Disclaimer: I do not own the Inuyasha series or any of the characters.
Summary: Kagome comes home to find Inuyasha badly injured and reacts in a way that surprises her mother. Mrs. Higurashi wonders: who is this strong, unwavering young woman who looks like her little girl? One Shot.
As always, A/N and translations are at the bottom.
Blood and Bandages
"Okaerinasai, Kagome!" called Mama at the sound of her daughter's entrance. "How was school?"
Kagome let out a sigh as she entered the kitchen, where Mama was drinking some tea. "Okay, I guess," she replied, leaning in the doorframe. "I found out I have three more tests two weeks from now. But at least I don't have any more major papers due for the next month."
Mama smiled over her teacup. She knew it wasn't easy for her daughter, leading two lives. School was demanding enough, and she could only imagine what sort of trials Kagome had to face in the Sengoku Jidai. Most of the time she tried not to envision the potential dangers. But at least she knew that Kagome had a devoted, nearly-indestructible protector in Inuyasha.
"I'm going to get a start on my homework before supper," Kagome announced. "And before Inuyasha shows up to try and drag me back with him."
Mama smiled a little wider as she took another sip of tea. "Now, Kagome, he is part dog, after all. Dogs tend to crave companionship. He obviously misses you. That's why he doesn't like you to be away from him."
She had the great pleasure of watching her daughter blush while trying to look sceptical. Kagome excused herself and left the room. Mama chuckled as her daughter's footsteps ascended the stairs. Teenagers!
"Mama! Bring the first aid kit! Come quick!"
Spilling her tea at the sound of her daughter's frantic shout, Mama grabbed the first aid kit from atop the refrigerator and dashed down the hall, nearly knocking over Jii-chan as he came out of the living room to investigate. Visions of her children injured raced through her head as she ran up the stairs, coming to a halt in the door to Kagome's room as she searched for the problem.
She'd always thought of herself as fairly unflappable, but nothing could have prepared her for the sight before her. Her limbs seemed to freeze. She'd never seen so much blood in her life — so much that it took her a moment to recognize Inuyasha under it all. He was sprawled face-down on Kagome's bed, the pink bedspread soaked scarlet beneath him. Her eyes fastened on his left hand, which was dangling over the edge of the bed, blood dripping slowly off his claws onto the floor.
Kagome jolted her out of her shock by grabbing the first aid kit from her, and she suddenly realized that she could hear Souta coming down the hall, asking what the matter was.
"Don't come in," she said, and closed the door in his confused face. Then she cracked open the door again. "Get me a basin of water and some washcloths and old towels." She closed the door again before he could see inside.
She didn't want him to see such a sight. She wasn't even sure Inuyasha was alive.
Mama turned around in surprise. Surely that wasn't her daughter's voice! Kagome didn't swear.
"Help me with this, Mama," Kagome said, using more strength than Mama knew she possessed to heave Inuyasha onto his back. "We need to get him out of these clothes."
Kagome already had his suikan open and one of his arms out of its sleeve when Mama reached the bedside. Working between them, they managed to lift him enough to pull his clothes out from under him. She was a little surprised that Kagome thought nothing of untying and yanking off his hakama (thankfully, he was wearing a fundoshi underneath), but she was beginning to suspect that Kagome was accustomed to seeing the hanyou injured.
"It's not as bad as it looks," Kagome said with a note of relief in her voice, after rolling Inuyasha onto his side to examine his back. "Something went right through his shoulder, and the wound in his side is deep, but this gash on his thigh seems to be the worst. The rest is pretty superficial. See? The bleeding's already slowed. And it's drying in places. I think he's been here for a few hours."
Mama felt horrified. "I heard a couple of thumps up here earlier, but I thought it was just Buyo. Why didn't he call out for help?"
"He usually doesn't let on when he's in a lot of pain," Kagome replied, with a wry little smile. "If you can hear him complaining, he's probably alright."
There was a knock on the door then, and Mama hurried over and opened it. Souta and Jii-chan were standing there, the basin in Souta's hands, and Jii-chan holding the cloths and towels. Souta tried to peer around her as she took the basin from him, but she blocked him with her body and closed the door again.
"He may not have been alert enough to call out even if he wanted to," Kagome continued, grabbing a cloth, wetting it, and starting to clean the blood off Inuyasha. "He probably staggered up to the house, crawled in the window, and collapsed in the safest-smelling spot he could find, mostly on instinct."
As the blood started to lift from Inuyasha's body, Mama had to admit that the injuries didn't look as bad as they had at first glance. Still enough to kill a human without medical attention, but Kagome seemed to think Inuyasha would live. Mama picked up another cloth and began to help.
"Shouldn't he have stitches?" she asked, eyeing the nasty gash on his leg. It looked like it went right to the bone, and threatened to turn her stomach. "I suppose it would be impossible to take him to the hospital."
"I could do it if I had to," Kagome replied. At Mama's surprised look, she elaborated, "Kaede-baa-chan taught me. I've stitched him up before, but when he wakes up he just pulls them out as soon as my back is turned. It might help a little, but he's healed from worse. He'll probably be fit for battle in three or four days."
When they had him cleaned off, her daughter directed Mama to keep pressure on the shoulder wound while Kagome herself set to work on the leg wound, padding and wrapping it with practiced ease. Then Mama had to help hold Inuyasha up so that Kagome could wind the clean, white bandages around his torso and his shoulder. Kagome seemed to have a lot of experience at this as well, knowing the most efficient ways to make sure the bandages put pressure where it was needed and wouldn't slip or loosen. Her hands were incredibly steady, her expression focused but calm.
Mama started gathering up the strewn contents of the first aid kit to keep her hands busy while her mind tried to absorb everything she'd experienced in the last twenty minutes. She'd never deluded herself to believe that the Sengoku Jidai wasn't a dangerous time, but she'd never realized the extent of that danger. Or perhaps she'd purposely avoided the issue. But who was this girl who looked like her daughter? Her Kagome didn't know how to tend to potentially life threatening injuries. Her Kagome didn't look unflinchingly at gaping injuries, the skin torn from bloody muscles that looked like so much raw meat. Her Kagome didn't pull the clothes off of unconscious boys without a second thought. Her Kagome didn't know how to stitch wounds. And her Kagome certainly didn't swear!
How could she have missed so much? When had her daughter grown into a woman, strong and unwavering?
Inuyasha gave a groan just then, and all attention was focused on him to see if he would wake. He shifted, scrunching up his brow, but kept his eyes closed as he sniffed the air.
"Kagome?" he said in a raspy voice.
"Right here," she said, kneeling on the bloodstained floor next to his head. "How are you feeling?"
He ignored the question and sniffed the air again. "Your house?"
"That's right," Kagome answered. "I found you passed out in my room. What happened?"
Inuyasha paused as he licked his dry lips and swallowed. "Fuckin' oni," he muttered, shifting again. He continued sniffing the air. "Who…? Oh… yer okaa-san?"
"Yeah, Mama's right here," Kagome said, starting to rub one of his ears soothingly.
"Quit it," he protested half-heartedly, as if he wasn't leaning into the contact. Kagome just smiled and massaged the other ear.
Inuyasha shifted again, and this time his hand landed on his chest. "Where's my clothes? I want'em back."
"We're going to wash them," Kagome said. "Don't worry, you're not naked. You've still got your fundoshi."
Inuyasha settled again.
"If I give you some medicine for the pain, will you take it?" Kagome asked him, brushing his hair out of his face.
He hesitated, but then made a noise of assent. As Kagome dug through the first aid kit for the pill bottle, Mama went to the door to ask for a glass of water for Inuyasha. When she opened the door, however, Souta wiggled his way past her into the room. He froze, staring.
"Inu-no-nii-chan?" His voice shook at the sight of all the blood.
Summoning the energy from somewhere unknown, Inuyasha opened his eyes and tried to sit up at the sound of Souta's voice. His arms gave out immediately, and he slumped back onto the bed exhaustedly. Souta approached hesitantly.
"Are you okay?"
"Yah," Inuyasha grumbled, squinting at him. "M'fine."
Mama asked Jii-chan to get a glass of water and started gathering up bloody washcloths, towels, and Inuyasha's clothes. She paused, trying to decide how to go about changing the blankets on Kagome's bed. If they could roll Inuyasha over, she could probably manage it with a little effort.
"Souta, I'd like you to get a fresh set of sheets and blankets for the bed, and something for Inuyasha-kun to wear," she directed him.
Souta jumped at the chance to help out. "Sure! I'll be right back."
He went careening out the door, nearly upsetting the glass of water Jii-chan was carrying in. Kagome got her arm under Inuyasha's shoulder, mindful of his injuries, and lifted his head and shoulders up from the bed. She slipped a couple of pills into his mouth with a warning not to chew, and pressed the glass to his lips so he could drink before easing him back down.
"Is everyone else alright?" she asked him.
"Yeah. They weren't there."
"How long have you been up here?"
Inuyasha opened his eyes again and tried to see out the window. He squinted at the sunlight and shadows. "Uhhh… a little after noon."
"At least three hours, then," Kagome said, her voice taking on a scolding tone. "Why'd you come here and hide in my room when you knew I wouldn't be home? If you'd gone to the village, Kaede-baa-chan could have patched you up immediately."
Inuyasha didn't answer her, instead choosing to fling his forearm over his eyes and grumble under his breath about the bright sunlight, blushing slightly. It appeared that Kagome had probably been correct about Inuyasha's instinctive behaviour to find somewhere that smelled safe to collapse in. The blood loss had probably affected his decision making, and such a logical course of action as Kagome's suggestion simply hadn't occurred to him at the time. He seemed a little embarrassed about this fact.
Souta came back in with the sheets and clothes then, and Mama located the bottom sheet. With Kagome's help, Mama managed to change the bed with a minimum of moving around on Inuyasha's part. She counted herself lucky to have once seen how nurses changed bedding in hospitals, which made the task much easier. She only changed the bottom sheet, planning to finish the job later after Inuyasha got the chance to get dressed. Meanwhile, Souta was quickly regaining his sense of humour now that his hero didn't seem to be about to croak.
"You know, Inu-no-nii-chan," Souta started with a mischievous grin, "This is the second time I've seen you in Kagome's room without your clothes on. Seems a little suspicious to me."
Inuyasha let out a growl, blushing again, and tried to roll onto his side, clearly planning on making a grab for Souta if he could manage it. Kagome grabbed his shoulder and kept him still with only a little effort.
Mama remembered the bath incident. She'd come upstairs to investigate Kagome's shrieking, only to find a naked Inuyasha standing in the hall clutching his clothes in front of himself, drenched and covered in suds, while an equally naked and soapy Souta tried to convince him to go back in the bathroom. Mama had taken pity on the poor boy, giving him a towel to wrap around his waist and showing him how to control the water temperature of the spray nozzle and the tub itself, and giving Souta stern warnings not to turn the temperature up so high. Heaven knew that boy liked to cook himself! Apparently Inuyasha did not share Souta's love of the heat.
"You'd better be nice, Souta," Mama warned her son, trying not to chuckle at the memory. "You're the one who's going to help Inuyasha-kun get dressed."
Both boys stared at her. "Why?" asked Inuyasha, as Souta stared like a deer in the headlights.
"Because that fundoshi needs washed, and it's coming off whether you like it or not," Mama told him as she finished smoothing the sheet and gathered up the stained blankets, bloody clothes, and anything else that needed laundered. "So you can let Souta help you, or you can let me help you. It's your choice."
Inuyasha looked at her in horror, then looked to Kagome as if hoping she would rescue him. She was busy laughing into her sleeve.
"Having had a husband and raised a son, I assure you that you don't have anything I haven't seen before," Mama added, just to get a reaction out of him. If he had the energy to be embarrassed, then Kagome was probably correct in thinking he'd be okay.
"No!" Inuyasha yelped, looking panicked. "No, I'll let Souta help."
"Alright then, we'll leave you to it," Mama replied, as she took her bundle of laundry and ushered her snickering daughter out of the room. The moment the door closed, Kagome burst into laughter.
"I can hear you laughing!" Inuyasha shouted from the other side of the door. "Hey… no, wait… hey!"
There followed the sounds of a brief struggle, an outraged shout (Inuyasha), a loud thump, and a triumphant laugh (Souta). Inuyasha started swearing. The door opened slightly, revealing Souta's face. He was wearing an extremely amused expression, and rubbing the top of his head as though it hurt.
"Got it!" he crowed, tossing the bloodstained length of white cloth out through the crack between the door and the doorframe, skilfully landing it atop Mama's armload of soiled clothes and linens.
"Where the fuck are those clothes!" Inuyasha bellowed from inside.
Souta laughed and slammed the door shut again. "Alright, hold your horses!"
"What horses? What the fuck do horses have to do with anything? Gimme that weird hakama!"
"They're called sweatpants."
"Just give them!"
"Promise not to hit me again, first!"
Kagome sank to the floor, trying to contain her laughter. Leaving the scene behind, Mama descended the stairs.
Try as she might, Mama could not stop herself from thinking as she descended the stairs, not with the big pile of bloody clothes and linens in her arms. Kagome's sheets and blanket might not be salvageable, since the blood had had three hours to start drying and set the stains, but she would try her best. Her eyes went to the blood-soaked cloth again.
This was the reality of Inuyasha's world… Kagome's world — Mama was not so naïve that she failed to realize which of the two eras held her daughter's heart. This was what her daughter faced on a daily basis. Injury and bloodshed was just another facet of life. Next time it might be Kagome who was injured. A human would never survive such terrible wounds, not without modern medicine. Even a small injury could turn for the worse, and infection was no minor thing, especially 500 years in the past. And Mama suspected from Kagome's familiarity with treating Inuyasha's injuries that he frequently wound up in such a state. How often did he put himself in harm's way to take a blow meant for Kagome? How much of his time did he spend suffering?
Mama went into the little laundry room and put the clothes and blankets into the laundry tub to try to soak the stains out before attempting to wash them in the machine. She filled the deep sink with cold water, making sure that all the soiled clothes and linens were fully submerged. She cast about for something else that needed doing, anything else to keep herself busy. She came up empty-handed.
She leaned against the wall instead, listening to the laughter and shouts upstairs, and waited for her hands to stop shaking.
: Owari :
Important AN: Please visit my profile page and cast your vote on the poll. I've been listing these Japanese-to-English translations in the order in which they occur within the story, but I'm wondering if they should be listed alphabetically instead. Please vote for whichever list order you think would be easier to read.
Tadaima – standard greeting when returning home, "I'm home"
Okaerinasai – standard response to welcome family member home, "Welcome back"
Sengoku Jidai – Japan's Warring States era
Jii-chan – grandfather (affectionate term)
Suikan – Inuyasha's fire-rat jacket
Hakama – Inuyasha's pants
Fundoshi – traditional Japanese loincloth (you should really Google this, teehee!)
Hanyou – half youkai, half human
Oni – ogre, monster
Okaa-san – mother
Inu-no-nii-chan – older dog brother
Kaede-baa-chan – Baa-chan means grandmother, adding this onto Kaede's name is an affectionate term of respect