InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ The Man In Red ❯ Chapter 2 ( Chapter 2 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

It was dark when Inuyasha found himself at the old well house. The shrine grounds were dark and silent as he pushed the heavy wooden door open and stepped inside. He cradled Haru gently, remembering the last time he had brought her through the well. She had been about a year and a half old then. He had been convinced that her life would be better on this side of the well without him, even though it had been like ripping his heart from his chest. That had been a year ago, but it had felt like an eternity, and he hadn't been able to stay away for too long. Luckily his nagging need to know that Haru was alright had pulled him through the well. It was clear that she needed him as much as he needed her.

He hopped up on the edge of the well and peered down at the dark pit below before jumping in. He was greeted by the familiar blue light of the time slip for only a few moments before it dropped him on the bottom of the well, many years in the past.

He heard Haru hum liglty to herself, her little hands toying gently with his shirt. He smiled and pulled his haori tighter around her. It wasn't exactly a warm night. Home wasn't too far off from the well, tucked into the trees about a half mile from the village. It would be nice to be back, but Inuyasha knew he was expected somewhere else before they could call it a night.

He wizzed through the trees, letting the fresh air fill his lungs. It was nice being home. He had alwasy been bothered by the stink of modern Tokyo and never quite understood how the humans seemed oblivious to it. After a minute the trees gave way to farm land. The villagers were beginning the work of planting their crops of rice as spring advanced, the paddies, now flooded with water reflected the moonlight.

He didn't slow his pace as he entered the village. The watchmen were used to him by now though, and didn't bat an eye when he zipped passed, a momentary red blur in the light of their bonfire. He could make out his destination just ahead, the warm light of a fire glowing cheerfully through the window, and he landed softly on the other side of the gate.

"Inu-oji! Mama, Papa, Inu-oji is here!" he heard someone yell before the herd of children ran from the house to greet him.

"Inu-oji! You're late! We were worried you wouldn't make it for dinner!" Little Mine said, pulling insistantly on his coat.

"Mine, stop that. He doesn't come every night for dinner." Hana, her oldest sister scolded.

"Mama was a little worried though." Riku, Hana's twin sister amended.

"Inu-oji, where did you go? You didn't even say good bye! Did you bring us anything?" Satoru, the only boy in the large family asked.

"Okay, hold on. It just so happens that I did bring something back with me, but it isn't necessarily for you." Inuyasha chuckled, feeling Haru tuck herself deeper into his neck. She remained hidden from view by his mane of hair and his voluminous red sleeves for the time being.

"Alright everyone, let Inuyasha breathe!" Their mother scolded, leaning out the door. She rested one of her hands on her growing belly and smiled at her old friend. "Come on, dinner's ready and your father is starving. I can't promise he won't eat it all before you sit down."

Inuyasha followed the gaggle of children as they scrambled back inside. Sango stopped him at the doorway with a hand on his shoulder, and he nodded. "You had me worried. I'm glad you're back from where ever it was you went."

"Keh. I'm gone for a few hours and everyone panics." Inuyasha snorted. Haru wiggled slightly, and he casually shifted her weight. Sango gave him a penetrating look.

"You're up to something, aren't you?" she accused.

"I'm not up to anything." He lied, offering a friendly smile.

"Then what are you hiding under your coat, huh?" Sango reached over and pulled his sleeve away, revealing Haru snuggled against his shoulder. She gasped and stepped back. Clearly she hadn't been expecting that. "Inuyasha..." she covered her mouth with her hand, tears welling in her eyes. "Is that..?" He smiled and nodded. "Oh my god! She's so big!" Sango cried. "Don't just stand outside you idiot! It's cold out there. The poor darling is going the freeze to death!" She scolded, pulling him inside.

"Mama, why are you crying?" Mine asked innocently from her seat at the low dinner table. Sango used the towel she had resting over her shoulder to dry her eyes.

"It's alright dear, they're happy tears. Your Inu-oji has wonderful news!" Sango gushed, letting out another bout of tears. "Damn these pregnancy hormones." she muttered under her breath.

"Why Inuyasha. It's nice of you to join us!" Miroku greeted from his seat across the room. "Sango was just saying I could eat your share if you didn't show up."

"Don't listen to him Inuyasha. I never said that." Sango told him, shooting her husband a dour look.

Haru choose that moment to make her presence known, and fussed a little. The sound was soft, but nobody in room had missed it.

"What was that?" Satoru asked, his young face screwed into a curious expression. Well, the jig was up. Inuyasha sighed, rolled his eyes and squatted down at his usual seat at the table. He set Haru's bag against the wall behind him.

"It's not a what. It's a who." he corrected, opening his jacket so Haru was perfectly visible.

"It's a baby!" Mine squealed, scrambling for a closer look. "Awe, she's so cute! Inu-oji, she looks just like you!"

"Mine, that's Haru. Don't your remember?" Sango asked, carefully lowering herself to the floor.

"No, I don't remember." Mine answered.

"She's Inu-oji and Kagome-chan's baby girl." Hana reminded pointedly.

"Well, she is a bit bigger now." Riku pointed out.

"Well now. What a pleasant surprise. Is everything alright with Kagome-san's family?" Miroku wondered as he lifted one of the children's bowls from the table.

"Does something have to be wrong for Inuyasha to bring his daughter home?" Sango snapped.

"Why of course not." Miroku back peddled. "It's just—never mind. I'm happy for you my friend. Now can we eat?"

There was a sudden sound of clattering stoneware as everyone scrambled to get a helping of stew and rice. Inuyasha settled Haru in his lap as Sango set a bowl of food on the table before him. "Would you like some food too sweetheart?" she asked Haru.

The toddler squeaked and hid her face in Inuyasha's shirt. "She can have some of mine." he told her.

"Are you sure?" Sango asked. "We have plenty here."

"Thanks Sango. I'm not that hungry."

"Alright. You're going to want a spoon though." she said, offering up the carved wooden utensil. "Just trust me. Two year olds aren't the cleanest eaters." She explained before taking a bite of her own dinner.

The hanyou shrugged, but took the offering anyway. He ladled some of the warm stew into the spoon and blew on it before offering it to Haru. She sniffed it tentatively, then opened her mouth, letting him feed her a bite. She chewed it slowly, humming with satisfaction, then opened her mouth again.

Inuyasha chuckled. "You want more huh?" Haru nodded enthusiastically. He ladled more into the spoon, blew on it, then gave her a second bite.

"Yummy." She enthused, clapping her little hands together. "More!"

"She can talk!" Mine gasped, letting a bit of rice fall in her lap mid bight.

"You started talking about that age." Miroku said.

"And she never stopped." Satoru snorted.

"Hey!" Mine pouted, glaring daggers at her older brother. "I can stop talking any time I like, thank you very much!"

"Then what's stopping you?" Satoru asked.

"Satoru. Stop teasing your little sister and eat." Sango warned, turning to put some rice in her bowl. Mine used the chance to stick her tongue out at her older brother in a satisfactory taunt.

"Mine, put your tongue back in your mouth." Sango added without turning her head. The girl quickly pulled her tongue back inside and busied herself with her dinner.

Inuyasha watched his friend in amazement. How in the world had she known what was going on behind her back? Sango turned to him smiling knowingly.

"I've got eyes on the back of my head." Sango answered his unspoken question. "Don't worry. You'll get yours soon enough. She might still be little, but she'll give you a run for your money."

"Keh. I think I can handle it." Inuyasha snorted. "I made it through those first few months after she was born. After that, this should be a breeze."

Both Sango and Miroku laughed, loudly. "You'll eat your words soon enough." Miroku chortled. "They're chaos in potential wrapped in a sweet baby face at that age."

"Remember when Riku and Hana were still little?" Sango reminded. Inuyasha frowned, remembering all of those hours of ear tugging and hair pulling.

"I'd rather not." he admitted sourly. He hadn't noticed that Haru had taken it upon herself to grab the bowl of rice from the table. It wobbled precariously before tipping over the edge, dumping the sticky white grains into both of their laps. Haru happily grabbed a handful of rice in each hand and stuffed some into her mouth.

Inuyasha growled lightly, not pleased with the mess now covering his lap. Haru looked up, her chubby little cheeks stuffed with food and smiled, lifting her other fistful of rice to his mouth. "Eat Papa!" She said, putting the food to his lips. Inuyasha rolled his eyes. How the hell was he supposed to be mad when she did things like that?

This time Miroku couldn't contain his laughter, and almost fell backward from his seat.

"At least that wasn't the stew." Sango said, doing her best to hide her own amusement.

Inuyasha took some of the rice into his mouth, and Haru lowered her hand, satisfied that he had gotten enough before grabbing another two fistfuls. She stuffed the first one into her mouth again, then offered him the other. "No thank you." he said calmly. "You eat it baby girl."

Haru glared up at him, and angrily stuffed the rice into her mouth.

"Oh my. Isn't she just like her Mama?" Sango mused. "Here, I'll take her so you can clean up." Sango said, reaching for the toddler without a second thought. Haru's eyes went wide as she stared up at the unfamiliar face, then looked back at her father as he stood up and shook the mess from his pants.

"Papa!" She cried, reaching for him.

"It's alright. I'm right here." He said dismissively.

Sango smiled at the little girl. "It's okay. See, I'm a mama. Those are my babies." she said softly, pointing across the table at her children.

"Hi Haru." Mine said, crawling behind Inuyasha to sit at her mother's side. "I'm Mine." she took Haru's smaller hand in her own.

"No touch!" Haru yelped, snatching her hand away.

"I was just trying to be nice." Mine grumbled, dropping her hands back to her lap.

"It's alright, Mine. She just doesn't know you yet. Would you like it a stranger grabbed your hand?" Sango asked.

"I guess not." the girl agreed. "Maybe she would like to play with one of my toys!"

"That's very thoughtful, but you need to see if it's alright with Inuyasha first."

Mine turned to the adult hanyo, who was still trying to get the last bits of rice from his pants, and gave him the biggest smile. "Can she Inu-oji?"

"Sure. Something tells me she's done eating anyway." he decided, sitting himself back down to finish what was left of his dinner.

"I'm not hungry any more Mama. Is it alright if I go get my ball?" Mine asked politely. Sango nodded, and the little girl scampered off to another room.

"I'm done too Mama, may I be excused?" Riku asked.

"Of course, as long as you and your sister help me clear the table later."

"Thank you Mama." and with that the oldest two left.

"What about me?" Satoru whined, crossing his arms over his chest. "I'm done too. Can't I go?"

"Of course you can son." Miroku said.

"Can I go to the bon fire? Ichiro and Kenji are going?" Satoru asked.

"Fine. But don't be gone too long!" Miroku agreed, yelling after the boy as he disappeared through the front door. Mine returned from the other room with her ball, and showed it to Haru.

"Would you like to play?" she asked, offering her the ball. Haru took the toy between her hands and studied it.

"Okay." she finally agreed, pushing herself to her feet.

"Here Haru. We can play in my room." Mine said, gently guiding the toddler toward the door.

"Be gentle Mine. She's still little." Miroku called after her.

"Okay Papa! I will!"

"Finally some peace!" Miroku sighed, patting his stomach. "Dinner was delicious as always, Sango my love." he added. "I think I'll head down to the bonfire and see what Satoru is up to." and with that he got up and left.

"Well, that was exciting." Sango exclaimed, breaking the silence that had settled over the room.

"That's an understatement. " Inuyasha snorted, putting his empty bowl on the table. "Thanks for dinner Sango."

"You're welcome. You know that you and Haru are welcome anytime." Sango offered, rubbing her pregnant belly absently.

"I appreciate the offer, but I can cook you know."

Sango smiled. "I know you can. I'll send you home with the left overs anyway. Maybe a few new recipes for you to try too."

"I guess it couldn't hurt." Inuyasha shrugged, scratching his chest.

"I really am happy for you Inuyasha. I'm glad you decided to bring her home."

"Me too. I just hope I don't screw up. I'm not great at this parenting stuff."

"Cut that out." Sango chided. "You seemed to take to it pretty easily when she was first born."

"Babies are easy. It's not hard when all they do is lay there. She's a little older now if you hadn't noticed. And I did miss an entire year of her life." His ears drooped low.

Sango waved her hand dismissively. "Pfft. You were there when she first crawled, and when she first waked, and her first word. You thought you were doing what was best at the time. That's all any of us really can do. She seems to adore you, anyway."

"If you say so."

"MAMA! Inu-oji!" Mine bellowed loudly from down the hall. A moment later she came stomping in, holding Haru at arms length. "Mama, she wet her yukata!"

"Lemego!" Haru yowled, squirming to get free of Mine's grip. The older girl decided she'd had enough of the toddler, and plopped her down none too gently and stomped off. Haru pushed herself up and toddled over.

"I think I'm done playing now!" Mine huffed.

Inuyasha groaned. It had been a long while since he had changed a diaper. He gave Sango a helpless glance. She shook her head and sighed. "Alright, I'll help you this once. After this you're on your own though." She managed to push herself to her feet. "Strip her down. I've got some old clothes from when Mine was smaller." she said, waddling her way to the back.

"Uh-oh. All wet. " Haru whimpered pitifully, reaching her tiny hands upward.

"You said it. Let's get you out of those wet things." he said, stripping her down to her skin. "I think you need a bath little one." he muttered to himself. Haru's eyes grew wide, and before he knew it, she was running. She had just about made it out the front door before he managed to scoop her up with one arm and bring her back inside. "Where do you think you're going?" He asked.

"No bath! No wanna bath!" she wailed, pushing his arms away with what strength she could muster. When that didn't work she turned to hitting him with her hands. Of course, she couldn't hurt him, but still, the behavior wasn't appreciated. He growled, grabbing one of her little arms in his hand. "You don't hit. You got that?"

"No! NOOOOO!" She screamed lounder, using her other hand instead.

"We haven't been here more than a few hours kid, and you're already testing my patience."

"She's probably just tired, Inuyasha." Sango said as she waddled back int the room. "Here, I brought a wet cloth and some clean clothes. Would you like some help?"

"Please." came his clipped reply. "I'm clearly not doing this right."

"You're doing fine. Trust me." She said, handing him the wet cloth. "Be gentle, but firm." she coached.

Inuyasha nodded his head and took a deep breath, waiting for Haru to quit her tantrum. It took a litte while, but finally she calmed down. "Okay, are you done now?" He asked, looking Haru in the eye. She sniffled, but nodded obediently. "Good. I'm going to put you down, and you're going to hold still, got it? You pull that stunt again, and I will swat you."

"Okay Papa." she answered, adding another sniffle for good measure. Inuasha rolled his eyes, and sat her down on the foor, accepting the wet cloth from Sango.

Haru stood still while she was washed clean. She hadn't done it quietly though, earning herself a warning swat on the behind. Inuyasha felt guilty as soon as he'd done it, but he hadn't known what else to do. He made a mental to only use it again as a last resort. In any case, Haru had held still long enough to get washed up and dressed in clean clothes.

She yawned a big yawn and leaned against her father's chest. He blew a frustrated breath between his teeth and picked her up, then went to grab the soiled clothes. Sango stopped him with a shake of her hand.

"You can leave those here. I'll wash them for you." she told him. He quirked a dark brow questioningly. "Don't you give me that look, or I might not decided to be nice next time. I'm doing laundry tomorrow anyway. You've got enough on your hands for now. Go home. Put Haru to bed."

"Thanks Sango."

"Yeah, well remember that the next time I need some time to myself." She teased.

"I can barely handle my own kid. You think I could handle all of yours?" He sputtered. Sango laughed dryly.

"I wasn't talking about the kids Inuyasha. But don't tempt me."

The hanyo gulped and quickly grabbed Haru's bag before Sango went back on her word. "Good night." he called over his shoulder.

"Good luck!" Sango called back.

Inuyasha was relieved that Haru had fallen asleep on the way home. He managed to sneak quietly inside, and had her all but tucked into bed when suddenly she was wide awake.

"Where puppy?" she asked.

"I've got it here in the bag." he explained as he reached over and unzipped it. Inuyasha's heart sank when he realized that it wasn't in there. He had the clothes Sango had given them, and a few other things, but not one hide nor hair of that stuffed dog.

"I'm sorry Haru. I can't find it. I must have left behind at dinner. We can go back and get it tomorrow, okay?"

That had been the wrong thing to say, because immediately, she began to cry. Not just cry, but scream loud, ear ringing, roof shaking cries. So he picked her up and held her against his shoulder, bouncing and rubbing her back in a fultile attempt to calm her down while scanning the foor for it. Secretly he cursed the day he'd seen the stuffed dog, as now it was the bane of his exsistance.

The first night in, and he'd already done the two things Sota had warned him about. It was a good thing he didn't need much sleep, because at this rate he sure wasn't going to get any.

A few minutes later there was a knock at the door. Inuyasha growled, ready to punch whoever dared bother him now. "What do you want?" he snapped, swinging the reed mat out of the way.

Miroku blinked, then grinned from ear to ear. "I walked all the way here bring this to you, but if you're going to be like that I might as well take it home with me." he said, holding up the stuffed dog.

Haru's wails hadn't quieted, and at this rate even from a half mile away she could quite possibly wake everyone in the village. "Just give that to me." he snapped, making to grap the toy. Miroku moved it behind his back and waggled his finger. "Tch, tch Inuyasha. Not very grateful of you."

"Just give it to me already. You want her to wake up the whole damn village?" he hissed, murder in his eyes.

"Alright. I can see you're despirate." Miroku conceded, handing the toy over. Inuyasha snatched it up and quickly offered it to his scream child.

It was like magic as soon as her eyes layed on that puppy. She hugged it to herself, sunggling against his shoulder and fell asleep as if nothing had been wrong just a moment ago.

"Not even a thank you?" Miroku asked, feigning a disappointed pout, but the mischivious twinkle never left his eye.

"Just shove it why don't you." Inuyasha snapped. There was no way in hell he was going to let the monk have the satisfaction. "Tell Sango I said thank you for helping me earlier. Now get lost before I punch your smug face."

"Alright." Miroku shrugged. "Good night my friend, and good luck. You are going to need lots of it." He added as he headed down the path towards his own home.

Inuyasha swung the matting closed, glad that everything was finally quiet. Hopefully now everyone could get some sleep before sunrise.