Disclaimer: I own all three movies… but not the franchise itself.
"…" – speech
'…' – thoughts
--- - change in scenery, time or perspective
The Amazing Automatic Food Dispenser
Inuyasha stood on the hard pavement, scowling.
She'd said twenty minutes, damn it!
His ears twitched beneath the restricting baseball hat she always forced him to wear while in 'the city'.
Okay… so he didn't know exactly how long 'twenty minutes' was…
But it couldn't be as long as this!
Impatient, the irate hanyou paced along the hot sidewalk, attracting many a stare from passing pedestrians. While Inuyasha's ears were doubly covered- a baseball cap on top of a bandana-, his outfit was still hopelessly out of place in the twenty-first century.
He grumbled angrily.
Just why was he waiting, anyway?
The hanyou paused.
He knew why.
The shard hunting group had just returned to Kaede's village after another encounter with Naraku… several close shaves with various demons… another brush with a shard… and another visit from Kouga. Naturally, the visit from the annoyingly persistent wolf demon had set off Inuyasha's temper, and so Miroku wisely suggested the group take a rest.
However, for some reason, the latest confrontation with the prince of the wolves had left his rival in a visibly sulkier mood than usual.
Maybe it was because of the number of 'sit' spells he'd been put through.
Maybe it was because he hadn't been allowed to tear the 'wolf shit' to shreds.
Or maybe it was because Kagome had expressed severe displeasure with his actions… but really, how could he be blamed for trying to rip Kouga's arm off?
Whatever the reason, Inuyasha had been moody, withdrawn, and many other adjectives that would have lead Kagome to think he'd had PMS… if he'd been female.
Upon arriving at home base, the schoolgirl had carelessly suggested that she be allowed to go home. Naturally, the overprotective dog demon (or dog half-demon) had objected to this, but this time, Kagome had had a compromise: Why shouldn't Inuyasha visit home with her?
Perplexed by this new approach, the hanyou chose to go along with the plan- not that he wanted to go… he wasn't doing anything anyway, so why not keep a closer eye on the girl?
Upon jumping through the bone-eaters' well and five hundred years well into the future, the couple had had a hearty meal (mostly consisting of ramen for Inuyasha and oden for Kagome), and trotted off to bed (with Inuyasha sleeping in Souta's room).
Dawn didn't arrive early enough for the half-demon, and as soon as the first crack of light lit the kid's room, he dashed out and into where Kagome was. He would have been allowed in her room the previous night- if it weren't for the old man. He'd insisted the demon and miko sleep apart, thus dooming Inuyasha to a night of answering questions from an eager eight-year-old boy.
Inuyasha had successfully woken the sleeping girl… although jumping on her bed probably hadn't been the best of methods (he'd had to cover her mouth to muffle the shriek).
After getting over the initial shock, Kagome, surprisingly enough, hadn't been angry at Inuyasha. After all (she'd reasoned), maybe he was just eager about their trip into Tokyo…?
After a hurried breakfast and quick note to the sleeping family, the couple had quietly stolen out of the house. A quick bus ride (she'd had to stop him from destroying the 'big metal demon') and bullet train ("A metal serpent!") later, the two found themselves in the very heart of one of the most advanced cities of the world. Throughout the ride there, Inuyasha had been decidedly anxious to get away from the crowded spaces, nervous about the number of people surrounding him.
Understandably enough, though this wasn't the hanyou's first encounter with the wonders of the modern world, he was still slightly overwhelmed by the atmosphere of the place. Everything was… moving.
From the people to the flashing signs to the strange 'cars', everything was doing something and rarely anything stood still.
Not to mention, there was so much grey and so little green. Everything seemed to have been manufactured, and even some of the trees themselves were fake. The air was polluted, prompting Inuyasha to breath through his mouth rather than his nose.
For once, the hanyou was relieved to have his ears covered, or else the multitude of sounds and noises would just be too much.
It was so different from his world.
They'd toured around a bit, more for his benefit than hers, before she ran off to 'buy some supplies', leaving the hanyou stranded in a relatively quiet corner.
It was one of the few areas where there were few people. Two benches were positioned at a ninety-degree angle, cutting off an implied rest area. There was a stone pot holding a small, natural tree, and in the corner, there were a few strange rectangular boxes that were larger than Inuyasha himself.
What were they called again?
He thought back.
'Vending machines.' That's what they were.
Just how much time had passed?
The hanyou looked up towards a rectangle on the wall that had four red, glowing numbers on it. Kagome called it a 'clock' and had said it could tell him the time.
He looked at it hopelessly.
He couldn't read the numbers.
They were strange- foreign.
A straight line was followed by another line. Two dots separated them from the next set of numbers, which were an odd squiggle-like thing- sort of like a backwards 's', and it's flipped image.
It looked something like, '11:25'.
Whatever the hell that meant.
Inuyasha tapped his foot impatiently, his arms crossed. He ignored the looks he was getting, focusing instead on the 'clock'. He silently urged the numbers to change, knowing that the minutes passed with each change.
An idea struck him.
Maybe… if he made the damned thing go faster, Kagome would come back sooner?
A grin lifted a corner of Inuyasha's mouth.
He bent his knees and easily bounded off one of the benches to become level with the relatively high clock. Several people gasped and stared, noticing that he was wearing no shoes.
One awed young boy looked at his own sneaker-clad feet.
He looked back at Inuyasha, who by this time, had discovered that the numbers seemed to be covered by some sort of clear protective screen.
Bending down, the boy carefully removed his Nike brand running shoes. He reached out for his socks too, but after taking a glance at the dirty hard pavement, decided to leave them on.
The boy ran home with shoes in either hand, convinced that, really, he didn't need them.
After his discovery, the hanyou stared darkly at the glass and readied his claws.
He'd show the stupid thing.
Inuyasha cut himself short.
He could almost hear Kagome's voice in his head.
"Break anything, and you're never coming here with me again."
His ears drooped invisibly.
The hanyou lowered his hand and plopped onto one of the benches.
He didn't want to get her angry…
After a few more minutes passed, curiosity overrode Inuyasha's cautiousness, and he approached the 'vending machines' in the corner.
There were three of them in total.
One seemed to mostly carry those dried potato shavings Kagome always brought. Several brightly coloured bags flashed in the light. The half-demon reached out a hand for one of them, but again, there was that protective screen.
Inuyasha chose that he really hadn't wanted the 'chip' things anyway, and moved on to the second box.
This one didn't show what was inside. Instead, the bulging cover showed a larger-than-life bottle of pop; the same kind Kagome brought back.
The hanyou decided he really didn't want one of those either. He really didn't like the way the bubbles made him cough…
He moved on.
It was the last one that really caught his attention.
The cover was like the one of the pop machine- opaque. Except this one had a picture of something Inuyasha actually wanted…
Taking a chance, the hanyou took in a slow breath and discovered that, though it was faint, the scent of the noodles was there. It seemed to be coming from inside the box… if that was possible.
After all, wasn't ramen a hot meal?
Perplexed, Inuyasha examined the box carefully, looking for some way to make the ramen come out without breaking anything. He gingerly sniffed around the box, seeking for where the scent was strongest. The hanyou's nose lead him to the right side of the box, where, he saw, there were several protruding buttons and what appeared to be instructions.
Inuyasha leaned in close.
"Automatic… Food… Dis… Dis…" He paused. "Dispenser?"
He scratched his head with a perplexed expression on his face.
"What the hell is that?"
The half-demon thought about it.
Well, obviously, there was food inside, and if the thing was a 'dispenser', then the food would be assessable by people, right?
His gaze moved down to rest on the next row of characters. They were like the ones he recognised, only… different looking. Inuyasha paused, gathering up his knowledge of reading that he hadn't been able to use since his mother died.
"'Insert… coin into slot… Press button… Food pick up?'" He frowned, corrected himself. "'Pick up food.'"
The hanyou dug into the folds of his clothes, searching for the few coins he did have. They came mostly from Miroku, when the monk split the 'gifts' of his 'customers' amongst the rest of the group.
Inuyasha had taken to skipping the pieces of metal across the pond near Kaede's village.
Finally finding a coin, the hanyou carefully examined it before rolling it into what he assumed to be the 'slot'.
There was a strange noise.
And then it was quiet.
Inuyasha smirked and pushed the button with a picture of ramen beside it… he'd learned how to use the 'Automatic Food Dispenser' all by himself!
Nothing came out.
The half-demon frowned, bending down to peer into the small opening where the food was supposed to come.
Perplexed, Inuyasha walked to the side of the machine, looking for any other openings. Finding none, he proceeded to search the entire box for signs- any at all.
Finding nothing, the disappointed half-demon crouched in front of the machine, staring at it sullenly.
Hadn't he fed the thing?
Why wasn't he getting his food?
His gaze sharpened into a glare, and the hanyou glowered at the thing.
He sat there, unmoving, just staring, until…
"Umm… excuse me?"
Inuyasha started, jumping up in a second and spinning around quickly. He'd almost had his claws around the neck of the man who'd started him before the hanyou reined in his instincts.
'It's just a human…' He calmed himself. 'A weak, puny human.'
"…Excuse me?" The man, wearing a suit and glasses, looked at the strangely dressed boy. He inwardly shook his head. 'Kids these days… they'd dress in anything to make a statement.'
Inuyasha glared at the human. "What the hell do you want?" He stared at the man with a expression of mistrust on his face.
Luckily for him, the man wasn't in the mood for a fight. "If you could just…" He gestured towards the side. "I would like to get my lunch now." The man stared back, searching for some way to explain the youngster's behaviour. 'Abuse, maybe…'
The hanyou was about to object; to tell the man to find his own Automatic Food Dispenser, when a thought struck him.
Maybe… maybe this human could use the machine?
If he did, then he could watch and get his ramen…
A smirk grew on Inuyasha's face as he stepped to the side.
The man gave the hanyou a strange look before stepping up to the vending machine. In a few seconds, he'd inserted his change and pressed the button for the teriyaki chicken with long rice. After a few more seconds, his meal slid out onto a metal platform.
All the while, Inuyasha had watched closely, looking for something that he hadn't done.
The man took his food and bent down to retrieve his change as well.
Upon straightening, he paused, frowning into his hand.
The businessman turned around.
"Umm… Is this… yours?" He held out Inuyasha's coin.
The hanyou took it, a frown on his face.
The man stared at him. If he'd known better, he'd thought that this teenager had been trying to jam up the machine… but the expression on his face was of such genuine confusion…
"I don't think the machine accepts coins like that."
Inuyasha looked up. "What?"
The man gestured towards the coin in the hanyou's palm. "Those must be foreign. You need yen." He dug into his pocket and extracted some coins. "Like these."
The half-demon took a look at the coins and recognised them as the ones Kagome had used. He searched into his clothes… but found nothing.
His ears drooped beneath the covers.
It looked like he'd have to wait until Kagome came baa—
Inuyasha looked up, half-surprised.
The man was holding out the rest of his money.
He waved his hand impatiently. "Come on, take them. You look pretty hungry."
Inuyasha's stomach rumbled.
But still, he hesitated.
Why was this man giving him his money?
The human shook his head. "You don't look too healthy, kid." He reached for the boy's limp hand, noticing that his nails were sharp beyond anything he'd ever seen. "Just buy yourself some food, if nothing else."
And with that, the middle-aged man stuffed his coins into Inuyasha's hand and walked away, starting on his rice and chicken.
The half-demon watched the human's retreating back, unsure of how to think or what to do.
It was only when the man had almost disappeared from his sight that Inuyasha unstuck his throat.
Mixed feelings flooded his mind, but before they could confuse him, the hanyou shook his head.
He turned towards the food dispenser.
"Inuyasha!" Kagome rushed towards the red-clothed back. "Inuyasha! I'm so sorry!" She ran over to where the hanyou was sitting, who seemed to be crouched over something. "I ran into Houjo, and it took so long to get rid of him… I'm really sorry!" She caught her breath, bag swaying from one of her wrists. "Inuyasha?"
The schoolgirl frowned.
"Are you ignoring me?"
Slowly, the hanyou turned around.
She looked at what he was holding in his hands.
"Ramen? Where did you get ramen?" Kagome raised an eyebrow as her gaze found the vending machines. "Where on earth did you get the money to get it?"
Inuyasha mumbled, "From a human."
The girl crossed her arms as suspicion arose over his guilty expression. "You didn't… steal the money, did you?"
He looked up, aghast. "Bi- No! I didn't steal it!"
Kagome tilted her head. "Then… where?"
"I told you already." His tone was irritated. "A human gave it to me."
The girl looked at him, confused. "What…?"
Inuyasha scoffed and quickly told his story, letting out a certain few details. (She didn't need to know he'd missed her.)
By the time he'd finished, Kagome was sitting next to him. "So… why aren't you eating it?"
She noticed that he seemed to be in a less fiery mood than usual. "Is… anything wrong?"
The hanyou paused, looking at the now cold bowl of noodles. "I just… I just never… really have any pleasant memories of humans…" He hesitated. "I mean… other than you and… Miroku and Sango…"
She just looked at him, understanding.
"When I was a kid… they used to make fun of me… throw stuff…" Inuyasha's eyes became unfocused. "And when I grew older, they attacked me; called me monster…" He paused. "Not only me, but anybody who was a little different, they'd ridicule him… But this guy…" The hanyou took in a breath. "This guy I don't even know, he gives me his money and tells me to get some food…"
Kagome patted his shoulder. "So what's wrong with that?"
He looked at her and she was surprised to find that his eyes were no longer hard, but were filled with the innocence of a child. "So maybe… Maybe not all humans are bad?"
The girl was slightly taken back.
It was as if she were suddenly looking into the face of a younger Inuyasha who had just realised that the world was not that welcoming a place.
She smiled softly.
"Not all humans are bad."
He still had that child-like air about him as he demanded, "Then why do they make fun of others?"
Kagome sighed and gingerly placed her free hand on his. "Some people are just jerks, Inuyasha. Ignore them." She shrugged slightly. "But there are still lots of nice people out there." She looked down into her lap. "You can't judge a person- or an entire race just because a few jerks."
There was a pause of silence before she chanced to look at him again.
The girl was once again, looking into the face of the adolescent Inuyasha, although it had grown slightly softer. "I guess."
A grin split her face. "So next time, when I tell you to help somebody, you'll do it and be a nice guy, right?"
He scoffed. "Yeah, right." Inuyasha stood up. "Helping people is a waste of time. We've got jewel shards to find." As he started to walk away, the hanyou was forced to pause as he noticed she was still gripping his hand- and she wasn't moving.
He didn't need to turn around to see the disapproving pout on Kagome's face.
He sighed. "Well, if they're in our way, then I guess we'd have to get them out of our way, right?"
Kagome took a slight while to process the logic in his statement before determining that it was a positive one.
She stood up. "That's more like it." The girl began to pull the hanyou in another direction. "Come on. I know a great place we can get some food."
Inuyasha looked at her. "What about the ramen?"
Kagome made a face. "It's cold, and besides, I wouldn't eat something that came from one of those machines. You don't know what's happened to it." She shrugged. "You can still eat it, I guess." She gave him a curious look. "But wouldn't you like hot food better?"
The half-demon looked at her, and then at the noodles.
She sighed. Only Inuyasha could develop sentimental feelings about a bowl of noodles. "Or, you could bring it, and we could heat it up at home."
Satisfied, the hanyou followed Kagome's lead as they boarded the bullet train for the outskirts of Tokyo. This time, however, he was no longer suspicious of the humans, nor was he nervous towards them.
He wasn't afraid of them.
It was amazing just what an Automatic Food Dispenser could do.
An odd little short story… That really wasn't what I'd been expecting.
The piece I'd planned had been a humour oriented oneshot… -.-;;
Inspiration: watching a kid try to operate a vending machine for the first time.
Maybe I'll write another (original) version of the Automatic Food Dispenser?
After I write the next chapter for SG- Speaking of which, thank you all for being so patient with me. I have to rediscover my writine style, but you can be sure that won't take (too) long!
Till next time…