Another big thank you to my wonderful beta, she really socked it to me for this one. Ahaha, any mistakes you see, it’s my fault because I kinda, sorta, rearranged things after it was edited. xP Just a teeny weeny bit...sighs*
Chapter 8: Meeting
Kagome sipped her cup of coffee as she stared into the empty seat in front of her. She sighed as her phone rang; Here comes the music ... Setting down her cup, she took a deep breath before picking up.
“I’m alright Sango, really. You should get some sleep.” Kagome didn’t even bother with the formalities.
“Where the hell are you?!” Sango demanded, obviously irritated.
“At Café Bistro. ” she replied nonchalantly.
“Café Bi-bistro!? I've been looking for you all morning. You could've left a fuckin msg or something!” she stuttered, outraged, “I was worried sick,” her voice turned soft.
“I’m fine, it’s not like I’m going to do anything drastic. You know me better than that.” Kagome tried to sound convincing.
“You’re getting a zero on your test.” Sango pointed out bluntly.
Kagome shrugged, “I figured.” There was a moment of silence.
“So where are you headed now...?” she had calmed down, worry replacing anger.
“I’m planning to go visit the daycare center a couple blocks down, before heading back to the campus. You know... the one I sometimes volunteer at?”
“Okay...” Sango hesitated, “but if you don’t pick up my calls again, I have 911 on speed dial number one.”
“Aw, you replaced me?,” Kagome let out a small laugh, “Okay, bye.”
“Bye...” Sango listened for the soft click before hanging up. Please be all right, she prayed as she flopped on her bed. Sango's eyes drifted shut and instantly she was asleep.
. . .
“Shippo, I’m going to work now. Stay here and don’t go anywhere, okay?” Inuyasha bent down so that they were eye level. “There’s food in the fridge and my number is on the table. Don’t. Go. Anywhere.” He ruffled Shippo’s hair before he shut the door.
Shippo got restless as his curiosity peaked and boredom took over, he spotted a little ball in the corner of the room and ran to play with it. It rebounded off the floor and flew out of his reach, it bounced against the wall before knocking a vase over with a loud crash. The front door suddenly slammed open, startling Shippo. He scrambled on the couch and pulled a small blanket over his head, silently hoping it would make him invisible.
“Aw, Shippo! Couldn’t you just watch some TV?” Inuyasha didn’t really leave after he closed the door; he stood beside it and waited. Just in case. Inuyasha kissed his teeth as he swept up the broken pieces and threw them into a garbage bag. “Try not to touch anything,” he said in an exasperated tone, as he glanced back at the bundle on the couch. Inuyasha headed out the door with the garbage bag in hand, he didn't wait for a response, he never did. Inuyasha had convinced himself that talking just wasn't Shippo's thing.
. . .
Shippo sat under the covers with a pout. He remained seated as the door slammed shut. When he was sure Inuyasha was gone, he got up to leave, grabbing the sheet on the table on his way out.
Shippo opted for the stairs instead of the elevator, who knew which floor he would land on. He knew how to operate stairs. Shippo looked at the numbered doors curiously are he passed by. 10 ... 9... 8... 7... he peeked through each door, hoping to see the lobby. When he finally reached the lobby and out the door, his stomach growled. Oh no.. He palmed his stomach, rubbing it in small circles as he glanced around for food. Shippo spotted a small street vendor down his far right and it smelled heavenly. He took off full speed but skidded to a halt when he pulled out empty pockets. His shoulder slumped forward dejectedly as he turned and walked away.
. . .
Kagome brought some pastries from the café before leaving. Children love sweet pastries.
She skipped down the streets, humming a soft tune as her bag swung back and forth in her hand. She didn’t know where she first heard the song, but it was comforting. Plus the thought of playing with the little kids just made her day brighter.
Kagome sighed, stopping to a steady pace, Well, aren’t I handling this well. She shook her head, temporarily clearing her mind; there was a lot to figure out, but not at the moment. She didn’t want to bring worry to anyone.
Kagome grinned as she neared the little daycare, she could already hear loud laughter and squeals coming from inside. She giggled as she pulled open the door, listening for the soft jingle of the doorbell. “Hey everyone.” Twelve pair of eyes turned to look at her, there was silence before loud yells of, “Hi ‘Gome,” and “Whatchu bring for us?” Some rushed up to hug her leg. Laughter bubbled from her as she dropped the bags and picked two up. “Oh, I missed you guys so much!” she piped happily before placing loud kisses on their cheeks.
. . .
Shippo had been walking down the streets for a while now and the sun was almost setting. His stomach protested as he whimpered in hunger. He didn't know where he was, let alone his way home. Shippo passed by different shops and diners, glancing through windows. The sight of food only made him hungrier.
Faint screams and laughter that came from the next shop caught his attention. Various types of animals and butterfly stickers were stuck to the glass window and door. A large rainbow was painted in the middle with the words “Aiko’s Daycare” underneath. But of course, Shippo had no idea what it said. He dropped to his knees, staying hidden from the window, and shyly peeked inside. Many children were running around, some sat around a table, eating. The walls were painted different colors, one looked like they had finger painted on it. Hand drawn pictures and picture books were scattered everywhere. Reading tables were pushed back against the wall; shelves of stacked board games were almost empty. Watching the children run and fool around made Shippo smile. He wanted to play.
It wasn’t when he heard a shrill cry come from a little girl; he spotted Kagome. He could vaguely recognize her from the cemetery.
. . .
“Jiro! You have to stop pulling Airi’s hair! It’s not nice.” Kagome shook a finger at him, while soothing the little girl attached to her hip. Jiro stared at the ground as he stuck out his bottom lip. “Oh no, don’t give me that look little man,” Jiro didn’t move his head as his eyes rolled up to meet Kagome’s, “Sooorry Ms. Kagome. Sooorry Airi.”
“It’s okay!” the little girl was suddenly all better as she jumped out of Kagome’s arms. They ran off holding hands and laughing. Kagome shook her head and smiled as she looked around the room, she paused when she spotted a pair of bright eyes through the window. When his gaze met Kagome’s, it widened and ducked from the view.
Curiously, Kagome pushed open the front door to see a little boy hunched down on the floor, arms around his stomach. Aw, poor thing... but he doesn’t look homeless “Hey buddy, what’s your name?” She stepped outside and sat cross-legged in front of him.
“Shippo.” Kagome could barely hear him.
“Why are you alone? Where are your parents?” He stared at her for a moment before reaching into his pocket and pulling out Inuyasha’s phone number. His stomach growled in the silence.
“How about this, we go grab some fries and milkshakes and I’ll call your parents then.” He nodded wildly, obviously happy with the idea.
Kagome stood up and pulled open the door, “Aiko! I’m calling it a day. See you some time tomorrow?!” She heard a faint “Okay!” and turn to Shippo. “C’mon, let’s get going,” she offered him her hand. He eagerly grabbed it and pulled her down the street.
. . .
They walked together to the nearest Lick’s joint. They sold hamburgers and fries and ice cream. Kagome was all for veggies and greens but Shippo looked like he needed some satisfaction. “Two cheeseburgers, two medium fries, and two milkshakes. One chocolate, one strawberry.” Who doesn’t like chocolate milkshakes? Hopefully Shippo does.
Kagome paid for their food and went to sit in a booth near the windows. The chipped tables were painted cheap red, and the seats were a tacky lime green color. The restaurant was empty but it made it easier for conversation.
She placed the tray of food in front of him and watched as he grabbed a handful of fries and stuffed them in his mouth. He grasped the cup of milkshake and took a big gulp, washing it all down. It looked like he hasn’t eaten in years. Kagome took a bite from her hamburger as she watched him devour the last of his fries.
“So why are you out here alone?” Shippo was too deeply indulged in his food to hear her question.
“U-um.. Miss, do you have a pen and paper?” he suddenly asked in a timid voice.
“As a matter of fact, I do,” she reached into her bag and pulled out two pieces of paper and a pen. “What do you need it for?”
“Can you please write my name on that?” he pointed to one of the sheets.
“Of course I can,” Kagome couldn’t help but reach over and lightly pinch his cheeks.
“And also In-u-yash-a?” Shippo added with a blush.
Kagome froze and looked at Shippo, “Huh? Inuyasha?” Her heart broke all over again. He nodded shyly.
“Is he your daddy?” Shippo shrugged. Oh why me... I don't deserve this kind of torture! She moaned in misery.
Kagome snapped out of her self- pity and quickly wrote down the names when she caught Shippo's questioning look. He took a sip of his milkshake as he held onto the pen. She watched as he scribbled down some drawings and hand it back to her.
She couldn’t help but smile. He was so adorable! His hands grasped the table as he looked at her with wide, anticipating eyes. His legs swung happily under the table.“Do you think he will like it?” he asked earnestly. Kagome looked down at the paper. Small stars and suns bordered the sheet; it was similar to the ones that were taped outside the daycare. In the middle was a large rainbow, the spaces and lines uneven. Underneath, written in messy, squiggly writing was “Shippo + Inuyasha” with two smiley faces next to it. “He got mad at me today,” he frowned as he twiddled his thumbs.
“It’s beautiful. I’m sure he’ll love it.” She smiled, though a hint of that familiar heartache still leaked through. Shippo gave her a dimpled smile. That’s it, that’s all it took; she was officially in love with the little boy. “Okay, let’s go get some ice cream and I’ll call your daddy to come pick you up when we're done. How does that sound?” He stuck out a two little thumbs and nodded in agreement.
. . .
Imagine Inuyasha’s surprise when he arrived home to find the door unlocked. It was eight in the evening; he decided to leave work two hours early to check on Shippo.
“Shippo?” he called out. “Buddy?” Inuyasha slammed each bedroom and washroom door open, and looked under every bed and closet. “Come out Shippo, it’s not funny!” he cried out into the empty apartment. Inuyasha let out a frustrated growl as bounded into the elevators and out into the lobby.
“Have you seem a little boy about this height,” he gestured with his hand, “shaggy brown hair, big brown eyes, about eight years old?” The security lowered his magazine and looked at Inuyasha briefly before picking up a donut. “Yeah, I think so, sometime this morning. Cute kid.”
“And you let him leave? By himself?!” he slammed his hand on the counter before bounding out the door. “Useless shit.”
Inuyasha’s anger turned into fear as he bolted downed the streets, looking in every store that was still open. Stupid little kid! Inuyasha panted as he slowed how into a brisk walk, he raced by Lick’s and almost missed the two figures sitting by the window. What the hell?!
He yanked the entrance open and stormed up to their booth, “I didn’t know you’d stoop so low to abducting children!” he accused as he pulled at Shippo’s arm, hauling him off his seat.
“Would I treat the kids I abduct to hamburger and fries? And stay to eat ice cream with them?!” Kagome stood up angrily. She glimpsed around to see all the employees gawking at them, even the janitor. Kagome gave Inuyasha a dark look, “you’re hurting him!” she broke his grip off Shippo and picked him up, “let's talk outside.”
. . .
“Shippo, did I not tell you to stay at home?” Inuyasha paced as back and forth, holding back his anger. “Did I not tell you that?” Shippo whimpered and laid his head on Kagome’s shoulder, and stuck out a folded piece of paper.
Inuyasha glared at Kagome as he took the sheet of paper.
"You drew this?" his eyebrows rose in surprise, “f-for me?”
“Kagome helped,” Shippo replied meekly. As Inuyasha's attention snapped back to Kagome, his glare turned somewhat softer, “give him to me.” Inuyasha shifted Shippo in his arms until he was comfortable.
“Do you take every kid you see to Lick’s?” he asked gruffly, looking away.
“Only the ones I find outside a daycare who’s alone and starving.” Kagome retorted.
“You’re not getting a thank you.”
“Don’t need one.”
Inuyasha looked up, ready to snap at her, but she was gone, leaving him with only the frightened child and his thoughts.
. . .
“Wow, he has a son?” the shocked look on Sango's face mirroring her tone.
“I think so,” Kagome groaned into her hand, “can we not talk about this? I had a long night.” She rubbed her face and picked up her burrito. “So how’s Miroku?”
Sango let out a dramatic sigh, “I think I got rejected. He’s not picking up any of my calls.”
“Aw, it’s okay. We can still go to parties together.” Sango’s nose scrunched up disappointment.
“So what do you have planned for today?” Sango asked, looking around their crowded cafeteria.
“Going back to the daycare again.” Kagome didn't know how her friend would react. Maybe it looked like she was just running from her problems.
“You think I can come with you?” Kagome nodded. “It’s just some volunteer work, I'm sure Aiko won't mind.” She narrowed her eyes suspiciously as Sango sighed dreamily, “I can’t wait till I have my own children,”
“You’re only 21 Sango,” Kagome said pointedly, eying her friend with a raised eyebrow.
Sango gave her a ‘so what?’ look.
“Use protection,” Sango mocked Kagome in a high voice.
. . .
The girls giggled as they walked down the street toward the daycare.
“Mei did what?!” Kagome giggled behind her hand.
“Yeah! I know!” Sango doubled over in laughter. She looked up at Kagome when she suddenly stopped
“Look,” Kagome pointed to the daycare. Standing against the wall, with his leg propped up was Inuyasha.
“What does he want?” Sango glared at him as they neared
Inuyasha stood up when they came to a full stop in front of him, “I don’t want to owe you nothin’, so here,” he grabbed Kagome’s hand and slapped a 20 bill on it, “Shippo couldn’t have eaten more than that.” Short but straight to the point.
Kagome looked at Sango with a ‘oh no he didn’t’ look before turning to Inuyasha, “Look here mister,” she slapped the bill on his chest. “I don’t know about you but I’m not who you think I am,” her voice soft, “...anymore.” She roughly poked him on the shoulder as she continued, “So don't waste your time, I’m not going to ask an eight year old to pay me back.” She let out a ‘hmph’ and pulled open the front door. “Coming, Sango?”
. . .
“Yeah!” Sango cried in a snob voice, “Who do you think she is?” She gave a ‘hmph’ of her own and stomped on Inuyasha’s foot as she passed.
Kagome giggled as she watched Inuyasha curse and try to balance himself against the window.
“Was that really necessary?” the grin on her face betrayed the guilt in her voice.
Sango laughed as she placed her arm around Kagome’s shoulders, “of course it was.” She stuck out a foot, and wiggled her toes. “Stilettos baby, I just had to do it.”
. . .