1I do not own InuYasha or any of the characters created by Rumiko Takahashi

Chapter 207

As Kaede and Kagome, and an on-alert InuYasha walked up to Toshiro's house, there was a mad flurry of movement heading down the path, with a barking dog, a squawking chicken, a fleet-of-foot boy, and an irritated girl who was chasing him down.

The chicken, its dignity ruffled, hopped on a rock to get out of the boy and the dog's way, and didn't move until the girl had passed.

"Now what?" Kaede said. The group paused for a moment, watching the scene in front of them

"Is it always like this at Toshiro-sama's?" Kagome asked. Asami nearly caught up with Daiki, but he dodged to the right, hopped over a log, and circled towards the back of the house. "It was last time I was here, too. Daiki chased a rooster right into the kitchen area."

"Did they use it for dinner?" InuYasha said. "That's what I would have done."

Kaede chuckled a bit at that.

"No," Kagome said. "Nanami shooed them both out."

"Things are always lively here when Sayo isn't able to keep up with her boys, I'm afraid," Kaede said. "Now what is Daiki up to this time?" Thinking the coast was clear, they began to move forward.

The bird, thinking along similar lines, hopped off its refuge, and began walking, stopping a moment to scratch the ground.

But the scene wasn't over yet. Daiki dodged around a tree at the side of the house, and backtracked to race to the front of the building, with Asami in hot pursuit. He almost ran into Kaede, but swerved at the last moment.

"Daiki!" the girl called. "Sorry, sorry," she said to the old miko, before turning to renew her chase of the boy. "Get back here! Nanami-obaasan will get both of us if she finds out you took her last rice cake, and I let you get away! I don't want to be punished because of you!"

Daiki hopped up on the rock the chicken had used moments earlier, then leaped forward, landing right next to the bird. The chicken, squawking once more, ran at a right angle to the fleet-footed boy, finding safety behind some bushes near the fence line.

The dog that had been following closely on Daiki's feet, adding his barking to the chaos, stopped when he jumped, turned around and noticed the newcomers. His excited barking stopped, and he gave a low, warning growl snarled to the three visitors.

InuYasha's eyes narrowed at the challenge, and he barked something back. The dog's ears perked up. He lost interest in Daiki and Asami, and barked in earnest at the hanyou. InuYasha barked again, a slightly different sound. The dog this time sat down on his haunches, and gave a nervous whine, his tail beating the ground, and after glancing at the hanyou's eyes, decided to walk behind the building.

Kagome turned to look at her husband, surprised. "What did you do?"

InuYasha shrugged. "The noise hurt my ears," he said. "I told him about it. He disagreed, and I told him about it again. He decided to agree the second time."

"Daiki!" Asami yelled as the boy doubled back again.

The old miko waited for them to pass before moving forward. "I don't think you'll be able to stop that particular noise quite as easily, InuYasha," she said. "It would be a handy thing, though, if you could. They make plenty of noise just on their own."

"Maybe more," Kagome said, nodding

"Wait a minute," InuYasha said. "Maybe . . . " Moving fast, almost in a blur, he put himself in the path of the fleeing boy.

Suddenly, there was a loud oomph. Daiki, not really paying attention to his route, was looking over his shoulder to see how close Asami had gotten. His inattention got him as he ran smack into InuYasha's body. He fell back on his bottom. It took a moment for him to realize what happened, but it dawned on him that the red draped man with the crossed arms was looking down on him with a no-nonsense scowl.

"Where did you come from, InuYasha-sama?" he said, in a small, squeaky voice. Turning his head, he saw Kaede and Kagome. "And you, too. I didn't see anybody walking up."

Asami came up, panting after her exertion, her hand across her middle. "Maybe," she said, gulping a mouth of air, "if you weren't so busy trying to get away . . . "

"It seems, son," Kaede said, frowning, "that you have gotten into trouble once again. Perhaps a little more than you would like."

"But I don't want to get into trouble," Daiki said. He started to get up.

InuYasha, quite gently, put a foot on the boy's chest to keep him down. "You're too loud, boy," the hanyou said. "You make my ears hurt."

As if in agreement, InuYasha's ears twitched. Daiki for a moment was speechless. Taking a deep breath, he tried to roll to get away, but InuYasha grabbed him by the collar, and lifted him to his feet.

"Asami's looking for you for a reason, boy," the hanyou said, lifting Daiki up so he could see his face. "Do you always run away like that when you did wrong?"

"Yes he does," Asami said.

The boy gulped. "You're not going to eat me, are you? My otousan wouldn't like that. "

The two miko, not being able to help themselves, laughed at that one. InuYasha shot them a look, but glared more at the boy. He lifted Daiki off of his feet, bringing him up to eye level.

"Like you ate Nanami's last rice cake?" InuYasha asked. "You think you'd taste that good?"

Daiki's eyes widened, and he shook his head. "No, no, not me. But Nanami said not to eat that cake. She's gonna get me for that."

InuYasha's brows knit together. "You did it, huh?" Daiki nodded, and dropped his eyes. "Look at me, boy," the hanyou demanded, and Daiki raised his head, tilting it to the side. "Running's not the answer. You ate it. Now you have to pay for it. Be a man about it. Running away from Asami's not the right way."

"But . . . but . . . " The boy began to squirm. "Nanami-obaasan's going to make me sit in the kitchen. On a bucket. And she won't let me get off it for nothing." His face twisted into one of abject misery. "I can't stand to be still that long. It hurts me."

Asami, finally having got her breath back, put one hand on her hip and pointed a finger at the boy."If she does," the girl said, "whose fault is it? You knew she wanted to eat that when she got up from her nap. She told you she did."

Daiki shrugged, and tried to wiggle out of InuYasha's hold again. "I couldn't help it. It wanted me to eat it. It looked so good. And I was hungry," he said. "I just couldn't . . . not eat it."

"Well then," InuYasha said, "Was it worth the price you're going to pay?"

In the background, Kagome put a hand over her mouth, trying hard not to laugh at the look on the boy's face as he wrestled with that concept.

"I don't . . . Maybe." Daiki stuck out his bottom lip, then sucked it in to chew on it. "It was really good."

Yasuo, hearing all the noise stepped out on the verandah, and motioned for his otousan to join him.

"If it was worth the cost, it's a good deal," the hanyou said. "If it wasn't, you cheated yourself. Either way, a man pays for what he takes. Understand?"

The boy took a breath and nodded.

"Now that we have that clear, if I put you down, you have to promise not to run," InuYasha said. "You need to go with Asami. But if you run, I'll get you. I can run faster than you." He brought the boy closer to his face, almost nose to nose. "I can run way faster."

The boy gulped, and considered his options. "But . . . but . . . "

"Well?" the hanyou asked. "Or do you want me to walk you into the house so your otousan can see what a brat you've been?"

"Uh . . . " Daiki said. He tried to squirm once more, but InuYasha grabbed his arm as well as held him by the collar. Sighing, the boy nodded. "I promise."

InuYasha let the boy down.

Daiki turned around, and saw his father and grandfather there. "Uh . . . InuYasha . . . I . . . Asami . . . "

"Go with Asami, son." Yasuo said, crossing his arms.

Daiki sighed and dropped his head. "Yes, Otousan."

Asami took him firmly by the hand. "We're going to see Nanami next, boy. And don't think anybody will cover for you. You're going to be the one to explain what happened. I'm not getting in trouble for you again today."

"But . . . but . . . " Daiki said as she pulled him towards the house. "But it tasted so good."

The men, as well as Kagome and Kaede, watched Asami march Daiki back into the house. As soon as they were inside, Yasuo broke up into a broad rolling laugh.

"You need to come around more often, InuYasha," Yasuo said. "I don't think I've ever seen anybody as good at corralling my son. Even Sayo couldn't have done it as neatly."

"Sayo's in the birthing house?" Kaede asked.

Toshiro nodded. "Only place where she can get any decent rest."

The old miko nodded. "We'll be going to see how she's doing. Come along, Kagome. InuYasha, I'm sure Toshiro will allow you to keep watch from here while we check up on her and the baby."

InuYasha's ear flicked and he took a deep breath, but nodded. The two miko took their leave of the men and headed to the little house behind the big one.

"Might as well join us, then," Yasuo said. "It'll be different, sitting here in the light."

"Keeping watch?" Toshiro asked.

InuYasha moved onto the verandah, and took a seat at one end. "Kaede-babaa . . . I don't think she appreciated me coming with them today."

Toshiro scratched his head. "This wouldn't have anything to do with Seiji, now would it?"

"Feh," InuYasha said. "Kagome got pushed to the ground by that ass yesterday. Who knows what he or his brother will be up to next."

"I'll go get some tea," Yasuo said, stepping back inside.

"I hear you gave him a pretty good punch yesterday," Toshiro said, watching his son walk inside.

"Barely tapped him," the hanyou said and looking away towards the road. He lifted his hand, waved his fingers and made a fist. "If I had really hit him, he might not have his head still."

"I doubt if anybody in the village outside of his brother would have complained, " Toshiro said, stretching his legs. He arched his left one and laced his fingers around it. "Seiji . . . well you see what he's like. He's more trouble than he's worth."

"Then why?" the hanyou asked, looking at the elder.

"He was the oldest son," Toshiro said. "We had hoped his time in Odawara had rubbed some of his rough edges off. He showed up while his father was in his last days. His father was a good man. I promised him the day before he passed that I would keep an eye on Seiji and help him grow into his work. Of the two brothers, Seiji seemed the better choice. He came back from his time as a soldier knowing how to act, at least in public, at least for a while. You've seen what his brother's like."

"Yeah," InuYasha said. "Not much to brag on."

"Seems what we saw though was just a front. It didn't take long to find out that the Seiji we had on our hands was a lot like the man who had run off after what happened with Michio. Worse in some ways," Toshiro said.

"War time . . . does things to people," InuYasha said. He looked out over the landscape, not meeting the elder's eyes.

"We're keeping Seiji in the lockup today. He crossed a line pushing your little wife around. The law lets a man get away doing pretty much what he wants with his own family, but not anybody else's. And to a miko?" He shook his head.

"He's going to be trouble once he gets out," InuYasha said. "A man like him, he won't take this easy."

"I know." Toshiro nodded his head. "We're going to have to cross that bridge when we come to it. But at least not today."