Author's Note: Thank you all so much who have replied, I'm glad someone liked it. ^_^;; I apologize for the grammar mistakes, most of them I think weren't in the original document-for some strange reason, when it uploaded it wouldn't carry the italics, so any thoughts became like misplaced first person..and even stranger, it turned all ellipsis (you know, the three dots) into a single period. Which just made it look like really poorly broken up sentences. O.o Sorry again, now that I know I'll work to avoid it. ^^;; Anyway, I apologize for this chapter taking so long, I ended up redoing it a couple of times until I was finally satisfied, had to change a lot of stuff. Plus, I wasn't able to write for awhile because I was busy, well, moving into college. ^_^;; This fic will probably be a few chapters longer than I'd originally intended, one or two more, but I've got it all planned out and for me it was the only way to pace it right. ^^ I must apologize again though because the makeup scene that I had planned for the start of this chapter, after all the shifting around, has been pushed to the start of the next chapter. Very very sorry, don't hurt me! ^_^;; *hides* But enough of my rambling.

Oh, and "Ani" means "my older brother" (it's specifically used when talking to someone about your own brother, rather than brother in general).

Disclaimer: Inuyasha is mi--*team of copyright police grab her and drag her off again, since, of course, Inuyasha belongs to Rumiko Takahashi-who is wonderfully generous and lets poor worshipping fanfic authors use her characters!* Noooooo! ;-;



Part Two ~ Ani

The night purred low outside the house, soft but with a hint of threat and thunder close by. Somehow, the storm seemed to cut the small home and ancient shrine off from the rest of the world, isolating it as though nothing existed but the unusual people within. The rain had thickened, and Inuyasha lost himself for a moment in the sound of its heavy fall on the roof and the sweet tang of distant lightning, glad that he was spending this shower indoors.

Although this wasn't quite what he'd intended when he came here..he wondered again what sort of vengeful deity had plotted this and huffed to himself.

"I'm hungry," Souta said suddenly, turning off the television. Following their trip to his mother's room, the young boy had led Inuyasha on a tour of the house, stopping for a long time to explain the crazy picture box. Unfortunately, Inuyasha had lost track of the explanation awhile ago; not because he wasn't interested or wasn't smart, but because he wasn't quite sure what a VCR, VCD, DVD, and every other blasted three letter V-whatsits under the sun were. Crazy mortals!

But it gave him a few minutes to collect himself and reflect on his strange situation, and for that he was grateful. He'd never admit it, he thought, but the boy really wasn't so bad. Souta's gift of the picture had startled Inuyasha, and for a moment left a sort of unspoken, unconscious bond between them. Unable to recognize it but sensing it all the same, it set him to quietly musing on the boy.

The hanyou suddenly realized that Souta was looking at him, and he glowered. "What do you want?"

"I'm hungry," Souta repeated plaintively, pointing at the clock. Inuyasha couldn't read it, but he could guess by the dark sky that it was late. "Can we get something to eat?"

Shifting his weight, the hanyou pretended to pause and consider, as though he might turn it down, but the eager pricking of his ears betrayed him. Gods, he was starved. Just watching the little boy run about was tiring; he wasn't used to keeping an eye on children. Simple solutions like cuffing them on the head worked with kitsune, but not with humans.

"Alright, alright," he finally relented, unable to prevent an inward chuckle as the young boy burst out in a huge grin and grabbed his hand again, towing the dog demon along into the kitchen. Souta had a grip that would cow grown men.

"So how do you make ramen?" Inuyasha looked around somewhat helplessly at the stove, the sink, and the fridge, and folded his arms.

"I'm not supposed to use the stove when mom's not home," Souta said uncomfortably while he pushed a chair over to the fridge. "Don't worry though, I've got something better. You'll love it!" The hanyou blinked.

"What?" He growled a little, part disappointment and part irritation at being disappointed. "I want ramen."

"You want this."

"No," he said calmly and slowly, "I want ramen."

"No," Souta said, equally slowly and deliberately, "you want this. Trust me." Climbing up onto the chair, he opened the freezer door and began to rummage through it, oblivious to the irate demon standing behind him. The air from the metal box smelt bitter and cold, and Inuyasha eyed it, doubtful that anything remotely edible could come out from there. No, he wanted the stuff Kagome made.

A glance at the cupboard. Maybe he could make the ramen himself. All he needed was fire and water. He could--

But Souta had apparently caught the glance, and decided to save his kitchen; not to mention that the little boy had the same determined streak as his sister. He wasn't giving up that easily. "It's Kagome's favorite," he added hopefully, drawing out his sister's name.

Inuyasha stared hard at him. "I hate you," he said finally, slumping down in his chair in defeat.

"I know," Souta said while bustling about like the perfect little host. The hanyou was so preoccupied with the lack of ramen, he somehow missed just how desperate to please him the boy appeared. Eyes falling at last on the object of his search, Souta grabbed it and stepped down off the chair. "But you'll love this. Here." He slid a pint of something across the kitchen table and Inuyasha caught it in one hand without breaking Souta's gaze. He stared a moment longer before glancing down and giving the thing a skeptical look. The container was much like that of ramen, but smelt radically different, not to mention was considerably.colder.

"What is it?"

"Ice cream." Souta shyly offered him a spoon, and the hanyou took it and examined it like it could have been some sort of weapon. "Cookie dough ice cream."

"Hn." A tentative sniff. "Frozen milk. And..you eat this?"

"Yeah. Just don't eat it too fast, it's really cold."

"Why not just drink the milk then?"

"Well.." Souta began, faltering. "It just wouldn't be ice cream then. Besides, it's more than just milk."

"Feh." He nearly melted it with his stare alone before he finally removed the cover and sniffed again, pretending he wasn't interested. "So Kagome likes this?"

"She loves it. Just give it a shot-please?"

"Hn." Forgoing the spoon, he cautiously licked it right from the pint container, looking for all the world like an innocent puppy as his eyes widened in surprise and his ears perked. "It's cold!"

Souta, who had been waiting eagerly for his response, looked crestfallen. "Sorry.."

"It's GOOD!" The dog demon held it up like some sort of oversized ice cream cone and went at it ravenously, closing his eyes for a moment to savor it. Whatever the hell it was, it was damned incredible-sinfully sweet, cool and creamy. No wonder Kagome liked it.

"Really?" The boy lit up happily, and sat down across the table with his own pint, relieved. "Ah..you're supposed to use a spoon though. And a bowl, actually."

"Spoon? Keh!" he scoffed. He gave the aforementioned utensil a disdainful wave, his pint already half-gone without it. Modern silverware was not needed in ancient Japan. A minute later he added, "What good is this 'spoon' thing? Slows you down. Looks more like a tiny catapult than something to eat with."

"It does?" Souta blinked and scooped up a big spoonful, holding it up with a puzzled expression.

"Yeah," Inuyasha said around a mouthful of cookie dough, "just pull back on the top of it and let go."

"Oh. Like-ahh!" He accidentally flicked it and sent the scoop halfway across the room, just missing the hanyou and passing over his shoulder to hit the counter instead. "Oops."

"Hey! Be careful with that!" Grinning suddenly, he finally put his spoon to use and sent a scoop flying at Souta. The boy yelped and ducked.

"No fair!" he protested, "you're trying to hit me!"

"No fair," Inuyasha countered with a mischievous smirk, "you're ducking."

He jumped agilely over the table to avoid Souta's next shot and hid behind a chair, sending another one his way. The little boy laughed and made a mad dash for the fridge, getting hit in the process-but sending Inuyasha scrambling when he rounded on him with two cans of whipped cream. The demon sent back a volley of ice cream and chocolate pudding cups from the cupboard, and the boy shielded himself with a frying pan and struck Inuyasha at last on the nose with a custard cup.

And the war began.

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Twenty minutes and a week's worth of groceries later, the battle was over. Both parties had collapsed panting and laughing, out of ammo, and had finally stopped to stare at the destruction they had wrought. This wasn't good.

"I think we're in trouble."

Walls were smeared in peanut butter and jam; countertops covered in frozen yogurt shrapnel. The table was a mix of whipped cream, potato chips, and uncooked ramen-which Inuyasha had finally found-and the chairs were decked in jello. Which the hanyou found amusement to no end in.

How on earth had this happened?

Looking Souta over, Inuyasha found that the boy was also caked in food and frowned. The demon didn't know what had come over him, he had simply..let loose his inner child, he supposed. Even now he was giddy. A sort of exhilarating, irrational happiness-whoever thought there was such a thing as a fight that was fun, where no one got hurt but everyone got dirty? But now he felt a bit guilty--Souta was smiling sheepishly up at him with frosting smudged across his nose, an absolute mess. The room itself was bad enough, but having the boy get dirty too was somehow worse-wasn't he the older one? There to make sure nothing bad happened to the boy, even if it was just a bit of food?

Or what if Souta got in trouble because of him?

He felt..responsible. Not even just because Kagome's mother had trusted him to look after him. No, this was a simple faint feeling of responsibility for it all, one that tugged at him annoyingly but insistently. He couldn't place why it disturbed him so, but it did.

"What are we going to do?" Souta asked worriedly.

And in an uncanny swell of maternal instinct, he gently picked the boy up, hefted him under his arm, and carried him into the bathroom. "Let's get you cleaned up first."

The hanyou made him change his clothes, taking off his own red shirt-his pants had somehow come out fine, but his shirt was a mess of maple syrup and rocky road-and sticking it all in the hamper. He then towed him over to the sink and began scrubbing Souta's nose vigorously with a washcloth.

"Hn, you humans stain too easily," he complained, trying to get off a stubborn smudge of chocolate syrup on the boy's chin.

"You have custard on your nose," Souta reminded helpfully. Inuyasha paused and blinked.

"Oh." Washing that off quickly, he turned his attention back to the boy and made him give his face an extra rinse. "There. That should do it." He realized then that Souta was watching him strangely, studying him almost- making him self-conscious about his parent-like behavior. Immediately he scowled.

"What?"

Souta looked up at the hanyou and suddenly threw his arms around him in a great big hug. "You're the best, you know that?"

Inuyasha stiffened and froze. For a moment he looked as though he was about to bolt like a skittish horse, but he was too startled by the sudden display of affection to move. He didn't know what to make of it.

Hugs were a rare thing in the hanyous life, and this kind was the least familiar of all-it felt honest, genuine, sincere. He had his sister's gift for the spontaneous hug that shook your world, yet in a very different way than Kagome's soft embrace. Hers was a complex torrent of beautiful but painful longing; Souta's was simple and warm, but no less touching. It was unconditional.

It confused the hell out of him.

"Well, of course I am, isn't it obvious?" he said finally to cover his dishevelment, prying the boy off-carefully though. "Now you go get ready for bed."

"But what about the kitchen?"

"Hn..don't worry about it." His expression was reassuring. "I'll take care of it."

Souta's smile lit up the room. "Okay!" He ran to the door, stopped and turned. "Thanks Inuyasha." And he disappeared down the hall towards his room.

"Yeah, yeah," the hanyou grumbled aloud. Why on earth had he done that? Now he had to clean the whole kitchen all by himself! Argh! He was moving from nanny to housemaid, what next? This was far, far below him.

Yet somehow, he didn't regret offering.

It didn't take that long anyway, not nearly so long as it would have taken a mortal at least. It was the better part of an hour, maybe two, but by the time he was done most of the splattered food was gone and the kitchen was presentable again. A demon with a mop can work wonders.

He stopped at last to lean on the mop handle, listening to the rain still draping itself in sheets across the world outside. The quiet house had the aura of a foxes' den; warm, dry, and cozy, filled with the scents of home. It was relaxing.

..He was the best?

The thought unwillingly rose up in his mind and he chewed his bottom lip, remembering the boy's confusing hug and even more confusing compliment. Souta thought he was the best? The best of what? Why?

..Why had he never noticed the way Kagome's brother looked at him with such admiration before?

He shook his head, baffled. The dog demon couldn't understand why Souta acted this way around him. So he breathed in and let the aroma of Kagome everywhere sooth his battle-worn nerves, and added to it was a sudden new appreciation for the other scents that flowed through the house. It did not take away from Kagome's scent, but rather added to it in subtle layers. It smelled like family, and he strangely liked having that scent associated with her.

The hanyou froze. Her picture-her picture, he'd left it in his fire-mouse shirt, in the hamper. Letting the mop clatter to the floor, he bounded up the stairs in huge leaps, rushing into the bathroom without even bothering to turn on the light. He overturned the basket in his fervor, and desperately searched through the dirty laundry. Where was it?

He pulled out his soft woven fur jacket and shook it, panicking when he felt for the picture and came up empty. Finally he found it lying atop one of Kagome's school shirts, where it had slipped out and fallen. He simply held it and heaved a sigh of relief.

It was at that moment, kneeling amidst the rippling pool of moonlight that sifted through the window and the rain, that he was attacked.

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A/N: Thank you all again for reading! I promise that *next* chapter will be focused in some way around makeup (you'll see), else you can all beat me and steal my Inuyasha merchandise (which I fear more than the beating). Again, comments and constructive criticism are welcome. ^^ Updates should be faster now that I'm settled into college life.

And as for the story having a waffy ending..er..yes. ^_^;; The focus of this fic is the developing brotherly relationship between Souta and Inuyasha, but everything I write has to have Inu/Kag fluff in it because I can't get enough of the stuff. ^___^