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Uncle Who?

Chapter 6

Chapter 6:  Uncle Who?

 

^**^

 

     "'Gome!" Kagome turned and caught Shiro just before he crashed into her. She swung him up into the air, earning a delighted shriek. Settling him into her arms, she offered a small smile to his daddy, which was ignored. Inuyasha wore a fiercer scowl than usual as he swept past her into the shop.

 

     "At least you're on time," he grumbled. Kagome joined him at the counter to peer at the multitude of ice cream flavors.

 

     "May I help you?" the friendly young cashier asked.

 

     "I want chocolate!" Shiro shouted.

 

     Kagome winced. "Don't shout in my ear, munchkin. I'll have strawberry, please."

 

     "And for you, sir?" The cashier looked at Inuyasha expectantly.

 

     "Give me a scoop of that green one with the brown things in it." Inuyasha pointed to one of the containers.

 

     "Mint Chocolate Chip?" the cashier asked, scoop poised over the ice cream.

 

     "Whatever you call it. Just dish it up." Kagome smacked him lightly on the arm for being rude. He ignored her.

 

     Three bowls of ice cream were prepared. Inuyasha looked at Kagome balancing two bowls and an excited Shiro in her arms. With a sigh, he took out his wallet.

 

     "I should take this out of your pay," he said as he joined her at a table.

 

     Kagome didn't respond since her mouth was full of ice cream. Little by little, Inuyasha found himself relaxing. He listened to Shiro laughing, and heard Kagome’s gentle teasing as she cleaned ice cream off the child’s ear. An older couple sat nearby. The woman leaned over to her elderly gentleman companion.

 

     "Look at the adorable little family, dear," she whispered loudly. "They look so happy." Kagome and Inuyasha blushed. Shiro contentedly stirred his ice cream with his spoon, turning it into chocolate soup.

 

     The couple soon left to be replaced with a rowdy bunch of teenagers. When Kagome went to find more napkins, one of the teenagers bumped her purposefully. She stumbled into the counter, knocking a container full of tasting spoons on the floor. Kagome's face burned as she bent to scoop them up. Most of the other customers laughed.

 

     Inuyasha scowled. He scooped up a spoonful of ice cream. Holding the spoon in one hand, he bent it back with the other. After a bit of adjusting, he released his impromptu catapult. A glob of melting ice cream smacked one of the teenagers on the back of the head. The teenager turned and glared around the room. Inuyasha glared back with challenge in his eyes. The moment was spoiled when Kagome yanked on his hair.

 

     Inuyasha yelped. "What'd you do that for?" he demanded, rubbing his abused scalp.

 

     "I can't believe you did that," Kagome said in a tight voice, reclaiming her chair, a wad of napkins clenched in her fist. "Is that the kind of example you want to set for your son?"

 

     "Leave Shiro out of this." Inuyasha crossed his arms and leaned back in his chair. "That creep deserved it."

 

     "I can't take you anywhere!" Kagome's voice rose with frustration. She looked at Shiro, watching the conversation with wide eyes. "Your daddy is an idiot, Shiro."

 

     "Don't tell him that!" Inuyasha stood up and smacked his palms down on the table.

 

     Kagome stood as well, fire burning in her eyes. "If you weren't such a… a… donkey, I wouldn't have to!"

 

     "Watch who you're calling a donkey, you… female dog!" Inuyasha shouted.

 

     "Donkey!"

 

     "Dog!"

 

     "Donkey!"

 

     "Takes one to know one!"

 

     "Very mature, Inuyasha!"

 

     The customers stared at the squabbling duo. Shiro licked ice cream off his spoon. It sounded like a barnyard game to him and he wanted to play, too.

 

     "I'm a rooster!" Shiro shouted. "COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO!"

 

     Kagome and Inuyasha stopped in mid-insult. Shiro waved his spoon in the air and crowed again. The cashier took the opportunity to approach them and quietly request that they leave. Both noticed for the first time that they had the undivided attention of everyone in the shop. Inuyasha grabbed Shiro and marched out the door with Kagome following. They turned in opposite directions as soon as they were outside. Kagome was so upset that she forgot to wave goodbye to Shiro.

 

^**^

 

     The phone rang early the next weekend in the Higurashi household. Kagome groaned and pulled her pillow over her head.

 

     "Stop the ringing," she mumbled. "It's Saturday. I need my sleep."

 

     "Kagome?" Her mom's voice floated up the stairs. "Phone for you. It's Sango."

 

     Kagome groped for the nightstand until she found the cordless phone. She brought the receiver to her ear, under the pillow that was still on her head.

 

     "Hello?" Her voice was rough with sleep. "No, I'm not doing anything today." She listened for a minute. Abruptly, she sat up, all sleepiness gone. "I would love to go shopping!" She hopped out of bed and began looking for something to wear, still listening to Sango. "Uh-huh. Yeah, I can be ready in thirty minutes."

 

     She hung up the phone and dashed for the bathroom. She slipped through the door just in front of Souta and slammed it in his face. "Ladies first," she shouted in response to his outraged protests.

 

     Kagome got ready in record time and ran out the door just as Sango pulled up in the sensible rust-bucket that was all she could afford.  Kohaku often joked that the only thing holding the car together was duct tape and prayers.

 

     "Bye, mom," she shouted. "I'll see you later!"

 

     Sango laughed at her eagerness. "I've never seen anyone enjoy shopping as much as you," she teased her friend.

 

     "Just drive." Kagome gave her a playful poke in the shoulder. "The sooner we get to a mall, the sooner we can go shopping."

 

     "So, how was your date last weekend?" Sango asked as she shifted gears.

 

     "It was not a date," Kagome protested. "We had ice cream."

 

     "But you had fun," Sango pressed.

 

     "Well, it was fun," Kagome admitted. "At least until we started fighting. But today we are going to forget about men and just shop."

 

     Sango gave her friend a knowing smirk.

 

     They drove into the parking lot and found a spot somewhere between the front entrance and the middle of nowhere. Sango cheerfully commented that they were getting good exercise. Kagome told her to shut up and moaned that she should have brought walking shoes.

 

     Kagome and Sango wandered from store to store, stopping whenever something caught their attention.

 

     "Look at this," Kagome called to Sango. She held up a red outfit with a spotted dog on the shirt. "Wouldn't this look adorable on Shiro?" She ignored her friend's amused headshake as she bought two outfits for the little boy and a stuffed monkey.

 

     They were browsing the bookstore when Kagome came across a book about ancient katanas from Feudal Japan. "Inuyasha has that sword hanging above his couch," she muttered to herself. "It looks pretty old." She nodded. "I'll get it."

 

     By the time they left the mall, Kagome had bought several gifts for Inuyasha and Shiro. She got one outfit for herself, mostly because she thought it was something Inuyasha would like.

 

     After waving goodbye to Sango, Kagome carried her packages into the house and deposited them on the coffee table. She headed for the refrigerator to grab a quick snack and almost tripped over Buyo who had stretched himself across the kitchen entryway.  Reaching for the fridge handle, she found a note stuck under a banana-shaped magnet. Grandpa was visiting friends in another city while Mom was taking Souta shopping for school clothes, and then to a movie.

 

     "No point hanging around here," Kagome told Buyo, who just yawned. "Inuyasha won't mind if I come over and bring Shiro a gift or two."

 

^**^

 

     Inuyasha answered the door on the first ring. Kagome took a step back, surprised. He had never come to the door first; it was always Shiro.

 

     "What are you doing here?" he demanded.

 

     Kagome floundered, at a bit of loss with the lack of a warm welcome. "I brought a gift for Shiro."

 

     "A gift for me?" Shiro bounded out of the house and attached himself to her leg. "What'd you bring me, 'Gome? Can I see?"

 

     Kagome cast a nervous glance at Inuyasha. She reached into her bag and pulled out the stuffed monkey. Shiro squealed and released her leg to grab the toy.

 

     Inuyasha scowled. "I don't need you buying him presents because you feel sorry for him."

 

     "Why would I feel sorry for him?" Kagome asked, honestly perplexed.

 

     "Women always feel sorry for the poor little boy being raised without a mother." Inuyasha spoke in a condescending tone.

 

     Kagome stiffened. "For your information, I bought these things because I thought Shiro would like them. I feel sorrier for him having you as a father." She glared at him for a minute before thrusting the bag containing the rest of Shiro’s presents into his arms. "Oh, and this is for you." She shoved the book at him.

 

     Inuyasha put the bag down and looked at the book. He leafed through a few pages. His expression cleared, to be replaced by one of interest. He looked around for Shiro and found him trying to make his monkey turn somersaults on the grass.

 

     "Come here, Shiro," he called. Shiro trotted over to his father. "Now, what do you say to Kagome?"

 

     Shiro turned to her with a big grin on his face. "Thank you, 'Gome. I love my monkey."

 

     Kagome's eyes softened. "You're welcome, Shiro." Inuyasha mumbled something. Kagome smiled. "You're welcome too, Inuyasha."

 

     All three of them looked up as a car stopped in front of the house. A man with long, white hair got out. Even from this distance, Kagome could see that his eyes were gold.

 

     "Uncle Fluffy!" Shiro shrieked. He dropped his monkey and raced across the yard to throw himself at the white-haired young man. The stranger ruffled Shiro's hair with one hand. Kagome could see that the other sleeve of his shirt was neatly folded and pinned where there was no arm. A slight smile touched the otherwise expressionless face of the man as he looked down at his nephew.

 

     "Uncle Fluffy?" Kagome turned to Inuyasha with a questioning look.

 

     "That's the first thing Shiro ever said to him." Inuyasha did not look pleased to see the stranger.

 

     "I didn't know you had a brother," Kagome commented.

 

     "Half-brother," he grunted. "We share the same father. That's all we have in common."

 

     They watched as the man opened the rear door of his car. A little girl with a pigtail on the side of her head climbed out. She looked to be no more than seven.

 

     "His name is Sesshoumaru." Inuyasha answered Kagome's unspoken questions. "He's older than me. Made life a living hell while we were growing up. Our father divorced his mother for cheating on him. He married my mother a few years later. His mother made sure that he hated the both of us. Sesshoumaru used to beat me up every time he saw me."

 

     "What's with the white hair and gold eyes?" Kagome asked.

 

     "He looks like our father. Everyone says I look like my mother." Inuyasha sighed. "She died when I was small, so I don't really remember her."

 

     Inuyasha noticed the look of sympathy in Kagome's eyes. "I don't need your pity! My half-brother stopped trying to kill me when he decided to become a cop. Believe it or not, he has a soft spot for kids. Shiro is the only one who is allowed to call him Fluffy."

 

     Sesshoumaru walked towards them across the yard. He held the hand of the little girl and made no effort to answer Shiro, who was bouncing around and peppering the both of them with questions.

 

     Inuyasha noticed Kagome's eyes on the empty sleeve of his half-brother. "He lost his arm doing something ridiculously heroic. Do you remember when the bridge on Fifth Street collapsed?" Kagome nodded to show she was listening. "He spent hours digging people out of the rubble. A piece of debris pinned him to the ground. By the time they got him out, his arm had to be amputated."

 

     Sesshoumaru stopped in front of them. His cool gaze took in the young woman standing beside his half-brother. "Hello, little brother."

 

     Inuyasha stepped slightly in front of Kagome. "This is Kagome. She's Shiro's babysitter." Sesshoumaru nodded slightly. The young girl tugged on his hand and he knelt so that she could whisper in his ear.

 

     "This is Rin," he told them after he straightened.

 

     "Is she one of your cases?" Inuyasha asked.

 

     "She is. All of the current foster homes are filled. She will stay with me until her case has been resolved."

 

     "Hi, Rin." Kagome smiled at the little girl. Rin stared back at her with solemn eyes and didn't say a word.

 

     Sesshoumaru cleared his throat to gain Kagome's attention. "Rin does not speak except to me. That is why she has been placed in my care." He turned to Inuyasha. "As much as I enjoy the fresh air, little brother, there is something I must discuss with you. I would prefer to conduct business indoors."

 

     Inuyasha looked at his half-brother with suspicion and distaste, but nodded and led the way inside. "Come on, 'Gome," Shiro said, tugging on her hand. Kagome hesitated, but she was curious. She finally sighed and allowed Shiro to pull her into the house.

 

^**^

 

Food for thought:

 

The second thing to go is the memory.

 

I can't remember what the first thing is.

 

copyright: The Literary Dragon 2004