Like A Family

Installment Six – Nanjiroh and Ryoma – Part One

"It's too early for me," Nanjiroh protested, eyelids half-closed. "Rinko-o-o, why can't you just take him?"

Rinko was smartly dressed, her sleek brown hair pulled into a bun. She stood by the front door, hand touching the doorknob. "Honey, don't be so lazy. You know I have work. If you worked instead of sitting around the house doing nothing, then you would have a leeway too."

"I do work!" Nanjiroh cried, monk ropes flapping as he tried to stop his wife from leaving. "I ring the bell at the temple! I'm a proud monk!"

Rinko bit her lip and slung her office bag over her shoulder. Even though her husband was normally whiny like this every day, she understood why he didn't want to comply this time. Still, she wasn't going to call sick for work when Nanjiroh was here with nothing better to do. "Look, I know Ryoma can be a bit stubborn at these doctor appointments, but-"

"Stubborn? Do you remember when we took him there when he was four?" Nanjiroh shook his head with refusal. "Ch', he bit me, don't you remember that Rinko? Do you want your poor husband to get bit?"

"He didn't mean to, he was only trying to defend himself…" Rinko giggled slightly at the memory. "Anyway, it doesn't matter. Ryoma's twelve now. He's different."

"If by different you mean more uncute," Nanjiroh muttered, resigning to his awful fate. "So uncute nowadays, going around acting like he's better than his old man."

Rinko smirked as she disappeared behind the front door. "That's because he is better than you, sweetie,"

"He- hey!" Nanjiroh said, but the door had already slammed shut.

"I'm sick," Ryoma said when Nanjiroh promptly barged into his room.

Nanjiroh skipped over to where Ryoma was lying in his bed, covers pulled over his nose so only his bright gold eyes showed. He smirked slightly at the innocent look his son had resorted to, but Nanjiroh was an expert at figuring out lies, especially from his baby boy. Without a second thought, he ripped the covers off of Ryoma's body.

"Rise and shine, Seishounen!" he sang.

Ryoma shivered from the cold, and bolted upright. "I said I'm sick,"

Nanjiroh chuckled briefly. "Don't lie to me young man, you're just too scared to go get your needle. Isn't that crazy? My boy scared of needles! You know when I was your age, I wasn't scared of anythin'! You gotta conquer your fears, not hide from them!"

"I'm not scared," Ryoma huffed, and flopped back down onto his bed. He rolled over so he was facing away from his father. "I'm sick. Go away."

Nanjiroh shook his head. This simply wouldn't do. "Ryoma, this isn't good. If you can't even get a needle, how will you get the girls? They want men, not wimpy girls who can't handle a large pointy thing pressing into their flesh."

Ryoma glared at him at the mention of a 'large pointy thing pressing into his flesh', "I'm not lying. I'm sick. Leave me alone." With that, he buried his face back in his pillow, hoping his father would just leave him be. Nanjiroh had other ideas.

"Oi, Ryoma," Nanjiroh said a bit more sharply this time. "Your old man's waiting."

Ryoma shifted on the bed. The bright sunlight that streamed in through his window told him it was past early morning and almost afternoon. The boy snuggled up against the pillow. "I'm sick," he repeated, and he wondered why his dad just couldn't understand that. "They can't give you needles when you're not feeling well."

"Sick my ass!" Nanjiroh exclaimed, his good mood vanishing. He should have known Ryoma would be stubborn about this. "If you don't get up right now, I'm gunna carry you off the bed young man!"

"Carry me?" Ryoma asked wearily.

Nanjiroh crossed his arms. "Yes."

The last thing he needed was to be scooped up and thrown into the shower by his father, so Ryoma complied and stumbled to his feet. He stretched his arms and yawned, rubbing his eyelids. Meanwhile, his mind frantically sought escape. Maybe I can trip on the tub ledge and pass out… he thought.

Nanjiroh smirked in satisfaction. "That's my boy! Go get ready!"

Ryoma growled, feet hitting the cold hardwood floor. "I'm not getting a needle."

"Sure you're not," Nanjiroh grinned smugly. "Heheheheh, this is gunna be so fun, seeing that long sharp needle punctured into your arm."

Ryoma responded by slamming the bathroom door shut extra loudly.

Nanjiroh hummed a song-off key, newspaper splayed before him, legs crossed under the table. He really was in the mood for some nice bell-ringing and then maybe a little match with his son. The only thing that wasn't fun about seeing Ryoma get stabbed with a needle was that his arm hurt too much to play tennis afterwards.

Ryoma slipped down the staircase quietly, his socks dragging across the tile floor. He frowned when he saw the empty table. "What's for breakfast?"

Nanjiroh was enticed in his newspaper, which confidentially held the contents of his favourite magazine. Without looking up, he flicked his hand towards the fridge. "Dunno, go get yourself some milk and put in the toast."

"Oyaji," Ryoma's lips formed into an automatic pout as he dragged himself over to the fridge to get out the milk. As he dug his head into the cold air, he called out, "By the way, after I eat, I'm leaving to go to tennis practice."

Nanjiroh smiled with amusement. "Practice? Tch, didn't think that old hag made you practice on the weekends."

The fridge slammed shut and Ryoma came out with his arms full of two cartons of milk. He dropped them onto the table. "Well, it turns out there is."

"Oh, really?" his father drawled.

"Really," Ryoma said snappily, nearly ripping apart the top of the milk carton. He took a long, frustrated gulp. He could feel his father's narrowed eyes burning into his skin, but simply willed himself to calmly keep drinking.

"Just to be sure there really is tennis practice," Nanjiroh closed his newspaper and magazine simultaneously. He took a sip from the coffee beside him. "I think I may have to call that buchou of yours. After all, don't want my son lyin' too me, do I? You aren't lying, now are you?"

Ryoma dropped his head. His father just loved messing with him. "Fine. There's no practice," he admitted grudgingly.

"Aha!" Nanjiroh cried in triumph, standing up abruptly "Caught!"

Ryoma looked at him with a blank face. "Oyaji, please refrain from acting like a two-year old."

Nanjiroh gave him a look before plopping back down onto the chair. He took another long swig of his coffee and eyed his son as Ryoma sat down and started sipping cutely from the milk carton. It was a shocker that such an adorable kid was just a brat. Nanjiroh tapped his fingers against the table, waiting for the inevitable to come. Any second now…

"Oyaji," Ryoma said. "I can't go."

"Can't go where?" Nanjiroh said with a tease in his voice.

Ryoma mumbled incoherently.

"What was that?" Nanjiroh asked loudly.

Ryoma glared at his father darkly. "The doctor's office!" he spat. He slumped his body against the chair, an inconceivable frown on his face. "I 'aint getting a needle."

"Why?" Nanjiroh pressed, the same grin firmly planted on his face. "Could it be that you're scared?"

"No," Ryoma said, sitting up a little straighter. He pushed the milk carton away and stared out the window. "I just don't like them."

Nanjiroh sighed and rested his chin on his knuckles, elbows supported on the table. "You really are a baby when it comes to needles, son," he shook his head admonishingly, "Look, I don't want to waste my time either, but your mother is going to kill me if I don't get you to that doctor's office on time."

"So?" Ryoma said calmly, "She can kill you all she wants for all I care."

"How mean!" Nanjiroh feigned hurt, but the wide, mischevious smile remained. He was rather in a good mood today, despite having to take his son to get a needle. In fact, it was almost entertaining watching him try to squirm his way out of it. "Don't worry Seishounen, it only takes two seconds, and it doesn't even hurt!"

"That's what the nurse said too," Ryoma said spitefully. "And it turned out she lied."

"Nah, you're just a baby," Nanjiroh chuckled, "You know, have I mentioned when I was your age I wasn't scared of anything?"

Ryoma paused for a moment, gaze lingering on his father. "Oyaji, weren't you freaking out about that spider a few weeks ago?"

"Spider?" Nanjiroh echoed, and a flustered expression quickly took over his face. "Oi, don't laugh at me! That's too much attitude young man – hey, I see that smirk! I wasn't freaking out! Seriously! You must have been hallucinating!"

"Whatever," Ryoma said, the smug smirk still on his lips. It quickly turned into a frown. "I'm not getting a needle, and you can't make me."

"Really?" Nanjiroh said, and amusement splayed on his face. "I can't make you?"

Ryoma swallowed. "Really."

"Put me down!" Ryoma hollered as his father carried him down the front porch.

"Now, now, Seishounen, lower your voice," Nanjiroh tried to hush him, but Ryoma really was having the time of his life waking up the neighbours. The boy squirmed in his arms, trying to escape, but Nanjiroh only tightened his grip. At one point, he felt Ryoma's foot connect with his stomach, and groaned at the leg-power.

"Hey, cut that out!" Nanjiroh barked.

"No!" Ryoma struggled. "Put me down!"

Not a chance, Nanjiroh decided, holding him tightly as they got into the car. Ryoma tried to kick him again, but Nanjiroh kept his foot in place and shoved the boy into the front seat. Before he could jump out, he forcefully buckled the seat belt and slammed the door shut. Nanjiroh hurried to the driver side, opened the door, got in, and locked the doors.

"Great," Nanjiroh said cheerfully. He quickly changed the lock-option so only the driver was able to permit opening the doors. "You're trapped."

Ryoma glared at him, before slumping his shoulders. "You didn't have to carry me," he grumbled

"You're telling me you would have willingly gotten into the car?" Nanjiroh snorted. He began to drive out of the driveway, much to Ryoma's displeasure. The boy tilted his head towards the window, where the trees and road lines passed by in a blur. He couldn't believe his father was forcing him to get a needle. He knew his mother would have, but he was sure his father would have believed his 'I'm sick' lie. Since when had his father gotten so attentive, anyway?

He hadn't even got time to bring Karupin because his father had most literally scooped him up and carried him into the car. Without Karupin by his side, Ryoma was certain he was going to die today. He quietly sent his blessings to his kitten, before closing his eyes, bracing himself for the last hour of his very short life.

"Ryoma," Nanjiroh poked his shoulder. "You won't die."

"I will," Ryoma said tiredly. He glowered at his father. "It'll be all your fault, too. And then you can feel guilty."

Nanjiroh shook his head with a sigh. "Che, my boy really is mada mada dane."

Sorry for the abrupt ending, but as I've stated before, I do these installments in 2000 word parts, so since this already reached 2000 words, I'll probably have a second part updated soon. This was really fun to write, LOL! :D I hope you liked it!