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Cultural Differences by MLMonty

Chapter 1-Edited

Cultural Differences

A/N: Please read the Important!!! section of my profile before continuing with this story or any others written by me. Mein Deutsch ist nicht so gut.. Therefore if you notice an error such as grammar, tense, ect let me know and I'll fix it. I'm quite language deaf and 3yrs living in Deutschland hasn't aided me since almost everyone speaks English. As far as my Japanese goes I only know the stuff I picked up online, so I doubt it's right!

Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha, Children of the Corn, Opel Tigra

Summary: Kagome is an exchange student from Germany. Somehow she manages to attract the attention of Sesshoumaru Genshu and becomes marked as his personal property.

Chapter 1

    Kagome stood before her new school looking up at the large building, her freshly pressed sailor fuku making her feel oddly exposed. All the girls were wearing them, but she was unused to it and she felt like she had been dyed a bright pink with a neon sign above her head saying, "Foreigner!" Nervousness fluttered around in her stomach and sang  through her veins; she was nearly twitching with anxiety. The school yard was filled with students milling about or hurrying to classes. The bell would sound soon and her first day as a German transfer student would begin. It was hard to believe that just last week she had been driving her pride and joy, a blue Opel Tigra, along the smooth autobahn. Just last week, she had driven from her home in Wiesbaden to Koblenz to meet up with her high school friends before they headed off to college or entered the job force. She had been treated to dinner and they had spent many hours laughing and flirting back and forth harmlessly with the boys who stopped by.

    It was hard to believe that just a few months ago she had put her high school days behind her. She had graduated tenth in her class. When she had told her parents that she wanted to go to Japan as a transfer student before coming home to start college, they had been both thrilled and saddened. They had been thrilled that she wanted to see their home country, the land that had nurtured them before they had immigrated to Germany. But, they had been wary and sad about her going. While they were natives of Japan, she wasn't. She wasn't even Japanese, she was German, born and bred. Not everyone in Japan thought highly of foreigners. She had heard hushed whispers that some companies wouldn't hire anyone who wasn't native Japanese for the higher positions. Some companies would not hire for such positions if the person was only half Japanese even though they were raised in Japan.

    Discrimination wasn't something new to Kagome; it had left scars deep in Germany that, as a German, she wished to ignore but couldn't. The concentration camps attracted visitors from all over the world. They came to gawk at the misery and gruesomeness that  saturated the very walls and earth of the camps. She had been taken to one once, just once, as a student on a field trip. The old camp had radiated horror and pain. She had returned home and cried into her mama's arms and was rocked like the child she still was. The nightmares had been horrible in the weeks after her trip. She would never understand what could drive people to such heights of hatred and sadism. Perhaps it was because she didn't have it in her nature to commit such acts herself.

    Her parents weren't German, unlike herself, and she lived in a city that had a U.S. military base close by, and American families lived just up the road and over a couple of streets from her house. They often visited her parent's small Japanese restaurant. She spoke English as fluently as she did German and Japanese. She was used to a diversity of people flowing through the streets where she had grown up and played.

   The piercing school bell sliced through the chaotic din of the students. She snapped out of her thoughts and raced across the yard, into the building. She had been given a tour the day before and knew where her classes were. She would be taking a full year of courses, instead of a single term, as an exchange student. It wouldn't do to make a bad impression by being late to her first class. She had no wish to aggravate her teacher or to bring attention to herself this early in the year. She didn't doubt that she'd receive plenty of attention as it was, just because she was a foreigner. Her mastery of the Japanese language would probably fuel the other students' curiosity. She hated the idea of being an oddity, but it couldn't be helped, and would, at least, die down after a while. It just needed time and she needed to assuage the swarms of butterflies ravaging her innards.

    Taking a deep breath, she pushed open the door to her classroom and froze as silence descended upon the room and all eyes turned to her. The hushed, whispered conversations of a moment before had stopped so abruptly it was as if someone had hit mute. This was not an inspiring start to her new school year. She wondered briefly if it had been a mistake to take this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be an exchange student. Nonetheless, she steeled herself and savagely pushing those thoughts away, along with the desire to run, she smiled slightly and walked in as confidently as she could.

    "May I help you, Miss?" The short woman in the front of the class asked in a clipped tone. 

    Kagome felt a bit off looking around the room, she was used to seeing such a variety of beings in her surroundings and it was definitely lacking here. The room was a sea of black and brown hair among the mostly human population. She wanted to chuckle at the absurd image that floated briefly though her head from the American movie, "Children of the Corn". The humans weren't that alike in appearance; however, there was only a handful of youkai and hanyou in the class. She wondered why, in Germany, the classes were pretty much evenly split among the three. Were there just not that many youkai and hanyou in Japan? Or was it mainly a human country? She'd heard about human-run countries before, but had never known anyone from such a place. America and Germany were very tolerant of other species and lived in as much harmony as one could expect with such large populations of each.

    "I'm the exchange student from Deutschland. I'm sorry for being late." Kagome made sure to bow appropriately, as her parents had taught her.

    "Ah, yes, Miss. Higurashi. Take a seat please." Her tone hadn't softened any. Perhaps she was annoyed at Kagome's tardiness or perhaps she was simply like that with everyone. Stifling a sigh, Kagome found a seat next a white-haired hanyou. It made her feel at bit more comfortable, sitting next to him. It was something that reminded her of home. He looked a bit startled as she took the seat next to him, but she dismissed his reaction as the teacher began her lecture.

     It was some weeks later that Kagome sat under a tree in the school yard during her lunch break idly watching the other students go by. She had to admit that, while the damn sailor fuku annoyed her to no end and made her feel like her butt was exposed, the gakuran looked good on the boys. There was just something appealing about them, rather like a well-tailored suit on a man.

    She had found walking through the halls between classes to be a bit disconcerting. She felt like she towered above the other humans. She knew she was a little shorter than the average German but she was quite tall for Japanese, that was for sure. The teachers and students, alike, were mostly shorter than she. She felt like an Amazon in a Pygmy village. She chuckled at the thought as she nibbled on her lunch. It wasn't really all that bad, it just gave her the feeling that she stood out even more. At least her black hair blended in with the rest of the humans

    The last few weeks of school had been a bit nerve-wracking but acceptable. She enjoyed her studies; she hadn't really made any friends though. She was on somewhat friendly terms with the daughter and son of her host family. Sango was a nice girl, but they really didn't connect and they had different schedules. Kohaku was sweet and shy and she felt rather protective of him, like a younger sibling. He was, however, too young to really qualify as a friend and painfully shy around her.

    She recognized that part of the reason she hadn't made any friends was because she tended to be rather reserved around people she didn't know. Her subtle attempts at being friendly weren't always recognized as such the majority of the time. She felt she was being rather bold to offer an opinion when someone was having a conversation around her, and, if they ignored her, she figured that they weren't interested in an association. Being alone didn't really bother her, as she liked to observe others.

    It was amazing what she saw going on around her when she didn't have to worry about her rather vivacious friends back home distracting her. Keeping them out of trouble and being the voice of reason and tolerance had taken up a lot of her time. They didn't understand the simple entertainment of 'people watching'. Observing how people interacted and trying to figure out the logic behind what they were feeling, doing, and saying was a puzzle that kept her entertained for hours at a time. The players on the stage were constantly changing.

    What perplexed her currently, however, was something she had noticed almost immediately. The population of youkai and hanyou was incredibly small at the school. She at first had thought that Japan was a country where there was just a smaller population of youkai, thus a smaller population of hanyou. After her first week she realized that wasn't the case. There were lots of youkai, they were just not at her school. She had yet to figure out why that was. The minuscule number of hanyou, however, was very puzzling and, to a degree, disturbing. With an abundant, healthy population of youkai and humans why were there so few hanyou?

    Having spent her free time, and sometimes class time, observing, she had noticed that the few youkai and hanyou  in the school were divided into separate groups. The youkai rarely associated with either hanyou or humans. The hanyou associated with only each other and a very small number of youkai and humans. This puzzled her, as it indicated a class division mentality by species in Japan. In Germany, to a degree, people associated with those of their own class and that didn't necessarily indicate species. You didn't invite your maid out to dinner if you were a doctor, but you still spoke to them politely, and did not ignore their very presence the way the youkai seemed to do with both humans and hanyou.

   The hanyou appeared to be the bottom rung of the class ladder. Very few of the youkai or humans socialized with them, as far as she had observed; though she had noticed there was a small group of humans and youkai who did associate with the hanyou at various times. For the most part, the hanyou stayed together and were rather reserved. Of course, all of the Japanese people she had met seemed rather reserved, according to her standards. That, however, was a cultural difference and, in her opinion, was neither here nor there.

    A muted thump next to her startled her out of her thoughts. Despite the fact that she had been observing her surroundings, she had obviously missed someone walking up to her. Looking over she saw the bright red hair and wide grin of one of the few youkai who co-mingled with the other species, a kitsune named Shippo. Standing behind him was the surly, arrogant hanyou she had sat next to on her first day, Inuyasha. In every class she had with him there had been a vacant seat next him and she'd claimed it. After the first week of getting acclimatized to her surroundings she realized the mistake she had made.

    The silver haired hanyou was loud, brash, arrogant and lazy. His behavior made the seating arrangements hell on her. She found his constant, mumbled critiques of the professors and other students very taxing. Kagome liked to learn, you certainly didn't become an exchange student if you didn't appreciate knowledge and the chance to immerse yourself in another culture, it was hard to deal with someone who obviously didn't care about their own education. Most of each class Inuyasha spent either mumbling or talking to one of his friends on his handy. She wasn't used to someone talking in class so blatantly, and he was by no means quiet, she wasn't even sure he knew how to be. She didn't understand how he got away with such disrespect. The professors, however, just ignored him.

    "Hey there," Shippo's cheerful voice brought her back to their presence. "We haven't really had a chance to talk outside of class. So your name's Kagome, right? I'm Shippo." Shippo had continued his introduction right over Inuyasha's exclamations of 'we don't need to talk to the wench' and 'who cares what her name is'. Inuyasha certainly wasn't endearing himself to her. Kagome wondered if he even realized that she could hear every disparaging remark. He didn't seem terribly bright so she thought not, though she wasn't exactly sure that he was stupid, he had made it into a respectable high school. From what she knew you had to place high in the ratings to get into high school but she wasn't exactly sure how the process happened, her exchange family had taken care of her enrollment once her transcripts had been sent.

    "Ja, it's Kagome. You're Shippo right and that's Inuyasha?" The red head nodded his head so fast she was reminded of those odd bobble heads. His entire face was filled by a smile that showed off his sparkling white canines.

    "Nice to meet you, Kagome." A none-too-discreet elbow in the shin got a reluctant grunt of greeting out of Inuyasha. It was obvious they wanted something. They had made no overtures of friendship toward her before now. The way Inuyasha was acting, and his none-too-quiet remarks, indicated this was not a social call, no matter how they dressed it up. Nevertheless, she decided to see where it was going. She'd hear them out and then decide if whatever it was was worth her time. If it wasn't too onerous, she'd do whatever it was they wanted, however, she was no one's doormat. If it was something illegal or went against her own moral code, like cheating, she wasn't about to do it. She'd been without friends before and was certainly not suffering now due to the lack of them. Quality was certainly better than quantity in the case of friends.

    "So you're German, huh?" Shippo's smile never faltered. Part of her wished he'd just come right out and say whatever it was he wanted. All of this delicate maneuvering was annoying. It was obvious that they didn't really want to get to know her and the flush of annoyance in her chest said that it was probably for the best. At the moment, she didn't have the best opinion of them anyway.

    "Ja, I'm Deutsche." Her reply was flat and she offered no smile. She blinked once and let the conversation die. Shippo could carry it if he wanted to make small talk before business, whatever it turned out to be.

    From her observations this duo caused a lot of trouble around campus. She had seen them pull childish pranks and start fights like common bullies too many times in the past weeks to really be interested in an overture of friendship from them. She felt a small glint of satisfaction at Shippo's wavering smile. It seemed that he believed that his good looks and bright smile, coupled with his charmingly cheerful personality, would win her over to whatever it was they wanted. She had no intention of making it easy on them. She was certainly no one to be used. She was unskilled in making friends, yes, and rather socially inept at times, but it often came from her refusal to follow others. She was not a natural leader nor was she a follower. She liked to do her own thing, for her own reasons. She rarely succumbed to peer-pressure, as a result. Other people's opinions rarely mattered to her. Whatever they wanted from her they were going to have to work for. Good looks and popularity were nothing to her.

    "So, um, why do you say 'ja' all the time? I've heard you answer that in class a few times. Is that like yes or something?" Shippo was really trying, she gave him that. It was a pity that she wasn't interested. His confusion was understandable though, she was trilingual and often found herself using her own language composed of German, English and Japanese. Her friends back home had picked up on it relatively easily, since English was taught from elementary school on. 'Ja' was one of the words she used frequently; probably because it was pronounced so similar to the English word 'yeah' and both were an affirmative.

    "Hai, it means yes." She offered no more. She really was losing what little interest she had in this conversation. She wished they'd just tell her what they wanted. Only good manners prevented her from snapping at them, though it was a close thing.

    "So, um, how did you learn Japanese?" Shippo's smile had lost some of its wattage by now. Inuyasha was standing, legs apart, arms crossed and head turned deliberately in another direction. His casual attitude of disinterest was completely ruined by him actually looking at her, but she pretended not to notice his gaze. Let him think her oblivious.

    "My parents taught me."

    "Oh, I thought you were German." Shippo was no longer smiling.

    "I am." Kagome was starting to enjoy her little game. It was juvenile but rather entertaining.

    "Then how'd they know Japanese?" Shippo's brows were drawn down and he was frowning.

    "Who cares? Let's go, Shippo, this is a waste of time." Inuyasha reached out a clawed hand and grabbed the kitsune by the collar of his gakuran dragging him away. Raising an eyebrow at the pair Kagome dismissed them, going back to her people-watching. She had been right; they had wanted something and Inuyasha's pride and impatience had gotten in the way. No matter, it had been mildly amusing.



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