Kiss My Cold Lips
Disclaimer: I know. I know. Warm bodies only with your favorite characters? Really? Yes. That is what I'm doing. As this is my third K/I zombies story even if it's just the second I'm posting I need to go find some new material. But since this is what I've got... live with it. None of this is really mine, I'm only playing on the big kids playground.
Setting Warm Bodies universe. Ichigo - Kagome pairing, now on with the story.
Chapter One Part One
Kagome wasn't sure how long she'd been like this, it had been a while. She knew she wasn't alive, but she couldn't remember how or when she'd died. She knew she had to have, the bite in her side and the one on her arm told her as much. The others stumbling around when she'd come to ignored her, another sign she was dead.
But unlike her none of them showed a sign of remembering anything. She remembered too much, her name was Kagome Higurashi. She had been nineteen last she knew. Her grandfather had died when she was eighteen. She had a mother and a brother, she didn't know where they were. Her home used to be Tokyo, but she had woken in Fukui. She also was the last true Miko. She had traveled through time and had amazing adventures. She had been three months short of finishing high school when it started, all over the world people turned and began to kill and eat one another. Frightened, things out of control she and her family ran like so many others, the problem was there was no where to run to. Things got a bit blurry and the last thing she remembered was using her bow and shooting the zombies or corpses in the head.
Then she found herself laying in the street, the bite in her side and on her arm. Her family no where to be seen. Alone she wandered, looking for them, she couldn't remember where they had been going or weather she had gotten bitten protecting her family or because she had gone off on her own. She didn't know. Things around her didn't look familiar. It took her a long time but she worked her way back to Tokyo and found a ghost town, people who'd turned like her wandered the streets but she couldn't smell anything living. It had been looking in a window she realized how bad she looked, her clothes torn and bloody, and she had the icy blue eyes and the white skin that proved her what she was. The enemy of the living.
On her way back to Tokyo she had eaten animals, fish, dogs, anything she could catch... sadly that included rats. But unlike the others of her kind she couldn't bring herself to attack people. They smelled so so good. Alive, hearts beating strong and fast, but she knew if she did, it would be wrong. So she ignored the hunger best as she could and ate animals when she could. But that day in Tokyo had been when she decided to masquerade as a living person: a bit of makeup. Avoiding the rain. New clothes. Hiding her bite marks. Carrying a pack and taking care of herself like she had to avoid Corpses.
Things had gone all too well with the first group she met, they let her join up and told her of a small city outside the ruins of Mito, there was a wall and things were safe, this group really was a raid group out hunting for medicine and food, and things to take back. She was excited to join the twelve of them and had a good time helping them out. She got a hat to protect herself should it rain and it didn't while she was with them since it was summer. That was when she realized it had been three years. Not three years since it started making her twenty-one but she'd been dead three years because this had all started four years ago. How had she been dead three years?
It disturbed her, she knew Fukui was a long ways away, her family had gotten there by walking quickly, using still working cars, and a boat. But she'd walked back and it hadn't seemed to take that long... she didn't need sleep, so it would make sense if days and nights blurred together enough the amount of time hadn't sunk in.
Eating had been a problem, she had discovered cooked food was very hard for her to eat, rice tasted like ash, or might as well have been. Cooked meat made her sick, she'd countered any suspicions by offering the excuse of being allergic to the spices used but she knew it was the meat.
Choukichi the leader of the group never took to her but the rest were very friendly. Sumi rapidly became a good friend, she carried a gun, a baseball bat and a knife. That was another thing about the group, everyone had three weapons, a gun, a longer reach but still closer weapon, normally a sword, and a knife as a last ditch defense.
But then she'd stupidly given herself away, it wasn't getting caught in the rain, it wasn't even cutting herself, no. She'd been with them a week when on a raid they'd picked a building she could tell was full of Corpses. But she couldn't tell them she smelled the dead, she comforted herself knowing the group was strong and quick, they would make it.
It was close but the group did it, the only problem was in trying to protect her new friends she had placed herself in front, everyone noticed Corpses ignored her. Then Choukichi confronted her about it and torn her sleeve, everyone had been shocked, asking when she'd been bitten. But Choukichi knew, he looked in her strange blue eyes and knew. She had run and the bullets had kicked up dust and things around her. Kagome knew everyone else figured it out when a bullet hit her in the shoulder, flung her down and she got back up, the people calling her name were abruptly silent. The gun stopped as if Choukichi couldn't believe it himself. But then Choukichi started shooting again, he hit her again across the upper arm but she just kept going.
No one had come after her once she got out of sight, she had watched over them for the rest of the time they were out and about, killing the odd ones of her kind that wouldn't be intimated; like the Bonies. The dark walking skeletons scared her but she was strong enough and had enough memory to know she could kill them by breaking the neck or smashing the head. Watching them drive into the city she wondered what they'd say about her. She knew her family wasn't in there, supposedly Choukichi was best friends with the leader so he'd had a look at the lists of people living there. No one named Higurashi was there.
With a bit of loneliness and a great deal of apathy she turned her back on the survivors and she started looking for another city where her family was. But she'd learned her lesson, no staying with groups long term.
She walked and helped other humans, always sending them to the nearest city. Continuing to eat animals while she was alone, always asking the people she met if they'd seen her family. Soon she'd covered a lot of ground and had drifted back towards Fukui figuring if that was where she'd died her family would have gone on through it in the other direction. Then she met him.
Ichigo Kurosaki, and his two younger sisters, Yuzu and Karin.
Meeting them had been a bit of funny story, she had just finished her latest delightful meal of raw-rat and was cleaning up when she smelled the scent of rotting corpses, the window was broken and there was breeze. Going to the window she saw the pack hunting and standing at the window she could smell what they smelled, fresh humans.
Trying to rush she realized something she should have noticed a while ago, she was slowing down. Her body was becoming stiffer, and she was starting to fumble more. Oh well, maybe if her body rotted she'd get some peace as her memories went away. Using shards of a broken mirror she could see her makeup needed some touching up, struggling to do it fast, she thought she could hear the sounds of the zombies breaking through something. If people had spent the night in the city they would have barricaded themselves in...
Declaring the makeup fixed she put it in her bag, and pulled her gloves back on. She tried to hurry out of the building she'd been in, glad her legs still moved quickly even if she was noticing she couldn't run-run. Thinking back she wasn't sure she had ever been able to since her death, before it she'd just been klutzy. Maybe that was why she got bitten.
Getting on the street she could see the crowd tearing at a door just eight buildings down. She probably should have been able to smell the humans last night, but she'd been on the hunt for a dog or some rats. Knowing that humans who'd survived this long would know to give themselves some other ways out she went around to the back of building, that was when she found out they smelled so good they had brought not one pack, not two packs but three down on themselves. She wished she could be surprised but it made sense she ate animals and the pickings were slim, people were almost never outside safe zones. The others without memories had to be starving.
She knew she should feel some pity for others of her kind but she only wished to save other humans from turning. This lingering was agony, memories or no memories she knew the others had to be suffering, some because they knew enough to know they were missing something and others because they were dying away and turning into Bonies. That was why she never hesitated if it was living human or one of her kind. Humans deserved more then this agony, she knew none of her kind deserved it either but she couldn't help them.
She could help these people, picking off the slower Zombies the two packs were turning on her, she could see some form of outrage on some of the faces, some were just blank, she wasn't food and they weren't sure why was she fighting them? Saying 'not food' and 'go away' over and over again got through to some of them, they knew she would kill them trying to protect the humans and began to leave. Having killed five by breaking their necks and talking to the rest a good twenty had left, but since it had been thirty-five to forty of them, she had a bit of fight on her hands. She was faster, she could smack the reaching hands away from her neck and grab their heads, but she could only fight one at a time, it was inevitable they broke in before she had killed them all.
The sound of the door caving in echoed through the empty city. Zombies from the front began to stream around to the back door following the others in, walking right past her as she tried to think about how to protect these people. Coming in with the zombies would make it obvious what she was and she might get shot in the confusion.
Letting them go past was alarming because she worried what if the people couldn't hold off these numbers? She didn't even know how many people were in there, but she also noticed as always what she felt didn't compare to what she would have felt if her heart was beating. Mentally sighing she followed the last couple in, snapping one's neck she wished she'd taken the time to find another weapon, she'd lost hers a while ago and hadn't bothered looking for a new one.
Knocking the other one into a room and shutting the door she took the time to inhale deeply. She had grown to understand what Inuyasha had meant about normal noses being so weak, her hearing and sense of smell had become twice or more what it use to be since dying. She couldn't stop the smile, these three people knew how corpses hunted, they had left new scent trails in every room. She was betting when they realized what was happening they ran around, up and down dashing into every room so they could hide and slip past the zombies.
Following the crowd of corpses up the stairs she figured they'd be hiding here or on the third floor giving the corpses time to stop checking every freshly scented room. But that didn't stop her from shoving the zombie with a broken ankle down the stairs, soon she reached the next floor. Then she stayed in the hall listening for the movement, that was when she heard the shot up a floor above her, jerking she feared she was wrong and they were planing to use the fire-escape. That was when she heard a scuffle from a room two doors ahead of her. A voice hissed "Quickly!"
Stepping forward she was almost knocked over by a blond girl a bit younger then her, a dark haired girl the same age following her. The one following her friend lifted a metal pipe as tall as her, clearly thinking (correctly) she was dead.
"Stop. I only came to help."
The dark haired one froze, confusion on her face. Helping steady the one who'd crashed into her she realized for the different hair colors the two looked an awful lot alike even if they had totally different personalities. But she knew it wasn't her skin color that made the girl think she was a Corpse, then she noticed the blood smeared all over her shirt. "Got the blood from killing the stragglers."
That cleared up any doubt the two girls had about her, the blond grabbed her hand yanking her back towards the stairs. She pulled back. "But who fired the shot?"
"Our brother. Now come on he'll meet us outside!"
Giving in to the yank she struggled to keep up with the girls, down the stairs past the body of the one she pushed down the stairs, into the hall with one zombie still trapped in a room and the body on the ground. Then they were back out into the city. The girls were trying to catch their breaths and she was trying to force her dead body to act like she needed air too. It was a stark reminder of how different she was, she wondered if she wasn't just getting stiffer but actually dying in the sense her desire to be with people was fading.
The girls had calmed and lead her around the side of the building looking for the fire-escape, Kagome could hear sounds from the roof but she wasn't sure it was the sort of thing the girls were hoping for. All she could hear was the sound of pounding, like maybe the door to the roof was locked and he was caught behind it. But on the other had he might have blocked the door so she might be hearing Corpses. Distracted she looked up the fire-escape and saw him for the first time. It was hard to explain, she had no breath for him to steal, her heart didn't beat so it couldn't skip a beat. But maybe that was what happened, for that first second her heart tried to beat. She looked over the fierce scowl, the warm carmel-amber eyes, the bright orange of his hair. She knew the second he saw his sisters, he didn't smile, his scowl didn't lessen but his eyes lit up. There was no other word for it.
His relief at their safety, at the success of the plan was there for her to see.
She didn't understand, why did she care about him? It made her think back to the moment she first saw Inuyasha, the dog ears and the peace on his face, the stark contrast to the arrow in his chest. The mystery and strangeness of it drew her in, but she didn't remember liking him that first moment. But she liked this guy, and he quite possible was stranger.
This was a world of grays, blacks, pale blues, and the soft moldy green of rot. He defied it, that hair, the warm eyes, the dark scowl, he came from world painted with colors brighter then she had seen in a long time.
Maybe that was it, she had never met a surviver that hadn't blended into this muted world, maybe that was why she looked for her family. She wanted to see things with feeling again.
He was almost to the last level of the ladder when his gaze went from his sisters to behind them. Right past her and to something else and his eyes went wide, his mouth moved but the words never reached her ears, the things she had been ignoring kicked back in, she could hear the shuffling and smell the death behind her. Turning she found not two or three but five or six rushing toward her and the two girls. They had their eyes fixed on the girls past her, the black haired one sounded like she was shifting but the blonde right at her side, in her sight, still was looking the wrong way. The first two were in arms reach and she grabbed the taller one's face turning his eyes from the girl to her and she saw the recognition in his face as well as the confusion, why was she protecting food?
Then his neck broke as she kept twisting and she imagined his face looked happier in death. Grabbing the other's outstretched arm just before it touched the girl she yanked and watched as he spun falling on top of his partner, dazed confusion met her gaze as she put her foot to this one's neck and broke it.
The black haired girl's pole snapped out knocking the next two down, the black ichor proving she killed one and knocked it into the other.
The three of them backed up joining this new boy at the ladder's base.
He gave her a look but she must have passed inspection because he jerked his head and the four of them took off running. Really they ran and she stumbled after them, in a speed only a bit faster then the zombies.
The group tried to run towards the college but she turned them another way because all towns and cities had a gathering place for the undead and here it was the college. Taking them to a building she knew was safe because of the reek, she ignore their looks of distaste. After letting them catch their breaths she asked, "So where are you going and who are you?"
The black haired girl continued to look at her oddly but the boy she was confused about answered. "I'm Kurosaki Ichigo, these are my sisters Karin," he pointed to the girl who was both scowling and looking puzzled. "And my other sister Yuzu."
Yuzu grinned widely, "Thanks for saving me!"
She smiled and found words hard, was this proof she was dying away and becoming like the others? Or was she shy? Why was she so conflicted? "You're welcome." she swallowed, she was out of practice. "I'm Higurashi Kagome. Now where are you going? There is a safe town only sixty miles away, and then sixty-five another direction."
Again Ichigo answered, "We came from New Kanazawa."
He seemed to expect her to say something but she just looked at him waiting for him to go on. After a long pause he did. "We're looking for our father, he's a doctor and when this all started got called in, he said our friends were with him so we've been looking for the new city they are in."
"Where were you when this all started?"
"Yamagata. We went home to Karakura Town, Dad and the others were gone already and we've been looking ever since."
She some how got the feeling he was not only skipping a lot of back story he wasn't telling her everything his dad had said. But it was none of her business, it was a bit late to help her after all. She stayed quiet trying to decide what she was going to tell them, telling them the whole truth wasn't in the cards but enough for them to tell her if they ever saw her family was a chance. So the next stop for them to look was New Maibara. Sixty-five miles away, she had found some people from there that said no Higurashis were there. But she hoped past there was heading towards old Kyoto was possibly the way her family had gone, and if their father had been a doctor that was likely where he was.
"What about you? How has a girl like you survived this long?"
It was the girl introduced as Karin, even as her brother and sister scowled at her Kagome realized this girl thought something was off with her. It didn't seem the girl actually took her for what she was but knew something was off. But saying a girl like her was a gravely underestimating her. She forced something like a giggle. "A girl like me? How about I turn the question back around. How is a girl as pretty as you came to have such a fierce scowl?"
Kagome received a lethal glare, it was a good thing she was dead. But she ignored the odd looks now coming from the girl's siblings. "I wasn't alone the whole time, when it started me, my brother, my grandfather and mother fled Tokyo, we ran, hitched rides when we could until we arrived here. Though my grandfather died shortly after because he couldn't get his medicine. I don't know exactly what happened but I hit my head, and lost track of my family. When things made sense again I started looking. I couldn't find them here dead or alive so I started back tracking because my memory wasn't right, I couldn't remember where we were going next. I got all the way back to Tokyo. My family wasn't there and I still don't remember where we were going so I worked my way back here checking cities. I didn't find any Higurashis. I was thinking of heading down towards Old Kyoto. No one knows if the rumored safe city from the beginning is still there..."
The sisters exchanged looks with their brother and each other, all seemed to be in agreement to her amusement. Or she thought she was amused, it was hard to tell, maybe it was fear. She had been shot last time she traveled with a group it had taken... actually she didn't know if those wounds were totally closed, oddly enough she; like the other corpses healed at a painfully slow rate. The healing thing was weird... But this Ichigo carried a sword and she had images that the moment she was a threat to his sisters it would off with her head. The girls weren't easy targets anyway, Karin had that pole and Yuzu carried a belt full of knives. Clearly she hung back and let her brother and sister fight but if in a corner she had weapons enough to kill an army. But the point was, should she really go with them? How would she hide her diet? Or her use of makeup? Or the fact she couldn't sleep?
Man she wished she could sleep.
"Come with us."
She shifted uneasily, Ichigo's voice was as distracting as his hair, or his flashing bold eyes. He was a guy who made decisions fast. He'd just met her. "You met me all of... for all purposes five minutes ago, why are you willing to let me travel with you? I've clearly fallen on hard times and might rob you."
He snorted, "Yeah that's why you walked into a building swarmed with Corpses, to rob us. No seriously, I know all I need to know. You stepped between a corpse and my sister."
He put it that way and his thought process made sense, he could let her come and have another person to protect what was precious to him. It was heart warming, or would have been. Now it was stirring, like she'd thought this was a person from the world of before. Bright, passionate, beautiful. She might be in love with him already.
"In that case I'll come."
The first twenty-some days Kagome traveled with the three Kurosakis might have been the best days of her life (or afterlife) since the friendships in the feudal era. There was something about trusting people with your life that made bonds beyond any other kind of connection, save maybe love.
The first hurdle came with the food thing, Yuzu as it turned out was a cook and loved to cook. Not eating her food was a sin, Kagome was able to fake eating enough no one noticed if despite the fork moving, she only ate a bite or two and the food would slip into the fire, or be dropped out a window, or even if she could manage slipped back into the pot for the three that needed it. She ate after having pretended to fall asleep and after the others were asleep. Not to say she hadn't had the odd close call, someone waking to go to the bathroom or get a drink. She found faking sleep was the easy part, they mostly went to bed an hour or so after dark, they had traps and alarms to protect them. It was a well done set up.
She always set it up to lay down and 'sleep' almost as soon as dinner clean up was done, some nights they talked about what they were before. Ichigo was almost a year older then her, he'd been looking into becoming a lawyer. She admitted to having gown up on a shrine, and told them a half lie, she had hoped to go into history, just a bit more literally then they knew. Yuzu had planned on being a chef and Karin had planned for soccer, just like Souta had dreamed of as a little kid. Karin and Yuzu were three years younger then her making them four years younger then Ichigo, the same age gap between her and Souta.
But it turned out they had kept better track than her of the time that passed she had now been dead four years. Making it year five they had been looking for their father, their stories about him were funny, a mix of blatant disrespect and affection, and some times, rarely Ichigo got a look on his face that said underneath it all he truly respected his father in some things. She had also learned who everyone was, the last phone call they got from their father before everything shut down mentioned being moved to a safe city with Ishida, his son, and their other friends.
It shocked her that they truly believed not only was their father still alive but all their friends. She only dared to hope for her mother and brother and knew if they saw her they would shoot her because they had to know she'd turned.
The sight of the hope in their faces was almost painful, it made her feel strong things. It made her almost angry, she would be lucky if her mother and brother were alive. She had been the fighter, she knew her friends from school had died. They had to have, Tokyo had been a death trap, it hadn't been the first place to see it but unlike in other cities where the infection had been a slow spread it had exploded. One turned, then fifteen, then people bitten but not yet turned ran behind containment lines spreading it faster. It had been everywhere at once, she remembered how her and her family had two hours warning before it was on their doorstep. She wished desperately she could feel such bright hope, she wished her heart could pound with the though of the joyful reunion. It hurt to know no matter what she wished her family would never thoughtlessly throw their arms around her.
The honesty they showed her made her wish she wasn't lying to them but the cost of being honest would no doubt, be her head. She'd seen Ichigo's ability with the sword, and there was no doubt in her mind if Ichigo went toe to toe with Inuyasha and they fought with normal swords it would be a draw. Inuyasha had the beyond human strength but Ichigo had the skill. Some times his grace in battle made her think of Sesshomaru, but Ichigo was still human; She'd seen him bleed after being caught on something sharp after not paying attention. It had been three days before she could truly ignore the smell of his fresh injury, the scent of iron and salt had called to her.
Her makeup had been hard to hide, she knew the girls knew she wore makeup, they knew she carried it but neither of them actually asked why. To her relief. Clothes had been a problem, she had to get new clothes shortly after joining then and telling them she wore clothing that covered her arms and legs despite the warmer weather of spring had raised questions. She explained it away as one time wearing a winter coat had saved her from being bitten and after that she never showed skin. One more thing protecting her from being infected. That had been the hardest lie to stomach for her, after that both Karin and Yuzu had taken to wearing long sleeves, the guilt had been a burden.
Bathing alone had been a struggle, the five or six baths all of them had managed to get over the last month had been in streams or hot springs. She had managed to get her own time by standing guard for the others, Ichigo let his sisters go first, then he'd get in and she'd guard him then he'd guard her while his sisters cooked. It had allowed her to keep her secret, she had noticed over the in the first of those baths that her first bites had actually closed when she wasn't looking, not to scars but not the red gapping wounds they'd been at first. Her injuries from other things had healed faster, the scar in her shoulder from Choukichi's shot, the white line on her other shoulder, the cuts you got by not paying attention because you couldn't feel pain. But the other bites she had gathered in her time fighting her own kind like the first closed so much slower, she wondered if it was sign of the infection. The fact these things even healed at all made her wonder if maybe despite all signs her kind weren't really dead. But dead was defined by no pulse and no need for respiration. That described the effects of this infection well enough.
They made good time all things considered, normally between four and five miles in a day, it depended on the weather, the numbers of corpses, the road conditions, all sorts of things. But about twelve or thirteen days after she'd joined them they reached New Maibara, she stayed outside the city uncomfortable putting herself around all those people. If someone who hadn't heard her speak saw her eyes she knew it would be a quick shot to the head. It was amazing none of the others had asked about her eyes, she'd only lasted a week with Choukichi. But the end result was Ichigo went into the city with Karin while Yuzu stayed out with her.
That had been the first time Kagome realized maybe why time had passed so fast was she was missing some of it. The conversation between her and Yuzu had been the girl asking why she didn't want to go into the city. Yuzu had asked if she was afraid of people. She had meant to answer, to deny it but in that split second Yuzu touched her and Kagome had found a flash blanked her mind. She couldn't have said what she remembered but it had been something. She ended up standing over Yuzu her hands out defensively.
It frightened her, Yuzu said nothing but look in the girl's eyes said she thought she knew something. Kagome could follow the logic, the girl had helped in her father's clinic. She had to have seen a rape victim at some point. That defensive reaction would be typical of post-traumatic-stress, but Kagome was pretty sure that wasn't what bothered her. That wasn't all of what happened.
She had an image in her head of knife in her stomach and when she checked that night, had the matching scar but she couldn't place when it happened. She was actually afraid, but it still wasn't the mind-numbing heart-pounding event she remembered from being alive. It was a doubt working it's way into her body, maybe she had been turned even longer then she thought. Maybe, she thought, there had been a time when she'd been a normal, person eating zombie. People forgot traumatic events, blotted it from their minds, if she had actually eaten someone... if they had fought her and she had come back to herself eating their brain she might try to get herself shot. Eating people was just too much. If it happened of course she wouldn't want to remember.
The group, as a whole decided she was taking too much risk fighting hand to hand so they got her a bow when she admitted that she had lost hers a while ago and not been able to replace it. Times like that made it easy to stay but between the concern of maybe she hadn't been the vegetarian zombie she thought she was and the fear of the disgust on their faces when they learned the truth pushed her a bit closer to daring to leave.
The only thing stopping her was the pull she felt for Ichigo, he shone so bright, it was a pull and push. She at times... she felt so... envious, the love he felt for his sisters, the ease he showed when entering a fight. Kagome sometimes wondered if he had fought before all this, she sometimes thought maybe the draw she felt came from him being like her. Someone who had powers, or saw things beyond the normal, it had been an adjustment coming home and trying to remember not everyone could see ghosts. But she stayed quiet, what could she ask? How could she explain?
Kagome never tried to lie to herself, she stayed for him, she almost hoped maybe he would thank her for that day she gave herself away. Or sometimes she fantasied about saving one of his sisters or him and getting bitten and having a last good bye so she'd be free. Free of the lies, free of eating anything she could catch, she'd be free of the gray. It would be death and maybe it would be sweet.
But she knew it was far more likely his face would twist in disgust and he'd slice her head off and spit on her. Cold reality didn't stop the little fantasies, there were times where rather then him freeing her still unaware of her true nature he'd demand she'd stay with him and then she'd tell him the truth and he'd be glad. She wasn't going to change, she'd be able to stay with him just like she had. She dreamed of him not being repulsed by her cold lips... Dreamed was the wrong word, wished was it. After all she couldn't sleep, the dead didn't dream.
"What are you thinking about?"
Kagome was surprised, her head jerking she looked at Ichigo, he was sitting causally against a wall his sword propped up next to him. His eyes were focused on her, once again she was caught up in his intensity. "I was just thinking about finding my family."
"You didn't look happy about that if that was what you were thinking about."
"It's just... they have to think I'm dead."
"Well like I said I don't remember exactly what happened but I know there were Corpses and I know I split off from them, I was running and I hit my head. After that I have no clue how I got away, but I woke up and can't remember where we were going. It's been long enough they have to think I'm dead."
His eyes dimmed with what she knew to be sympathy. "It's not that different for me and the girls."
"I know, but my family saw me being chased and since I didn't meet back up with them, there's only one logical answer."
Silence hung in the room, then Yuzu skipped in, "We're safe for the night."
Kagome nodded, and Ichigo stood back up, but Yuzu waved him back down in his spot, "No, you and Kagome-chan did a lot of hard work today me and Karin will take care of you."
Karin scowled from behind her sister in the doorway. "Who said I agreed to this?"
Yuzu turned wide disbelieving eyes on her sibling. "You don't want to help me warm up dinner?"
Karin's shoulders slumped, and she scowled at her sister. "Of course I was kidding."
Yuzu skipped off to the kitchen in the small apartment Karin stomping along behind her. Ichigo half smirked at her and she dunked her head realizing she had gone back to staring at him. She couldn't seem to stop doing that, she knew it was dangerous, one day her strange eye color dawn on him and then all the other little oddities he ignored would click for him. She knew despite her best efforts she didn't breath normally, she only remembered to huff and puff while running or after fighting and the rest of the time it was no where near normal regular breaths only what she needed for talking. She was an idiot.
He stared at the shy girl sitting on the floor half curled next to the large backpack, she had set her bow by her other hand. He didn't know what it was but something drew him to her, she was pretty. But he'd seen pretty before. His female friends in high school had been known as the best looking girls in the year but they'd never been attractive to him in a girlfriend way. Not to mention going to law school he'd managed to catch the eyes of more then a few college girls looking for a fun time. Admittedly he'd accepted the offers the odd time, usually after having a bit to drink but he'd never dated those girls.
What was it about her? Her eyes drew him, had since the moment he saw her standing with his sisters as he climbed down, not willing to risk injury by jumping. They were such a strange blue, they almost seemed to glow, the light blue highlighted by a ring of silver.
The mix of shy discomfort and the bold bravery, she didn't like prolonged eye contact, always looking away first, she didn't like being touched, refusing to be helped over things. But she was fearless in a fight, he'd been confused where his sisters had met this girl when he realized she was human and not a
Corpse. Then he'd seen the ones coming up from behind and even knowing he'd be too slow, he cried a warning but before the first word was even half way out of his mouth she had turned and was snapping the first one's neck.
It had been cold, brutal and personal. But she had done it twice, not a flinch, not one moment of hesitation in reaching out, putting her hands and arms in bitting range. And most importantly she had put herself between the zombies and his sisters. He'd refused to let others join them after the first time they were robbed but that lonely girl... he'd wanted her to join them, he hadn't wanted to leave her alone.
In spite of clearly knowing the town, and despite the fact she could hold her own in fight, he'd seen something in her. He'd just had known he couldn't leave her alone. But on top of that they had spent most of month traveling together and he still knew very little about her.
She was looking for her mother and her brother, but he didn't know what had happened to her father, he didn't know about her friends or even what she'd been studying to be. She said she'd been in high school but she never talked about after school, or what she was going to do when she found her family.
She never told him about herself in the sense of what she missed most about the old world order, she didn't tell them where she had learned everything she did with ease. She did everything, Yuzu had caught a cold and she'd taken over cooking, she could set traps, and she had an instinct about where packs of Corpses were, she'd saved them so many times it wasn't even funny. But she always was so surprised when someone said thank you.
Then there was her refusal to go into town, she admitted in the past she had waited for scavenging parties to ask about her family. Yuzu was almost positive she had been raped, Ichigo couldn't deny that fit but he was pretty sure, almost positive that wasn't it.
She was hiding something, or from someone, he just didn't know who or why.
Another strange thing was she wore clothes that covered her from head to toe, she insisted on taking a bath by herself... Maybe Yuzu was right and she had been raped. But he almost wondered if maybe she was hiding scars, he'd had a crazy thought a while ago that maybe she was trying to hide that she was immune to bites. But then he'd remember what his dad had told him.
They had been some of the first people aware the plague was starting. That was because Kisuke called his dad, his dad had left saying there was something wrong in Soul Society, Kisuke couldn't reach them. He'd stayed reluctantly with his sisters, he'd taken two extra days off school to finish the full vacation, returning home early wouldn't be fair to his sisters.
That night his dad had called and said Mayuri had finally gone too far, he'd created a disease that spread through bites that separated the mind, the body and the soul. Ichigo hadn't understood the danger until his father explained, the end result was basically a walking dead body with all the instincts of the living. Or the short version, a human hollow. That had been when he began to grasp the scope of the danger, then things got worse. It had started showing up in the human world.
He'd got his sisters together and started trying to find a way to get them out of the city and to his father and their friends in Karakura town. Nothing left until nine o'clock heading the right way, by then people were starting to realize something was wrong but not fast enough to do something. He got his sisters on the bus and they took off, the train hadn't been leaving for another two hours.
It had been mildly horrifying the way things fell apart so fast, by the time the bus stopped for lunch it was all over the news, in every major city in Japan and starting to show up in other countries. China, America, Europe. Everywhere. Ichigo called his dad and asked how it was spreading, bites couldn't have done all this. Kisuke, his dad and Ishida's dad didn't have a clue but his father said he and Ishida's dad had been asked to go to a safe location being set up to try and find a cure for all of this. His father didn't know where they were going yet but the moment he did he'd call and he'd tell Chad and everyone else, even Yuzu and Karin's friends where to go. They had ended up 34 km away from Karakura but the bus wasn't going any further. That had been when the three of them had been personally exposed to the hell breaking loose.
He seen a smithy with the glass door broken through, heading in he got Yuzu and Karin their first weapons and he'd picked his first sword up. It was had been a bit light for him and so had the others but when he'd gone further into the store he'd had the lucky to find something like and hand and half sword, he didn't know enough about swords to say more but it wasn't a true two-handed blade but if he was using it for a long time it was tiring. In the end he'd kept both and ended up breaking the lighter blade, so now he just had the bigger sword.
Karin had dropped the short sword for a long pipe, she used it like a spear and a club, smashing head open but using the length to keep things out of reach. Yuzu just carried her belt full of blades, she could use some throwing knives on there but for the most part she had them for any time something got too close.
Kagome however used a bow or her hands, and yet she didn't know any karate or marshal arts.
She had been evasive about a lot of things but blunt about others, she said she'd learned to use the bow at her home shrine. After finding her another one his sisters wanted a show and she warned she hadn't fired a shot in months so not to expect too much. She was right that first shot was pretty far off, but her ability to adjust was impressive, because the second was closer and the third was a bulls-eye. She tended to save her arrows because it was hard to get more, and she always said 'why use them if you get away without them?' she did stuff like that. He wasn't sure if he liked it or if it was on the list of strange things.
Maybe it was both, he liked she knew she couldn't just go to a store and buy them any more and it was weird. The easy with which she killed, the way she saved her arrows... he found himself wondering some times, if she fought before this. She wasn't a normal girl, his sisters had cried, they still cried sometimes, but not her.
Maybe that was why he didn't think she had been raped, if that had been the case he'd expect a bit more self pity, or something... maybe more anger. Resentment towards her family for not looking for her better after they spilt up. He just believed if she had been victimized there would be something. She wasn't all dead and hollow eyed like so many in cities, but he didn't see the same hope Karin and Yuzu felt about finding their friends and their dad.
There was something hopeless in her, not dead but like she truly believed she'd never be happy again. He wondered if maybe what had happened was she had lost her boyfriend, lost her lover. It would explain a lot, not everything but a lot. She'd stayed alive and fought for her family only to lose them too, she was only alive because she wasn't willing to lay down and die.
Ichigo tilted his head back but his eyes stayed on the silent figure across from him, he didn't deny that he liked her. He really did, probably a bit much because she never showed of sign of liking him back but he found he wanted to see her smile. Not the soft smirk he'd seen up to now, but something happy. He'd seen her gratefulness at the gift of the new bow, but not a bright smile. Not like he'd expected. 'I mean who wouldn't smile with pleasure at the thought of being able to use a bow instead of hand to hand with Zombies for crying out loud?'
That made him huff, that had been when he'd realized that maybe on one level she wanted to die. He knew despair but wanting to die was something else.
He climbed to his feet noticing for the hundredth time the way Kagome responded to the tiniest of movements. "I'm going to go see what's on the roof."
Her head bobbed and he could see the glow of her eyes from under her bangs, but she made no move to follow him like he'd hoped, he wanted to ask her things that he was pretty sure he didn't want his sisters hearing the answers to.
She watched through slitted eyes as per-normal Ichigo made sure everything was safe before going to sleep himself. He left the small apartment they were spending the night in, checking the doors on the main floor, then checking to make sure the two exits their resting places had were clear as well as the number of Corpses outside. Then he always looking over his sisters and her, then he'd normally be asleep in another half an hour.
It was a sweet ritual, something she admitted made her love him a little more, it reminded her of Inuyasha's habit of sleeping in trees over their campsite to protect them and watch over them. But Ichigo's way was a bit more personal and very human. He couldn't afford to not sleep, but he chose the best resting places they could find and he made sure everything and everyone knew what to do. Every night it made her wish she was alive so her heart could pound in her chest, and she'd feel the warmth of the protection.
The longer she stayed the more it seemed she realized she was missing by not possessing a heartbeat.
But she knew if she left she'd forget again, the longer she'd stayed with them the faster she moved, unfortunately her appetite improved with it, she was needing to eat almost every other day now verses once a week.
She let time slip past her as she just listened to the breathing of the three living people in the room with her. Oddly her thoughts drifted to Kikyo, was this what it was like for her? At the end she'd almost been her old self, that was why she chose saving Kohaku over revenge on Naraku. Kagome wondered if she could hope for that kind of ending. Dying in Ichigo's arms didn't sound like a bad way to die, especially if she had also managed to save someone else important to him first.
And just liked that she was back to that fantasy.
She let out a silent chuckle, the air leaving her body only making the faintest hiss of noise. Did that make this her dying wish? She didn't remember the day she turned, she had flashes, a head over her arm implying that was the first bite, then looking into her family's faces, the horror and fear for her sake there for her to see. Then she was waking up another bite in her side and no clue how long it had been.
Moving slowly she sat up and left the apartment not letting the door shut completely, then using her super hearings she went up a floor to the place she could hear the most scratching noises from. She would have jumped if she was alive because as she opened the door a cat ran past her, but seeing the rat dangling from the feral orange tabby's mouth she knew she was in the right place. It was a bit silly but in Buyo's memory she refused to feed on cats, she'd go hungry first.
She did it quickly but she ate two rats and cleaned up and was back in the apartment in half an hour. It was as she was laying back down she realized at some point Karin had woken up, the heartbeat of the girl was fast but not alarmed and her breathing was just a bit off.
Kagome lay back down and could feel a weight, it took her a moment but she realized it was the feeling of inevitability. The fact was Karin had never taken to her like Ichigo and Yuzu had, it was as if the girl could sense she was dead but since she could talk and such, couldn't place what was wrong. She knew at this point the one who would figure it out first was the dark haired girl.
Three Days Later
Kagome had been informed at breakfast by Yuzu it had been a full month of traveling with them and as her luck normally ran; things had gone straight down hill. They had spent the night in a house on the far edge of Kyoto, they could see a wall close to the center of the city but couldn't tell more beyond that. They had already noticed the larger then normal Bony population, Kagome had been a bit alarmed when they actually focused on her rather than food. But they slept peacefully enough, the double exit Ichigo insisted on covered by the fact you could exit the second floor window, cross a tree and be on the roof of the other ranch style house.
But just as breakfast clean up began they were caught off guard by the front door being pounded on. The groans told them all it wasn't survivors. Karin and Ichigo dashed around laying false scent trails, Yuzu grabbed gear and Kagome made sure she stayed to protect Yuzu.
They were only half way packed up when the door gave, hearing the noise she rushed out into the hall and started using up her precious supply of arrows, moments later Yuzu ran past her and up the stairs Ichigo joined her in the hall. "Come on Kagome, Karin's on the other roof and Yuzu's up the stairs!"
"Give me a moment."
He waited for the split-second after she fired to grab her shoulder and yank her back towards the stairs. Mildly annoyed she struggled free of him and followed him up the stairs, the Bonies screeching behind her. Almost at the top a claw like hand sunk firmly into her leg almost pulling her back down the stairs. A half breath of air escaped her as she fell and Ichigo called her name, she knew he had realized something was wrong. Kicking with her free leg she heard a snap and knew she had kicked something in the face breaking the skull, but the grip on her leg didn't diminish. Yanked again she slid down two stairs, Ichigo's shoes came closer and she didn't think about her words. "Get out the window or I'll bite-!"
She kicked with her trapped lag and the grip on her leg scratched her but slid down taking her shoe with it. Free, she finished her words while crawling on her hands and knees. "You myself!"
His legs and feet vanished from her line of sight but she looked up in time to watch him backing into the light at the third door. Managing to struggle to her feet she noted it was probably a good thing she didn't feel pain, other wise the scratches might have hindered her.
Ichigo looked relived to see her on her feet and finished backing out of sight, staggering forward she wasn't surprised to hear the sound of scratching coming from behind her. She could hear the rasping sounds the Bonies made in force behind her, there might have been some normal Zombies behind her but she could only hear the Bonies.
Not turning to look she felt a body fall into her, throwing her forward while at the same time the pinching of something biting into her side announced it's self. No pain but she could see the blackened skull buried into her side, using her elbow she hit it in the base of the skull. The force she'd used made a crunching sound and the Bony fell dead. But it had slowed her enough a buddy of it's was grabbing her.
Dead hands gripped her shoulders trying to pull her down, Kagome, while focused on killing them and escaping noted they were really focused on her. Not Ichigo and his sisters but her. That made very little sense, she was already turned.
Gripping the right wrist she tugged and generated enough force to throw it and her into a wall, the drywall crumbled and they were only stopped by the wood in the walls. But she'd loosened it's grip enough to free herself and give her the angle to smash it's head at a strange angle snapping the bones. Tumbling down the hall not gracefully enough to call it walking or running, she was almost at the doorway and she could hear Ichigo and his sisters calling her name letting her know they were worried.
Blinded by the light she felt the impact of another Bony knock her to her knees, teeth sunk awkwardly into her flesh half blocked by the strap of her backpack. It wasn't even her shoulder the teeth were bitting, it was the back of her shoulder. Struggling to grab the head, it tried to shake her like a dog would, that was when she gave up and pulled the knife on her thigh. Sinking that into it's head it went limp and she manage to reach her feet only to be hit again.
Knocked to the center of the room she could tell it only had a hold of her backpack so turning she put it and her back to the wall and rammed backwards. The sound matched the vibration that jarred her teeth, that was when she realized she had been growling and snapping like she'd heard other Corpses do while fighting humans. Feeling the Bony still tugging on her she took two steps forward and then smashed backwards again, this time brittle dry bones snapped and the tugging on her pack stopped.
Back in the center of the room she found three Bonies hissing at her from the doorway, she backed towards the window and the three charged her, using her knife she caught the first in the face killing it but the dead weight took the knife from her hand. The other grabbed her arm and forced it up, the third grabbed her and tried to take a bite out of her shoulder. Her backpack strap saved her again. But the second was trying to bite into her hand and wrist. The leather of her glove and the thick fabric were stopping it's teeth from piercing her flesh, but she was caught between the two and they were shaking her like they wanted to tear her to bits.
Trapped she did the only thing she could think of, sinking her teeth into the back of the head of one tearing at her shoulder. The shriek it let out was deafening, but it pulled away allowing her to grab the chin of the one gnawing at her hand. Then using the hand in it's mouth she twisted and the sound of snapping bones echoed. It collapsed like a freed puppet and the last one; hissing angrily, flung it's self at her but she was able to force it's chin back up and away until it's struggles allowed her to kill it, that was when she saw the five corpses staring at her, the shaggy haired male in front looked questioning. He knew she was one of them but the Bonies had come after her.
Since they weren't coming for her she grabbed her knife and went to the window. One last look back confirmed what she thought, the man Corpse was just watching her something close to comprehension on his face. Grabbing a branch she climbed over to the roof on the other side of the fence.
Ichigo, and Yuzu almost collapsed with relief, Karin looked at her in the same way the male Corpse had. Kagome looked back and was glad to see they wouldn't have seen any of it because the tree was in the way.
Karin asked the first question, "How are you okay?"
Kagome looked down at her clothes and realized she had lucked out, she was wearing black-ish navy jeans and a black hoody, no one could see her blood. Sitting down on the roof she shrugged and felt the back of her leg, the sense of torn muscle held true and she quickly took out an ace-bandage or cover it up.
Ichigo touched her shoulder, "Are you really okay? No bites?"
The tone of concern was kind, so she looked up and could see under his scowl if she said she wasn't he would feel bad. "I have a badly bruised leg, I smashed my head, almost was bitten five or six times but some how I'm still here."
"How do we know none of them broke the skin?"
Ichigo and Yuzu glared at the suspicious Karin who just stared straight past her siblings.
Kagome felt a smirk tug at her lips, the girl was right, she after all had two new bites. "You don't, but I'm not stripping on the roof and you'll have all day to see if I get sick."
Something crossed Karin's face, not something that said 'I know you got bitten'. But something that said 'I know there is something wrong with you I just can't prove it yet'.
She sighed and let a more serious expression over take her face as she finished wrapping her leg up. "Seriously though my backpack saved my life today. I had the luck that my gloves protected my hand, and they kept trying to go for my neck and shoulders but all they got was straps."
Kagome looked back at Ichigo he looked almost angry but she knew by now it was his way of showing regret or worry. "Don't you dare feel guilty for leaving me back there. I told you to, and besides you have your sisters to look after."
He narrowed his eyes at her, "Is that what you meant when you said... what was it? 'Get out that window or I'll bite you myself!'."
Kagome scowled down at her shoe, she had left her other back in the house. "Yes. That is what I said, I didn't want you getting caught up in the fight."
The thud told her he'd stomped on the roof. "I decided when I risk my life and when not to! I never want you to ever say something so stupid again!"
She glared at him through her bangs. "I'll say what ever I like."
Ichigo snorted at her. "You can say whatever you like but I don't have to listen."
Kagome wanted to snort back but only managed a short laugh. "That's mature."
Their childish argument was stopped by the formally tearful Yuzu giggling while Karin was snickering.
Kagome was glad she was able raise their mood by playfully harassing Ichigo, he was so easy to rile, it reminded her of Inuyasha... only Ichigo could lose. He didn't have to win every fight, have the last word. She knew why Inuyasha had been that way and it was admirable he'd done it and survived but she wanted to win some times too. He'd learned that towards the end of their travels but she knew there had been some history between them at that point.
Standing up she wasn't surprised to see Ichigo start reaching out, as if to catch her but since she didn't wobble his hand vanished back into his pocket. Ichigo stared at her seeming to check for signs of pain but since she didn't feel it he didn't find any. With that he lead them to the far side of the house where everyone jumped down to the small shed and then to the ground where they spent the rest of the day failing to get further into the city.
At the end of the day they were about a mile deeper and three miles over from the house they'd spent the last night in. The city was rife with old half torn down blockades, and wrecked buildings and cars, not to mention the large numbers of Bonies. It had been almost a nonstop fight on non-blocked streets, they had better luck moving quickly by going through houses and over fences so that was what they did. They had surprised a large number of individual Corpses lingering in their old homes, but like she'd seen before lone or only a couple corpses were uninterested in feeding and ran or did nothing upon seeing them. She'd managed to replace her lone shoe with a pair in one of the houses. They had found a large house with a big fence and no Corpses inside, and since they needed lunch they had enjoyed the rest but that had been their second encounter point with Bonies.
Kagome had been glad she didn't feel pain because it allowed her to save Yuzu, it surprised everyone else, but she had to admit for a normal human being tossed through a door and knocking your whole body around on marble floor would indeed do a great deal of damage. But she'd been able to get right up and break the neck of the one holding Yuzu against the wall, that had been when for the second time in the day Bonies zeroed in on her.
Of the dozen left in the house seven or eight of them had come for her, in the end the others saved her from being bitten in front of them, Karin had her close call after being thrown through a window, luckily they had been on the first floor.
Now they were on the third floor of a huge apartment complex, there had been survivors here at some point as almost the entire first floor was sealed off, the dust also told them no one had been here for a long long time. In the process of clearing floors they had found either a store room or some survivalist's stash because there had been thousands of water bottles and many other things.
It allowed everyone to restock on almost everything, a new camp stove since they'd ended up leaving it behind this morning, along with enough fuel for a year or two, if they stayed. And a large bath tub, everyone was being nice enough to let her go first, to her surprise neither Karin nor Yuzu had offered to join her. She wasn't sure if she should be suspicious or pleased they respected her enough to not even bother asking. Yuzu and her had warmed the water and now she was stripping to climb in. She had on the sly gathered a new needle and some thread to stitch her leg up, she hadn't had the chance to check her bites to see if she should use it there too.
The warmth was soft to her skin. It wasn't the soothing feeling she remembered from life but it was gentle. She also could enjoy the fact she didn't need to breath, slipping under she let it make her forget the harsh realities of outside the door.
Kagome had disappeared into the bath and he'd been able to tell she was as suspicious as he was. He turned to the twins. "What are you up to?"
Yuzu blinked innocently but Karin smirked at him.
"I decided to call a family meeting."
He glowered at her, it was about Kagome, he knew it. Knowing Kagome had sharp hearing he moved them two rooms over, he didn't want her over hearing anything that might be hurtful. He wasn't stupid, he knew Karin had some sort of problem with her.
Flopping down on a semi dusty couch he held his breath while the dust settled and stared at his sisters. Karin however seemed to be the one with something to say. Yuzu sat down on a chair while Karin stepped forward. She seemed to be thinking about where to start, then she almost seemed to give up. "We've all noticed Kagome is … odd. She shouldn't have been able to take on all those Corpses and Bonies by herself."
Ichigo realized he was glowering at Karin, if that was all she had to say he wouldn't do anything about it. Surviving wasn't a crime.
Karin seemed to realized that wasn't a good place to start. "Look Onii-chan you like her. I get it. But she is... something is wrong with her. She doesn't eat a lot of food. She gets up at odd hours."
Ichigo felt a twitch starting, he knew all of it. He'd noticed just last night she was moving her fork around but she slipped the food back into the pot. He figured she had her reasons, he knew for her to have made it four years on her own she had to be something. Hell he still some times wondered if she was immune.
But everything in him said she was trust worthy.
"I know Karin, she twitches the moment someone a room away sneezes, she has an eerie way of sneaking up on people, she doesn't react to pain. I've never seen her cry. I know. But it doesn't change the fact she's proven time and time again she wants to protect you two, and help us find Dad."
Yuzu was nodding and Karin was frowning at him.
"I haven't told you two but I can sense something from her."
Ichigo knew Karin was trying to say having powers was suspicious. "Baka. I know and haven't you ever thought that explains everything?"
He stared at Karin and she looked back a scowl firmly placed and a blank 'I'm not listening' look on her face. "Kagome chased me out so she could do something she didn't want me to see, she's done that every time we're in a tight corner."
Yuzu looked from him to Karin waiting for the rebuttal.
Karin sighed,."You're not listening. I'm pretty sure something is wrong. What I sense from her is wrong."
He scowled, confused. "What do you mean wrong?"
Karin threw her hands up. "I don't know. But what I sense from her doesn't feel like it's her. I would think she was being haunted or something but I've never seen a ghost. Sometimes when she moves too fast I sense it even stronger."
The three of them were quiet.
Then Yuzu spoke up for the first time.
"We still don't know much of anything about her. Not the names of her friends, nothing beyond her Mother and Brother and that she's a shrine maiden. But isn't possible Karin you sense something from her shrine that she can use or is protecting?"
Karin ran a hand over her face. "I think she won't let anyone see her skin because she's written some sort of charm over herself or something. Something she uses to protect herself."
Ichigo found his mind detouring to the gutter: A picture of Kagome in the nude with script up and down her back and on her limbs. Blinking that away he tried to focus on the real topic. "So. Karin what are you suggesting we do?"
She shrugged. "Burst in on her bath?"
Yuzu scowled fiercely at her twin, "I protest. Onii-chan likes her a bit too much to be polite and she would be embarrassed if he saw her."
Ichigo tried not to blush but both of his sisters knew him too well.
"Point. Okay we tried to catch her half dressed, she let us know when she's out so were can go in next, we give her a few minutes then open the door."
Yuzu made a face but stopped protesting, he realized part of why she wasn't protesting was she truly was worried for the older girl. Yuzu was the sort of person used to being helpful, for the elder girl not have let her help with the leg wound or so many other things hurt her. Yuzu was willing to go along with this because she wanted the shy girl to open up to them. Ichigo had to admit that was why he was willing to go along with this. He liked some mystery but she was becoming a bit too mysterious.
Sighing regretfully she climbed from the bath, her leg was stitched up, the bite in her side had torn the skin jagged on one side and the other was a perfect set of teeth marks so she stitched the jagged side and left the other side alone. Looking in the mirror she had to admire the perfect closed circle just above the new half stitched one, then three inches down and half an inch over she had the scar from the Shikon-no-tama. And the knife wound in her stomach. Not to mention the bullet wounds from Choukichi, the old teeth marks in her forearm and all the tiny white scars from her feudal era travels.
She was impressively marked up but Ichigo had some interesting scars of his own, the time she'd seen him topless she couldn't help but notice the sword scars on his torso, scars that should have killed him. She had turned and left but not before the questions had surfaced in her mind. How could he be human and take wounds like that? And still be alive?
Inuyasha had lived because he was half demon Ichigo was human, she knew it, he smelled like it and he healed at a fast but normal rate. Actually she had use to heal like that... She had guessed he had powers for a while now. Those clues didn't tell her what he actually did and why.
Her hair wrapped up and slipping her clean pair of panties on and still using a towel Kagome called out to twins: "I'm getting dressed! The bath is yours in three minutes!"
Hearing the responses from the girls she focused on dressing in the main room of this apartment where it wasn't so steamy. Socks went on, so did the bra, then came the new pair of jeans, she'd snatched those earlier too. Drying her hair she tried to ignore the fact her hoody had some telling holes at the shoulders and side. Since her under shirt today had been black no one had noticed but she was planning to pull on a purple shirt and the holes would show.
Then to her shock and horror the door opened.
He saw Karin give him the nod, telling him she thought they'd given Kagome time enough not to be naked but not totally covered up either. The open swung open and he saw his sister had timed it perfectly, Kagome had jeans and a bra on but still hadn't pulled her shirt on. The skin was distracting, it showed off the fact she was fit, it had been hard to pick that out under her hoody. Then he realized the skin color was wrong, blue-ish, and then he saw the red thread in her side... that looked like.
She was staring at him and his sisters standing in the doorway, her face was icily pale, her lips were not a heathy pink, they were purple, almost blue. Her eyes, the eerie eyes that had fascinated him were discolored in death.
Her skin in it's ghostliness showed off a number of white scars, one in her upper shoulder looked like a gun shot, a graze on the other arm. A bite long healed on her forearm. A perfect circle in her side above the new half sewn up bite, teethmarks, fresh ones were on her shoulder. A strange star shaped one in her hip, little scars in her upper arms were perfect circles. A knife wound was along one arm, and someone had stabbed her in the stomach to the right of her belly button.
But what mattered was the whole time she'd spent with them she had been dead.
Kagome made as if to step forward and he fell back into default reactions: his hand grabbed his sword.
He didn't know what to do, he'd thought she had been bitten but he thought she could resist it, or something. Not that she was under it's effects already.
The girl he'd been dreaming about was dead, and not in soul form, but walking slightly rotted dead.
Eating things raw, dead.
Muted mumbling, dead.
But she could talk...
That was when Kagome decided she wasn't going to try and talk it out, misery on her face she turned and flung herself through the window. Shocked, he rushed over his first thoughts being she was trying to kill herself as this was the third floor. But looking outside he saw her getting to her feet and moving quickly away, he couldn't make out if she had cut herself on the glass or not.
He turned around and found his two sisters looking at him.
"What are you going to do?" Yuzu asked tearfully.
Ichigo wasn't sure why she was crying but he had a feeling it was guilt they had pushed Kagome into running away rather then explaining everything. "I'm going after her."
He and Yuzu looked to Karin who's arms were crossed.
Karin looked at him sternly, but guilt was there in her eyes. "Because after we busted in on her like that and the way we looked at her, she's sure we'd kill her. Not to mention if you chase her into the city in the dark you'll get bitten and if she ever finds out she'll feel bad."
Ichigo wanted to argue, but Karin was right; The brave girl he was use to, the girl who fought her way through hordes had fled from three people. She was afraid. "But we start looking for her right after breakfast."
She ran through the too long grass, she couldn't believe they had all agreed to burst in on her. Times like this made her wish she could cry, but she couldn't. Out of the apartment complex now she just followed the road, dodging wrecked cars and random objects. Her heart hurt and her mind was racing, that instant that Ichigo had realized what she was, that second Yuzu had started crying, the same one Karin had let her mouth fall open in. Kagome had hoped she'd be able to talk to them and get them to let her stay.
But in taking a tiny step forward Ichigo's hand had fallen to his sword. The look on his face. It made her remember where she'd seen it before, she'd seen that look on the guy who'd stabbed her.
Kagome had woken the bite on her arm and in side, she had realized that her heart didn't beat and that she was hungry. The dead ignored her. She knew she was dead, but in spite of her hunger she could still talk so she hoped to find her family and talk them into staying with her, outside of a city. Wandering place to place she had spent three days looking for her mom and Souta, she remembered running away from them after she'd been bitten but with her memory intact she would only have to talk to them.
But with the new clothes, the fact she still had her pack with along with her bow. Two punks had decided to rob and rape her. She still hadn't learned to use her senses to hunt living prey and they got the jump on her. Forcing her into a warehouse she put up enough of struggle, fighting like a living human they didn't notice the pallor of her skin or the fact she wasn't breathing other then what it took to talk.
Finally unwilling to use the last couple of their bullets on her, the knife they'd been threatening her with ended up in her stomach. She'd been surprised by the lack of pain, her bites hadn't bothered her other than what they represented but it hadn't clicked. She didn't feel pain.
But when she didn't make noise the one that stabbed her realized something was wrong, that had been when he looked into her face and realized she was dead.
But the two punks hadn't checked that the warehouse was empty and so the dozen or so Zombies had come out at the sound and smell of the humans, and she'd been caught up in the new hunger, the fresh smell of blood.
Just like that she'd become a Zombie.
She had eaten people, and the odd animal. The thing that had jolted her back to humanity had been a group strong enough her pack avoided them, but a girl her age using a bow was with them, and that night she'd seen that the girl had a cat. Then she'd remembered.
That had been when she left for Tokyo.
Kagome felt her clumsy Corpse body trip, falling to the ground she allowed herself to look for damage.
She'd leapt from the window because that was her only way out and if the fall had killed her she wouldn't have minded, but since she hadn't, she probably had broken something. Sitting up in the middle of the dark city she looked for wounds, the glass had cut the outside of her arms up. Not surprising, she had a wound in her left leg with glass sticking out of it. Again no surprise, busting through glass would cut anyone up. Her other foot was sticking out at a slightly wrong angle, she'd broken her right ankle. Not a shock, thirty feet down can kill people, she was lucky it was just a broken ankle and not a leg. Oh and three fingers on her left hand.
Kagome sighed and then started looking around, she could see a couple of corpses looking out at her, but most were ignoring her. But no Bonies, that was good.
Kagome looked herself over again, she took the time to pull the glass shard from her leg, and then checked range of movement. It was workable, but probably needed stitches. Her foot needed a cast, or a walking cast.
So she needed to go to a supply store or a hospital.
Looking around she was in a residential area, so she had a ways to go yet.
Getting to her feet she started walking, she had all night after all.
Ichigo lay on the couch, his sisters had taken the bed. He gotten a couple hours of sleep but had woken up, it was strange. Even knowing Kagome could have decided to eat them at any moment not having her around was more disturbing. But it explained everything, she wanted to find her family, to make sure they had lived but she'd known if they saw her she'd end up dead. After all if they'd left her it was because she was being bitten and they knew she'd turn and didn't want to kill her.
Karin could feel that fact Kagome was a Corpse but since she talked hadn't put it together...
But why was Kagome different, why did she remember?
Thinking on that he barely noticed the sun slowly rising, and the light filling the apartment.
Ichigo knew the point was even if it had been shocking and caught him off guard. What he liked about her hadn't changed. She still was kind, and lonely, and hurting. He never liked seeing others in pain.
The door to the bedroom opened and his sisters left it, both of them looked tired but he knew since they were up they wanted to find Kagome almost as much as he did. They ate in silence, all of them feeling the emptiness left by their missing friend. It was funny to think but for all she was shy and in hindsight was hiding what she was Kagome had been a bright spot in the mornings. She would greet everyone and make noise enough you might have thought it was a normal morning on your way to work. Like there was still a city outside the home.
She helped Yuzu cook, she made snappy remarks to Karin to get a reaction and she made him want to smile.
Ichigo stared at the bottom of his bowl realizing he'd finished while lost in thought. He looked up found Karin glaring a hole in the table top, Yuzu was looking sadly into her half empty bowl.
"Finish up you two. We can't expect to find Kagome on empty stomachs, she's had all night to get a head of us."
Karin looked up at him and Yuzu looked a little more cheerful. "So you meant it when you said we were going after her."
Ichigo frowned at Karin's question but supposed he could follow his sister's reasoning. "She could have eaten us a month ago, but she didn't. She could have opened the door on any following night for her dead friends. She didn't. She could have lead us to our deaths any number of times, and didn't. Dead or not I think Kagome has proved a hundred times over she'd still a person."
Yuzu nodded, but Karin smirked at him. "This explains everything, you only like dead girls."
Flustered by the insinuation, he felt his cheeks heat and wanted to smack Karin, like she had any room to mock him about relationships, the only boy she'd ever liked, was five times her age easy and dead. "Shut up."
His sisters laughed, and he felt like this would still work out. Finding out the truth about Kagome might have shaken his world, but in the end it didn't change anything about her place being here with them.
She had finally reached a hospital, found a walking cast for her foot, splints for her fingers, thread and a needle for her new cuts, and about two dozen Bonies. It had only take all night and most of the morning. Her life, or afterlife sucked. The Bonies for whatever reason were still targeting her, and she had found or rather been found by the five... Zombies. Or as the living said; Corpses. She hated to say that, but anyway: The five from the house yesterday morning had some how caught up to her and seemed curious. First about why she wasn't with the humans from before, then the shaggy haired guy gave her a shirt he'd found while she went hunting for the hospital.
None of them could talk but the male who seemed to be the leader and the female who was wearing a rather nice dress in spite of stains, were aware enough to nod or shake their heads in response to questions. But they were dead. Huffing she tried to ignore them as she got up on a bed so she could try to set her leg. It wasn't that she didn't know how, she'd learn that along with a thousand other things on her trips to the past, the problem was first it was her own foot so her grip was awkward with the finger splints on and two she couldn't be sure she hadn't shattered something, she didn't feel pain and there was no swelling to tell her where the worst of it was, she hoped it was just the tibia because there was a strange indent and some odd lump on the left side of her ankle.
Just as she was about to jerk her leg to shift the bone she noticed the intense... wrong word. The visible curiosity from the peanut gallery. "I have to get the bone set or it'll never heal right."
The lead male tilted his head sideways, and then ran a finger over the wound in his face that let his teeth show.
"Yeah I could stitch that for you so it might heal."
He slowly nodded his head, almost as if he liked the idea. Kagome sighed, "Look do any of you remember your names or even a letter? Something that I can call you?"
The group was as still as the dead could be before most of them shook their heads, only the shaggy haired guy nodded. "Okay so what do you remember?"
He frowned and Kagome knew he if he was struggling this much there was no way he could write it.
His mouth opened and a groan issued, before he scowled slightly. Trying again he managed: "Ckckk..."
He nodded again.
He dropped his head once, and she ran her eyes over the rest. "And none of you remember anything else?"
She got a mixture of shrugs and nods. "Then I'll just name you." Wistfully she decided to name the leader Miroku because he liked to hold the only girl's hand, or hair or anything she'd let him. It had been odd seeing them following her hand in hand. "You," she pointed to the leader, "Are Miroku after an old friend of mine. You," she pointed to the woman in the floral dress, "Are Sango after his girlfriend. You two, are..."
She trailed off, what would she call them? They might have been brothers, they looked enough alike, but they could have just been close friends or even only met after they died. Her mind randomly latched on the memory of Hiten and Manten. Creepy, and maybe they tried to kill her but some how she could see those names fitting those two. "Are Hiten," she picked the slightly taller one in the blue shirt to be him, and the one in black was going to be Manten. "You are Manten."
They looked at each other and then as one shrugged seeming not to care. That done she went back to trying to set her foot. It took two tries but she was pretty sure it was properly set now, at least her legs matched in shape again. So she put the fabric brace on and then the walking boot. Looking at her five new friends she decided to get started with the stitching.
Starting with Miroku, he had seven different injuries she decided to stitch up. The other four were intrigued by the process she went through in cleaning up the wounds. Sango was next and took twice as long because she seemed to have a sword wound running the length of her spine just off by an inch. She then sent them off to search for a new dress so Sango didn't have to put the torn dress back on. Kagome hoped the girl remembered enough to find and put on a bra but wasn't holding her breath. That was when K decided to help her by showing what he'd learned watching her by cleaning Manten's wounds.
Kagome couldn't deny she was impressed, he'd seen her do it two times and was able to copy her. She then decided to help him learn how to stitch the wounds up. Manten seemed surprised by his pack-mate's skills. Hiten looked excited and seem to be almost happy it was his turn next. That was when all of them heard the sounds of living people. Hiten and Manten looked uncertain while K turned to look at her, seeming to ask for marching orders.
"Go hid in the bathroom, if you don't charge at them humans don't tend to do a good job checking all the dark corners."
The three all started shuffling down the hall to the privet room with large bathroom. She'd just been using a mostly clean bed in the hall to set her ankle, hobbling down the hall she tried to be quiet in finding Miroku and Sango. Not a hall over she found the two of them standing uncertainly in the hall their hands linked and Sango thankfully dressed in a new but dusty set of clothes.
"Quick you two, we're hiding in the bathroom!" Kagome hoped her thumping as she walked hadn't been noticed but couldn't be sure. But Miroku and Sango following her she lead them to where the other three were. Carefully shutting the door she was afraid that she knew those three voices.
The voice got closer and closer and she couldn't lie to herself, Ichigo, Yuzu and Karin were looking through the hospital.
"... What makes you think she's here again?"
"Just because you claim you didn't hear the light thuds doesn't mean the rest of us are deaf Karin."
Yuzu sounded snappy.
"Not to mention this is the last of the close hospitals."
Kagome felt like she'd shivered hearing his voice clearly again. But if they'd heard her walking with this stupid cast on she was going to be found sooner or later and if they decided to kill her she'd better make sure the others aren't found...
"Kagome come out or I'll start throwing doors open!"
Sighing at the brash threat she then hissed to the others, "Stay in here no matter what."
Not waiting for her fellow dead to respond she opened the door stepping out into the hall. "What did you guys come here for?"
To her surprise Ichigo smirked at her before tossing her bag at her feet, "For you of course."
Disbelievingly she looked at him, then Yuzu who was smiling brightly at her, and lastly Karin who watched her with the friendliest look she had ever given her. It couldn't be true. Cold gripped her heart and she stared at three of them. Finally she snorted. "You'd have me believe the three of you are willing to travel with a corpse?"
Ichigo's expression turned solemn, while Yuzu looked hurt and Karin rolled her eyes. "We've been doing it for a month now and we're still alive. I think we can handle longer."
Karin's slightly sarcastic tone broke through the barrier she'd forced herself to put up. Kagome swallowed and lifted her head higher, "Even knowing I like all corpses ate people?"
Ichigo out and out scowled at her, "Are you going to do it again?"
His blunt question was just like him. "No."
"Did you enjoy it?"
She couldn't help but shift uncomfortably. "At the time sorta, but now? no. Not at all."
"Good enough for me."
Yuzu and Karin nodded from either side of him. Kagome stared at them for a moment and decided to test them. "What if I told you I had made some friends while I was out?"
Ichigo raised an eyebrow, and Yuzu asked sounding slightly nervous; "Friends? As in other Zombies?"
Kagome nodded once.
Karin looked startled, "Where did you meet them?"
"Yesterday at the house they were there with the Bonies that attacked. They saw me having a down and out slugfest with the Bonies and were confused and curious about it. So they followed us and when they saw me running away last night they followed."
"You mean they want to be with humans like you've been?" Ichigo looked surprised by that.
Kagome shrugged. "I can only assume so since none of them can really talk yet and they hadn't tried to come out and eat you yet."
The three siblings nodded as one, thinking it over. Finally Ichigo said, "They can come out and we won't attack them or anything. But I think we need to tell you a little more about what our dad said before we lost contact."
Kagome looked over her shoulder and found Miroku and Sango leading the others out of the privet suit they'd been hiding in. The five stood behind her in almost a line and Kagome decided to introduce them to Ichigo and the girls.
"You five that's Ichigo." she pointed and gave them a moment to look at him and then back to her. "That's Yuzu." she was glad to see them look at the blond girl and then back to her. "And that's Karin."
That done she turned back to the three and found Yuzu looking a touch frightened and Karin with a decidedly forced look of boredom. Ichigo however was looking thoughtfully between her and them.
"Ichigo, Yuzu, Karin. Since most of them didn't remember their names I ended up naming them so I could call them something. But anyway this is Miroku." She pointed to him, and he stared at the three seeming almost bemused at being introduced.
"His girlfriend is Sango. The shaggy haired one remembered the first letter in his name so he's K, and the last two are Hiten, he's the slightly shorter one. And Manten is the other."
Ichigo stared at her with a deadpan look. "You haven't even known them a full day and you've named them and want to keep them."
"HEY! It's... the first time I've ever met others with true signs of remembering."
Ichigo stared at her his gaze turning slightly distant. Then his eyes flicked to her arms, "Sit down somewhere, finish stitching up your arms and we'll talk."
Kagome frowned at him but figured he had his reasons and since he hadn't used his weird speed and started chopping heads off she was probably good. "Yuzu grab the box on the bed down the hall a bit."
Then she pushed her Zombies into the room they had just left, it had three chairs and if she knew anything about her kind none of them would go for chairs. The others all lined up by the wall and so she took the bed. Ichigo, followed by Karin, Yuzu a few steps behind carrying the box. Yuzu brought the box over to her and Kagome pulled one of the alcohol pads and started scrubbing out the glass cuts in her arm.
There was a sound and she looked up to find all three of the living humans flinching. She looked back down to what she was doing and realized what they were flinching about. "I can't feel pain. At least not like I remember it."
"And that's how you took off on a broken ankle." Karin was clearly trying not to think about what that would feel like for her.
"Yeah. Matter of fact... there had been lots of times not feeling pain has helped."
Ichigo nodded seemingly remembering what he meant to talk about. "If you were a normal Corpse for a time what made you come back to yourself?"
Kagome sighed. "I woke up after being bitten and was myself, I tossed the torn and bloody clothes took my bow and went hunting for my family. I was so new I still looked alive. Two punks came after me intending to rob me of everything of value. I put up enough of a fight they got fed up and stabbed me." She pulled her shirt up just enough to flash that scar.
Inhaling she forced herself to be cold about what happened next. "The two idiots attacking me didn't check the place they dragged me to, and between that and the noise; a group had them trapped and they were torn to pieces. I can't explain in a what you would really understand but the hunger is very strong. You can't ignore it for long and... the group tearing them apart in front of me woke that up. I disappeared and was a Corpse. About... a few months maybe as much as six I was that way, then my pack saw a raiding party strong enough we watched them but didn't attack... There was a girl with a bow and cat. I started to remember myself and went back to Tokyo trying to find my family. That must have taken a year or so, I don't know. I got there drifted from place to place and then I realized I didn't look so bad I could put some makeup on, new clothes and if I acted like I had to avoid the dead I could pass for a human."
Ichigo was looking at her with a distracted look on his face. Yuzu and Karin for once looked the same, they were both trying to pretend it didn't effect them to hear about her sad travels. Slightly amused she went on. "I spent the next couple of years helping people, never staying with them long. Something about my first group realized what I was and shot me a couple of times. I waited for groups to leave cities so I could check for my family. And that went on until I met you guys."
Yuzu nodded slowly but Ichigo looked almost gleeful it was shocking. He hopped to his feet and demanded of his sisters, "Do you see?! Do you get it?"
Karin nodded a smile beginning to spread across her lips. "Just like dad described she answered why she isn't crazy and we can see from her friends it's not limited to her."
Ichigo's eyes burned bright as he told her what she had given them, she had given them the cure. The virus as they were told came from the man who knew the creator. It separated the mind, the soul and the body. All three were still there but disconnected. Allowing a seemingly dead body to move driven by hunger it no longer understood. It also meant they had little to no memory, and why unless they despaired they stayed the same.
It explained why Bonies had been attacking her, they were angry she was regaining what they had lost.
"But how far does that go? My heart doesn't beat. I don't know even if I'm no danger to humans that the people in the cities would accept this." That aside Ichigo's story had also explained to her why he was good with a sword and why she'd wondered if he'd fought before. He had, fighting these 'Hollows', and saving normal ghosts. His story also answered a few questions she'd wondered about from her own encounters with ghosts. She was glad to know she wasn't the only teen in the world to have freaky life, hers was pretty weird but she was pretty sure his had been stranger. Kagome had to admit if not for her own travels she might have laughed in their faces.
"True... how to get you to someone who can do something with this..."
Yuzu smirked at Ichigo, "It's obvious. We give her some time to heal, head for Osaka when we get there the others can wait outside. Kagome does her makeup, we head in, the Doctors inside give us a check up. Meaning Dad. We tell him the truth and we go from there."
Kagome had to ask: "And if you guys show up after years and tell him I'm half-way cured he's just going to believe you?"
The siblings looked at one another and then back to her. "You know it probably sounds hard to believe..." Karin trailed off and then seemed to smirk. "But yeah. Dad wouldn't ask questions, he'd take us our word. The questions he'd ask would about how to cure the others. But the answer to that seems to be let them remember or wake up on their own. Those five saw you with us and decided on their own to do the same thing."
Kagome nodded and then smiled at K as he tied the last stitch off, they were right, the real cure seemed to be the interactions with living humans. Already K's movements had smoothed out some, and all five of them didn't seem to be fighting with the hunger Kagome knew some times struck while hanging out with humans.
Kagome rolled her sleeves down over the multitude of stitches K had done for her. "So how long would you want to wait? I don't know how long it'll take for my fingers and ankle to heal. Best guess says it'll be months before my arms are better."
Ichigo shrugged. "We give it month, then go? I don't know. When we get there we can always claim you did it just a couple days ago."
Karin and Yuzu were nodding and despite her concerns Kagome had to admit the idea of being able to cure the other Zombies was amazing, on that note so was the idea of being able to walk into a city again. That was when even though they weren't done talking Kagome realized it was getting into late afternoon. "We need to go find a place to stay for night."
The Kurosakis's looked startled and all at the exact same time looked out the window. Ichigo looked surprised, and his sisters seemed amused. "Yeah you're probably right." Ichigo ran a hand through his hair, looking to his sisters.
Karin raised an eyebrow but answered the silent question anyway, "That place over by the other hospital looked like a good place to stop."
He nodded and looked to her. Sliding off the bed Kagome looked to her silent troops, they didn't seem to have a comment so she spoke for all of them. "Lead the way."