Tokyo, Japan, September 23rd, 1997

It was a bright and sunny mid-afternoon.

As it was, sunlight streamed through the large window, light orange curtains pushed back from the frame, looking neat and tidy. That was probably the only tidy thing in the bedroom.

The thin orange comforter that matched the curtains was pulled over the bed, despite it not being properly made. The result was lumps of varying sizes and shape, the comforter weighed down by half finished origami projects, paper, books from the library, journals that had seen much better days and calligraphy pens.

A desk, sitting in one corner, some feet away from the nightstand near the bed, was in no better shape, though was made to look cleaner piled with school books that had yet to be touched.

There were a few shelves pushed against the walls and filled with books. Some books sat on the floor in front of the shelves, stacked haphazardly atop each other.

The last rays of the afternoon sun, illuminated a girl standing in front of her favorite thing in the bedroom, something that was always kept tidy no matter how much of a rush she was in.

A vanity table. An item the teenage girl had begged for when her tenth birthday had approached. It was wooden with a silver finish, standing on four tapered legs. There were five felt lined drawers that had silver ring pull handles that shone brilliantly. There was a wide standing mirror and it had come with a little stool with a comfortable cushion, though currently, the girl was standing.

She was ever so carefully applying red lipstick to her full lips. Something that she wasn't supposed to have, but had swiped from her mother's makeup drawer.

She didn't have much knowledge about makeup, but it looked good on her mother and she figured it would look good on her. In her mind, the fact that her mother was fair-skinned and she, having warmer undertones didn't make a difference.

"Sis, mom says-

The girl gasped loudly as her bedroom door slid open noisily. She whirled around, her long straight hair fanning out behind her. She clutched the open lipstick tube to her chest and while she knew she couldn't be seen, she let her free hand hover over her mouth, hiding it from view.

"Sōta!" she cried, "You didn't knock!"

"Oh, sorry," he sounded genuine, "I didn't mean too. Hey, what are you doing?"

"Nothing!" her voice was still harsh, "Stop being so nosy. What did you need?" she tried to sound gentle, not wanting to upset her brother.

"Mom called you a million times!" Sōta whined, defensive, "Grandpa's been yelling for you, you know. Oh, also, will you play soccer with me, or a video game later?"

"Yes, later," she promised hastily, "And I'll be there soon. Give me a minute, please!"

"Okay…" she heard her door start to slide closed, then stop, "Are you sick? Are you gonna barf or something?" her brother asked excitedly, "I wanna see!"

"No!" she exclaimed into her hand, "Get out, I'd like some privacy."

She could hear the scowl in her brother's voice, "Ugh, you're not a grownup, Arīsu. Kagome's the oldest."

'Barely!' Arīsu wanted to snap back, but her brother had already slammed her door shut.

Alone once more, she lowered her hands and turned back to the mirror. The lipstick hadn't been smashed, but she had gotten a smidge of it on the front of her yellow sweater.

"Kagome's the oldest," she mocked in a high-pitched voice, leaning close to the mirror and lining her lower lip. That was the easy part and she leaned as close as she could get, her hand shaking as she went over her top lip, being extra cautious around her cupid's bow.

She went over her lips a few more times until none of her skin showed through and placed the gold cap back on the lipstick, setting it down as she was eager to see her reflection.

"Red…" she drawled to herself, stunned by the finish.

She placed a hand on her hip and pouted dramatically at her reflection, then smiled widely, showing off the dimples in her cheeks and white teeth. She opened and closed her mouth a few times and pressed her lips together, only slightly, then relaxed, dropping her hand from her hip.

She didn't think she looked grown up like her mother, but she looked…nice…pretty.

This thought made her feel warm and elated when usually, she was comparing herself to her older sister.

"Arīsu Higurashi, is that my lipstick!?"

Again, Arīsu startled and whirled around, "You didn't knock!"

"I did," Ms. Higurashi assured, "Several times."

Arīsu flinched when she heard her mother approach and she sighed, sulking when a hand on her shoulder forced her to turn around.

A finger under her chin, lifting her head, her eyes automatically going to rest on her mother's.

Like the rest of her, Ms. Higurashi's dark brown eyes were warm and gentle. Unlike some other mothers, Ms. Higurashi was supportive in whatever her children did. Whether they wanted to be doctors or lawyers or actors or sports players or construction workers or school teachers. She would be happy as long as they were happy.

Using a free hand, Arīsu reached up and tried to brush the piece of hair that hung in the middle of her mother's forehead from her short dark brown hair, but it only fell back to its desired place.

This made her mother laugh, "Thank you, dear. Now, let's get this off."

"Can't I wear it only for the day?" Arīsu begged, reluctantly following her mother to the bathroom where they slipped on their bathroom slippers.

"No," her mother said, sliding the door shut, "You're too young for makeup and I've told you to stay out of my things. If it helps, it's a very pretty color on you. It'll look nice when you're older."

"But it looks nice now," Arīsu argued, sighing heavily when her mom turned the sink on and wet a towel.

"Why the sudden desire for makeup?" her mother began to rub at her lips and smiled, "Do you like a boy st school? Is it that boy in gym class?"

"No," Arīsu's eyes screwed up, "I just wanted to look pretty."

Her mother didn't take too kindly to that and frowned, "You're pretty without the makeup."

Arīsu shrugged, "I guess…" she decided to change the subject, "What did grandpa need me for?"

"He's with Kagome telling her the story of the Shikon No Tama," her mother answered, "And he thought it'd be wise of you to listen in."

"I've heard that story," Arīsu muttered through the towel. Growing up, she had heard all the stories. Unlike her siblings, she found them interesting.

"Yes, but this is a special moment for him," her mother said, "Some wisdom before your sister's birthday. He's giving her his gift early."

Arīsu flicked up her dark eyebrows to pacify as her response. As everyone in the house was aware, her sister was turning fifteen tomorrow and Kagome was very excited, constantly hinting that no one forget to get her a present.

Her mother noticed this dull reaction, "All done," she slung the towel over her arm, "You and your sister are getting along, aren't you?"

"Oh, yes," Arīsu nodded, "Of course, but…" she heaved out another sigh, "Yesterday, at school, a girl in the choir borrowed my pen and she said: 'Oh, aren't you Kagome's cousin?'" she gave her mom a dry look, "Her cousin, mama. Cousin! And I told her that we were sisters and she said: 'Oh, wow, you don't look alike at all.'"

Sudden tears welled up in her eyes and she swallowed thickly, licking her lips that felt dry and void of any lipstick.

"Why are you upset?" her mother crooned, "You know that you don't look like us and that doesn't mean you're not my daughter or grandpa's granddaughter or Sōta and Kagome's sister. You've always been introduced as such."

"Yes," Arīsu choked out, rubbing her eyes, "I know that grandpa's my grandpa and that you're my mother and that Sōta's my brother and Kagome's my sister. I've known that for a long time."

'I'm just vain,' she finished inside her head, 'I'm not pretty like you or Kagome. I'm not like Kagome, at all.'

It bothered her. She wasn't popular like Kagome, she had a few acquaintances, but she didn't have that fun group of girlfriends like Kagome had, she wasn't in the school choir or drama club or any after school activities like Kagome. Arīsu was smart, but not as smart. She didn't like studying and staying up all night like Kagome did when there was a big test coming up. She didn't have nightmares about bad grades or forgetting her pencil.

Arīsu loved her sister, she did. They were close, she supposed and similar in some ways, but not a lot and-

"…okay, Arīsu? Arīsu!"

She snapped out of her thoughts and raised her head to see her mother staring at her expectantly.

Her mother tilted her head to the side and smiled sadly, "Did you hear what I said?"

No, Arīsu hadn't, but she felt like a child and she didn't want to talk about this anymore. It was almost Kagome's special day and her sister had been looking forward to her birthday for weeks. Arīsu could have her pity party some other time, but not when it was so close to Kagome's anticipated fifteenth birthday.

"Yes, Mama," quickly, she threw her arms around her mother's middle, "It helped a lot. I feel a lot better. Thank you."

She felt her mother's warm arms encircle her almost hesitantly, then fully. She was pulled closer and she breathed in her mother's scent. She always smelled like the kitchen due to her glorious cooking.

Speaking of cooking.

"Are you going to make a cake for Kagome?" she asked, hoping it was implied that she wanted to help. She loved baking.

"Yes, but not until, tomorrow and you'll be in school, remember?" her mother said.

"Aww," Arīsu pulled back from the hug, "Yes, I remember," she closed her eyes when her mother leaned down to kiss her forehead.

"Go find your grandfather," her mother began to remove her bathroom slippers, "If you hurry, you might catch the end of the story."

"Yes, Mama," Arīsu hurriedly removed her slippers and left the bathroom in search of her other family members.

She didn't have to go far. She found them in the room where her grandfather kept boxes of the religious paraphernalia he sold while maintaining the shrine grounds, buildings, the sacred tree, handles offerings, and the various Shinto religious ceremonies that were required.

Arīsu loved her grandfather's job and often helped him clean up and organize. In particular, she was interested in the healing aspect in some of the stories he told. It was something she enjoyed learning about in her spare time.

"There you are!" Kagome cried, "Y-

"You missed the story of the Shikon No Tama!" her grandfather interrupted, holding out a keychain with a wrinkled hand.

"I'm sorry, grandpa," Arīsu deeply bowed her head, accepting the keychain.

Her grandpa grumbled at her. He was hunched over, dressed in his usual traditional Japanese Shinto Priest robe. Like his daughter, he had fair skin. His eyes were black and his hair was pulled into a small ponytail, gray in color like his pointed beard and mustache.

"Sit down, my girl," her grandpa gestured and Arīsu did as she was told, "I was telling Kagome that these are not simply keychains. That crystal there is a replica of an ancient jewel that-

He was interrupted by the sound of jingling and Arīsu looked down to see their overweight bobtail cat, Buyo had reached out with a paw to tease the purple crystal at the end of Kagome's keychain.

"Keep going," Arīsu encouraged her grandfather, who looked irritated at the cat, "I'm listening."

She shifted where she sat, suddenly feeling awkward.

Her grandfather cleared his throat into his fist, "Yes, thank you. As I was saying: That crystal is a replica of an ancient jewel which-

More jingling. Arīsu looked over the same time her grandpa did and smiled a little at the sight of Kagome playing with their cat.

A giggle escaped when Kagome moved the keychain away and Buyo flopped over onto the floor.

"An ancient jewel," her grandfather tried desperately to get Kagome's attention when the latter suddenly gasped, clasping her hands in front of her.

"You do remember it's my birthday, tomorrow, right?" she asked hopefully, leaning forward, "Right?"

There was a large smile on Kagome's face and Arīsu found herself envious. Kagome was so pretty. Obviously, she understood why she and Kagome didn't look alike, but she wished they did. Even if it was just a little bit.

Kagome had pale skin while Arīsu's was warmer in it's olive, copper color. Kagome had a cute and perky nose while Arīsu thought hers was flat, though she did like the smatter of freckles that covered it and she did kind of like her full lips.

Kagome had big round brown eyes while Arīsu's were close set with a distinct curve to them. They were so dark, they almost looked black. Kagome had long wavy blue black hair with long forehead bangs while Arīsu's was dark brown with hair intakes and so thick and straight she didn't know what to do with it. She usually wore it parted down the middle, a large sunflower clip at each side of her head, keeping her hair from getting in her face too much.

And Kagome had a nice body. She was slender yet curvaceous with well-toned thighs that looked good in the school uniform they were required to wear. Arīsu didn't hate her body, she only thought it was boring. She was thin, but her body looked straight and she had no shape. She was a couple inches taller than Kagome's 5'2 form, which Arīsu thought made her look older when she was in fact, younger even if it was only by a month.

She was okay looking, but she didn't turn heads at school. If anything, she envied Kagome's pale skin. All over magazines that girls read during lunchtime, it was clear that pale skin was the beauty norm and more desirable. It showed in the advertisements that played on TV. She had been made fun of by a boy in elementary school once for her darker complexion.

"Arīsu, pay attention!"

Arīsu jumped, a blush filling her cheeks when she realized she had been caught staring at her sister.

"Yes, grandpa?" she asked.

"I'm about to reveal Kagome's early birthday present," he told her, "And I would like you to see it."

Arīsu nodded and paid strict attention as he handed over a white box. She moved her head to try and peer inside when Kagome removed the lid.

"Oh my!" Arīsu slapped a hand over her mouth to muffle her cry when Kagome pulled out her gift.

"That is an authentic mummified hand of a water imp which-

"Here, Buyo," Kagome, in a tired and bored tone, interrupted their grandfather again, handing the multi-colored cat her gift, "Eat."

"Kagome!" Arīsu scolded. Whether the gift was weird of not, wasn't it the thought that counted?

When Buyo clamped his teeth on the hand, their grandfather cried out, waving his arms around.

"That's an antique!" he shouted in his brittle voice, falling onto his stomach to reach for Buyo's retreating form.

Kagome looked unaffected by this, her eyes narrowed in annoyance.

"Here everything's got a story," Kagome muttered through their grandpa's dramatic wailing.

Arīsu blinked dumbly, looking straight ahead as Kagome climbed to her feet to sulk out of the room.

"I'm gonna go study…" were her parting words.

'She didn't even say thank you,' annoyed with her sister, Arīsu went to comfort her grandpa, her favorite person in the world.

She crawled over to him where he was still lying on his stomach and placed a hand on his shoulder.

"I-I thought it was cool," she said lamely, "And…I like the keychain. I've been needing a new one," the fake crystal at the end had fallen off her last one, "I bet if you give me a pink one, people will ask me if it's the real thing."

"Such a good girl," her grandfather reached out to pat her knee and Arīsu smiled, patting his hand in response.

"I'll see if I can get the imp hand back," she reached over and picked up the box, "Do you need help with anything?"

"No, no," her grandpa waved her off, "Not, right now, but thank you. I'll just…lie here."

Arīsu nodded and climbed to her feet, "I'll see you later, grandpa. Thank you for the new keychain."

"Buyo!" she called, sliding open the door. She cupped her hand around her mouth, "Buyo."

She didn't know why she was calling for him. Most of the time, he could be found on Kagome's bed or wandering around at his slow and lazy pace.

"Kagome?" she walked down the hallway and approached her sister's bedroom, "Kagome, can I come in?"

"Yeah," Kagome called back to her. She sounded tense, her typical study voice.

Arīsu slid open the door and hit her thigh with her free hand, gesturing to the cat.

"There he is," she sighed, "Buyo, don't chew on that," she tried to wrestle the hand from his grip, "That wasn't nice, Kagome."

She managed to get it from Buyo and was happy to see it had only a few teeth marks. She put it back in the box and sealed the lid.

"What do you expect?" Kagome swiveled in her pink desk chair to look at her, "He gave me a hand for my birthday! That's disgusting!"

"It's odd," Arīsu agreed, taking a seat on Kagome's bed, "But if it didn't mean a lot to grandpa, then he wouldn't have gifted this to you." Truthfully, she wasn't sure what she would do with an imp hand, either. Maybe keep it in her closet.

"I guess," Kagome agreed, then her face morphed into a mischievous expression, "Since we're talking about gifts…you got me something, didn't you?"

One side of Arīsu's mouth turned up and that was enough for her sister.

"What is it, what is it!?" Kagome bounced where she sat, "Give it here. Did you buy it or make it?"

"You have to be patient," Arīsu cautioned, "You already got one present early. So, now you have to wait."

In truth, Arīsu hadn't finished the present yet. She only had a few more details to apply, then she needed to find a box and wrap it.

"Fine," Kagome rolled her eyes dramatically, through her smile, "Now, I really do need to study."

"I guess that's my cue," she jumped up from her spot on the bed, startling Buyo, "While you're doing that you can start planning for my present," she stuck her tongue out, "I want it to be good, this year."

Kagome giggled, "It will be," she promised, "And do your homework!" Arīsu heard her sister shout as she shut the door.

"Hey!" Sōta approached her, clutching a soccer ball, "You're not busy, are you? Can we play now?"

She stared at him a moment. His brown eyes were shining, having a much better attitude than when he had spoken to her earlier. He was a kid of average height and weight. Like the rest of his family, he had pale skin and his black hair was short with distinctive bangs on his right side.

Chuckling to herself, Arīsu reached out and pinched his cheek, "You're so cute!"

"Hey!" Sōta slapped her hand away and scrubbed his cheek, "Quit! Are you gonna play with me or not!?" he frowned up at her.

"Sure," Arīsu agreed.

Her brother was talented at soccer for someone his age. Arīsu wouldn't be surprised if he desired to become a professional player when he was older.

Their outside shoes were pointed towards the door, neatly organized near the entrance area in the genkan and once they were on, she and her brother headed outside.

"We're going outside to play soccer!" Sōta shouted to their mother.

"Okay!" she shouted back, "Be careful, stay in the front and I'll call you when it's time to eat."

Their property was very, very large, home of their family shrine, their storehouse, their wellhouse, and more.

"Let's go over here," Sōta directed her to the large area of grass at the side of their home, "We don't have goals, but we can kick the ball back at forth!"

It was still sunny out, but it was nearing Autumn which meant it was starting to get chilly.

"I should have grabbed a coat," Arīsu scolded herself, but decided not to go back inside to fetch one.

"So, sis," Sōta kicked the ball towards her, "I had a question for you…"

"Yeah?" Arīsu asked, kicking the ball back. She waited until he stopped it with his foot, "What kind of question?"

"Well…" Sōta shrugged, "In class we're talking about Shubun-no-hi—Autumnal Equinox Day and the things our family does," he kicked the ball to her and his face heated up dangerously. Even from where she was standing, Arīsu could see the redness, "And in front of the whole class, my teacher asked about you."

"Yeah?" she asked again. She knew where this was going, "What about me?"

"I'dunno," he shrugged for what seemed like the millionth time, "She asked if there's anyone in your family that we pay respects to…if we do things differently when it comes to who we pay respects to."

Arīsu tried to smile and joke, "The same family members you pay respect to."

Sōta looked delighted at her answer, "That's the same thing I said!" he gasped and shot out his foot to stop the ball before it could soar past him.

"Well, it's the truth," she said, brushing some imaginary hair away from her face. She hated that Sōta's teacher had singled both him and her out like that. She couldn't fathom how that was at all appropriate or professional.

"You're not going anywhere, right?" Sōta asked, chewing on his lip, "You're staying here…with us?"

"With you," Arīsu confirmed, "You guys own me," she laughed at her joke, "Forever and ever and ever and ever."

Sōta nodded, relived, "Good."

They played in silence after that except for the occasional shout of triumph from Sōta whenever he kicked the ball too hard and it flew past her. He would laugh joyously as she ran to catch it. It was all in good fun and she loved spending time with her brother even during the times he raved about soccer stars she knew nothing about.

"Kids, dinner!" she heard their mother call.

Dinner was always a nice occasion. Unlike breakfast when she and her siblings were scarfing down food in order to finish last minute homework or get ready for school, dinner was peaceful, relaxing and not rushed at all as they recalled funny details from their day or watched the news on the television, peering at them through the opened door of the living room.

This time, their grandfather was still going on about stories, a pickle halfway to his mouth.

"Why these pickles are full of history!" he declared, placing it in his mouth.

"Not half as full as you are," Kagome drawled in a deadpan, glaring at him. She was probably thinking about her birthday gift.

Arīsu had to lower her chopsticks to giggled into her bowl of rice when her grandfather sulked. Kagome was always picking on him, but she did it out of love.

"How about a special birthday dinner?" their mother asked, directing this at Kagome.

"Oh, yes please," Kagome beamed, nodding, "That sounds good. Does that mean I can have whatever I want?"

Their mother laughed, "Whatever you want," she confirmed, "Name it and I'll make it."

Arīsu tried to pay attention as her sister rattled off her favorite dishes and desserts, but eventually, she lost interest and turned back to eat her dinner.

Despite her envious feelings towards her sister, Arīsu was still looking forward to celebrate Kagome's birthday and why wouldn't she? They were kind of close and never fought. The only time they came close to arguing was over usual, boring sister stuff. Who got to play who's music, who took who's clothing or personal items, and who ate who's favorite snacks. You know, sister things.

She couldn't believe Kagome was going to be fifteen! And in October, Arīsu would be the same age. In a year, they'd be sixteen and before they knew it, eighteen. Wow…

'I'm getting ahead of myself,' she thought, bringing her chopsticks to her mouth.

Perhaps this would be the year she found herself, became her own person. She didn't like being jealous and fuming over her comparisons to Kagome and her mother. She had her own goals and ambitions to focus on.

She didn't like the comparisons, but that didn't mean she still didn't do it.

Subconsciously, she glanced at her hand, laced with olive undertones. She wondered if she was mixed with something other than Japanese or if her birth parents just had a darker flesh tone. Either way, she stuck out like a sore thumb in family photos.

"…Oh and anpan, please, I love anpan-" their mother, laughing at Kagome's dreamy tone, brought Arīsu out of her thoughts.

"All right, all right," their mother said through another laugh, waving a hand, "I'll see what I can whip up, okay?"

Kagome grinned widely and nodded, "Okay, Mama! Thanks!"

Arīsu smiled, pushing the salted vegetables closer to Sōta when he reached for it. He didn't seem too interested in Kagome's birthday preparations.

"Ahh, you're turning into quite the young woman," their grandfather said, "That means more responsibility."

"With the shrine?" Kagome guessed, "You have Arīsu for that and she likes doing it!"

"I do," Arīsu mumbled, but no one heard her as her grandfather spoke.

"You're grandfather is getting old-

"Not too old if you can walk up all those stairs-

"Old!"

As the two bantered back and forth, Arīsu caught her mother's gaze and her mother flicked her eyebrows up playfully, shaking her head as if she couldn't believe she actually had to deal with this on a daily basis.

She hurried to finish her dinner, doing her best to remember her table manners. She was ready to get ready and go to bed, though she wondered if she'd really be able to sleep?

A lot weighed heavily on her mind and had been for awhile. It made her daydream during class and space out when she got ready in the morning. How many times had she forgotten to tie the red ribbon laced through a loop and attached to the blouse of her school uniform?

"Ah!" she let out a yelp, rice jumping out of her bowl, when she felt the sudden pressure on her forehead.

"Mama!" she cried, having to set her bowl and chopsticks down, "What are you doing?"

"You've only had a few bites of rice," her mother admonished, "Are you feeling sick? What time did you go to bed last night? Well, you don't feel warm…you used to get fevers all the time…"

Arīsu felt her nose wrinkle and she began to pick the rice off her pants, "That was forever ago. Really, I feel fine, Mama. Just a bit tired. I was up late, last night."

She was always up late and not only because of her thoughts. She truly did believe that she did her best work at night, when everyone else was sound asleep. She liked to write, whether she was journaling or making notes about herbs and medicine and loved doing crafts.

"Hmm," her mother hummed disapprovingly and after a moment, returned to her seat at the table, "Well, after dinner, I want you to lie down and wait for your turn to bathe and I mean it!"

Arīsu glanced up from her pants, at her mother and nodded obediently. She was the second youngest, so she was the second to last person to bathe in the house, after Kagome and before Sōta.

"Yes, Mama," she dumped the rice she had gathered back into her bowl and resumed eating.

When dinner was finished, they all said their proper after meal words and all dishes were moved back to the same position they were at the start of the meal. Lids were replaced and the chopsticks were put back on the chopstick holder.

Sōta stayed behind to help their mother cleanup, Kagome went to study, their grandfather retreated to the restroom to shower and relax in the bath and Arīsu returned to her room to rest. She didn't feel particularly unwell, but did as she was told. There was no harm in relaxing and she would gladly take that over doing homework.

In her room, she laid atop her comforter, among all her clutter to stare up at her ceiling. She felt comfortably full and closed her eyes for a moment.

When she allowed them to flutter open, she glanced around her room, gasping loudly when she spotted her vanity table.

She jumped up from her bed and rushed over, scooping up her mother's lipstick tube.

'Mama must have forgotten to take it,' she rationalized, rolling the tube up and down her palm.

Would it be so bad for her to keep it? Sure, it didn't belong to her, but it made her feel pretty. That was a good enough reason for her to keep it, right?

She bit her lip, guilt creeping in her stomach when she slipped the lipstick into the top drawer. Her mother hardly wore the lipstick. Only during festivals or other important events and Arīsu had seen two other lipstick tubes in her mother's makeup bag. Would she really miss this one?

Once more, her dark eyes swept over her reflection in her mirror. She made her eyes widen as much as they could, only able to hold the pose until she needed to blink. Even Kagome's girlfriends had big round eyes and they were all so giggly and bouncy.

"Why can't I be like that?" she asked, her reflection mimicking her words.

She removed her sunflower clips and placed them on the tabletop before going back to her bed to cleanup. Right, Kagome's birthday gift.

'She's soooo perfect,' she tossed the wads of paper into the wastebin by her bedside table.

She picked up her books and read one of the covers. Kampo: How the Japanese Updated Traditional Herbal Medicine. She would need to return this one to the library soon. It hadn't been that interesting, which showed in the place of her paper bookmark.

She was good at some things, including herbal medicine. It showed in the work she did with her grandfather when she helped him prep for prayer's or religious ceremonies.

'I don't know how that's going to get me into a nice university,' she thought. While she was only fourteen, she had her heart set on enrolling in The University of Tokyo for their medicine program.

But again, she was getting ahead of herself.

"Arīsu?" there was a light tap at her door. It was her mother, "It's my turn to bathe. Are you resting?"

"Kind of," she placed the book on her desk and went to lie down.

"Do you need anything?"

"I'm okay, thank you."

"Okay, dear, but if you do, you know where to find me."

Arīsu nodded and she heard her mother's footsteps retreat from in front of her door. Sighing, she rolled over on her side and closed her eyes. Maybe she'd skip bathing, tonight. Sōta would be happy about that.

And he was because minutes later, she fell into a restful sleep, thinking of the year the come.


Author's Note: Hello, all! Wow, it's been years since I've written for the Inuyasha fandom, but I'm back and excited as ever. Thanks to my Beta Reader, Sabrina06 for taking on another project, being so patient with me and giving helpful, amazing feedback as she always does!

I hope you enjoy this first chapter and look forward to more. Don't forget to review!

~FictionChic