Inuyasha's hand tightened on Kagome's. He might have tried to go another way before they were spotted, but Shiro had
the type of voice that carried. Naraku looked up from the door of the museum that he and Kikyo were just exiting. His eyes
flicked over the three of them before he smiled, turning his head to whisper something to Kikyo. She looked around, her eyes
narrowing when she saw Kagome standing between Inuyasha and Shiro.
"Hello, Inuyasha," Naraku purred. "Treating the babysitter to a night on the town?"
"'Gome might be my new mommy," Shiro piped up. "Daddy and 'Gome talked at the park. Now they kiss lots. And Shippou
said that--" Kagome pulled her hand away from his and covered his mouth. One of these days, she was going to sit down with
Shiro and have a serious discussion about tact. It was time he learned what it was and how to use it. He was kind of like
Inuyasha in that way. Both of them just spouted off the first thing that popped into their heads.
"So," Kikyo said in a dead calm voice, "you are dating the babysitter. You
shouldn't let your child pick your dates. You could do so much better." She gave a brittle laugh. "Though I guess you can't
do better than me."
Inuyasha assumed a pose of indifference. Kagome could tell that he wasn't really relaxed because he still held her
hand and his grip was crushing her fingers. "I don't know about that, Kikyo. At least with Kagome, it isn't like kissing a
Kagome wanted to sink right through the sidewalk. Yes, she would definitely
have to have a talk with both Inuyasha and Shiro about the finer points of tact. Shiro
was staring at her with puzzled eyes, probably wondering what fish had to do with kissing.
Kikyo turned red, though the glare she directed at Inuyasha suggested that it was in anger instead of embarrassment.
Naraku laid one hand on her arm. "Don't get all worked up, dear. Inuyasha is a mongrel with unrefined tastes. He wouldn't
know a good thing if it bit him on the ass."
Shiro wiggled out of Kagome's hold. "You take that back, monkey man!" he shouted.
Kagome didn't like the cold look in the eyes Naraku turned on the little boy. "You shouldn't call the nice man a monkey,
Shiro," she soothed, pulling him closer to her and farther away from Naraku.
"Why not? Daddy said that the mean man is a smelly baboon. And a baboon is like a monkey. I learned that on Sesame Street."
Shiro crossed his little arms over his chest, looking just like his daddy when he insisted on being stubborn.
Kagome silently appealed to Inuyasha for support. The corners of Inuyasha's mouth twitched. "You shouldn't call Naraku
a monkey, Shiro," he told his son. "It's an insult to monkeys everywhere." Naraku went rigid and, if looks could kill, Inuyasha
would be six feet under.
"By the way," Inuyasha continued, ignoring the murderous looks being sent his way, "what are you two doing in this
part of town anyway? You wouldn't happen to be spying on us, would you?"
Kikyo glared. "Why would I want to follow you around?" She stepped closer to Naraku and linked her arm through his.
"Naraku, being his usual generous self, has agreed to let this second-rate museum display his collection of carvings dating
from the feudal era."
Inuyasha opened his mouth for another retort when Sesshoumaru came into view with Rin still attached to his hand. Naraku
and Kikyo had their backs towards the cop and the kid and wouldn’t have known anyone was behind them if Shiro hadn’t
waved cheerfully and shouted, “Uncle Fluffy!” Naraku half turned
to see who was coming. A brief look of displeasure crossed his face, to be immediately
replaced with an expression of polite interest. Kikyo didn’t bother to
conceal the intense dislike on her face. Almost immediately, she began to examine
the nails on her right hand, trying to broadcast boredom. Sesshoumaru coolly
surveyed the group before him.
Without taking his eyes off of Naraku, he addressed Inuyasha, “You’re late, little brother. I thought I told you that I had a lot of work to do this evening.
I don’t want to waste my time looking for you when you’re not where you’re supposed to be. Why can’t you ever be on time?”
Inuyasha glowered at his brother for the interruption and drew breath to say something that would most likely be unflattering,
but Kagome deliberately bumped against him, distracting him. Sesshoumaru then dismissed his brother as unimportant for the
moment, shifting his full attention to Naraku instead.
"A pleasure to see you, Naraku." Sesshoumaru's expression didn't change by as much as a hair. He could have been commenting
on the weather. "I trust that all is well with you."
"Quite well, thank you," Naraku replied. "Come along, Kikyo. The atmosphere around here is too common for me."
He turned his back on Inuyasha and stepped to the side to walk around Sesshoumaru and the little girl. Kikyo shot a
briefly venomous glance at Kagome, standing uncomfortably next to Inuyasha, before falling into step beside Naraku. His eyes
fell on Rin, clinging to her guardian. Rin squeaked, the first sound Kagome had heard her utter, and cowered against Sesshoumaru's
side. Naraku stared at her for a moment, before smiling and walking on. Kagome tried to suppress an automatic shiver. The
smile made her think of a rabid wolf.
"You had better watch yourself with that one, little brother," Sesshoumaru said, breaking the silence that had fallen.
"Naraku is unscrupulous and ruthless, and clever enough to not get caught. And he always gets what he wants."
"Feh!" Inuyasha snorted. "You worry too much."
Sesshoumaru tightened his jaw in annoyance, but decided to abandon the argument before it could begin. "At least try
to keep Rin out of trouble." He pulled the little girl forward.
Kagome bent down to Rin's level. "Hi, Rin, my name is Kagome. We're going to the toy store. Do you want to come with
us? We'll have lots of fun." She held out her hand.
Rin stared at Kagome for a long moment with her big brown eyes. Abruptly, she held out her arms to Kagome who lifted
her up, cuddling her close. Sesshoumaru left, promising to pick her up in a few hours. Pouting, Shiro clung to Kagome's skirt,
upset because she was holding someone else. Inuyasha scooped him up; tickling him into giggles, before allowing him to ride
perched on his shoulders.
"Toy store, here we come!" Shiro sang at the top of his lungs.
Sesshoumaru had come and gone and taken Rin with him. Kagome flopped on the sofa, content to just sit. Who knew that
taking two young children to the toy store could be so exhausting? She squirmed slightly, remembering her embarrassment when
the loudspeaker had requested the presence of an adult to retrieve a small boy from the decorative fish pond. Shiro stood
waist deep in the water trying to catch the goldfish so that he could kiss them. His innocent declaration was that Daddy said
that kissing Mommy was like kissing a fish and he was curious. Inuyasha paid for the ones flopping on the ground gasping out
their last breaths, but refused to buy one for Shiro. He said that a fish was something to eat, not a pet.
Rin was not much better. She stuck close to Kagome in the store, but once they were at Inuyasha's place it was a different
story. She still refused to talk and finding out what she wanted had to be done by guessing. Shiro thought it was a great
game, which led to a rousing round of charades. Once or twice Kagome intervened to keep Inuyasha from strangling the stubborn
Now, Inuyasha sprawled at one end of the couch with Kagome taking up the rest. The overcast sky outside and the weatherman
promised more rain, but Inuyasha insisted that it would be snow. Kagome decided it wasn't worth arguing about. She grunted
when a hefty child pounced on her stomach.
"Let's play a game, 'Gome," Shiro begged, bouncing up and down.
"Isn't it time for your nap?" Kagome sat up to keep him from jumping on her bladder.
Shiro shook his head violently. "Nuh-uh, I'm not tired! I want to play a game!"
From the other end of the couch, Inuyasha said something, but his voice was muffled by a sofa cushion. Kagome pulled
the cushion off of his face. He made a half-hearted grab for it, but she held it just out of reach.
"Why don't we play Hide and Seek?" he repeated, giving up on getting the cushion back.
"Can I be 'it'?" Shiro asked. Inuyasha nodded agreement as he pushed himself into a more upright position.
"While he's looking for us," Inuyasha whispered to Kagome as Shiro covered his eyes, preparing to count, "we can find
someplace to sit and relax. He'll wear himself out before too long."
"I'm counting now," Shiro announced. "One, two, three, um, four, seven… um… eleventeen… um…
Inuyasha gripped Kagome's hand and pulled her after him. He seemed to be looking for something, poking his nose into
different rooms before walking on. They came to a closet in the upstairs hallway. Inuyasha opened the door, pushing her inside
before following and closing the door behind him. It was a tight fit. Kagome blinked as the small space was flooded with light.
A single bulb hung from the ceiling, its cord still dancing from being pulled. Jackets hung from the hangars, a small stool
and a broom took up the floor space. Kagome turned around to find her face just inches from Inuyasha's well-toned chest. She
blushed, especially when he solved the space problem by sitting down on the stool and pulling her into his lap.
"Shouldn't we be hiding in separate places?" Kagome stammered, trying valiantly to control her blushes.
Inuyasha chuckled, the vibration tingling through her body. "This is more fun." Tightening his arms, he nuzzled his
face into the side of her neck. Kagome was vaguely aware of Shiro shouting, "Ready or not, here I come!"
She wanted nothing more than to melt into Inuyasha’s embrace, but something had been bothering her since that
afternoon. It took a great deal of willpower to push him away. He made a sound of protest and tried to pull her back.
"Stop it, Inuyasha," Kagome commanded. "I need to ask you something." He sighed, but loosened his hold.
"I need to know if what Kikyo said is true."
Inuyasha thought on the earlier conversation and drew a blank. "What did she say?"
"Did you decide to ask me on a date just because Shiro likes me?" She swallowed heavily and continued. "Or is it because
I look like Kikyo?" Kagome couldn't see Inuyasha's expression because her face was turned away from him, but she could feel
the tenseness in his body.
"I guess I should be flattered," she said when he didn't answer. "Shiro comes first. He's adorable and I love him.
And he needs a mother figure, and--." Inuyasha stopped her rambling with a kiss as he had once before.
Inuyasha finally pulled away and cradled her cheek in his palm. Kagome instinctively leaned into his touch.
"You're the most exasperating person I have ever met." Kagome's eyes widened in shock. Inuyasha placed a finger on
her lips to prevent her from speaking. "You're argumentative and stubborn. Not a day goes by that I don't want to smack some
sense into that thick skull of yours. In short, you drive me crazy." He leaned forward to claim her lips in a harsh kiss.
He groaned when she willingly opened her mouth to him, allowing him to deepen the kiss. His hands tangled in her hair, holding
her still while her own arms wrapped around his neck. Reluctantly, he ended the kiss. She was panting, face flushed and eyes
"You are also the kindest, most generous person I know." He smiled when she blinked at him in confusion. "Shiro adores
you. You've prevented me from making an ass of myself several times and I… well, I'm getting used to having you around."
"I'm getting used to being around," Kagome said shyly. Inuyasha leaned forward to kiss her again.
"I found you!" Shiro shouted, flinging the closet door open. "It's Daddy's turn to be 'it'!" Kagome blushed. Here she
was, sitting on Inuyasha's lap and kissing him, and his son walks in on them. The pink tinge on Inuyasha's cheeks assured
her that she wasn't the only embarrassed one.
It only took two more games of Hide and Seek before Shiro was yawning. He was fast asleep when Kagome began gathering
her things together. Inuyasha walked her to the door, after making sure that she wasn't in need of a ride home. She was looking
forward to the walk; it would give her time to think. Fat white flakes started to drift down as she stood on the porch, saying
"I was right." Inuyasha smirked at Kagome.
"It's snowing." He took her hand, tugging her closer. "That probably means I'm right about other things."
"What other things?" Kagome made an attempt to retrieve her hand. Actually, she didn't try very hard.
"That I'll miss you when you're gone." He gave her a quick peck on the cheek and grinned at the adorable pout on her
face. "Hurry back and we'll pick up where we left off in the closet." Laughing at the blush on her cheeks, he went inside
and shut the door.
Kagome stared at the closed door for a few minutes before turning away. The snow was coming down thicker and starting
to dust the lawns in white. There might even be enough for a snowman or two come
morning. She sighed and shoved her hands into the pockets of her jacket. "Who knew babysitting could be so enjoyable."
Food for thought: (courtesy of georgesonlygirl)
STRESSED is DESSERTS spelled backwards