Above the School Yard
InuYasha hopped onto the roof of the building with practiced ease and walked over to where the small, silver-haired boy was sitting on the roof of the Miroku’s temple, overlooking the yard where earlier in the day, Miroku had taught a number of the local children. The grounds were empty now, and the day was growing late.
“Son,” InuYasha said.
Atae looked up at his father with teary eyes. The hanyou signed and sat down next to the boy, and wrapped his arm around him.
“What’s wrong, little guy? Why didn’t you come down when Miroku called you?”
“Don’t wanna go back there,” Atae sniffled.
“Why? I thought you liked learning with Uncle Miroku and the kids who he teaches. I know you like Naoya and Miroku’s other kids.” He scratched the base of his son’s left ear, and Atae leaned into his father’s arms. He looked at his son’s head, noticed the healing scratch marks on his left ear, and said, “How’d your ear get hurt?”
“Somebody pulled on it,” Atae said, in a low voice.
“Looks like someone did more than pull on it,” InuYasha said, trying to keep his voice calm. “Scratched it up pretty good.”
“Yeah.” Atae rubbed his nose. “But I was good. Like you tolded me, don’t hit humans back.”
InuYasha pulled his son into his lap and sighed. “Why didn’t you tell Uncle Miroku?”
The boy shook his head. “I come up here to get away.” His voice dropped. “I wanted to hurt them back.”
“You did good, little guy, but you should have gone down when Uncle Miroku called,” InuYasha said, brushing the boy’s bangs away from his eyes.
“Didn’t want to,” Atae replied. “They was still down there. I could hear’em laughing still.”
InuYasha rested his chin on his son’s head, remembering scenes from his own childhood. After a moment, he said, “You wanna tell me about it?”
“It was Takeshi and Saburou,” Atae said, mentioning two of the village boys who also came to Miroku for lessons. “Takeshi says he wants to be a monk like Uncle Miroku, but I think he’s too mean.”
InuYasha knew the boys involved. Takeshi was the headman’s grandson, and big for his 10 years, and Saburou was his constant companion. This is not the first time they had caused a problem. “What did they do?”
“Me and Naoya was playing Peach Boy. Takeshi came by and said it was stupid to think that Dog could fly.” Atae looked up at InuYasha. “But I seen Uncle Sesshou fly in his true form! And I tolded them about it.” The boy sighed. “Then they called me stupid, and said that Dog wasn’t a youkai, and Saburou pushed me. Takeshi grabbed my Dog figure and broke it.” He opened his hands to show the broken wooden toy. “Saburou pulled my ears trying to keep me away from him, but I grabbed it back from him and I wanted to scratch him so bad! But I remember what you and Mama told me and I growled at him and just shoved him away, then jumped up here.”
InuYasha picked up the toy from his son’s hand and examined it. The left arm of the dog was missing. “Looks like your Uncle Sesshoumaru. He lost his arm for a while.”
“He did?” Atae asked. “How?”
Wondering how much he should tell his son, InuYasha said, “He got into a fight he shouldn’t have. But he got it back by being a hero later.”
Atae looked at his toy, and took it back from his father. “You think that could happen to Dog? He’s a hero, too. He always helps Peach Boy kill the Oni King.”
“Maybe,” InuYasha said. “We’ll see if we can get his leg back for him. Wanna go home? I’ll talk to Uncle Miroku about what happened, and see what we can do.”
“Good. Let’s go. I think Mama’s making noodles for dinner,” InuYasha said, standing up still holding the boy.
“Noodles?” Atae said. “I like noodles.”
“Me, too,” the hanyou replied.
Together, they leapt off the roof. Later, cursing his own handiwork, InuYasha would wonder which was harder, helping his son grow up or repairing his toys.