that wafted off of the structure and her own energy bumping against it.

“K-Kagome…” Her mother’s voice broke through her concentration. “Kagome! KAGOME!”

“Momma, why are you yelling? I’m right here.” The scene played out before her in the most peculiar way. Her mother was frantically running around the well and even passed by her, calling her name before running over to a nearby shelf and grabbing a flashlight and looking into the well.

Looking down at her hands, she noticed them to be dull… as if they were fading and then the world went black.

 

INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
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