Hours later, Inuyasha found himself at the other end of town with no clear idea of how
he got there. He squeezed his eyes shut. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t erase the image of Kagome and Kouga
hugging. When he finally arrived at the daycare to pick up Shiro, he was so lost in his own pain that he didn’t notice
how uncharacteristically quiet the little boy was.
“Where’s ‘Gome?” Shiro asked as soon as the front door closed behind
Inuyasha’s heart clenched at the innocent question. “Kagome couldn’t
make it for dinner.” Even to his own ears, his voice sounded odd.
He tried to act normal for Shiro’s sake, telling himself that it wasn’t the
end of the world. She’d never even said that she loved him. ‘Of course,’ a small voice in the back of his
head reminded him, ‘you never told her how you felt either.’ Inuyasha shook his head, trying to chase the voice
away. The ring was still in his pocket.He started to take it out, but changed
his mind. Somehow, he felt a little better knowing that it was there.
He looked down at Shiro. “How about some dinner, buddy?”
Shiro yawned. “I’m tired, Daddy. Can I go to bed now?”
“Sure.” Inuyasha watched as the little boy climbed the stairs. “I’ll
be up to tuck you in pretty soon.”
He glanced at the clock in the kitchen. It was ten minutes after five. Kagome should be
home by now. He picked up the phone, but stopped with his finger poised above the numbers. Why should he call her? As long
as he didn’t hear her say that it was over then maybe there was still hope. He dropped the phone back on its cradle,
not even checking to be sure that it was hung up properly. He would follow Shiro’s example and go to bed early. Maybe
things would look better in the morning.
He entered Shiro’s room to find him already snuggled into bed. The furry whiteness
that was his beloved Doggy clutched firmly in his small arms. His pants and shoes lay in a small pile on the floor, along
with one sock. Inuyasha smiled and adjusted the blankets, removing Shiro’s other sock from his foot.The poor boy must be tired since he hadn’t even attempted to change into his pajamas, but one night
of sleeping in a shirt wouldn’t hurt him.Gently, he brushed the bangs
out of Shiro’s eyes. His smile slipped into a slight frown at the sticky dampness of Shiro’s skin. But the little
boy had been playing hard all day; he had probably just overexerted himself. With a last touch to the floppy ear on Doggy,
he retreated from the room, closing the door gently behind him. He would be strong for Shiro’s sake.
Inuyasha woke suddenly at a small touch on his arm. Through the faint gleam of the streetlight
outside his window, he could just make out Shiro standing next to the bed.
“What’s wrong, Shiro?” Inuyasha didn’t know why he whispered. It’s
not like there was anyone else in the house to avoid waking.
“I feel funny, Daddy.” Shiro tightened his grip on Doggy and rubbed his eyes
with the other fist. “Can I sleep with you?”
Inuyasha slipped his hands under Shiro’s arms and lifted him onto the bed. He brushed
the sweat-sticky bangs off of the child’s forehead. “You’re warm, buddy.” Once Shiro was securely
tucked under the blankets, Inuyasha made his way to the bathroom. After rummaging around in the medicine chest, he returned
with a thermometer and slipped it under Shiro’s tongue.The little boy
meekly accepted the thermometer, without fidgeting as he normally did whenever Inuyasha tried to get him to sit still for
five seconds.After the required time, he removed the thermometer and frowned
at the digital readout.Shiro was registering a fever.
Inuyasha placed the thermometer on the nightstand and returned to the bathroom for a bottle
of chewable baby Tylenol and a glass of water.Hopefully, they would help. He
set the glass on the nightstand and sat on the edge of the bed.Slipping an arm
under the little boy, he eased him into a sitting position.
“Take these, Shiro.” He popped the pills into Shiro’s mouth, watching
him chew and swallow. “Are you thirsty? How about some water?” Shiro accepted the glass and drained it dry.Inuyasha set the empty glass on the nightstand next to the thermometer and helped
Shiro get comfortable. Almost immediately, his regular breathing told Inuyasha that he had fallen asleep.
“Sleep tight,” Inuyasha said, pulling the blankets up under Shiro’s chin.
“You’ll feel better in the morning.”
Shiro was still feverish when it was time to get up. Inuyasha forgot to call the office
and request a sick day and not interested enough to wonder why somebody didn’t try to contact him about playing hooky
from work. A beeping sound coming from the kitchen barely registered on his awareness, and he was too depressed to even bother
getting dressed. He just pulled on a tattered robe over his boxers. By lunchtime, Inuyasha was getting worried. Shiro slept
fitfully and when he was awake, he whimpered that he was hot and his skin hurt. Around , Inuyasha ran a cool bath to try and bring down Shiro’s
“Daddy?” Shiro cried out, thrashing in the throes of a nightmare. He kicked
the blankets off and immediately started to shiver. “Where’s ‘Gome? I want my ‘Gome!”
Inuyasha made shushing noises and re-tucked the blankets around the small body. Shiro quieted
for a few minutes only to try pushing the blankets off again. Inuyasha ignored the boy’s struggles and kept him covered.
Shiro opened his eyes.
“I’m right here.” Inuyasha ran his fingers through Shiro’s hair,
working out some of the tangles. His own hair was matted and snarled and the worry showed clearly in his bloodshot eyes.
“My head hurts, Daddy,” Shiro whimpered and squeezed his eyes closed. “Make
it stop!” Inuyasha almost whimpered himself at the pleading in his son’s voice. He retrieved the thermometer from
the nightstand where he had left it and stuck it under Shiro’s tongue. He frowned when he read what it said. He slipped
his arms under the child and lifted him up, blankets and all.
“Daddy?” Shiro blinked fuzzily at him.
Inuyasha tried to smile reassuringly. “Your temperature is still going up, buddy.
I’m taking you to the doctor.”
Sango giggled as Miroku nipped gently on her earlobe. Her giggles turned into moans when
he shifted his attack to the side of her neck. Things couldn’t get better than this. Sango had come over to his apartment
to fix him dinner. Kohaku was over at Souta’s and wouldn’t show up for a couple of hours. The shopping was done
and the food didn’t have to be started for an hour. And his beautiful Sango was willingly letting him suck on her neck
without slapping him or calling him a pervert. Life was good.
The phone rang. Miroku ignored it, hoping that whoever it was would give up. The shrill
ringing continued long past the time when a sane person would have decided that nobody must be home. Miroku decided right
then that tomorrow he was going to go out and buy an answering machine.He let
out a groan that had nothing to do with where his lovely Sango had her hands and reached for the phone.
“If this is a telemarketer, I swear I’ll--“Miroku’s angry snarl
abruptly cut off. He pushed away from Sango, all of his attention fixed on whoever was on the other end of the line. “That’s
horrible. Yes, I understand. Sure, no problem. I said, ‘no problem,’ just take care of the little guy.”
He hung up the phone and turned to his curious fiancÚ.
“Shiro’s sick,” He told her before she could ask what was wrong. He smiled
slightly at her sympathetic gasp. “Inuyasha took him to the hospital. The doctor is still examining him.”
“Poor little guy.” Sango followed Miroku as he started buttoning his shirt
and hunting for his discarded shoes. “Is there anything we can do?”
“Inuyasha wants me to pick up a few things at his house.” He stood on one leg,
balancing against the wall as he pulled on his shoe. “It seems that he was so worried about Shiro that he showed up
in his underwear.” Sango smothered a laugh. “He would like a change of clothes for both of them and he wants me
to see if I can find Shiro’s Doggy. It seems that it got left behind when Inuyasha hustled him out of the house and
Shiro’s been raising a real howl about it.”
“Should someone find Kagome?” Sango panted as she broke into a jog to keep
up with Miroku’s longer legs as he led the way to where his car was parked.
Miroku frowned as opened the door for Sango. “He didn’t mention her. Did those
two ever make up after their fight?”
“I haven’t seen Kagome since yesterday,” Sango replied. “She was
going to find him and talk to him. I hope nothing went wrong.”
Miroku didn’t say anything. They had just come in sight of Inuyasha’s house
and he spied a familiar figure standing at the front door.
“Hi, guys,” Kagome said when she saw them getting out of the car. She nervously
twirled a lock of hair around one finger. “Have either of you seen Inuyasha? I’ve been trying to get a hold of
him since yesterday. We need to talk about something that happened that isn’t what it looked like. There were roses
all over the sidewalk and I don’t want to screw this up anymore than it already is.”
Miroku and Sango blinked as they tried to make sense of all that. Remembering why they
were there, Miroku pushed past Kagome and inserted the spare key into the lock.
“What’s going on?” Kagome asked, following them into the house and up
the stairs to Inuyasha’s room. “Where are Inuyasha and Shiro?”
“We got a call from Inuyasha a few minutes ago,” Sango explained while Miroku
went clothes hunting. She took a deep breath. “Shiro’s in the hospital.”
“Oh, my God!” Kagome’s legs gave way and she sat down hard on the edge
of the bed. She absently picked up a white dog that was sitting next to her and began to stroke its plush fur. “Is he
going to be okay?”
“Inuyasha didn’t really say anything.” Miroku appeared at the entrance
to the room with an armload of little boy clothing. “He just asked us to pick up some stuff at the house and bring it
to him. Why don’t you come with us? I’m sure Inuyasha will be glad to see you and you can bring Shiro his Doggy.”
Startled, Kagome glanced down at the stuffed animal that she was now squeezing in a death grip. She smiled and lightly touched
the one floppy ear.
Sango pulled Kagome to her feet and turned to help Miroku find some clothing for Inuyasha.Instead of going through the closet or the drawers, she picked up a pile of clothing
from the floor consisting of a red shirt and a pair of jeans and loaded them into Miroku’s arms.After thinking for a moment, she extracted clean socks and underwear from one of the drawers. “Inuyasha
is going to wonder what happened to us if we don’t get a move on. I’ll drive.”
“Why can’t I drive?” Miroku whined, peering at her over the red shirt
of Inuyasha’s. “It’s my car.”
Sango snorted and rolled her eyes. “We want to get to the hospital sometime this
year, Miroku. You drive like an old lady.”
“I can’t believe you did that, Sango!”
Sango rolled her eyes. “Give it a rest already, Miroku. Nobody got hurt!”
“But it was a duck crossing!” Miroku glared accusingly at her over the pile
of clothes in his arms. “You could have wiped out a whole family of ducks!”
“For the last time, it is too early in the year for there to be little ducklings
running around.” Stopping in the middle of the hallway to devote more energy to the conversation she was having with
her annoying boyfriend, she ignored the amused looks being directed their way. “And I’m sure the duck mamas and
papas teach their babies to look both ways before crossing the street!”
Kagome paid no attention to them or the curious audience they were beginning to attract.
She scanned the hallway looking for someone official who could tell her which room Shiro Takashi was in. She peered in both
directions twice before noticing the lone figure sitting hunched over on a chair wearing a robe, and with a hospital-issue
blanket draped loosely over his shoulders.
“Inuyasha!” She called out, waving one arm to attract his attention, before
remembering that he might not want to talk to her after what happened with Kouga. Inuyasha raised his head and blinked at
her several times before suddenly seeming to recognize her.
“Kagome?” He stood up, using one hand to keep the blanket in place. “What
are you doing here?” He grunted as Kagome barreled into him, wrapping both arms around his middle and squeezing hard.
She said something, but her voice was muffled due to her face being buried in the fabric of his robe. He gently disengaged
her arms before she completely cut off his circulation.
He put a finger under her chin, tilting her eyes up to meet his. “Don’t worry.
Shiro’s going to be fine.”
Kagome sniffled and wiped her nose with the back of the hand holding the slightly squashed
white dog. Inuyasha grimaced and snagged a sanitizing wipe off of a passing medical cart. Kagome obediently took it from him,
but didn’t use it.
“Why didn’t you call and tell me that Shiro was sick?” The last word
came out in a near wail. Lowering her voice to a broken whisper she continued, “Do you hate me that much?”
“Is Shiro really going to be okay?” Sango asked, breaking into the conversation
before Inuyasha could reply.
Releasing Kagome to sag back down onto the chair, Inuyasha glanced anxiously at the closed
door across the hall. “I don’t know. The doctor wouldn’t let me stay in the room.He said that I was too distracting, that he couldn’t work with me hovering over his shoulder.He told me to wait outside, and that he’d come get me when he was finished.Shiro doesn’t like doctors.I don’t
want him to be scared.”
Kagome, Sango, and Miroku exchanged a look. Poor Inuyasha had the voice of a parent who
was about to crack under the strain. Miroku cleared his throat.
“We brought you some clothes.” He shoved the bundle at his friend. “Why
don’t you change? We’ll stay right here and, if anything happens, you’ll be the first to know.”
Inuyasha toddled off in search of a bathroom. Miroku and Sango settled down on a couple
of chairs. Kagome decided that sitting was too tame and elected to pace instead. Her friends watched with distracted interest
as she proceeded to try and wear a rut in the floor, clutching the little white dog to her chest as if it was a lifeline.
By the time Inuyasha returned, Miroku and Sango had disappeared in search of a vending
machine supplying snacks guaranteed to rot your teeth. Kagome had stopped pacing and, was instead standing with her ear pressed
against the door. She barely acknowledged Inuyasha’s hands as he guided her back to the chairs and sat her down. He
absently reached into his pocket, fingers closing on an object he found there.
They both spoke at the same time.
Inuyasha chuckled lightly and said, “You first.”
Kagome looked down at her hands in her lap, almost surprised to see that she was still
holding Shiro’s Doggy. She touched the floppy ear gently before lifting her head to meet Inuyasha’s gaze squarely.
“I’m sorry, Inuyasha.” For once, he didn’t interrupt, just waited for her to say whatever it was that
she wanted to say. She took a deep breath. “What you saw... yesterday... wasn’t what it looked like. I was coming
to find you actually, when I ran into Kouga. He told me some stuff. I listened, but I also told him that there could never
be anything between us. Because there was somebody else. Somebody who had already stolen my heart.” She smiled and reached
up a hand to touch the side of Inuyasha’s face gently. “And in case you’re too thick to understand who I’m
talking about, I’ll have to tell it to you plain. The answer is you.”
Inuyasha’s face relaxed into a smile for the first time in over a week. He pulled
her hand away, but kept a firm grip on her fingers. He fished in his pocket for the little box that was starting to take on
a battered appearance. “One apology deserves another. I’m sorry for being such a self-centered insecure jerk.
I forgot to trust your good sense and my own charming personality.” He grinned when she made a face and attempted to
pull her hand away. He popped open the box, showing the simple ring in all of its glory. “I want you to have this.”
Kagome oohed and tugged her hand free to reach for the ring. But she stopped just before
she touched it and looked at him. “I’m not sure if I’m ready for marriage.”
Grabbing her left hand, he slipped the ring onto her finger, breathing a sigh of relief
that it fit. “Idiot,” he chided affectionately. “It’s not an engagement ring. It’s a promise
ring. It means that we will continue to see each other exclusively and someday... we might possibly... maybe... consider marriage.”
He leaned forward slightly, ready to seal the promise with a kiss.
“That was just beautiful,” Sango sobbed, completely ruining the moment. Inuyasha
and Kagome scooted apart, blushing, as they realized that they were in a rather public place and providing free entertainment
to the patients and hospital staff. Sango turned to Miroku. “Why don’t you ever do anything romantic like that
“We’re already engaged,” Miroku protested. “Why should I have to
buy you a promise ring?”
Kagome leaned back in her chair, letting the sounds of her friends’ bickering wash
over her. About that time, a door farther down the hall opened and out walked Sesshoumaru, with Rin clinging to his hand like
usual. In her other hand she held a tattered bouquet of store-bought flowers.
“What are you doing here?” Inuyasha asked, nodding absently in response to
Rin’s delighted grin.
“I could ask the same of you, little brother,” Sesshoumaru replied.
Inuyasha crossed his arms over his chest. “I asked first,” he declared.
“One of the key witnesses in a case I am working on was... damaged. We came to see
if she had recovered enough to talk.” Rin tugged on his arm urgently. “And Rin wanted to bring some flowers to
cheer her up.”
“Shiro’s sick,” Inuyasha informed his brother bluntly. A less observant
person might have missed the flicker in Sesshoumaru’s eyes that indicated concern. “The doctor hasn’t told
us anything yet.”
Rin released her guardian’s hand and tugged a daisy loose from her bouquet. She held
it out to Inuyasha. He smiled and accepted the present with a quiet ‘thank you.’ Overcome with shyness, Rin hid
behind Sesshoumaru. The door across the hall opened. Six pairs of eyes snapped in the doctor’s direction.
The doctor blinked in bemusement at all of the people gathered in the hall. “All
of you must be here about Shiro. Well, I have good news.” He smiled reassuringly at Inuyasha, who didn’t look
at all reassured. Instead of continuing immediately, he stopped to inspect his clipboard and adjust the fit of his white coat.
Inuyasha shot from his chair and grabbed the doctor by the front of that coat.
“How is my son?” He bellowed, shaking the poor guy like a dog with a toy. Sesshoumaru
restrained Inuyasha, but indicated with frown that he would appreciate it if the doctor would get right to the point.
“Shiro has a case of influenza,” He said, keeping a wary eye on Inuyasha.
“How the hell did he get the flu? We haven’t been around any sick people.”
Inuyasha ignored the smack on the arm from Kagome for his poor language. He was a stressed parent; he had the right to swear
if he wanted to.
The doctor shrugged. “Kids pick up these things all the time. He may have caught
it from another kid or even an adult like a teacher or babysitter. We gave him something to bring down the fever and help
fight the infection.He just needs rest and plenty of fluids and he’ll
“Can I see him?” Inuyasha asked.
“Of course,” the doctor replied. “But only a couple of people. He’s
still a little sleepy from the medicine.”
Inuyasha grabbed Kagome’s hand and dragged her after him. “Come on, Kagome.
Shiro’s been wanting to see you and you can give him Doggy.”
The little boy looked very small and vulnerable in the big hospital bed, but he smiled
to see his daddy. Kagome was standing behind Inuyasha and Shiro hadn’t noticed her yet.
“Hi, buddy.” Inuyasha pulled a chair over and sat down. “How are you
Shiro wiggled into a sitting position with some help from his daddy. “They stuck
me with a needle this big, Daddy.” He held his hands about a foot apart. “But I was really brave and I didn’t
Inuyasha smiled. “That’s great, Shiro.” He reached back and pulled Kagome
closer. “Look who I found.”
“’Gome!” Shiro’s face lit up with the biggest grin Kagome had ever
seen. “I missed you! Did you and Daddy kiss and make up? Are you going to be my mommy now? I don’t want you to
fight anymore. It makes my stomach hurt.”
Kagome laughed. “Daddy and I aren’t fighting anymore. And I brought someone
for you.” She held out Doggy. Shiro gave a delighted squeal and squeezed the poor thing so hard that it was a wonder
stuffing didn’t start coming out of its ears.
“You’re tired, buddy,” Inuyasha said when Shiro started yawning. “We’ll
take you home after you have a little nap.”
“Okay.” Shiro yawned and snuggled back under the covers with Doggy clutched
tightly in both arms. “’Gome?”
“You’re wearing the ring Daddy got for you,” he stated between yawns.
“Can I call you Mommy now?”
Food for thought (courtesy
of The Literary Dragon):
Cats are smarter than
dogs - you won’t get eight cats to pull a sled through snow.