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A New Mommy

Chapter 28

Chapter 28: A New Mommy

 

     “Be careful, Shiro,” Kagome called. She anxiously watched as the child climbed like a young monkey to the top of the play fortress. He grinned at her before disappearing into one of the many tunnels riddling the entire structure. Popping out near a slide that spiraled like a corkscrew, he waved an arm to attract her attention.

 

     “Watch me, Mommy!” Shiro plopped his bottom down on the hard plastic and used both hands to push off and gain as much momentum as possible. Kagome rushed over just in time to catch him as he shot out of the bottom. With a giggle, he abandoned the slide to go climb on the knotted rope net instead.

 

     Kagome sighed, but knew that Shiro would wear himself out shortly. He was still recovering from his illness and tended to tire easily. A smile graced her lips as she remembered the last scene in the hospital.

 

     “Can I call you Mommy now?” Shiro’s sweet voice sounded in her memory. Both she and Inuyasha had blushed and stammered so much that it was almost a relief when the doctor entered the room. He had wanted to keep Shiro confined to the bed for a while longer. “To make sure he won’t have a relapse” is what the doctor said. The explosion of temper and threat of violence from Inuyasha, combined with the pleading of Shiro convinced the doctor to release the boy. He did seem glad to see the last of them, muttering something about overprotective parents making his job more stressful.

 

     Avoiding Shiro’s innocent question proved fruitless, as he insisted on calling her “Mommy” as soon as they left the hospital. It didn’t help that Sango and Miroku thought it was cute, or that even Sesshoumaru allowed his amusement to show. Several times a day, Shiro asked when they were going to get married. Inuyasha was his daddy and Kagome was more of a mommy than Kikyo would ever be, and he couldn’t understand why the two people he loved most in the world didn’t just go ahead and get it over with so they could be one happy family.

 

     Inuyasha was very reluctant to let his son out of his sight until he was fully recovered, but he had little choice. The office had finally managed to get a hold of him by calling his cell phone since his home phone was still off the hook. It hadn’t been hung up properly the last time he had considered calling Kagome when he thought that she was still mad at him. His employers informed him in no uncertain terms that if he didn’t get his butt in to work, then he could start looking for another job. Inuyasha took the hint.

 

     But that raised another problem. Shiro was not the only one to get sick. Most of the kids in his daycare and half of the adults came down with the same thing. So far, none of them seemed to have been hit as hard as Shiro. The daycare still had to be closed temporarily. Kagome’s mom offered to look after the little boy--actually, she jumped at the chance. “I would love to spend time with my future grandson,” is what she told Inuyasha and Kagome at every opportunity. Kagome loved it, too. She wouldn’t admit it out loud, but she got a warm tingly feeling every time Shiro called her Mommy.

 

     This week marked the beginning of spring and a break from school. Kagome loved Spring Break. She loved the heady sweet scent of the plum blossoms. Daffodils and tulips poked their heads out of the ground and the warmer weather encouraged people to start spending time outdoors. Kagome took Shiro to the park to get outside and to give her mom a break from the little boy who was starting to recover his hyper energy. Many parents and grandparents had the same idea, and the playground was filled with children, most of them shrieking their delight at the top of their lungs.

 

     Shiro ran over to Kagome, laughing as he flung his arms around her leg in a spontaneous hug. A white-haired grandmother sat on a bench nearby, keeping an eye on two children slightly older than Shiro. She smiled at the exuberant display of affection.

 

     “Your son is certainly a happy child,” she commented.

 

     “He’s not my son,” Kagome corrected automatically. “I’m just watching him while his father is at work.”

 

     “My ears must be playing tricks on me.” The grandmother looked confused. “I thought I heard him call you Mommy.”

 

     “Mommy used to be my babysitter,” Shiro piped up. He tugged on Kagome’s hand until the old woman could see the ring glittering on her finger. “But Daddy gave her a ring. He calls it a Promise Ring. Mommy and Daddy will get married and Mommy will by my mommy for real.”

 

     Kagome blushed, while the grandmother smiled in sudden understanding. Her eyes twinkled as she looked at the little boy playing with the charm bracelet around the young woman’s wrist. “You must love your mommy very much.”

 

     “Mommy is the bestest mommy in the whole world,” Shiro boasted. “She’s much nicer than my old mommy. And Daddy says that she’s hot.” He frowned a little as Kagome found herself turning even redder under the old woman’s amused stare. “When I was hot, Daddy said that I had a fever and he took me to the hospital. Daddy says that Kagome is a different kind of hot and makes him want to do things and I’ll understand when I’m older.” He turned to Kagome, a puzzled expression on his face. “What kind of things, Mommy?”

 

     The old woman’s shoulders shook as she lost the battle against laughter at the mortified look on the young woman’s face. She was still laughing as Kagome muttered an embarrassed goodbye and dragged Shiro to the other end of the playground.

 

     “Don’t you want to be my mommy?” Kagome looked down into the forlorn face of Shiro. She knelt until she was at eye level with him.

 

     “Of course I want to be your mommy,” she reassured the child. “You’re my favorite little boy. But Daddy hasn’t even asked me to marry him yet.”

 

     Shiro perked up a little. “Is that a problem? I’ll tell Daddy to ask and you can get married and we’ll be a family and I’ll get a baby sister.”

 

     Kagome would have sworn that she was all out of blushes. She stood up quickly, blindly groping with one hand until her fingers found the rough bark of the nearest tree. Taking deep breaths while leaning against the sturdy trunk, she fought to gain control of her body. “Why don’t you wait here, munchkin?” Her voice came out a little higher than normal. “I’ll go buy you a soft pretzel and a soda.”  She indicated a snack vendor who was just then pushing his mobile cart past the playground, on the lookout for hungry customers.  “Don’t talk to strangers and yell if you need me.

 

     “Okay, Mommy.” Shiro nodded enthusiastically and watched as Kagome went to intercept the snack vendor.

 

     With a happy smile on his face, Shiro settled down to wait. He found the broken scoop from a plastic shovel nearby and decided to amuse himself by digging through the soft dirt around the play area. Shortly, he uncovered an old bottle cap, a comb that was missing most of its teeth, and a nickel. He couldn’t wait to show Mommy the treasures he had found. He was so intent on his task that he didn’t hear the footsteps approaching behind him.

 

     “Hello, Shiro.”

 

     At the sound of his name, Shiro looked around and found himself staring at a pair of shiny, black high-heeled shoes. His eyes followed the legs up until he could see the face of the person bending over him. The cheerful look on his face became somewhat wary and he didn’t respond to the greeting.

 

     “Aren’t you going to say hello?” The woman’s voice sounded distinctly impatient.

 

     “I’m not supposed to talk to strangers,” Shiro informed her.

 

     The woman bent down a little more so that her face was closer to the little boy. “But I’m not a stranger, Shiro. I’m your mother.”

 

     Shiro scooted out of reach when Kikyo reached for his arm. “Daddy says that you’re not allowed to see me ‘cept on Visiting Day. And Daddy says that you’re strange and I don’t have to talk to you if I don’t want to. And I don’t want to ‘cause you’re mean and I don’t like you!”

 

     “You don’t really mean that,” cooed Kikyo in a sugary sweet voice. “Why don’t you come with me and I’ll buy you an ice cream?”

 

     “No!” Shiro clambered to his feet, treasures forgotten. “My new mommy said to wait here!”

 

     Kikyo clenched her jaw, the softness of her expression turning hard and angry. “That little tramp!” She grabbed Shiro by the arm as he started to back away. “Listen here, you little brat! I’m you’re mother and you’ll do what I say!”

 

     Shiro struggled to get away while Kikyo clamped a hand over his mouth to prevent him from screaming. She gasped but didn’t lose her hold on the little boy when something cold and wet impacted with her back.

 

     “Let him go!” Kagome shouted and threw the pretzel in her other hand at Kikyo’s head. Kikyo dodged the flying snack food and backed up, taking Shiro with her. Kagome advanced one pace for every backwards step of Kikyo’s, wracking her brains for some way to get Shiro away from her. “I’ll scream for help! The whole park will know what you’re up to! Give up, Ki--“ Kagome’s voice cut off as she slumped to the ground. Naraku stood behind her, still holding the branch that he had used to knock her unconscious.

 

     Naraku dropped his makeshift club and bent down to press his fingers against the pulse in her neck. “Still alive,” he grunted. With no change in expression, he hoisted Kagome over his shoulder and indicated with a jerk of his head that Kikyo should follow. She picked up the unresisting body of the little boy, who was momentarily shocked into obedience, and disappeared with Naraku into the concealing trees of the park. No one else seemed to have noticed the kidnapping.

 

     Left where it had fallen, a silver bracelet sporting a single angel charm glittered in a patch of sunlight. The wind began to pick up as the afternoon shadows lengthened.

 

^**^

 

     Inuyasha, weary from a hard day at the office, opened his front door. The only thing that had kept him sane in a day where one crisis followed another was the thought that Kagome had promised to fix dinner. He took a deep breath, hoping to catch a whiff of whatever tantalizing dish his Kagome had prepared. Only cold silence greeted him.

 

     “Kagome? Shiro?” His voice echoed with that funny sound that comes from an empty house. Reaching the kitchen, he scanned the refrigerator and the nearby bulletin board for a note of some kind. Fighting down the chilling sensation in his gut, he reached for the phone and punched in a series of numbers.

 

     “Hi, Souta, it’s Inuyasha. Is your sister there by any chance?” He frowned as he listened to the reply. “You haven’t seen her all day? What about Shiro? She took him to the park? Any idea when she said she’d be home? No, there’s no problem. Just have her call me when you see her.”

 

     Carefully hanging up the phone, Inuyasha took a calming breath. She probably got stuck in rush hour traffic or a long line at the grocery store. There was no reason to be concerned. Quick phone calls to Sango and Miroku revealed the same answer. Nobody had seen Kagome and Shiro since early afternoon. The only one he hadn’t talked to was Kouga. They hadn’t seen each other in a while and that was perfectly fine with Inuyasha. But Kagome considered him a friend, even though she constantly assured him that there was nothing else going on, and Shiro adored the cocky go-kart driver. Inuyasha picked up the phone, preparing to dial, when Sesshoumaru and his little leech walked in.

 

     “I must speak with you, little brother.” Sesshoumaru strolled casually into the kitchen like he owned the place.  He released Rin’s hand, though she stayed near the entrance, watching both of them with solemn eyes.

 

     “I’m a little busy right now,” Inuyasha retorted sharply. “Can’t it wait?”

 

     “This is about your girlfriend and your son.” There was a small gleam of satisfaction in Sesshoumaru’s eyes as Inuyasha immediately froze.

 

     “What do you know?” Inuyasha demanded.

 

     “Remember that patient I stopped in to visit the day your little boy fell ill.” Sesshoumaru paused, clearly waiting for a nod from his brother before continuing. Inuyasha clenched his teeth, chanting to himself that killing his brother would be a crime and wouldn’t answer any of his questions. He gave a sharp nod of his head. “She came out of her coma an hour ago, though she is still listed in critical condition. I was called immediately and was able to hear what she had to say before the doctors forbade any more visitors until her condition stabilized.  It seems that Naraku was the one who put her there.”

 

     “And this interests me how?” Inuyasha spat out.

 

     “She overheard Naraku talking about a sword he was eager to get his hands on. It appears that he was tired of waiting and willing to do anything to get what he wanted.” Inuyasha frowned as he digested his brother’s words. The color drained from his face as he came to one certain conclusion.  “I came directly from the hospital.  I tried to call, but apparently your phone was busy.”  He spotted his brother’s cell on the counter.  Picking it up, he flipped it open and frowned at what he saw.  “And why is your cell phone turned off?”

 

     “I wanted some peace and quiet,” Inuyasha muttered absently, still trying to absorb what his brother had just told him.  “It’s been one crisis after another all day and the damn thing has been ringing constantly.”

 

     Sesshoumaru watched the play of emotions flicker across Inuyasha’s face. “Call up your little girlfriend and let her know that a squad will arrive shortly to put her into protective custody. Gather Shiro and some of his things and we will take them both to a safe house.”

 

     Inuyasha staggered to the kitchen table and sank onto a chair. “It’s too late,” he murmured. “Kagome took Shiro to the park this afternoon and nobody has seen them since.”

 

     The hard exterior that Sesshoumaru showed to the world hid a heart that bled a little each time an innocent became a victim. Moving faster than Inuyasha had ever seen, he pulled his brother to his feet. “Move it! We haven’t any time to lose!”

 

     Both Inuyasha and Rin found themselves shoved into Sesshoumaru’s squad car. Burning rubber filled the air as the car was spun around and sent hurtling in the direction of the park. Sirens blared, warning startled motorists to get out of the way and the radio crackled as Sesshoumaru issued curt orders to whomever he could reach.

 

     Each second felt like a small eternity. In reality, it was only a few minutes before Inuyasha climbed out of the car at a park that was being efficiently emptied of bystanders, with potential witnesses being detained and questioned. Bright yellow police tape was strung between the trees as a small swarm of uniformed officers began combing the area for clues.

 

     “Stand over there and try not to get in the way.” Inuyasha and Rin were directed to an out of the way corner of the playground. Rin slipped her hand into Inuyasha’s, in her small way trying to provide comfort.

 

     Inuyasha wasn’t nearly as dumb or impulsive as many people believed. He understood that Sesshoumaru knew his job and the best way to help was to not interfere. As much as he would have liked to scour the city for Kagome and Shiro, he knew that that would be the stupid way to go about things.

 

     “Yes, I remember that child.” Inuyasha looked around to see an old woman with her two grandkids talking to Sesshoumaru. She indicated a picture being shown to her. “Such a sweet little boy too. We talked for a while before he left with that nice young woman he was calling Mommy. Is something wrong, officer?”

 

     “We have reason to believe that Miss Kagome Higurashi and Shiro Takashi have been abducted.” Sesshoumaru slipped the photo back into his wallet. “Anything you could tell us would be of use.”

 

     “Oh, dear,” the woman exclaimed. “Now, I wasn’t really paying attention. I had my own scamps to keep an eye on.” She smiled fondly at the two little boys who were staring in awe at the police officer. “But I believe that she headed in that direction, where that young man and little girl are standing.”

 

     Rin spotted something lying on the ground that sparkled as a flashlight passed over the area. She bent down to examine it, being careful not to touch. Often enough, she was favored with her guardian’s complaints about amateurs who ruined what little evidence there was.

 

     “What are you looking at, Rin?” Inuyasha asked, coming up behind her and peering over her shoulder. His eyes widened when he saw what she had found. “Sesshoumaru, look at this! It’s Kagome’s bracelet!”

 

     Another officer found a branch nearby that bore traces of blood and long black hair caught on the bark. Samples were carefully collected and sent back to the lab to be analyzed, but there wasn’t any doubt in anyone’s mind that the blood and hair once belonged to Kagome.

 

     Sesshoumaru, in a rare display of concern, laid a comforting hand on Inuyasha’s shoulder. “Have faith, little brother. We will find them.” His eyes darkened. “And when we find them, Naraku will pay.”

 

^**^

 

Food for thought (courtesy of Shizuka no Ame and Ks-Starshine):

 

I am nobody. Nobody is perfect. Therefore, I am perfect.

copyright: The Literary Dragon 2004