Author's Notes: Well everyone, this is it...this is the end that I've been moving toward and yet dreading all along. I can't believe how sad I am to see this story completed, because it means I won't get to work on it any more. And yet, at the same time, I'm proud of what this story has achieved, and know that it will always have a special place in my heart.
Thanks to all of you wonderful people who have made this story as successful as it has been...you have truly surpassed my wildest dreams as far as reviews and support. Thank you, a million times, thank you. And I guess that having been said, I can't say much else, except...enjoy the final chapter of Soul Therapy, and then watch for the first chapter of my next story, Impossible Dreams (bows elegantly and moves off of stage silently).
Trunksgirl: I think I will do a prequel to this story, but I don't know when. It all depends on where my inspiration takes me.
FrameofMind: I don't mind at all if you use some ideas for stories of your own. There are, as I learned in AP English, recurring motifs in writing...so I have no problem with that (just in case you were wondering). And thanks for all your wonderful reviews for this story, I'm going to miss it too.
Ssp51201: Of course I would like to read your story! And the idea actually sounds really unique, to put the characters in a more modern time. I like it! Let me know when you have something to read, and thanks so much for all your reviews!
Miko Sakura-sama: Have I ever thanked you for all your reviews on all my stories? Well, I'm thanking you now. I love hearing from you!
Miyu6: I understand about limited computer time, I run into that too...which is why I've started using my mom's laptop more often then not for typing my stories. I just wanted to let you know that I finally noticed a story by you called 'love me as I am', and wanted to say that I'm definitely going to start reading it...probably next week after my surgery when I'll have a lot of time on my hands! Thanks for all your reviews!
Numisma: A nest egg is a saving's account people will frequently put aside and not spend to save up for certain times in their lives. Frequently people will save up for weddings, babies, etc. I hope that answers your question, and thanks for the review!
Title: Soul Therapy
Rating: PG-13 (for language and, at times, sexual implications)
Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha.
Inuyasha lost the battle of holding back a dramatic yawn as he pulled his car into the driveway of his home, turning off the ignition and watching as the headlights illuminating the front porch disappeared, leaving him in complete darkness. After blinking several times and mustering enough energy to get through the front door, he stepped out of the silver automobile, careful to be considerate of his sleeping neighbors as he shut the door.
The one-story house was completely silent, save for the steady ticking of the large grandfather clock coming from the living room. Kicking off his shoes in the hallway and leaving them by the front door, Inuyasha made his way toward the kitchen for a glass of water, glancing through the archway separating the tiled room from the carpeted living room beyond.
For the most part it looked almost exactly like the living room in Kagome's old apartment, since the girl had insisted on the same color scheme of white furniture, white carpet, and colorful paintings on the walls. She had kept her white couch, as well as her two black recliners which, Inuyasha had discovered, had been a gift from her mother and grandfather when she graduated from college. But Inuyasha had insisted on some things too, like the mahogany bookshelves from his old home with Kikyou, which currently lined the wall behind the large television they'd bought when they moved in, filled with volumes about various medical topics. There were still large windows that stretched from the ceiling to the floor, because Kagome said she liked moonlight, but this time they revealed their own modest swimming pool, and not one that belonged to an apartment complex.
As Inuyasha moved about the kitchen, the sound of a soft whine came from the far corner, next to the heater, and he glanced over to see their dog, Hojo (he had not been happy when Kagome named the dog after her old boyfriend), giving him a soulful look, his black tail thumping slightly in joy as he lay curled up in his soft, pillowed bed.
"Hey boy," Inuyasha whispered, bending over and rubbing the black Labradors ears. "I guess you're the only one awake enough to welcome me home."
Glancing at the clock, he saw that it was 2:00 in the morning, and groaned slightly. It had been another long night at the hospital, and yet again Inuyasha found himself wondering why he had decided to go into Obstetrics and Gynecology when he graduated from medical school and completed his residency. And yet, there was nothing quite like the feeling of holding a new baby in his arms before handing it off to the joyful mother while the proud father cut the cord. It was worth it...in the end.
He chuckled. "Joyful except when I have three pregnant ladies who come in at the same time." He glanced back at Hojo for another brief instant before standing up. "Consider yourself lucky, mutt. You just have to look cute to get food and love. I on the other hand have to practically kill myself for it."
Setting the glass down in the sink, promising that he'd wash it when he woke up in five hours when he had to go work at the office, he headed toward the bedroom, which was connected to the master bathroom consisting of a large shower with two shower heads and two sinks (so both he and Kagome could get ready in the morning at the same time).
Picking up his toothbrush, he relished the feeling of the mint toothpaste in his mouth, licking his clean teeth once he had finished and sighing in satisfaction. He'd learned very early on that he couldn't come home and take a shower, thus waking up Kagome, when it was that early, but he could get away with brushing his teeth, and the small sanitary habit after being up all night was a relief.
Walking out of the bathroom, he pulled off his soiled scrubs and threw them in the hamper, stripping down to his boxers before heading toward the actual bedroom, where he knew a nice, soft pillow waited for him, along with Kagome's beautiful, sleeping face.
On his pillow, however, he found a large photo, along with an album, on top of which was a short note from Kagome.
Surprise! I didn't know when you'd be home, so I figured I'd just put
it where I knew you'd find it eventually. I think you'll enjoy what
the photography company did.
Inuyasha smiled at her loopy cursive, glancing at her sleeping form, and reached for the album, in turn revealing the occupants of the large photograph, framed in gold.
Kagome was wearing her wedding dress, which was cut in a Greek style with the loose shoulder straps held in place by rose-shaped clasps. The neckline fell down to reveal a modest amount of cleavage, and the top layer of the gown was transparent, revealing the second layer of fabric, which hugged her hips a little more generously. Her hair was pulled up into a Greek style as well, matching the theme of the gown, into a high ponytail of massive curls falling halfway down her back, framed by her long veil, which was held in place by four golden bands around her head. She was smiling, and had her arm looped through Inuyasha's, holding her bouquet, which consisted of lilacs and lilies. He was smiling as well, and together they made a handsome couple.
He couldn't believe it had been over a year since that day. Frankly, he couldn't believe it had been two years since he and Kagome had first had that conversation out in the rose garden, when she had mistaken the emerald and ruby rose-shaped pendant for an engagement ring. He chuckled now, because she hardly ever parted with it, saying it was like a promise ring would be to other girls. Even now, as he glanced over, he saw it glinting on her neck as she lay on her back, her large belly causing the sheets to rise up like a mountain.
Seeing her belly, and thinking about the women he had just delivered that night, caused him to chuckle to himself. "I'm surrounded by pregnant women these days," he mumbled, leafing through the photo album, which was decorated beautifully with white, silver, and gold paper, captions next to almost every photo in beautiful cursive which he recognized as Kagome's. Obviously that's what she'd been doing that day.
Ever since she'd gone on maternity leave two weeks ago, Kagome had been practically impossible to live with, going stir crazy not being able to leave the house because she couldn't make it for more then an hour without needing to use the bathroom. But thankfully, because of his long work day which included rounds at the hospital once he was done seeing patients at the office, Inuyasha got to come home and see her in a good mood...most of the time.
Setting the large photograph down along the wall, along with the album, promising himself to look at it more thoroughly in the morning, Inuyasha finally pulled back the covers and looked at the empty space left for him with longing, crawling into bed and letting out a long sigh of relief as his head sank into the soft feather pillow. On nights like these, heaven was exactly where he was at that moment.
Unfortunately, being an obstetrician meant you became a very light sleeper since you needed to hear the phone at all hours of the night, and just as he was falling asleep Inuyasha felt Kagome stir next to him. Figuring she was just doing her hourly bathroom routine, he forced his eyes to remain shut and clutched the covers around his exhausted body, feeling on the verge of dreams once more, when he felt a hand on his shoulder, shaking him gently.
Groaning and convincing himself it would just go away, that fate wouldn't be that cruel, and have his wife wake him up, Inuyasha ignored it. But that meant the shaking only got harder.
"Inuyasha...Inuyasha, wake up!"
"Mff..." He grumbled into his pillow, and somehow she translated that into 'what is it?' because she answered.
"Inuyasha...I think my water just broke."
Now, if he had been like any other normal man, he would have jumped up and nearly hit the ceiling with excitement. But unlike most fathers-to-be, Inuyasha Takahashi heard that announcement at least three times a day, and as such he didn't go leaping out of bed. Instead, because he was tired, he just rolled over and curled into a little ball, mumbling again; although this time he actually made sense. "When did it happen?"
"Um...a few minutes ago." He could feel her shifting next to him, jostling his body even more, and sighed, still keeping his eyes closed.
"Have you started having contractions yet?"
"Then go back to sleep and tell me when you do." And with that he went silent, not even thinking about the fact that he had just told his wife, and a very irritable, pregnant wife at that, to sit tight and go back to sleep. Still, all he got was an irritated sigh and then felt Kagome roll out of bed slowly to head for the bathroom.
After almost nine months of pregnancy, Kagome was ready to deliver. She didn't care about all the painful stories she'd heard from experienced friends...all she knew was that about four months into it, when the baby shifted and grew enough that it was pinching on her bladder, she'd had enough. Not to mention the fact that she hated feeling like she was waddling, her huge stomach protruding out of her body and getting in the way of everything. She hadn't seen her feet, let alone been able to tie her own shoes, in about two months, and the thought, along with raging rollercoaster hormones, caused tears to frequently come to her eyes. And now, after all of that, after carrying HIS child, her husband (who she tried to remind herself was wonderful and loving) had the nerve to tell her to just go back to sleep?
"Baka," she mumbled as she reached the bathroom, sitting down on the toilet to urinate for at least the fifth time that night. Glancing down at her stomach, she frowned. "And if you're a boy, I will see to it that you have respect for your wife when she's pregnant."
Not that Inuyasha hadn't been respectful and caring. In fact, having a husband who worked with pregnant women for a living meant he was more patient then most when it came to her snappish temper and depressed moods. Actually, as she recalled one night in particular when he'd driven to the store at midnight to get her ice cream, he had been wonderful to her. She groaned. Until now...
Standing up and flushing the toilet, Kagome walked slowly over to the sink, looking at her face, which was drawn and tired from not having slept for more then two hours straight for the past two months. Her hair, pulled back into a low ponytail, was knotted into a mess since she'd been too lazy to comb it after getting out of the shower before going to bed, and her skin was pale.
Throwing some water on her face and drying it off with a hand towel, she headed back into the bedroom, noticing the large wedding picture Sesshoumaru had dropped off earlier that day. Kagome glared at the woman in the picture, who was all smiles and radiance, because right at that moment in comparison she felt like an old hag. And yet, she couldn't resist picking up the album she had put together earlier that day from all the pictures that had finally been developed.
It had been a large affair, with Sesshoumaru inviting half of Tokyo, while Kagome also had many friends and family who she wanted to come. All told there had been almost 200 guests, much to Inuyasha's dismay. One thing Kagome had discovered early on was that one problem with marrying a man who had been married before was that he was not as anxious to have a large ceremony the second time. She had understood, but at the same time had kindly reminded him that it was her first wedding, and as she intended it to be her only wedding, had wanted it to be a day to remember.
Sango had been her maid of honor, with Ayame, Rin, and, of all people, Kikyou, as brides' maids, while Sesshoumaru had been Inuyasha's best man, and Miroku, Kouga, and Souta had been groomsmen. It had been the happiest day of her life, and even as she set the album back down again, feeling her back complain as she bent over, she couldn't help but grow warm at the memory of it.
Since her contractions still hadn't started, and believing Inuyasha when he said that they were in no hurry until they did, she decided to lay back down and try to get some sleep, rolling over onto her back, since sleeping on her stomach was out of the question, and she couldn't curl up comfortably on her side any more. But just as she closed her eyes, a ripping pain shot through her abdomen, and she drew in a sharp breath.
"Oh...god..." She hissed, and, because it hurt so much, she whacked Inuyasha on the back, a lot harder then she meant to, to wake him up. Not that she had to. She knew he was a light sleeper, and that all she had to do was make a noise that sounded like a phone and he was up and ready to go.
"What?" He groaned, rolling over and looking irritated. But his irritation faded when he saw the expression of surprised pain on his wife's face, and instantly jumped into doctor mode, forgetting about how tired he was.
Moving over to her side slowly and placing his arms under her back, he gently lifted Kagome up into a sitting position and helped her stand. "Okay, just take it easy, and make sure to breath normally. That's the key."
Kagome nodded, clutching his hand, but the contraction quickly faded, and she was left with simply a shaky feeling from the adrenaline rush. "Why don't you get the bag, and I'll meet you at the car," she whispered, almost like she was afraid to speak any louder because it would invite another contraction.
"Are you sure you can make it to the car by yourself?"
She nodded, and he returned the gesture before moving toward the closet, pulling on a fresh pair of scrubs before pulling out the large black bag they'd packed several weeks ago, so that they'd be prepared for when the time came. It only held two changes of clothes for each of them, two toothbrushes, some shampoo, and a hairbrush, but as Kagome had pointed out when they were packing, she wasn't planning on moving in, so she didn't need much.
Moving quickly now, he strode out the front door, ignoring Hojo's excited yip of curiosity at such activity that early in the morning, and started his silver car for the second time that night. Kagome appeared several minutes later wearing her large black maternity pants, which were too big everywhere but her belly, along with a simple white t-shirt, and he jumped out of the driver's seat to help her into the back, where she could lay down if she needed to.
Just as he shut the door, she grimaced and hissed again, letting out quick, short breaths, and anyone could tell she was having a contraction. Glancing at his watch, he sighed in relief to see that it had been about ten minutes since the last one, which meant they weren't making an emergency run just yet.
And thank god for that, because if they had been in any hurry, they would not have made it, which Inuyasha soon discovered.
It was like Kagome's sensitive nerves were on fire, because every time the car rocked slightly, or went over a bump, she would beg him to drive slower because it was uncomfortable, until eventually she had begged and pleaded so much that he was barely making ten miles an hour on a forty-five mile an hour road. At least no one's out, he thought gratefully, glancing in the mirror every few seconds to see Kagome breathing fast, her forehead quickly becoming drenched in sweat.
"How are you doing?" he asked, knowing it was a stupid question but also knowing that it was necessary to keep her mind off of any pain she might be experiencing. And surprisingly, she didn't snap at him or think he was being ridiculous, instead answering with complete seriousness.
"My abdomen hurts," she complained, "And I feel a lot of pressure between my legs."
He nodded. "That's all completely natural. Just remember that every time you have a contraction you'll have the urge to push...and that you can't. Not until we get to the hospital. Besides, your contractions are far enough apart that you would exhaust yourself if you started pushing right now."
Kagome nodded and clutched the door handle in her left hand, which caused Inuyasha to lock the doors just in case she pulled the wrong direction and went flying out of the car. Not that much would happen when going at ten miles an hour, but still, he wouldn't want that on his conscience in the years to come.
The hospital came into view twenty minutes later, and Kagome sighed in relief, happy to know that soon she would be in a bed with people taking care of her. After all, while Inuyasha was wonderful, she liked the idea of being in a place where they were prepared for anything.
"Dr. Takahashi!" Several nurses exclaimed in surprise when Inuyasha appeared wheeling Kagome in on a wheelchair he'd grabbed from the front door. He couldn't blame them for looking shocked, considering he'd just left about an hour ago, but now was not the time for conversation, and he had switched into commanding doctor/protective husband mode for Kagome's sake.
"This is my wife, and she needs a room...now."
"Yes sir," they all responded at once, taking Kagome and wheeling her into the nearest room, where she was then moved onto a bed that automatically put her into a comfortable sitting position. In front of her was a television, and a small couch that could be pulled out into a bed for the husband, who usually wanted to spend the night with his wife after the baby was born.
"Hello," A kindly older woman with graying hair smiled at Kagome, and she did her best to smile back, although at one point she clutched her belly once more in pain. The nurse smiled. "It wont be long now, sweetheart, so you just let me know if you need anything, okay?"
"W-where's Inuyasha?" Kagome managed once her breathing had slowed down again.
"Your husband is probably out filling out the papers for you to stay here. He'll be in shortly. He's such a nice man, and a wonderful doctor too..." She continued to talk as she attached several monitors to Kagome's body, one on her arm to check blood pressure every five minutes, and another machine that gave her heart rate, along with the baby's heart rate and blood pressure. The nurse smiled at what she saw. "And your baby is as healthy as ever, Mrs. Takahashi."
Kagome smiled at that, glancing over at the machine, which was emitting the washing-machine like sound of her baby's heartbeat. That's my baby, she thought, and felt her heart melt in tenderness and motherly love.
Inuyasha appeared a few minutes later, not looking frantic, but still seeming excited, and pulled a chair up next to her bed, taking her hand in his, kissing her fingers gently. "How are you doing?"
She gave him a smile. "I'm alright. You?"
He chuckled. "It feels weird to be on the receiving end this time. Usually I'm the one who blows in at the last minute, delivers the baby, takes a picture, and then leaves."
Kagome touched his face gently, feeling conscious of her clammy skin against his hot cheek. "Why don't you call Sango and Miroku."
"But it's three in the morning."
"I know...but they'd want to know. They are going to be the godparents after all."
"I suppose you're right." Inuyasha grabbed the cell phone out of the black bag and quickly dialed Miroku's number, not at all upset about the fact that he was waking up the man and his fiancée. After all, if he wasn't going to get a good night's sleep, then no one should.
About an hour later, when the contractions started coming faster, Inuyasha sent for the anesthesiologist to give Kagome an epidural to help with the pain, and before long Kagome was assuring him that she was almost completely numb from the waist down, which made him smile. He wanted the best care for his wife and unborn child.
By the time 6:00 am rolled around, Inuyasha was the one who was becoming anxious, while Kagome was just physically tired from experiencing contractions for the past three hours. He never had to wait out an entire birth, just the actual delivery, and it was kind of unnerving. Thankfully, he was rescued from being all alone when Sango and Miroku burst into the room carrying a large bouquet of flowers.
"Where the hell have you been?" He snapped. "I called you both like three hours ago."
"Sorry," Miroku bumbled, blushing slightly at the sight of Kagome while Sango simply went and took her friend's hand. "Not all of us can just wake up at three in the morning and not feel it, Inuyasha."
"Keh," was all he said in reply before walking back to stand beside Kagome, who was smiling at her friends in appreciation.
"Thanks for coming," she said with a grin, and Sango smiled back, brushing away several stray strands of hair from her friend's damp forehead.
"We wouldn't miss this for the world, Kagome. After all," She grinned at Miroku, "I'm getting married in two weeks, and I'll need to see what to expect."
Kagome smiled. "And I guess I'll get to wear the smaller dress as your maid of honor."
Sango laughed, remembering how they had ordered two dresses because they hadn't been sure if Kagome would deliver before or after the wedding. "Yeah, I guess you will. And you can ditch the large bow that would have gone on your stomach too."
Two hours later Kagome still hadn't come any closer to delivering, and Inuyasha had called Sesshoumaru so that now he and his wife, Rin, had joined the group in the room. The two women were with Kagome while the three men stood back slightly, talking about this and that, but generally all anxious about the arrival of the baby, Rin and Sesshoumaru especially, since they were expecting their first in four months.
"Oh god!" Kagome exclaimed, and everyone jumped to attention.
"What is it?" Inuyasha inquired frantically. "Are you okay? Are the contractions getting worse? The epidural should be helping with the pain..."
"No, Inuyasha, it's not that...it's just that I haven't called my mother yet, or my brother."
Sighing in relief that it wasn't something serious, everyone set about on their cell phones, Sesshoumaru contacting Mrs. Higurashi while Inuyasha tried to track down Kagome's college-crazy brother. Sango also remembered someone, and called up Kouga, who rushed over immediately in a speeding limo, Ayame at his side, and by the time Kagome's contractions were coming fast, and she was fully dialated, the birthing room was full of friends and family.
The doctor arrived, just like Inuyasha always did, with about five minutes left, and smiled at Kagome while Inuyasha moved to take her hand, everyone else moving back slightly. The doctor seemed surprised at how many people were in the room, but just shrugged as he recognized Sesshoumaru and Rin.
"Are you ready, Kagome?" He asked kindly, and Kagome nodded, giving him a smile while Inuyasha grunted. He always asked that question too, but had no idea before that morning how stupid it sounded.
Moving to sit on the stool between her legs, the doctor helped put her feet in stirrups while the nurses helped him into his gown and gloves. "Okay Kagome, I want you to put your hands on your legs and use them for support when you push, okay?" Kagome nodded and obeyed, closing her eyes as another contraction came. She couldn't believe how much it hurt, and didn't even want to think about what it would be feeling like if Inuyasha hadn't insisted she get the epidural.
"Inuyasha..." She panted as another contraction hit her, and he gripped her hand tightly in his.
"I'm here, Kagome, just breath with me, okay?" She nodded, and together they took in deep, steady breaths.
"Okay Kagome, on the next contraction, I want you to push as hard as you can, okay?" She nodded, and did so, letting out a long, strained moan. Gods above, it almost felt like something was ripping inside of her!
"Very good, Kagome," the doctor praised in a voice that was trained to be calm. "Now I want you to do that again..."
Kagome did, for the next ten minutes she pushed whenever she had a contraction, and finally, when she thought she couldn't push any more, she heard the beautiful sounds of a baby's shrill cry, followed by the doctor's happy announcement that they had a beautiful baby boy.
Tears came to her eyes as the doctor held up the infant for her to see, and she smiled as she extended her hand as though to touch him while Inuyasha moved to cut the umbilical cord. Nearby, Sango, Ayame, and Rin all had tears in their eyes as well, Sesshoumaru looked proud to be an uncle, while Miroku and Kouga just looked uncomfortable, but none was as excited as Mrs. Higurashi and Souta as they hugged each other in joy.
"Oh sweetheart," Mrs. Higurashi cooed gently once Kagome was lying on her back, breathing normally but shaking from the extreme adrenaline rush caused by the delivery. "I'm so proud of you."
Kagome smiled weakly, feeling utterly exhausted as they took her son away to be bathed and wrapped in a clean towel. "Thanks, mama."
Souta appeared too, rubbing a hand over his sister's forehead tenderly, a smile on his face. "You did a great job, Kagome." He kissed her forehead lightly, and Kagome smiled. "I love you."
"I love you too, Souta."
Inuyasha came in at that moment carrying his new son, a proud smile on his face and, ignoring the looks and extended arms of the other occupants of the room, carried the baby straight to Kagome's waiting embrace. She smiled warmly down at the baby, who was cooing softly and flexing his fingers as he blinked and looked up at his mother.
"You're so beautiful," she said with a smile, and Inuyasha leaned over them both protectively, a grin on his face as well.
"He's perfect," he whispered, kissing Kagome's cheek, and she looked at him with shining eyes.
"Have you picked out a name yet?"
"That's right...the deal was if it was a girl I would pick the name, and if it was a boy, you would. So what have you decided?"
"I don't know..." He scratched his head. "I'll have to think about it."
Kagome nodded, feeling warm and sedated by the pain medications she had been given. "You do that, and then let me know what you've decided when I wake up."
He smiled at her and, without warning, crawled over all the monitors to curl up on the bed beside her, an arm lazily sitting on her abdomen while his son grabbed at his middle finger on his other hand. Smiling, Inuyasha relaxed too, knowing that, at long last, he'd found exactly what he'd wanted all along.
The accident, and subsequent recovery, had been hell, but at the same time he'd come to think of it as a blessing, because it had changed his life forever. He'd married Kikyou, and he'd loved her, but he had never felt the way he now did about anyone or anything before in his whole life.Kagome was the mother of his child, the love of his life, and as for his son...tears came to his eyes in a rare display of emotion as Inuyasha listened to the innocent burbles of the infant currently squeezing his finger.
He opened his eyes to see Kagome smiling at him. He smiled back. "Yeah?"
"I love you."
He touched her cheek. "I love you too."
She smiled again and closed her eyes, her breathing slowly becoming steady, indicating she was asleep. And, once he was sure his wife and child were safe too, he followed her into dreams, all the while knowing he had truly found heaven on earth right there, at that moment, and that everything else, including the accident, had been worth it...in the end.