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February Lullaby by kaoruhana

The Secret in Aomori

A/N: First, I need to thank my beta: Neochaotic!  She's been super helpful in this process and I know that together, we'll bring a good story to Dokuga.

Second, I've been experimenting with sad romance's lately- or at least romances that start sad.  So I'd appreciate all the feedback possible because I need to know if I'm doing a good job at it. 

Third, this will have monthly updates.  I have another story here on Dokuga, another one on, Law School Applications, and my cousin's wedding in a month.  So naturally, I'll be a little busy. 

Now enough from me: here's the first chapter!

* * * * *

Chapter 1: The Secret in Aomori

     A frustrated Sesshomaru ran a hand over his face as he glanced once again at the spreadsheets and charts in front of him.  What was he trying to accomplish again?  Even he couldn’t remember what he was supposed to be looking for.  With a sigh, he pushed away from his desk pinching the bridge of his nose as he did so.  Once the chair turned, he took in the view from outside his window: Tokyo in all its nightly glory.  It was amazing even today: bright, gaudy, and yet colorful lights dotting the landscape with people scurrying about as though they didn’t notice it.  It was always like this though today was a bit different as most of the pedestrians looked to go home when they saw the rather ominous red sky hanging about and threatening them with some bad weather.  In fact, in February it was a likely sign that snow was going to fall shortly.  And the weatherman had mentioned so in the day’s news hadn’t he? 

     Sesshomaru glanced back at the opened laptop that was still showing its contents to him.  The work that it was holding could wait, he decided.  After all, it seemed he wasn’t getting any work done at the moment anyway.  And he might want to leave soon, before the snow hit.  The streets in Tokyo were jammed enough as it was, adding slickness to the traffic was enough to make him cringe when he just thought about it.  His work phone rang and while he normally waited for his secretary to pick it up, she wasn’t there to do so.  He had let her go home early today.  It was Valentine’s Day after all and she’d just gotten married a few months ago so it seemed like the charitable thing to do.    

     The shrill phone rang again and Sesshomaru got up from his seat, crossing to it in a huff.  It was enough that his wife wasn’t here to celebrate with him today but now the phone had to irritate him as well.  Kikyo had gone on a business trip.  He honestly didn’t care that much for today’s holiday but still, Kikyo had never missed it and Sesshomaru knew that her missing it now wasn’t good news.  Picking up the phone before the third ring, he barked a greeting into it from his frustration. 

     “Hello?” The voice on the other end identified itself and immediately his frustration fled to be replaced with worry.  The furrowed brows etched on his face and the tightening of his jaw indicated that he was about to hear some bad news. 

     “Yes, this is he.”  He paused to let the person on the other end speak and then rattled off his own questions.  “What?  Where?  In the University hospital in Aomori?  I- I see, I’ll be there via the next train.  Yes, thank you.” 

     The phone clattered from his hands to land on the desk, it’s dial tone ringing and breaking the silence of the room.  He couldn’t remember ever being as scared as he was at this moment, at least not anytime in the past ten years.  A harsh bitter scoff left his mouth.  Of course, he should have always known to trust his gut feelings.  Hadn’t something been off with Kikyo before she left for Aomori?  A glance out at Tokyo’s skyline again had him thinking about the things he had just heard and he turned back to the computer.  He had all night to think; right now- right now he could do other things.  Other important things. 

     Within moments, Sesshomaru had taken a seat in front of his laptop again.  Opening up the pages for the Japan Train Service, he typed away into the designated slots to buy a ticket for the next train to Aomori.  He grimaced when he noticed that the only ones left for that night were due to depart in an hour and that they sold only first class seating.  Nonetheless, he had limited options at the moment so he set out buying the ticket and printing it as he called his wife’s sisters.  He’d manage to make it to that train somehow especially with Rin and Kaede’s help. 

     The house phone rang once, twice, before it was picked up.  Sesshomaru recognized the voice of Rin instantly and he cursed silently.  She was the youngest of Kikyo’s sisters and the one he still thought of as a child.  He didn’t want to worry her with his words.  Nor did he want to arouse her ever present curiosity.  At this point though, he had no choice so instead he waited for her greeting.  When she finished, he spoke to her softly telling her what he needed. 

     “Rin,” he instructed, “can you pack me a few sets of clothes?”  Sesshomaru knew what Rin was going to ask and he silently waited for her to ask the question that he knew was coming.   Her curiosity had always been one of her less than interesting aspects. 

     “What do you need them for Sesshomaru nii-san?  Are you going somewhere?”  He let out a breath as he debated on the best way of telling her the news.  Finally, deciding that the best option was to be completely truthful, he told her what he knew. 

     “Your sister was in a car accident, I need to go to her.”  Rin thankfully didn’t say anything though he knew that the questions were on the tip of her tongue.  Her voice however barely hid the fear she felt. 

     “Where- where should I bring the bag?”  Sesshomaru shrugged into his coat and went back to his laptop to shut it down.  As he packed it, and the ticket away, he answered her. 

     “The train station in Shibuya.  Can you hurry, the train leaves in an hour?”  Rin was shuffling in the background and he heard her sigh as she did her appointed task. 

     “Nii-san, I don’t know if you heard but the trains going north are being cancelled.  The snow in  Nagoya is stopping them from going any further tonight.”  He silently cursed as the laptop was put away.   If the ticket was already booked for a non-existent train then what was the point?  Angry and incensed, he barked out new orders to Rin. 

     “I’ll be home soon.  After dinner, I’m going to leave.” 

     “I- all right nii-san.”  He uttered quick goodbyes to Rin and packed up his laptop bag as he checked the office one more time.  Satisfied, he turned and left the room, intent on leaving as soon as possible. 

     The car ride home was relatively uneventful as he tried to piece together the events of the past hour in his head.  Kikyo in Aomori- Kikyo in an accident- what the hell was she doing in a car anyway?  Wasn’t she on a business trip?  So why hadn’t her company called him?  Surely, she must have been traveling with colleagues.  But Kikyo hadn’t mentioned any colleagues she was travelling with.  A few snowflakes fell from the sky as he drove and he cursed as he began to understand that something was wrong.  Kikyo had lied to him- but just what was she lying about?  And why had she needed to lie to him- and her sisters- in the first place? 

     He arrived home, plagued with his thoughts and opened the door after parking his car.  Rin and Kaede were already there, the elder setting up dinner while the younger met him at the door with nervous eyes.  When he had met Kikyo eight years ago, Rin had been ten and Kaede fourteen.  Kikyo was twenty-four and participating in the master's degree program while working to make ends meet for her sisters.  He had admired that in her and had decided to help Kikyo after the leftover inheritance from her parents ran out. Through that friendship, their relationship had blossomed. 

     And now, eight years later, he was the sole male of a four person household and the nii-san who had to watch out for his two younger sisters.  The financial issue had changed much as well.  The inheritance was still there but there were three breadwinners in the family since Kaede, Kikyo, and he were able to work and bring in money.  Rin, now a first year in college was still so young and while Kaede was now working Sesshomaru indeed still saw her as a little sister.  He’d been there for their first boyfriends and breakups and he’d been the shoulder they’d cried on when they needed it.  He was still going to be that shoulder today, and in the future, no matter what happened to Kikyo. 

     “Nii-san,”  Rin’s voice greeted him, “what’s going on with Kikyo-nee-san?”  Sesshomaru hung up his coat, not answering Rin yet.  He himself didn’t know everything but the girls deserved an answer.  Now the question was, what was it going to be?  Pushing his fear to the back, he instead concentrated on the girls who needed his strong presence. 

     “All I know is what the hospital told me.”  He stated walking to take a seat at the dining table.  “Kikyo was involved in a car accident and at the moment she is in the ICU at the University Hospital in Aomori.” 

     A swift silence descended on the room and no one really knew how to break it.  The females were worried for their sister and scared.  They had always assumed that she was going to be there- in fact they had taken it for granted that she would be there in their own futures.  Kikyo had been with them for so long that it just seemed wrong to think of her going away.  Kaede looked closely at her brother in law.  He hadn’t shed tears yet and knew that he wasn’t going to anytime soon.  In fact, it seemed he hadn’t even let the news completely sink in yet.  Sesshomaru believed the news but he wasn’t going to show his emotions to anyone until he saw her sister.  She’d known him long enough to know that. 

     “You’re leaving tonight aren’t you?” Kaede asked breaking the silence. 

     Sesshomaru merely nodded as she served him dinner.  She knew him better than Rin who saw him more as the older brother than anything else. He suddenly felt like his throat was dry and knew that whatever had spurred it on; water wasn’t going to help him.  He was supposed to protect Kikyo; he was supposed to help her take care of Rin and Kaede.  Instead, the two younger sisters were crying and scared for their sister while he was- he was doing nothing. 

     “Nii-san, I left your bag by the stairs.” 

     Sesshomaru acknowledged Rin as he ate.  He didn’t really eat, he was more or less spooning something into his mouth to ward off the winter chill and keep him going as he drove to Aomori.  The sooner he ate, the sooner he could leave and get some answers- not just for his sake but for Rin and Kaede’s sake as well.  Kikyo was in a hospital and for all he knew she was dying.  Unable to help himself, he pushed the plate away and stood.  He just couldn’t right now, he just couldn’t eat when he knew Kikyo was injured. 

     “I’ll pack some food for you.”  Kaede instructed standing up from the table.  Sesshomaru looked ready to protest but Rin stopped him. 

     “Nii-san, I’m scared for Kikyo nee-san as well but, but nee-san wouldn’t want to see you starve yourself for her.”  She looked up at him through teary eyes.  “Even if you don’t eat now, promise me you’ll eat something.  I can’t lose you too.”  Rin looked so vulnerable and scared.  He hadn’t seen her this way in a long time, not since she entered high school. 

     “Rin,” he called out embracing her when she came to him, “I’ll be here, I promise.”  Rin nodded and Kaede looked on at the two from the kitchen.  Sesshomaru didn’t think, he knew what she needed. 

     “Kaede,” Sesshomaru instructed, “come here.” 

     Kaede joined him and Sesshomaru pulled her closer so that she was next to Rin.  He hadn’t held Kaede like this since she was seventeen and had gone through a bad break-up.  At the time, he had vowed to hurt the boy who made Kaede cry but now he wanted to never see the two cry again.  The two had already lost their parents at an early age.  He didn’t want them to lose their sister as well.  But no matter the outcome, the girls had become a part of his life and he knew that he would always take care of them. 

     “I need you two to promise me to take care of yourselves.”  He began smoothing a gentle hand down their backs.  “I’ll head out tonight and stop at Sendai along the way.  When I get there tomorrow, I’ll call you when I know the details.  Until then take care of yourselves.” 

     Rin and Kaede nodded, still buried within his embrace and for once Sesshomaru didn’t mind when the girls rolled out futons in the living room and planned a slumber party when he left.  He knew they needed the closeness and presence of each other tonight so he let them be.  Giving them hugs and promising to send them a message when he reached Sendai, he left the house. 

     The road to Sendai was quiet but well lit.  Sesshomaru knew the road well; Sendai was where his mother was from and he had often visited her resting place there.  It was the drive to Aomori that was different and it was why he preferred to take it in the morning, especially with the threat of snow being left behind him.  The drive to Sendai was four hours and when he reached the outskirts of the city it was nearing midnight.  He pulled up to an old inn that he had visited time and time again because his aunt and uncle owned it and got out, taking his packed suitcase with him. 

     It was quiet, but that was to be expected when one arrived at midnight to an inn by the suburbs of Sendai.  Nonetheless, as he expected when he knocked, an elderly woman shortly answered the door.  She was dressed in pajamas with a robe covering her and huddled by the door content to bask in the warmth inside.  She narrowed sleepy eyes to see who was at the door and promptly let out a squeak of surprise before she pushed the door open wider. 

     “Good heavens, Sesshomaru.  What are you doing here?” She let him in and quickly walked behind the reception desk to find some keys for an empty room.  “Do you know what time it is?” 

     “I’m sorry, Aunt Kaori.  I forgot to inform you I would be arriving.”  He did feel guilty for that, even more so because it was true.  In his haste to leave, he had forgotten to tell his aunt about his arrival. 

     “It’s fine, just give me more warning next time.  Do you still remember how to fill in the ledgers?  I left my glasses upstairs.”  Sesshomaru nodded making quick time with the paperwork and quietly stacking a pile of yen on them.  His aunt was too tired to notice now and while she would refuse it when she saw it, he doubted that it would happen until after he left Sendai. 

     “Now tell your dear aunt, what the hell are you doing out here?  And on the day after Valentine’s Day no less- without Kikyo might I add.”  His aunt was more lucid than he had realized.  However, her last few words managed to remind him of why he had driven to Sendai so late at night.

     “Aunt Kaori-“ he began voice cracking, “Kikyo- she was in a car accident in Aomori.  I’m going to see her tomorrow.” 

     Aunt Kaori had been his surrogate mother for years.  When his mother had died, he had been ten and his father had only a year later died from cancer.  So Aunt Kaori and Uncle Hiroyuki had taken him in.  He’d spent his middle and high school years in Sendai, working at the inn during summer vacation until he had decided to go to Tokyo to study.  Now, Tokyo was his home but Sendai was also home.  He always had a place there and he appreciated it.  And right now, he needed his aunt’s guidance. 

     “Oh my, Sesshomaru.  Come here boy and you tell your aunt everything you can.  What about the girls how are they?”  Sesshomaru allowed himself to be led upstairs to an empty room and didn’t protest when his aunt forced him to take a seat on a bed before plopping herself next to him. 

     “Rin and Kaede are fine.  I need to tell them I am here.” His aunt nodded allowing him to do that as he began to tell her.  “A few days ago, Kikyo left to go on a business trip.  She said she was going to come home Monday and that we could celebrate after she came home.  I- I got the call earlier today at work and left as soon as I could.”  He buried his head in his hands and let loose the few tears that were threatening to fall.  He had promised to try not to cry in front of his aunt but suddenly it felt like his world was being ripped apart and he had no way to stop it. 

     “She’s- she’s in the ICU at Aomori University Hospital.”   

      Aunt Kaori didn’t say anything after his statement.  Instead, she brought him close and rocked him back and forth her own sadness present.  Kikyo was a beacon of light in Sesshomaru’s life.  After all the pain he’d been through when he lost his parents, Kikyo had been the one thing that he had finally come to love.  And now, to know that the person who made her nephew so happy was in a hospital with severe injuries, it broke her heart.  She and her husband had seen Sesshomaru go through a lot but when they had met Kikyo seven years ago; they had just known that he was going to be okay.  Now she wondered if she needed to ask the gods for a miracle again. 

     “It’ll be all right Sesshomaru.  You know Kikyo, she’ll pull through this.  Shh now, we’re here for you.  Go to sleep.  I’ll wake you up tomorrow.  Is there a time you’d like to leave?”  She knew that Sesshomaru would want to get an early start on his drive tomorrow- he had always been a bit too impatient. 

     “I’d like to leave by eight.” 

     “I’ll see to it then.”  The elder woman stood from her seat and coaxed Sesshomaru into bed.  “Now sleep.  Good night.”  Sesshomaru nodded and watched her leave. 

     “Aunt Kaori,” he said catching her attention before she left, “thank you.” 

     The next morning he set out at the time he was planning to and followed the directions on his GPS until he made it to his destination.  The hospital for the University was on the outskirts of the University complex and he parked in the nearby parking deck before heading towards the building.  The building itself wasn’t eye-catching but it was recognizable.  He made his way inside and down a lengthy hallway to the reception desk where a few nurses were in attendance.  Catching the attention of one, he addressed the reason he was there. 

     “My wife- Kikyo Mori- was admitted here yesterday.  May I know what room she is in?”  The nurse nodded and pulled something up on her computer before answering him. 

     “She’s in room 324 sir.  Those rooms are used for transferring patients from ICU surgeries.  They aren’t surgery rooms but a doctor might be inside giving some medical attention.  If they are, you will have to wait for the all clear before visiting inside.”  Sesshomaru nodded having been to a hospital like this before and made his way to the room Kikyo was in. 

     The hall in which she was housed was silent and imposing.  A couple three doors down from him were sitting huddled together- the man comforting the crying female.  A few doors down another nurse left carrying with her some bloodied sheets.  He closed his eyes and took a deep breath before glancing inside the room Kikyo was housed in.  There was activity inside which meant a doctor was in there.  So, with nothing left to do he collapsed onto the bench by her room. 

     Sesshomaru buried his head in his hands and closed his eyes. He was tired, but sleep wasn’t easy to come by. Every time he closed his eyes, the image of a dull, lifeless Kikyo haunted him to the point that he had to open them just to ensure that the image wasn’t a reality.  He’d tossed and turned last night after his aunt had left not being able to sleep properly until four.  And even then, he had been awake three short hours later so that he could drive here.  He heard footsteps and curious looked up to see a police officer.  The officer looked around for minute before spotting Sesshomaru and making his way over.  Confused, Sesshomaru stood.  Was the officer here for him- or was he here for Kikyo? 

     “Mr. Mori?”  The officer asked approaching him.  Sesshomaru nodded and the man continued.  “I’m here to tell you details about the investigation regarding your wife’s accident.” 

     “Is there anything I need to do immediately?”  Sesshomaru asked running a hand through his silver hair. 

     “No- not at the moment.  What I would like to tell you is that your wife’s license is being revoked for a year- she was the driver and she was driving drunk. The other passenger will be charged as well because he too was under the influence.  As for the victim of the car they hit, I’m afraid that I have some bad news.  The victim died early this morning due to the injuries he received.  We’re trying to stop this before it becomes a manslaughter case but at the very least since the occupants of the other car are here as well, I think it’s going to be a case of drunk driving and reckless driving.” 

     “I see.”  Sesshomaru announced when the officer finished.  Really, what more could he say?

     “I’ll be by later Mr. Mori.  And if you see Mrs. Tanaka please do convey the information I shared with you to her.”  Sesshomaru nodded too shocked to say anything. 

     His wife- his docile wife-was driving drunk.  And to make it worse she was now a murderer.  The word left a bitter taste in his mouth and he silently wished, selfishly, that it had been the man in the car that had been the driver.  Now that new thought, left him feeling even worse.  He didn’t want to suspect, he really didn’t, but Kikyo would have told him if she was travelling with a male colleague and would have teased him about his jealousy.  The fact that she had done neither frankly scared him more than he cared to admit.  Right now though, all he could do was wait- wait and speculate.  And maybe, just maybe, he’d meet Mrs. Tanaka- who he assumed was the wife of the man in the car. 

     With a sigh, he shed his jacket and held it in his hands before fishing a phone out of his pocket.  The time told him it was nearing one now and he realized that Rin and Kaede were probably worried about him.  Opening his phone, he sent them a small message, and closed his eyes for a few minutes. 

* * * * *             

      Kagome sat down at the table after bringing the last dish out.  It might seem odd to be so prepared for a Valentine’s Day dinner, but this one was going to be extra special and had been planned ages ago.  Inuyasha was due back today from Osaka today but he hadn’t shown up yet.  She’d heard the trains were cancelled and wondered if he had been part of the crowd stuck in Nagoya. But if he had, wouldn’t he have phoned her by now?  As she lit the candles, she felt melancholic and pensive.  She and Inuyasha had been married for three years and over the past few months, she had sensed something different about him- it was as if he was hiding something.  But now wasn’t the time to worry she thought finalizing the decoration and clearing her head before she declared herself done with her appointed task. 

     Feeling satisfied with her work, Kagome stood and inspected her work from a distance before she deemed it perfect and left to go upstairs and get ready.  She was excited since tonight was going to be extra special- she was going to tell Inuyasha the good news that they had been waiting for.  The doctor had confirmed it yesterday making her even more excited about sharing the news.  They were finally going to have a baby.  All the waiting, all the disappointment when she had not conceived again were finally going to be pushed to the wayside. 

     Kagome reached into her side of the vast master bedroom closet and rifled through her dresses until she found it- the red one with the round neck and scantily cut back.  Inuyasha had been fond of that dress- in fact it was his favorite.  Giddy, she pushed her earlier thoughts aside and washed her face intent on getting ready before he would walk through the door.  She was too excited about this.  She doubted she’d even wait for him to set his suitcase down before she smothered him in her eagerness to tell him the good news. 

     As she applied a top coat of lipstick, just in case, her phone rang.  Wondering if it was Inuyasha calling to tell her when he was due home, she reached towards it eagerly.  A number she didn’t recognize lit the screen and she set the lipstick tube down as she answered the call. 


     “Excuse me ma’am- are you miss Tanaka Kagome?”  Kagome answered affirmatively a sudden coldness taking over her.  “Ma’am your husband was involved in a serious car accident near Aomori earlier today.  He is currently in the ICU at the Aomori University Hospital.  We are informing you so that as next of kin you can visit him.” 

     “You’re lying.”  Kagome choked out collapsing against the dresser as the news registered.  “Please, oh god, please tell me you’re lying.” There was an uneasy silence on the other end as though the person telling her the news did want to acquiesce to her demands. 

     “I’m sorry Mrs. Tanaka.  We’ll be expecting you soon.”  The nurse who had called hung up the phone leaving the phone line dead. 

     The cellphone slipped from Kagome’s fingers to clatter against the edges of the dresser as the woman who owned it collapsed in a heap next to it.  First a tear, and then a choked sob left her staining her make-up and making her look a mess.  Kagome didn’t care and instead just buried her head in her hands as she let loose her sadness.  Why her- why today?  Why now when she had finally had good news to give him?  She sat there crying, her happiness shattered and only when her mouth felt dry from thirst did she look up at the clock. 

     Nine, had she been this way for two hours now?  Wiping some tears away, she stood and made her way to the living room on shaky legs.  There, she looked at the dining table with its half burned candles and a now cold dinner.  The sight repulsed her at the moment but she needed to go to the kitchen.  Bare feet padded across tatami that felt strange under her feet until they reached the cupboard that held glasses.  Her hand reached for one, but her fingers were still shaky.  She realized her error too late and the glass clattered to the floor in a myriad of broken pieces. 

     The news of the events suddenly seemed real to her as she looked at the mess on her kitchen floor. Part of her wanted to reach out and touch it but another part slowly began to piece things together.  Inuyasha was in Aomori- why?  Wasn’t he supposed to be in Osaka on company business?  As the world around her threatened to become a spiraling loss of control, she walked back into the living room picking up the house phone and dialing a familiar number.  When Sango picked up, she was laughing at something but immediately sobered when she heard her friend’s distraught voice. 

     Twenty minutes later, she and her husband Miroku were letting themselves in the house with the extra key that had been given to them when Kagome and Inuyasha had moved in. 

     “Kagome?”  Sango asked edging into the living room and letting out a gasp when she saw her friend. 

     Kagome lay curled up on the sofa watching her wedding video and looking so lost.  Approaching her, Sango gently laid a hand on her shoulder.  Kagome turned at the touch and when she saw Sango, it was as if a dam had been opened.  She launched herself at her friend, crying and spewing incoherent babbles that took the couple a few minutes to piece together.  And when they did, both felt for the young woman with them.  Kagome was such a sweet being, she didn’t deserve this.  She was the reason they were together and she- she had just been granted the final happiness that she wanted. 

     “Oh Kagome,” Sango crooned motioning her husband to turn on the computer in a corner, “shh there.  I’m here for you, Miroku’s here for you.  I’m sorry- but we’ll be there for you.   We’ll make sure you get through this.” Kagome didn’t reply, not that Sango expected her to, and instead the young woman cried herself to sleep in her best friend’s arms. 

     The next morning, Kagome woke up in her bed alone.  She turned to face the side Inuyasha usually slept on and when she realized that the cold sheets had really been untouched, harsh sobs left her throat.  Inuyasha- oh gods, what was she to do?  Slowly getting up, she came to a decision.  Crying here wasn’t going to help Inuyasha, instead she needed to go to him.  She needed to go to Aomori.  Wiping her eyes, she pulled out an old suitcase and began stuffing it with materials that she would need- toiletries, clothes, underwear, socks, and pictures.  Once satisfied, she decided to head out of the room.  She heard voices in the kitchen and knew that Miroku and Sango would have spent the night.  She was grateful to have friends like them. 

     Her entrance into the kitchen stalled conversation and Sango offered her a small smile from her position by the stove.  Miroku pulled out a chair for her and sank down next to her gently pulling her closer as he did so.  Neither knew what to say but it was Sango who finally broke the silence as she placed breakfast- scrambled eggs- on the table. 

     “How are you this morning?” 

     Kagome offered her friend a weak smile.  “Good, I- I decided to go to Aomori.”  She turned to Miroku who was a travel agent.  “Do you- do you think you can find me a ticket?” 

     “I already have one booked for you.  It’s the eleven-thirty flight from Haneda.  You’ll reach Aomori around one and can catch a cab from there to the university.” 

     “Thanks.”  She looked at Sango and reached out to take her best friend’s hand in hers.  “I- really- thank you.  I don’t know what I would do if it wasn’t for you two.” 

     “I don’t know either.”  Sango joked back before motioning to the clock.  “You might want to get ready.  We’ll need to head to the airport soon.”  

     Two hours later, Kagome was sitting by the gate for her departing plane.  They had just called for boarding and even as she clutched her boarding pass tight, she was suddenly feeling anxious to board.  What if something had happened to her husband in between last night and now?  What if- what if she had lost him?  Shaking her head of those morbid thoughts, she wiped her eyes discreetly and stood when they announced her zone for boarding.  The flight attendant checked her id, the boarding pass, and ripped part of it off before smiling at her. 

     “Have a good flight.”  The words were said with genuine sincerity and Kagome knew that the woman had no idea of what was happening in her life.  Nonetheless, her words hardly made her feel better and she just let out a bitter grimace in reply as she boarded the plane. 

     The flight was dull and passed much too slowly for the anxious Kagome.  She really wanted to be by Inuyasha’s side as soon as possible, she needed to be there to see her himself.  Kagome couldn’t wait and was one of the first few passengers to depart the plane earning some strange looks from the other passengers.  She had only brought a carry-on packed with all her essentials, so she breezed past the baggage claim to hail the first taxi she found outside the airport doors. 

     “Aomori University Hospital.”  She managed out in a rush getting in.  The cabbie- an older man noticed her distress and drove quietly, only speaking when they reached the destination and was paying her fare. 

     “Miss, I don’t know if it’ll help but there’s a shrine around here- the Hitsugaya shrine.  It might ease your mind to go there later.” Kagome thanked the cab driver for his kind words before she squared her shoulders and walked inside the hospital.

     The hospital was quiet with people milling about- doctors, nurses, ordinary people like her, and patients.  A reception desk was at the end of the hall on the left and Kagome approached it her footsteps sounding heavy on the floor.  Her suitcase dragged behind her and earned her odd looks but she decided she didn’t care, she had more pressing matters to attend.  She reached the reception and one of the nurses at the desk asked her kindly if she could help her. 

     “My husband, Inuyasha Tanaka, he-he’s been admitted here.”  The nurse took a quick look at the computer before she nodded. 

     “He’s in room 324.  Take the elevators up to the third floor and turn right.”  Kagome nodded and made to leave when the nurse stopped her.  “If you would like to you could leave your suitcase here ma’am.”  Kagome hesitated before deciding that her suitcase was indeed too bulky and leaving it at the desk.  That done, she followed the receptionists directions. 

     The third floor was an operation recovery floor Kagome realized as she walked down the hall.  All the rooms were large and each had benches seated outside.  She walked down the hallway to the right passing one, two three, four doors before she came to a stop in front of room 324.  There was a man there, waiting and she wanted to know- needed to know- if he was here for the same reason she was.  A nurse scurried out the door and while she moved quickly, it wasn’t fast enough for Kagome to not see the bag of bloodied bandages in her arms.  The reality of the situation caught up to her and she collapsed on the bench across from the room feeling scared. 

     The tears that she had only shed once today came down her face in waves and she couldn’t stop them nor did she want to.  Inuyasha was in there, he was bleeding, he was hurt, and she was unable to do anything but sit here and cry.  She had only been told that it was a car accident that he was involved in but her mind began conjuring up images of the deadliness of car accidents.  A sob left her and she choked down the next few when she realized the sounds they made.  She didn’t think she would make it if the doctor told her that her husband was dead. 

     Wiping her eyes for the third time that day she looked at the man sitting across from her.  Pristine silver hair fell in long elegant waves down his shoulders while a folded trench coat indicated to Kagome that he too was a visitor.  He was watching her and she didn’t know how she felt about that.  There was nothing pitying in his gaze nor was there anything that was kind.  She didn’t know what to feel when she saw him but she found she didn’t have to.  He moved his coat to his lap and indicated the space next to him. 

     Sesshomaru had been dozing when he heard the sob and it was enough to jar him awake.  For a moment, he thought he’d heard Rin or Kaede but when he realized he was in the hospital, not at home, he relaxed and took note to see what had changed in the surroundings.  A young woman sat across from him- her eyes puffy and red from crying and she had been the source of the sound that had woken him up.  She was looking at the door next to him and Sesshomaru realized that this must be Mrs. Tanaka.  Catching her attention, he spoke. 

     “I assume you’re waiting for this room as well.  You can join me.” 

     Kagome stood, her legs shaking-not from overuse but from anxiety- and crossed the hall to take a seat next to him.  Last night, she had been told that her husband hadn’t been the only victim in the accident but she didn’t know the details.  She wanted to ask the man next to her and wondered how to do it.  For all she knew, she could be wrong and he might not be related to the other person in the car.  She fingered the scarf she was wearing feeling the fear blossom inside her once again.  She was going to get through this- Inuyasha was going to get through this. 

     Her actions were enough to indicate to Sesshomaru that she was indeed the woman he was waiting for.  He didn’t really care for small talk, especially when he realized he could possibly be sitting next to the woman whose husband had been cheating on her with his wife.  Nonetheless, he remembered the police officer’s earlier words. 

     “Mrs. Tanaka?”  He asked remembering her name.  She glanced up at him and he continued, now confident it was her.  “A police officer came by with some information earlier.  Would you like me to tell you what he said?”  Kagome blinked her eyes at him and nodded. 

     “My wife and your husband were driving drunk.  They hit another car head on.  The driver of the other car- he-“ Here he stopped and heaved a heavy sigh before continuing, “he died from the wounds last night.”  Sesshomaru figured he didn’t need to elaborate on the case itself.  The police officer was coming by later and he could answer any questions she might ask much better than he could.  And as he took note of her actions, he decided that it was indeed a good idea to not tell her the rest. 

     Kagome brought up a hand to her mouth as a wave of nausea hit her.  The news shocked her.  She had been thinking that her husband was going to die not that he was a- a murderer.  Her eyes glossy, she blinked to clear them as she processed the news.  She didn’t care about the hospital fees or taking care of Inuyasha- those she could afford with her insurance.  But taking care of the attorney fees for the- the man that her husband helped kill- she didn’t know where she would get that money. 

     The man next to her shuffled and she realized that it was her tears that were making him feel uncomfortable.  Still though, she thought, shouldn’t he be just as depressed as she was? His wife was there in the room with Inuyasha.  Did this man not care about her? As if he noticed her stare the man turned to look at her and Kagome realized that he did indeed care when she got a look at his face.  His eyes were sunken and his face was gaunt- it was as though he hadn’t slept at all the night before.  And he probably hadn’t since even now his eyes were also narrowed from overuse.  But now that she had his attention, she had some questions to ask him. 

     “Did- did the police officer say anything else?”  She asked her hands going back to her lap.  He nodded and she waited for his answer. 

     “He had some things to say regarding the case being filed but I’m afraid I do not know the details.  He is coming by later this afternoon though if you have any questions.”  Kagome nodded settling back into her seat and clutching her hands together in her lap.  Neither said anything for a while until another commotion caught their attention.      

     A keening wail was heard at the end of the hall and Kagome turned in the direction unbidden.  An older woman was being supported by her teenage daughter as the two cried.  Behind them two nurses came out- a body on a stretcher in between them.  Neither Kagome nor Sesshomaru had to guess what was happening but both wondered.  Would that be them soon?  Would the doctor in the room come out and tell them that he or she had done everything possible but that it was a lost cause.  The thought caused a tense silence to blanket the hall and it was only after the body had been taken away and the family departed that either of them felt they could breathe again. 

     Sesshomaru’s phone beeped and he opened it to see a message from Rin.  Scanning it quickly, he sent a quick reply and closed his eyes leaning back against the wall to wait some more. 

     A half-hour later a doctor walked out.  She was dressed in scrubs and was rubbing her now glove free hands together.  She spotted Sesshomaru and Kagome, who had stood the minute they saw her and brushed some hair away from her face as she addressed them.  Kagura was an expert in the field of neurology and she had been assigned to this case the minute both the patients had been admitted to the hospital.  She didn’t have to guess to see who was who and instead approached the two to tell them what was happening.    

     “Mrs. Tanaka, Mr. Mori, can we- if you don’t mind- can we talk in my office?  I’ll have a nurse show you there while I change out of these scrubs.” 

     Both Sesshomaru and Kagome took a good look at the doctor.  She was indeed dressed in the surgical attire and looked a little worse for wear.  They nodded and Kagura motioned for them to follow her to the elevators.  There, she instructed a nurse at the third floor reception to take them to her office while she got ready.  The nurse nodded taking them down the hall across from the elevators and showing them to a room a few doors down.  She led them inside and left. 

     Kagura showed up a few minutes later looking much better than she had before.  Her bun was still in slight disarray but she had been able to wash her hands and face making her face look just a bit brighter.  And she had finally rid herself of the dirty scrubs.  She calmly addressed the two seated in front of her.  It was after all better to get this done with as soon as possible. 

     “Mrs. Tanaka, Mr. Mori- I’m sure by now you know about the details of the crash so I’ll get right to it.  Both the patients are at the moment stable- that means only that they are still alive.  Mr. Mori, your wife luckily- sustained lesser injuries.  She has a few bruised ribs, has suffered head trauma that will probably affect her eyesight in the future and has broken the tibia in her right leg.  She is going to be paralyzed for the better part of this year and will need help.  The tibia is a particularly bad bone to break- if it doesn’t set in right- and that takes a lot of time- then she’ll never be able to walk properly again.” 

     Kagura took a deep breath and then addressed Mrs. Tanaka.  The woman’s face had been so distraught when she’d entered but now it was steeped with worry.  Kagura silently wished that she didn’t have to be the person to deliver this news to her.  She’d lost patients before and while she hadn’t lost Mr. Tanaka yet, she couldn’t- in fact she wouldn’t give this woman false hope. 

     “Mrs. Tanaka- your husband received the brunt of the damage in the accident.  He had a brain hemorrhage caused by a concussion that paramedics tried to respond to on the scene.  While the broken arm and collarbone have been set, there are some complications.  Due to his delicate condition, setting the collarbone was difficult and he might- in fact he will- suffer from pain in his left arm in the future.  And Mrs. Tanaka, I don’t mean to dishearten you but there is something you should know.

     “Being a neurosurgeon I have covered many cases and I have seen only two like your husbands.  The damage to his brain was severe Mrs. Tanaka.  Your husband has a fifty percent chance of making it.  It’s not so much the lack of medical knowledge but the fact that I cannot intrude anymore.  The brain is a very complex part of the human body Mrs. Tanaka and I have done everything medically possible to save your husband.  He is now in a restorative coma but I have to monitor him constantly to see if the coma is making him worse or better.” 

     Finished, Kagura watched the two people in front of her to gauge their reactions.  Mrs. Tanaka- the poor woman had become pale and was shaking with uncontrolled sadness.  Her eyes narrowed at that and she wondered if she should tell her what she found or whether that information would hurt the lady more.  Mr. Mori, he was faring better- but that was expected.  His wife was going to survive the ordeal no matter what so his main worry now was waiting for her to wake up.

     “Can we go visit them?”  Sesshomaru asked. He wanted to see Kikyo because he had to make sure she was alive with his own eyes. 

     “I’m afraid I can’t allow that till tomorrow morning.  Both patients are in coma’s right now.  Your wife’s Mr. Mori is also restorative- it is a response by the body made when the body is taxed.  I want to keep them and monitor them overnight before I let any visitors in.” 

     “I see, thank you.” 

     Sesshomaru had silently listened to the doctor’s words and could only be thankful for the fact that Kikyo had made it out of this ordeal alive.  He doubted that he would ever let her near a car again though.  Still, his sympathy did go out to Mrs. Tanaka.  The woman had been through so much today, and to make matters worse- she had to hear such devastating news about her husband.  He didn’t doubt the doctor’s words nor her work.  Still he wished there was more to be done.  He’d wanted to see Kikyo today and it irked at him that he had to wait.  Now that he was done receiving the information, he stood and inclined his head to leave. 

     “Mr. Mori, do you mind sitting for a minute- there’s something I’d like to discuss.”  Sesshomaru took a seat and calmly waited for the doctor to speak. 

     “When the paramedics arrived at the scene of the accident, we found Mr. Tanaka draped over Mrs. Mori as though he was protecting her.”  She paused for a moment before continuing.  “I don’t want to say or ruin anything but I think the two of you have a right to know.   The paramedics at the scene of the accident believed Mr. Mori and Mrs. Tanaka were a couple.  And when I was performing the surgeries, I noticed matching marks that looked like love bites on each other.  I-“  Kagura faltered and her eyes softened, “I don’t want to insinuate anything nor am I trying to make this worse for you- I just- I just thought you should know.” 

     Kagome laid a hand on her mouth as a shocked gasp left her throat.  She had wrung her hands as Kagura explained her husband’s condition.  She had stifled the sobs that were threating to come out and the scream of fear and frustration when Kagura had told her of Inuyasha’s near dire condition.  Now though, she didn’t know whether to thank the doctor or hate her for putting the seed of doubt in her head.  She felt like she was drowning in a sea of darkness and wanted to believe that it was all a dream. 

     Instead, it wasn’t and she finally let the half sob- half hysterical yell leave her.  She needed an outlet right now and by gods, she deserved it after all the hell she had been put through.  Hell- that was what it was.  Her own personal tortured hell and she had finally decided she could care less about the fact that someone was there to see her go through it.  The doctor stood from her seat and enveloped in her arms.  While it wasn’t what Kagome wanted or needed at the moment, if helped because it allowed her to be dependent on someone.  So she took the comfort being given to her and let herself be weak for one final moment. 


INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
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