Kiss My Cold Lips
Disclaimer: I know. I know. Warm bodies only with your favorite characters? Really? Yes. That is what I'm doing. I know again clearly zombies is becoming a theme with me, and all of them are Ichigo/Kagome. I really need 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 Two Part Five
Five Weeks Later
Kagome had to say the way things had gone the last five weeks was something she had never seen coming. With in the first three days of adding the five to their group it had turned into fifty curious Zombies following them. In the time it took to get their names or name them another hundred had showed up, now more came every day. By now Kagome could say with some amount of certainty they had helped name every Zombie in the city. The end result had been by the end of the first week hanging out in the city Ichigo and the girls were in no danger, they had an army to protect them. So she could say with almost as much certainty that the Bony population was extinct. At least in Kyoto, the rest of Japan was another story.
Ichigo and the girls were thrilled by the proof that any 'Corpse' could wake up, Kagome had to admit the embarrassing part had been telling all the zombies in front of Ichigo that they could eat animals. She had also been embarrassed to ask that no one eat cats, and to avoid dogs, Bonies usually managed to kill dogs and cats big enough to catch their attention and in general not small enough to find a good hole, so any dogs and cats still alive were smart ones.
Kagome was proud to say at least a good hundred of the Zombies including Miroku and K could talk in sentences even if they were slow to speak and had raspy voices. A good thousand out of probably close to five thousand could speak in disjointed words, and every zombie in the city knew their names. Plus most of them had whatever wounds they had stitched up.
She'd been concerned by the small numbers until Ichigo pointed out between high numbers of Bonies, the fact the original safe city had been here, there would not be the two million-ish natural population.
Even if the dead population had reached that high most of it would have been killed. Kagome didn't like to think back but she remember the nightmarish first six months. The official word that it spread from bites didn't reach the people on the street for most of week. Almost everyone still alive knew it, but the point was the news was behind the times, and most safe zones fell that year. Strain of feeding everyone, the lack of proper compounds. The chain of command failed rather quickly, not to mention most people were wild and on edge from the horrible things they had seen and done to survive.
Heck her family's first time in a 'safe' city she saw someone blow their own head off, after raving about how everyone was doomed anyway and having shot his whole family he was going to join them. She had always been glad that day she had managed to cover her brother's eyes.
Kagome knowing what she knew now, always winced when she thought about how those surviving family members would feel. In talking over the past weeks, she and Ichigo had hashed and rehashed how best to make people see reason in the city. But the best chance they figured was still for her to go in and talk to his dad and that family friend Urahara.
That was why she stood on top of this stupid roof over overlooking all her zombie army, it was horrible but she almost felt like she should be wearing a sword, a long sinister trench coat and smirking evilly.
She looked over at Ichigo and the twins, the twins looked blown away and Ichigo's scowl had relaxed into something like a thoughtful smirk, she had a feeling he was thinking a lot like she had a moment ago. "You kinda wanna yell charge don't ya?"
Ichigo looked startled and scowled at her but she could see the pink in his cheeks. Figuring he was embarrassed she switched topics. "Are you sure they should follow us so close to the city?"
"Yeah, I will feel better knowing they are talking to any Zombies near the city and they are a first line of defense between Bonies and the humans."
Nodding Kagome lifted the electronic megaphone to her mouth. "Okay everyone thank you for being here this morning."
She could see her crowd of zombies nodding in greeting but none of them were even close to human enough to think of shouting back to her. "The final plan me and Ichigo have decided on is to go to the human city. Me, Ichigo, Yuzu and Karin will enter the city to tell them about how we are getting better, but we want all of you to follow close behind. You can feel free to follow at whatever pace you want, we ask you stop a mile or so outside the city in small groups or hide in buildings because we don't want them to notice you and feel threatened. If you do decide to follow us please stop any Bony you find like you have while here with us. Other wise feel free to stay here and watch for any humans heading towards the city, but no relapsing. If you think you might be a danger to someone stay away or stay close to your friends."
She looked at Ichigo and he nodded to her, that had been everything. "Take care everyone and be careful."
Dropping the megaphone on the roof she followed the Kurosakis' down the stairs off the roof, downstairs she spoke to the five again, "Sango, Miroku, K, Hiten, Manten I'm counting on you to keep everything together for us."
Sango smiled and bowed, she had said she remember working on a shrine but still didn't know her name. Miroku was reminding her more and more of her other friends everyday. "Of course Lady Kagome."
She wasn't sure why he'd decided to add the lady part on but it was a little creepy how similar to Miroku he was. K grinned at her and Kagome found herself glad she'd found him a tooth brush and toothpaste, he had a pretty smile now that it was clean. Manten and Hiten gave her mirroring thumbs up. The more personality they took on the stranger it got, they didn't talk much but they did things at the exact same time.
The crowd of undead parted, leaving the way clear for her and the Kurosakis. Kagome couldn't deny on one hand the silence of the dead was creepy but the calmness gave her hope, maybe she wasn't the only one capable of playing human.
Smiling into the faces of the crowd Kagome could see the humanity returning to the eyes, they wanted to live again and she wanted to give them that. She had to convince everyone in Osaka it was safe to live with the dead.
Four Days Later
Today they could see the edges of the city, they probably would need to walk most of tomorrow, in order to reach it. Kagome's army trailed along behind them new ones seemed to be joining ever step they took. Lucky for them a couple of the zombies had remembered how to write, one actually had a book of names, given or remembered, and more and more seemed to be remembering how to talk.
He was pretty sure even after Kagome entered the city the classes she ran at night would continue. It had been amusing to see what she did when she started them. Normally it was picking something, an object, a memory, or a story but she'd talk about it and then try to get the zombies to talk back, or talk about what her stories made them remember.
It was eye opening to realize that all they needed to do was teach them and then the soul and mind wanted to reconnect.
But Kagome was different, she'd remembered with a little bit of prompting and hadn't forgotten after being bitten. He hadn't got her to admit it to him but he knew she'd had powers. The way she'd listened to him talk about his own powers, and how the plague started and how few questions she'd asked told him that. She had already known there were worlds just out of sight.
"Ichigo-nii-chan you're staring."
Blinking Ichigo realized he had been staring as Kagome got the updated list from the zombie in charge of it. Looking at Yuzu he was chagrined to realized she was smirking rather like Karin at the moment. She was cooking dinner on the stove for the three of them, Karin was checking the rest of the building with her three zombie guards. It was ironic he felt better by thinking that... so much had changed in just over two months.
"Your point being?"
She snickered, "You really are an idiot. You love her."
Scowling and barely thinking about what he was saying, he denied it. "Don't follow Karin's example about the necrophiliac jokes."
Rolling her eyes she sighed, but randomly started asking him disconnected questions. "So how are you going to feel knowing tomorrow night Kagome's going to be surrounded by people who'd happily blow her head off?
Barely giving him time process that question she moved on. "Or worse when guys start coming on to her for being badass and sexy?"
"What are you going on about Yuzu?"
She stared at him before sighing again. Then almost low enough he couldn't hear she mumbled; "Dad was right to worry he'd never get a girl."
Huffing Ichigo kept his mouth shut, he wasn't going to dig himself any deeper, besides there was no way he was telling his sister he wasn't a virgin. She flip, and that would be the first thing she'd tell dad even if that was years old. With his luck she'd tell their dad in front of Ishida, that would be humiliating, especially since Kagome would in all likelihood be standing right there.
Looking around he took in the moist evening air, technically they were in Osaka but as it wasn't the walled in part of the city he didn't think it counted, besides this was called Kumiyama anyway. The house they would be sleeping in had a solid door and a large yard. They were cooking in it anyway while Kagome learned from the troops and Karin explored.
It still was incredible how quickly things had changed once they knew Kagome's secret. She added the five and the others came. He'd never imagined the answer being something so easily done. All they needed to do was teach them to be human again.
But some how starting all this Kagome first managed to hold on to herself, and then found herself again. And he still didn't know how she had managed this by having powers, what were they? As evasive as she had been about being dead she was twice as evasive about before all this. All he knew was that she lived on a shrine, missed most of her last year of middle school, why he didn't know yet, but she looked pained thinking back. She liked history, had a brother, her mom was alive with said brother, last she knew and her grandfather died at the start of all this because he couldn't get his medicines. He didn't know what happened to her father, or grandmother or anything more than she had been in Tokyo.
But whatever it was that she didn't want to talk about, it lead to her being able to do this. He looked around awed by the order with which Kagome had things running. She had found people to run things for her, the guy taking note of the names for example, the five running classes, heck last he knew there were thirty different ones willing to run classes.
Thinking along those lines made him remember what he'd really been thinking when Kagome gave her marching orders. Silly but he'd been thinking it felt like they should crown her or something. They all took orders from her, she was beautiful and brave. He hated to even think it but if her heart was beating she would have been perfect candidate for a 'fairy tale princess'. But he didn't remember any stories his mom had read him and his sisters that had any undead princesses.
He really was such a mama's boy. But remembering her reading to him and his sisters was a very fond set of memories.
"Dreaming about your dead girl again?"
The amusement was clear in Karin's voice, she had clearly noticed his jump. Looking over his shoulder to glare at her, he saw she was smirking, and two of her fellow searchers stood there; something like amusement on the left's face, his name started with S he was pretty sure. The right didn't look amused just questioning, the way he was tilting his head some how reminded him of Ishida.
"Why do you have to be so annoying every time I spend more than five minutes with a girl who happens to kick-ass?"
Karin giggled. "That's exactly why brother, you never would survive living with some lily-livered girl. Kagome is exactly your type. Tall but not too tall, dark hair, startling eyes, curvy, she can cook, is a capable fighter... oh and dead."
Groaning he rolled his eyes, she was going to slip that in some where.
Karin walked around to stand in front of him, a victories smirk on her face. "Anything to add?"
Ichigo nodded. "Yeah. If I like dead girls you have a thing for dead guys."
Clearly she was startled he'd turned that on her, he watched her blink in confusion.
Taking his chance to smirk at her he decided to mention a certain white haired Captain. "There was that dead guy, a captain with white hair."
Karin's lips were pressed together a flush on her cheeks.
"Yeah, even if he looked younger than you he had to be at least... fifty years older. Yeah. At least. Not to mention..." Ichigo turned his eyes to the zombie on her left. "Don't think I haven't noticed how since Satoshi here got his name and the rules he's been at your side or watching you."
The dead guy looked slightly startled, and maybe a bit embarrassed. Ichigo wasn't sure on that, Karin however looked angry. Just as she was about to start yelling at him, no doubt about to embarrass herself some how Yuzu cut in.
"Stop it you two! Dinner's done."
Giving up the argument he made sure to narrow his eyes at the S guy, in the month and close to week he'd been with the group he's shown that he liked Karin. Ichigo wasn't really against the guy liking her; so far the guy had been the perfect new zombie; no hungry looks, no annoying sniffing, and he was learning how to talk at a reasonable rate. Not to mention he took to protecting her rather well. The fact was Ichigo figured it would be hypocritical to jump on him for liking a living girl when he had a thing for a dead one. If Karin liked him back that might be a slightly different story but so far Karin had been her normal ignoring-the-guy-who-likes-me-self. But if that changed he would be having a talk with S about how good he was with a sword and how being undead didn't stop a beheading from being fatal.
Standing he followed Karin over to Yuzu where she handed them the normal bowls. Dishing Karin up she wandered off to take his seat and Yuzu started dishing him up while glaring.
"Did you have to upset her?"
"She started it."
The stare and that fact she had stopped dishing up his food broke his silence. "Okay fine. I didn't have to but I want her to stop with the cracks before we get to the city and Dad overhears."
Yuzu started filling his bowl again, as she handed it to him she whispered. "Don't tell Karin but if Satoshi still wants to travel with us as we spread the news to the rest of Japan I might try to get her to acknowledge that she thinks he's cute. You just messed that up. Now she'll be in denial."
Staring at he didn't bother trying to moderate his scowl. "Oh really?"
Pausing in filling her own bowl she started ticking point off her fingers. "He's polite, he's her type, meaning pretty, he can fight, he lets her fight but the moment she needs help he steps in. Like taking a shard of wood to the shoulder when she collapsed a wall."
"That's why he came back before we left Kyoto a spike sticking out of his shoulder?"
Frowning he wondered again why he thought it okay for her to scavenge while he helped Kagome get the army organized. "It took Kagome three hours to be sure she had gotten all the splinters and cleaned it well enough to even start stitching, that took another two."
Yuzu smirked him. "You like him already."
"I didn't say that."
She gave him a skeptical look.
Giving him a sly smirk she added: "Maybe he was pretty sure it wouldn't kill him but you never know when something might split your skull."
She chuckled. "I think he'd be good for her, he already knows she could end him and he still follows her, by this point most boys she's liked have run for the hills."
At his look Yuzu got more to the point. "He's old enough even if it takes two or three years for us to figure out how to get the mind, soul and body back together she wouldn't look hugely older than him. They'd probably look the same age."
Smiling brightly at him Yuzu shook her head before cheerfully going over to her twin to eat. Holding his bowl he found himself once again amazed how far Yuzu was going with her mothering. Setting Karin up? Really? Besides it wasn't like Yuzu had much room to talk in the romance department. She had liked boys, but since everything went to hell he had been the only guy she'd spent more than an hour with.
Maybe he should enlist Kagome's help in finding someone Yuzu could focus her romantic dreams on rather then let her keep living through him and her twin. That in mind Ichigo walked over to Kagome where she was giving the last directions to her second that wasn't part of the original five, Taki.. Ta.. something.
She turned and smiled at him, "Need something?"
"Not really, I just find myself shocked by the depths Yuzu's considering."
She raised an eyebrow. "Do tell."
Mildly worried about the amused look on her face he elaborated. "She thinks Satoshi is Karin's type and plans that when it comes time to spread the word about the cure to set the two of them up."
She looked incredulous for a moment and then started snickering.
She looked to the ground to calm herself and looked back at him. "I'm afraid I'm with Yuzu on this one."
"What?" He wasn't sure if he was faking the outrage or not.
"Satoshi is her type and he likes her. Trust me feeling anything as early as he did says there is a very good chance he's already half in love with her."
Frowning he could half follow her logic but he hadn't paid all that attention when she talked to the zombies about how they had to remember and relearn how to feel things. "Is it really that weird to feel something?"
Her eyes widened, then narrowed. "You day dreamed through my class."
Looking to the left he wouldn't admit it but yeah, day dreaming was a good term for it.
"If you had paid attention you would know it is extremely hard to feel something beyond curiosity for most starting to remember. It can take a long time to start remembering how to feel things like embarrassment, or shyness. Heck the fact you guys made me feel things was at least half of why I didn't bail earlier."
Ichigo found his mind caught on the fact she had just told him he and his sisters made her feel more alive, part of him wanted to jump in and ask what they made her feel, but he froze. It was the fear that she only meant they made her hope, or something and he was hoping she meant she liked him.
She was staring him, just as frozen. But then one of the dozens of aids he'd come to recognize came up and said; "Kagooome."
Turning she seemed to jump on the new topic, after getting told they wanted to talk about where the Zombies would be outside the city, she quickly turned back to him and said: "This is going to take some time, eat your dinner while it's hot." before practically bolting.
Hanging his head he cursed himself, "Idiot. Perfect opening and you stand there, stupidly." Groaning he turned back to the yard and went to join his sisters.
Kagome stared at the gate eighty feet away, the gate was on a bridge and it was the first entrance into the city they had found. It was early afternoon, they had stopped to eat lunch a little more than an hour ago. They had found the edge of the city two hours before that, and saw signs pointing them to the gate, they had seen some people appearing to be on guard at points on buildings at the edge of the walls. The set up was pretty brilliant. It took advantage of the nature barrier points, the rivers. Bridges were torn down or bricked up, and the waterways went down a far bit so twenty feet walls on the inside of the waterways so even Bonies couldn't jump and climb the walls.
It probably helped from what she had seen they couldn't swim either.
So far they had only been attacked once and it was by a group of fifteen or so Bonies. They hadn't been in pack but drawn in by her and human smells. She had heard the first three, got the leading one with a shot on her bow, Ichigo beheaded the next and she got the next one. The calls had drawn in the others, Yuzu actually ended up killing two herself. Yuzu had admitted to her before they left Kyoto that she had always felt guilty and hesitated in killing because she hoped to be able to save them, but now that she knew Bonies were mostly beyond help she didn't hesitate any more.
But Kagome had to say all the traveling and planning aside now that moment was at hand she was nervous. Which at the moment was about as close as she could get to fear without Ichigo being involved. To prove the point she had been terrified last night that he had been about to ask what she meant by feelings. When Hisoka showed up she took the chance to bolt like a coward.
But she knew the difference, that had been the fear of embarrassment, when he found her out that had been true fear, but her reaction had been about the same: Flee. Here, standing in the figurative shadow of a human city she was nervous about pretending to be human and living among them for how ever long it took Ichigo's friends and father to break the news. And even if she had been afraid last night she hadn't forgotten what the human reactions to fear were. When she had been afraid in fights with demons screaming had normally been involved, sweating, threats she'd have a hard time following through on, and then running. Now she skipped straight to running.
But she had to admit, today it would be nice to be sweating.
"Don't worry, we're with you."
Looking over she saw the three Kurosakis watching her, Ichigo had spoken and was looking at her with a uncharacteristic soft look, but Karin was nodding and Yuzu was smiling at her.
Feeling her lips twitch, she scoffed; "What are you talking about? Lets do this."
Then to match her words she strode forward, but she couldn't deny she was reassured by the sound of their footsteps following. They had covered twenty feet when she heard the sound of orders being issued inside and then came a loud creak and the doors started to open.
She had seen the partial blockade allowing archers or gunmen to have protected positions on the bridge. Figures moved but mostly she saw shadows or heads, and then they had half a dozen guns pointed them.
"State your names and purpose!"
She glanced at Ichigo and he shrugged before answering. "My father: Isshin Kurosaki should be here, me and my two sisters are here to catch up with the bastard. Kagome Higurashi here is looking for her family and hitched a ride with us."
That was when a huge man appeared from the gates, he didn't duck down but did carry a gun. Ichigo was grinning at his appearance and the man looked pleased. "Ichigo!"
His friend half frowned but came forward anyway. "We were starting to think you'd never make it here."
Ichigo raised an eyebrow before giving his friend a manly hug with back slapping, it was only then she realized just how big the guy was. Ichigo was about a head taller then her and she wasn't short, but this guy was a head taller then him. Yuzu and Karin were smiling at their brother's reunion with his friend, and there were several annoyed huffs and comments from behind the blocks but people started to stand up willing to believe it wasn't an ambush now.
Ichigo's friend, 'Chad' pulled way from the hug and looked down at her his face settling into more taciturn lines. Now she could see how and Ichigo had become friends, no doubt both of them were the scariest punk looking guys at their school, but she'd bet a finger or two Chad was as good a guy as Ichigo.
"Where did you pick her up?"
The comment half amused her but she felt like she was being tested. "I think you mean where did I pick them up."
His right eyebrow disappeared into his hair but nothing else in his expression changed. Then muttered comments she could hear from the crowd watching seemed to catch his attention, with a half glance back at the city his face went blank again. "Ichigo, Karin, Yuzu lucky your old man's on duty."
She glanced over at the three of them and could see all three looked relieved their plan to show her to their dad would happen so easily. Ichigo smirked at her, and she rolled her eyes, when she had asked how could they be sure he'd be there Ichigo had told her to trust him, it'd happen. Dumb luck wins again, she thought to herself.
"This is where I tell you in order to be allowed into the general populous you must past an exam by one of the gate doctors, Ichigo you'll have to check you sword. Guns and swords are not allowed in the main city, knives and bows are but you have to list your weapons on your information sheet. Name, birth place, family members alive and dead, preferred jobs or at least past jobs, all that has to be put down. Then after that housing will be assigned for the night and then the next day you can look at the list of open jobs over the city looking for what you want to do and where you want to live. Ichigo, you and your sisters likely will be placed with your father, and if he doesn't have room for your new friend she can stay with me."
Kagome felt touched that the only reference he needed was that Ichigo trusted her but she wondered and worried if his offer would stay in place when/if he learned the truth about her. Admittedly if he trusted Ichigo this much she had good chance he'd listen before attacking.
Chad nodded once in reply, he went to turn around before pausing. "It's really good to know you and your sisters are okay."
Ichigo snorted. "It's good to know you, and the old man haven't been bitten. Ishida, Orihime, Tatsuki, Keigo, Mizuiro are they all here?"
His quiet friend nodded.
And to her surprise Ichigo out and out grinned, she could see the relief in it and wondered if the mild heat under her skin was jealousy. He had just named two girls, but they weren't dating. She was still dead even if he had decided on not killing her. Chad turned and then lead them into the city, they passed a number of men, surprisingly only a couple were dressed as military, there was even a couple of woman. The first group that had come out numbered a about a dozen but after stepping inside the gates they found roughly another dozen all looking at Chad, the older man with cropped hair stepped forward. "You're suppose to wait to be called Sado."
Chad who apparently also answered to Sado shrugged before offering. "You know that old friend I've been waiting to show up? This is him."
The whole group started looking at the four of them with a great deal of interest.
Ichigo's face resumed it scowl lines that got deeper with the whispers he heard.
She had better hearing and could hear more of it and the more she heard the more curious she got. "... dozen guys... the guy Sado hero wor... Dr. Kurosaki's kids... He supposedly knock a punk's teeth out in one punch... Ishida grouses he's an idiot... Inoue acts dreamy about him..."
Glaring at Chad's back he growled, "Just what have you been telling these people?!"
His friend had been leading them to a set of tents in the left side of the courtyard, the city had a second set of walls with inwardly facing guard towers, it made her think of European castles. But Ichigo's question had his friend turning a tiny smirk on his lips, "Well you were late by anyone's guess... when we talked about giving you hell for it people tried to explain if you weren't here you were probably dead. We had to give a reason for our belief you were still running around out there."
Ichigo's eyebrow twitched and his scowl looked murderous. "Who's this we? Don't tell me..."
His friend gave one short nod, and Ichigo groaned. He glared at the ground while Yuzu giggled and Karin looked positively evil. "What a matter?"
Ichigo glanced at her his expression morose. "My dumb goat-faced bastard of a father."
Raising an eyebrow Kagome knew she was missing something, Ichigo had told her his dad was nutcase, and totally crazy, but he'd mostly talked about him with a distance sense of fondness. Now he was acting like he couldn't wait to not see the man for another five years.
They were about fifteen feet from the tent when an older but not old man stepped out of the right one of the two tents, "Well do I have people to..." His question died away and she could see his eyes focus on Ichigo's bright hair passed Chad, his eyes flickered to Yuzu and Karin and for a split second she could see pure and utter joy.
This man was probably Isshin Kurosaki, he had a white lab coat on over a worn pair of pants, that probably had been gray jeans, his shoes were worn combat boots, and a comfortable navy button up shirt that seemed to be missing a button from the glimpse of white at his middle. But aside from the lines in his face and the bit of gray in his hair, she could have taken him for a much younger man, it was only knowing Ichigo's age that made her add fifteen years to her first guess of thirty to thirty-five. He was surprisingly broad, he looked fit, not just I jog a couple times a week, but like he probably was good with all the weapons present at the front gate.
That was when the joy was replace with good natured gruffness. "YOU'RE LATE ICHIGO!"
That was when shocking speed he flung himself forward to attack Ichigo, dodging Chad in a blur she was surprised when Ichigo sidestepped his punch and got him in the stomach. Leaving his father slumping over his fist before falling to the ground a cartoonish look of pain on his face. "Your..." he coughed pathetically, "Skills are still sharp-" he groaned, "my son."
Ichigo stepped on his father and went towards the tent, "Unlike you old man I've been fighting every day for the last several years."
That was when Karin spoke up, "Uh, Kagome this is normal, dad always greets him like this."
She blinked at the younger girl and then realized what Karin was getting at when her eyes flicked downward, she had grabbed her knife without thinking. Ready to rush to his defense. Feeling stupid she let go and saw Isshin had taken the chance to grab Yuzu and Karin and start hugging them while crying in a stupid over dramatic fashion about how his little girls had grown. But if it had been five years they probably had grown, he hadn't seen them since they were fifteen.
That meant Souta had likely grown, he'd been fifteen last time she had seen him, it had been four years... She had never thought about that. Then she noticed the serious looking face an inch from her own, Ichigo's dad was staring at her seeming to want to test her just like Chad had. Part of her wanted to scream but instead she decided staring back at him without flinch would be more impressive.
It seemed to work, he stared at her for a minute longer before straightening back up. "Who are you? My new third daughter?"
A ridiculous grin broke out across his face at that idea. Yuzu spoke up, a grin Kagome now knew came from her father spreading across her face. "Ichigo might-" Karin clapped a hand over her twin's face, and a fist caught Isshin in the side of the face sending him twirling in stupid pirouettes. Ichigo growled at his father, "Let get on with medical checks and then the story telling can follow."
"All right. All right." The pout on his dad's face was made complete with tears running down his face.
From the shocked looks on the faces of everyone watching apparently this really was something he only did with his children. Chad seemed amused, however there was something a touch melancholy in his body language. Maybe it was just he'd missed Ichigo and the crazy family dynamics or maybe it was something else. She wasn't sure.
Walking towards the tent a handsome looking lady stepped out, she would have guessed she was few years older then Ichigo's dad if not for Ichigo's age so she was guessing if in the last five years Isshin Kurosaki had met a new woman.
"So I have some patients right?"
Isshin straightened and for the first time acted like a normal person. "Sorry Dr. Ine but these two girls are my lovely daughters, you can look over their new friend."
Kagome looked at Ichigo panic on her face, he looked surprised, they had never thought city would have enough doctors to offer sexed doctors. Dr. Ine walked forward taking her hand, "I haven't ever seen so many girls in group this small."
Karin spoke up looking uncertain. "It's because we really do all the work, we don't need him."
Dr. Ine snickered. "If he's anything like his father I'm not surprised."
Kagome panicked, she couldn't afford to be in a separate tent. "Um! I want to stay where I can see them."
Ichigo's dad looked at her strangely but Dr. Ine got a look on her face like she thought she knew why she had just said that. Ichigo then surprised her and just about everyone else.
"Yeah I'd feel much better if I can keep an eye on her, she gets into so much trouble other wise."
Everyone save his sisters was looking at him oddly, Chad looked like he was trying to puzzle something out, while his father got a manic gleam in his eyes, Dr. Ine looked a bit confused as to what his opinion had to do with anything. But after moment's pause she shrugged, "I see no problem with this if you all agree."
Now they were all going to the left tent, stepping inside Kagome was glad when the only person aside the Doctors, Ichigo, Karin and Yuzu was Chad. He was the only guard. Hopping up on the far bed Kagome found herself speechless, how does she tell Dr. Ine and Ichigo's dad she's infected and not get shot?
Looking to the Kurosakis she found the three staring at her from their own beds, all looked just as clueless as she was.
Isshin was watching her, his expression reminded her of Karin's when they first met.
"So when did you break your fingers and leg?"
Kagome looked at Ichigo, he shrugged. "Um..."
"Did my idiot son set it?! Did he prove he listened all those times I talked about how treat broken bones?!"
Mildly taken aback Kagome stared at Isshin confused, "No... I set them myself."
A gasp from in front of her had her looking at Dr. Ine, the woman had finished washing her hands in bowl and was putting gloves on. But now she was staring at her gobsmacked. "You did what? Do you even have a clue-"
Kagome cut her off waving her hand with the splints, "I'll have you know I've set broken bones plenty of times before. Stitches, poison... I might as well be a field medic. I can treat most things."
"But still to set your own..."
The woman shuddered, Kagome looked at Ichigo hope for a sign he thought she should tell them the truth. He looked more clueless then before. She should stop looking to him for a sign and just say it.
"Take your backpack off, and the sweatshirt too. No clue how you could stand to wear it..."
The woman went on muttering to herself, seeming concerned about what they had been eating, she seemed to think Kagome likely might have iron deficiency, and some other things she didn't know right off the top of her head. She was taking a piece of paper and holding a pen while muttering.
"Tokyo." She looked over at the Kurosakis and found all of them looking at her.
"My you've come a long ways." That comment aside she went on. "Age?"
Here she hesitated, her body was nineteen, but she should be twenty-three. "Twenty-three."
"September 16 1992."
Having lowered the backpack to the floor she set her bow behind her, unzipping the sweatshirt she dropped it on top. Wearing a long sleeve Kagome started taking the splits for her fingers off, that was the only way to get her gloves off. The woman turned back around, stethoscope in hand, "Shirt up."
Kagome looked at her and knew just flashing her back would show off her scars and some of her stitches. "Um."
"What's the problem?"
"well. um." Figuring it might go quieter with less screaming and gunfire if she eased into it. Slipping a glove off she held her hand out.
As always her finger tips were lightly blue, her knuckles looked a bit off from the broken bones, but no bruising was visible. The woman looked at her hand seeming puzzled. Out of the corner of her eye Kagome could see Ichigo's dad stepping closer and thoughtful frown on his face. The sound of cheap hospital sheets rubbing together reached her ears and she hoped it was Ichigo getting up ready to intercept any violence directed at her.
For a moment Kagome thought the whole tent held it's breath and again she felt the lack of a heart beat.
If she was human it would be pounding, sweat would be beading on her skin and she'd tremble. Instead she was frozen corpse. Still, her hand slowly reached out to touch Dr. Ine and let her feel the lack of body heat.
Dr. Ine frowned, her head slightly cocked, her expression wasn't fearful yet but confused, what she was seeing didn't click yet. That was when she reached out and touched her hand, even through the latex gloves Kagome knew her temperature would be cold. It should click for her then, given that she had even been wearing a sweatshirt and according to Ichigo, and the girls wearing so many clothes was way too hot.
Dr. Ine's eyebrows drew in close together, her frown deepened and she still seemed confused and then it hit. Kagome got to see the expression change up close, the woman dropped her hand and took a frightened step back, a squeak escaping her throat, but no words. Kagome couldn't stop the sigh, looking over at Isshin Kurosaki and she saw Ichigo hovering at his dad's back, she could see her other doctor in the tent didn't yet understand. Pulling her other glove off she ignored the vague sensation of bones grinding in her hand as she paid no heed to the broken bones. Holding her hands out for his inspection, he made no move to to take them, just stared at them. She was going to have to show him.
Shaking her head at amusing thought that Ichigo came by his denseness naturally, she pulled her sleeve up flashing her scar. The circle type shape was undeniable. Clearly it was a healed bite.
Dr. Ine managed her first words, bringing Chad across the tent. "That's.. impossible." Her shaking voice made it clear she didn't understand why her throat hadn't been torn out.
Isshin stepped closer and peered into her face, clearly he was inspecting her eyes, then with a mild roughness he grabbed her arm pulling it closer. Shock was on his face and he glanced back at Ichigo, Ichigo clearly liked what he saw on his dad's face because he relaxed and nodded.
Chad was the next one to speak, "She's a Corpse?!"
His voice wasn't loud but Kagome could hear the disbelief, not quite fear, but something else.
Ichigo took over for her, "She's been dead the whole time she's traveled with us. But she's still is a person."
"But how did she...?" Dr. Ine's voice trailed off even as she stepped closer tentatively.
Ichigo shrugged, "She remembers most of her life, maybe not all of it but most. She knows her name and the fact is her family likely is here in the city."
Kagome took the moment to push Isshin away, "I will happily tell you everything but if we are here too long people will notice. We planned for me to come and show the city Corpses can be saved."
"Corpses... you mean you aren't one off?"
Kagome shook her head and felt a smile cross her lips. "At this very moment hundreds of Corpses are gathering outside the city, hiding in large buildings, and waiting for us to contact them."
Isshin stared at her, a mix of fear and hope. "How do you know they won't forget?"
Karin spoke up for the first time. "Because we trust them."
Her father turned and looked at his daughter, a soft tiredness in his voice he asked; "Beyond that?"
Yuzu spoke now, "I can understand why you would doubt them dad, but if you see them; if you see them trying so hard you wouldn't, every single one of them wants to have a heart beat again."
"Yeah. We've been with a number of them for almost six weeks, K tries very hard to seem human, Miroku flirts, Sango remembers working on shrine in Kyoto. There are so many others that joined our group, you can doubt them but every single one has helped protect me and Yuzu, and even Ichigo. We haven't had to fight since they started gathering until today. They were willing to protect us from Bonies at their own risk." Karin held her head high, Chad, Dr. Ine and her own father looked taken aback at the passionate defense.
Kagome had a feeling it might be out of her own feelings for Satoshi, Karin after all, had been the one hardest on her. Isshin looked back at her, he really seemed to be weighting her now. Then a smile broke out across his face. "No biting?"
She grinned. "Only if they bite first."
He nodded, his dramatic pose coming back. "Good enough for me."
They looked at Chad, he gave a slow and serious nod.
"This is nuts! Even if she's not a risk to the population, the population is most definitely a risk to her!"
Kagome felt almost touched by the woman's concern, she had gone from frightened, to fearing for her. "You think I didn't enter knowing at any moment someone could look at my eyes and decide to shoot me in the head? The moment you tried to take me into a different tent I was convinced I might be found out then and there."
The woman's face fell, "Okay you have my silence on this, but I want to be there to hear the full story."
Kagome One Week Later
Even now walking the streets of what most called New Osaka Kagome couldn't believe over three million humans lived here. Plus there were a number of boats that came in and out that added another thousand or so crew to the population, and she had learned Shikoku was totally in the clear and was the place where most food was grown with a strong population of around five hundred thousand, with the other, generally much small cities they knew of: Japan had a human population of at least five million. A much higher number then she had hoped for, if they could get the humans to accept the corpses Japan would have a strong work force and if they found the complete cure it would be on the path to recovery. It was incredible.
If she wasn't wearing her cast she could have skipped. Glancing up out of the corner of her eye she could see her own awe reflected in Ichigo's face as they walked through the streets to Isshin and Kisuke's lab. It looked like a normal street, people in different work uniforms were all going their own ways, the number of people wearing knives on top of their clothing would have been alarming five years ago but now it was just a reflection of the knowledge of what was outside the walls.
It amused her in a sick sorta of way to know she was what they feared and here she was walking along side them. She wondered some times if Inuyasha had felt like this when dealing with fearful villagers. It wasn't like she or even he really wanted to hurt them, but the knowledge if she decided to there was very little they could do to stop her in time sometimes seemed funny.
"What's making you smirk?"
Startled Kagome stopped walking and looked up at Ichigo. Thinking furiously she stalled, "Hun?"
"You were smirking."
"Oh..." She wasn't going to tell him she had been smirking at the idea of rushing up to the nearest person and scaring them. "Kisuke's reaction to me still seems funny."
Ichigo smirked back, "Yeah I never thought he'd do that."
Kagome walked with Isshin, Ichigo, the twins and Chad, he had disappeared for a few minutes while they filled the rest of the paperwork out. When he came back he told Ichigo quietly he'd called everyone and let them know he'd made it with the twins.
Isshin had chattered to the twins telling them all about the city and living conditions, as well as where he was living and how he'd set their rooms up years ago, he'd paused and told her he had room on his couch or if she wanted she could kick Ichigo out of his room. He'd been interested to hear she didn't need sleep. They, a short bus ride later, soon entered a large building. Kagome's guess was that it had been a privet lab but now it was city land, he swiped a card and started explained to Ichigo's amusement Urahara was the city's microbiologist who dabbled in virology. In a hiss he explained without the internet they couldn't prove he wasn't.
Then they reached the fifth floor, entering a short six digit code they went in and found a blonde who surprisingly looked younger than Isshin pouting on the floor while staring at a number of print outs. He didn't look up, seeming to assume it was just Isshin. "I still don't understand what happened, if we're correct about what Mayuri did it should have never spread to the human world!"
Kagome noticed Chad and Isshin looking at her seeming to expect her to be confused but at her small smile, they both looked at Ichigo who was scowling at the man on the floor. "Well clearly it did, Hat-and-clogs."
The man Ichigo called that goofy nick-name looked up so fast he almost gave himself whiplash. Shock was plain on his face as he took in the six people standing there, his eyes almost skipped over her, but he looked almost delighted to see all three Kurosaki children standing there. Leaping to his feet with that slightly wrong grace, it reminded her of Inuyasha, the speed... Ichigo did it too. So did his father, all Soul Reapers, Chad had strength of a different sort but she'd bet money all the friends Ichigo asked after had some sort of power.
"Made it then Ichigo?!"
Kagome couldn't help but be amused by the irritation in Ichigo's face, so his answer didn't really surprise her.
"No, I didn't make to city."
Everyone but her stared at him oddly, Karin looked mildly amused but Yuzu just looked confused. Ichigo took in their expressions and rolled his eyes, "Obviously I did, idiot."
The blond, Urahara just shook his head before looking back to Isshin, "So anyway I was figuring the answer lay in-"
Isshin cut him off mid sentence. "It no longer matters how it started and how it reached the Human World, Ichigo brought us the cure!"
Urahara looked them over once more his eyes taking her in a little better before skipping over her.
Standing up, something teasing glinted in his eyes before he addressed Ichigo. "If you end up telling me you're immune to bites Ichigo I swear I'm kidnapping you and running tests until I figure out how everything happens to you."
Ichigo rolled his eyes, "You forget, you dumb blond bastard, pretty much everything that happened to me had your hand in it!"
The man looked a bit surprised, and then seemed to melt into a puddle of crying hurt. "Is that anyway to greet your long lost mentor?"
His theatrics complete with fake tears and a pout almost masked the gleam of amusement in his eyes. If that is, Kagome hadn't realized some where along the way if Ichigo said his dad was nuts and then went on to talk about this Urahara the same way, of course both of them would harass him similarly.
So if she wanted to turn this little joke around, especially since he hadn't yet seemed to realize she was it, all she needed to do... Walking over to him she began patting him on the shoulders while mock glaring at Ichigo who looked completely taken aback. Actually everyone but Chad looked a bit taken aback. Nope Karin was the first to get it, and going by the evil smirk she seemed to approve. "Ichigo's so rude he can't help it. He's just glad no one's manage to get a bite on you, or any of his friends."
The man she was petting fake sobbed, and the look Ichigo's face showed he probably had figured it out and was trying not to laugh.
"Jussst... because... he cares... doesn't.. mean he... has to... be so... rude about... an honest question."
Now Yuzu had picked up on what she was doing, and her eyes were very wide while her mouth was pressed tightly closed.
"Yeah Ichigo can't seem to help but be grumpy about everything."
Now he was mock glaring at her and she smirked at him while petting the man she had a feeling was going to freak in a moment. But the man she was petting seemed a touched confused because the fake sobbing had a stopped and his head was slowly turning towards her.
"... Ichigo brought the cure..."
Kagome snickered. Absentminded scientist indeed, it seemed he was only now processing what Isshin had said. "That is true."
The gray eyes were staring up into her own faded eyes now, she could see the question there as a finger slowly came up as if to poke her cheek. Deciding to answer and scare the man like she had meant to in the first place she playfully snapped at the finger.
The reaction she got was a bit over the top, a started yelp and suddenly she was flying away to hit the wall. He'd hit her in the ribs, nothing broke but if she still needed air she might have been in trouble. Sliding down the wall she was amused by the laughter coming from the group still standing just inside the door, Ichigo was laughing harder she'd ever seen, and Chad was staring at him like he'd never seen him laugh either. Karin and Yuzu were hanging off one another while Isshin was looking highly amused but some how pleased.
The man she had just scared was sitting on the floor his eyes wide and his hands sill out making it clear he was in shock. Kagome wondered for a moment if she had been alive if she would have still found it as funny now as she did when she started it. But the not feeling pain thing made it a lot easier to ignore 'almost' bodily harm. She figured this how Inuyasha felt about broken bones. He'd be fine in a day or two why hold a real grudge? She didn't feel pain so anything short of cuts and broken bones was fine... actually she had broken bones and cuts from running away from the Kurosakis and she didn't hold that against them.
Getting up she did her best to smile at him. "Got yah."
Ichigo seemed to laugher harder and that finally broke the man's stunned stare, turning and glaring nastily at Ichigo he merely asked. "Did someone give you a personality transplant Ichigo?"
That shut him up, glaring back he said. "I never thought a captain would shriek like a little girl."
Looking pained the blond got up. "It was a little yelp, and very manly."
"I hope there is a security camera so we can replay that."
There must have been because the man stared at Ichigo narrowly.
"The part I can't get over is how hard you laughed. You've never laughed like that the whole time I've known you."
Ichigo looked a bit embarrassed, "I'll be honest; once upon a time I would have never laughed like that, and before that I laughed like that a lot. It was just Urahara was almost as surprised that you snapped at his finger as he was that you were suddenly flying away from him. He didn't mean to react like that, he just did. That was what got me."
Kagome smiled a bit, he was so cute. Of course, the corners of her lips fell, she had an idea what he meant, Karin said he'd been totally different before their mother's murder, and between the fact he thought it was his fault and that he'd seen it, he'd become a much harder person. She could see it, he was tough, but no harder than Inuyasha... and she'd probably say Ichigo had a stronger sense of right and wrong, he didn't let a wrong go by.
Ichigo broke her out of her thoughts by holding the door open for her, it was her sixth day going back to the lab to try and help Kisuke and Isshin figure out what made her so different. The fact she was a miko seemed to mean very little to the two men. They seemed obsessed with figuring out how the infection affected powers. Now that they knew she had fought it off that seemed to have changed a few of the things that they had assumed about the origin.
Her coming here had been explained as she had been a high school student planning to go into medicine and in prep had taken extra credit classes. Kagome had to admit that was the best explanation for her trips into the past yet. So as a former med student and with her having spent so much time outside the city she was helping them in their bioscience lab. She had been amazed by the twist on the truth that was so close to the truth it didn't really feel like a lie. That meant for the time being this was her job, Ichigo had managed to put off getting a full time job by pointing out how hard it was for her to get from place to place. So between claiming he was helping his dad and playing nursemaid to her he would get a full time job in month.
It was great except for this one little draw back.
She had first met him the second day in the city, well it really was the third day but her second coming to the lab as her 'job'. He done a double take so quickly she realized he had noticed her eyes. There wasn't anything she could do about the faded blue shade but he seemed to be the first person who really noticed it. It was a bit weird actually but she was almost positive he knew she was dead.
Now everyone else said she was paranoid but she was sure he was following her, he had a habit of showing up every time she was alone in the building, and he always saw her with the others at least once during the day. Maybe the answer lay in what he actually did, because as it turns out he is the only other doctor in charge of studying the Zombie Plague. He had been an assistant to the first virologists studying in it back in Kyoto, so he had been there when they lost all the other doctors before Kisuke and Isshin showed up.
His studies however ran less towards understanding and curing, and more toward wiping them out. Isshin had told her his first year in the city he'd seen Dr. Abe get regular shipments of captured dead. So if the man had been in such close contact for so long it would make sense he'd notice things like that, and it probably hadn't helped in those seconds when he first met her she had been standing still and not talking.
Add in she wasn't carrying a backpack and weapons it might make sense he would spot that something was wrong with her.
But what really scared her was the fact he just watched, he had never made a move to talk to her, Isshin had introduced her and the odd gleam in the last doctor's eyes made her aware he had probably cracked. No doubt she had spotted it because of her long time contact with strange people but this guy wasn't strange, he was crazy and not the good kind. Kisuke was nuts, and so was Isshin, Ichigo was questionable and her friends from even further back no doubt were nuts because none of them had given up: but that aside she had no idea what he was thinking and planning when he watched her. All she knew was he made her skin crawl and considering she ate meat raw there had to be something wrong with him.
Climbing in the elevator with Ichigo she was a bit surprised when he brought up something she was doing her best not to think about.
"Why didn't you ask for your family's address?"
Closing her eyes Kagome found she wished she could cry, if she could maybe he'd understand how much it hurt to know she couldn't go see them. "I don't need to know. They're here, they're alive. That's enough."
Opening her eyes to glare at him she didn't deny it, she was trying to convince herself it was enough. "I don't want to know."
"Stop lying Kagome, I know you have to want to see them. You wouldn't have crossed half of Japan if you didn't-"
"Shut up you idiot!"
Kagome mentally flinched, she hadn't meant to say that. Ignoring the heavy silence hanging over her and Ichigo, she exited the elevator and entered the code to open the door to Isshin and Kisuke's lab. The lab was empty and Kagome didn't look back to see Ichigo following her, she knew his scowl would deep and dark, no doubt he was trying to understand her reasons then decide if he would agree.
No sooner than had she thought that and he started talking again.
"You're afraid of what they'll do."
Sighing she turned around to face him, he was half right, she was afraid, not so much of what they'd do if Souta had learned his lesson like she was betting he'd shoot her end of story. No she was afraid of what seeing her would do to them, she had no doubt no matter what happened her mother would cry, not a little but sob herself sick. Souta... even if he didn't kill her, he'd be angry.
After all she got bit protecting him when he was being a cocky little brat.
Yeah she had no doubt he'd been furious over that. "Of course I'm afraid of them. I know they saw me get bit and I ran away so they wouldn't have to kill me. I can't show up on the doorstep and expect to live."
Ichigo sighed, then ran a hand through his hair. "I see your point but don't you think they'd trust you if you made it into the city? After all you can't get in without a heath check and there are walls and the odds of you being dead and showing up on their doorstep is so extremely slight you think they wouldn't give you a minute to start talking?"
Kagome shrugged, then closed her eyes picturing it. "No Ichigo." she heard the the elevator moving but figured she should finish talking before Ichigo embarrassed himself talking about this in front of his dad. "Wouldn't that be the worst part? I gave them hope. I show up in the city. For one brief second they think I'm alive and then comes the let down. I'm not breathing. I'm still dead."
Ichigo looked at her and she could see some pity, but she got the feeling it was more the fact she didn't trust her family to embrace her zombie-corpse self. He didn't seem to understand he and his family were the strange ones for just accepting her and the other dead.
It was stupid to do this, really stupid. But honestly he couldn't let it go, Kagome seemed to believe no matter what she couldn't be with her family again. He didn't believe it for a moment, what kind of family were they if they couldn't be happy she was still around? That lead him here to the food tent in the sector the two living Higurashi's lived in taking care of one the city's shrines.
The paperwork showed that every Thursday Kagome's mother took a break from work and ate someone else's cooking, she cooked in this very tent Mondays as a volunteer duty she did. Souta worked in the shrine, and coached a soccer club for kids Wednesdays, he had applied for guard duty four times and been turned down because of his age and lack of proper training in fighting. The file also mentioned he supported hunting down Corpses and Bonies.
It was something of a political alinement thing, pro-hunting, anti-hunting and passive. More than half the city was passive and anti-hunting so guards could come out and protect themselves while collecting things but they weren't sent out purely to hunt down the undead.
In line to get his food Ichigo looked around the tent, you were assigned an hour window to come an eat in a cafeteria to keep things from getting over whelmed. He was lucky that he'd been able to get permission to to eat at a cafeteria not his own. Normally you ate in your sector, travel was allowed but meal times were expected to be taken at home. The time they had spent outside the city allowed him to appreciate the effort it must take on a daily level to keep it running. It had been hard enough feeding himself and the twins, rationing had happened more than once, and before they got good they had gone hungry for a day or two more than once.
No the city as it was, was incredible. It awed him the way people had pulled together in the face of adversity.
He also could better appreciate hoards of people, the zombies: Once Kagome got to them were good, it nice to sleep at night with no fear but the comfort of knowing there were a hundred other people near by wasn't quite there. The dead were still too quiet, of course that made Kagome's game that much harder. She had fought what she was with everything in her, and honestly he couldn't say he would have managed the same.
That was why he was here, he was going to meet her family and try to understand why she was so sure she couldn't just walk up to them. Voicing his choice between the two dishes of the night he looked around the tent trying to spot the other two Higurashi's.
He noticed a group of people who were all talking with serious faces, in scanning the faces one caught his eye, he wondered if he'd found Kagome's brother. Sitting down with his back to the group he started eating, but really he was eavesdropping on the conversation the boys behind him were having.
"...should be allowed out to hunt them stupid corpses down. This spreading block by block isn't good enough. The city can't afford to be like this forever we need to grow some of our own food."
The guy he was pretty sure was Kagome's brother nodded, a nasty, blood-thirsty look in his eyes.
"Damn corpses are always keeping us on edge. Medicine is hard to come by and very soon some of the ones we can make will be the only medicines in the city. We should talk to other cities and plan a cleansing."
Ichigo frowned, he'd heard talk like that in every city, but most of the time it didn't sound so- personal.
"Yeah the antis and passives should step aside and let us pros just make a move."
Ichigo tried to keep his temper, these brats didn't have the first clue that those Corpses were becoming human enough to stop hunting, they didn't know anything. Where was Kagome's mom? She had said she kept her hair short, and that her eyes were always warm. Okay Kagome's descriptions usually had more to do with how her mother was personality wise then looks, but she hadn't thought he'd hunt them down like this for her.
Glancing around the tent he didn't see too many women with short hair, it seemed like most of them had hair they kept braided, or in a ponytail. He'd also notice the return of the topknot for a lot of the men. His sisters had been pretty good about keeping his hair trimmed, but both Karin and Yuzu had just let their hair grow. It seemed most of woman here had done the same.
He also couldn't help but notice for all of his sense of serenity in the universe, most people wore tired and careworn expressions, many had dead eyes. No really spark of interest in life or their fellows. The woman he was sharing a table with was a good example. Her face said she was tired of the fighting, sick of the worry, and still grieving.
"I'm so sick of being told it's too dangerous to hunt some stupid Corpses."
Ichigo felt his eyebrow twitch. That was it. Turning around he spoke up. "And that would be exactly why it's too dangerous to hand you a proper weapon."
The six teens turned to look at him, the boy he was pretty sure was Kagome's brother Souta sneered at him. "What would a slacker punk like you know?"
Tapped his fingers, Ichigo tried to remind himself punching the brat would not make a good impression if he was right about who he was. "More then a whining brat like you. I bet the real reason you mouth off like this because you don't make the cut as a guard and you've let family members down."
A choked noise escaped the boy's mouth and his face turned a vivid red, his friend seemed to figure something out because he held the boy back in his seat.
"Hold on, are you Dr. Kurosaki's kid?"
Ichigo frowned before remembering their arrival had been in newspaper. It was rare now days to get a new group joining the city, much less one so small as four people. "Yeah, me and my sisters only got here a bit over a week ago."
The boy was still red and angry looking but his friend was holding him down while talking. "Then how come you're so anti-hunting? If you've spent five years out bouncing from city to city you had to have killed hundreds."
Ichigo clenched his teeth. That was true and after meeting Kagome and finding out they could recover enough not to hurt people he regretted it. Fiercely. "I never wanted to kill them but I wasn't going to let my sisters down. Wanting to hunt them down before they're Bonies is disrespectful to their friends and family, as well as their former selves. As far as I'm concerned as long as they have a face they're still people meaning ones attacking me and my values gets their asses kicked."
The group of punks weren't sure what to make of that, and after a few minutes all but the angry one had turned away apparently chewing on that bit of philosophy.
"You don't know me and what I've gone through."
Ichigo sniffed, if he was right about who he was he did so know him. If only by second hand. "It doesn't matter at this point in time if you think you are the only one in the whole city with a gut wrenching story about someone who's died because of Corpses. Wanting to hunt them down is asking to make a dozen more stories. Numbers win normally."
That was something the kid seemed to be able to believe because he turned back around and rejoined his subdued friends. Ichigo went back to eating and glancing around the tent. If that was Souta where was Kagome's mom?
Her file said her name was Sora and he really would rather avoid standing up and asking if she would come forward. It would just be creepy and draw a lot of attention. So would showing up at the shrine they ran. He was almost finished with eating and about ready to call the trip a failure when the woman down the table from him spoke to him.
Her voice was soft and very tired.
"Thank you for speaking to my son like that."
Ichigo felt his heart jump. Was this Kagome's mom? Or was she talking about one of the other boys?
Looking intently at her he thought he could see Kagome's chin and lips. Her eyes were the wrong color of course, Kagome had said once she got her american grandfather's eyes, so he expected that. "You're welcome. I don't know what you're thanking me for though."
Her lips curved upward and Ichigo's guess of who she might be turned into she had to be. Kagome smiled like that before he knew her secret; it was a sad smile he'd seen a hundred times over.
"For being so blunt and compassionate at the same time."
Unsure of where to start he just kept talking. "I don't see what's so compassionate about what I said, I was pretty sure I might have been kinder smacking him with something."
She gave a tired chuckle. "He would have preferred you did alright. But since his sister was bitten, he's been unreasonable in his grief and rage. I wish he would just respect what his sister did."
Ichigo figured that was as good a lead in as he could expect. "It's always hard to watch someone you care about suffer."
There was a another sign this woman was a lot like Kagome, she caught his meaningful tone. Her head tilted, and there was a crease in her forehead that showed she didn't really get what he meant, but she knew he meant something.
"That's true, it's hard to see them do things for others. Even if it's honorable."
She was fishing, tried to figure out what he was getting at.
"Protecting others always has a cost, a risk. But nothing ventured nothing gained."
She was properly frowning at him now. She seemed to get he was implying his approaching her was a risk but she didn't see how that could be. Sighing he stopped with the word games, Ishida was better at this than him. "Me and my sisters weren't the only ones who came to the city."
Her face twisted and she stared at him with disbelief for all to see. There she got it, but she also knew the requirements for the entrance into the city.
Grief touched her face and she hissed at him. "I don't believe you! How can you play with-"
Ichigo cut her off. "I don't like to play with anyone Sora Higurashi."
Her face froze. He watched her struggle, she knew public records existed but why would he pick her of all people to play such a joke on. No, why would you do that to a random stranger unless you were serious. Joking about someone surviving the turn was far too important.
"I understand your hesitation but nothing ventured nothing gained."
Her face began light up and Ichigo felt bad that he had to modify those hopes.
"She's changed, but she still cares. She's just afraid to come and see you and Souta. After that little show I think I understand."
The woman's face shifted slightly, not understanding what he meant by changed, but that one was hard to believe without seeing. He didn't dare say more really. But he could pick a day.
"Will he be gone, teaching next Wednesday?"
The woman's eyes flicked from his face to the boy behind him. Then she gave a short nod. "Come then."
He nodded back.
Kagome looked over at Ichigo as he paced himself to her slow gait because of a cast and cane for her poor sore broken bones. He hadn't told anyone where he'd gone for dinner the night before but he seemed pleased with himself. She wondered if he'd connected with another of his old friends. So far he'd seen Ishida and Inoue, soon to be Mrs. Ishida and Chad of course, but his other friends so far had been no shows.
And other than Chad none of them knew the truth yet.
"I don't get why you always wait for me Ichigo, I could walk myself without you, I can take care of myself."
Ichigo's sharp but thoughtful eyes darted over to her. "It's only polite to help an injured person."
Kagome snorted. "I walk so slow in this I could start without you and you would still have time to catch up."
"That ruins the point of coming at all. What if you trip?" His sly smirk told her he was just teasing, but she played along with anyway.
Kagome mock glared at him. "I'll have you know my trips have all been perfectly timed, not one of them truly did me proper harm!"
Ichigo snorted. He didn't answer her but she knew he was only humoring her. Pushing him a little he staggered slightly. "Hey!"
"You're the one being a jerk, mocking me."
Ichigo started to answer her but Kagome heard a small cry, and as horrible as it sounded it reminded her she was hungry. The sound was the sound of prey. Swallowing Kagome denied herself the urge to mindlessly run forward and searched the crowd. Where had that come from? On a the bridge a hundred feet up she saw a little girl in a pink dress. She couldn't have been older then five Kagome was betting she was younger because she had crawled her way to the outside of the bridge.
She wasn't behind the mesh any more, and no one could reach her from the far side of the bridge and the little girl couldn't turn around to go back, she would fall. That was inevitable.
Unless she did something.
Tugging on Ichigo's arm she took off running, well, as well as she could run with a walking cast. She was pleased to see Ichigo had spotted the little girl and even if he didn't know what she was thinking he was following her lead.
He reached the nine foot tall chain link fence before her and had apparently been reading her mind because he went down on one knee, his hands cupped to give her a lift so she could get over the fence. Giving him a little smirk that he shared, he lifted her up. Ignoring her splinted fingers she grabbed the top of the fence and looked for the kid. She found she hadn't fallen yet.
"Hold on so you don't fall."
The little girl, who was crying tilted her head back to try and see who was talking to her and in doing so lost her balance. The little scream made Kagome feel guilty for thinking it figured. Twisting her hips she flung her legs over the fence.
Pushing off Kagome smiled down at Ichigo, it was nice he cared.
Falling Kagome found herself glad the kid had picked the deepest canal in the area, the shallower ones would have had Bonies on her and the kid in seconds but the current was fast enough, the water deep enough there were not many, and most of them were clinging to the walls trying not to go under and just get washed away.
The splash of water was like a slap in the face, she was wearing makeup, non water-proof makeup.
Breaking the surface Kagome didn't try to stop the curse. Kicking off after the splashing arms Kagome wished she had thought to loose her boot, the weight was pulling her down. Grabbing the kid she was glad the little girl didn't trying to fight, but now she had to figure out where to park them so they could be rescued.
Then she realized the couple of Bonies had decided killing her was a better goal then continued existence. "Shit."
The kid coughed into her neck and Kagome started swimming for an off shoot canal. Looking up she found the frantic mother, Ichigo and three or four other people following her. Pointing to the off shoot she was pleased Ichigo nodded and shouted something unclear to her clogged ears that had the other men disappearing into stunned onlookers.
Focused on swimming it was relief to realized she was out swimming the Bonies, getting bitten here would blow her secret and their hopes of easing people into it.
Seeing Ichigo and the other men, plus new people working on making something of a hole in the fence on the next bridge Kagome checked on the kid clinging to her. Frightened wide eyes looked back at her. Kagome realized she hadn't been breathing and without her makeup the kid probably knew something was wrong with her.
Reaching the point under where the men were working Kagome found her feet brushing the bottom which was a lot easier then treading water; but the current tried to wash her and the little girl further down, hugging the wall Kagome had the girl standing on her shoulders.
A rope dropped down in front her face and Kagome quickly tied it to the little girl, the Bonies were closing in. looking up she shouting at them that she was ready. The little girl's weight disappeared from her shoulder and she got kicked in the face. Jerking back she dunked herself insuring if her makeup hadn't been gone it was now.
The current took her off her feet and her feet dragged across the bottom trying to stand back up again, hard to do when it was up to her neck. Popping back up she realized the Bonies were almost on her, then she heard the first gun shot, looking up she found someone had gotten a police officer. They were allowed to have guns and there was someone with a gun every city block. She might actually make it out of here.
Ichigo called her name and she found the rope was back down for her. Kicking up steam to grab it Kagome fumbled her way into a knot around her waist and shoulder so she could hold on. Then she was being towed upstream towards a few more Bonies.
They really must sense her.
Then that guy with the gun started killing them, Kagome decided to forget the Bonies. Her back was covered, they just had to lift her out of here.
Kagome wanted to jump and try to get out quicker but the rope stopped her. She was pretty sure it was someone's laundry line, strong enough for a fifty or sixty pound burden but someone three to three and half times it would be pushing it, and if she struggled it might snap unexpectedly.
Staying as limp as she could be while holding tight she watched Bonies drift past her. The ride wasn't smooth, but she had been on worse. The rope did seem to be stretching a little but once she was able she grabbed the fence to anchor herself should the rope give.
Once the people on the bridge could see her clearly Kagome started to worry about her strange blue skin tone, then her wet hair flopped over her face. Her braid had come undone. What a great ready made way to hide.
Ichigo reached over and helped her climb the rest of the way over, quickly Kagome pressed her face to his shirt, he was bewildered. "Ichigo my makeup came off, hide me!"
She felt him relax into her and she was taken aback when people started cheering and patting her back. Kagome could feel Ichigo was getting his shoulders and back slapped as well.
The Mother, still hugging her little girl stood in front of her and Kagome peeked out under her wet hair. The woman bowed deeply tears shinning on her cheeks.
"Thank you, thank you so much. What's your name? I must thank you properly!"
"Kagome Higurashi, Ichigo here helped too, I couldn't have climbed the fence on my own."
Ichigo got his own deep bow, and more people started commenting on what a brave couple they were. Giving Ichigo a nudge he started stuttering their excuses.
"Kagome here is all wet and no doubt her ankle and fingers are bothering her, let us through so she can change. She should see a doctor. Let us through."
Kagome clung to him and mentally gave him her own thanks. It was shameful to admit it but on her own she probably would have froze, but it was also nice not be a blushing wreck in front of all these people.
They had cleared the crowd, had a picture taken, and then Kagome spotted him. The man quickly becoming her worst fear, Dr. Abe. He was watching with a soft pleased smirk on his lips.
If he hadn't known before he knew now.