Oranges, pinks, and yellows blended together as the sun crested over the horizon. A dark haired teen stood on his balcony watching as night gave way to day. He shivered a little as the morning chill ghosted over his bare skin. He’d been up since the moon was still high in the sky, his nerves and anxiousness keeping him awake. He turned away as the last of the sun rose and entered his room to dress.
Soon after Inuyasha walked out of his room and down to the kitchen. He would eat breakfast and then be on his was to Aomori castle, but first he had to talk to old man Totosai. Miroku was supposed to come with him, though it didn't seem like he was awake yet. Inuyasha had no quells about leaving his perverted cousin behind.
"Oi Totosai you in here?" Inuyasha called walking throughout the big kitchen.
"How rude! Young people these days have no respect." The old man’s eyes bluged with his indignation, his already large eyes becoming even more so. He ran his hand through his thinning gray hair in irritation, and then proceeded to wipe his dirty hands on his already stained and ripped kimono.
"Keh, is breakfast ready?" Inuyasha asked, looking over his shoulder as the old man cooked.
"Almost. What are you doin' in here anyway? It's still pretty early for you to awake." he said stepping away from the pot he had been hovering over.
"I came to ask you some questions." Inuyasha found a place next to the old man at a western style table.
"Oh yeah? About what?"
"Well, I uh, want to know about my old man." Inuyasha asked nervously. Inuyasha's father had died the night he was born. He’d never even gotten to know what the man looked like. Inuyasha had always wanted to ask his mother, but anything concerning his father always seemed to upset her.
"Ah I see. Your father was strong." Totosai began. "He always treated others fair and he loved your mother with everything in him. He was a good man."
"My father protected this kingdom right?"
"Of course! Your father believed no one knew the true meaning of life until they found something so precious, they were willing to protect it with their life. I believe he once said that your mother was his 'something to protect' when they first started courting." Totosai finished.
The mention of the familiar words earned the old man Inuyasha's undivided attention.
"Something to protect?" he repeated.
"Yup that's what he said."
"Totosai...how did he die?"
"How did who die?" Totosai’s head cocked in confusion at the question.
"My father, you geezer!" Inuyasha said exasperated.
"Oh...I’ll tell you but you must keep this information to yourself. Very few know the truth and it must stay that way." Totosai's voice took a grave tone. At Inuyasha’s enthusiastic nod he continued.
"It’s no secret he died protecting you and Lady Izyaoi, more so the reason why. Your mother was not born into royalty, but of common blood. When Lord Toga began courting her many of his people turned against him, claiming the once pure bloodline would be tainted. Though your father never cared. After word spread of Lady Izayoi’s pregnancy tensions ran increasingly high. The main house was attacked the night your mother went into labor. Many people fled including you and Izyaoi-sama. Your father stayed to fight. He didn't make it."
Inuyasha was too stunned to reply. He’d just been bombarded with some heavy information and to be honest he wasn’t quite sure how to process it all. His father had been by the people he vowed to protect, all because his mother was of common blood. He understood his mother’s reasons for keeping this from him, but it angered him nonetheless. Suddenly he sniffed and turned his head towards the stove.
"Totosai your food is burning!"
"What food?" The man had the memory capacity of a newborn baby.
"I never cooked any breakfast?" the old man said getting more and more confused.
"You old fart! Look the food is burning!" Inuyasha said pointing to the burning pot.
"Oh no my breakfast is burning!" Inuyasha gave a weary sigh and headed out of the kitchen. He had a feeling today was going to be a long day.
"Kagome you would tell something was going on with you right?" Sango said, watching her best friend from the corner of her eye. With their early morning duties complete the girls decided to spend their free time outside. Summer would be ending soon and they wanted to enjoy the Sakura trees before they shed their leaves.
"Of course." Kagome lied. Since Naraku had reappeared she was constantly looking over shoulder, always on high alert. The thought of walking around the castle by herself gave her anxiety, thinking he could pop out of the shadows at anytime.
Sango gave her friend a look, clearly saying she wasn’t buying it, but of course Kagome continued to deny the obvious.
"So," Sango began, "what's going on between you and Prince Inuyasha?"
"I don't know what you’re talking about." Kagome sputtered out.
"Of course you don't. Don't think I can't see the way you guys look at each other."
"Hey let's not get started on you and Prince Miroku. I'm not blind either my friend."
"As if! He's just a lecher. That guy will flirt with anything with boobs!" Sango exclaimed. "And don't even think about changing the subject! Prince Inuyasha has been coming to the castle quite frequently..."
"That's because he's here for Princess Kikyou. Haven't you heard the rumors...they're supposed to be engaged to be wed." Just the thought of them together made her heart ache. She quickly stopped that line of thinking and gave herself a nice reality check. Inuyasha had already gone against the grain, by even associated himself with her. To expect him to reciprocate her juvenile feelings was taking things a step too far.
"Yes but I've also heard rumors that the relationship is completely one sided." Sango stated.
"On whose part?" Sango explained that Princess Kikyou was having trouble getting her suitor to return her feelings and Kagome rapidly bit down on the ray of hope that dared to swell within her. Sango had also heard a rumor that the reason was because the prince was interested in someone else.
“You don’t think it’s me do you?” Kagome said incredulously, and the twinkle in Sango’s eye most certainly did mean she thought the prince’s mystery girl was her.
"No you’ve got it all wrong, and even if Inuyasha did think of me in that way, what could I do for him? I'm nothing but a poor servant." She gave a deep sigh and hung her head low. They lived in completely different worlds. It was easy to get caught up the small talks and harmless touches but when it came down to it they couldn't be together. Society wouldn't allow it. It was an unspoken rule that royal bloodlines were to remain pure, and unspoken or not rules were meant to be followed.
As Kagome walked silently beside Sango her head began to throb. She pinched the bridge of her nose trying in vain to ease the pressure between her eyes. She groaned and shut her eyes as the suddenly seemed too bright.
Crimson eyes flashed behind her lids followed by rich violet colored orbs. The scene in her mind continued to unravel and she saw a river of blood, ebbing and flowing with the screams of the wicked. Just as she thought she would die from the pain, she heard Sango’s call out her name.
"Kagome, what happened?" When said girl opened her eyes she was no longer standing, but lying in a heap on Sango’s lap. She tried to sit up, but rethought that as a wave of dizziness overcame her.
"I don't know what that was, but Sango...something's wrong."
"No kidding? You just fainted in my arms."
"No, it's something else. Something bad is coming."
"Kagome, please tell me what's going on, you're scaring me." Coming from Sango, her admitting her fear meant a lot. The girl had been put through the ringer as a child and she didn’t scare easily.
"It's Naraku, he's come back." Kagome then explained the reoccurrence of her childhood nightmare and the visit he paid her the previous night.
"Kagome why didn't you say something sooner? We need to tell Lord Hiroshi so he can handle it."
"No! That's exactly what I don't want. Naraku wants me and he’ll do anything it takes to get me. I couldn’t handle it if someone got hurt, or worse, trying to protect me." she looked into Sango's eyes silently pleading.
Sango grabbed her friend’s hands, hoping the contact would make her see reason. "Kagome, that's not a good idea. Trying to handle Naraku on your own could prove disastrous."
"I know the risks, I just need you to trust me."
"Please Sango, I’m begging you, don't say anything."
"Fine." Sango sighed and trepidation weighed heavy in her heart. She helped Kagome to her feet and gingerly they headed back inside. They’d have to report to the kitchen soon to help prepare for dinner.
'And a quick nap doesn't sound so bad right about now.' Sango thought tiredly.
"Miroku hurry your slow ass up!" Inuyasha yelled.
"Patience is a virtue Inuyasha." Miroku calmly walked over to the carriage that would take them back to Aomori castle.
"Patience my ass! I told you to be ready an hour ago! What were you doing?"
Miroku only smirked, “Yumiko.”
"Dirty lecher." Inuyasha mumbled under his breath.
"I heard that!" Miroku wailed.
"Prince Inuyasha, Prince Miroku to what do we owe this pleasure?" Lady Ayako greeted as she met the boys outside and walked them into her home.
"Actually Prince Inuyasha and I would like to speak to one of your servants." Miroku stated as they headed to the dining hall to lounge with the family.
"Oh is that so? I hope about nothing negative."
"No not all, I just need to talk to her. It is of the upmost importance though." Inuyasha interjected.
"Who is it that you wish to speak to so badly?" the lady inquired.
"Kagome is her name."
"Very well then. I'll summon her at once." Lady Ayako allowed them to enter the dinning room without her, leaving Inuyasha and Miroku there with Lord Hiroshi and his daughter.
"Prince Inuyasha what a pleasant surprise, what are you doing here?" Princess Kikyou asked him, her tone sugary sweet.
"I just came to speak with someone." Inuyasha looked away from the princess, not sure why he felt the sudden urge to keep his meeting with Kagome a secret. The girl gave him odd feelings, and not in a good way.
"Oh? Who would that be?" Kikyou's voice noticeably dropped the cheerful tone she had earlier. Her eyes narrowed in suspicion.
The door opened and Lady Ayako walked in with Kagome standing behind her, thankfully saving Inuyasha the trouble of having to dodge Kikyou’s question. Kagome instantly perked up when eyes landed on the Takahashi prince.
This didn’t go unnoticed by several people in the room.
"Inuyasha I have the brought the girl." Lady Ayako took her seat next to her husband and quickly dismissed them.
Inuyasha, Kagome, and Miroku left the dining hall at once.
'Naraku is worthless! I guess if you want something done you have to do it yourself.' Kikyou thought.
"Kagome have you seen my..." Sango trailed off when she saw the visitors enter their room.
"Sango I need you to do me a gigantic favor." Kagome pleaded.
The chestnut haired girl folded her arms over her chest in a skeptical manner, "That depends...what's the favor?"
"I need you keep Miroku company for a little while."
"What? No way!"
"Aw why not?"
"Because I'm not gonna get my ass rubbed every few seconds because you wanna go have alone time with Inuyasha!"
Kagome and Inuyasha blushed hotly, avoiding the other's gaze. "Sango it's not like that and you know it." Kagome said.
Sango's delicate brow rose as she stared down at her friend "Do I?" and so the challenge began. The first one to blink had to take the lecher.
"Hey Miroku, how does feel to be the consequence of a staring contest?" Inuyasha snickered.
"Shut up." Miroku said with an eye roll. The two boys stared intently at the unblinking girls in the middle of the room. Just when Inuyasha thought Kagome was about to crack Sango cried out, furiously blinking and rubbing her eyes.
"Dammit!" she yelled.
"Ha! Let's go Inuyasha!" Kagome grabbed his hand and they were gone.
"Come on Sango I'm not that bad." Miroku said stepping closer to the girl.
"Keep your distance and we'll see about that." Sango said in a no nonsense tone.
Miroku rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly with a small chuckle.
'This girl will probably be the death of me.' Miroku thought. Sango turned away from him and headed back to her dresser, to continue rummaging through their contents as she had before. She reached for the bottom drawer, bending at the waist and causing Miroku to stifle a groan.
‘Oh but what a way to go.’
Inuyasha and Kagome didn't stop running until they made it to the secret gardens. Quickly slipping inside they wondered through the shrubbery until Kagome found a nice place for them to sit. For a while the pair sat in silence, just enjoying being the other's company.
"Inuyasha." "Kagome." they started at the same time. They laughed and Inuyasha gestured for Kagome to speak first.
She sighed before she began and Inuyasha took this as a bad sign. "You know, I've never grown so close anyone as fast as I have with you. Though the circumstances of our meeting were strange to say the least, I’m glad those terrible nightmares brought you into my life. Meeting you was probably the only good thing to come from them." Their eyes met and Inuyasha thought he would drown in the sea of emotions that began to pull him in.
"I've really enjoyed all the time that we've spent together, but this is dangerous." Nervously she began playing with her hands, "I don't think I should see you anymore."
Inuyasha was shocked to say the very least. He felt as though someone had punched a hole right through his stomach. Just the thought of never speaking to Kagome again made him felt empty. Why was she breaking up with him? He blushed at that thought. They weren't even together in the first place. After he swallowed the lump in his throat he found the air to speak.
"What are you talking about Kagome?"
She stood up, leaving him on the ground to look up at her. "I'm sorry, Inuyasha. We can't be friends anymore." Tears swam in her eyes as she tried hard to restrain them, and the hurt reflected to her from his violet orbs put a small crack in her resolve.
"Where is this coming from?" This wasn't supposed to be happening. He came here to keep her safe and she didn't want anything to do with him. Was it something he did? Something he said?
"Us being together is dangerous for the both of us. You know it and so do I, there’s no use in denying. You haven’t been around for even a full moon cycle and already the rumors are flowing!"
"And what if I told you I didn't care." Kagome gasped at his strong confession. The raw determination in his eyes was almost enough to have her forget why she decided to have this conversation with him in the first place.
"Then I’d say you were a fool!" Inuyasha pulled her into his arms. She struggled and he pulled her closer.
"Kagome, I don't know what's wrong with you right now but I'm not going anywhere." Inuyasha said to her.
"Why, Why won’t you let me go?" she questioned softly, her voice practically a whisper over the blood pounding in her ears.
"Because I have to protect you." Kagome pulled back to look at his face.
"Protect me from what?" Inuyasha sighed and took a deep breath. It was finally his turn to confess.
"I had a dream the other day, more of a nightmare actually. You were a little girl and you were running around a village being raided by bandits." Kagome’s widened, "You ran into a hut and there were bodies inside...two adults and a kid." Kagome felt the tears sting her eyes. "A man came in and you looked terrified. I saw him put a katana to your throat." Kagome couldn't stop the sobs that escaped her mouth. "All I could see where his eyes, red like blood, who is he Kagome?"
"No!" Kagome pushed against his chest, freeing herself from his embrace. "This is exactly what I didn’t want! I'm sorry, but please just leave me alone!"
Kagome ran from the garden leaving Inuyasha standing there, wondering how everything had completely gone to shit.