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Waiting

Chapter 29

Chapter 29: Waiting

 

     The first thing that Kagome noticed as she regained consciousness was the dull pounding in her head. Instinctively, she tried to bring her hands up to rub her aching noggin and discovered that she was trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey. Telling herself to remain calm, she opened her eyes. And panicked when all she saw was inky blackness, not a hint of light. My eyes! Am I blind? She jerked against her bonds, ignoring the way the rough rope cut into her delicate skin. Muffled sobbing nearby reached her ears.

 

     “Shiro?” she called tentatively into the dark. “Are you hurt? Where are you, baby?” There was a whisper of cloth near her head. Kagome cried out at the stinging pain as someone’s hand impacted with the side of her face.

 

     “That’s for stealing my man, bitch!” Kagome frowned despite the throbbing from her cheek. That voice sounded familiar.

 

     “Kikyo?” she questioned. “What’s going on? Where’s Shiro? Why are you doing this?” She cringed at the crack of Kikyo’s hand against her tender skin. Licking her lips, she tasted blood.

 

     “Now, Kikyo,” a man’s voice admonished mockingly, “don’t be too harsh. You can have your fun after I get what I want.” Kagome steeled herself for another slap, but all she heard was a rustle of fabric as Kikyo moved away.

 

     “I suppose you’re right, Naraku,” Kikyo agreed. “I may have gone elsewhere to satisfy my needs, but that doesn’t mean Inuyasha should be allowed to forget me or replace me.” Kagome heard a coldness in Kikyo’s voice that sent chills running up and down her spine.

 

     “What do you want?” Kagome cried. She twisted, trying to loosen the ropes. “Where’s Shiro? Answer me!” Exhausted from her brief bout of temper, she relaxed back onto her side.

 

     “Demanding little bitch, isn’t she?” Naraku commented. “Maybe she should be gagged as well as blindfolded.” Kagome went limp with relief. Blindfolded? Now that her head had started to clear, she could definitely feel the scrap of cloth that was bound across her eyes. She decided to blame the disorientation of coming to in a strange place for not having noticed earlier. The crunch of feet approached and she held herself still, vowing to make no sound. Naraku would not have the satisfaction of knowing that he hurt her. A hand grabbed her chin roughly and tilted it up. She gasped in pain despite herself, certain that his fingers would leave bruises.

 

     “She is rather attractive in a way.” Naraku turned her head left and right while he examined her. “I could see why Inuyasha would fall for her. She practically reeks of innocence.”

 

     Kikyo snorted in a most unladylike manner. “Inuyasha is a fool. Just wait until she is big with child and no longer innocent. He will abandon her just as he abandoned me.”

 

     Kagome could feel Naraku’s evil grin, just as if she could see it. “Once we have what we want, we can have some fun. She need not be whole when she returns to the loving arms of her boyfriend. If she returns at all.” Kagome shivered, her fear-sensitized mind giving her a pretty good idea of what he meant.

 

     Sniffling sounds came from somewhere in the room. Kagome strained her ears to try and pinpoint the location. “Mommy?” a small voice quavered. Naraku released her and she could sense him moving away.

 

     “You didn’t tie a very good knot, dear,” he said coolly. “The gag fell out.”

 

     “You gagged that sweet little boy!” Kagome felt horrified and a little sick.

 

     “That stupid brat’s crying was giving me a headache,” Kikyo complained.

 

     “Shiro, sweetie, it’s okay. Mommy’s here. I won’t let them hurt you.” Kagome strained against the ropes binding her wrists. She wished that she could see what was going on. More than anything, she wanted to go to Shiro and comfort him. She winced as a pointed toe prodded her in the ribs.

 

     “How dare you let that little brat call you mommy?” Kikyo kicked a little harder, obviously enjoying Kagome’s involuntary cry of pain. “I’m his mother! I’m the one who gave birth to him! He should not be allowed to forget me!”

 

     “But I thought you didn’t want to be a mother?” Kagome cried, desperate to distract Kikyo from turning her skin black and blue.

 

     “That’s not the point!” Kikyo snapped and, by the sound of her footsteps, retreated to the other side of the room.

 

     Kagome breathed a sigh of relief, but tensed when someone grabbed her by the hair. The motion pulled on the dried blood surrounding her wound. The dull ache escalated into blinding agony. She blinked as the cloth covering her eyes was loosened and pulled away. Spots danced before her eyes even in the dim light of the room. Naraku released his grip on her hair. She whimpered as her head continued to throb. Black shoes entered her field of vision as Naraku crossed in front of her and joined Kikyo on the other side of the room.

 

     “What did you do that for?” Kagome strained to twist her body around until she could see Kikyo seated on a cheap plastic chair. “Now she can identify us and the hideout.”

 

     Naraku perched on a stool nearby, his gaze cold and calculating as he regarded Kagome. “Kikyo, dear, you watch too many police dramas. The girl already knows who we are and I’m certain that Inuyasha and that irritating brother of his also know. And we will have no use for this ‘hideout,’ as you so quaintly put it, in a few more days.”

 

     The only light coming in filtered through a small grimy window situated near the ceiling. Boxes of various sizes lined the wall in front of Kagome. By twisting slightly, she could see more boxes piled about the room, as well as several large burlap bags. This seemed to be some sort of storage area and, by the dust motes floating in the weak beam of sunlight, not a well frequented one.

 

     Wiggling a little, and ignoring the way the rough concrete floor scraped against her skin, she managed to turn herself around until she located Shiro. The little boy huddled in a corner, uncharacteristically quiet. Kagome was distressed to see that he had also been bound with coarse lengths of rope.

 

     “Shiro, are you okay?” Kagome started to panic again when he didn’t answer. “Talk to me, baby!”

 

     “The monkey man and the mean mommy told me to be quiet or they’d hurt you!” Shiro turned his little face towards her. Fresh tears slid down his cheeks and dripped from his chin. “I tried to be brave! Did they hurt you, Mommy?”

 

     “You’re very brave, little one!” She fought to free her hands and hissed when the rough fibers abraded her tender wrists. “Daddy will find us and everything will be fine!”

 

     Kikyo raised a hand to her mouth, stifling a yawn as she watched the little drama. “I can’t believe I let Inuyasha saddle me with that brat. Children are so needy, always whining and fussing. Usually dirty and stinky, too.”

 

     Kagome contorted her body to face Kikyo again. “How dare you say that about your own son! Shiro is the sweetest little boy I’ve ever met! You’re not fit to call yourself a mother!”

 

     Kikyo launched herself from her chair, tight-lipped with fury. Kagome met her furious gaze with one of her own as Kikyo towered over her. “I had everything before that little brat was born,” she hissed. “A wealthy husband, elegant parties, influential friends. All of that changed when the baby came. Suddenly my needs were no longer important. If Naraku hadn’t come, I might have been stuck in that awful marriage with a weak husband who bends over backwards for the whims of a clinging brat.”

 

     Surprise flickered in Kagome’s eyes and she lost some of her anger to confusion. “But I thought that Sesshoumaru got most of their father’s inheritance.”

 

     Kikyo laughed, a bitter sound. “Inuyasha had more than you think, bitch, and his position at the company paid quite well. But I was able to claim a substantial amount in the divorce settlement and the fool would have given up even more to keep me from contesting his sole custody rights to the child.”

 

     Now that Kagome was awake, Shiro had complete confidence that she would make the bad people let them go. Despite being tied and gagged, Kikyo hadn’t really hurt him. Maybe he could help his nice mommy. Daddy always said that when an adult did something bad to you and told you to keep quiet, then it was okay to yell as loud as you could.

 

     “Go away, mean mommy! I’ll tell Daddy on you! He’ll get mad at you for yelling at Mommy!”

 

     “I told you to keep quiet!” Kikyo turned around to glare at Shiro. “Good little children should do what they’re told!”

 

     “No!” Shiro shouted, louder than before. “You’re mean and I hate you! I want to go home!”

 

     “Can’t you shut him up?” Naraku demanded. “You’re his mother.”

 

     Kikyo walked over to Shiro and reached out a hand to touch him. He screamed and called her a “pooh-pooh head.” Just before her fingers touched his face, he writhed and sank his teeth into her hand. Jerking back with a startled cry, Kikyo cradled her injured hand against her chest. From her position on the floor, Kagome could see that Shiro had bitten deep enough to draw blood.

 

     “That’s enough, brat!” Naraku stalked over and whacked Shiro across the face with enough force to leave a mark. Shiro wailed even louder in a confusion of hurt and returning fear.

 

     “Shiro!” Kagome cried, renewing her struggles to free herself.  “Get away from him!”  The knots were too well tied and held fast despite her best efforts. 

 

     Kikyo immediately crossed the floor to the little boy’s side.  Kagome jerked hard on the rope around her wrists, ignoring the warm trickle of wetness that she was pretty sure was her own blood.  The psychotic bitch had participated in a plot to kidnap her own son.  There was no telling what she might do next.

 

     “You said that you wouldn’t hurt him!” Kikyo knelt down, trying to get a look at Shiro’s face. Kagome was surprised to see that she actually looked concerned.

 

     “I hate you!” Shiro screamed at Kikyo, twisting his head to avoid her probing fingers.

 

     Kikyo tilted her head up to look at Naraku. His face showed no remorse for hitting a little boy. “I agreed that we could kidnap him to force Inuyasha to give up the sword, but you promised not to hurt him. He’s only a child!”

 

     “What kind of sick bastards are you?” Kagome pitched her voice to carry. “Kidnapping a little boy for the sake of an old sword.”

 

     “We were going to give him back.” Was it Kagome’s imagination or was Kikyo looking a little strained. “As soon as Inuyasha handed over the sword, we were going to return the both of you. It was never supposed to be like this!”

 

     Kagome felt a weird sort of pity for Kikyo, but this was not the time to dwell on her new feelings.  Shiro’s sobs had quieted to the occasional sniffle and he seemed to be okay for now.  She needed to find a way to let Inuyasha know where they were. Closing her eyes, she rested her head on the cool concrete.

 

     Inuyasha must be frantic.

 

^**^

 

     Inuyasha shot out of the backseat as soon as the car pulled into the driveway. He dashed past a surprised Sango and Miroku who were standing on the front porch and disappeared into the house, almost breaking down the door, and he probably would have if he hadn’t forgotten to lock it when they left. There was a sound of shattering glass and Inuyasha returned, holding his precious sword in one clenched fist.

 

     “What the hell are you waiting for?” he yelled as he stopped by the side of the car and discovered that everybody was staring at him as if he had lost what few wits he possessed. “We need to go rescue Kagome and Shiro!”

 

     “And where do you propose we start looking, little brother?” Sesshoumaru took Rin by the hand, calmly leading her into the house. Sango and Miroku exchanged confused looks before deciding to follow him.

 

     “Don’t you have some way of tracking them?” Inuyasha appeared in the doorway, looking a bit frayed around the edges. “Some kind of a beacon or satellite?”

 

     Sesshoumaru sighed and helped himself to a soda from the fridge. He handed Rin a pudding cup and leaned against the counter. “Kagome and Shiro are two human beings in a city of thousands. Neither one of them is wearing a tracking device. If Naraku wants your sword, he will have to contact you. Then we can negotiate for the safe return of the girl and my nephew.”

 

     “Damn!” Inuyasha banged his fist against the nearest wall. Sesshoumaru raised an eyebrow at his brother’s increasing use of bad language, but didn’t comment.

 

     “What’s going on?” Miroku broke the uneasy silence that had fallen. “Where are Kagome and Shiro? What does Naraku have to do with anything?” Sango stood behind him, giving a sharp nod with each question.

 

     “This is your house, little brother.” Sesshoumaru took a long swig of his soda and stood up. “Why don’t you tell them? Now, excuse me, but I have to go bug your phone.”

 

     In a few clipped sentences, Inuyasha filled in his two friends. Both of them, much to his annoyance, agreed with Sesshoumaru. It would be foolish to rush around in a blind panic. The smart thing to do was to wait until Naraku contacted him, and to make some sort of plan for when he did.

 

     Inuyasha didn’t like waiting. Since the phone was now bugged, he wasn’t allowed to use it. Sango, Miroku, and another officer were sent to inform the Higurashi’s of the situation and keep them from panicking. After an hour had passed, he was so tightly wound that when someone touched him on the arm he jumped about a foot in the air. He spun around and found himself looking into the brown eyes of Rin. She didn’t smile, just held out a plate with some kind of sandwich on it.

 

     “Uh, thank you.” Inuyasha took the plate from her and stared dubiously at the poorly made sandwich. He sniffed delicately. “What is it?”

 

     Sesshoumaru’s voice floated into the living room from the kitchen, where he was still stationed by the phone. “It’s peanut butter and salami. Rin made it for you herself.”

 

     Rin watched expectantly. Inuyasha wasn’t really hungry, but he didn’t want to hurt the little girl’s feelings. He took a small bite. There was a cautious look on his face as he chewed and swallowed. His expression cleared and he took a bigger bite. “This is really good! Could you fetch me a soda?” She grinned and skipped off to the kitchen.

 

     Inuyasha entered the kitchen and settled himself at the table across from Sesshoumaru. How could his brother be so calm at a time like this? Inuyasha felt like he was coming apart. All that was precious to him had been snatched away. He never even had the chance to tell Kagome how he really felt about her. That promise ring was a wimpy way to avoid confronting his true feelings. Kikyo had hurt him deeply when he was still young and stupid. Inuyasha liked to think that he had grown and matured since then. But the truth was that he was scared.

 

     When Shiro called Kagome “Mommy,” it gave him goose bumps. He started picturing what a child that he and Kagome produced would look like. Always the pleasant fantasies stumbled over the memory of Kikyo threatening to take Shiro away if he didn’t give her what she wanted. She had given up all claim to the boy years ago, but he was always afraid she would decide to sue for custody and drag the whole mess back into the courts. Every time he laid eyes on his little boy, he gave thanks that Shiro had been too young to know what was going on. He didn’t mind that he gave up most of his wealth; Shiro was worth more than any material possessions.

 

     Somehow, Inuyasha would have to convince Kagome that she was worth more than any material possession before it was too late.

 

     The ringing of the doorbell jerked Inuyasha out of his troubled thoughts. Sesshoumaru caught his eye and nodded. Could it be Naraku sending someone in person instead of using the phone? Sesshoumaru stood up and accompanied Inuyasha to the door.  If there were any problems, he would be prepared to deal with them. Taking a deep breath, Inuyasha gripped the doorknob. His brother had pressured him on this until he finally gave in. If there was any trouble, he was supposed to let the trained police officers handle it. He opened the door in as close to his normal fashion as he could manage.

 

     “What took you so long, walnut brain?” Kouga stood impatiently on the front porch. Inuyasha slumped slightly in relief, but he couldn’t help but be disappointed that it was only Kouga and not some mysterious errand boy from Naraku. Kouga, for his part, didn’t seem to notice that anything was wrong. “Do you have any idea where Kagome is? I stopped by her house to find out if she wanted front row seats to the next race. That lecherous friend of yours told me that she wasn’t there. He seemed kind of jumpy. What exactly is going on?”

 

     Inuyasha waved Kouga into the house. If he told Kouga to go away, he would just become convinced that Inuyasha was trying to hide something from him. Sesshoumaru let his professional gaze travel over the stranger before he flicked a brief glance at his brother and returned to the kitchen.  The officers who had set up temporary residence in his house regarded the go-kart driver with suspicion. “It’s all right,” Inuyasha assured them, not that he would mind too much if somebody put a bullet through his greatest rival. Not to kill of course, only to maim. “He’s harmless.”

 

     “What’s going on?” Kouga demanded as Inuyasha led the way into the kitchen. “What are all these policemen doing here? Where’s Kagome?”

 

     “Sit down,” Inuyasha ordered. He waved Kouga to a chair, which of course he refused. Inuyasha shrugged. “Suit yourself, but I think you’ll want to be sitting after you hear what I have to say.”

 

     Kouga’s reaction was about as predicted. First, his legs gave out and he plopped down into the chair that he had refused before. Then he was on his feet, insulting Inuyasha and threatening to bash Naraku’s head in himself.

 

     Inuyasha gave Kouga a slightly superior look, despite recently having gone through the exact same thing. “Calm down. The only thing you will accomplish by blindly attacking Naraku, assuming you could find him, would be to get yourself and probably Kagome and Shiro killed.”

 

     “You’re doing nothing?” Kouga shot an incredulous look at Inuyasha. “I knew you were slow, but this is ridiculous. Do you have any idea what that madman could be doing to them right now?”

 

     Inuyasha picked the Tetsusaiga up off of the table. “If Naraku wants this, then he is going to have to release them. And they had better not be harmed. Besides, Sesshoumaru says that he has a plan.”

 

     Sesshoumaru raised an eyebrow as attention was shifted to him. He calmly took a sip of his soda. That was his sixth one in the last three hours. Vaguely, Inuyasha realized that this was his brother’s way of dealing with his own nerves. “First, we have to wait for the contact.”

 

     At that moment, the phone rang.

 

^**^

 

Food for thought (courtesy of Venus Smurf):

 

Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic.

copyright: The Literary Dragon 2004