A/N: Hello again! Look, it didn't take me eight months this time! Actually, I consider this some kind of record! I'm sorry if the chapter length annoys you, but that's just the way it is. They are slowly getting a little longer each time. The first chapter was just over 1000 words, this one is a little over 2100. All my long chapters seem to concentrated on my story Digging Deeper. (Shameless plug here, it's a Ranma ½, Inuyasha crossover. Go check it out if you're interested! Please?) Enjoy!
Disclaimer: Do you really think I'm Rumiko Takahashi? If you do, then I suggest you go see a doctor. I do not know Japanese, so how could I be her?
Inuyasha snorted and flopped down angrily. "I think I'm going nuts! I can hear and understand that dog as easily as we're talking now! And I have no idea why! Before you ask again Kagome, no, I can't talk to dogs. I seem to have gained the magical ability to do just that overnight!"
"You're so stressed out. Lie down and relax," said the dog, who had sat down beside Inuyasha and was now wagging his tail slowly. "Let me tell you some good news, okay?"
"Sure, go right ahead," Inuyasha answered in a weary, resigned way. "I could use some good news."
The others were watching the dog and the half-demon with ill-concealed interest.
"My name, my true name, is Rikoukawa. You are not losing your mind."
"That's nice to know," Inuyasha said with a hint of sarcasm.
"Excuse me, Inuyasha, but may I ask what you two are discussing?" Miroku asked, unable to contain his curiosity any longer.
Inuyasha threw him a half-hearted glare. "He says his name is Rikoukawa and that I'm not going crazy."
"Wow," Kagome said, slightly awed. "Does he know why you can understand him?"
"I hope you caught that because I hate repeating things," he growled at the dog.
Rikoukawa simply rolled his eyes. "I don't know for sure, the details are a little hazy as it's really just a legend for the most part…"
Chapter Four: Throw Me A Bone
"A legend?" Inuyasha interrupted rudely.
Rikoukawa snorted. "I said it's mostly a legend. Bits of a myth, but all myths and legends have some basis in truth. I've heard about this before, but I've never seen it happen and never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd ever actually meet one!"
"Meet one? One what?"
All those who couldn't understand were watching this interplay of canine vocabulary like it was an intense tennis rally.
Rikoukawa rolled his eyes skyward, as though seeking patience. "Have you ever heard of the Royal Dog family?"
"Royal Dog family?" Inuyasha repeated blankly.
"Yes," Rikoukawa replied. "They were the most powerful and majestic of all the dogs. It is said that humans tamed some of them. Those who were tamed eventually lost all supernatural power and have become the dogs you see as pets today. I am one such dog, a descendant of the tamed ones."
The half-demon stared at the brown dog inscrutably. "Yeah, I get that, so what about the others that didn't become human lackeys?"
Rikoukawa glared at him in mild offence for the 'lackey' remark before answering. "They absorbed the power the tamed ones had lost. However, something else was transferred to the wild ones along with it. The love, devotion and loyalty that they harboured towards humans became an integral part of the wild ones. As the generations passed, the wild ones became more human-like because of those very feelings. After many generations had passed, they started to lose a little more of their canine image. Not long after that, a dog was born that emerged as practically human-looking. That was when the first dog-demon was born."
Inuyasha's ears perked up at this. A thoughtful look plastered itself on his face. "So that's how…I've always wondered," he muttered softly to himself, though the others heard him anyway.
"Wondered what?" Kagome ventured to ask. Inuyasha didn't hear her, though. He was too absorbed with what Rikoukawa was telling him.
"Is that really how dog-demons started?" he asked, slightly sceptical.
"That's how the story goes. It's been passed down to all the domesticated dogs from generation to generation. The dog-demons were divided about humans, so only those who wanted their history known told their offspring. Though, considering you're a half-demon, one of your parents must've liked humans. So why don't you know this?" Rikoukawa asked in earnest.
"He died the night I was born, so he never got a chance!" Inuyasha snapped, temper flaring up at the casual mention of his parents.
The brown dog pulled his ears back and laid them flat in a sort of canine apology. "I'm sorry, I didn't know…"
Inuyasha sighed, feeling a little guilty. 'Here's this mutt who's helping me out and I go and explode at him for something he couldn't possibly know!' he thought to himself in reprimand. "'S okay, you had no idea. Anyway, you were saying?" he prompted, trying to put some gruffness behind it.
"Ah, yes," Rikoukawa said, raising his ears now that he had been forgiven. "After that first birth, more and more pups were being born that way until no newborns retained their fur and paws. Thankfully, the demons had the ability to transform into their true forms. Many took the fact that pups were not being born as true pups as a grave insult. They blamed humans for this and attacked the nearest village, killing every human that lived there. Those who didn't blame the humans saw this unprovoked attack as an act of barbarianism and sided with the humans, forming a sort of protective guard over the other villages on the dog-demon's land."
"Wow," Inuyasha said at last. "That's some story! I guess my old man was one of the ones that guarded the humans… Are there others like him still out there? I only know three dog-demons: myself, my old man and my bastard of a half-brother, Sesshomaru. I got nothin' against the humans personally. Unless they do something to me or one of the others here. My father protected humans in his domain; my mother told me that. Sesshomaru hates humans, or so he says. A little human girl travels with him, so I dunno if he was just saying that or not…"
"So, Inuyasha…did Rikoukawa tell you why you can speak dog?" Sango asked, partly from sheer curiosity, partly to fill in the silence that followed after Inuyasha trailed off.
"Hey, no he didn't! Oi, I didn't ask for a history lesson! Now, can you tell me why I can talk to you or not?" he demanded, unwittingly switching languages partway through.
"Keep your fuzzy ears on! I'm getting to that; it ties in with what I'm telling you," the dog growled, irritated by Inuyasha's brash behaviour. "The Royal family had fur of pure white and were the most powerful. Any dog, now a pet or demon, with a coat ranging from white to grey are usually descendants of the Royal line. Very, very few are left with untainted bloodlines, most are unrecognisable from mixing with those of different coloured pelts. Judging from your hair colour, you happen to be one of those rare few."
"What?" Inuyasha exclaimed. "You're saying I'm of the Royal bloodline?"
Rikoukawa rolled his eyes to the heavens once more. "You certainly look it. Now, as for why you can speak to me, I have heard that some of the most powerful dog-demons undergo a sort of…hmm, it's hard to describe. I suppose one could call it a ritual, if that… At a certain time, about every two hundred years or so, when the stars align just right or something, those who are chosen, which is usually one of the Royal line as they are the strongest, are gifted with many canine abilities: some of which were lost, are extremely hard to use or are inaccessible to certain individuals. Since you are only half, I'm guessing you cannot transform into dog form?"
Inuyasha just 'humped' and chose not to answer.
"I'm going to take that as a 'no'," Rikoukawa said sarcastically. "If indeed you are going through this ritual thingy, as I suspect you are, then you may find yourself acting more dog-like than you do now. You may also get some new abilities. The first of these is always the ability to converse with canines if you couldn't before."
"Oh, goody…" Inuyasha replied, equally as sarcastic. "You said something about it being your duty to help me. What did you mean?"
"It is the duty of all 'tame' dogs to help with anything or answer any questions that someone going through the ritual needs or might have. You are going through this because you are still 'wild' you could say. You are getting more in touch with your ancient heritage. That's all I can tell you about that," Rikoukawa said, puffing out his furry chest and looking quite proud.
"I hate to interrupt what is most likely a very interesting conversation, but I do believe it is time for lunch," Miroku interjected smoothly. "If we go inside, they will serve us lunch if I can see the owner. He should recognise me and if I tell him you help me purify demons for people, then I'm sure they will serve you and let you stay as well."
Sango's eye twitched at this news. "Should? You mean you don't even know for sure?!" she shouted at the monk, who swiftly raised his hands in a placating gesture.
"I'll go check, shall I?" he said, eager to put as much distance between himself and the demon-slayer as was possible.
Sango sat there, fuming, awaiting his return.
"So," Kagome said, trying to lighten in the awkward moment, "what did Rikoukawa tell you?"
"A whole bunch of stuff," he grumbled, not really wanting to reveal his new information to them just yet, if he decided to at all.
"Yeah, like what?" Kagome pressed on, undaunted by his surly attitude.
"Why do you wanna know so badly? It's got nothing to do with you!" he finally snapped, his temper getting the better of him.
Kagome flinched as if he had physically hit her. She was getting sick of him always shutting her out and so, rallied back, frowning. "Why? I'll tell you why. It's because I care about you and if there's something I can do to help, then I will! But I can't help if I don't know what's going on!"
This simple yet honest reply made the retort Inuyasha had ready to throw at her next die on his tongue.
Shippo was itching to say something. With Inuyasha as worked up as he was, the little kitsune knew it would only end badly for him though.
Kirara was sitting beside Sango simply observing everything that went on.
After a few tense minutes went past, in which Kagome was waiting for Inuyasha to spill whatever it was to her, it became apparent that he was going to do no such thing. 'It must be something very important that's just for him to know or he simply doesn't want to tell us. Maybe he doesn't trust us enough. Maybe he thinks we'll laugh or react badly to whatever it is. What if he's scared to tell us or it's something personal he doesn't feel comfortable discussing? I'll ask him in private later; he might talk if it's only me,' she reasoned. Mind made up, she resolved to get him alone, away from the others, and ask him again.
Thankfully, Miroku came ambling back; breaking the uncomfortable atmosphere. "He said we are all welcome to spend the night here, meals included." He gave a suave look to Sango as he said this, hoping it would make her anger with him dissipate.
"Just as well, monk," she hissed, glaring at him venomously.
Clearing his throat loudly, Miroku lead them inside where a nice lunch was being prepared for them.
Walking with a measured, dignified pace, Sesshomaru caught sight of a human village in the distance. He had followed his younger half brother's scent trail all the way here and guessed that Inuyasha was in that village. The dog-demon Lord did not fancy entering such a dismal place; it was unbefitting to one of his station. He certainly didn't want to go waltzing in there in broad daylight. Inwardly frowning, Sesshomaru stopped outside the village, out of sight, just in Inuyasha's scent range. 'If the pup has an inkling of common sense, he'll be searching for threats. Once he catches my scent, he'll come running right to me; demanding to know what I'm doing. If he does not come out before sunset, then I am left with no choice but to go in there and drag him out.'
"Oh, come on! Just throw me a little something! Aw, have a heart; it isn't as if I'm asking to rule the land!" Rikoukawa pleaded, whining incessantly.
Inuyasha just growled and bared his fangs, sending the dog a scathing look that practically shouted, 'be quiet now or there will be unpleasant consequences'.
"What's wrong?" Kagome asked, wondering just what it was that Rikoukawa was saying. The others instantly started listening in.
"Damn mutt's begging for food!" was all Inuyasha growled out before stuffing the rest of his food in his mouth in an effort to shut the dog up. It appeared to work as the dog's ears lowered and his tail drooped sadly.
Rikoukawa, however, sensed a kind soul that surely couldn't refuse him. He trotted up to Kagome, sat a foot away, and stared at her with his soulful brown eyes. To seal the deal, he tilted his head to one side and whined, "Please?"
The girl from the future, priestess or not, couldn't understand what he said, but she got the gist of it. "You want some food, boy? Inuyasha's just a meanie; you'll never get any food off him. Here you go," she said kindly, handing him half of her fish. Tail wagging happily, he carefully snatched it from her outstretched hand and devoured it. This simple action elicited a laugh from Kagome.
"How low will you go?" Inuyasha muttered to the pooch.
"Low? I have no idea what you're talking about; I'm simply making friends with this lovely young girl. She's a whole lot nicer than you are; I can't figure out how she puts up with you!" Rikoukawa retorted smartly. With his mind off food for a brief moment, sniffing in disdain, he caught the scent of a dog-demon not too far away. "Do you smell that?" he suddenly asked Inuyasha.
"Smell what?" Inuyasha snapped moodily. Despite this, he raised his head and scented the air himself. After a few moments, he stood up so quickly that he startled Kirara, who raced behind Sango. "Sesshomaru!" he ground out hatefully. That was all the warning the others had before their half-demon companion bounded away, over the property wall and out of sight.
A/N: How's that? Thanks to UpperClassK9 for beta-ing! I know I'm putting a lot of focus on my little doggy OC, which is probably bugging some people… Don't worry, I'm not too fond of OC's and I hate it when they take over the story. Following this, Rikoukawa's only getting an important roll now because he's Inu's information source. He will not be in the fic for too much longer. He'll probably disappear next chapter, actually…I'm not confirming that, because I have no real plans concerning him for next chap.
How did you like my little history lesson? I made the whole thing up, so it'd come down to sheer coincidence if any part of it was even slightly true. Jeez, I'd get a kick outta that, that's for sure!
I'm also sorry to all Sesshy lovers. I know he doesn't get much 'screen time'. It's not that I don't like him, coz I do, it's just that I'm such an open, cheerful person that writing someone who's almost the complete opposite is very difficult for me.
Also, kudos to all those who get the chapter title's pun. -grins- Thanks to all those reviewed last chapter. I know how hard it is to stick with a story that hasn't updated in over six months. I really love all of you that have, despite my bad updating record, stuck with me. -GLOMPS- Thankies!!
If you want more of the story, please leave a review! Come on, throw me a bone, please?