Mirror of the Past

Chapter 13:

The kennel Inukashi ran was far larger than the hotel she'd ran five years ago. The building was large enough to be a warehouse, but instead housed rows of various kennels and play areas. Usually it was just dogs that came here, but the occasional other pet showed up from time to time. Inukashi had proven time and time again that she was more than fit to take care of animals. In fact, she was a lot better with them than she was with most people.

Sion had helped her set up the kennel in one of the abandoned warehouses that had been left on that horrible day so long ago. The wasps had taken out a large amount of people. The hunt had taken even more people. Add to that the tumbling of the wall and the many who had been near it when it came down, and you realized a lot of people had died that day. It had taken almost a year to clean up the mess and make sure the people who'd died had been given a proper burial.

Inukashi had become invaluable back then. The dogs who held her in high re-guard had certainly earned their fair share of profits in those dark times. She'd sent them out as search dogs and all of them had proven just how skilled they were. Not a single body went unfound, even those that had been buried under lots of rubble. Inukashi and her dogs had managed to even save a few people, during the search. Which had made the dog keeper somewhat of a hero to several families.

"How are they getting in?" Sion asked once they arrived, looking at the fortress that was Inukashi's home and business. All the dogs not inside their cages had moved instantly toward the main doors as soon as they had been able to smell Inukashi.

Inukashi shrugged as she glanced over her shoulder at Sion while kneeling before the dogs and giving them all attention. "If you can answer that one for me I wouldn't have this problem. They're getting the poison in to the dogs without them sensing them and without me noticing as well. Fool one of us, fine. Fool us both, well there's something twisted going on that needs a better explanation. One that I don't have. Which is why I came to you."

Nezumi snorted. "And it couldn't wait till morning, why?" Nezumi asked, feeling a bit upset over their interrupted time still. Especially since he was uncertain of when Sion would next get a whole day off.

Inukashi rolled her eyes at him, crossing her arms. "Because it always happens at night. I was thinking Sion could look at the sick animals and find out what's causing it while, since you're here, you can use your rodents to keep an eye out for any suspicious people."

Nezumi narrowed his eyes, wanting to growl and argue with the woman but recalling Sion's earlier actions when they'd gotten into it made him re-evaluate his words. "Fine," was all he said before having Hamlet, Cravat, and Tsukiyo get to work on helping keep watch over the boarded animals while the humans moved to work on the cause of such poisonings.

Sion let Inukashi lead him toward the back, where the infirmary for the animals was. There wasn't a proper doctor on hand, but Sion knew there was one that could be brought down if it came to that. Inukashi was pretty good at understanding the animals and thus, she was usually able to tend to what ills they usually had. Until now, it seemed. There were two dogs and a cat in the special kennels for the infirmed.

A brief glance that them let the pale haired young man know just what he'd already been told. The animals didn't look good at all and the first thing Sion did was move to tend to the pets and get IV's running so they could get the proper fluids that they'd need. He then began examining each animal as well as their droppings. While it wasn't necessarily the prettiest job he'd ever had, he knew what he was doing. His early years in No. 6 in the elite classes had taught him much and the years he'd been working to help run the city had added to that skill. He had been told more than once he had an amazing mind… and he felt no reason to hide such skill, especially not now.

After about an hour, the animals were beginning to look a little better and Sion was lost behind the equipment, studying sample after sample. He sighed and sat back after one last look before moving to give the animals the proper treatment, having found the solution. Once that was done, he moved to the door and called out. "Nezumi! I believe I know what you have to watch out for!" he called out. He then sighed, sending a message to Inukashi, who'd gone to do a walk through of the grounds to let her know he knew what was going on.

Nezumi was the first to return and he took the moment alone to put his arms around Sion and hold him for a moment, drawing in a breath to take in the simple but pure scent of Sion. Sion couldn't help but lean against him in return, grateful for the moments distraction and the warmth and strength he felt in those arms.

"Sorry," Sion murmured softly, letting his head rest on Nezumi's shoulder.

Nezumi shook his head, smiling softly. "Don't sweat it. While it isn't the dream ending to our date, I know you'd be kicking yourself if we hadn't come to help. While I don't like it, even I can admit that you're important to a lot of people around here besides just me."

Sion smiled at those words, shifting to press a kiss to his lips softly. "Well, the good news is I know what's poisoning the animals… and I don't think its intentional."

Nezumi tipped his head at that, watching the other before him, but not asking for more. He knew Sion would want to tell Inukashi and he saw no reason to make him explain things twice. Five years ago, Nezumi would have never dreamed he'd be openly holding the one who had single handedly driven him insane on a number of occasions. The man who had become his own living god and at the same time the embodiment of all that was wrong with the world. Before his time away from Sion, he'd been lost as to what he wanted. Had been taught how to live in one way and one way only. Then the stint inside the Correctional Facility happened. Sion's life and his own had been irreversibly changed. While he'd been looking for what he should live for once his goal to see No. 6 destroyed had come to pass, he had come to realizing his real reason for living was back at the one place he'd hated most.

It had taken all of his skill and will power to eventually be able to overcome everything and realize just what it all meant. Just how much of a difference his life had taken for having known Sion. As the years passed and the need to struggle to survive waned, so did the tough exterior he'd always used. Sure, he wasn't completely trusting of others, but when it came to Sion, he was the one person he didn't want to hide himself from anymore. Never again, if he could help it.

A dog came up then, putting his head between the two men to catch Sion's attention. Sion smiled and knelt down, rubbing the dogs head, seeing shades of gray in his brown fur, knowing time was slowly catching up to the old boy. "Hey there. I was wondering where you'd gotten off to when I didn't see you when we first got here," he murmured, getting a soft bark and a light lick on his cheek in reply. The dog seemed to love him dearly, as did most animals, truth be told, and this one had been Sion's guardian to and from work a number of times back when they'd been in West Block. Not to mention the one who'd saved little Shion during the Hunt.

"You seem to collect fans every where we go, Sion. It's a bad habit."

Sion grinned up at Nezumi, seeing his crossed arms but knowing he really wasn't too upset. "I've had this one since our days back in West Block," Sion remarked, settling in to give the dog a good scratch between the ears, which he seemed to love.

"Mm, he's a bit older than I remember, but I thought I recognized him."

Just then Inukashi came in, seeming a little out of breath. "I came as soon as I could. What did you find out, Sion?" she asked, watching the two and focusing completely on Sion, her mind on the animals in her care and nothing else.

"Its Oleander. A plant that is deadly, no matter what part of it is ingested." Sion moved to stand, before brining them over to a slide reader where they could look at the sample under a microscope. "Oleander can cause gastrointestinal irritation, hypothermia, heart problems, and in some cases even death if not treated soon enough. All of them are symptoms, aside from death, that the animals were experiencing."

"So they were being given a plant?" Inukashi asked, her eyes narrowed in thought, even as she seemed to try to place the plant Sion was showing her now, which was a picture in a book of it.

"Yes, but not intentionally. Several types of bird use part of the Oleander bushes to make their nests. Some part of them seems to know not to eat it, but they still manage to do use the leaves and flowers in their home making. Sometimes various parts of the plant fall mid-flight and there's a scent to the Oleander that calls to the animals, as if tempting them to try and eat it. Which then causes them to get sick."

Inukashi seemed to relax, her whole body showing just how much stress she'd been under till that moment. "And we can help those that were poisoned and keep it from happening again?" the Dog Keeper asked.

Sion nodded, smiling at her. "Yep. You'll need to put a breathable area around the kennels, so that if the birds fly over with it, they won't get to the animals. So that we can keep everyone safe all around."

"That can easily be done, seeing as I was planning to do it so some of the animals wouldn't have to be rushed in the second it starts raining… since the outdoor pens give them more room to move," Inukashi remarked, glad it seemed that things weren't as bad as they could have been. "Thank you, Sion. I know I interrupted your time off for this. And it seemed it wasn't that big to begin with."

Sion waved her off, smiling before petting the dog once more. "Don't worry. I've told you all time and time again that emergencies are a decent reason to call me. You know that."

Inukashi nodded, glancing toward Nezumi. While there was still animosity between the two, she still couldn't help but be happy for both of them. Especially since that meant Nezumi would be around as well, in case the worst happened. She hadn't forgotten their promise and she knew Nezumi hadn't either. She still fully intended to hold him to it. If something should happen to herself or one of her family, he'd sing for her. For free. That was something Inukashi would most certainly cash in on… because she didn't want to suffer. Nor did she want her family to suffer, ever. "Still… thank you, Sion."

"You're welcome. Just keep an eye out for the next few days. Until you can get that protection up," Sion answered, before glancing back to Nezumi. "Since this brings the case to a rather swift close, what say we go home?"

Nezumi was rather surprised how much those simple words warmed him. Hearing Sion call his home their home was nice. He couldn't imagine a life without Sion beside him any more. Where once he had wished for nothing else but to get away from the naïve boy, now he just wanted to spend as much time as he was allowed with him. "Sounds like a plan to me. We still have an evening to finish. And I believe I owe you a rather spectacular ending to our date."

Before Sion could respond, Inukashi cut in, rolling her eyes and waving her hands. "Knock it off. That's just… way more than I want to hear, you rodent!"

Nezumi smirked and put an arm around Sion's shoulder. "Yet all of it is very, very true."

Sion smiled, even as a faint pink crossed his cheeks. "Come on… don't fight," he remarked, even as he wasn't as ready to jump in, since he knew things were rather relaxed currently.

Inukashi waved off both of them. "Enough. I'll see you at the next meeting, Sion… and if I'm lucky, I won't see you again any time soon."

Nezumi snorted. "The feeling is mutual, I assure you."

"Take care, Inukashi," Sion said, stopping them before they got into it once more. Sion lead Nezumi off, going on towards home and the rest of their unfinished date.

AN: Sorry it took so long. I had issues… plus work on the remake of another story of mine, done with a co-author of mine. The biggest problem was slamming into a major case of writers block. Yet reading the latest translation of the No. 6 Novels that I've been reading recently gave me a new drive and thus the chapter got finished. Review and the next chapter should be on schedule, since I've gotten past my writer's block. Once more… I'm sorry for the delay.