Increase Text Size Decrease Text Size Divider Print This Chapter Divider

Embrace the Silence by Trouble_In_Shangri_la

Sleeping Beauty Isn't Just a Fairy Tale

Note: All-over warnings: Alternate universe, sexual content, violence, nudity, medical gore, adult language and adult situations.

This story features medical jargon and slang that can be as weird as Star Trek terminology to a lay-person, and explaining them in-story would break the flow, so a small glossary of the ones that don't explain themselves will be presented at the bottom of the chapter where they first appear.

Enjoy the ride, my friends!

o0o

Embrace the Silence

Chapter 1

Sleeping Beauty Isn't Just a Fairy Tale

o0o

"Nurse Higurashi!" A distant voice called out, "Code brown in Ken's room…I ain't doing cleanup this time!"

"Great," Kagome groaned to herself at the smell of feces wafting into the hall.

She barely heard herself sigh over the everyday din in the carpeted halls surrounding her. The walls were painted in a lovely pastel floral design, just like her scrubs, but somehow it didn't detract from the medical feel of the corridor. It was still a nursing home. One built to deal with people of all ages - mostly those who had severe mental or physical disabilities that made it impossible for them to remain in their homes.

The easiest people to take care of were the comatose patients. Either from brain injuries that left them in a persistent vegetative state or from drugs for end-stage diseases, they didn't scream or fight their treatments. An injection here, a diaper change there, the occasional baths every other day and they were good to go. The ones that lived and awoke often turned out to be fascinating people.

And there was Kenpachiro Takashi, Ken for short, an intellectually disabled teenager who often failed to tell anybody when he needed the bathroom. Kagome hated dealing with the smelly, beady-eyed young man's problems. He drooled, he stared at people and he his idea of conversation was to grunt a few words and pull on your clothes. His parents basically dumped him in the place because they got tired of dealing with him at home.

Kagome didn't hate Ken personally. She knew he couldn't help being the way he was. And he could be a complete darling who loved to give bear hugs, blow bubbles and stack his plastic blocks until they tumbled to the floor.

"Keeeeeennnnnnn," Kagome poked her head into the stinking room.

There sat Ken on the floor, all curled up in a ball with both hands on the waistband of his pants. He met Kagome's eyes in a way that reminded her of a naughty puppy caught in the act of piddling on a new rug. Kagome noticed with dismay that he'd smeared some of his mess on his shirt and in his endearingly sloppy mop of black hair.

Her eyes softened at his expression. "Aw, did your doodie get away again?"

Ken nodded once and sniffed. "Stink."

"Yes, I know it's stinky. But…" She slid her latex gloves on, sighed mentally and walked towards him, lightening her tone, "if you're real good for clean-up, I'll make sure you get a lemon popsicle after lunch."

"Popsy!" Ken's eyes immediately lit up. Lemon popsicles were his favorite! Promising him one almost always resulted in his complete cooperation for just about any procedure…or provided a good distraction when he became really difficult.

Kagome grinned and helped him up. She slid his pants down to examine the damage, wincing as the smell increased tenfold. Well, at least he didn't have diarrhea this time.

"Step-step." She instructed him to step out of his pants, which he did beautifully.

Ken proceeded to sit down and mop the floor with his dirty rear end. Kagome groaned at the new brown streak on the white carpet and hit the call button.

"Yeah?" It was Akemi Ju, a new nursing assistant whose hair color varied more than the weather. She stuck her head into the room when nobody acknowledged her presence right away, "Aw, did he make another mess?"

"Mmhmm." A sigh passed Kagome's lips, "I need a cleanup, stat. Can you take Ken to the showers? I way behind and I still have rounds and scut work to do and I don't have time to wash him up."

"You got it." Akemi bent over to smile at Ken, who shied away from her, "Hi, Ken!"

The teenager eyed her. "Popsy?"

Kagome slipped out into the hall, glad to be away from the smell and Akemi. She barely covered a smirk at Akemi's shriek when Ken, still covered in his mess, decided he wanted a bear hug.

o0o

Rounds were done at last.

Kagome sank to sit in the cafeteria and stared dejectedly at her bowl of rice and steaming cup of tea. Two of the comatose patients she was in charge of decided to crash and die within an hour of each other. No time for goodbyes. One was terminally ill and death was sudden, but expected. The other suffered a stroke after an undetected blood clot from emergency open-heart surgery migrated to her brain. No warning at all. Both were still young and had once been strong, active people.

Today felt more like an ER shift than a nursing home.

She let out another sigh, chewed some tasteless rice and flipped through the brand new chart she found in her tray.

"Name, 'Dorimingu Tenshi', real name unknown. Sex, male. Age, appears nineteen. Height, five foot, ten inches. Weight, one hundred and forty pounds. Hm…he's a tad on the thin side."

Her dark eyes squinted at the text. "Presents with a coma of unknown origin and no sign of brain trauma or drug use. Found in a construction dig….huh, weird. Transported to the home after the original caregiver, Tetsura Kurosawa, became too ill to continue his care."

Underneath the page were photographs of a horribly emaciated figure lying in an intensive care unit. He was bald and looked utterly fragile. Features were hard to determine with the poor quality of the photos.

"Ah, I see you got Dori, the latest gork." A light female voice cut in, "Ick, those are the crappy pictures. His notebooks have better, more recent ones. Trust me, he doesn't look like that anymore."

"Mm." Lifting her paper cup, Kagome allowed herself a long sip to wash the rice down her throat. She glanced over at the young nurse piling sukiyaki onto her tray and waved, "Hi, Hana."

Hana's long braid swung as she perched herself across from Kagome. Hana Hoji, a tiny, plain woman with pale skin and narrow eyes set behind fashionable wire-rimmed glasses, was Kagome's age, but four years Kagome's senior in the nursing department. "Have you seen Dori?"

"Not yet." said Kagome, taking another mouthful of rice.

"Too bad. He is P-H-A-T…there should be a law against men that gorgeous being allowed in this place." Hana shoved a chunk of fish into her mouth.

"Oh, even better-looking than doctor Yakamoto?"

"Hell yes!" Hana swallowed and licked her lips. "It's such a shame for him. He barely needs any maintenance. Just feed him, water him and bathe him. They've got him cathed so there's no diaper messes and his bowel movements are so small they're practically nonexistent. It's weird, nobody knows what exactly is wrong with him other than he's been unconscious for the past couple decades or so. There's a rumor he was wearing fur when he was found. Must've been a rich nut who got robbed and left for dead." She finished her salad, "Good eye-candy, though."

Fur? Images of a tall figure flashed across Kagome's mind, quickly shaken off. She resisted the urge to roll her eyes. "A pretty face doesn't matter if you're practically brain dead."

"Guess you're right. But you get to do his exam, I'm so jealous! So make sure to tell me all about - " the sound of a beeper cut Hana off. She checked it. "Damn, Miki's getting tachy again. I gotta go."

"Later, Hana."

Hana said, "Yeah, but I'll bet five hundred yen he's cut with DPS."

"You're on."

As Hana rushed out, Kagome realized she'd lost her appetite. She stood up to toss her food in the garbage, picked up her chart and headed out to examine her newest patient.

Akemi passed her on the way, her (at the moment) blonde hair in utter disarray and her flower-printed scrubs shirt smeared with multicolored puke. She shot Kagome a poisonous glare, pushing past her to reach the restroom. Again, Kagome caught herself smirking.

She must've met Vomiting Vicki.

Ah, Victoria "Vicki" Honda, a.k.a. "Vomiting Vicki" or "Icky Vicki", a middle-aged woman with cerebral palsy who painted gorgeous art by attaching a paintbrush to her headstick. Her regurgitation talents were known throughout the home. If she didn't like how someone picked her up, she let them know by throwing up all over them. You could always tell a nurse was new by observing the puke on the shirt of their uniforms.

Kagome opened the door to room ten and stepped inside, flipping on the light to give the chart another once-over. Finally she walked over to examine the figure stretched out on the mattress.

The man lying supine in bed had flowing silver hair that shone in the vertical lines of light coming through the blinds. Someone recently styled it into a graceful topknot braid, which was coiled on the pillow next to his head. His parted bangs were too long and needed a trim soon. Dark eyelashes formed fringes on his cheeks and his small lips were a delicate shade of pink. A dimpled scar just below his Adam's apple indicated a past tracheostomy. Kagome moved closer, trying not to gasp when she noticed he had pointed ears.

It can't be… Kagome bent closer to discover the powdery scent of foundation. His complexion looked completely matte, unnatural. She snagged a washrag from above the sink, wet it and wiped vigorously at the man's forehead. The cheap foundation rubbed right off. Please, just let it be makeup applied to protect him from sunburn.

A blue-violet crescent moon appeared. Kagome swept the rag down his cheeks and uncovered twin purple stripes on each side. She finished by wiping off his eyelids, bringing out the red coloring just above his long eyelashes.

Damn.

Sesshoumaru's familiar, angelic face came fully into view. He looked exactly like Kagome remembered him. Calm, composed, unfeeling, the only difference being his eyes were closed.

Reality sank in.

She gawked, slack-jawed. It really is Sesshoumaru! But how the hell did he survive like this and not age a second? How long has he really been unconscious? Judging by how horribly thin he was when that woman found him, his body must've been digesting itself to stay alive.

Too much to ponder at once. The whole thing felt like a weird dream.

Mm, he certainly isn't gonna examine himself…okay Kagome, toughen up, he's been in a coma for a long time…he's not going to just wake up because you touched him. The sooner you examine him, the sooner you can get away from him.

The first thing Kagome did was to pull out her penlight. She lifted Sesshoumaru's eyelids, but gasped and dropped them. His pupils were so blown that his eyes looked black. Kagome swallowed hard and re-lifted his lids to shine the light on his eyeballs. No pupillary responses at all, not even a flicker. He had neon blue eyeshine.

So far, no reflexes, she noted to herself. Tapping his knees and elbows produced nothing. She held his eyes open and turned his head from side to side. His eyes didn't stay fixed on an invisible point in space, so he lacked an oculocephalic reflex. A swab at the back of his throat produced no gagging. Wow…he's REALLY out of it.

Kagome moved the blanket off Sesshoumaru's left side first, since it was closest. He wore compression stockings on his legs and his wrists and ankles were secured in plastic braces to keep them from deforming. A check on his hands showed his nails were in perfect condition, the stripes around his wrists unchanged. He had a glowing red pulse cuff taped to his thumb. The wire running from the cuff connected to a pulse monitor with a red line that bounced up and down - beside the line was a number measuring pulse beats per minute and his oxygen saturation.

She unclasped the plastic splints bracing his hands and feet and lifted his left arm first, bent his elbow and rotated his wrist before repeating it on his right. Same went for his knees and ankles. With manipulation, his joints moved smoothly, but his fingers and toes were stiff. Clearly his previous caregiver gave him therapy to keep him limber.

Turning to her chart, she lifted his legs again and squeezed his calf muscles. Her fingers dented his pajama pants when she probed around for signs of atrophy. All clear so far. Well, if he laid there for a few centuries, I think a DVT would've killed him already, so that rules that out.

"Hmm." Kagome untied Sesshoumaru's white yukata and spread it open to expose his upper body. Milky skin greeted her. He looked thin for his height and his muscles lacked definition, but he was in remarkable shape for someone in his condition. Her cheeks flushed as she reached for the stethoscope draped around her neck. Tucking the earpieces into her ears, she touched the metal disk to various areas on his chest. Nice, clear lungs. No fluid in the wrong places. Finally she laid the chest piece over his breastbone, ears straining to hear his slow heartbeat.

Lubksshdub. Long pause. Lubksshdub. Long pause. Lubksshdub.

Sesshoumaru had a heart murmur. Kagome tilted her head and listened closer. There was no mistaking the faint click and swish coming between the first and second beats. She opened her eyes to look over at Sesshoumaru's inert face in disbelief. Part of her always believed he never had a heart, yet the sounds resonating through the stethoscope proved otherwise.

Huh…it's a grade two systolic murmur. Sounds like a mitral valve prolapse. She leafed through her chart to find the results of an echocardiogram. Some fumbling ensued because a few papers were out of order.

Where did I - aha!

Her eyes beheld two ultrasound images of Sesshoumaru's heart. One with the heart contracted and another showing it relaxed. The strand of chordae tendinea in his left ventricle was too long and didn't pull the mitral valve all the way shut. As a result one of the twin cusps bulged backwards like an open parachute every time his heart relaxed, which permitted a small backwash of blood from the left ventricle into the atrium. Yup, floppy MV. Interesting…you're just full of surprises aren't you?

The lines of sunlight coming through the blinds stretched across Sesshoumaru's cheek now, following the two stripes swooping out from in front of his ears. He looked a little strange with his hair all gathered up instead of down behind his neck where it belonged. His braid resembled a silver snake waiting to strike.

On impulse Kagome reached out and lifted the braid up where she could see it, amazed to find his silken tresses could be compacted into such a thin rope that fit in her fist. It had a texture like long fur and felt lighter than human hair. So utterly and completely opposite to Inuyasha's thick, very human-feeling locks.

Well, this Tetsura lady must've taken good care of him to keep his hair looking this nice for so long. She even named him 'dreaming angel'. She smirked wryly, oddly, that name fits him right now, but I doubt he's dreaming or thinking…the engine's running and nobody's behind the wheel.

Two good mental slaps got Kagome back on task. Grasping Sesshoumaru's shoulder, she pushed him up a bit to prod his back. His skin felt oddly rough. She rolled him fully onto his side, pulled his yukata down and gasped. Sesshoumaru's entire back was covered in old, angry-looking scars. Scars on top of scars criss-crossed all over his flawless skin like a road map. The only way he could have received such horrible wounds was if someone tied him down and lashed him repeatedly with a whip.

Oh God…what happened to him?

She choked back a sob and did what she intended to - listen to heart and lungs from behind. No fluids in the wrong areas. Her hands shook when she returned him to his back. Part of her expected to find his face drawn up in pain at having his scars prodded. His expression remained unchanged.

Kagome continued her examination, blushing furiously when she had to undo the first set of ties holding the waistband of his pants up. She folded the material back far enough that she could see his abs. His abdominals, along with his other muscles, lacked definition from disuse. He had not a single hair on his chest, armpits, arms or legs, but his pubic area was…she'd describe it as fluffy. The fine silver hairs grew in a thin line from his belly button down where they most likely splayed out around his manhood like a cloud. Its lack of curl made it seem more like a tuft of fur than body hair.

God, Hana was right, there should be a law against men that gorgeous being put here.

Sesshoumaru was probably in shape like Inuyasha once upon a time. Then again Kagome had always seen him covered from his neck down in heavy silk and armor, neither of which offered a clue to the physique hidden underneath.

Her hands were shaking when she placed her fingertips just above his fuzzy fringe to check for signs of a distended bladder or bowel impactions. The demon lord's abdomen was relaxed and had just the proper give to indicate perfect health. A mushy hardness under his abdominal muscles told her he'd probably pass solid waste in the next day or so. She pressed a hand to his middle left quadrant and lifted the corresponding leg, checking his kidney. The procedure was repeated on the other side. Kidneys are the right size, good. Tapping his upper quadrants produced the sounds of a healthy liver. Her fingers moved to the plastic G-tube button protruding from his stomach, checking for signs of infection. None. All seemed well so far.

Beads of sweat formed on Kagome's brow. She purposely saved the next examination for last, but couldn't put it off any more. Okay, grow up, Kagome, you've seen a million of these things. Every man has one.

The next ties came undone and the pajama pants went down more, exposing Sesshoumaru completely. His fluff covered his private parts like a little curtain. Kagome moved the hair aside and stared at the limp thing between his legs. A catheter tube protruded out the end, pulling it to the side a little. He was uncircumcised and showed no signs of retraction from the Foley at all.

Hah, easiest money I ever made.

A giggle almost worked its way up her throat. Funny, his looks so small. He must be a grower instead of a shower, and his pubic hair is so…so…FLUFFY… She gritted her teeth. SHUT UP! Don't get immature now. He's a man, he has a penis and you have to examine it. Oh, God…I really have to touch him there. This isn't happening…this isn't happening!

Handling the private parts of someone who tried to kill her countless times was NOT something Kagome felt comfortable doing. No fire could burn hotter than the one behind her face as she reached down to pick it up. He was warm in her hand and had good coloring. She kept the exam as brief as possible, retracting his foreskin to check the glans for signs of redness or discharge. No pungent odors. No swelling. She squeezed gently down the length of his shaft and found no kinks inside his urethra. A careful tug proved the balloon holding the tube in place was still inflated. She probed the underside for ulcers, lumps and swelling, but found none.

Throughout the procedure he remained limp as a noodle. It made handling him a lot easier than she first thought.

So far so good. Almost done, almost done. Chanting 'almost done' helped Kagome continue her task. She retracted Sesshoumaru's foreskin one more time and used a Q-tip to apply ointment around the opening where the catheter entered, then let the skin fall back into place. Her face blanched when she remembered she had to do this to him twice a day.

Just don't start peeing in that tube until I take my hands away. Kagome closed her eyes and put Sesshoumaru's male organ back the way she found it. She tried not to think about the fact that Sesshoumaru was NAKED in front of her and she just felt up his penis. At least he didn't get an erection.

Kagome tied Sesshoumaru's leggings back together, changed her gloves and moved on to hook his feeding tube up to the bag of formula hanging from the IV rack. The white fluid oozed down and around, disappearing into the G-tube button. She caught herself wondering how so much went in and almost none came back out. Didn't demons go to the bathroom?

Inuyasha did…sometimes with disgusting frequency, she mused. It was particularly gross when I realized he had a fricken tapeworm. God, I hated that, but it was his own fault for eating that undercooked meat -

A crash of equipment in the hall snapped Kagome back to the present. She forced herself back on task and set the head of the bed at a slight angle so Sesshoumaru wouldn't regurgitate his 'food'.

His body probably uses up every drop of nutrition so there's almost no waste left over, judging by how he must've looked when he was first discovered.

There was a little swish and Kagome looked down. Okay, so he pees. She bent to measure how much he voided, recorded the amount on the chart and emptied the bag in another container, which she dumped in the toilet. Kagome's mind shuddered at the thought of Sesshoumaru being discovered dirty and smelling like his own urine. Even if he was a jerk, he was still extremely dignified. He would've been utterly mortified to be found in such a state.

Relax, his kidneys were probably shut down when someone found him. If he did go on himself before then, it would've been dry for quite awhile.

Again she struggled to think of something else. It was easier to perform her duties if she pretended she didn't know him.

Sesshoumaru never responded throughout his treatment. He had no reflexes, no sign of any higher brain functions, nothing. His chart noted untreatable bradycardia and hypotension that failed to respond to any medications. But his pulse-ox was good, so nobody seemed panicked about his low blood pressure or slow pulse. He took very long, silent breaths, fifteen per minute at regular intervals.

I'd almost speculate that demons must have strong hearts that easily pump massive volumes of blood per beat, but he'd have a high systolic pressure if that were true, and he doesn't. Hell, I don't know what to make of this!

Another frustrated sigh filtered through Kagome's parted lips. Her vision blurred a little at the memories flooding back. It was the first time years that she'd been slapped with recollections of her adventures in the past. Many years had passed since she witnessed Naraku's death and the completion of the Shikon no Tama, which ripped her back to modern times before she could say goodbye to her friends. She didn't even know what became of them, and in trying to cope she tried to forget.

Kagome bit her tongue against a string of mental curses. Why did Sesshoumaru appear as one of her comatose patients? Why not Inuyasha, or even Shippou? Anybody other than Sesshoumaru!

"I don't know if you can hear me, Sesshoumaru," Kagome's hissed through clenched teeth, "but you're an asshole for showing up like this."

She couldn't even feel his aura.

God…what happened to him?

Again, she bit her tongue and scrawled her findings on his chart. She fled the room, dumped the chart into her outbox and retreated into the restroom, biting her fist to muffle her sobs.

They're all dead except for him. I just know it. He's all alone, just like me.

o0o

A month slipped by.

The home was blasted with a brief surge of patients in need of therapy. Hana and Kagome were so busy they hardly had time to speak to each other. Akemi passed messages back and forth between them whenever she got the chance. Nobody could sit down without seeing another call light flashing on the board.

Dealing with Sesshoumaru soon became routine for Kagome. Her embarrassment at undressing him for a bath and handling him to care for his catheter tube faded until he was just another patient she looked after. It became no problem to hook up his feeding tube at the proper times, swab out his mouth to keep his teeth clean, empty his cath bag, clean up his occasional BM's, turn him in bed or bathe him.

One "genius" nurse got so worried about his meager bowel movements that she ordered an enema to clean him out. It made him go. And go…and go….and go. Two diapers, four bedpans, numerous chux pads and half a bedsheet suffered the wrath of the nurse's mistake.

The material Sesshoumaru passed resembled meconium, the tarry greenish-black slime stored in an unborn baby's large intestine until after birth. He lost ten pounds after having his digestive process so cruelly invaded. Kagome suspected his starved body hoarded everything fed to him after he was found, acting like a fat store. He wasn't having large motions because it kept breaking down and being absorbed until it couldn't be recycled anymore.

That is, until the "helpful" nurse emptied him out.

Health wise he almost dropped back to square one. His kidneys failed again, he stopped passing urine and his mouth and eyes became painfully dry. Blood tests revealed a deficiency in pretty much every nutrient his body needed to survive.

"Oh, brother. He's a gork, he's already brain-dead!" Akemi rolled her eyes amidst the throng gathered in the demon lord's room.

"Do you see a Do Not Resuscitate order on his chart?" Kagome snarled across the clipboard balanced on her arm. She could barely read her own writing. "No! Why? Nobody wrote one. Four people checked. That means we do everything we can. It's the law."

The younger nurse shot her superior a skeptical look. "He's been dying for years."

"WRONG, Akemi. The only thing he depended on was the feeding tube. His health has been great until that idiot Nafuda whatever-her-last-name-is gave him that stupid enema!" Kagome pinched the bridge of her nose. "And people do sometimes come out of comas like this. The brain is an amazing organ."

"His 'amazing' brain is mush."

Kagome shook her head. "It's still intact. No trauma. Nobody knows why he's unconscious. But I have a feeling that he'd want to be kept alive. And since there's no DNR here, we're doing whatever we can to ensure he lives. I'm sorry if you don't like it, but it's the way it is."

"Hmph." Akemi's eyes narrowed, "I still think it's stupid to try and keep someone like him alive. How do you know this wasn't going to happen on its own in the future?"

Hot coals swelled in Kagome's stomach. Her eyes bore holes in Akemi's skull, but Akemi kept her gaze directed down at the chart in her hands. Somebody wheeled a dialysis pump between them and pushed into the room.

"Do you remember that American woman being cut off from her feeding tube?"

"Huh?" the young nurse looked up, squinting. "Terri Schiavo, you mean?"

"Yeah." Kagome held her eyes.

"That's different! They're not sure if she's in a PVS or not. Your guy never moves and has no reflexes. It's pretty obvious there's nothing there."

"And how do we know if he's really brain dead? EEG's can sometimes miss faint brainwaves!" Kagome chewed the tip of her pen. She wanted something to hope for, however crazy it may be. "If we gave up and let him die, we'd be doing the same barbaric thing that's being done to Terri. It's sick! And I don't care what you think, he deserves a chance. I'll do everything I can until he either improves or codes so bad we can't get a pulse back." She wrote orders down on her chart and handed it off to be processed. Looking to Akemi again, she said, "This discussion is over. You're still on duty, stop standing around!"

Akemi bit her lip and stormed off, rudely flicking her blue-streaked hair.

Minutes later, IV's pushed liquid electrolytes into Sesshoumaru's veins to try and make up for the fluid loss. Kagome ordered him on a continuous feeding schedule, hoping to replenish his intestinal food stores.

Then she had the foolish nurse fired.

That night, just before Kagome's shift was due to end, Hana alerted her that Sesshoumaru's pulse and blood pressure were dropping and it probably wouldn't be long before he coded.

"Dammit." Kagome shoved her last chart into the outbox. Her head ached from the day's stress. "That's it, I'm done for the night. If anybody comes crying to me, you take it. I'll be sitting in his room." Without waiting for Hana's response, she hurried to Sesshoumaru's room and closed the door.

A crash cart and ventilator left little room at the demon lord's bedside. The dialysis pump whirred gently, his crimson blood filling the clear tubes. His pulse cuff was replaced with metal cups on his chest. A long strand of glowing green peaks and valleys marched across the monitor beside his bed. Beeps followed each spike.

With her eyes Kagome followed the shiny nasal cannula delivering oxygen straight to his nose. The tubes were draped over his ears and met under his chin, continuing on into a silver tank propped against the wall.

Sesshoumaru's breathing was labored and slow. Even with the emergency feeding and fluid, his face still looked sunken and his skin a little wrinkled. His tongue, red and inflamed from the dehydration, prevented his mouth from closing properly. A textbook Q-sign.

He came so far and survived for so long. And now he'd taken ten steps back because of one foolish nurse who freaked out at him letting out one little nugget a week instead of a pile every other day.

"I'm sorry." Numbly, Kagome pulled a chair next to Sesshoumaru's bed and sat down. She put moistening drops in his dry eyes and dabbed a wet cotton swab on his swollen tongue, trying desperately to bring him any comfort she could. "It's my fault for letting that woman near you. She was an ER bounce who had no place working here. I should have never let her do your belly massage."

The water droplets dried on Sesshoumaru's tongue. Kagome dabbed on more. His crescent moon and magenta stripes seemed to fade a little.

"Please…I don't care if we didn't get along back then. Everybody's dead, except for us. I don't want to be the only one who remembers anymore." Tears pricked in the corners of Kagome's eyes. "You're all I have left, Sesshoumaru…if you're in there somewhere, you have to fight. You have to live. Even if you don't wake up, just live."

Silence was all she could hear.

A wry smile twisted her lips as she moistened his tongue for a third time. "Okay, I admit it, I did sometimes wonder what happened to you after I left. I never imagined you'd end up like this."

An IV pump beeped. Kagome got up to reset it and returned to Sesshoumaru's side. She watched the moving line on the screen. Glowing peaks started to jumble together. He was getting tachy.

Kagome's fists clenched until the knuckles turned white. Her eyes were glued to the irregular green line marching across the monitor screen. "Oh, no. Don't you dare fibrillate, Sesshoumaru. Don't you dare!"

The spikes formed a sawtooth. Beeps dissolved to a high-pitched tone. His lips and chest flexed into the agonal breathing pattern of cardiac arrest.

"Damn you!" Kagome hit the code blue button on the wall above his bed. She bared Sesshoumaru's chest and ripped the paddles from the crash cart. "You're so stubborn you'd go into v-fib just because I said not to!" She set the charge to two hundred joules, smeared gel on the metal paddles and leaned over the bed. "If you go into asystole…so help me I'll shock myself just to come down there and annoy you for eternity."

Kagome set one paddle on the right sternal border below his right clavicle. The other settled at an angle so the upper corner brushed his left nipple. She pushed them down just enough to dent his skin and pressed the button.

THONK!

Sesshoumaru's body arched and flopped. An invisible mule kicked Kagome's palms. She checked the monitor. Still v-fib. She cursed, pressed down and shocked him again. He gasped weakly. The monitor's tone separated into a steady beep-beep, sawtooth pattern vanishing into healthy peaks and hills. Kagome shoved the crash cart aside and touched two fingers to his throat. He had a nice, steady pulse and regular respirations.

"That actually felt good," she dropped herself back onto her chair, canceling the code blue and writing the incident down on his chart. Eyeing the unconscious demon, she went on, "You picked a stupid era to try and die in. Now keep breathing, okay? Don't make me intubate you too. Sheesh, you're as much trouble now as you were back then!"

With that, she settled down to wait.

Hours passed. Kagome dozed on and off, jerking awake every time something beeped or clicked.

Sesshoumaru began to improve. Like magic the swelling in his tongue went down. His mouth gradually closed, small lips regaining their pink hue. The fluids were working.

Kagome sagged with relief. He wasn't sitting on death's doorstep anymore.

"See?" She fluffed his bangs a bit, but stopped herself after realizing what she was doing. He wouldn't like that while awake and she certainly wasn't going to inflict such indignities on him when he couldn't respond. "I knew you were too stubborn to give up. Now if you'll excuse me, it's two in the morning and I have a date with my bed. I'll see you in a few hours."

As she left, Kagome grudgingly reminded herself of Akemi's words. Sesshoumaru was most likely a vegetable, even though some deep part of her wanted to believe otherwise. She bit her lip and pushed her way through the glass door.

o0o END OF CHAPTER o0o

-Glossary-

Agonal respiration- an irregular breathing pattern seen in patients who are in cardiac arrest. Can look like gasping, snorting or gurgling, and does NOT count as breathing because it can't move oxygen without a heartbeat.

Asystole - there's no more electrical current passing through the heart(flatline). In other words, once you're in asystole it's unlikely a defibrillator shock will save you.

Atrophy - wasting away from disuse, ie the muscles in the legs of paralyzed people often atrophy because they can't use them.

Blown - slang for dilated, usually in reference to the pupils.

BM - bowel movement.

BP - blood pressure, a measure of how well blood circulates through your arteries, listed in the format of the systolic(when the heart contracts) pressure over the diastolic(when the heart relaxes) pressure. Normal blood pressure is about 120/80.

Bradycardia - a slowing of the heart rate to less than 50 beats per minute. The person is then considered bradycardic.

Bradying down - heart rate is dropping.

Chordae tendinea - The strings attached to the leaflets on your mitral and tricuspid heart valves. They're connected to the ventricular wall of the heart.

Chux pads - absorbent pads placed under a patient to protect their bed from body fluids or wastes. They look a lot like the pee pads you put on the floor for a dog.

Cut - Circumcised, whereas an intact foreskin would mean a man is "uncut."

DPS - slang for Disappearing Penis Syndrome: the usual reaction of the male organ in response to insertion of a catheter or endoscope.

DVT - Deep Vein Thrombosis, a blood clot in the leg that forms when a person is off their feet for extended periods of time. It's dangerous because the clot can travel to the heart, lungs or brain with fatal results.

G tube - abbreviation for a gastronomy tube, which is a feeding tube surgically connected to the stomach. This tends to be for people needing to be tube-fed over a long period of time. On the other hand, an NG tube, or Nasogastric tube, is a tube going through the nose and into the stomach.

Gork - slang for someone who is unconscious or comatose(and most often brain dead). Can also be used as a noun as in "there's a new gork in room six." Another term is gorked out.

Grading of Heart Murmurs - Grade 1: Very faint. Grade 2: Soft. Grade 3: Heard all over the precordium(chest). Grade 4: Loud, with palpable thrill (ie, a tremor or vibration felt by touch). Grade 5: Very loud, with thrill, may be heard when stethoscope is partly off the chest. Grade 6: Very loud, with thrill. May be heard with stethoscope entirely off the chest.

Hypotension - abnormally low blood pressure(opposite to hypertension).

Oxygen saturation - ("sats") the amount of oxygen in a substance, usually the blood.

PHAT - slang for Pretty Hot and Tempting. Usually in reference to attractive male doctors or patients.

PVS - persistent vegetative state, a state where a person appears awake and alert, but there is little or no cerebral activity and they don't respond meaningfully to their environment.

Scut work - slang for busy work like drawing blood, filling out lab slips, writing charts, etc.

Stat - from the Latin statinum, meaning immediately.

Tachy - slang for tachycardia. Pronounced "tacky".

Tachycardia - abnormally high heart rate with a pulse more than 100 beats per minute.

Tracheostomy - a surgically created opening in the neck which allows direct access to the trachea (windpipe). It is maintained open with a hollow tube called a tracheostomy(trach) tube.

Upper/lower quadrants - areas of the abdomen. For example: Your appendix is located in the lower right quadrant, which is near your hipbone.

V-fib - ventricular fibrillation, where the heart's electrical activity goes haywire, causing the heart to beat so fast and irregular that it doesn't pump blood properly. Fatal without immediate medical intervention.

 

INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
No money is being made from the creation or viewing of content on this site, which is strictly for personal, non-commercial use, in accordance with the copyright.