Raging Alone 8: Trapped
Desòchu sighed as he used his thumb to catch a dribble of pulped fruit from Rutejìmo’s chin. It ran along his digit and into his palm. He could almost taste the bland sweetness in the back of his throat.
Rutejìmo made a gurgling noise and spit up his lunch over the back of Desòchu’s hand, coating it in half-digested milk and fruit.
“You’re so disgusting.” Desòchu shoveled the food back into his brother’s mouth before wiping his hand on a stained cloth. He used the spoon to capture more from the bowl before holding it near Rutejìmo’s mouth.
The baby reached out for it with grunting noises.
“First finish throwing up,” he said in a low voice. With his other hand, he patted Rutejìmo’s back to encourage the burp he already knew was there.
Movement caught his attention. Hyonèku and Kiríshi were walking toward him, their hands clasped together. He stared for a moment. The last he knew, Kiríshi had laid her claim on Gemènyo not Hyonèku. The two were together for years, the last few involved them sharing kisses and intimate touches whenever it was the four of them alone. Hyonèku was always playing cards with Desòchu.
He got a feeling that he had missed something significant in his life.
Kiríshi sat down across from Desòchu and reached out for Rutejìmo. When the baby caught her finger, she smiled and pulled his arm in different directions much to the baby’s amusement.
Rutejìmo giggled, the abrupt laughter rising up.
“How could you ever get tired of this, Sòchu?”
Desòchu’s face twisted into a scowl. “I had to change three diapers this morning. The little ass drinks too much and then shits it out within an hour.”
Kiríshi pulled a face.
Next to her, Hyonèku slid onto the bench next to her. “Doesn’t sound too bad. How much shit can he possibly create?”
“Mountains,” Desòchu answered. “All watery crap that always leaks out out of the sun-damned diaper.”
None of the three teenagers said anything. After a moment, Desòchu returned to feeding his brother. It was almost peaceful except that the baby kept spitting out the fruit even as he was trying to shove it and the spoon into the back of his throat.
“When is your father coming back?” asked Kiríshi.
“Does it matter?” His father’s attitude had not gotten better in the last few months since Rutejìmo was born. If anything, he seemed to drink more and spend more time out on jobs instead of remaining at the valley.
“We were thinking about heading over to the Ryayusúki and picking a fight.”
Desòchu looked up at Hyonèku. “A fight? They kicked your ass last time and then chased you all the way back with those damn horses of theirs.”
Hyonèku grinned and ran a finger through his dark hair. It was straight but short, flaring out between his fingers. “Yeah, but nothing else to do. Besides Fumaràchyo should have just gotten back from Wamifuko City and he promised to sell me a couple bottles of something strong. I thought a bit of drinking before fighting is exactly what you need.”
The idea of getting drunk with the Ryayusúki sounded appealing. It had been months since Desòchu had gotten more than an hour or so away from Rutejìmo and it was beginning to scrape along his temper.
Hyonèku beckoned. “Come on, with all four of us, they won’t kick our ass this time. I’m sure your grandmother will watch him.”
“She’s on a job right now.”
Kiríshi frowned before she turned to Hyonèku. “You said Mènyo was with Zéso, right? After he was throwing rocks at Hikòru’s honor with that… ballad?”
Desòchu ducked his head as he smiled. Gemènyo managed to get five stanzas into a relatively lewd but epic poem about Hikòru before one of the elders pulled him off the table. Given how little Desòchu saw his father, he thought it was quite fitting. However, he wasn’t going to stand up for Gemènyo in front of Yutsupazéso; no one in their right mind would do that."
Hyonèku chuckled. As he did, he stroked his fingers along the back of Kiríshi’s hand. He nodded twice then he shook his head. “You really think Zéso would let us?”
She smiled and turned her hand over to grasp his fingers. Desòchu could almost see the affection as they looked at each other.
He cleared his throat.
“Why not?” he said rolling his eyes. “We ask Yutsupazéso if someone could watch Rutejìmo? What’s the worst that could happen?”
Desòchu’s heart beat faster. “Really?”
Kiríshi smiled broadly at him. “Come on, you need to get something. If anything, laid. I know you’ve been sniffing around Mádi.”
With a snort, Hyonèku said, “Yeah, until Ràchyo found out that Sòchu was interested in his sister.”
Desòchu grinned as he remembered the slender beauty from the horse clan. She had returned his affections more than a few times on a quiet evening. His body grew hotter with the thought of stealing more than a few kisses.
“See?” Hyonèku pointed at Desòchu. “I told you he still had a dick.”
Kiríshi rolled her eyes and pulled her hand free from Hyonèku to poke him. “Give him a break. Come on, let’s ask the old bird.”
Desòchu watched as they stood up. “Thank you.”
“We missed you.” Hyonèku winked at him.
Desòchu watched as they left and then focused on feeding his brother.
Rutejìmo finally burped, spraying Desòchu’s face with milk and fruit. Then he sat back and laughed happily while clutching the spoon.
This time Desòchu didn’t care as he thought about spending the night with the Ryayusúki clan. The horse rider’s valley was an hour walk away but it would be no time at all if all four of them were together.
A half hour later, he was done cleaning up and changing his brother. He had just finished nestling Rutejìmo into a bassinet when Yutsupazéso and the three teenagers arrive.
The clan leader was old as the sky and rocks. Deep wrinkles scored her face but somehow that only highlighted the many cuts that scored her face and shoulders. Rumors had it that she had been tortured but Desòchu didn’t know anyone who dared asking how she got her scars.
She limped over to the table. She had a walking stick that was half again higher than her. The top of it was tipped with a crystal and three feathers—one for each of her children. When she reached the bench, Hyonèku and Gemènyo both rushed to help her sit down.
Yutsupazéso grunted as she got comfortable, dragging it out until Desòchu squirmed with discomfort. Then she looked at him sharply. “You want to run away, right?”
Inwardly, Desòchu cringed. “Y-Yes, Great Shimusogo Yutsupazéso.”
“Who’s going to take care of the babe?” She didn’t even look at the now sleeping Rutejìmo.
“I was hoping someone else.” When no one said anything, Desòchu continued, “… just for tonight? Please? I need a break.”
Yutsupazéso glared at the three teenagers near her. “Well, which one of you is going to do it?”
Gemènyo opened his mouth.
“Not you, asshole.”
He closed his mouth.
Yutsupazéso pointed her two fingers toward him. “You aren’t even remotely sorry for insulting Great Shimusogo Hikòru last night.”
“You said what you wanted me to hear.” She pointed him again and then leaned forward to poke him roughly. “I can see you smirking when my back is to you.”
Gemènyo ducked his head.
She turned to Hyonèku and Kiríshi. “Which one of you is going to give him a break? Both of you are old enough to watch a baby for a night.”
Kiríshi opened her mouth. She looked like she had been stabbed in the stomach. With a pleading look, she glanced at Hyonèku and then Desòchu.
“Great Shimusogo Yutsupazéso,” Hyonèku said with a bow. “I… we were hoping that one of the other adults could watch him, just for a few hours.”
She stared at him for a moment. Somehow, it looked like the wrinkles on her face grew deeper as her face continued to twist in a scowl.
Hyonèku shifted to one foot.
“Do I like look like I just got out of diapers, Boy?”
“You plan to be gone until morning. When you get back, you’ll probably still be drunk and strapped to the ass of some horse to watch a baby.”
All four of them blushed.
“I don’t have time to deal with a bunch of puking kids.”
Desòchu cringed again. He wasn’t going to be able to leave.
“Desòchu is probably hoping to fuck Great Ryayusuki Domádi.”
With a sinking feeling, Desòchu blushed hotter. It felt like a rock was being rolled over his head, he knew it would drop in a moment. The conversation was going far worse than he could imagine.
Yutsupazéso cleared her throat. He looked into her dark, cloudy eyes. “She got married last month. No more playing around.”
Desòchu closed his eyes tightly for a moment as he saw his plans being dashed.
“So, which one is going to stay here and watch the babe? Everyone else has jobs. Real jobs that help the clan.”
Kiríshi sighed. “I—”
“No,” interrupted Desòchu. “I’ll take care of my brother.”
“Sòchu?” started Hyonèku.
“Just go.” Desòchu reached down and scooped his brother from the basinet. He missed and fumbled again, his fingers growing clumsy with everyone watching. “Have fun, I’ll stay here.”
He held his brother tightly as he hurried away, his cheeks burning with his humiliation and frustration. In his arm, Rutejìmo made a little strangled cry before Desòchu realized he was holding the baby too tightly. Slowly, he relaxed his grip as he rushed home to get away from everyone except the one person who caused all of his problems: Rutejìmo.