The 'count' is the referee's mark of the seconds passed after a fighter has gone down. If the fighter does not get back up and back into the fight within ten seconds, the fight is over.

For the 'secret' theme on luxken27's 2014 Summer Mini Challenge. Requirements - over 100 words with no upper limit. This one has 546.


Count

Kagome stood in the open doorway for a long time before she summoned her courage. "Sesshoumaru?" she called. "Are you home?"

She hadn't expected an answer, but when it failed to come, her insides twisted nonetheless. Her breath came in shallow pants as she stepped inside and shut the door, and the click of the lock thundered in her ears. Sesshoumaru's cell phone sat on his kitchen counter, blinking with the voicemails and texts she had sent in the last hour.

She had been trained to react in emergency situations. When everyone else screamed and ran, she knew how to slow her heartbeat, think, and plan her course of action. But now, her brain stuttered to a halt. What could she do? Sesshoumaru would never have missed their date without an explanation, and the stillness of the apartment told her his absence stretched far beyond a few hours.

When had she last spoken with him? She'd been so busy at work. She left a voicemail two days ago. Before that? She retraced her week in her memory. Four days ago. He had called, and they had a short conversation about where to meet for their date. A homicide had distracted her – Naraku or his minions had lashed out at an enemy once again. She hadn't noticed the silence.

The investigation would come to a complete halt without Sesshoumaru. He had either been caught, which meant Naraku knew everything, or he had gone deep within Naraku's organization without telling her. Voluntarily.

She pressed her hands against her breastbone, trying to calm herself. She had to tell her partner. Miroku already knew Sesshoumaru had stood her up for their date. He'd be expecting another phone call soon. If it didn't come, he'd worry. He'd alert the captain, and then, Kaede would call instead. Everything would end.

She could keep it a secret. She wanted to. Just for a few days, while she looked for him. She could find him, and he would have a good reason for all of this. He had to. Then, the investigation could continue. They could continue.

A breath caught in her throat. They already had such an infinitesimal chance. He didn't even know her real name. He thought she worked as a computer programmer, not as a police officer mining him for information. The image of their future together had already been so faint, so unattainable. If he'd gone any deeper – if he'd done one thing more serious than illegal cage-fighting - the dream would disappear. It may already have fled.

Her phone chirped with a text from Miroku.

Her spine straightened. She told Sesshoumaru herself that Naraku would manipulate him, even threaten him, to get him on his payroll. Sesshoumaru hadn't said a word about it, but she knew it had happened. He had told her he intended to find out what Naraku was doing – what other purpose would he have for that, other than to free himself from Naraku's grasp?

Whatever his reasons, they were still on the same side. Kagome knew it. She just had to find him and make sure he knew it too. Nothing would end.

She lifted her phone and tapped her foot as she dialed.

"Hello?"

"Koga? It's Kagome. I need your help."


A/N: I haven't updated this story in over 3 years, which is pretty abysmal, even by my slow-poke standards. I stopped updating this because of a combination of real life taking over my time, and my withdrawal from active participation in the (now closed) LJ community dokuga_contest that gave me the weekly prompts. It wasn't long after I stopped participating that the community closed, but I should have finished this with the remaining prompts. It's extremely difficult (for me, anyway) to shift a plan of attack in the middle of a story.

That said, I'm kicking this back into gear with the help of Lux's 2014 Summer Mini Challenge! I was getting close to the end when I stopped writing this story, and it's about time I finished it.

For those (very few) of you that actually read the dokuga_contest entries (and have a terrific memory), you might feel like I never posted a couple entries there onto this site. That's true - there are 2 chapters on the LJ comm that never made it here. I don't like those chapters - I feel like they took me on a detour and stalled the action. So, I'm forgetting those and picking up where I left off on this site.