I'm not sure when it started.
Or maybe it had never technically started; maybe it had always just 'been'.
It didn't really matter. Either way I was doomed to be miserable for the rest of my high school career, maybe even the rest of my life.
I looked over my shoulder towards the sound of his voice, not surprised to find my body moving involuntarily when he called to me. My eyes widened in an unspoken gesture, asking what he wanted.
He waited until he saw the teacher look down, and then flashed seven fingers at me. I turned back around to look at my paper before discreetly holding two fingers over my shoulder. In other words: the answer to number seven is B.
I continued to stare down at my already completed test and resume my Pity Party. I couldn't help but think that perhaps the only reason he was still my friend was because he wanted free answers. I mean, maybe the fact that our parents were close and the fact that we'd been around each other since kindergarten had nothing to do with it.
He was loud, brazen, gorgeous, while I, Kagome Higurashi, was quiet, shy, and very well learned in the ways of invisibility. We were total opposites, a knowledge that only reinforced my surety of an unrequited love.
I would never be anything more than a sister to Inuyasha Taisho. That or a cheat sheet.
I sighed and glanced up at the clock hanging above the board, ready for the test to be over so I could find something better to distract me from these depressing thoughts.
"Please put your pencils down, and pass your test to the front."
I passed my test forward then stood up to follow the flow of people leaving the classroom for lunch.
"Hey, Kagome, wait up."
I couldn't help but grin as his voice cut through the noise, calling my name.
I paused by the doorway and watched as he stood up, his long black hair swaying with the motion. His brow furrowed in concentration as he pulled his cell phone from his pocket and began to check his messages. His eyes stayed locked on his phone even as he walked in my general direction. He had a nice walk. Smooth, athletic. I blushed at how blatantly I was checking him out and quickly feigned annoyance to cover it up.
"Hurry," I chided. "We're going to be the last ones in the line…again."
His walk slowed to a crawl, my words obviously having the opposite effect on him. His dark eyes continued to skim across the screen of his phone, and I sighed in exasperation. "I'm leaving, Inuyasha…"
But we both knew it was an empty threat; I never left him. His mouth turned downward from whatever message he'd just read and then he clicked the button at the top of the phone and the touchscreen went black. He shoved it into his pocket and made his way over to me, rolling his eyes. "Yeah, yeah...I'm coming," he mumbled.
When he finally reached the doorway, we rushed into the hall, heading for our shortcut. I suspected it wasn't really a shortcut at all, but it was less crowded, and therefore faster, so Inuyasha and I were usually able to beat most of the crowd to the lunchroom.
As we turned down a deserted corridor, Inuyasha began questioning me. "So what do you rank that test? On a scale from 1 to 10, I'm gonna go with an 8."
"5," I replied promptly.
"What? Come on, you know that test was at least a 7. That was definitely the hardest one he's ever given us."
"You say that about every test we take, Inuyasha. Maybe if you studied for once or at least acted like you knew what we were doing, they wouldn't seem so bad."
"Keh, it's not like I ever plan on using that shit after I get out of here."
I glanced over at him as we pushed through a door and cut across the courtyard.
"Yeah," I said reasonably, "but the grade you get might affect what you do later in life." We'd reached the other side of the small courtyard and he held the door open. I quickly stepped through, trying not to shiver as I slipped past him. We were almost to the lunchroom.
"Stop being so wise Kagome," Inuyasha growled, a tinge of annoyance lacing his words. I'm sure he heard enough about grades at home. "Let's talk about something more interesting."
I rolled my eyes. "What could possibly be more interesting than discussing one of Mr. Mitsu's tests?"
"How 'bout that new girl who just transferred here? Someone texted me a picture of her and, believe me, she's way more interesting."
My chest tightened uncomfortably because I knew where this was going.
"You think I could get her to go out with me?"
And there it was. I smiled tightly and tried to seem normal. "What girl in her right mind would want to go out with a stupid guy like you?"
"Cold, Kagome. I'm not that bad, am I?"
Inuyasha flashed a charming smile and I was nearly blinded by the unnatural whiteness of his teeth. I set my jaw and looked away. "Take it from me, you are definitely that bad. I mean, I for one, would never want go out with you."
Inuyasha cut his eyes down at me and his mouth hitched in a smirk. "Good," he said, "because that would be weird if you did."
Why did I do this to myself? I knew I would get a response like that and yet I still set myself up. Depression crept in again.
When we entered the lunchroom our conversation came to an end, other people starting to drift around us and making it impossible to talk. We grabbed our food as quickly as possible and then made our way over to our normal table. Inuyasha and I separated, he going to the 'Boys' half, and I, the 'Girls'.
"Hey, hey Kagome!" a sing-song voice greeted. "Watcha up to?"
I smiled at my best friend and plopped down next her, depositing my tray on the table a little rougher than necessary. "Oh, nothing," I grumbled. "Just wishing I had a pound of chocolate… or maybe a tub of ice-cream. You know, just some form of comfort food to comfort me."
"Uh oh, what happened?"
I glanced down the table at Inuyasha, who was surrounded by 4 or 5 other guys, all laughing at something he'd just said.
"Oh, nothing," I repeated sarcastically. "It's just the fact that my best friend said it would be weird if we were to go out." I stirred my food around my tray in frustration. "And let's not forget the very important part where I'm in love with said best friend."
Sango followed my gaze and we watched as the guys joked and laughed, high-fiving each other over some (most likely stupid) comment.
"Oh," I continued, "and on top of that, he wants to try and hook up with the new girl."
Sango turned her attention back to me, a frown pulling the sides of her mouth down. Her dark brown eyes reflected concern. "You sound like you're going to need a lot more than comfort food, Kagome."
"Yeah," I sighed as I shoveled a fork load of food in my mouth. "I know."
"Alright!" Sango exclaimed in a sudden burst of excitement, pushing her high ponytail off her shoulder as she straightened her posture into one of determination. "Looks like it's definitely time for another Pity Party! We'll be sleeping over at your house this time, and I'll be bringing the movies."
I couldn't help but smile at Sango's enthusiasm. She was the only one who knew about my one-sided crush, and she was always ready to help me feel better when Inuyasha got a new girlfriend or went on a date. I myself had never really been on a date… or been kissed for that matter.
How depressing. Here I was a 17 year old girl who hadn't even had her first kiss, while I was sure that over half the girls around me probably weren't even virgins anymore. I slouched in my seat and felt my appetite disappear.
"At least eat, Kagome. Loss of appetite is a symptom of severe depression and I'll have to stop hanging with you if you go all 'kill-me-now' emo."
I pouted, but obediently forced more food into my mouth. What would I do without Sango? She had been taking care of me since 6th grade.
We'd first met in gym class through a friendly game of doubles tennis. And by friendly, I mean that we were on the same team and beat the crap out of every other pair we went up against. It was awesome; a particularly bright spot in my memories.
"Hey, look you guys. There she is, that new transfer girl." Ayame, another girl at our table, was looking towards the office entrance, which also happened to be in the lunchroom. Apparently she wasn't the only one looking. The entire Boys side had gone peculiarly silent.
I maneuvered my body so that I could comfortably view this New Girl, whoever she was. She obviously looked good…or either really bad. Only those two extremities were ever able to make the whole boys side shut up.
When my eyes finally found her I felt myself freeze. It was like looking into a mirror; she had the same exact face shape, the same dark brown eyes, long black hair, light pale skin.
If I didn't know I didn't have a twin sister, then as a stranger, I would have thought otherwise. It was like she was my other half, the tall, beautiful, graceful half that I lacked. I watched as she and a student council member made their way out of the lunchroom, her long, straight hair swinging down her back in a low ponytail as she followed him.
And then the whole table found its voice again, everyone speaking at once.
"Did you see her?"
"I'm so jealous of all that gorgeous black hair."
"Damn. Maybe I should join the student council."
"She has a great complexion."
"Think she'll bear my children?"
"Shutup, Miroku. She's mine. I already staked my claim, didn't I, Kagome?"
I turned myself back around at the sound of Inuyasha's voice, still feeling a little shocked. Obviously nobody else had noted the similarities between the New Girl and I. But, then again, she was so made-up and perfect that besides the face shape, eye and hair color, we really didn't look the same.
"Ay! Kagome! Are you listening? I need you as a witness!"
I looked down the table at Inuyasha and all his buddies and confirmed that, yes, Inuyasha did mention something about going out with the New Girl. They turned back towards each other and resumed their male arguing, and I looked back at Sango.
"Kagome," she started, "I'm not sure if you noticed, but… you have a twin sister."
"Oh, I noticed all right," I said dourly, "nearly gave me a heart attack too. It's actually quite scary to look up and see oneself coming through a door."
"You know, I'm surprised nobody else seemed to notice." Sango glanced around the table quizzically.
"Pfft," I snorted. "I'm basically a wallflower, Sango. The only time I'm ever noticed is when Inuyasha talks to me."
Sango rolled her eyes. "Oh, come on, Kagome. Everybody knows you who you are. You're the girl with the highest Grade Point Average in the whole grade."
"Exactly, and nobody wants to talk to a geek like me."
I watched as Sango quirked an eyebrow. "Are you trying to say I'm a nobody?"
I grinned at her. "That's right, how does it feel to be a nobody with a geeky friend?"
"It feels like this nobody is about to stab her geeky friend with a fork unless said geeky friend changes her attitude real fast…"
We both burst out laughing as Sango accidentally swung her fork upward, sending a small grape flying into the side of Miroku's head. Miroku, one Inuyasha's close friends, turned to stare at our hysterical laughing, and the food battle of the century might have been declared if the bell hadn't rung.
I actually left the lunchroom feeling a teeny bit better than before.
But only a teeny bit.
"Class, I'd like to introduce you to Kikyo Hinode. She's just transferred from Kyoto, and I'd like for all of you to make her welcome." Mr. Mitsu finished his little introduction, and then turned it over to the New Girl herself.
Kikyo Hinode stared at the class with unsure eyes.
"…Um, hi. Nice to meet all of you." She tucked a strand of loose hair behind her ear and then silently walked to her seat, which happened to be settled in the row right between Inuyasha and Miroku.
"Believe me, the pleasure is all mine," a guy whispered lewdly after she'd walked by so only his friends could hear.
I rolled my eyes and turned away from the group of guys sitting in front of me only to find that the back of the room was full of them too. Kikyo was surrounded on all sides and looking more than a little uncomfortable. I sighed. Maybe I should be a good female classmate and help the poor girl out.
I was actually about to get up and squeeze my way through the crowd when I noticed that maybe she didn't need as much help as I'd thought. It was like her face had changed, like a mask had come up. All awkwardness and insecurity faded away as she sat calmly in her desk and answered the barrage of questions that was being thrown at her.
"How old are you?"
"Why did you move to Tokyo?"
"Do need help getting around the school?"
"Will you bear my children?"
Inuyasha shot Miroku a dirty look before asking his own question. "Can I walk you home?"
I watched as the mask on her face slipped for a second before being replaced.
"No," she said firmly, "I'll be fine." They stared at each other long enough to make me feel uncomfortable. It was an intense stare, as though she was attempting to tell him something with her eyes.
Inuyasha recovered the conversation with a smile, though it seemed a little forced. "Maybe sometime later?"
She returned the smile stiffly and shrugged.
I frowned, a little hurt that Inuyasha had asked her that. I mean, usually he walked home with me. But maybe that was only because we had to walk the same way; we were neighbors after all.
"Ok class, that's enough introduction. Let's calm down and get started."
Everybody obediently dispersed from Kikyo's desk and moved back to their own.
"Now today we will be moving into the Feudal Era section, so please open your textbooks to page 211."
I gave a silent moan as I searched for my pencil. Really? As if today couldn't get any worse...
Somebody had taken it.
I turned to ask Inuyasha for a spare one, but stopped short at the scene behind me. He'd scooted his desk flush against Kikyo's so she could share his book. His head was bent towards her own, and they were whispering in hushed tones.
My, my. Weren't they cozy?
He looked up.
"You wouldn't happen to have an extra pencil would you?"
"Oh, sorry, I just gave my last spare to Kikyo."
She smiled apologetically.
Whatever, it wasn't going to get to me. But I still needed a pencil.
"Here, you can have one of mine."
I reluctantly looked away from Inuyasha and Kikyo and stared down at the pencil lying on my desk. I had never really talked much with my desk neighbor, but I at least knew his name.
"Thanks, Koga," I sighed. "I owe you one."
"It's all good."
"Higurashi, Ookami, be quiet and pay attention."
Koga rolled his eyes at Mr. Mitsu and I bowed my head over my book.
How come Inuyasha and Kikyo didn't get in trouble for talking?
Sango and I trudged up the steep hill that would eventually lead to the shrine stairs and then my house. Inuyasha and Miroku walked behind us, discussing Kikyo (surprise, surprise).
"I can't believe she's in your class, and sitting next to him no less," Sango whispered. "How did you take it?"
"Let's just say I'm ready to order a triple layer chocolate cake."
"Ouch. That bad, huh?"
I snuggled into my coat as a cool autumn breeze brushed past, blowing my hair into disarray. "I just don't know what to do anymore, Sango; he and I have been together too long as friends, I'll probably never change in his eyes. I mean, even though Kikyo and I are practically identical, he's obviously way more attracted to her than me."
"Well, she does look a bit more refined than you," Sango admitted.
"Oh geez, thanks best friend, you really know how to make me feel tons better."
"Look, all I'm saying is-," she stopped walking. "That's it, Kagome!"
I threw a crazy look at Sango as her face lit up and her voice grew excited. Behind us, both boys stopped and stared.
She caught their bemused expressions and turned on them. "Stop staring and mind your own business!" She cast a suspicious glance over her shoulder before drawing me in to conspire. "Kagome, this weekend I'm going to give you a makeover. You'll be a whole new person!"
I rolled my eyes. "Are you kidding me? That's so cliche'."
"Oh, come on, it'll be fun! We can go shopping, and do your hair and… Please, Kagome! Say yes!"
"Well," I said hesitantly, watching her get worked up. "I guess it wouldn't hurt."
"Alright!" She grinned. "Come on, let's dump these jerks and get to your house so we have time to go the mall."
I increased my pace in a vain attempt to keep up with Sango.
The boys watched us go, confusion written on their faces.
Sango's plans were usually pass or fail.
I wasn't too happy about my odds.