And it's another enthralling chapter in the story that just keeps limping along. I know it's been a while, but here's a brief recap for those who don't read my profile page on FFN. I moved to Kent, Washington in June. Right now, I am the nanny for my nephew while my sis and her hubby are at work. And this Fall I will be starting a distance learning course through the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to get my Master's in Library Science.

Baby Lincoln is just over 3 months old and requires a lot of care. For those who don't know babies: he does sleep a lot, but only in short naps because he still needs to eat every 3 hours or so. And when he's not eating or sleeping, he's awake and wants to be entertained.

Therefore, my creativity and desire to sit down and write when I do have the time has kind of fizzled lately. When I start school, my time will probably be even shorter than it is now. I'll continue to crank out chapters to both this and HCSC, but not on a fixed schedule. Thank you for your patience and support. Happy reading!

Many thanks to my beta, EmeraldDragon, who helps me keep the plot holes small and the continuity problems in check.

Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha

Chapter 9

Kagome stared in sick fascination at the two people lying on the rough floor of the well house. Inuyasha refused to tell her anything, but she was beginning to suspect that there was more going on than any of her new acquaintances had told her.

Miroku looked like he was sleeping. If it weren't for his torn clothing, various darkening bruises and bloody cuts, and the death grip he had on his staff, she would have thought he was merely taking a nap. Inuyasha had snapped at her when she reached for the staff, intending to move it to someplace less in the way.

"Leave it alone!" Inuyasha glared at her. She could almost hear him growl.

Kagome recoiled in shock. "Why?" she protested. "He'll probably be more comfortable if he doesn't have to hold it."

"He's fine." Inuyasha went back to tearing his shirt into strips. "Believe me; you're safer if you don't try to touch the staff."

Kagome scowled at him, which he ignored. She turned her gaze to Sango and her eyes softened with worry and sympathy pain.

Faint lines creased Sango's brow. The muscles in her jaw tensed and bunched, but she made no sounds. Her eyes moved restlessly under closed lids.

"You're safe now, Sango-chan," Kagome whispered, daring to reach out and stroke the other girl's cheek. "I don't know what happened, but I won't let you be hurt anymore."

Sango flinched under the light touch. Then she relaxed slightly and turned her face toward Kagome's fingers.

"What happened?" she asked, more to herself than to the irritating guy who was frowning at the strips of cloth that had once been his shirt.

Inuyasha didn't show the least embarrassment about being shirtless in front of her. His long black hair trailed down his naked back, the muscles rippling smoothly as he bent over his task. The skin looked so smooth and flawless. Kagome had a sudden overwhelming desire to touch it.

She blushed and averted her gaze. No! Bad Kagome! Bad! Inuyasha is a rude jerk! He is not touchable or at all se—He's just not! Kagome resolutely turned her eyes elsewhere, though she couldn't help peeking just a little bit out of the corner of her eye.

"It's none of your business." Inuyasha picked up a handful of cloth. "Get me some water."

Kagome's temper flared, any pleasant thoughts she might have had about him banished. She was tired of being ignored or treated like a little kid. "My friend looks like she tried to take on a gang all by herself, and you tell me that it's none of my business. Well, I'm making it my business. What's going on, Inuyasha?"

Inuyasha tied one of the makeshift bandages around a nasty-looking slice on Miroku's arm. He looked up at Kagome and his eyes glittered with barely contained fury.

"Revenge," he spat. "There are dangerous people in this world that would do anything to get the Shi—to get more power. I don't know how Sango got mixed up in all of this. Frankly, I don't give a damn. But if I find out that she had anything to do with what happened to Miroku, then she and I will have a long discussion. And she'd better have some fucking good answers."

Inuyasha bit off the last words through clenched teeth and turned back to Miroku and the pile of bandages. Most of the wounds had stopped bleeding, though a small gash on Miroku's temple looked worrisome.

"Will they be all right?" Kagome asked in a small voice. She hated to see her friend in pain, but she didn't know how to make it go away. Now she wished she'd paid more attention in first aid class.

"Mama keeps a first aid kit in the bathroom," she offered. "Do you want me to get it? And I really think we should call an ambulance. They'd get better care in a hospital."

"No doctors!" Inuyasha whipped his head around to glare at her. "They'll just fuck everything up." He frowned worriedly as Miroku's hands tightened slightly on his staff. "Maybe we do need more expert help."

Inuyasha rose fluidly to his feet. "Stay here and be useful," he ordered. "Get some water and see if you can clean out some of the cuts, but don't touch Miroku's staff."

"Where are you going?" Kagome stared up at him. Secretly she was glad that somebody had taken charge, even if the brusque order irritated her.

For a long moment, she didn't think he was going to answer her. "To get help." Inuyasha didn't say anything more, just slipped out of the well house silently and vanished into the shadows.

Sango groaned. Kagome pushed Inuyasha out of her head and immediately bent over her friend. "You're awake! What happened? Are you okay?"

Sango licked her lips. "Water," she rasped.

"I'll get it. Just don't move." Kagome bounced to her feet and left the well house in search of water, conveniently forgetting that Inuyasha had ordered her to do the same task a number of times.

All of the lights in the house were off. Mama and Grandpa were firm believers in going to bed early, and there was no way they would let Souta stay up later than them. Kagome at fifteen was granted a bit more leeway. And as long as she kept her grades up, Mama only frowned a little if Kagome was out late.

Kagome hesitated. She really didn't want to use one of the sinks in the house. Knowing her luck, Mama or Grandpa or even Souta would be up, getting a glass of water or a snack. Souta often complained that he was a growing boy and couldn't be expected to survive the long hours until breakfast. Despite the fact that she felt Sango and Miroku needed professional attention, she didn't want to have to explain what was going on when she didn't fully understand it herself.

She returned briefly to the well house for a bucket. There was one mixed in with all of the gardening tools. Sango looked like she had fallen back asleep. Moving quietly, Kagome found the bucket and went outside again.

There was a faucet on the side of the house. Carefully she rinsed out the bucket and filled it with clear water. When she tried to lift it, she nearly threw her back out. It seemed that a bucketful of water was heavier than she thought. Grunting and sweating, she managed to haul it into the well house--though a good amount splashed out to soak the ground and her bare feet.

With a sigh, Kagome set the heavy bucket down next to Sango and retrieved some of the rags Inuyasha had left. She dipped one into the water and squeezed a little onto Sango's lips. She repeated the action several times before the girl sighed and turned her head away.

Taking another rag, she got it wet and wrung out the excess moisture. Gently she dabbed at the cuts, wincing each time Sango shuddered.

"I'm sorry."

Kagome looked up at the soft voice. Sango's eyes were open, but not really focused. The slight flush on her cheeks argued for fever.

"Sorry about what?" Kagome asked, folding a moistened rag and placing it on Sango's forehead. "What—"

"I failed you, Father." Sango whimpered and tears filled her eyes.

She must be delirious, Kagome thought, noting the glazed look in Sango's eyes. I hope Inuyasha gets back soon. I don't know what to do.

"He wasn't there, Father. I should have known better." Sango closed her eyes and two tears trickled out from under her lashes. "But I was so sure that I had finally found the lead I needed. Instead, I walked straight into a trap."

"Hush, Sango." Kagome smoothed the girl's hair, feeling uneasy about what Sango was babbling in her delirious state. I don't like this. I don't like this at all.

"I wanted to avenge you!" Sango cried, her face contorted with emotion. "He did not get what he wanted! So he took you from me." Her voice trailed off and Kagome thought with relief that she had fallen asleep.

"The jewel," Sango mumbled her voice barely above a whisper. In spite of herself, Kagome leaned closer to hear better. "The source of so much grief. I wish it and its unholy powers to hell."

"What jewel?" Kagome breathed almost reluctantly.

"The Shikon no Tama," Sango replied, her voice blurry with sleep.

"Who wants it?" Kagome pressed, unwilling to let her friend rest just yet.


Kagome sat back on her heels as the slackness of Sango's muscles informed her that the girl was asleep. She chewed on her lower lip thoughtfully. This sounds serious. Maybe I should call the police before somebody gets hurt.

The slight creak of the well house door caused her to jump. She spun around, one hand over her heart which was galloping like a wounded gazelle.

"Who's there?" Kagome squeaked. A misshapen outline filled the doorframe. "Don't come any closer! I'm warning you!" She scrabbled on the floor and her fingers closed on a discarded nail that had been twisted nearly in half. Better than nothing. "I've got a weapon!"

A familiar snort came from the shadowy figure. "Put down the nail before you hurt yourself."

Kagome blinked as the figure stepped farther into the well house, and turned into Inuyasha carrying an old woman on his back. With a gruff courtesy that Kagome had never expected to see, he set the woman down and led her over to where Miroku and Sango lay.

"Has there been any change?" Inuyasha asked, squatting beside Kagome.

"Sango woke up for a little bit," Kagome told him, more relieved than she was ready to admit that he came back. "But I think she was delirious. She kept babbling about her father, someone called Naraku, and a jewel with a funny name. Oh, she also talked about vengeance." She glanced at Inuyasha out of the corner of her eye. "Do you know what she was talking about, Inuyasha?"

Inuyasha ignored her, focusing his attention on the old woman. "Do something, hag!" he snapped. "I didn't haul your worthless carcass all the way here for you to just stand around!"

Kagome gasped. "Show some respect, Inuyasha!" Forgetting herself, she slapped Inuyasha on the arm. Inuyasha scowled and rubbed at the place her hand had touched, but kept his mouth shut.

"I know Inuyasha well, child." The old woman chuckled, the sound kind and understanding. Kagome felt herself relaxing. "He may be a little crude and rough, but he has a good heart."

Kagome glanced at Inuyasha out of the corner of her eye. Was he blushing? It was hard to be sure in the darkness of the well house. "Are you his aunt or something?" There was something protective and maternal about the old woman, but Kagome hesitated to think of her as Inuyasha's mother.

Inuyasha gagged and made a face. "Me? Related to her? Whatever gave you that idea?"

The old woman ignored Inuyasha's theatrics as she placed a large bag on the floor and began pulling things out of it. "No, child. Inuyasha and I have some history between us and an understanding of sorts." Something clinked as she took it out of the bag and set it down. "My name is Kaede. And you must be Kagome. I have heard quite a bit about you."

"How do you know my name?" Kagome gaped in shock. Who were these people? "What's going on? Why—"

"Patience, child." There was a sharp click and the old woman's form was thrown into sharp relief by the portable lantern she had just turned on. She adjusted the light with confident movements before picking up a small bowl from the row of similar vessels laid out before her.

With careful hands, she scooped out a blob of sharp-smelling green gunk and began dabbing it on the worst of Miroku's cuts. After a few minutes, she sat back, setting the bowl down and wiping her fingers on a small towel. She picked up another bowl, this one containing what looked like shredded leaves.

"Put some water in this, Inuyasha. Fill it to about here." She handed a cast-iron vessel to him and tapped a spot about a third from the top.

Kagome almost expected Inuyasha to argue, but to her surprise, he obeyed without any of the sarcastic remarks she was beginning to anticipate from him. While he measured out the water, Kagome watched the old woman closely.

"What are you doing, Kaede-san? Shouldn't we get Miroku and Sango to a hospital? Or I can get the first aid kit from the bathroom? I think there's some gauze and antiseptic in it."

Kaede chuckled, the lines around her eyes crinkling pleasantly. "Such a curious, thoughtful child. I do believe that Inuyasha is right about you." She set out an object that looked like a portable hotplate and switched it on. The burner immediately began to radiate heat.

"Right about me?" Kagome echoed, looking at Inuyasha in confusion. The young man scowled and ignored her, concentrating on placing the pot of water just so on the burner.

"Take this." Kaede handed the bowl of smelly green paste to Kagome, distracting her. "Put a generous amount on the worst of your friend's wounds."

"What is it?" Kagome wrinkled her nose. It wasn't exactly unpleasant, but it had an unfamiliar odor.

"It's a mixture of comfrey and witch hazel," Kaede answered. "It will help to stop the bleeding and promote faster healing." She emptied the bowl of shredded leaves into a tea strainer and put it into the pot of boiling water.

Kagome tentatively scooped up a dollop. Her fingers tingled briefly. This stuff must be strong, she thought, and applied the goop with more confidence.

Each time her fingers brushed over an injury, they tingled. It made her feel uneasy in a nonspecific way. To distract herself, she asked the friendly old woman questions. That was much easier than trying to pry answers out of Inuyasha.

"What's that?" she asked, pointing at the bowl Kaede had picked up.

"This is oil from St. John's Wort. It's good for reducing inflammation and bruising." Kaede dabbed the oil on Miroku, and had Kagome do the same for Sango. The boiling pot behind her hissed fitfully. "When you are finished, child, you can help me with the tea."

Kagome finished spreading oil on a livid bruise and sat back, wiping her fingers absently on her pajama bottoms. "I don't think they want to drink any tea, Kaede-san."

"Healing tea, child." Kaede pulled two cups out of her surprisingly spacious bag. She wrapped a towel around her hand and reached for the pot. Even with the protection, Kagome could see her wince at the heat.

Inuyasha snorted. "Out of the way, old hag." He shouldered her aside and grabbed the pot with his bare hands.

"I didn't know ye cared," Kaede commented slyly.

Inuyasha flinched, but continued to pour out the tea. "I can't have you crippling yourself," he growled. "Somebody needs to heal Miroku every time he gets in a fight." He set the pot down with a thump and placed his hands behind his back, but not before Kagome got a glimpse of red and blistered skin.

"Inuyasha! Your hands!" Kagome grabbed his arm and pulled, but he resisted. "You burned yourself," she scolded. "It looks bad. Kaede should put something on it."

"I'm fine, bitch!" Inuyasha snapped, trying to lean away from her and keep his hands out of sight. "Leave me alone!"

Kagome practically crawled into his lap, pressing against him while she tugged futilely at his arm. "Stop being stubborn! Just let me see!"


"Whenever you're finished, children," Kaede said with a hint of amusement in her tone, "I'd like to finish up and get these old bones back to bed. I'm not as young as I used to be."

Kagome froze and immediately became aware of several facts. She was straddling Inuyasha's lap, which had the effect of reminding her of another such incident, her front was pressed rather intimately against his chest, and his warm breath was stirring the hair by her ear and doing funny things to her insides.

"Get off me!" Inuyasha placed his hands on her waist and shoved.

Caught by surprise, Kagome grabbed instinctively at his arms. She nearly pulled him over on top of her as her bottom hit the floor of the well house.

"Watch what you're doing, bitch!" he yelled, bracing himself to keep from crushing her.

Kagome saw him flinch as he put pressure on his sore hands and was immediately concerned. "I'm so sorry! Let me see!" Before he could stop her, she had grabbed one of his hands.

"Odd," she mumbled, running her fingers lightly over his palm. "I could have sworn they were burned." Carefully she examined the skin. It might have been a little pinker than normal (though that was hard to tell in the uncertain lantern light), but not the blistered mess she expected.

"Are you satisfied now?" Inuyasha ground out, sounding strained.

Kagome started, feeling herself turning red, and immediately released her hold on the boy. Kaede said nothing as the two young people scooted as far away as possible without leaving the circle of lantern light.

Kaede chuckled as she lifted Sango's head and helped her to drink. Kagome immediately jumped to help her.

"What's in the tea, Kaede-san?" Kagome asked, desperate to distract herself and give the blush time to fade.

"Just a decoction of yarrow for the fever, witch hazel for any internal bleeding, and some vderion to help them sleep."

"Oh." Kagome gently lowered Miroku's head to the ground and sat back on her heels. She watched Kaede carefully place her bowls and cups and other things into her bag. "Now what?"

"We let them sleep," Kaede replied. The old woman checked Sango and Miroku's vitals once more and let out a relieved sigh. "They'll be fine after some rest. That tea should keep them both under for at least twenty-four hours."

"Twenty-four hours? But Sango has school. She missed today, and if she misses any more she'll get in big trouble."

Inuyasha snorted. "Then you'll just have to think of an excuse, won't you?" He avoided looking directly at Kagome, staring at the lantern instead. "Or you could just tell them that you're little friend got herself beat up by a group of thugs. Of course, that wouldn't be smart. 'Cause then you might as well just yell 'I know what you did, so you better come and kill me now.'"

Kagome swallowed hard. "Are they that dangerous?" Something clicked and she narrowed her eyes at Inuyasha. "And what do you know of all this? Is there something you're not telling me, Inuyasha?"

"Keh." Inuyasha shut his mouth and glared harder at the inoffensive lantern.

She might have had more to say, but Kaede climbed to her feet with a loud groan. "I'm getting too old for this." The old woman fixed a sharp one-eyed stare on Kagome. "Keep them still, keep them quiet. They need that twenty-four hours of rest if they are to recover. It would be best if no one were to disturb them."

"In the well house?" Kagome bit her lip, looking doubtful. "Shouldn't they be in nice warm beds, with trained professionals to look after them?"

"I said, 'No doctors!'" Inuyasha growled. "Can't you get that through your thick skull? Bring out blankets if you must, but don't move them."

"Inuyasha's right," Kaede put in gently before Kagome could retort. "Trust me. They will be fine. And the well house will be much safer."

Kagome frowned. How could the well house be safer? But… well… she trusted Kaede. She didn't know why, but she didn't think the old woman would deliberately mislead her.

"Mama's going to wonder where I was all night," she protested faintly. She automatically glanced to the partially open door of the well house, where the deep black of night was slowly lightening.

"Go back to bed," Inuyasha ordered. He rose to his feet and retrieved the lantern, turning the knob and plunging the well house into darkness. Kagome stifled a surprised squeak.

"Go to bed, child." Kaede's voice was much gentler than Inuyasha's, taking the sting out of the words. "Nothing more can be done at this time. It is best to go about your business as normally as possible."

Kagome nodded slowly and stood up, absently brushing off the knees of her pajamas. "If you say so, Kaede-san." Her eyes were adjusting to the decreased light and she could see the vague form of Inuyasha hoisting Kaede onto his back.

"Why are you list—" Inuyasha began, only to break off abruptly. He shut his mouth and glared at the floor. Kaede, striving to look innocent, shifted her bag to a more comfortable position and placed both hands on Inuyasha's shoulders.

Kagome followed them out of the well house and into the open air. It wasn't as late (or early, depending on your perspective) as she had thought. There was still a good two, maybe three, hours before dawn. She yawned, suddenly realizing how tired she was.

"Remember what you have learned this night, child." Kaede turned her head to look at Kagome, her single eye glinting eerily. "Have Inuyasha bring you to my place some evening. We can continue your lessons."

Lessons? Kagome blinked at her. But before she could think of what to say, Inuyasha's long legs had already carried them out of sight.

Kagome looked thoughtfully at the well house. "I wonder what Kaede-san was talking about? And why does she put up with Inuyasha's bad attitude?" She shrugged. "He seemed to have some sort of respect for her anyway. At least a little. Very little."

Shivering abruptly, she wrapped her arms around herself. "It's cold out here. I'm going inside where my nice warm bed is. Maybe I can even get a few hours sleep before I have to get up for school."

She glanced once more at the well house and bit her lip. "They'll be fine. Kaede-san said so. I'll deal with all of this later. After I get some sleep."

Inuyasha dumped the old woman on her doorstep and immediately headed for a certain area of the city, leaving Kaede to fumble out her key and get herself inside.

Kaede sighed, but didn't try to stop him. She had learned that much from living with him all these decades.

Naraku. Inuyasha's long legs carried him in a powerful ground-eating lope through the maze of darkened buildings and mostly empty streets. He must be nervous, or hiding something. He would never have bothered sending his minions after Miroku and that girl otherwise.

He ceased his musings upon reaching his destination. This place was not the rundown hideaway that thugs like Hiten and Manten were thought to frequent. But then, those two weren't ordinary run-of-the-mill bully boys.

The hairs prickled on the back of Inuyasha's neck as he slowed to a walk. He was being watched.

Inuyasha scanned the buildings out of the corner of his eye as he passed. He had no fucking clue which one was the right one. All he had was some outdated information on the neighborhood Naraku was last seen in.

Maybe he should guess.

A half-seen movement caught his attention. He stopped, schooling his face into impassivity as a smartly dressed doorman opened the door to a well-tended tenement building on his right. The doorman stepped aside and motioned towards the dimly lit interior.

Inuyasha took two slow steps forward, his muscles tense. Nothing happened, except that the doorman continued to hold the door, a faintly bored expression on his face.

Every instinct screamed that this was a trap. The banked anger that had simmered inside of him all evening suddenly flared, and he took several deliberate steps toward the door. Furtive shapes avidly watched him from alleys and shadowed doorways.

No doubt about it. He was expected.

Not that I had any intention of turning tail and running home like a whipped puppy. Inuyasha curled his lip into what could have been taken as a snarl, and brushed past the doorman and into the building.

He paused just inside, taking a moment to let his eyes adjust. Dimly he heard the whoosh of the door closing and a faint click as it was locked. Apparently, leaving wouldn't be as easy.

There was nobody inside to greet him or show him the way -- only a single elevator on the far side of the room, conveniently open and waiting. Inuyasha shrugged, shoved his hands into his pockets, and entered the elevator.

All but one of the buttons had been removed. The only one still available was for the top floor. Inuyasha rolled his eyes. Real subtle. Guess he wants to make sure I don't get lost. He pushed the button and rode the elevator to the top floor. When it dinged and the doors slid open, he calmly stepped into another empty hallway

The door at the end was partially ajar. Inuyasha tried one of the other doors lining the hallway out of curiosity. It was locked, which meant the others probably were too. The soft whir behind him told him that the elevator was no longer available. That left only one option.


The man inside the room wasn't even doing the expected thing of waiting behind a desk, pretending to be working. He stood, with his back to Inuyasha, beside a large glass aquarium. There didn't seem to be any fish, though.

Lizards? Inuyasha squinted, just to be sure of what he saw. Yep. There were two or three bright green lizards, lazily snapping up the crickets being dropped into their cage.

The dark-haired man upended the margarine tub he held in his left hand, watching the crickets fall to the bottom where they were quickly devoured. He tossed the empty container into a nearby box labeled "Recycling" and turned around, dusting his hands.

"Inuyasha." The man smiled, though the expression didn't reach his eyes. "It has been a few years, hasn't it?" He leaned against the corner of his desk, running a critical eye over Inuyasha. "You're looking well."

"Cut the small talk, Naraku," Inuyasha snapped. "I have a bone to pick with you."

Again came that humorless smile. "Always the jester, aren't we, Inuyasha?" He leaned over and pressed a button on his desk. Inuyasha tensed.

Naraku cast a sardonic look his way. "Bring me a coffee, Kagura," he said into a small intercom. "Black." He paused and glanced at Inuyasha again. "May I offer you a drink? We have a fine selection of herbal teas to soothe jangled nerves. Or coffee. Though I don't recommend caffeine when you're so tense."

"Forget the fucking coffee!" Inuyasha snarled, uncomfortably aware that it wasn't long until sunup. "This isn't a social meeting!"

"Temper, temper," Naraku chided. He turned back to the intercom. "Just the one coffee, Kagura. And try not to let it get cold. We don't want a repeat of what happened the last time you screwed up an order."

Inuyasha crossed his arms over his chest. "They'll live," he stated bluntly.

"Somebody's doing something right then." Naraku turned and made his way back to the aquarium of lizards. "The excitement of the battle and everything. Hiten and Manten aren't always the most reliable."

A small growl rumbled in Inuyasha's chest. He clamped his lips together and glared at the other man. This was a mistake! There's not enough time! The change is close! I can feel it!

Naraku cast a lazy glance towards the furious Inuyasha. "Very little happens in this city that I am unaware of. My grandfather may have been just a trumped up thief, but I am more. Much more. And I am willing to wait until the right time." His gaze lingered for a second on the collar of Inuyasha's shirt where the Shikon no Tama rested, hidden by his clothes.

What? Only a supreme act of discipline kept Inuyasha from clutching convulsively at the jewel around his neck. "Onigumo was a fool."

"True." Naraku shrugged. A cricket that had somehow escaped the fate of its brethren crawled across the table. Naraku captured the insect and held it over the aquarium by one leg, watching it struggle frantically.

"Anoles are such fascinating lizards." He dropped the cricket. "Not quite as well known as the chameleon, but still impressive camouflage artists." The cricket jumped with powerful thrusts of its hind legs, just barely avoiding the first of the lizards.

Inuyasha eyed Naraku, suddenly wary. "What the fuck are you talking about?"

"Some animals, like the humble anole, have mastered the art of hiding in plain sight. If it is patient, it can be easily disregarded. By prey or by an enemy." The cricket stopped to rest on a twisted stick, out of reach of the first lizard. It didn't see a second one, looking as still and harmless as a rock, until it struck. "Those who know where to look, though, are never surprised."

Inuyasha fought to keep from showing his teeth. But it was hard. The window of Naraku's office faced east, and he could see the faintest lightening of the horizon. The dog howled inside of him, twisting against his hold.

Naraku sighed. "I'm not stupid, Inuyasha. I know who you are." He paused and looked at the young man expectantly.

StupidStupidStupidStupid! Inuyasha chanted to himself. I wasn't thinking! Why didn't I wait until tomorrow night! His lip curled, hiding the spasm as pain blossomed in his belly. Face it. Thinking was never my strong point, and fifty years hasn't changed that.

"My grandfather had much to say about the man who thwarted him, all those years ago," Naraku commented. He stared at Inuyasha thoughtfully for a minute. "I must admit that it took some time to assemble all of the clues. The man who bested Onigumo turns out to be the same asshole I keep stumbling over every time I turn around."

Inuyasha eased back a step. The door wasn't that far away. Maybe he could get away. Maybe nobody would try to stop him. Yeah. And maybe he could jump out the window and learn how to fly before he hit the ground.

Naraku slipped his hand under the table and pushed a button. Inuyasha looked around to see several small holes opening in the walls and ceiling. Slim, tubular devices protruded from each one, their business ends glowing a dull red. One or more of those lasers would be sure to hit him before he could reach the door.

"You can't leave so soon, Inuyasha. We have unfinished business to take care of."

I just realized that I have now been writing Inuyasha fanfiction for three years. Yesterday marks the third anniversary of my membership with FFN. I hope to continue entertaining people with my stories for many more years.

Food for thought: Every ten seconds, somewhere on this earth, there is a woman giving birth to a child. She must be found and stopped.