Feudal Japan. Home to beautiful geisha, honorable samurai, lecherous monks...well, that wasn't the usual image that came to mind when thinking about that ancient land. Of course, neither were schoolgirls in somewhat...suggestive outfits, cute little fox demons, or lovesick wind demonesses. After about a month of traveling with Inuyasha's merry band of misfits, Xander was on the edge of his last nerve. He had gotten slapped seventy-two times, been thrown out of five tea houses and two monasteries. He had never been the one at fault, honestly, simply being seen with Miroku was enough to get him slapped. Worst of all, there had been no further sign of Naraku. With little to distract the group, the endless bickering between Kagome and Inuyasha was wearing on everyone's nerves. The power the girl held over him was also a little troubling. While it might have served its purpose at the beginning, to prevent the half demon from harming any humans, the power had clearly gone to the girl's head. Throughout the day, Kagome could be seen to use the command to get her own way, and to win arguments by sheer force. Might didn't equal right, but it certainly could stop an argument dead in its tracks.
After another week had passed with only a few minor skirmishes to break the monotony, the company returned to Kaede's village. Kagome needed to return home for a history test, and the others were looking forward to a break from the tension. Xander was just looking forward to a meal that didn't consist of travel rations or Kagome's instant noodles.
Even at a distance, the village appeared peaceful. Scattered around the area were little hints of the dangers this world held: sutras for protection against evil hung from trees next to the path. In the fields, peasants toiled, tools kept well-sharpened, just in case. The first to spot them called out, and, considering the speed of gossip, word of their arrival reached the village long before they did. As per usual, the village children and old women gathered around, looking for any entertainment to break the monotony of everyday life.
Later that night, after a good meal, Xander sat up watching the stars come out. He tensed, then relaxed at the slight noise coming up behind him.
“Lost in thought, are ye?” Kaede asked. “Methinks this era is not to your liking.” She sat down next to him.
Xander nodded, eyes still cast upwards. “Things here are ok, but...”
“Not for you?”
“Exactly. I don't really fit in here. Plus, I don't really think I'm needed. Everyone here is personally invested in this fight against Naraku, except for me. Even Kagura, she seems to care for me, but how much of that is really about me, and how much is simply the fact that I was the one who freed her? She always talks about how she is the wind, and the wind should be free. I don't want to tie her down.” He picked at the grass at his feet. The light breeze tossed the tree branches, casting eerie shadows.
For a few minutes, the two sat in companionable silence. Finally, Xander stretched and sighed. “Thanks for listening, Kaede. I guess I'll say goodbye tomorrow, and try find my way onward. I suppose I'd better go through the well, or I might end up in the past in whatever world comes next.”
“I bid you goodnight, young Xander. You will be missed more than you may believe, but one must find one's own path in life. I have faith in you.” Kaede drew herself stiffly to her feet and made her way to her bed.
The next morning, Xander announced his plans over breakfast. Surprisingly enough, it was Inuyasha who voiced the loudest protest.
“I can't believe you are such a coward! Running away, just when we're starting to make some real progress. What, are you afraid of a little battle or two?” He crossed his arms, back stiff.
“I'm not afraid. I just feel like I have no real place in this battle. Besides,” he stole a look at Kagura, “I think that I could become a distraction, and that's something you can't afford. My friends back home need me, and I need to find out if they're alive or not. You should understand that.” Xander gave the stiff half-demon a hug. “You'll do just fine without me.”
The group insisted on seeing him off, making the short walk to the Boneater's Well an amusing one. Shippo insisted upon playing tricks along the way, little harmless ones that generally exploded underfoot. After the third time, a small jet of water burst out of the ground, drenching the tiny kitsune. None laughed louder than the fox, coming as he did from a people that prized such tricks.
At the well, Xander gave everyone a hug, everyone, that is, except for Inuyasha, who refused, and Kagura, who bent him backwards for a kiss. With his face burning, he let himself fall to the bottom of the well, where, surprisingly enough, nothing happened.
“Um, guys?” Five faces peered down over the edge of the well.
“Yeah, kid?” Inuyasha smirked.
“Nothing's happening, and the puddle's dried up. Can I get a hand here?”
If anything, Inuyasha's smirk grew wider. “Alright, just remember, you asked for it!” His head disappeared briefly, before reappearing with...a bucket of water?
“Now, just wait a minute,” Xander tried to quickly protest.
“You needed water right?” came the response, followed by a drenching column of water.
Several miles away, peasants working the fields looked up as a terrible screech emanated from the woods, then abruptly cut off.
Thank you to everyone for being so patient with me; things have been so crazy that I haven't been updating in a while. So, as a help with motivation, anyone who would like to vote for the next place Xander will visit, please leave a comment.