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Fox Meets Dog

Chapter 8

Chapter 8:  Fox Meets Dog

 

^**^

 

     Kagome held Shippou's hand as she rang the doorbell. The child was so bundled up that he looked like a fat little bear, with the only visible part of him being the tip of his nose. She heard pounding feet followed by a happy shriek. The door opened to reveal Inuyasha. He was breathing hard and had Shiro tucked under his arm.

 

     "Hi 'Gome," Shiro gasped between giggles. "I raced Daddy to the door." Inuyasha set Shiro down. He knelt to get a look at Shippou and hide the pink tinge on his cheeks.

 

     "Are you sure there's a child in here?" He poked the bundle in the tummy. "He looks like a walking furball." The furball swung his tiny hand and bopped Inuyasha on the nose.

 

     Kagome pulled Shippou away. Inuyasha rubbed his nose and scowled at the boy. "This is Shippou," she said. "He's going to be visiting for a while."

 

     "Bring him in and unwrap him." Inuyasha led the way into the house.

 

     Kagome unwound Shippou's scarf, peeled his coat off, and took off his hat. He sat down to help with the removal of his boots.

 

     Inuyasha snorted as he got a good look at the child. "This brat doesn't look like he's five. He's smaller than Shiro."

 

     Shippou drew himself up to his full height. "I'm five and a half," he announced.

 

     Kagome headed off the argument before Inuyasha could open his mouth. "This is Shiro, Shippou. I told you about him."

 

     Shiro stepped closer and stuck his nose in the other boy's face. "'Gome is my babysitter. We play games and she buys me presents.  Why are you with her?"

 

     Shippou pushed Shiro away. "She's my cousin. We're going to the park tomorrow."

 

     Shiro pouted. "Daddy," he whined. "I want to go to the park with 'Gome."

 

     Inuyasha gave the universal parental answer. "We'll see." He made an effort to distract the boys. "Why don't you show Shippou your toys?"

 

     Shiro crossed his arms over his chest.  “I don’t want to.  He’ll touch them and get them dirty.”

 

     “I don’t want to see your stinky toys anyway.”  Shippou stuck his tongue out at the other boy.  “I have cooler toys at home.”

 

     “I have a remote-controlled robot that does 10 different commands.  Daddy bought it for my birthday!”

 

     “Really?  Can I see?”

 

     “Sure!  My room’s this way!”

 

     The two kids raced up the stairs. Shippou was small, but he was also fast. Shiro shouted for him to wait up.  Inuyasha and Kagome watched as the two went from rivals to friends in one conversation.

 

     “I’m glad they decided to be friends,” Kagome commented.

 

     “Yeah,” Inuyasha agreed, “and it didn’t take as long as I thought it would.”

 

     Kagome listened to the high-pitched chatter coming from upstairs for a couple of minutes before turning to Inuyasha. "Don't you have someplace to be?" Was it her imagination or did she detect disappointment in his eyes?

 

     "No." He crossed his arms and looked away. "I have some business to take care of from my home computer. Someone needs to keep an eye on Shiro so I can work in peace."

 

     "Okay." Kagome gave him a funny look. "You don't have to get defensive. I'll stay out of your way."

 

     "You can stay if you want," he said, trying to sound indifferent. "The boys will be fine in Shiro's room." He walked into the living room and Kagome followed. "But if they want anything, it's up to you to handle it."

 

     Kagome watched Inuyasha type on his laptop for a while before she got bored and wandered into the kitchen for a snack. Angry shouts from upstairs startled her into dropping the pudding cup she held.  It bounced and rolled under the table, but she didn't notice. She ran out of the kitchen, colliding with Inuyasha who was also hurrying to find out what had upset the children. They disentangled themselves and ran up the stairs to Shiro’s room.

 

     Shiro was howling at the top of his lungs, clutching his fluffy white dog to his chest. Shippou stood on the other side of the room, also bawling his eyes out. He held a scrap of white that looked suspiciously like one of the dog's ears.

 

     Inuyasha knelt and enfolded Shiro in his arms while Kagome tried to comfort Shippou. "Shhh, it’s okay," she said. "Now, what happened?"

 

     "He hurt Doggy!" Shiro wailed. He clung to his father and pointed at Shippou.

 

     "I just wanted to see him!" Shippou protested. He stuck his tongue out at Shiro before burying his face in Kagome's shoulder.

 

     Inuyasha glared at the boy in Kagome's arms. "Now see here, you little monster--" he began.

 

     "Inuyasha!" Kagome interrupted sharply. "He’s my cousin.  I'll deal with this." She leaned back so she could look Shippou in the eyes.

 

     "Did you try to take Shiro's Doggy?" Shippou sniffled, wiping his nose with the back of his hand. He looked at the floor and nodded. Kagome put her hand under his chin and tilted his face up. "That was a mean thing to do. You're older than Shiro. I know you're daddy taught you better than that." She led the unresisting child over to Inuyasha and Shiro. "Apologize to Shiro, Shippou."

 

     Shippou mumbled something in the direction of his feet. "I can't hear you," Kagome scolded.

 

     "I'm sorry," Shippou said a little louder. He held out the torn ear.

 

     Inuyasha gave his son a nudge and whispered something to him. "I accept," Shiro said. He grabbed the ear out of Shippou's hand. He tried to fit it onto Doggy’s head.

 

     "Fix it, Daddy." He held out the pieces to Inuyasha. Kagome smiled at Inuyasha's uncomfortable look.

 

     "Daddy has work to do, Shiro." She took the broken toy. "I'll sew the ear on and Doggy will be good as new."

 

^**^

 

     Inuyasha watched Kagome out of the corner of his eye. She had a look of intense concentration on her face as she poked the needle in and out. The boys were playing together, having decided to be friends again. He hadn't typed a thing in the last ten minutes, but didn’t really care. Watching Kagome was much more fun.

 

     "Finished!" Kagome held up the stuffed animal. The repaired ear drooped, giving the dog a comical look. "Well, I never said I was good at sewing."

 

     Inuyasha plucked the toy out of her hands and studied it seriously. "We'll just tell Shiro that this is Doggy’s battle scar." He grinned at her. She scowled at him for making fun of her attempt.

 

     The boys tumbled into the room. Shiro snatched Doggy from his father with a delighted squeal. He threw himself at Kagome and planted a wet kiss on her cheek. Shippou examined Doggy with Shiro, agreeing that he was all better now.

 

     Kagome stood up and stretched. Inuyasha blushed at the way her shirt pulled up and revealed her bare stomach.  He didn’t look away, though.  When she dropped her arms to her sides and the tantalizing glimpse of skin vanished, he almost groaned with disappointment.  Calling Shippou over to her, she started gathering his things.

 

     "It's late," she said as she shoved Shippou into his coat. "We should get home."

 

     "Thanks for coming over." Inuyasha picked Shiro up and followed her to the door.

 

     "Anytime, Inuyasha." She stood in the doorway, toying with the ends of Shippou's scarf. "Halloween's coming up," she blurted.

 

     "Daddy's taking me to pick out a pumpkin on Saturday!" Shiro burst out, his eyes shining with excitement. "I'm going to get one that's this big!" He held out his arms as far as they would go.

 

     Shippou tugged on her jacket. "I want a pumpkin, Kagome." His voice was muffled under the layers of clothing.

 

     "Sure, Shippou." She smiled at her cousin. "Say goodbye to Shiro and his daddy."

 

     "Bye, Shiro! Bye, Shiro's daddy!" Shippou took Kagome's hand as they walked down the drive.

 

     "Bye, 'Gome! Bye, Shippou!" Shiro shouted.

 

     Kagome turned around to wave. Inuyasha stood at the door and watched until he couldn't see them anymore.

 

^**^

 

     "Where are we going, Kagome?" Shippou asked on Saturday.

 

     "We're getting you a pumpkin." Kagome pulled into the parking lot at the U-Pick-Em pumpkin patch.

 

     Shippou's face brightened. "Maybe we'll see Shiro."  He scrambled out of the car and bounced impatiently as he waited for his cousin.  Kagome made a noncommittal sound and locked the door.

 

     "Too much sugar," Kagome commented as she watched the hyper child. Shippou squealed as he ran and jumped to the field where the pumpkins lay like bright orange beach balls.

 

     "'Gome!" Shiro tackled her from behind. "Did you bring Shippou?" Kagome ruffled his hair before pointing to where Shippou was trying to lift a pumpkin twice his size. Shiro scampered off to join him.

 

     She smiled at Inuyasha. "What a coincidence, running into you here."

 

     Inuyasha raised a skeptical eyebrow. He watched the boys comparing pumpkins. "Do you want to come over?" He flushed. "Shippou and Shiro can carve their pumpkins together."

 

     "That sounds like fun." Kagome laid her hand on his arm. He didn't shrug her off.

 

^**^

 

     Shiro bent double into his pumpkin, scooping out the insides. The kitchen floor was covered in newspapers. The kids had been dressed in old clothes, which was good because they had already managed to stuff pumpkin guts down each others' shirts. Kagome was not looking forward to bath time.

 

     "Here, 'Gome." Shiro deposited a handful of pulp and seeds in her hands. Kagome wrinkled her nose.

 

     "Um, thanks." She dumped the mess in the trash and wiped her hands on the towel Inuyasha held out.

 

     Shippou stood on tiptoe, straining to reach the bottom. "Help me, Kagome," he demanded.

 

     Inuyasha smiled evilly. "I'll help you." Picking Shippou up, he dropped him inside the pumpkin. Shippou squawked in outrage.

 

     Kagome glared at Inuyasha and fished the slimy little boy out. Inuyasha laughed and went back to helping Shiro.

 

     After the pumpkins were cleaned and scraped, the four of them sat down to design the faces.

 

     "Make mine scary," Shiro begged. "Like this." He scrunched his face up and growled.

 

     "Make mine scarier," Shippou piped up. "With three eyes and fangs."

 

     Somehow, satisfactory faces were created. The boys scampered around turning off lights while Inuyasha found some candles. Kagome pretended to look scared by the fearsome monsters. Shiro giggled and promised to protect her. Not to be outdone, Shippou promised too.

 

     Inuyasha made the boys stay in the kitchen while he and Kagome cleaned up the mess. He didn't need them tracking pumpkin innards all through the house.

 

     When the kitchen no longer looked like a pumpkin had exploded, Inuyasha stopped to examine the kids. They were orange and covered head to toe in pulp and seeds.

 

     "Shippou needs a bath," he informed Kagome. "You don't need a mess in your car. It'll be easier to clean them both up at once."

 

     Kagome was touched by his offer. To make things fair she offered to do the laundry. She didn't understand why Inuyasha snickered as he took the boys to the bathroom. Her expression cleared when she saw the mounds of dirty clothes in the laundry room.

 

     She held up a muddy shirt of Shiro's. "How can one child get so dirty?" She spied a stained shirt of Inuyasha's. "Now I get it. Like father, like son."

 

     Kagome hummed to herself as loaded the washer and went back in the kitchen to try and get the last of the orange stains off of the floor. Splashing and laughter came from the bathroom. Wondering if Inuyasha might need some help with the two hyperactive little boys, Kagome started for the bathroom. She had just reached the hallway when Shiro ran by, clothed in nothing but suds. Inuyasha was right behind him.

 

     "Got you!" Inuyasha grabbed the boy. Shiro shrieked as he was captured.

 

     "Run, Shippou!" Shiro yelled. A second equally naked little boy tried to dodge around Inuyasha. Shippou giggled as Inuyasha lunged, snagging the boy by the arm. Kagome stared at the sight before her. Inuyasha's clothing and hair were soaked. Blinking the suds out of his eyes, he tightened his hold on the slippery bodies.

 

     Kagome started to laugh and wouldn't stop despite Inuyasha's offended look. He released the boys and squeezed a handful of foam out of his hair. Abruptly, he walked over and rubbed the foam into her hair and over her face. Shiro and Shippou shouted encouragement as Kagome chased Inuyasha through the house.

 

     Life was much more fun with 'Gome and Shippou around.

 

^**^

 

Food for thought:

 

Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty

copyright: The Literary Dragon 2004