InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Dead Famous ❯ A Heroic Victory ( Chapter 20 )
Author's Notes: I really need to go out and buy people presents… ok, anti-wrinkle cream for mum, deodorant for dad, wart-removal kit for my sister…
If I get hacked to pieces by my beloved family on Christmas morning, I might have trouble updating…
A Heroic Victory…
"Maybe he should withdraw from the match?" Kagome suggested anxiously as she and Miroku carefully helped Inuyasha to his feet.
"I'm fine!" Inuyasha groused, shooting a look over his shoulder to where Kikyo was waving a hand in front of Kouga's face. The wolf was barely conscious… which wasn't exactly a bad thing. "With him beat, fighting the next guy will be a doddle. Anyway… it's now or never."
"That's the spirit!" Miroku clapped a hand over his shoulder, seemingly unaware of how much that had hurt. "You could beat that guy ten times over, couldn't you?"
I'll beat you ten times over you worthless piece of… "Sure!" Inuyasha put on a brave face as he leant on Miroku for support.
"Kagome," Miroku looked back at the school-girl. "You stay here with the others."
Kagome looked back at where Kouga was slumped against the changing room wall. Inuyasha was in bad shape… but that guy was much worse. Kagome almost felt sorry for him. Almost. "Ok…" she said slowly as she left the two boys to go join Kikyo beside Kouga. Crouching down beside the injured fighter, she poked a finger rather callously against his temple. A groan rumbled in his throat in response and Kagome looked up at Kikyo. "I think he's alive."
"Such a smart girl…" Kikyo uttered under her breath.
Kagome paused a moment, watching Miroku lead Inuyasha out of the adjoining room, heading towards the next match undoubtedly. She frowned uneasily. She knew that Inuyasha fighting in that condition was probably a bad idea… but like he'd said; 'now or never' meaning this was probably the only shot he had at the championship. Kagome didn't understand how earning the reputation of being the hardest and strongest guy in the country could sound appealing But it seemed important to these people…
She turned back to Kouga with a sigh, resting a hand on his shoulder that seemed to be unhindered by any injuries. "Hey, are you ok?" she asked softly, hoping that his brain was in more tact than his body.
"Ah… the massage girl…" he mumbled into his chest. "You're the girl who tricked me and then attacked me as soon as you had me alone."
Kagome took her hand off his shoulder. "You had it coming." She said shortly. "You don't go around slipping drugs into people's drinks. And what are you so scared off? Haven't you got an award for being best newcomer? Like you have to worry about being attacked by little schoolgirls-"
"What's the point?" he interrupted, lifting his head. Kagome had to fight the instinct to recoil in horror at the condition Inuyasha had left his face in. "I lost anyway… I'm a complete failure."
Oh god… he was going to get depressed. Kagome glanced up at Kikyo who was looking at her watch pointedly. She looked back down at Kouga. "You'll always have next year…?" she offered in what she felt was a bit of a lame attempt to cheer him up.
And judging by Kouga's glare, he felt it was a bit lame too.
With a sigh she rolled her eyes. "Well you lost fair and square, so you can't hold it against Inuyasha now. Right?" she narrowed her eyes ever so slightly.
Kouga smirked. "My only consolation is that perhaps now that he's wasted his energy on me, he won't have any left for the meatball guy."
"Peach man." Kikyo corrected.
"So sorry." Kouga said haughtily.
Kagome glowered at him. "Inuyasha will win - you'll see." She told him firmly.
"You can say that as many times as you like." Kouga told her. "Won't make it happen."
Kagome stared at him stonily for a moment before getting to her feet. "I'm gonna go get my seat." She told Kikyo and headed out of the changing rooms with only one last annoyed glance back at Kouga over her shoulder.
Sango and the triplets had already disappeared meaning that the match was due to start any minute. Kagome wandered around aimlessly through the endless corridors, only just remembering why she shouldn't have wondered off alone. She was just about to give up and retrace her steps back to the changing room when she walked out into the main, and by far the largest corridor in the building.
A few people were arriving, members of the public wearing their coats and holding their children by the hand. They all seemed to be heading the same way so Kagome joined the flow, reckoning that she would ultimately end up at the arena.
Her deduction skills proved correct when she stopped outside the same doors she had gone through the first time she'd been there. A member of staff was collecting tickets before people were allowed to enter through the doors. "Tickets." He said bluntly when Kagome reached him.
"Uh… I have VIP tickets." She patted her pockets. "But not on me…"
"Uh huh." He gave her the 'do I look stupid?' look. "No tickets, no entry."
"Oh, but you see I'm Kagome Higurashi-"
"And I'm Bart Simpson. How do you do?" he made a flicking gesture with his hand. "Please move aside Miss."
Now this was new to her. To Kagome, she was, and always had been, Kagome Higurashi. People usually just took her word for it when she told them her name, but lately with this whole fame business people were more likely to believe her to be a liar rather than the lucky little schoolgirl who had won the offer of a life time.
"Look." She said diplomatically. "I am Kagome Higurashi - I came here with Inuyasha and-"
"I said please move aside Miss, you're blocking the way." The emotionless man gestured again.
"Yeah come on, Kid." A father with his two boys behind her sounded off agitatedly. "The fight's already started!"
"It has?" Kagome's eyes widened and she quickly tried to duck around the bouncer to get inside. He was probably more used to people pulling that move than she gave him credit for, because he caught her instantly and pushed her back. "No Miss, you can only go in with a ticket."
"Don't you know who I am?" she said hotly, but immediately regretted it. Now she was beginning to sound like Inuyasha.
"Miss, I neither know nor care. You could be Santa Claus's daughter for all-"
Sango barged past the man, exiting the door he was protecting. "Kagome, where the heck have you been - the fight started ages ago!" she grabbed her wrist and turned to drag her back inside. "Come on or else we'll miss the whole-"
"Wait a minute!" the bouncer recovered from Sango's unusually hard shove. "She can't go in there without a ticket!"
"But she's Kagome Higurashi." Sango said with a blatant shrug and then proceeded to drag Kagome back into the arena regardless of what anyone thought.
Kagome stumbled haplessly after Sango down the darkened steps between the tier seats. That hot, sticky atmosphere closed in around her again and she wrinkled her nose, trying not to breath in too much of the humidity in the air. "Thanks, that guy just didn't believe I was Kagome Higurashi…" she confided in Sango as her foot kicked an empty carton of popcorn.
"How could that be… oh no…" Sango trailed off with a deflated tone.
Kagome looked up to see what was the matter… it didn't take her long to find it. "Oh no…" Even though they were still far away from the central ring, Kagome could clearly see what was happening.
The ring was barely big enough to accommodate the Peach Man, let alone both him and Inuyasha. The referee had taken to refereeing from the sidelines, but even then he wasn't doing much good to prevent the rather violent acts inside the ring.
Kagome flinched awkwardly as another chorus of boos and complaints rose from the crowd in a deafening crescendo. Inuyasha was slammed against the wooden base of the ring by the much larger, much fatter man above him who then promptly collapsed on him. Even Kagome was sure she heard Inuyasha's shout of pain.
"S-stop it…" She gazed on in paralysed horror until she came back to herself. "Stop it!" she screamed again, much louder and overtook Sango as she ran down heading straight for the ring.
She didn't know why, but she was willing to throw herself inside that ring and fight that oaf herself if it would bring an end to what she was seeing…
But no sooner did she try to climb the barricades that blocked the way to the area around the ring, than the burly guards caught her, appearing as if from no where to catch hold her arms the same way the bouncer had earlier.
"Let me go!" She raged, trying to twist out of their grasp. "He's hurting him!"
She stilled the moment the Peach Man rose again, lifting a very limp Inuyasha by an arm and a leg, then swung him in a circle like he was nothing but a rag toy. Anger swept through her again. "PUT HIM DOWN!" she screamed.
The peach man released… and Inuyasha went hurling out of the ring, straight into the commentators table.
The narration on the match suddenly ceased with a screech from the speakers. Sango's hand latched onto Kagome's shoulder. "Calm down, Kagome." Sango warned her lightly then waved aside the guards. "Let us through."
They must have recognised her because they certainly didn't argue as they stepped aside and let the two girls hop over the barrier. Kagome ran straight to where Miroku was already helping Inuyasha up.
"You shouldn't go back in there!" she said urgently as she gave her own shoulders as support for Inuyasha to stand.
"I have to beat him!" Inuyasha said through gritted teeth, glaring fiercely at his opponent who was waving his stubby arms triumphantly but only receiving a series of hisses.
Kagome shook her head. "He's kicking your ass-"
Miroku shook his head warningly at Kagome and she realised that there was probably nothing she could say that would stop Inuyasha from getting back in that ring. He removed his arms from her and Miroku's shoulders, limping off towards the ring with only half-hearted determination.
He looked beat already.
The commentators got their microphones back. "Well… after that astounding victory for the Peach Man in the first round, it looks like Inuyasha is going back for more of that treatment. Man, if I were him I would quit my losses already…"
"And here comes the second round!"
Kagome smacked her hand agitatedly against Miroku's arm. "Why are you letting him do this?!"
"It's his profession." Miroku said with a mild shrug, though he looked just as worried. "If he wants to keep on fighting that's up to him."
Kagome could only watch helplessly as the next round kicked off and instantly Inuyasha was caught up by the throat and pushed to the ground. He remained collected and quiet even as the peach man ground his knee into his back, wrenching one of Inuyasha's arms backwards. The pain was beginning to show on his face.
Kagome rushed forward, all but pushing the referee out of her way to climb up the side of the ring, clinging to the bungee ropes. She wasn't stupid enough to enter the ring, but she was sorely tempted. "Get off him!" she yelled hoarsely. "The only reason you're winning is because he's only just beaten Kouga! You wouldn't stand a chance against-"
"Kagome!" Inuyasha barked through the pain. "You're not helping!"
The spectators were going wild, beginning to throw their food and other odds and ends at the ring. Kagome wasn't sure whether they were booing the Peach Man or Inuyasha's pathetic attempts to defend himself. The commentators were talking too fast to comprehend what they were saying, the peach man was grinding his knee harder and Inuyasha's arm was cracking, he was screaming and no one was doing anything!
How could anyone just stand by and watch someone be tortured like that?! "Inuyasha!" Kagome screamed and lurched forward, forgetting herself as she intended to jump into the ring.
Sango and Miroku stopped her at the last second, pulling her back down to earth sharply with a jerk. She didn't try it again… but she couldn't watch either… so Kagome just turned in Sango's arms and buried her head in the older girl's shoulder, grimacing as she tried to block out the sounds of the arena.
This 'sport' was just too gory for Kagome.
Inuyasha pried open his eyes long enough to look over at his two employees and his week-long visitor. He inwardly cursed when he realised she was probably crying. What the hell was she so upset about? She wasn't the one have her body strategically pulled apart by a human Beef Burger.
His shoulder popped almost inaudibly, a sound lost in the screaming stands around him. With a stab of panic he realised that if his opponent kept pulling he would lose his arm completely… it wasn't unheard of.
How many fans would be willing to drool after a one-armed man?
(AN: Wait… I just realised the irony related to Sess ¬_¬)
"I give!" Inuyasha choked out, finding it hard to speak with so much pressure on his back.
"What did you say?" the Peach Man rumbled.
"I said I give! You win! I lose!" Inuyasha spat. "You're champion - I'm not!"
The pressure let up off his back and his arm fell numbly back to his side, useless. The referee had overhead everything he'd said and the whistle was being blown. The commentators were off again with their wild banter while the crowd reacted with near aggressive animosity.
But more than that, Kagome looked relieved, which in his slightly subconscious opinion made up for hundreds of screaming angry fans any day.
This one's for you… he thought as he began fading into unconsciousness, …bitch…
The ride back from the hospital was a tense and silent atmosphere. After having spent most of the afternoon in the EU ward, everyone was a little unhappy and finding it hard to relax.
Four cracked vertebrae… Kagome thought absently as she rested her head against Sango's shoulder, thoroughly tired and more miserable than anyone else in the car. A dislocated arm and broken in three different places…
If it had been anyone else, the doctor had told them, Inuyasha would have been paralysed from the neck down for the rest of his life and might have just lost permanent use of his arm. But as it was, all they'd had to do was make him lie down with his back straight for a few hours and the problem had basically fixed itself. But all that damage to his body was superficial compared to the damage he seemed to have taken to his pride.
Inuyasha had barely said more than three words since he'd regained consciousness in the EU, which was unusual because of Kagome's experience so far with Inuyasha, when he was angry and/or injured he would spout off furiously to let everyone know. She hadn't forgotten the incident with the stubbed toe yet…
But here he was, keeping mostly to himself with only a faint frown on his face as he picked at the foam of the sling that pinned his arm across his chest. Kagome watched him out of the corner of her eye, knowing that he was deeply upset by what had happened… but once more he would probably rather take a bath in baked beans than he let on.
Not that anyone else was being very talkative, even Kagome herself.
Well at least Miroku was trying. "Well I think you did well to get past the first round." He said into the empty silence that shrouded the car. "I mean, that guy's had like thirty years of experience in the ring and you're still a newbie compared to that…"
"Gee thanks…" Inuyasha muttered sullenly.
Sango elbowed Miroku hard. "He didn't mean you're an amateur. Don't think that-"
"I hadn't thought that." Inuyasha said, narrowing his eyes at a passing tree, "I do now…"
He was stubbornly going to make everyone's attempts to cheer him up as unsuccessful as possible.
"We'll just have to do better next year." Kikyo said in a way that put an end to the discussion. She shifted her hands against the steering wheel. "We were unlucky this time. If Kouga hadn't missed the rematch you probably would have glided straight to the championship without any hassle off of anyone."
"No." Inuyasha said bluntly, dropping his idle hand into his lap.
Kagome saw the way Kikyo gave him a sideways look through the rear-view mirror, but she didn't say anything more after that. Neither did anyone else.
"He's really upset about losing the championship, isn't he?" Kagome said quietly to Sango in the kitchens as they ate their supper. "I mean… he's actually upset not angry."
Sango nodded slightly as she chewed her sandwich thoughtfully. "He was like this last year… it'll blow over and he'll start working for those little deathmatches."
"Deathmatches?" Kagome echoed, frowning at her.
"Oh… Deathmatches happen when the general public pick the contestants to pitch them against each other. Basically they choose the most entertaining pairs and have them fight it out, no actual championship… only token trophies every now and then." Sango informed her. "You wouldn't believe how many times Inuyasha's been pitched against Kouga in recent years. They all seem to like the irony of having two canines in the ring."
Kagome wrinkled her nose. "I don't like it… it's all too violent and contestants always seem to get beat to within an inch of their life."
"That's the idea!" Sango finished her sandwich, dusted off her hands and clapped Kagome on the shoulders. "Don't stay up too long, you need your sleep."
"Ok." Kagome waved as Sango left the kitchen.
She finished her own supper a few minutes later and headed off to bed. She pulled on her pyjamas and collapsed on top of the covers of her mattress and lay their thinking with her lips pursed. She tried to put herself in Inuyasha's shoes… trying to figure out how exactly he could be feeling right then.
The first thing that came to mind was; ouch. No way she would be able to withstand all the bodily damage he'd handled. But apart from that… he was probably feeling low. His ego was probably deflated and the wind had been knocked out of his sails.
It was probably harder being famous than Kagome realised…
Well, since sleep wasn't exactly coming to her any time soon, she had time to kill and energy to vent. She remember the piano downstairs and smiled to herself. She'd probably miss being able to get her hands on a grand piano when she went back home… so she had to make the most of it. So what she didn't get a full eight hours sleep because of it? She could handle that.
Kagome pottered out of her room and headed down the stairs silently towards the classic room. As usual the guard was fast asleep on his duty, a sight she was used to seeing and she passed him heedlessly, knowing she could probably smack the piano seat over his head and he'd never wake up. Actually… if she did smack a piano seat of his head he'd probably never wake up again. Period.
She slipped inside the classic room and shut the heavy door quietly behind her, making sure it was closed tightly so it wouldn't pop open and scare her like it had last time.
She sat down and instantly began playing, her mood coming through in the way she played without realising. It took her a few moments but she began to notice how heavy and rather deep the melody sounded. Without thinking she switched to a different tune and took it an octave lower, letting the music wash over her.
It was a painful and sad tune, not only did it sound mournful but she had already associated it with bad times in her life… times when she hadn't been as happy as she normally was.
Her hands slipped off the keys and into her laps. No good. She didn't want to play that tune, it only made her feel bad.
Taking a deep breath and letting it out in a big sigh she strained and mentally shook herself of the ominous feelings. She moved two octaves higher and began playing a bouncier tune. It made her smile for a while, but it wasn't long before the feeling slipped away and she was left feeling hollow…
She was forced to stop playing.
Damn… she thought bitterly, Inuyasha's bad mood is beginning to rub off on me. It's not like I lost the match or anything, what have I got to be sad about?
Kagome didn't want to play anymore, it only intensified the slightly miserable feeling inside her and so she shuffled off the stool and headed for the door. She slipped through the open doorway without realising that she'd closed it earlier.
In an effort to improve her mood she headed for the kitchens, wanting to grab a biscuit and a glass of milk to help her sleep.
She was slightly surprised to find Inuyasha had already nabbed the milk carton and was sitting on the kitchen island counter drinking from it. He glanced up when she entered through the swinging doors and raised a hand in greeting. "Good morning."
Kagome glanced at the blue clock above the cupboards. It was indeed past midnight by then…
"That's disgusting." She gave him a dirty look. "I bet you do that every night and let people drink out of it in the morning."
"Well I wouldn't want to hog all the milk to myself." He responded with a shrug. "I know you like it in your cereal, right?"
Kagome pulled a face and moved over to the bridge to get her biscuits. "So what are you doing up." She glanced over at him and looked at the sling his right arm had been wrapped in. "Doctor said your orders were strict bed rest."
"What do doctors know?" he rolled his eyes. "Anyway, I couldn't sleep."
"Me neither," she sighed as she selected a carton of milk that remained unopened so there was little to no chance of finding any Hanyou gob germs on it. She straightened and shut the fridge. Glancing over at Inuyasha she found him scraping a claw against the side of his cardboard carton, staring at it listlessly.
"Are you ok?" she ventured.
It was a reasonable enough question, but Inuyasha reacted badly to it. "What's that supposed to mean?" he snapped at her.
"Just a question!" she said defensively as she padded away around the island, looking for a glass for the milk. Without even looking at him she knew he's spaced off again, but maybe it just wasn't her place to intrude upon his thoughts. She put those thoughts aside as she bent to select a clean glass from the shelves under the table top counter.
"I lost the sponsorship from Adidas."
Kagome straightened slowly to look over at Inuyasha, but he wasn't looking at her. Instead he was fixing most of his concentration on peeling off the label on the milk carton. "Because you lost the match?" she guessed quietly.
He nodded, still scowling at the milk. "Fifteen hundred million yen for getting to the semi-finals." He rattled off the numbers absently. "Three-thousand mill for completing the finals… but I didn't, so I don't get paid…"
Kagome looked at him hard. "But you still get fifteen hundred million for getting to the semi-finals alone!" she told him. "That's not something to be sad about, is it?"
He continued picking at the carton as though he hadn't heard her. Eventually he lifted his head, but stared straight ahead without acknowledging her. "People have been asking me questions since I could talk. They always ask the same questions in the same way… and I know how to answer them all without hesitation. How do you feel about winning the championship? Great, I hope I can defend the title next year. How do you feel about losing the championship? Bummed, but I'll do better next year."
Was he talking to her or was he just having this conversation with his conscience. Kagome set her glass down on the counter and moved around the island till she was beside him.
He still didn't seem to notice her. "But then there's always that one question that crops up from time to time… and no matter how many times they ask it… I can't answer it."
Kagome titled her head slightly. "What is it?" she asked gently.
He sighed and his forehead furrowed as he turned his gaze back to his lap, and then turned his head to meet her eyes. "'What do you do?'" he looked away. "What do I do…? Where does the money come from? What is my purpose in life? How am I helping anyone? Yes… I fight… I sponsor… but what else? What happens if I can't even do those things?"
He was certainly taking this loss very hard. Kagome sympathetically placed her hand on his shoulder, struggling to understand his position. "You don't have to worry about those things, it's not like you have money problems-"
"No." he shrugged. "I have enough money saved up from my parents inheritance to last me through three life times. I could probably lie in bed for the rest of my life and eat coa coa puffs and never have to lift a finger and I'd still be rich."
At least he was trying to be modest here. Kagome tried to feel too resentful of his money, knowing that it was the source of a lot of the his ills. "It'll be ok. You can always try again next year…" she told him softly.
"It won't be ok." he gave her a slightly pained look. "It'll always be like this, it won't ever change. "I'll try again next year and then the next and sometimes I'll win and sometimes I'll lose. But it's meaningless… there's no point and no end and I can't…" he swallowed hard and looked away again. "And I can't get up tomorrow and face all their questions and say the exact same things that I said last time I lost and what I'll say next time I lose."
Kagome didn't like the way he was talking. He sounded like he was giving up. "What are you saying…?" she whispered.
"I'm saying…" he took a deep breath and closed his eyes. "I can't live this way… not anymore."
Now Kagome was having difficulty swallowing. "You sound like you're…" planning to jump off the pier again. But she couldn't say it aloud.
They both sat motionless for several moments. Kagome held her breath, hoping that there hadn't been any hidden implication behind those words. She'd never known anyone who had seriously considered suicide… but she didn't know what to expect of Inuyasha's slightly volatile nature.
Suddenly he shook his head and tossed the near-empty milk carton into the bin on the other side of the kitchen. He hopped down from the counter and started for the door. It seemed as though he was about to walk out when he suddenly seemed to remember she was there, and turned back to her. "You should go to bed. You didn't exactly have a good sleep last night."
She nodded vaguely and watched him walk out.
There was a slight temptation inside her to tail him back to his room and sneak into his bed with him, and make sure that he didn't so anything stupid while he was alone. But in the end she decided to go to bed… and perhaps warn someone like Kikyo in the morning that Inuyasha wasn't probably feeling his most stable lately…
Yet she still struggled to comprehend his problem…
AN: Just to warn you, the truth about '92 is coming soon to a computer screen near you…