Title: Crushed Petals

Author: Buffybot76

Email: vampmistress76@hotmail.com

Rating: R

Pairing: Undecided

Summary: She had to move.. had to get up... had to get somewhere so she was safe. But where? ..She wished she could drive the thoughts--the images--from her memory. But she couldn't forget.

Disclaimer: I do not own the characters mentioned within this fic. They belong to their creator who is, sadly, not me.

~Prologue~

All she could feel was the pain.

It radiated throughout her slight frame, coursing through her head like lightening bolts which travelled down her neck and back and spread into her limbs and innermost places... especially the intimate ones. She trembled in the darkened alleyway with only a single street lamp to illuminate her poor, abused body in the most unflattering light.

She'd been lying here for how long now? Minutes? Hours? Days even?

She didn't know. She'd been in and out of consciousness so sporadically that she had lost all concept of time.

It didn't matter anyway...

Her breaths came in uneven, ragged heaves, the sound strangled by unshed tears which left her swollen brown eyes shimmering with dew. The medium length, mahogany strands of hair, which normally hung in gentle waves about her face, was now a mass of tangled knots, littered with dirt and pieces of trash from the nearby dumpster.

She shifted slightly, inadvertantly sending another shockwave of pain through her, and wringing an agonized groan from her own throat. Her clothes were ruined, she was sure. She could feel the torn material blowing in the breeze. Her light blue blouse had been relieved of its buttons by a particularly vicious yank. Her skirt was intact, however, though it was bunched about her waist, allowing the frigid humidity to do its worst on her exposed skin. Her underthings were nothing but a memory.

She had to move.. had to get up... had to get somewhere so she was safe. But where? If she remained here any longer she would surely succumb to her injuries. She was fairly certain she had felt something tear inside of her when one of the more anxious brutes had... She cringed, wishing only to drive the thoughts--the images--from her memory. But she couldn't forget.

She could never forget.

Biting her bottom lip, the coppery taste of blood entered her mouth, gagging her. Finally managing to choke it down, she forced back the scream her protesting body insisted she release as she rolled and slowly rose to her feet. She weaved uneasily, a trembling hand shooting out to grasp a grimy wall, the mildew and other gross substances coating the finely laid brick, but she didn't care. At the moment it supported her, and that was all that mattered.

The moonlight filtered down on the deserted street, lending confirmation to the late hour. She took a pain-filled step, pausing when a drop of blood from the cut above her eye trickled down and temporarily obscurred her vision. She swiped it away with a wrist, smearing the bruised flesh with the red fluid, but she didn't care. She could see, and that was all that mattered.

The alley in which they had decided to have their fun was really a blessing in disguise, considering its proximity to a familiar street. Not hers, but still, a friend was close by. A helping hand within reach. A warm atmosphere to chase away the horror in which she'd lived through. All she had to do was stay conscious and Make. It. There.

The task was becoming difficult. The pain overwhelming, her vision swam dangerously and her body began to revolt. She crumpled, her knees sustaining even more damage and more precious energy lost. More time lost. Each breath was agony, but needed. She had to keep going. She didn't want to die. Not here... not now. Flashes of what she would recieve passed through her mind. Concern-filled emerald eyes. A gentle touch and strong arms. Possible healing. All if she could only stay conscious. If she could only keep going.

And somehow, some way, she was up again, her sock-clad feet shuffling along the concrete sidewalk. Her shoes had been disposed of as well. The street. The drive. The house. The front door. It all came within view, though not nearly as soon as she would have hoped. But it inevitably did.

Thank Kami.

With her last resource of strength, she lunged for the door, collapsing against the small name plaque, her fingers tracing the engraved name as she hoped that the racket she'd made drew attention. Vision dimming, her last recollected thought was focused on the words gracing the entrance to her haven.

Minamino Residence.

~*~

Shuichi Minamino, aka Kurama, sat in the comfortable chair that his mom often sat in, reading a novel that had currently caught his attention. His mom had went out to visit a friend earlier, but had called later on saying that she wouldn't be returning till the next day. And so, he had taken the opportunity to sit in the plush seat, the rose printed cushions just as comfortable as they looked. He had been engrossed in the book so much that the time had flew by, and soon, he glanced up as a yawn snuck up on him.

3:24 a.m.

'Goodness, is it that late?' he thought, running a hand through his long, red hair, musing it slightly with the action.

Sighing tiredly, Kurama relinquished his seat, replacing the book on the shelf. He turned back, intending on turning off the lamp, the only source of light within the Miamino living room, and retiring to bed.

And then he heard it.

A muffled thump against the front door. Nothing too extreme, it would not have even drew any attention if it had not been for his inhuman hearing. Green eyes narrowed, he cautiously made his way to the door, reaching out with his senses in hopes of indentifying any evil auras. What he sensed caused his eyebrows to furrow together in confusion. It was human, and the aura was weak. Nearly non-existent actually. Racing forward, Kurama grabbed the knob, turning the handle and pulling open the door.

He was unprepared for the sight which greeted him.

A body slumped over the threshold as a mixed scent of fear, sex and blood wafted on the air, assaulting Kurama's sensitive nose and sending him back a step. Regaining his composure, Kurama moved forward again. Kneeling beside the human female who had obviously sought refuge here after a terrible ordeal, Kurama placed a hand gently on the thin shoulder and--being mindful not to cause more damage--rolled the slight frame over in order to see her identity.

Emerald eyes grew wide in horrified shock as a battered, but familiar face was revealed to him.

"Keiko!!"

Kurama wasted no time in gathering Keiko's slight weight into his arms. Supporting her against him, the red head quickly assessed the situation. His eyes drifted closed in despair as his sensitive nose picked up the distinct scent of human blood and demon semen.

'I see many surface injuries... but most seem to consist of bruising and light gashes...' he thought, his eyes scanning the pitiful sight before him. 'It was definitely a demon that done this... but why?'

An agonized moan drew his attention, his eyes flying back to Keiko's face just as her eyes fluttered open. The pain was unbearably visible in her brown orbs, causing Kurama to wince. 'Such a delicate soul should never be made to suffer like this.'

He watched as her eyes focused on him, saw her struggling to push back her pain and surprisingly managed to offer a small smile.

"I knew it... Emerald eyes and strong arms." she managed to murmur before her body went lax again.

Somewhat shocked by her words, Kurama could only stare down at the unconscious girl in his arms. He could smell blood... lots of it. She was badly injured and he could not find any wounds that would warrant such a strong scent of blood loss, unless... Eyes widening in comprehension, Kurama gathered Keiko up and rose to his feet, intending on taking her someplace so that she could be treated. The hospital was out of the question though.

The presence at the front door arrived suddenly, like an electrical surge through a telephone line. Kurama looked towards the entrance to his house, his eyes falling on the diminuitive form that practically blended in with the night except for the beam of light coming from the porch lamp.

"Hiei."

"What happened?" the stoic fire demon responded, his tone detached and unconcerned despite his inquiry.

Kurama shook his head, "I don't know for sure, but there's no time for that now. Here, you're faster. I need you to take her to Genkai. It's her only chance." the red head said, stepping forward and gently depositing his abused burden into Hiei's arms.

Hiei cast a critical eye at the girl before arching an eyebrow in Kurama's direction. "And why can't you do it?"

"As I said, you're faster. I believe she is bleeding internally, and I can do nothing for her here. Please, Hiei, this is no time to be stubborn." Kurama's voice held a hint of pleading that took the fire demon off guard.

"Hn.. fine." he said, and in the next heartbeat, the doorway was empty.

~*~

TBC..

Author's Notes: Alright, I hope you guys enjoyed reading the prologue to my newest fic. I also need a bit of help, you see, I'm not quite sure who I want to pair Keiko up with. It'll either be Kurama or Hiei, I'm sure. Actually, I'm sorta leaning toward Kurama/Keiko right now, just not exactly for sure. I would appreciate it if, when you drop a review, also stick in a vote on who you would prefer her to be with. I'll keep a tally until after I post the next chapter, then I'll decide on which pairing won.

Thanks!

Rose aka Buffybot76