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First Days by Emma

Friendship

Kagome Higurashi was a force to be reckoned with. Though she was only five, she could probably out-stubborn a mule if necessary. Luckily, her mother had never had to test that theory. Until Kagome started school. Then, Mrs. Higurashi began to worry. Kagome regularly came home with notes from the teacher – she never was badly behaved, per se, but she butted heads with her teacher. Regularly.

Mrs. Higurashi knew on some very deep level that Kagome’s iron will would get her into trouble someday, the sort of trouble her parents couldn’t bail her out of. She didn’t realize just how soon that day was coming.

It was an ordinary sort of Tuesday afternoon. Kagome was on the playground during recess, swinging from the monkey bars. She managed to cross the entire stretch without falling for the first time, and when her feet touched the platform on the far side, she couldn’t steady herself fast enough so she could do a victory dance. “Yuka-chan! I did it! I went across the whole way!” she cheered.

Her friend Yuka, on the platform where Kagome started, clapped happily. “I told you that you could do it, Kagome-chan!”

“Now you come, Yuka-chan, you can do it!” Kagome shouted back. “C’mon, hurry so we can go down the slide!”

If anything was incentive for a young girl to cross the monkey bars, it was the slide. Yuka took a deep breath, and gripped the first bar. Kagome called out to her encouragingly, wanting to see her friend succeed. Unfortunately, Yuka slipped midway, and fell hard onto the gravel below. Kagome jumped down carefully and ran over. “Yuka-chan, Yuka-chan, are you okay?”

Yuka’s eyes filled with tears. “My ankle hurts, I think I need to see the nurse.”

“I’ll help you, c’mon.” Kagome reached down and pulled Yuka to her feet. She helped the other girl hobble towards the nurse’s station.

“Takahashi-sensei! My friend Yuka-chan fell off the monkey bars and hurt her ankle,” Kagome babbled breathlessly. “I finally got all the way across for the first time and I told her she could do it but then she fell and—“

“Kagome-chan, shhh. Take a deep breath,” Takahashi-sensei soothed. “Now, can you get Yuka-chan a cup of water while I take a look at her ankle?”

“Yes ma’am, Takahashi-sensei!” Kagome bowed quickly and ran off to the water fountain with a paper cup. She was walking back quickly, but carefully, when she saw a boy with long white hair standing off to the side, looking lonely. He scuffed his foot along the ground, clearly lost along a sad train of thought. She walked up to him and introduced herself.

“Hi, I’m Kagome. You look like you need a friend.” She smiled at the boy. “You can be my friend, if you want.”

He looked up and studied her face for a moment. “I don’t need friends. Father says that a man must stand on his own.”

“Well, that sounds silly. My daddy says that you need friends who can cheer you up when you’re sad, ‘cuz it’s easier to face scary things when you have someone beside you.” She smiled happily. “He also says that spending good times with friends is better than spending them alone.”

He hesitated. “I don’t know. My father –”

“What’s your name?” she interrupted, changing the subject.

“I am Nishimura Sesshoumaru.”

“That’s a long name. How old are you? Can I call you Sesshou-chan?”

“No. I am nine years old.” His language was oddly formal to Kagome.

“You’re old, Sesshou-chan. I’m six!” she said proudly.

“Not that old.” He glared at her. “And don’t call me Sesshou-chan.”

“But nine is a lot older than six.” Kagome’s eyes widened as she remembered the cup of water she was holding. “C’mon, Sesshou-chan, come with me to give this water to my friend. She fell off the monkey bars and Takahashi-sensei asked me to bring her some water.” She held her hand out to him.

He made a grumpy noise. “Don’t call me that.” But he took her hand anyways, and she nearly dragged him behind her, chattering all the while.

“Sorry it took me so long, Yuka-chan! I found a new friend. This is Nishimura Sesshoumaru.” Kagome smiled and handed the water over.

“Thanks, Kagome-chan! Hi, Sesshoumaru-san. I’m Yuka.” She smiled shyly at the older boy as Takahashi-sensei finished wrapping up her ankle.

“At least your friend has manners,” he muttered.

“I heard that!” Kagome cried. “Don’t be a meanie, Sesshou-chan.”

“There!” Takahashi-sensei patted Yuka’s knee gently. “All wrapped up and ready to go. Don’t forget your ice pack, Yuka-chan.”

“Thank you, Takahashi-sensei!” Yuka hopped down from the chair. The three children left, Kagome leading the way.

---

After school, Kagome and Yuka helped scrub down their classroom. They left the building, walking to the train station together as they always did, before Yuka turned to keep walking home. “Bye, Yuka-chan! I’ll see you tomorrow!” Kagome called as she walked onto the platform. Sesshoumaru turned around to see her.

“You take the train, Kagome-san?” he asked, clearly surprised.

“Yeah. I live on a shrine kinda far away, Mama and Daddy had to get special per-mi-shun for me to go here cuz it was closer than the school I’m supposed to go to.” Kagome tilted her head as she looked at her new friend. “You don’t hafta use ‘san’ for me, Sesshou-chan. I’m just Kagome. Where do you live?”

“In the Asagawa district.” He didn’t give her any more information than that, annoyed by her insistence on calling him Sesshou-chan.

“That’s so far!”

“My mother teaches sixth grade. Usually I go home with her but she had an appointment today.” He looked off into the distance, his mind travelling far away.

“Sesshou-chan…?” Kagome looked at him curiously. “Is everything ok? You can tell me anything, we’re friends, remember?”

He kept his eyes trained on the roof of a faraway skyscraper. “My parents are separating.”

Kagome gasped. “That’s awful!”

“It is necessary.” He shrugged. “My mother discovered my father had a mistress.”

“What’s a mistress?”

“It’s like…” Sesshoumaru thought hard. “My father loved someone that wasn’t my mother.”

“I see why you’re sad, Sesshou-chan,” Kagome said quietly. “You really do need a friend.”

He realized that a weight he didn’t even know about had been lifted when he told her what was going on. “It’s not too bad.” He looked over, and saw Kagome’s fallen face. Something deep inside him broke, and he confessed, “At least, not anymore. I have a friend now.”

Kagome whipped her head around. “What?!”

“Thank you, Kagome-chan,” he said as the train pulled up. “You’re my first friend.”

Kagome smiled, and grabbed his hand as they got onto the train.

---

“So, Sesshou-chan, why’s your hair so white?” Kagome asked a few weeks later as she and Yuka were picking flowers.

“It is a family trait passed down through my father’s line.” Sesshoumaru’s lips curled up in the tiniest of smiles. “My father says it is an emblem of the House of the Moon.”

“What’s an em-blim?” Yuka didn’t know the unfamiliar word.

“Oh! I know, it was in my bedtime story last night. Daddy said it’s a symbol, something that has a special meaning to people, like our uniforms tell people what school we go to,” Kagome said happily.

Sesshoumaru glanced at Kagome. She’s a lot smarter than she looks. “Something like that. My father says that the Nishimura line breeds strong. Everyone on his side of the family has white hair.”

“Yours is really pretty, Sesshou-chan.” Kagome reached out to touch it. “And it’s soft!”

“It is something to be proud of, which means it must be treated carefully.” Sesshoumaru repeated the words his father had told him thousands of times, words that echoed through his dreams.

The three chatted ‘til the bell rang, signifying the end of recess.

 

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