Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha or any characters related to him. He is the sole creative property of Rumiko Takahashi. Maybe someone will take pity on me and put him under the tree this year. I wonder what he would look like bound in tinsel and a big red bow.
I also do not own any other trademarked companies or characters that may be mentioned in this 'fic, so no suing, ya hear!
A/N: Hey, would ya look at that. It's an update!
On with the show!
"Papa? Uncle Yash? Are you down there?" The panic in her voice was strong enough for anyone to hear and that had the two demons out of their chairs and hurrying up the stairs. Clearing the last of the steps, Sess skidded to a halt in front of a distressed Rin and reached out to her, but it wasn't him she went to. Instead, she threw herself at Inuyasha and began to sob into his shirt. They could tell that she was trying to tell them something, but it was muffled in Yash's chest.
Finally, Yash pulled back and forced Rin to look at him. "What's wrong, Rin? What's happened?"
"Oh, Uncle Yash, it's terrible," the girl sobbed. "You have to get to the hospital. Kagome's been attacked!"
All I Want for Christmas
Inuyasha sat in the uncomfortable vinyl chair that seemed to be a staple of hospital waiting rooms everywhere and stared blindly at the plastic potted plant that leaned dispiritedly against the beige colored wall. Had it been anyone else, they would have noticed that the walls were actually a rather cheery light yellow, that the plastic plant was really a living organism, and that the chair he sat in was not vinyl or altogether uncomfortable; but Inuyasha was not in the mood to notice these contradictions. He was too worried about his injured girlfriend to care what the waiting room looked like.
It had been almost 9:00 last night when Rin burst in and shared her terrible news. Now it was pushing 6:00 in the morning, and he had finally convinced Sesshomaru to take Rin home about an hour ago. Shippo had left around midnight -- his parents had a strict curfew for the young scamp, and he didn't want them to worry by staying out past it. There was still no word from the doctor and that wasn't helping Inuyasha's nerves any.
He hated hospitals. The smell of sickness and death that no disinfectant, no matter how strong, could remove was not one he ever wanted to be subjected to. The combined scent of blood and medication tended to drive his acute nose crazy, and the sterility of the place just made him plain uncomfortable. It didn't help matters that the reason for him being there was because someone he cared for was injured. Add to that the silence he was getting from the doctors about Kagome's condition, and he was one stressed puppy.
They still didn't know what had happened. Rin had been nearly inconsolable in the car, and the most she could say was that Kagome had been fine when the girl called to say she would be late getting to the shrine. The movie Shippo had taken her to see had started later than they had originally thought and Rin didn't want to worry the young woman. Some time between that phone call and about two hours or so later when Rin and Shippo got there, Kagome was beaten and left unconscious on her living room floor.
Rin had stayed to try and revive her while Shippo ran to the phone and called an ambulance. When the medical team arrived, Shippo had volunteered to ride with their friend so that Rin could go home and tell Yash and Sess what had happened. When the trio arrived, Shippo had been unable to add more to the story and had taken over consoling Rin, much to Sesshomaru's obvious displeasure. It had been a waiting game ever since, except when Inuyasha had spoken to the police inspector that the hospital had called out.
It was standard practice on all assault or abuse cases, Yash knew, but he really could have done without all the hassle. Sesshomaru and Rin had departed a few minutes before; and he had been sitting there, staring unseeingly at that damn plant -- much like he was now -- when they interrupted his stupor.
"Mr. Shiro?" The soft male voice brought him back to reality with a harsh bump. Looking up in the direction of the voice, Inuyasha was greeted by the sympathetic green eyes of a redheaded young dog demon dressed in a scrubs shirt and faded jeans. The sympathy in those eyes grated on Inuyasha. He didn't want sympathy, damn it; he wanted answers.
"My name is Toru --"
"How is she? When are you people going to let me see her?" Inuyasha snarled, interrupting the young man's introduction. It was then that he noticed the older woman standing a few steps behind the redhead. She was short and squat, with iron grey hair that was twisted back into a severe, no-nonsense bun. Dressed casually in a blue business suit, she looked like the kind of grandma you used to frighten young kids into behaving. Inuyasha didn't like her on sight. "Who's the hag?"
Toru shifted uncomfortably. "This is Keade Misato. She is an inspector for the police department. We would like to ask you a few questions concerning Ms. Higurashi."
"What kind of questions?" Inuyasha asked dispiritedly. He really didn't know a whole lot about what had happened. The sympathy and affected concern he was getting from the inspector and the demon he assumed to be with the hospital was starting to grate on his nerves. He wasn't sure he really wanted to do this right now and said as much to the inspector.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Shiro," Keade said gently, "but it is best to get these things out of the way when everything is still fresh. It eliminates the risk of mistakes later because some important fact has been forgotten." Inuyasha nodded numbly before the inspector continued. "Now, then. When was the last time you were with Ms. Higurashi?"
"This -- well, I guess it would be yesterday morning," Inuyasha responded dully. Had it really been just yesterday that he had woken up in her bed with her? It seemed like so much longer than that.
"And where did you go when you left her home?"
"I went home. I had been with Kagome all night; and I needed to change clothes, otherwise I probably wouldn't have left her." Inuyasha paused a moment. "Well, I wouldn't have left until my brother came and dragged me to work, anyway."
"So, you work with your brother?" Inuyasha nodded. "You were with him all day?" Again, he nodded. "Where were you this evening between 5:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.?"
"Why do you want to know all of this?" Inuyasha asked defensively. In his worried, stressed out state, the first thing that came to mind was that the officer thought he had had something to do with Kagome's attack.
The other demon stepped forward and answered cautiously, "We just want to rule you out as a suspect, Mr. Shiro. We're not accusing you of anything, but we do need your help if we are to catch whoever did this."
Slightly mollified, Inuyasha ran a tired hand through his hair. "I'm sorry. I'm just a little stressed right now. I mean, nobody knows what happened to her and the damn hospital won't tell me what's wrong with her. I'm just…just…"
Toru laid a sympathetic hand on the half demon's shoulder and exchanged an asking glance with the inspector. At her nod, he said, "There are some very suspicious marks on Ms. Higurashi. Unusual gouges and some bruising that don't go along the same flow as her other injuries."
"What?" Inuyasha turned confused, questioning eyes to Toru. The redheaded demon sighed and sat down while the younger man continued. "I don't understand. What gouges? What bruising? You people have refused to tell me a damn thing about my Intended. I know nothing about what the hell's going on." Inuyasha rose from his seat and began to pace the small area in front of the chairs like a caged beast. "Answer my damn question, kid. What the hell kind of bruising are you talking about?"
"Well," Toru began calmly, "as you know, Ms. Higurashi was beaten pretty severely, but most of the blows seemed to center around the stomach and lower back areas. She has an abrasion on her forehead, which we believe is the blow that rendered her unconscious. However, the injuries we have found to be inconsistent are a bruise on her neck that doesn't appear to be a blunt force injury and has the imprint of canine fangs in it, and a set of gashes that start on her right shoulder and continue down across her back to her waist that appear to be from claws or some other sharp object. They aren't deep enough to require stitches, barely; but they will be very painful for a while."
Inuyasha listened quietly throughout Toru's rundown of Kagome's injuries, his face growing paler with each one, until he finally fell back into his abandoned seat and lowered his head into his hands. He couldn't believe that someone would hurt his Kagome, and his anger at himself grew. He should have been there to protect her, not hiding in his room listening to his brother lecture him about mating customs!
"Mr. Shiro," Inuyasha jerked his head up at the sound of the woman's voice. He had almost forgotten that the inspector was even there. "What is your relationship with Ms. Higurashi?" Her tone was gentle, and she kept her expression carefully neutral.
"She is my Intended," he answered softly. "We've known each other for years."
"Has she Accepted you?" Toru cut in before Keade could ask another question.
"What?" The half demon and the inspector turned to stare at the other demon, one in growing embarrassment and the other in confusion.
"I said, 'Has she Accepted you?'" he repeated.
"What does that have to do with anything? What business is it of yours if she has or not?" Inuyasha growled defensively.
"Well, it's just that I'm a little confused. You call her like a potential mate, but the only scent of her on you is hours old and the one on her isn't strong enough for that level of commitment. I'm just trying to understand the situation, that's all."
With a heavy sigh and a bowed head, Inuyasha realized that he was going to have to tell them what had happened between him and his girlfriend that morning. He had hoped to keep his bumbling in the family, but it looked like he was going to have to embarrass himself. "She doesn't know that she needs to," was his barely audible reply.
Toru stared in scandalized shock and then hissed, "You would force --."
Inuyasha's blazing eyes and warning growl were answered with a reproachful look and a snort. "I would never force Kagome to do anything she didn't want to do, so don't even try to make it sound like I would." He took a deep breath to try and calm the discomfort and confusion that had sprung up from having to discuss this with strangers. "It was an accident. I didn't even know that I had done it until I got home this -- well, I guess it would be yesterday now -- morning, and my brother asked me about it."
"How could you not know? Surely your father --"
"Look," Inuyasha cut the young man off again, "my father died in a car accident when I was pretty young, and Sesshomaru assumed that I had already been told all of this. In fact," he turned his gaze back to the inspector, who was looking at him thoughtfully, "that's where I was most of the evening -- getting a crash course in dog demon mating customs from my brother." He dropped his gaze to the floor and tried desperately to calm the rush of blood to his cheeks at having to make that admittance.
"And your brother can confirm this?" Keade asked in a businesslike tone, to which Inuyasha just nodded.
"Well." Toru regarded the half demon with a mocking smile. "That explains the bruise on her neck, at least. That's were you plan to mark her, is it?" At Inuyasha's confused look, the other demon just shook his head and chuckled wryly. "I see that you still have a lot to talk to your brother about, Pup. And if you're serious about this woman, you need to tell her about your claim. You severely limit her options if you don't and that's unfair to her."
Inuyasha folded his arms across his chest and stuck his nose in the air. "Yeah, well, I'm sure we would have gotten to that if my girlfriend hadn't been attacked for no reason." With a sad look and a dejected shake of his head, he muttered, "I'll tell her -- somehow." Then as an afterthought, he stabbed Toru with a narrow-eyed gaze and growled, "And don't fuckin' call me 'Pup'!"
"Yes, well," Keade regarded the half demon in front of her as though she were trying to remember something. What that might be, Inuyasha didn't know; and he wasn't real sure that he even cared. After a moment, the older woman nodded her head and asked, "Is there anyone you can think of who would want to hurt Ms. Higurashi, anyone at all?"
The first name that came to his mind was Kikyo, but he wasn't sure that he was ready to involve the police in what had so far only been a slight threat. They didn't know who had switched the notes on the flowers and, as far as Yash was concerned, that was just another minor thing. It wasn't worth mentioning and was probably just some kid's idea of a joke anyway, so he didn't really see that as something worth mentioning.
He shook his head at the inspector, "No, no one. Everybody loves Kagome. She doesn't have any enemies that I know of." A low growl rumbled in his throat as he muttered, "Besides, they wouldn't be around for long if I knew about them."
Toru chuckled at Keade's startled look. "Possessive much, Pup?" At the inspector's confused look, the demon hastened to explain. "It isn't unusual for a dog demon to become possessive of a potential mate, especially one that they have started the claiming ritual with. We are a possessive breed by nature. The higher regard we hold for you; the more concerned we are for your safety. With an Intent that hasn't been Accepted, I'm surprised the Pup hasn't started breaking down walls to get to the girl." Keade nodded as Toru turned back to Inuyasha. "You'll have to wait until the hospital staff clears her for visitors." He didn't see the puzzled look that crossed Inuyasha's face. "It's obvious that you and Ms. Higurashi are close. Is there anyone who would hurt her to get to you; anyone who might not approve of your relationship and try to drive her from you?"
"Well, her ex wasn't too keen on the idea of her seein' a demon, even half of one; but he's just a pathetic human. Besides, from what I know of the guy, he wouldn't hurt Kagome," was Inuyasha's hesitant answer. He didn't see Hojo as a threat. As far as Inuyasha was concerned, that pathetic excuse for a human had been scared off the afternoon before Kagome's party. They wouldn't be seeing him again.
"I think we'll check him out anyway, just to be safe," Toru replied.
"Well," Keade looked over the small notebook she had been writing in. "I can't think of anything else right now." Turning to the redheaded demon, she asked, "Was there anything else before we go back to the office?"
"Wait, you're not with the hospital?" Inuyasha turned confused eyes on the redhead.
"Well, no. What made you think --," Toru chuckled lightly. "Oh, that's right. You never did let me fully introduce myself." Sticking out his hand toward Inuyasha, he said with a grin, "Toru Asakawa, investigator extraordinaire and Inspector Keade's partner, at your service."
Inuyasha just stared at the outstretched hand for a moment before grunting and turning to regard the inspector. "Well, you could have said so sooner" he said, watching from the corner of his eye as the other demon's grin faded and he lowered his arm, "Are we done here?"
Shaking his head at Inuyasha's blatant rudeness, Toru replied, "I think we have enough for now. We'll be back to speak to Ms. Higurashi when she wakes up."
"Fine," Inuyasha said dismissively. The two left shortly after that with a promise to keep him informed.
That had been a couple of hours ago, and Inuyasha was about ready to go hunting the doctor when she stepped into the waiting room. Looking up, Inuyasha waited impatiently as the woman in the white lab coat studied something on a metal clipboard before snapping it shut and glancing around the empty waiting room.
"Are you here for Ms. Higuarshi?" she asked the impatient dog demon in a low, soothing tone.
"Yeah," Inuyasha answered. "How is she? When can I see her?"
"Are you family?" the doctor asked skeptically, taking in the fuzzy ears, claws, and fangs.
"She's my Int--." He stopped. He really wasn't in the mood to explain that again. "My girlfriend," he continued, running his hand through his hair. "Her family isn't in town. They don't know she's here."
In all the stress and worry, he hadn't thought to call and let them know what had happened. He had been too busy answering questions and cursing the hospital staff to think that they might need to be told. That was the first thing he would do just as soon as he knew Kagome was going to be okay.
"Well, we don't usually talk to anyone who isn't family," the doctor began. A low growl from the half demon in front of her had her hastening to add nervously, "But I would consider you close enough and in light of the fact that her family isn't available, how about I just tell you?"
"Please." Inuyasha tried hard to keep the impatience and worry out of his voice, but some of it must have leaked out. The doctor flinched a little before finally telling him what he had waited all night to hear.
"Well, her wounds have been treated and she's stable, but I would caution you to not let her do a whole lot in the next few days. Those gashes across her back are going to need time, and she'll probably need some help keeping them clean and dressed properly." At Inuyasha's accepting nod, she continued, "We should be able to release her as soon as she wakes up."
"That's the worst of them, right? The gashes on her back?" Inuyasha was relieved to hear that it wasn't nearly as bad as he had thought. Now he just needed the doctor's reassurance.
"Oh, yes. Those are definitely the worst of her injuries." The doctor looked thoughtful for a moment. "You know, whoever did this had to have had a real knowledge of unusual weapons."
"Why do you say that?" Inuyasha wanted to know. "The inspectors seemed to think they were made by claws."
"Well, I suppose at first glance they would appear to be rather deep scratches," the doctor answered. "But we got a pretty good look at them when we were treating Ms. Higurashi. They're too thin to be from a demon and too wide to be from an animal. It's really made all of us curious as to what might have made those marks." Shaking her head, the doctor sighed. "At any rate, she should be just fine in about a week or two." She turned and started out of the waiting room. "If you would like to follow me, I'll show you where her room is, and I can take you to the phones if you want to call her family."
Standing to follow, Inuyasha allowed a small smile to grace his features. "That would be great. Thank you."
Little did Inuyasha know that, even as things seemed to be looking up, there were some who hid in the shadows and plotted his downfall; and others who looked to prevent it.
Things were not going well. The man he had been following, the man whom he planned to turn to his aid by any means necessary, was late; and the blue-eyed demon was becoming impatient. Just an hour ago he had watched as the charge of the oldest dog had run into the house in tears, only to come out minutes later with both dogs at her heels. He had overheard something about the halfling's Intended being injured, but he had not followed them to the hospital. Instead, he had come here, to the door of one whom he thought would have answers -- and now he waited.
The ding of the elevator caught his attention, and he turned in time to catch sight of Hiten Chue, the very man he waited for, as he made his way down the hall. Ducking around a corner, the stranger waited for Hiten to put his key in the lock before he pulled a dagger from a hidden sheath and, coming up behind the other demon, put the weapon to his throat.
"Don't make any sudden moves, and don't even think about making a sound. Open the door and walk in. You and I need to have a little talk."
The stranger tightened his grip and made sure that Hiten knew he had claws when the demon in his grasp stiffened as though he were thinking about resisting. This meeting had been a long time in coming, and the wolf would be damned if he would be thwarted now.
The ringing phone woke Kagome from her fitful sleep. She had returned home after the hospital released her, much to Inuyasha's ire. He hadn't wanted her out of his sight and only after she promised that he could come over first thing in the morning had he allowed her to do so.
She had awakened at the hospital to find the half demon snoozing in the chair next to her bed. It hadn't taken more than a muffled moan on her part to wake him up, and, after he had assured himself that she really was okay, for him to begin an interrogation that had only ended when she claimed a headache that was not allowing her to think past the fact that she was one long ache. Inuyasha informing her that it was almost 6:00 in the afternoon the day after Shippo and Rin were supposed to come see her hadn't helped much with that, either. However, the rather surprising news that the police had released her house came as the first pleasant shock she'd had in a few days.
It had taken another hour or so's worth of whining and a few well placed threats to get the overprotective dog demon to allow her to come home to her own house. She was positive that that promise was the only reason she was getting any peace right now. Well, that and the fact that Sesshomaru had threatened bodily harm if Inuyasha didn't allow Kagome to rest. As it was, Inuyasha didn't leave her until he had done a thorough check of the grounds, made sure that every window and door was properly secured, and made her promise on the Sacred Tree that she would call him if anyone suspicious so much as sneezed in the shrine's general direction.
It wasn't until after he had left and she had locked up behind him that she had come to realize the extent of her injuries. Climbing the stairs wasn't an option, she found out, as the pain in her back greatly restricted her movement. That was quickly taken care of, however, by swallowing a couple of the pain pills the doctor had prescribed and, silently thanking her mother for the pillow and blanket she found behind the couch, Kagome lay down to try and get some more rest.
She had just gotten comfortable on the couch and been right on the cusp of dozing off when the phone rang. Cursing and promising severe bodily injury to her boyfriend for not giving her even an hour to herself, she got up with a wince and made her painful way to the kitchen.
"Hello," she said irritatedly. "Really, Inuyasha, couldn't you give me --"
"Hello, Kagome," said a female voice, interrupting the young woman. It wasn't a voice Kagome recognized.
"Who is this?" she asked.
"Did you like the pictures I sent you? Don't we make a lovely couple?" the woman chuckled darkly. "How does it feel to be played for a fool?"
"Wha-- what are you talking about? What pict--." It took a moment for Kagome's drug and sleep fogged mind to realize what the woman was talking about. "Y-you sent those pictures?" Kagome gasped in disbelief when she was finally able to remember. "Who are you and what do you think you're doing with my boyfriend?"
A sinister laugh met her ears before the woman's hard voice answered, "That's where you're wrong, little girl. The question should be 'What are you doing with my man?' Don't you think?" Silence was her only answer as Kagome struggled to clear the anger and growing doubt from her mind. "Consider this a warning, Little Girl. Stay away from Inuyasha or you'll be spending more nights in the hospital ER."
Kagome was speechless and the next thing she heard was a click and a dial tone. Reaching blindly for a chair, she sat down with a thump and fought her tears. Who was that woman and how could she say such things? It couldn't be true. Miroku had assured her that those pictures were fake. Besides, Inuyasha would never do something like this; it went against everything he built his life around.
The ringing of the telephone startled her and for a moment all she could do was stare at it in horror. What if it was that woman again? Kagome didn't think she could handle another call like that. :Don't be an idiot! If it is her, just hang up. You don't have to listen to her lies. : With a firm nod, she picked up the receiver.
"H-hello." Try as she might she couldn't hide the slight tremor in her voice.
"What's wrong, Kagome?" She could hear the concern in Inuyasha's voice and it was all she needed to lose her fight against her tears.
On the other end, Inuyasha listened as his girlfriend broke down in tears and tried to tell him about the mysterious phone call she had just gotten. Even with his hearing, he had a hard time and could only make out something about 'pictures', 'lies', and 'threatened to put me back in the hospital'. It was that last that made his decision for him. Promise or no promise, there was no way he was leaving Kagome alone tonight. Sesshomaru would understand. He would have to.
"Calm down, Kagome. I want you to stay right there and don't answer the phone again. I'll be right over." He hung up the phone, yelled his intentions to anyone in the house who might be listening, grabbed his keys, and went to comfort the only woman in his life that he couldn't stand to see cry.
A/N: I must be slipping. This one didn't end in a nasty cliffie and the next chapter is all laid out and should be up in less than -- oh, I don't know-- a month, maybe. School starts -- cripes, tomorrow! But hopefully it won't be so bad this semester. So, yeah.
Just wanted to thank you all for the kind words, especially sutlesarcasm. It made me feel like I'm actually going somewhere with this instead of just floundering in the stratosphere.
Erinlin, I don't remember saying that. Sango, yes; Kagome…well, that would be telling, wouldn't it? Let's just say that I'm not done with the whole dog demon clan mating thing yet. She still has to Accept him and it's not a given that she will…or that she'll live long enough for him to tell her. slaps paw over mouth and flattens whiskers I'm gonna shut up now. Oh, yeah, about the hickey. That's what you were supposed to think.
Slywolf! You're back! Where have you been?
Oh, and Artemismoon? All I can say is 'meow'.
The last of the A/N that refused to end: Some of you may have noticed that earlier chapters have been updated. Everybody thank Niamh for her mad beta skillz. Without her, this story would still be floundering in mediocrity.
Okay. That's it. Laters.
Until we meet again,