It was 9:00 in the morning when Sesshomaru first knocked on the door of one of his many investments. It was 9:05 when he knocked again.
9:15 when he knocked for a third time and again, no answer.
At 9:20 he knocked for the final time and was at last met with a scuffle, a shuffle and the sound of a lock turning. The door hastily opened and the violet eyes of an employee gazed at him in surprise.
"Can I help you?" the man asked expectantly. He was out of breath as if he had run full speed to the door. Sesshomaru simply raised an eyebrow at the man.
Recognition immediately lit his face, "OH! You must be Dr. Taisho. My apologies, Sir, do come in. Welcome to our Ward." he opened the door wider as Sesshoumaru glided past him into the building.
The man closed the door and passed him smoothly, beginning to walk, "My name is Miroku, Sir, and I am the head caretaker here." Sesshomaru picked up the hint of pride in his voice as he shared this information. He did not know why this Miroku, or anyone for that matter, would be proud to work in a place such as this. He took everything in as they walked: the chipped, fading paint, the chunks of plaster missing from the ceiling, the scurrying of rodents within the walls. Even the dim lighting struggled to shine as it flickered weakly.
As they walked further, the two men came to a hallway so narrow, the sleeves of their white coats brushed against the walls.
A plaque hung at the end of the hallway caught Sesshoumaru's eye and he made out the words as they got closer. It read: The Taisho Wing/This wing of the institute is so named in honor of Dr. Sesshomaru Taisho and his generous investment in this ward./Dated- 1903
Sesshomaru harrumphed. Ten years ago ... he thought. How could this place sink so low in ten years without his knowledge? How on earth had they been able to squander that amount of money.
Noticing his eyes on the plaque, Miroku addressed him, "We thank you again for your patronage, Dr. Taisho."
"Do not mistake me;" Sesshomaru replied coldly, "I am not here out of kindness. I am only here because my reputation will not allow anything under my name to declare bankruptcy."
Miroku was barely ruffled, "Nevertheless," he continued amiably, "your donation was more than generous, and all of us here owe you a great deal of thanks." Sesshomaru was nonplussed at the man's sincere and fearless display of gratitude. It had a bit of a personal tone to it for a simple employee, he thought passingly. All of us here? his thoughts repeated as Miroku led him into the main activity room, But, there is no one here.
Sunlight streamed through the bars across the windows and reflected brightly off of the stark white paint on the walls. Furniture was scarce and threadbare, the single couch giving off an atrocious odor.
"Where are the subjects?" Sesshomaru asked roughly. Miroku quickened his pace, sensing the Doctors impatience, "They are here." he said gesturing ahead of them, which drew Sesshoumaru's attention to the extremely large, bolted, cast iron door that they were walking towards. It loomed before them ominously as an omen of what lay behind it.
When they reached the door, Miroku pulled the deadbolt back, filling the silent room with racket. Sliding it into place on the wall, he pushed all of his weight against the door, slowly easing it open. He then disappeared behind it to secure the latch that kept it open. When he reappeared, his chest was slowly heaving from the effort it took to move the door and he ran a hand through his dark, damp bangs, waiting for him.
Sesshomaru passed him smoothly and crossed onto the different tiling pattern, his nostrils flared, scenting the atmosphere. The air was very stale and all he saw ahead of him was another dimly lit hallway filled with smaller versions of the iron door they had just walked through. The doctor envisioned this as how the Chateau d'If might have looked in its infancy.
Miroku led him to the first door on the left side and it was then that he noticed the name plates hung near the doors. This one looked fairly new, reading .
"This is our newest arrival." Miroku said as he unbolted the door and pushed it open. Sesshomaru was again greeted with the glint of sunlit white walls. The room was quite large but sparsely furnished, with nothing save for a table in the center of the room and a cot-like bed against the far corner. The only amount of color in the room came from an eclectic quilt that lay rumpled in a heap on the bed.
A girl sat writing at the table.
Miroku latched the door open and returned to Dr. Taisho's side calling softly to the girl, "Kagome-chan, we came to say hello."
She looked up at the doorway and gave a brilliant smile to the both of them. Sesshomaru was vaguely caught off guard by the brilliance of her smile, and her cerulean blue eyes. She was a pleasing image in the colorless room. He remained silent as she came towards them and embraced his guide affectionately. She let go and smiled cheerfully turning her bright face to Sesshomaru.
"Kagome, this is Dr. Taisho, he's our benefactor." Miroku gestured to Sesshomaru. Kagome's mouth made a small 'o' in comprehension and she held out a friendly hand to him.
"I'm Kagome, it's very nice to meet you." she said with all the unassuming friendliness of a child. He took her hand and lightly shook it, finding her innocence both refreshing and confusing, an out of place thing in a place such as this. Surprisingly, Miroku started for the door, "Sorry for cutting this visit short, Kagome," he explained as he unhooked the door, "but Dr. Taisho still needs to meet everyone."
"That's all right." she said, only letting a litle disappointment show, "Come back soon!" They both left the room as Kagome reseated herself at the table. Before the door was closed, Sesshomaru glanced over his shoulder and met her eyes. She smiled brightly and then he was met with the cold gray of the door as it was bolted shut. He turned and swiftly followed Miroku, who had already begun unlatching the neighboring door. The nameplate read .
"This is one of our veterans." Miroku informed him humorously. Strangely, he blocked Dr. Taisho's entrance into this room. His hand never left the door as Sesshomaru's eyes fell on a young woman slumped against the wall as if she had collapsed there, a tired look on her face.
Looking up at the intrusion, her face immediately twisted with malice and rage. She sounded a battle cry and charged the door. Sesshomaru's eyes widened fractionally at the volume of her scream and her speed. But the door suddenly swung shut, thanks to his guide, who winced at the dull thud her body made when it hit the door.
"She's a bit unsociable." Miroku stated with raised eyebrows.
"Indeed." Dr. Taisho agreed. The two men then ventured to the next room, moving away from the soft sobs coming from the previous place. The nameplate read simply O. After latching the door open, Sesshomaru's guide began looking around confusedly, which was never a good sign. Suddenly, at the same time, they both met the eyes of a man staring at them from under his bed.
"Hello." the man greeted them amiably. Miroku's brows drew together in confusion, "Good morning, Onigumo, why are you-"
"I told you my name is Naraku!" the man cut him off angrily. Miroku paused and tried again, "Naraku, why are you under your bed?"
"Oh, because the spiders came back." he said.
"Ah." Miroku walked to the table against the wall and retrieved an aerosol can of some unknown spray. He walked over to the bed and doused it.
Sesshoumaru released the careful breath he had been holding and was surprised when no chemical scents attacked his nose. Seeing that the bed was now safe, 'Naraku' left his hiding place and sat on the mattress as if nothing had ever bothered him. As the two men left his room and the door was closed, he hollered a jovial "Goodbye!"
"What was in that can?" Sesshoumaru asked him as he locked the door.
"Water." he replied, "It makes Onigumo think that the 'spiders' have been killed. He doesn't have a sense of smell, so he can't tell the difference between water and a repellant."
"Hn." came the noncommittal response.
"He was in a good mood today." Miroku added off-handedly. As they walked down the hallway back to the door they had come through, he stopped at every door he had opened to check the locks. Once satisfied, he began unlatching what was holding the entrance door open.
Miroku stopped though, as he caught sight of Dr. Taisho who had stopped in front of the first room they had visited.
"Why?" he asked simply.
"You'll find out soon enough." Miroku answered as they both exited the metal hallway and shut the door behind them.
The sound of the deadlock echoed against the doors.