InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity Redux: Fruition ❯ Civil Unrest ( Chapter 5 )

[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
~~Chapter Five~~
~Civi l Unrest~

~o~


"Why are you holding that baby?"

Ben blinked and looked up as Myrna Loy stepped into the bright and airy kitchen, only to stop short at the sight of him, sitting at the table like he did every morning, but this time, he was busy holding Emmeline and feeding her a bottle.  "Good morning, Myrna," he greeted pleasantly despite the wide yawn that abruptly cut him off.

"Cute baby," she allowed with a shake of her head.

"You say that like it's a bad thing," Ben pointed out, arching an eyebrow to emphasize his point.

"It's a baby," she stated, as though that was enough of a reason for her unabashed disdain.

Breaking into a wan smile at the unholy way Myrna uttered the word 'baby', he rolled his eyes.  "You make it sound like she's a highly contagious disease," he pointed out dryly.  "Not a baby-person, are you?"

Making a face, she dropped into the chair beside him after scooting it a little farther away.  "Not really, no," she stated.  "They do gross things, like puke and poo . . . If they came out potty trained and ready for boarding school, then it'd all be fine; just fine."

"Yes, well, I can do without the latter reminder, if you please," Ben replied ruefully.  Given that his first very experience with a diaper was one of those kinds, he had very nearly reached for his cell phone at the time to demand that Zelig come back.

Staring at him for a long moment, she looked entirely too thoughtful, too pensive.  "I can't decide if it disturbs me more to see you sitting there, feeding that baby or that you're doing it in that towel," she admitted at length.  "I'm pretty sure that things like that are against the law in at least forty-nine of the fifty states . . ."

Glancing down at his usual morning-wear, he chuckled.  Truthfully, he was in the middle of altering the habit by getting dressed before he came down for breakfast until the twins woke up hungry, demanding their own meal in a series of high pitched whines and pathetic little whimpers.  He had already fed and changed Nadia, who was currently sleeping in the portable crib nearby, and judging from the way Emmeline was struggling to keep her eyes open, she'd be joining her sister in short order.

Setting the almost-empty bottle aside, Ben got up and carefully deposited Emmeline beside her sister, but only after brushing a kiss on her downy head.  Then he sat back down and reached for his mug of coffee, draining it in a series of long swallows since it was already half-cold.  "So tell me what brings you by this morning, Myrna?" he asked, flipping his wrist outward to allow easier access for Eddie to refill the cup.

"Same thing that brings her by every morning, Ben," Eddie grouched.  "She's hoping you'll drop that towel."

Myrna laughed as Ben slowly shook his head.  "Well, there is that, too . . ." she drawled.  Sparing a moment to eye him up carefully, she chuckled.  "I'm right in assuming that you're doing the Scottish warrior under there?"

He felt the corners of his lips twitching as he struggled not to laugh outright.  Clearing his throat, he shook his head.  "Would you like to see, Myrna?"

"Not in front of those babies, Ben Philips," Eddie grouched as she slipped his breakfast onto the table.

"Sorry," he told Myrna, hiding his amusement behind the rim of his coffee mug.

Myrna rolled her eyes but winked.  "All right," she relented as she hefted her bag off the floor below the table to fish out a slim-file and hand it over with a flourish.  "I'm not sure if they'd be interested, but I was told that this couple was asking an associate of mine recently about adoption."

Ben set the mug aside and reached for the file, unable to reconcile the strange sense of reluctance, of foreboding that seemed to rattle through him.  "Thanks," he said, setting the plastic folder aside and turning his attention to his food.  "I'll look at it later."

Standing up, Myrna shouldered the bag and paused long enough to empty her coffee mug.  "No problem.  Anyway, I've got to go.  Gunnar called and said he wanted me to check into a few things, and you know how much that particular puppy hates to be kept waiting . . ."

Ben nodded as Myrna headed out of the room.  "Bye, Eddie!  Excellent coffee, as usual!"

"Hrmph," Eddie muttered.  "Why is she bringing over files of someone wanting to adopt those girls, I'd like to know," she went on, planting her fist on her waist as she pinned Ben with a no-nonsense scowl.  "They've got a home right here!"

"Well . . ." Ben drawled as the woman tossed a sponge into the sink and quickly washed her hands.  "It . . . It was kind of a spur-of-the-moment decision . . ."

"They're just what this house needed, I say!" she insisted as she hurried around the counter to check on the sleeping girls.  Carefully scooping them up, she caught Ben's amused stare and snorted indelicately.  "They were already awake," she insisted, swaying in place to quiet the whimpers at the sudden interruption of their morning nap.  "Anyway, you should tell that Myrna not to come over anymore."

"Why's that?"

Eddie rolled her eyes.  "No telling what kind of diseases she'd pass on to these two.  In case you hadn't noticed, that woman's nasty!"

Ben chuckled.  "Myrna's harmless, and she's a great help," he told her as he stood up and turned toward her.

He started to hold out his hands until Eddie strode across the room.  "You need to go get some clothes on, Ben," she chided.  "Then I'll think about letting you take them."

Shaking his head since he knew damn well that he was beaten, he paused to grab the slim-file off the table before striding out of the room, heading for the stairs.

'Good God, did we get any sleep last night at all?' his youkai-voice asked dryly.

'Very little.'

'Hmm . . .'

That was true enough, Ben thought as he took the steps, two at a time.  It had taken way too long to put together those cribs, but he'd also learned a valuable lesson, too.  Charity Inutaisho knew more about using a screwdriver than Ben ever would because in the end, she's the one who had actually managed to get the stupid things together while Ben leaned against the wall with both babies asleep on his chest.  In the end, he wasn’t entirely sure if he should have been completely impressed or utterly mortified . . .

Too bad the girls refused to use those cribs.  About the second he put them down just after Charity left, Nadia's crying commenced so loudly that the sound could have easily caused Mt Rushmore to crumble into dust if exposed to the deafening squalls for more than fifteen minutes, and, of course, Emmeline couldn't sleep, not with that ruckus, so she'd rivaled Nadia in both volume and pitch.  In the end, Ben had taken the girls with him into his room, laying them on his bed beside him where they'd finally, blessedly, gone to sleep.  For two hours.  Then they were hungry again and needed diaper changes.  And that was the story of his night . . .

Dropping the towel as he crossed the threshold of his bedroom, Ben tossed the slim-file onto the bed in passing as he strode over to the walk-in closet as he stretched his arms up over his head, leaning from side to side as he kept moving.  Surprisingly, he didn't have a lot on his plate for the day—a meeting with Moe Jamison in the early afternoon just to see what was going on with the researchers that he had been keeping tabs on in the years that had passed since Samantha Draven's unceremonious capture and subsequent torture.  It was fairly routine, but since Moe was in the area at a tech expo, he'd offered to stop by.

Grabbing the first pair of pants he laid hands on—a faded and well-worn pair of blue jeans that he couldn't remember buying, it'd been so long ago—and a nondescript white dress shirt that was slightly larger than his usual tailored ones, he tugged the garments on, sparing a moment to button the bottom three buttons before calling it good.  He stepped out of the closet, turning up the sleeves twice on each side as his gaze fell on the slim-file once more, and he frowned.

Settling on the edge of the bed, he lifted the file and pulled it open.  It took less than a minute to boot, and Ben frowned at the image of a very nice-looking couple.  He flipped his finger over the screen to get to the next page of the document and frowned as he read through the dossier.  'Jane Rightmore-Douglass and Denny Douglass,' he read.  'Married June 24, 2050, living in Pleasant Hill, Connecticut . . . a preschool teacher and a state trooper . . .'

Raking a hand through his hair, Ben let the file dangle from his fingertips as he considered the options.  He should give them a call, find out first and foremost if the couple was interested, and if they were, would they consider taking the twins.  He should call them.  He just didn't want to . . .

'Even if you call them, the chances that they're willing to consider twins isn't guaranteed, and you've seen for yourself just what those who would think of the idea that their father challenged Zelig.  Give them a call.  They're probably the same as everyone else.'

'Call them . . . Right . . .'

Before he could talk himself out of it, Ben grabbed his cell phone off the nightstand and keyed in the number in the file.  Snapping the file closed with one hand and connecting the call with the other, he stood up, paced the floor while he waited for someone to answer.

"Hello?"

Clearing his throat once, twice before his voice would work, Ben drew a deep breath.  "Hello, my name's Ben Philips.  I'm looking for either Jane or Denny Douglass?"

"I'm Jane," she said.  "Can I help you?"

Taking a second to gather his thoughts, Ben continued to pace.  "I'm calling on behalf of the tai-youkai's office . . . I've been told that you and your husband are interested in adopting a child?"

"Oh, yes!" she blurted, a breathlessness entering her tone.  "Do you have one?"

He sighed.  "That's what I wanted to discuss with you.  We have twins, actually: twin cougar youkai infants—girls.  They . . . They need fairly immediate placement."

"Twins?" she echoed, her voice taking on a slightly dazed sort of intonation.  "Wow, twins . . ."

"I understand if twins would be too much for you," he hurried to say, tamping down the misplaced feeling of instantaneous relief that shot through him.  "One baby is a lot of work, and two at the same time . . . Well, it's almost insanity."

The woman was silent for a moment.  Then she drew a deep breath and let it out—not a sigh, exactly—more of a brisk exhalation.  "My husband's at work right now, Mr. Philips . . . Can I talk it over with him this evening and call you back tomorrow?"

Ben's frown deepened.  "There is something else that I should tell you about them," he went on slowly.  "Their father . . .  He challenged the Zelig.  I just thought you should know."

"O-Oh . . ."

"In any case, take all the time you need to talk it over with your husband and give me a call when you've made a decision, one way or the other.  If you decide to consider it, then we'll discuss the next step."

"Right," she said.  "Thank you for calling."

"Have a good day, Mrs. Douglass."

Tapping the button to end the call, Ben scowled as he headed out of the bedroom once more.  Sure, Jane Douglass had sounded pleasant enough over the phone.  Jack the Ripper could sound pleasant over the phone, though.  It didn't mean anything, not really . . .

'Before you get all bent out of shape, Ben, wait to see if they call back, won't you?  Chances are they won't be as interested as they might have been otherwise.'

'I know; I know,' he told himself.

'If they call back, then we'll dig around and see if they're really serial killers, after all.'

The attempt at humor was lost on Ben as he ran down the steps and back toward the kitchen, but the sound of the doorbell brought him up short, and he spun around to answer it.

"H-Hi," Charity said, her cheeks pinking as she stepped back just a little.  She was holding a bunch of bags of varying sizes and shapes, and she held them up as her timid smile widened just a little.  "I should have called first, but, um . . ."  Holding up the bags, she gave them to him and stepped back once more.  "They're for the girls," she explained.  "I didn't know if you had any clothes, so . . ."

He chuckled.  "Would you like to come in?"

She looked surprised for a moment.  "Oh, well, I . . . Uh . . . I'm not imposing, am I?"

"You're never an imposition, Charity."

Her cheeks darkened to a very becoming shade of rose, but she nodded and stepped into the townhouse when Ben moved out of her way.

"How are the girls?"

He shot her a grin, shifting all the bag handles into one hand so that he could grab her hand and drag her through the townhouse and into the kitchen.

"Good morning, sunshine!" she greeted softly, pulling away to hurry over and take Emmeline from Eddie.  "How are the beautiful babies today?"

Ben chuckled at Charity's silly display as he set the bags on the table and dug into the first one.  Dresses.  Lots of dresses: frilly dresses, casual dresses, and the gamut in between.  None of them matched, either—a fact that wasn't lost on Ben.  She wasn't big on dressing twins the same, huh?  He had to wonder if that stemmed from her own childhood with Chelsea . . . Setting the dresses aside, he opened another bag, only to find a bunch of onesies and sleepers, socks of every conceivable color and design, bibs—lots of bibs . . .

"I'll put that stuff away after I wash it all," Eddie said, inclining her head at the growing stack of clothes on the table.  "I have to go to the store first, though . . . Are you hungry?  Do you want me to make you some breakfast?"

Ben blinked.  It took him a moment to figure out that Eddie wasn't talking to him.  Nope, she was talking to Charity . . . nicely.

'Eddie's not nice to anyone, ever . . . not even Zelig, and he's the only one she's even slightly respectful toward, too,' his youkai pointed out.

'I . . . I know . . .'

"Uh, me?" Charity said, but only after glancing around, as though she might be seeing if there was someone standing behind her.

Eddie nodded.

"Oh, no, thank you . . . I would hate to be a problem," she replied, offering the housekeeper an uncertain but sweet little smile.

"It's not a problem," Eddie insisted, handing Nadia to Ben.  "Can I at least get you some coffee?  Juice?  Anything?"

"I'm fine," she said with a slight bow.  "But thank you so much for offering."

Eddie looked like she wanted to argue, but she didn't.  "I put two bottles on the counter," she told Ben, resuming her usual brusque tone, which just figured.  "Will you be having guests for dinner tonight?"

Ben narrowed his eyes when Eddie shifted her eyes to the side in a very blatant gesture at Charity.  He snorted.  "Charity, would you like to have dinner with me again?"

She looked like she was going to decline on principle, most likely.  He smiled and slowly shook his head.  "I'd love for you to join me as long as you don't have previous plans."

"O-Oh . . . Okay, then," she said before turning her attention back to the infant in her arms.

Ben snorted softly, just loudly enough for Eddie to hear it.  "Yes, Eddie, Miss Inutaisho will be joining us for dinner, after all."

"All right," she said, turning on her heel and heading toward the other side of the kitchen and the doorway that led to the back of the townhouse where her rooms were located.  "I won't be long."

Ben watched her go, slowly shaking her head in abject disbelief.  "She likes you," he stated flatly.

Charity blinked and stared at Ben questioningly.  "Your housekeeper?  She's very nice."

He made a face.  "No, she's not," Ben argued.  "She's horrible.  She's terrible.  She has an awful temperament, actually.  She hates everyone—and I do mean everyone."  He shrugged.  "Well, everyone but you, apparently."

"But . . . she's your housekeeper," she said slowly.

Ben chuckled.  "She hates me most of all."

Charity looked entirely confused.  "But . . ."

"I pay her ridiculously well."

Charity slowly shook her head, but she did smile.  "Sometimes, you're a little strange, Ben," she remarked, which only served to heighten Ben's overall amusement.

Heaving a sigh as he stared at the clothing on the table, he shot Charity a calculating look.  "So . . ."

"So . . .?"

"Well, I can see that you've already been shopping this morning," he explained.  "You feel up to doing some more?"

"You need more things?"

He shrugged as he strode over to retrieve the bottles off the counter.  "I don't know, but I would assume so—like a stroller, perhaps?"

Charity giggled and took one of the bottles as she kicked a chair out so that she could sit down with Emmeline.  "I could do that," she allowed.  "Aside from the cribs and the changing table, what all do you have?"

Ben nodded at the bags that Charity had brought over.  "That's about it."  He sighed.  "Everything was rather spur of the moment.  To be honest, I wasn't planning on taking them at all, and I . . ." Trailing off for a moment, he shook his head slowly.  "I'm still not sure why I offered to take them . . . Anyway, Zelig didn't have anything other than the diaper bag for them when he stopped by here, so I'm guessing that I need to outfit an entire nursery for them."

"Wow," she breathed.  "I hope you have a lot of money, Ben.  Babies are expensive."

Ben chuckled and settled down to feed Nadia.  "It'll be fine," he assured her with a wink.

Somehow, it never occurred to him to tell her about the Douglasses.


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Final Thought from Charity:
Eddie likes me …?
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Blanket disclaimer for this fanfic (will apply to this and all other chapters in Fruition):  I do not claim any rights to InuYasha or the characters associated with the anime/manga.  Those rights belong to Rumiko Takahashi, et al.  I do offer my thanks to her for creating such vivid characters for me to terrorize.

~Sue~