The Lucky Ones

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The Lucky Ones
The Lucky Ones
By Terri Botta
Disclaimer: I don’t own Inuyasha. Sole copyright belongs to Viz and Rumiko Takashi.
I’m poor so don’t sue.
Rating: R for later chapters.
Pairing: Inuyasha/Kagome, Miroku/Sango
Summary: Sometimes Fate hands you a gift you never thought you’d ever get, and it’s up
to you to accept it for what it is.
--------Chapter One
Higurashi Kagome rubbed her neck and sighed, taking a break from her studies.
She looked around her and found Inuyasha lying in that boneless way only he seemed to
be able to manage, and suppressed a smile. Even though she had been with him for
almost two years, there were still things about him that she never tired of. Sitting in
Kaede’s hut and enjoying each other’s quiet company was one of them.
He noticed her movement immediately and turned golden eyes her way.
“Done already?” he asked.
She shook her head. “Not yet. Just… my neck is stiff.”
He moved behind her and lifted her hair, his talented fingers finding the muscle
knots and dispatching them with ruthless efficiency.
“Baka. It’s because you sit all scrunched up,” he scolded gently, rubbing her neck.
“Mmmmmmmmmmmm,” she groaned, and didn’t have to look at him to know
that he was blushing. “I do it just so you’ll rub my neck just like that.”
“Feh,” was all he said, but he didn’t stop and she was fine with that.
After so long together, he knew her pretty well, and his fingers moved unerringly
across her skin. He was well familiar with the usual culprits: two lumps on either side of
the base of her neck that needed special attention from the pads of his thumbs. She closed
her eyes and let her head fall back to his shoulder as he worked on them, relaxing under
his tender touch and letting her mind wander.
Two years. She’d be seventeen soon. She wondered if she could convince
Inuyasha to let her stay in her time for a whole week as a birthday present. Maybe he’d
even come and spend a couple of days at the house, and they’d have some quiet time
there. Gods knew they could use a little down-time from hunting for shards. Inuyasha
would never admit it, but he did get tired and often she had to play the ‘weak human’ in
order to get him to rest.
Hunting for shards, however, was what kept them together. Or rather, that was the
reason the both of them gave for her constant time travel. They had to find the shards and
complete the Shikon no Tama… for the second time. At least this time around Naraku
was dead. Although, it would have been nice if he hadn’t shattered his almost completed
jewel in a final resounding ‘fuck you’ to the ones who killed him, and sent the shards
once again flying all over Feudal Japan, but one couldn’t have everything.
In truth, she was glad of it because she really hadn’t known what was going to
happen after the jewel was completed. Would Inuyasha have chosen to become a full
youkai? Would Kikyou have come to claim her former lover’s life? Would the well have
sealed and cut her off from her second family forever? In the end, Naraku smashing the
jewel actually did her a favor, and she was oddly grateful in a ‘damn I am sure glad the
bastard’s dead but at least I still have The Quest’ kind of way.
So yes, Naraku was dead and burned to an ashen crisp- his remains scattered to
the four winds, courtesy of Kagura who turned out to be an unlikely ally. Who actually
killed him was still a matter of contention with both Sesshoumaru and Inuyasha claiming
responsibility for destroying their hated enemy. Inuyasha boasted loudly that Tessaiga
and her Kongousouha had dealt the killing blow, but Sesshoumaru, in his typical style
had responded with what amounted to a very narcissistic ‘in your dreams, whelp’ and
claimed Toukijin had sliced the evil hanyou to pieces. For Kagome, she really didn’t care
who killed Naraku, only that he was dead, dead, dead, but knowing Sesshoumaru and
Inuyasha, they’d probably be coming to blows over it for centuries. To be honest,
Kagome secretly suspected that Naraku’s death had less to do with the attacks of the two
brothers, and more to do with the baby Kagura had skewered when she thought no one
was looking, but she was wisely staying out of it.
With Naraku gone, shard hunting was somewhat more relaxed, which was a good
thing because- miracles of miracles- she had passed the high school entrance exams and
was now entering her second year. Jii-chan had finally gotten wise and arranged for
Kagome to be declared a special case, diagnosing her with some long term disease that
amounted to her being allowed to continue the majority of her studies at home- or in
Kaede’s hut as was usually the case. She just had to show up twice a month to get her
assignments and also to take the exams, but other than that, if she wasn’t in school, it
didn’t count against her. With the pressure off- in both her world and in the Sengoku
Jidai- her grades improved and no one complained about her attendance anymore.
As for the other members of their group, Miroku and Sango had married shortly
after Naraku’s defeat. With Naraku dead, Miroku’s Kazanna thankfully disappeared,
leaving him free to contemplate a full and long life, and he made good on his proposal to
the young taijiya. They, along with Sango’s little brother Kohaku and Shippou, lived in
Kaede’s village and went along on the shard hunts- at least for now. They were expecting
their first child that summer.
All in all, life was good. Her studies were going well, the time slip still allowed
her to travel between worlds, she still had purpose and felt useful, she still learned
herbalism from Kaede, and she was still able to be with Inuyasha- whom she still loved
with an intensity that frightened her sometimes.
If there were any downsides to things, it was probably that Kikyou was still
undead and still wandering around. Every now and then she’d rear her poker face and
prove that Inuyasha was still very much her dog. He’d go unstable at the first sight of her
Shinidama-chuu, and Kagome knew there was no helping it. He would go off and she
would try to forgive him. Usually, though, she’d get irritated and ‘sit’ him a few times
just to remind him that she could. It was either that or take Sango’s suggestion and push
him off a cliff so he couldn’t walk- preferably on the night of the New Moon to ensure
maximum damage. But she couldn’t blame him, not really. She’d long ago come to terms
with the fact that Kikyou still held part of Inuyasha’s heart- whether it was nostalgia or
guilt or a bit of both, the undead miko still held a great deal of sway over the hanyou and
there was nothing she could do about it.
What bothered Kagome was that Kikyou knew it and used it, breezing into
Inuyasha’s life at odd intervals to yank his leash and remind him that he was responsible
for her death. It was especially troublesome because Kagome suspected that Kikyou
really didn’t want Inuyasha, and would probably not know what to do with him if she
ever did take him. They were drastically different people from the two young lovers they
had been 52 years ago- the whole undead thing notwithstanding. Kikyou had made some
seriously questionable decisions regarding Naraku and the Shikon no Tama; and
Inuyasha was no longer the outcast hanyou looking for somewhere to belong. Whenever
they were together these days, she had noticed that the two of them were trying less and
less to recapture what they had shared, and she hoped that meant that they were
beginning to realize that they had outgrown each other and their “love.”
Kagome also questioned the purity of Kikyou’s “love,” and wondered if what she
and the hanyou had shared all those years ago had actually been love or if had just been
mutual need. She doubted either of them had really known what love was. Back then,
Inuyasha had been bitter, insolent, and distrustful, but lonely. And Kikyou had been
weary of the suffering she was forced to endure and wanted to be a normal woman. The
two of them had come together in a strange relationship full of contradiction and mistrust.
Neither fully accepted the other, and both were full of hate. They were easy targets for
Naraku, a pair of veritable sitting ducks.
Kagome hoped and prayed that Inuyasha now knew better about love. She had
tried to show him that true love never asked someone else to become something they
weren’t, or to make huge sacrifices in order to “prove” their love. She took every
opportunity to reinforce that she at the very least liked him as he was, and he would never
need to change in order to gain her approval. She often hoped that Kikyou was learning
the same lessons that Inuyasha was learning about the nature of love, and wished it would
help the undead miko find some kind of peace. If Kikyou could find peace, it was likely
that she’d release Inuyasha from his tether and free him to be with her. She knew that
Inuyasha’s promise to Kikyou was the single biggest thing keeping him from committing
himself to her, and she dreaded the day Kikyou came to collect on the promise.
If anything, the biggest comfort Kagome had was that the Shikon no Tama wasn’t
complete so Kikyou had no reason to take it, and Inuyasha. She didn’t know what she
would do if Kikyou came to redeem her claim on Inuyasha’s life. The hanyou was her
whole world, and it would destroy her if he were taken away. She knew this, just as
surely as she knew it would destroy him. The strain of being forced to choose between
the two women he cared about would probably do him serious damage, which was why
Kagome had never demanded it of him. Besides, if she made that demand, what made her
any better than Kikyou who almost dragged a helpless Inuyasha to Hell? Above all
things, she wanted Inuyasha to live and be happy. She wanted there to be good times
between them, and she wanted to see him smile. And, in the darkness of the night when
Inuyasha slept nearby, she admitted that she wanted to spend the rest of her life by his
side.
All of them had been at Miroku and Sango’s wedding, which had been a lovely
ceremony that still made Kagome’s heart warm to remember it. She had dreams of her
own wedding- usually in Hawaii or some other tropical setting… she’d wear a beautiful
Shiro-maku and have flowers in her hair, they’d hold the ceremony at sunset to catch the
dying light on the beach, the colors would reflect in Inuyasha’s golden eyes… But then
reality would set in and she figured she’d probably marry in her family’s shrine, and
spend the majority of her wedding night coaxing a nervous virgin hanyou out of the God
Tree. So much for romantic fantasies.
“Oi. You’re brooding again,” Inuyasha’s voice said, breaking her out of her
thoughts.
She opened her eyes to look up at him and gave him a soft smile. “Just thinking.”
“Well, stop thinking. Whatever it is it’s making you all tense again,” he
complained, rubbing at her neck again.
“Sorry. I’ll try to stop.”
“Feh,” he sniffed, but pulled her into his arms, resting her back against his chest
and cocooning her in the diaphanous folds of his haori.
She sighed and relaxed completely. His arms were the safest place she’d ever
known, and it was in those arms when she knew he loved her. Even if the words had
never left his lips, here was where she could feel it radiating from him in the cadence of
his breathing and the beat of his heart. She could spend hours just like this, and often did.
Sometimes they’d even sleep this way, curled up around each other, her cheek to his
shoulder and his chin on her head.
‘I could almost sleep like this right now. I can always finish studying tomorrow. I
don’t have a test for another two weeks…’ she thought, snuggling into him. She heard
him chuckle softly.
A short time later she felt him stiffen and sniff the air, and she came fully awake
immediately. Knowing him as she did, she knew that something was amiss and he sensed
it with his acute hanyou nose.
“What is it?” she asked, concerned.
“Blood.”
She pulled away from him and grabbed her first aid kit, then she got on his back
and they left the hut at full speed. Halfway through the village they were met by one of
the men.
“Inuyasha-sama!” the man called and Inuyasha halted long enough to talk to him.
Since his resurrection from Kikyou’s seal, his diligent protection of the village
from youkai had earned him a place of respect among the villagers.
“There is…” the man began.
Inuyasha sniffed and homed in on the location of the blood scent. “I know. Find
Kaede,” he replied and leaped off towards the source of the smell.
Kagome saw where they were going well before they got there. Several onlookers had already gathered around something on the edge of the village, just across the
river. Inuyasha leaped the river in one jump and they landed with barely a thump on the
other side.
“Get outta the way!” he ordered, pushing his way through the gaggle of people to
see what it was.
A woman knelt on the ground, haggard and exhausted. She was huddled upon
herself, barely clinging to life, but she looked up when they approached and her eyes
filled with hope. Inuyasha put Kagome down and she rushed to the woman’s side.
“You’re hurt,” she said without preamble, but the woman only had eyes for
Inuyasha.
“Are you… are you the hanyou Inuyasha?” she asked in a breathless whisper.
“Who wants to know?” he replied defensively.
Kagome took the opportunity to lift the woman’s heavy cloak from behind and
what she saw made her gasp. Three broken arrows were embedded in the woman’s back
and her kimono was stained with blood, both fresh and dried.
“Is this… is this Inuyasha’s village?” the woman asked, a desperate note in her
voice.
“Yes, Okaa-san,” Kagome comforted. “This is Inuyasha’s village and that is
Inuyasha. Here, we need to get you into the healer’s hut and treat your wounds. You’ve
lost a lot of blood…”
The woman seemed to wilt with relief and tears began to fall from her eyes.
“Please… please… my baby… my baby…”
Inuyasha was on one knee in front of her immediately. “What baby? Where is the
baby?”
The woman slowly uncurled her body, her arms and cloak separating to reveal a
baby sling. With shaking hands she lifted the blanket-wrapped bundle from the carrier,
and the infant turned to face them. The onlookers gasped.
‘Oh my god…’ Kagome thought, as the blanket fell away from the baby’s head
and they got a good look.
It was an inu-hanyou just like Inuyasha. Tiny puppy ears stuck out from a mass of
unruly silver hair and two huge golden eyes peered out at them from a baby face.
“Please… save my baby,” the woman pleaded, offering the infant.
Inuyasha practically tripped over himself to back away, shock and disbelief
written all over his face.
“What?!”
Kagome moved to accept the infant who was now squirming and whimpering.
“It’s okay Okaa-san. We’ll keep your baby safe, but please let us take you to the
healer…”
The woman let out a choked sob, then coughed up a mouthful of blood and
collapsed in the dirt. Kagome flinched and clutched the baby to her chest as she backed
away.
“Inuyasha. Quickly, take her to Kaede’s hut!”
Inuyasha looked down at her with pity. “I’ll do it, but I don’t think it’s going to
make a difference. She’s got the scent of death on her already.”
“Then we can give her something for the pain,” she countered.
Inuyasha nodded and picked up the woman’s limp form, carrying her carefully
through the village. Kagome followed behind, holding the infant close, but he’d already
started to fuss.
“Hush, baby. Hush. We’ll feed you soon.”
“He’s not hungry,” Inuyasha told her.
“Eh? He’s not?”
Inuyasha looked at her from the corner of his eye as they hurried down the main
road through the village. “You don’t smell like his mother. For an inu-youkai pup, to be
separated from its mother means certain death. Pups instinctually know this and
memorize the mother’s scent within hours of being born. Your scent is unknown to him
and he’s frightened. He wants his mother.”
‘But his mother isn’t going to make it…’ she thought sadly, looking down at the
pitiful little face. He was whimpering and had balled up his tiny fists. It broke her heart.
On the way to Kaede’s, they were joined by Miroku, Sango and Shippou on
Kirara.
“Kagome-chan?” Sango asked, coming alongside them as they ran.
“We have to get to Kaede’s hut!” she answered.
Miroku nodded and jumped off Kirara, giving room for Kagome to get on.
“Go, Inuyasha,” Kagome told him, and he leaped off at full speed, knowing
Kirara could keep up with him.
The woman held on for another hour, her breathing becoming shallower and more
labored as her lungs obviously filled up with fluid. There was nothing anyone could do
for her, but Kaede made a doping medicine that she assured would dull the pain the poor
woman was suffering. Kagome sat close to her so the infant could smell his mother’s
scent, although the blood-smell had to be bothering him because he would not stop
fussing. In the end, they all gathered around her and she lived long enough to tell them
her story.
She had been the beloved of an inu-youkai in a country to the north. As long as
she was with the youkai, she was under his protection and the villagers left her alone.
However, shortly after her son was born, her beloved was killed. He had once told her
that if something should ever happen to him, she should run for Musashi. There she
would find a village where the hanyou Inuyasha lived. The hanyou was the village’s
protector, and she and the baby would be safe there.
Upon hearing the news of her lover’s death, she immediately ran for her and her
baby’s lives, but they were hunted down by the villagers, hell bent on killing the demon
lover and the infant. They thought they had killed her and gave up the chase, but she had
only been wounded. She had traveled four days with her wounds in order to reach her
destination. Again she pleaded for her child’s life, knowing that she herself was mortally
wounded. In fact the only thing that had kept her alive this long was the knowledge that
she had to get her baby to safety.
Inuyasha listened to the woman’s tale and Kagome saw the emotions playing
across his face: hate for the villagers and rage at what they had done, surprise at hearing
that another inu-youkai knew of him and felt his hanyou son would be safe under his
protection, sadness for the woman’s pain and suffering, and pity for her poor, little soonto-be orphaned pup.
“Okaa-san,” he said softly, shocking all of them with his term of respect. “I
promise you. Your pup is safe now. I will protect him from all harm.”
Tears fell from the woman’s eyes and she gave him a grateful smile. “Thank
you.”
She passed peacefully a few minutes later, her breath leaving her in one long sigh.
They knew the moment she was gone because the infant began to wail and he would not
be consoled.
Chapter Two
The baby screamed himself hoarse, proving that there was absolutely nothing
wrong with his little lungs. Kagome rocked him and cried along with him, feeling utterly
helpless to ease his pain. There was nothing anyone could do for him. His mother was
dead, but she had died so that he would live. At one point during his screaming fit,
Inuyasha took him and held him, pressing his teeth very, very gently on the pup’s throat
in a mimicry of a bitch grabbing her pup by the scuff of its neck in an attempt to still him.
It worked to lower the din from full screams to gasping whimpers, but only until
Inuyasha eased up, then he would scream again, his face almost purple from the effort.
Finally, Inuyasha and Kagome took the wailing baby out of the village so he
wouldn’t continue to disturb everyone within hearing distance. They took turns walking
with him and rocking him. Inuyasha showed her how to take him by his neck, cautioning
her not to even press hard enough to leave a mark, but after a while not even that worked
anymore because the baby figured out how to squirm out of such a light hold. Kagome
resorted to cooing and singing softly, bouncing him the way she’d seen mothers do, all to
no avail. Ultimately, they had no choice but to wait until the baby screamed himself
unconscious- which he eventually did, after making sure they would both have hearing
troubles for the next several hours.
They returned to the village with the restlessly sleeping baby. Every now and then
he would whimper and squirm, and they would cringe, expecting him to awaken and start
crying again. They entered Kaede’s hut to find that the miko and Miroku had seen to the
preparation of the body.
“Was there anything of the mother’s that wasn’t bloodstained?” Inuyasha asked.
“Only her head scarf and the baby sling,” the monk replied sadly.
“Give them to me,” Inuyasha said.
Miroku gave the hanyou the items he wanted. He took the baby, wrapped his dead
mother’s head scarf around him and placed him in his baby sling. Surrounded by
something that smelled familiar, the infant finally settled down and they all breathed a
sigh of relief.
“Why didn’t we think of that sooner?” Sango remarked.
“I think… we were all too shocked and hurt to think clearly,” Miroku answered.
“I just thought of it myself, but I didn’t want to put him in anything that had his
mother’s blood on it. It could have made things worse,” Inuyasha explained.
“Kagome…”
“Hai?”
He handed her the sleeping baby in the sling.
“I’m going to go dig a grave,” he said quietly.
She nodded and put the sling around her neck.
“Take the scarf from your uniform and put it in with the pup. It’ll mingle with his
mother’s scent so he starts to associate you with a familiar smell.”
Kagome nodded and took the blue scarf from the collar of her high school
uniform, tucking it into the sling next to the baby.
Inuyasha gave her an approving glance and left. Miroku followed, saying he
would help the hanyou prepare the woman’s resting place. Shippou came to perch on
Kagome’s shoulder as she sat down next to Sango and Kaede.
“I have such a headache,” she admitted.
“I’ll prepare a pain killer tea for you, child,” Kaede offered.
“Thank you, Kaede-obachan.” She looked down at the sleeping infant. “What are
we going to feed you, baby?”
“We can make a soft rice gruel with water and milk. It won’t be the best, but it
will do. That’s what we used to do for infants whose mothers died if there was no woman
with a nursing baby who could feed two,” Sango replied.
Kagome nodded. ‘I could go to my time and get bottles and baby formula. I’d
have to keep it from my mom. She’d think the wrong thing for sure…’
She looked down at the baby’s sleeping face, still discolored from all his crying,
and felt a stab of pain right through her heart.
‘Poor little lost baby…’ “I wonder what we should call him.”
Chapter Three
Two days later the still nameless baby was starting to associate his new adoptive
family with food and safety. His primary caregivers were Kagome and Inuyasha,
although Sango sometimes took a turn for “practice.” Being four months pregnant, she
felt she should probably start getting used to the idea of caring for an infant. Kaede
showed them how to use moss to line the baby’s cloth diapers to keep moisture away
from his tender skin, and how to make the rice gruel that was his primary food. He started
responding to their scent and voices, opening his huge eyes and looking their way. He
didn’t cry much after that first terrible day; mostly he would just whimper and squirm
when he was hungry or needed to be changed. Although sometimes he fussed and fretted,
but that usually meant he just wanted attention. Kagome discovered that rubbing the
baby’s puppy ears worked to satisfy him most of the time.
At night, he slept with her in her sleeping bag, tucked against her chest. If he
moved, she was awake immediately and seeing to his needs- before he sought to see to
them himself, as was evidenced by the number of times he’d wormed his way under her
shirt and tried to latch onto a nipple. He’d managed to do it several times, waking
Kagome when he began to suck. Poor little baby was so distressed when no milk was
forthcoming from a place where he had begun to expect food.
On the fifth day, rumors reached them of a possible shard sighting, and they made
preparations to go check it out.
“You aren’t going to bring the baby, are you Kagome-chan?” Sango asked
worriedly.
“Of course. Kaede is too busy to take care of a baby and I’m not leaving him with
one of the villagers,” the girl replied, packing her bag with lots of extra moss and rice.
“But is that wise?” Miroku questioned.
“Probably not, but I don’t think we have much of a choice.”
“Oi! Stop worrying! We’ll keep the pup safe. Let’s go.”
Kagome nodded, adjusting the baby sling so that the baby was securely fastened
to her back, and climbed onto Inuyasha. Miroku, Shippou and Sango all rode beside them
on Kirara, and Sango had a wistful look on her face as they traveled.
“Soon we won’t be able to do this, eh, Kagome-chan,” the taijiya commented.
“Hmm? What do you mean?” Kagome asked.
The woman placed a hand on her lower abdomen where she was just starting to
show.
“Well, I’ll have to stop traveling within the next month or so, and once that baby
reaches a certain size, he won’t be so easy to carry. We’ll have to stay behind while the
men go to have all the fun.”
“Keh! I won’t leave the pup unprotected,” Inuyasha snapped irritably. “Now that
he’s with us, every hanyou-hating youkai within sensing distance is going to come after
him. Until I kill a bunch of the bastards and scare the rest off, they’re going to keep
coming back.”
Kagome frowned and snuggled into Inuyasha’s shoulder.
‘It’s so horrible. Humans and youkai alike hate this baby just for being born. It’s
terrible. He didn’t ask to be brought into this world. Now he’s lost both his mother and
father, and is in constant danger of being killed. This time is so cruel…’
The baby stayed quiet as they traveled and Kagome wondered if he had learned to
be still during his mother’s last desperate journey. She could imagine that any noise he
made would have given away his mother’s location to anyone who was hunting her, and
she probably tried to keep him as silent as possible. Knowing what she knew of the baby
in the five days she had been taking care of him, she knew he was a quick learner and
highly reactive to the moods of his caregivers. Inuyasha had explained that it was a
survival technique. Stupid pups died quickly, but the smart ones who could adapt were
the ones who had the best chance. Kagome had to admit the baby was the smartest baby
she’d ever known.
They stopped for a rest late in the afternoon. The baby had been so quiet and still
that Kagome was certain he was sleeping, but when she pulled away the blanket two
golden eyes were looking back at her and they didn’t look like ‘just woken, sleepy eyes.’
No, he was alert and aware.
Inuyasha gathered wood and they started a small cooking fire to heat up the
baby’s gruel and also to boil the surgical glove they used as a makeshift bottle. While
they were waiting, Kagome checked the baby’s diaper and gasped.
“What is it?” Sango asked, seeing Kagome’s surprised face.
“He’s soaked. I don’t understand. He didn’t fuss at all this whole time.”
“He wouldn’t,” Inuyasha broke-in. “Pups stay still when the mother moves. If a
pup moves when the mother is traveling it can become separated and left behind.”
“How is it that you know so much about inu-youkai offspring, Inuyasha?” Miroku
asked placidly.
Inuyasha looked away, his eyes distant. “It was a long time ago,” was all he said.
Kagome gave him a concerned glance but he wouldn’t meet her eyes, so she
returned her attention to the baby, getting him out of his soiled diaper and cleaning him
up. She laid him on his blanket by the fire so he would be warm while his skin dried and
kept a close eye on him as she fished a clean diaper from her bag. He didn’t move from
his spot, but did look around some, his huge eyes blinking slowly. Inuyasha moved closer
and the baby immediately turned his head towards him.
“Hmm, pup tracks well,” the hanyou commented. “He’s smart, this one. Very
smart.”
“Unlike you, Inuyasha,” Shippou replied. “If only the smart kits live, how’d you
survive?”
“Why you!!” Inuyasha growled, moving to whack the kitsune on the head.
“Kagome!” Shippou cried, running for her.
At the sound of the commotion, the baby began to cry.
“Peace! Peace,” Miroku pleaded, trying to keep the hanyou from pounding the kit.
“Stop it! You’re upsetting the baby!” Kagome scolded as she picked up the infant
and rocked him. “Hush baby, they’re just being immature.”
“Oi! Who you calling immature?” Inuyasha yelled.
“You, baka! And stop yelling. You know how it upsets him. Here, take him while
I get more moss and the new diaper ready,” she said angrily, handing him the baby.
Inuyasha took the naked pup and immediately tucked him into his haori for
warmth.
“Careful, he might piddle on you,” Sango warned.
Inuyasha cringed and grabbed the pup’s blanket, wrapping him in it instead.
“Here, his food is ready,” Sango said, offering Inuyasha the surgical glove filled
about one third full of rice gruel. One finger remained as a nipple while the other four had
been tied off to make sure no gruel went down into them.
Inuyasha accepted the glove and offered the ‘nipple’ to the pup with practiced
ease. The pup latched on and began to eat, his eyes open and staring up at the hanyou.
“Well, at least he eats well,” Inuyasha commented.
“Yes, he has a good appetite, but I’m worried that rice gruel isn’t giving him all
the nutrients he needs,” Kagome said. “I’m sure it isn’t nearly as good as his mother’s
milk, and I know it doesn’t have as much protein.”
“You could chew up meat and feed it to him,” the hanyou suggested.
The others stared at him.
“What?” he snapped. “It’s not like he can chew it himself. He hasn’t got any
teeth!”
“Inuyasha…” Miroku began.
“Ewwwww,” Kagome interrupted.
Inuyasha just shrugged.
“Maybe we could boil some meat and mash it up for him, Kagome-chan,” Sango
offered.
Kagome nodded. “That would work.”
“I think he’s done,” Inuyasha said, putting down the glove. Most of the gruel was
gone and the pup had stopped eating.
Kagome took him from Inuyasha, covered her shoulder with a towel and burped
him. When she heard his little belch, she laid him back down on his blanket and began
putting on a clean diaper with fresh moss. Wrapping him back up, she held him in her
arms and rubbed his puppy ears. He gave a little sigh and closed his big eyes.
“We still don’t have a name for him,” she said.
“Typically, a child’s father has the right to name him, but in this case, the baby’s
father is dead,” Miroku answered.
“And his mother didn’t say that he had a name,” Sango added.
“He was probably waiting to see if the pup would live, and got killed before he
had a chance,” Inuyasha commented.
“Well then I guess naming rights go to you, Inuyasha,” Miroku noted.
“Huh? Why me?”
“You are the male caregiver here. I certainly haven’t been feeding and carrying
him,” Miroku clarified. “It stands to reason that you have become the closest thing to a
father the infant has, therefore his name is your choice.”
“What do you think we should call him, Inuyasha?” Kagome asked.
Inuyasha looked at the pup in Kagome’s arms and huffed. “I’ll have to think
about it.” He stood, rolling his shoulders. “In the meantime, let’s get going.”
The others didn’t move and he scowled.
“What? Haven’t you humans rested enough? The pup’s fed and changed. There’s
no reason to stay here and we still have a shard to track down.”
Miroku looked to his wife. “Are you ready to continue, Sango?”
She nodded. “Yes.”
“Very well then, we will go,” he replied, standing up and offering her his hand.
Inuyasha gave them another scowl and doused the fire while Kagome put the
baby back in his sling. In a few minutes they were ready to go, and off they went. They
didn’t stop again until they made camp for the night. While Inuyasha and Shippou went
to fish for food, Sango and Miroku built a fire and Kagome cared for the baby. She was
just finishing feeding him when Inuyasha and Shippou returned with fish for dinner. It
amused her to see what the extra incentive of the baby and Sango’s pregnancy did to
Inuyasha’s hunting skills. With the added responsibility of making sure he provided for
the ‘breeding’ females, he didn’t return until he had caught enough fish for all of them to
eat well.
‘Hmmm, no more ‘one fish is good enough. How much food do you humans need
anyway’ grumping,’ she thought with amusement.
After dinner, Kagome rolled out her sleeping bag and settled into it, tucking the
baby against her chest as she usually did. Shippou climbed in with her, curled at her back.
Even though he’d grown some in the last two years, and was now about the size of the
average five-year-old, he still was small enough to fit in with her. Snuggled together, they
went to sleep.
Kagome was awakened some hours later when the baby had once again made his
way under her pajama shirt and started sucking on her nipple. She sighed and gently
pulled him from her as she sat up, thankful that Shippou was so used to her moving at
night that he didn’t even stir. The baby gave a little whimper and she patted him, cooing.
“I know. Gimme a minute. I have to boil water.”
They’d taken to leaving a pot with water in it just at the edge of the fire’s coals so
all someone had to do was put the pot directly on the fire and the already warm water
would boil quickly. She looked to the tree where Inuyasha was perched, keeping vigil as
he always did, and he looked down at her. She flushed, knowing that he knew what had
woken her, and for some reason, his knowing that the baby was nursing at her empty
breast embarrassed her, although she couldn’t understand why. It was perfectly natural
for a baby to seek a nipple and there was nothing perverted about it.
The baby whimpered again, and she checked his diaper and changed him as she
waited for the water to boil, the glove and gruel ready to be heated. Sango heard her
moving and sat up from the bedroll she shared with Miroku and Kirara.
“Did he do it again?” she asked.
Kagome nodded. “I think he’s figured out that I don’t have anything for him, but
he still does it because he knows that I’ll get up and feed him. He’s not sucking quite so
strongly as he used to; either that or I’m just getting used to it. They do still hurt a little
bit though. I hope that it’s because he’s a hanyou, but he sucks hard. Hopefully your baby
won’t suck so hard when he or she nurses.”
The older woman flushed at Kagome’s candor but she didn’t notice. The water
had boiled and she tossed the glove in to sterilize it before using the water to heat the
gruel. A few minutes later, she was feeding the baby and rocking him.
“You seem to have taken to mothering him rather easily, Kagome-chan,” Sango
mused.
Kagome shrugged. “I like babies, and he’s really cute. I love his little puppy
ears.”
“Keh,” Inuyasha sneered, hopping down from the tree. “Those little puppy ears
are what marks him as a hanyou. They’re why youkai and human alike are after that
pup’s death. There’s nothing cute about them.”
“Inuyasha,” Kagome scolded gently, then she handed him the baby in his blanket.
“Here, I have to go the little girl’s bush.”
He gave her a little chuckle at her term for having to urinate, and took the pup
from her, placing him in his lap. The pup reached out one clawed hand and snagged
Inuyasha’s finger in a tight grip. The adult hanyou didn’t seem to mind, and bounced his
leg gently.
“And you, Inuyasha, you seem to have no troubles taking care of him,” Sango
noted. “Could it be you’re practicing for when you have your own pups?”
He blinked at her in surprise. “You’re joking, right?”
“Don’t you want to find a mate and have a family?”
“Keh! Hanyous don’t mate and have families. They live lonely lives, most of
which they spend running until they’re strong enough to start killing the bastards after
them. This pup here, he’ll probably spend his whole life alone with no one,” he replied,
acid in his voice.
“He has you and Kagome-chan. And if he’s raised in Kaede’s village, Miroku and
I will make sure none of our children grow up hating hanyous,” she pointed out.
“Feh. Then he’ll be luckier than every other hanyou I’ve ever known, including
myself.”
“You have us too, Inuyasha, and Kagome-chan. You know she loves you very
much. I’m sure she would have no reservations to becoming your mate if you asked her,”
Sango told him, pushing just a little. She knew her dear friend’s heart and was tired of
seeing Inuyasha’s insensitivity hurt her.
“As if I’d do that to her! Have her end up dead with an arrow in her back from
some bastard who didn’t like the fact that she mated with a demon, maybe leave our pup
orphaned and at the mercy of strangers…” He stopped and looked down at the pup, his
finger still caught in the tiny hand.
“You were going to do it for Kikyou.”
He rounded on her, eyes flashing rage. “Kikyou wanted me human. She wouldn’t
have me any other way.”
“Are you saying you wouldn’t make the same choice for Kagome?”
“Kagome would never ask that of me. She’s spent the last two years telling me
she likes me as I am. She’d never tell me I had to give up being a hanyou in order to be
with her.”
Sango gave him a measuring glance. “Then what does that tell you about Kikyou
and Kagome?”
He huffed and moved away from the fire, going to the base of the tree he had been
perched in and putting his back to it.
“That Kagome has more guts than brains,” he replied, then grew very quiet, his
attention focused entirely on the pup in his lap.
Kagome returned a few moments later and sat next to him. She opened her arms
and he gently placed the pup in them, his eyes down. She gave him a questioning look,
then glanced at Sango who shook her head and motioned towards Inuyasha. She looked
back at Inuyasha and could almost feel the stress radiating off of him. Taking a chance,
she edged closer to him and leaned into his shoulder, seeking to comfort.
At the feel of her touch, Inuyasha let out a long sigh and did something he rarely
did when they weren’t alone. He wrapped his arms around her, covering both her and the
baby with the sleeves of his haori and drew her close to his chest. She gave him a little
nuzzle on the chin with her nose and tucked her head under his jaw, snuggling into him.
He rested his cheek on the top of her head and breathed into her hair. They fell back to
sleep nestled together with the baby curled in their combined embrace.
Chapter Four
The following day they reached their destination and found that yes, indeed, there
was a Shikon shard nearby. It turned out to be in the forehead of a large centipede youkai,
and the youkai had no intention of giving it up without a fight. Kagome discovered that it
was awkward firing her arrows with the baby positioned in front of her, so she moved
him to her back and that gave her more freedom to draw her bow. Balancing him while
she dodged and avoided getting attacked by the youkai also turned out to be no small
task. In addition, he reacted to her fear and began to cry. The sound caught the
centipede’s attention for one brief, fatal second and Sango took the opportunity to cut it
in half with hiraikotsu.
Once the danger had passed, Kagome lifted the baby from her back and held him
to her chest, rocking and soothing him. Inuyasha jumped in front of her and rubbed the
infant under the chin.
“Already a fighter, eh, pup? That cry gave us the chance we needed,” the hanyou
praised.
“I don’t think he was trying to help, Inuyasha,” Shippou answered.
“Oi! What do you know?”
Kagome patted the still whimpering baby. “Ummm, I think he might be right,
Inuyasha,” she admitted.
He glared at her. “You too, huh?” He rubbed the baby’s puppy ears, quieting him
immediately. “Well, I think you knew what you were doing even if these weak humans
don’t get it.”
Kagome gave him a tolerant look and handed the baby to him. “I’m going to get
the shard,” she said with a small smile.
He took the baby and brought him close to his face. “We both know better, right,
pup? You’ll be getting your own sword soon.”
The baby made a gurgling noise and grabbed a lock of Inuyasha’s hair.
“How about he gets some teeth and learns how to walk before you start teaching
him how to swing a sword around?” Kagome suggested dryly, dropping the shard into the
vial she wore around her neck.
She opened her arms and he placed the baby in them, giving him another ear rub.
The look on his face was one of paternal pride.
“It’s scary when Inuyasha’s happy a baby helped us kill something,” Shippou
said.
Miroku and Sango looked on in stunned silence and nodded.
“Remind me to keep him away from our baby, houshi-sama…”
“Agreed.”
The baby began to make hungry whimpers and nuzzled at Kagome’s chest.
“See. A good fight always builds up an appetite. C’mon, Kagome. Let’s get
something to eat,” Inuyasha enthused, leading the way to a potential campsite.
“He really is scary, isn’t he?” Sango commented.
Her husband nodded seriously.
Kagome gave them an apologetic look and a shrug before following Inuyasha
away from the centipede corpse.
“Wait. We should bury the centipede and pacify its soul,” Miroku called.
“You do that while I hunt for dinner!” Inuyasha responded.
“Yes, but…” the ex-monk began, about to remind the hanyou that he was the best
choice for grave digging since none of them had a spade, but Inuyasha was already gone.
Shippou shook his head. “He’s such an impatient guy.”
“Well, there’s nothing to be done for it,” Miroku sighed, following the others to
the campsite Inuyasha had chosen.
Later they did manage to get Inuyasha to dig the grave for the centipede, but only
after he had eaten four fish and two cups of ramen. Oddly, Kagome found herself to be
unusually hungry as well and very, very thirsty. She was so thirsty in fact, that she
finished off two full bottles of water and went to the stream they had camped by for
more.
“Oi, Kagome. Are you alright?” Inuyasha asked, a hint of concern in his voice.
“I think so. I’m just so thirsty.”
Inuyasha felt her forehead, then his own. “I don’t think you have a fever, but
here... just in case.”
He gave her his haori and wrapped it around her shoulders. She smiled at him.
“Thank you.”
“Keh, can’t have you getting sick. Who’d take care of the baby?”
She wanted to point out that he’d been sharing baby duties rather well, except for
changing him, but she thought the better of it. She had long ago learned that Inuyasha
always covered his concern with an insult in order to protect himself, and even though he
had started to let his guard down with her when they were alone, he still put up the front
when they were around others. The fact that he asked after at all her showed her that he
was concerned for her welfare even if he had tried to cover it up with a degrading remark.
“Maybe I’ve been eating too much salt,” she offered, drinking another bottle of
water. “I should be more careful about what I eat.”
“Keh! Next thing you’ll say you won’t bring me ramen because it’s bad for me,”
Inuyasha scoffed.
“I already say that, but I know if I don’t bring it you’ll drag me back through the
well and down to the grocery store to buy some.”
“Damn right, wench.”
“Please don’t use foul language in front of the baby,” she requested.
“Why the hell not?”
“Because he will think that it is acceptable, and it’s not. You may not care about
how rude you are, but I want this- still nameless- baby to grow up knowing his manners.”
“Hey!”
“It’s true. Your manners are terrible, Inuyasha,” Shippou agreed, nodding sagely.
Inuyasha sputtered angrily. “Wha… wha… what?!” He looked to Sango and
Miroku, but they refused to meet his eyes. “You guys too?!”
“Well…” Sango began, but he cut her off with a snort as he plopped down next to
Kagome, his arms in his sleeves.
“Fine, I won’t fucking curse in front of the fucking baby,” he grumbled.
“Inuyasha.”
He cringed, waiting for it.
“Osuwari.”
“Gah!” he gasped as his face hit the dirt.
The baby made a burbling sound and Kagome turned him to face Inuyasha. “See,
Baby, this is what happens to rude hanyous who try to kill the girls who free them from
their seals. They get binding prayer beads on their neck and someone forces them to
osuwari…”
Inuyasha slammed to the ground again. The baby blinked and burbled again.
“See? Now, if you grow up nicely and learn your manners and don’t try to kill
people, then this will never happen to you.”
“Why you…” Inuyasha growled.
“Inuyasha…” Kagome said, warning in her voice and eyes.
“Keh! Fine! I get it! No cursing.”
“Thank you.”
He picked himself up off the ground and leaped into a tree, sitting just above
them, sulking. Kagome sighed, then yawned. The baby mimicked her.
“Yes, I know. I’m tired too. It’s been a long day, hasn’t it? What’s say we get
ready for bed, hmm?” she said, rubbing his puppy ears and smiling at him.
The baby closed his eyes and let out a sleepy gurgle. She put him in his sling
while she rolled out her sleeping bag and did her nightly things. Then Shippou hopped
into her bag and settled next to her pillow as she climbed in, tucking the baby to her
chest.
“Goodnight everyone,” she said.
“Goodnight, Kagome-chan.” “Goodnight, Kagome-sama.” Sango and Miroku
replied, getting into their own bed roll as Kirara, in her kitten form, curled up beside
them. Shippou was already asleep.
“Goodnight, Inuyasha,” she called up to the tree.
“Keh!” came the irritated response.
She sighed, knowing he would sulk all night, but hoping he’d be in a better mood
by morning. The baby shifted against her chest and an uncomfortable ache radiated from
one of her breasts. She frowned.
‘My breasts are awful sore. I think he’s sucking too much,’ she thought to herself,
moving him so he wasn’t putting pressure on her sensitive flesh any longer. She’d even
left her bra on in an attempt to discourage him from trying to nurse on her while she was
asleep.
It wasn’t until she was warm and comfortable and almost completely asleep, that
she realized she was still wearing Inuyasha’s haori.
Chapter Five
Morning came and Kagome greeted it slowly. The baby had woken her twice the
previous night by pressing against her sore breasts and she hadn’t gotten much sleep.
They had been so sensitive that he hadn’t even had a chance to squirm under her top
before she woke up.
She sat up, bleary-eyed, and looked to see that the others were already awake and
that Sango had started breakfast.
“Morning…” she managed through parched lips. She was desperately thirsty
again.
“Good morning, Kagome-chan.” “Good morning, Kagome-sama.” “Good
morning, Kagome.” Sango, Miroku and Shippou greeted from around the fire.
She rubbed her eyes, then reached down to pick up the baby, and was surprised to
find him not there. Coming fully awake in a sudden panic, she looked around for him.
“I’ve got him,” Inuyasha’s voice said from beside her.
She turned to see the hanyou sitting with his back to a tree. The baby was in his
lap, awake but being quiet.
“Oh. Ummm…”
“He woke you twice already, so when he started fussing I took him,” Inuyasha
explained.
She reached for her water bottle and drank half of it before she felt wet enough to
speak.
“Thank you.”
“He’s been fed and changed already,” Inuyasha informed.
She blinked at him. “Did you change him?”
“No, I did,” Sango replied.
She looked at her friend. “Thank you.”
The older woman shrugged and patted her abdomen. “I’ll be doing it for my own
baby soon enough. I need the practice.”
She nodded and stretched a bit, yawning. In that moment Inuyasha’s haori fell
from her shoulders and landed on top of her sleeping bag. She shivered and was suddenly
cold without it.
“Thank you for letting me sleep in this last night. I forgot I had it on,” she said,
offering it to him.
He reached out and took it from her, slipping it on with the baby still in his lap; he
just didn’t tuck the ends into the waist of his hakama.
“I hope you weren’t cold,” she added apologetically.
“Keh! I’m made of tougher stuff than that!”
“Mmm, I know you are,” she sighed, moving to slide out of the sleeping bag.
Suddenly, Inuyasha’s head whipped around and he was staring intently at her.
“Huh?” Kagome said, noticing his sudden snap to attention. “Inuyasha?”
His eyes narrowed and he sniffed at her, scenting the air.
“What? What is it?” she asked worriedly.
“Your scent. There’s something different about your scent.”
“What do you mean?”
His golden eyes focused on her chest and his nostrils flared. Blushing under his
scrutiny of her breasts, she grabbed them and turned away, hiding them from his view,
but then quickly dropped her hands.
‘Owww. They’re even more sore than last night…’ she complained silently,
putting her hand under her shirt to feel the tender skin. Her fingers came back damp.
“Huh?” she said, looking at her hand. She put it back under her shirt and felt
again.
“What is it?” Inuyasha questioned.
“I… I’m wet…” she breathed, confused.
“Eh? What do you mean…”
With her back still to Inuyasha and the others, she slipped her hand into her bra
and was shocked to find the inside of the cups to be moist. She ran her hand over her
nipple and felt a new wetness on her fingers. Drawing her hand back out, she looked at
the drops of pale white liquid on her fingertips.
“What?... Inuyasha…”
“Kagome-chan?” Sango’s asked. “Kagome-chan, are you alright?”
“I… I don’t know…”
“Kagome?!” Shippou cried moving to hop onto her shoulder. Inuyasha grabbed
him in mid-leap.
“Oi! Stay off her. We don’t know what’s going on.”
She stared at the liquid, then felt her nipple again. More wetness came onto her
fingers and she checked the other breast and found the same thing. With shaking hands,
she reached out to her side.
“Inuyasha,” she whispered. “Hand me the baby.”
“Kagome, what is it?” he asked, his voice worried.
“Just… give him to me, please.”
He did as she asked, gently placing the infant in her trembling hands. Once he
was in her arms, she brought him to her chest, lifting up her shirt and pulling down the
soft cup of her bra, and offering the wet nipple to his mouth. As usual he latched on, but
sucked half-heartedly as if he had come to expect disappointment, and for a moment
Kagome sighed with relief.
‘So I was wrong…’ she thought. ‘Ow, this hurts…’
Suddenly, however, the infant’s attitude changed and he began to suck a little
harder. He turned his head to further face into her breast and increased his sucking even
more, almost ecstatically, as if to say ‘Food! There’s food here!’ She gasped at the
strength of it, and increase in pain. He was nursing hard and not letting go.
‘Oh… oh my God…’
“Kagome…” Inuyasha asked, a hint of panic in his voice.
“Kagome-chan?” “Kagome-sama?”
She turned just her head to meet Inuyasha’s worried face with a shocked face of
her own.
“It’s… it’s milk. I’m… I’m making milk…”
“Milk? Kagome… are you sure?” Sango asked.
“He’s not letting up, and he’s definitely getting something. I… I can feel it…”
‘It’s also getting less and less painful… was the pain just from me being… full?’
“But that’s impossible. Kagome-sama this infant is not yours. How can you be
making milk for him?” Miroku questioned.
“How should I know?!” she snapped back, a hint of hysteria in her voice.
She looked to Inuyasha hoping he would have some explanation. Maybe he would
tell her it was some inu-youkai thing, that pups had a way of pulling milk out of dry
breasts... But his face was a picture of shock and awe and… something else. He was
speechless, his mouth open and his eyes wide.
“Inuyasha?”
“You’re… you’re feeding him?” he asked in a voice so soft she almost couldn’t
hear it.
“Seems so,” she replied just as softly.
He took off his haori and draped it over her shoulders. “Here, so you won’t be
exposed…”
‘Like a nursing blanket…’ she thought, pulling the red material over her breasts
and the nursing baby so that only the lower half of his blanket-wrapped body peeked out.
“Kagome… may I… smell? I promise I won’t peep.”
She nodded and slowly turned around. He knelt before her and put his nose to her
chest, sniffing. He pulled back a moment later, his eyes swimming with some unnamed
emotion, but she would swear his hands were shaking.
“Inuyasha?”
“You’ll need meat,” he murmured, then looked at her with wonderment. “I’ll get
you meat.”
He didn’t even wait for her to answer before he was gone. She stared at the others
who stared back.
“Kagome-sama, this is… this is…” Miroku began.
“Ouch,” she blurted as the baby suddenly bit down with a toothless mouth on her
tender nipple.
“Kagome-chan?” Sango asked with concern.
“I think he’s finished with the one. Hold on. Let me switch him.”
Working under the haori, Kagome pulled him from her breast and turned him
around so he could nurse from the other. He latched on immediately and began sucking.
“It… it’s not very much, is it?” she commented, once he’d settled into a rhythm.
“I don’t think it’s enough to feed him with how much gruel he eats.”
“If you just started making milk it might take a day or two to make enough for
him,” Sango offered tentatively.
“At least now we know why you have been so thirsty recently, Kagome-sama,”
Miroku added.
“I just... I just don’t understand why this happened,” she said forlornly.
“You have strong miko powers and a pure and loving heart, Kagome-sama.
Perhaps that has something to do with it.”
“Maybe...” she trailed off.
“It’s because you’re so loving and good, Kagome!” Shippou enthused, hopping
into her lap.
She smiled softly at him then frowned.
“Ouch!”
Shippou jumped off her lap as she looked under the haori, pulling the baby from
her.
“Hey! Look, I know you’re excited to get milk and all, but you have to stop biting
me like that. It hurts!” she scolded the infant as she tucked him into her arms. “Sheesh,
and he doesn’t even have teeth yet.”
The baby, unhappy at being pulled away from his teat, began to fuss. Kagome
patted him comfortingly.
“I’m sorry. I don’t have any more. You ate it all. You’re gonna have to wait.”
“There is some gruel left from this morning, Kagome-chan. Do you want me to
warm it up?” Sango offered.
She gave them a suffering look. “Yes please.” ‘If he’ll still eat it...’
He would, although with not as much gusto as he did the milk. Shippou
commented that he probably knew the difference by smell alone and preferred the milk if
he had a choice. Kagome replied that she didn’t know how long it would take her to make
more milk, if she was even going to make more. Because she didn’t know why she had
started to lactate in the first place, she had no idea if it was going to be a continuous
occurrence.
The infant had just finished eating the remainder of the gruel when Inuyasha
returned carrying a dead boar and two dead carp. He saw her feeding him from the
surgical glove and raised an eyebrow.
“I didn’t have that much milk and he was still hungry. So...,” she explained.
He nodded and dropped his burden on the edge of the camp ground, then he used
his claws to slice open the boar and drew out its liver. He offered it to her with a bloody
hand.
“Here.”
She shrank back. “What?”
“Liver is very good for you. It’s full of nutrients. Eat it,” he replied.
“I’m not eating raw liver!” she shrieked.
“Why not? You drank it when I made the medicine for your cold that time.”
“What? THAT’S what was RAW?!” she yelled, horrified.
His ears twitched. “Well, not completely raw. I did put it in the boiling herbs.”
“So that’s why Souta... Oh god, I think I’m going to be sick...”
“Kagome-sama, Inuyasha is right. Liver is very good for you,” Miroku tried.
“I am not eating raw liver!” she insisted. “I don’t care how good it is for me!”
Inuyasha tossed the liver towards the cooking pot on the fire. “Fine! We’ll cook it,
but one way or the other, you’re gonna eat it because your body needs the nutrients.”
Miroku caught the liver with his fast reflexes and put it in the pot. Sango added
some water for boiling, and Inuyasha gutted the carp to add their livers to the pot.
“The rest is meat,” Inuyasha said, butchering the kills with amazing efficiency.
“We can take this with us. I’ll make the boar hide into a carrying sack. You should eat
lots of meat and drink as much water as you can. If you are making milk for the baby,
you will need twice as much food as normal.”
They stared at him, but he wasn’t paying the least bit of attention to them. He
performed his task with a single-mindedness that unnerved them, his face serious and
intent. Before they were even really aware of what was happening, he had skinned and
sliced off the choice cuts of meat from the boar and gutted the carp. All of this he placed
on the laid out skin and wrapped up, then he took vines from a nearby tree and used them
to lash the bundle together into a carrying pack.
“Oi! Monk, is that liver ready?” he asked from over his shoulder.
They snapped to attention, looking into the pot.
“Yes,” Sango answered.
“Kagome, eat it.”
“What? You think you can just order me around...” she seethed.
“Kagome-sama,” Miroku interrupted her. “Inuyasha is right. We don’t know why
you started making milk, but until we understand better what is happening, you must
make sure you take care of yourself. Inuyasha is just looking after your health and wellbeing in his usual straight-forward way.”
The monk offered her the pot with the boiled liver.
“But I hate liver...” she complained.
“It doesn’t matter,” Inuyasha argued forcefully. “If you don’t eat enough and give
your body what it needs, it will take it from reserves you can’t spare. I’ve seen what
happens to breeding females who don’t get enough to eat. I’m not about to let that happen
to you.”
Kagome looked down into the pot and grimaced. The boiled liver looked even
less appetizing than when it was raw.
‘Does he really expect me to eat this?’
“Oi! Will you stop staring at it and just eat it already!”
His insistence that she eat the liver made her angry. She was confused and
frightened and the last thing she needed was some macho-hanyou pushing her around.
She set her jaw and dug her heels in.
“I don’t want it.”
“What?” he questioned, his eyes glinting.
“I said I don’t want it.”
“I don’t care if you don’t want it, eat it anyway,” he ordered gruffly.
“Just who the hell do you think you are ordering me around like that? Who died
and made you my master?” she snapped.
His eyes opened wide in shock, then narrowed in rage. “I told you, you need the
nutrients. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like it, your body needs it. So shut up, bitch, and
eat the fucking liver!”
“Osuwari!”
Inuyasha ate dirt, then growled. “Stop doing that, bitch!”
“Osuwari! I told you not to curse in front of the baby!”
“I wouldn’t curse in front of the baby if you didn’t fucking piss me off so much!”
“Osuwari! Osuwari! Osuwari!”
“Arrrggghhhhh!” Inuyasha screamed, then snarled when the spell released him.
“If you think slamming my face into the ground is going to get you out of eating that
liver, you’ve got another thing coming. We aren’t going anywhere until you eat it!”
The baby let out a distressed wail.
“Oh great! Now look what you’ve done. You’ve made him cry!” Kagome
accused.
“I’ve made him cry? You’re the one screaming at me to sit!”
“I wouldn’t be screaming at you if you’d stop being so stubborn!” she yelled
back, trying to quiet the baby. “Shhh, shhhh. It’s okay, baby, don’t cry.”
“I’m being stubborn?! I’m not the one putting myself and a helpless pup at risk!
I’m not the one who suddenly started making milk for no reason for a pup that isn’t even
mine! I’m not the one refusing to eat the meat brought to her so she’d be healthy! I’m not
the one acting like a spoiled brat!” he replied, furious.
She opened her mouth to yell, but he cut her off.
“Stuff it! I’ve had enough. I told you we weren’t going anywhere until you ate the
liver I brought you. Call me when you’ve come to your senses,” he hissed, then leaped
into a tree.
She drew a deep breath to give him the ‘sitting’ of his life, when Miroku spoke
softly into her anger.
“You shouldn’t punish him for worrying and trying to take care of you.”
She turned her head to look at the ex-monk, still shushing the baby who was now
sniffling and giving off tiny mewling cries.
“I know how he feels,” Miroku explained gently. “My wife is pregnant and soon
we will have our own baby. She will need me to provide for her and protect her while she
and the newborn are vulnerable. But I will have months to prepare for this. Inuyasha fell
into this suddenly without any warning. Now he has an infant to care for and a milking
female to provide for and protect.
“He is just as confused and frightened as you are, Kagome-sama. You should not
fight with him or take your anger and fear out on him. Fate has chosen you to be this
child’s mother. That is evidenced by your milk. You need Inuyasha now more than ever,
and your baby needs the both of you. Now is not the time for power struggles between
you.”
“Miroku’s right, Kagome,” Shippou added. “Inuyasha smells of worry and fear.
He’s scared and you know that makes him cranky. Please forgive him for being so mean
and rude.”
“He’s only trying to look out for your well-being, Kagome-chan, like any good
partner or mate. No matter how it might seem, Inuyasha’s heart is in the right place,”
Sango said.
Even Kirara gave her a plaintive mew and rubbed against her.
Kagome frowned, hearing their words of reason, and looked down at the baby’s
face. He was quieting now, but his cheeks were still discolored from his crying, and he
was chewing on his fist in the way she had come to associate with him being upset.
‘This… this is my baby. And he needs me,’ she thought sadly, feeling ashamed.
‘He’s already lost two parents and been in mortal danger. His mother sacrificed her own
life to carry him to safety, and he spent the last four days of her life smelling her blood.
He shouldn’t have to suffer or lose any more people who care about him. He needs
Inuyasha and me to be his new parents. He needs me to be strong and healthy so that I
can take care of him.’
Cradling his head in one hand, she drew him close to her, holding him tenderly
and kissing his brow. He snuffled and nuzzled into her neck, mewling, and she patted his
bottom comfortingly.
‘Don’t worry, baby. Kagome-kaa-san is here,’ she promised.
She ate the liver.
Chapter Six
It became very clear early on that Inuyasha was not speaking to her. After she had
eaten the liver and they broke camp, Inuyasha jumped down from the tree he had been in
and silently offered her his back. She looked to him for forgiveness, but his face was set
in a neutral expression and he refused to meet her gaze. She got on his back without a
word and rested her cheek on his shoulder, her hands lightly gripping the cream fabric of
his kimono since she was still wearing his fire-rat haori.
No one spoke as they traveled, but towards mid-day Kagome felt a familiar
soreness in her breasts and knew it was time for a pit stop.
“Inuyasha,” she said softly.
He tensed and moved his ears so she knew he was listening.
“We need to stop for a little while. The baby…”
He gave a grunt and halted at the next stream they came to that had a suitable
place to rest. He set her down gently as Kirara landed and transformed into her small
form.
“Kagome has to feed the baby,” the hanyou said without preamble.
Miroku and Sango nodded and Shippou jumped onto Kagome’s shoulder.
“Did you make more milk, Kagome?” the kit asked.
Kagome flushed a little as she removed the baby sling from her back.
“I think so, Shippou. It feels like it.”
“I’ll make a fire and cook some lunch for us,” Sango offered.
“That is a good idea,” Miroku agreed.
“I’ll get some firewood!” Shippou enthused and bounded off.
Kagome sat down and took the baby from his carrier. The moment he was free of
it, he began to fuss so she knew he was hungry and probably needed to be changed. She
saw to his dirty diaper first, cleaning him up and putting him in a fresh one. Sango took
the dirty one and washed it in the stream for her, then hung it from a stick by the fire so it
would dry. When he was dry and changed and wrapped back in his blanket, she drew the
edge of Inuyasha’s haori over him and put him to her breast. He wasted no time in
beginning to feed, and did so with enthusiasm. She patted him and rubbed his bottom as
he nursed, crooning softly under her breath.
Inuyasha sat close to her. He still wasn’t speaking to her, but she could tell that he
was watching her intently from the corner of his eye, and his face had that unreadable,
nameless expression on it again- the one he had sported that morning, when he had asked
to sniff her. She would have tried to speak to him, but then the baby bit her to signal that
the first breast was empty and he was. Not. Happy. About it. She did notice, however,
that he’d nursed for longer at the breast, so that suggested that she had more milk for him
this time. By the time she had switched him to the other breast, Inuyasha had gone off
somewhere and she wasn’t able to talk to him.
Shortly after the baby had finished nursing, and he’d been burped and settled,
Inuyasha handed her a full bottle of water and two skewers of roasted boar meat. Without
a word, she handed him his haori and the baby, then ate the food and drank the water
while she watched him cuddle the infant close to his chest. His face was soft and gentle
as he rubbed the baby’s ears- an expression very few had ever witnessed.
‘He’s really serious about this. This baby’s ours. I guess I just didn’t get it until
now. He and I… we have a child.’
“He needs a name,” she said softly.
Inuyasha nodded but said nothing.
“We name him tonight. Start thinking about what you want to call him or I’m
naming him Inu-ni.”
Inuyasha nodded again, and spoke to her for the first time in hours, “I’ve been
thinking about it.”
The baby was now chewing on one of Inuyasha’s fingers but the adult hanyou
didn’t seem to mind. He was growling softly under his breath in a non-menacing way that
the baby seemed to understand, and scritching him under the chin. When he pulled his
hand away, the baby reached out to grab the finger again, and this time he made a highpitched sound that closely resembled a laugh.
“Did he? Did he just laugh?” Kagome asked, surprised.
“Think so.”
Inuyasha huffed air at the baby and gave another growl, this time moving to rub
the baby’s ears. The baby let out another laugh and added a happy burble as he waved his
tiny hands, trying to capture the elusive finger. Kagome moved close and looked down at
the baby’s face. His golden eyes were wide open and he was smiling.
“He’s… he’s smiling…” ‘It’s the first time in the week we’ve had him that he’s
smiled…’
The baby focused on her, then on the two faces looking down at him, opened his
hands wide and laughed.
“I think he likes us,” she commented.
“Feh. We just feed him,” Inuyasha replied, but there was no real complaint in his
voice.
“Well, you don’t feed him anymore and he’s smiling at you,” she countered.
“That’s because I keep him entertained,” he responded, waving a finger in front of
the baby’s nose.
“I think it’s more than that, Otou,” she whispered low enough so only the two of
them would hear her call him ‘daddy.’
His snorted. “Feh. Oyaji,” he corrected, using the ruder term.
She gave him a small laugh and a smile, then leaned close to snuggle against his
shoulder.
“I’m sorry about earlier,” she apologized.
He lowered the baby into his lap and put his arm around her. She accepted his
gesture of peace and sighed happily. The baby, however, realized that he was no longer
the center of attention, and protested by squirming and burbling and reaching for them
with his tiny hands.
“Oi, brat. You’re ruining the mood,” Inuyasha complained, giving Kagome an
amused look that told her he remembered their many ‘mood’ talks.
“Ah, that is to be expected with an infant,” Miroku informed, a slight hint of
resignation and disappointment in his voice.
“And just what are you implying, bouzu?” the hanyou grumbled, a flush to his
cheeks.
“Nothing, nothing,” Miroku replied innocently.
The baby protested the lack of attention more loudly.
“Oi, don’t be pushy, pup.”
“He just wants love,” Kagome said, looking down at him. ‘I love this little
orphan…’
He saw her looking at him, smiled and gurgled at her. She giggled and tickled him
with one finger, leaning down to nuzzle him with her nose. He grabbed her hair and
pulled.
“Ouch! Ow ow ow ow!” she complained, wincing and carefully extracting her
hair from his hold.
“Got a grip, doesn’t he?” Inuyasha teased.
“I’ll say,” she agreed, sitting back up and rubbing her sore scalp where the hair
had pulled.
“Not unlike someone else I know who likes to pull hair,” he added, a wicked glint
in his eyes. “In fact I recall a certain helpless girl who was being chased by an ugly
centipede youkai who had a habit of yanking on a strange hanyou’s hair.”
She slapped his chest lightly. “Hey, that ‘helpless girl’ broke your seal, you
know.”
He put an arm around her again and smiled. “Freed and bound me in the same
breath.”
She didn’t know if he was referring to the prayer beads or something else.
“Well, you were trying to kill me,” she reminded gently.
“Bah, woman, if I’d really been trying, you would have been dead in a second. I
wasn’t missing you by accident,” he admitted.
“You know, I’ve always suspected that. Even back then, I didn’t believe you were
really trying to hurt me. I knew from the moment I saw you, that you weren’t a bad
person. I don’t think I could have broken your seal if you had been truly evil.”
“Keh, what do you know?” he groused, but she knew he wasn’t serious.
“I know lots,” she insisted, laying her head on his shoulder again as he pulled her
close, as usual his mouth and his body saying the exact opposite.
The baby squirmed and burbled, refusing to be ignored.
“Keh, this pup is pushy.”
“He’s no different from other babies. He wants his parents’ attention.”
Inuyasha snorted, but rubbed the baby’s belly. “Hasn’t learned he can’t always get
what he wants.”
“At least not from us,” Kagome added, scratching the baby’s ears.
The baby gurgled happily.
“Feh! We’re spoiling him.”
“Yep. He’s going to be the most spoiled hanyou baby in the world,” she agreed.
“He’s already the luckiest.”
Chapter Seven
Shortly thereafter, they doused the fire and resumed their trip back to Kaede’s
village. The mood was greatly lightened now that she and Inuyasha had made up, and it
wasn’t nearly so dourly quiet. Shippou, Miroku and Sango were offering suggestions for
names as they traveled, some of which were offered just to tease and irritate the hanyou.
“Yuske.”
“No.”
“Ginta.”
“No.”
“Sasuke.”
“No.”
“Kenshin.”
“No.”
“Houjou.”
“Are you crazy? No!”
“Ranma.”
“No.”
“Akira?”
“No.”
“Jounouchi?”
“No.”
“Kioshi?”
“Are you kidding? This pup’s anything but ‘quiet.’ No.”
“Azuma?”
“No.”
“Ekiken.”
“No.”
“Goku?”
“No.”
“Utamuro?”
“No.”
“Miroku?”
“I am not naming the pup after you, you lecherous bouzu.”
“Yoh?”
“No.”
“Manta?”
“No.”
“Rougan?”
“No.”
“Souta?”
“No, one irritating little brat named Souta is enough.”
“Hey, my little brother isn’t an irritating little brat!”
He gave her a look.
“Well, okay, maybe he is an irritating little brat.”
“Feh.”
“Takai,” Shippou suggested, resuming the ‘game.’
“No.”
“Naoko?”
“No.”
“Sano?”
“No.”
“Myouga?”
“Hell no!”
“Mokouba?”
“No.”
“Seto?”
“No.”
“Kouga?”
“You really do want to die, don’t you, bouzu?”
“Shinei?”
“No.”
“Tomo?”
“No.”
“Yuki?”
“Hmm, now that’s a possibility.”
“Yoshi?”
“No.”
“Tenchi.”
“No.”
“Bobu?”
“NO! Whaddya take me for? Think I’m gonna name this pup ‘Bobu?’ Are you
nuts?”
“Orlando!” Kagome piped in.
“Eh? Orhh-raaannnn-dooo? What kind of a name is that?”
“He’s... he’s...” she stammered.
He turned his head to look at her from the corner of his eye- as much as she could
see of his face from her place on his back.
“You’re not honestly going to tell me someone you know actually has that
name?”
“Well... someone I know of. Orlando Bloom. He’s an actor.”
“A what?”
“He’s stars in movies. He’s really really cute...”
“What’s a moo-veeee? And who is cute?”
“It’s... oh nevermind.”
“Fukashi!” Shippou exclaimed happily, reclaiming Inuyasha’s attention and
distracting him from his jealousy.
“No.”
“Hiei.”
“No.”
“Oritarou?”
“No.”
“Sawajirou?”
“No.”
“Haku.”
“No.”
“Jakotsu!”
“NO! Shut up all of you! I’ve had enough!”
They all laughed at Inuyasha’s ire and kept at it. Much of the afternoon passed
that way, with the hanyou shooting down every suggestion, yelling occasionally, but
mostly enjoying the good-hearted game.
Finally, as it approached sunset and a number of hours had passed, Kagome called
the group to a halt.
“Time to feed the baby?” Inuyasha asked gently.
She nodded.
“I’ll find us a good place,” he assured.
She rested her head on the back of his shoulder. “I know you will.”
He did. He sniffed out water and brought them to a lovely forested place by a
bubbling stream. It looked like others had found the spot before them because logs had
been dragged and set up as makeshift benches around an old firepit. Inuyasha assured the
group that no one had used the campsite for quite some time.
Kagome pulled the baby sling around to her chest and took the baby out of it as
she sat down on one of the logs. She changed him and cleaned him up while the others
gathered firewood and set-up camp. Inuyasha unwrapped the boar meat and carp and
inspected it.
“We need to eat the fish, but the boar will last another day,” he said.
Sango nodded and took the fish from him, skewering them and setting them to
roast on the fire.
“I’m going to catch more fish for the liver,” Inuyasha told her quietly, as she dried
off the baby’s bottom with a towel. He was gurgling and waving his little arms and legs
as she wiped him dry.
She looked up at him and took in his hopeful expression, then nodded. “Okay.”
He gave her a satisfied nod, draped his haori gently over her shoulders, and leapt
off. She saw him wading into a deeper part of the stream, fully clothed except for his
haori, and watched him fish as she brought the baby to her breast.
The dying sunlight was coming through the trees and reflecting off the moving
water. It made flashes of light play on the surface and dance in Inuyasha’s silver hair,
sending little sparks of light and rainbows off all around him.
‘He’s beautiful...’
He’d rolled up his kimono sleeves and was hunting intently, his arms raised up
and poised to strike. Almost too fast for her human eyes to see, he swiped at the water,
causing a tremendous splash, and a fish flew up, wriggling, to land on the bank where
Shippou waited to put it out of its misery. She watched him do this three more times,
before he turned and inspected the catch.
‘He’s such a good provider. He will take very good care of us,’ she thought.
She looked around at the little camp. Sango and Miroku were rolling out their
bedroll and Kirara was staring hungrily at the fish. The two looked at her and smiled,
their eyes reverent and misty. She glanced down at the nursing baby, hidden but
unmistakable under the red haori, and knew they were seeing their own future. She
smiled back at them.
“Ouch!” she gasped as the infant signaled that it was time to move him to the next
nipple.
“Did he bite you again?” Sango asked.
She frowned and grumbled, switching him. “Yes. Impatient little brat.”
“Scruff him when he does that,” Inuyasha’s voice suggested as he brought the fish
to camp. They’d already been gutted and the livers were in his one hand.
“Huh?” she replied.
He gave the fish to Sango and dropped the liver into the waiting pot. Then he
washed off his bloody hand, and came to sit beside her.
“A breeding bitch will take her pups by the neck and scruff them when they do
something wrong. I’m sure you’ve seen dogs do this,” he explained.
“Umm... I think so.”
“Well, when he bites you like that, just give him a quick scruff and a little shake.
He’ll get the message.”
“Won’t I hurt him?”
“Hell no, woman, not unless you grab him and shake him until his head falls off.
Just grab him lightly on the back of his neck, and give him a squeeze and a shake,” he
assured, pantomiming the action.
“Okay. I’ll try that.”
“He’s so smart, I doubt you’ll have to do it more than two or three times before he
gets it.”
“He is smart, isn’t he?” she mused, smiling.
Inuyasha nodded but remained silent, his eyes focused on the nursing infant he
could hear and smell, but not really see.
“Kagome... why did this happen?” he asked quietly.
“I don’t know.”
“This pup... he’s not yours. You shouldn’t be making milk for him.”
“I don’t have an answer for you. I’m sorry that it makes you angry,” she
answered.
His eyes opened wide in shock. “You think I’m angry about it?”
“Aren’t you? You’ve been irritable and on edge since this morning.”
He shook his head. “I’m sorry. I’m not mad. Confused and distressed, but not
mad.”
“I’m confused too, about some things. Why this happened, how it’s possible.
Things like that,” she admitted.
“But there is something I’m not confused about any more. You’re right that this
baby didn’t come from me. Your seed didn’t conceive him and I didn’t carry him. We are
not his true parents. However, he is ours now. My body has claimed him with this milk,
and you have assumed the father role without even hesitating. Tonight you will take the
father’s right and name your son. So it really doesn’t matter the ‘why’s or ‘how’s, only
that it is, and we have accepted it.”
He nodded in agreement, and grew pensive, looking at her. She met his eyes and a
deep emotion passed between them: love, commitment, contentment. The tender moment
was broken by the baby biting down. Kagome gasped then did as Inuyasha suggested,
grabbing him by the back of his neck and giving him a light shake. The baby jerked with
surprise, released her nipple and went immediately limp.
“Did it work?” Inuyasha asked.
“He just went limp.”
The hanyou nodded. “That means he knows he’s done something wrong and he’s
submitting. He might not know exactly why he was punished, but do that when he bites
you another couple of times and he’ll figure it out.”
She nodded, gently pulled the baby from her breast and drew him out from
underneath the haori. He was staring at her with frightened eyes, his little face screwed
up with confusion and worry. She hurried to reassure him, bringing him to her shoulder
and cuddling him as she burped him.
“Poor little guy. You weren’t expecting that, were you? Well, you can’t keep
biting me like that. You’ve got strong hanyou jaws and once you get teeth, you might
really do me some damage. So you have to learn now that biting Kagome-kaa-san isn’t
acceptable.”
He snuffled into her neck and mewled, grabbing onto the shoulder of the haori
with his tiny fists. She rubbed his back and patted his bottom, cooing so he would know
he was forgiven.
“Here, let me have him for a bit. I want to look into his eyes,” Inuyasha said,
holding out his hands.
Kagome placed the baby gently into his arms and he positioned the baby so they
were face to face. The two hanyous looked at each other for long moments, Inuyasha’s
face serious and thoughtful. Something was definitely going on between them, and
Inuyasha was obviously figuring a few things out by looking into the baby’s golden eyes.
Seeing them like that, Kagome realized how much they looked like each other.
The faces were completely different, but still fine boned and well-chiseled, and well
proportioned. The hair, of course, was the same silver, and their eyes matched as well. It
was easy to see that the child would become as handsome as his adopted father.
‘He almost could be Inuyasha’s son.’
“So,” Inuyasha began, placing the pup in his lap and giving him a finger to gnaw
on. “Tell me about this person you think is cute.”
“Eh? Who?” Kagome blurted.
“That guy. The one with the funny name.”
“Orlando Bloom?” she offered.
“Yeah, him. Who is he?”
“I already told you, he’s an actor who stars in movies.”
“I have no idea what you are talking about,” he admitted, looking at her.
“The moving picture box at my house? Remember? He’s on that sometimes.”
Inuyasha blinked. “He’s in the box?”
“Sometimes.”
She saw him trying to work it out. Contrary to popular belief, she knew Inuyasha
was one of the smart ones. He was very smart, he just hid it well.
“So, you don’t really know him,” he finally said.
“No. I just see his picture.”
“And you think he’s cute,” he commented leadingly.
She didn’t take the bait. “A lot of girls my age think he’s cute.”
He nodded once. “Ah. But… he is not close to you? He is far away in the box?”
“Yes. Very far away. He lives in America.”
“Ahh-mmmerrr-eee-caaahhhh? Where’s that?”
“Across the ocean. You’ve seen it. My world map, remember? I pointed it out to
you,” she reminded.
He nodded again, remembering. “Yes. Your… at-las.”
“Exactly,” she replied, smiling that he remembered the term.
“It is good he is far away. Then I won’t have to kill him and you won’t be sad.”
“Inuyasha!” she scolded, shocked.
He gave her a stern look. “What? We have a pup now. You can’t be flirting and
going off after other males anymore. And that includes that damn wimpy wolf!”
She huffed. “I don’t flirt with Kouga. Besides, we haven’t seen him in months.”
“Yes, but he never misses an opportunity to come sniffing around when he
catches your scent.”
She gave him a tolerant look. “We’re friends, Inuyasha, nothing more. I don’t
know why you are still so insecure about it.”
Inuyasha picked the baby up from his lap and held him close because he was
squirming a bit, wanting to be entertained. He was fed and changed and now it was
playtime- as much as an infant his age could ‘play.’ Usually it just meant he gurgled a lot
and grabbed at whatever came into reach. He didn’t care that his parents were having a
conversation- or trying to at least.
“He’ll kill the pup. You know this, right?” Inuyasha told her.
Kagome gasped. “He’ll what?”
Now it was his turn to give her a tolerant look. “Kouga will kill the pup. One,
because he is a hanyou. Two, because he is under your care, and rival males have a habit
of killing the whelps of the other male so the female will come into heat and have new
pups. Three, because he is under my care, and he’d do it because I’m the rival male.
Kouga is very dangerous to this pup,” he explained very seriously, showing his
intelligence and grasp of the situation.
“Inuyasha is right, Kagome-sama,” Miroku confirmed, reminding the two of them
that they weren’t alone. “Kouga would try to kill the pup in order to sever your tie with
Inuyasha. He would do it instinctively.”
Kagome glared and stamped back her sudden rush of maternal rage. “No one is
touching my baby.”
Inuyasha nodded in approval at her protectiveness. “If he shows his ugly face, you
have to do everything you can to make sure he can’t touch the pup. If he gets his hands
on him, it’s all over. He’ll kill the pup before you have a chance to draw your bow.”
“If you sense him coming, Kagome-chan, give the baby to Kirara. Kouga may be
fast, but he can’t fly,” Sango suggested.
Kirara mewed an assent.
“I’ll go with him,” Shippou added.
Kagome nodded in agreement and looked to the baby, missing him in her arms,
but Inuyasha was holding him protectively against his shoulder, although he was looking
at her with his big golden eyes. She smiled at him and rubbed his ears. He burbled at her
and smiled back.
“Dinner is ready everyone,” Sango announced, breaking the sudden dour mood.
The fish was served, with Kagome getting the choicest portions (plus the livers,
which she ate without protest, although she did make a nasty face) and they enjoyed the
meal. The fish Inuyasha had caught on both occasions were large and one was enough to
feed both Shippou and Kirara, leaving the remaining five to be split among the adults.
Kagome noticed that Inuyasha restricted his portions in deference to making sure she got
enough to eat, and only went for seconds when he knew she’d been satisfied. In the end,
each of them had consumed a single fish, with Inuyasha eating half of the last one and
giving the remainder to Shippou who was still hungry. Funny how his paternal leanings
were now bleeding over to include the kitsune kit as well.
After dinner they all sat around the fire. Kagome had returned Inuyasha’s haori to
him and he now wore it again as he held the baby in his lap.
“Okay, Inuyasha. It’s time to name the baby,” Kagome said seriously.
Inuyasha looked at her and nodded, his eyes dropping down to the infant who was
dozing in his lap.
“Have you given any thought to what you would like, Inuyasha?” Miroku asked.
“I don’t want anything fancy. Or too long. Or too complicated. But I want it to fit
him, and I want it to be a name he can live with,” the hanyou answered.
“What about Kentaro?” Shippou suggested. “He looks like he’ll be a big boy.”
Inuyasha shook his head. “That would fit only until he was a man.”
“Kisho means one who knows his own mind,” Sango offered.
Inuyasha smiled. “Well, he does at that, doesn’t he? But… it doesn’t fit.”
“You could name him Kin, for his eyes,” Shippou said.
The adult hanyou gave it some serious thought, then he picked up the infant and
looked into his eyes.
“What do you think, pup? You wanna be named Kin?”
Two sleepy golden eyes blinked at him, then the pup made a face that Inuyasha
had come to associate with him soiling his diaper. A moment later a noxious smell
assaulted his nose. He sneezed and handed the baby to Kagome for changing.
“I don’t think he likes that one.”
Kagome giggled and set to getting the baby into a clean diaper. They were quiet
as she did this, waiting, and when she was finished, she handed him back to Inuyasha, but
without his blanket, so he was dressed only in the cloth diaper and nothing else.
“You liked Yuki earlier today,” she reminded.
“Yes, but… it’s too girl-ish. I wanted a boy’s name,” Inuyasha replied, holding
the pup by his sides, his face very serious.
There was a long silence as Inuyasha looked into the pup’s eyes again, then he
sighed and closed his eyes, thinking.
“Yukio,” he finally said.
“Yukio?” Kagome repeated.
Inuyasha looked at her then the rest of the group. “It fits. It has two meanings,
‘snow boy’ which is obvious, but it also means ‘gets what he wants’ which fits him even
more. It’s simple and masculine and suits him.”
“I like it,” Kagome agreed.
Inuyasha nodded once, then held the baby up for the rest of them to see. “Yukio.
This child’s name is Yukio.”
“Yukio,” they all repeated in unison, acknowledging the name.
“Well, it wasn’t an official naming ceremony, but it’s good enough, right?”
Inuyasha said, a hopeful look in his eyes.
“Give him to me. I will make a blessing,” Miroku offered.
Inuyasha obligingly handed Yukio to him, and the ex-monk made a gesture and a
prayer over the infant’s forehead. When he was finished, he gave him back to Inuyasha
who had his blanket waiting.
“Thank you, Miroku-sama,” Kagome said, genuinely thankful as Inuyasha passed
Yukio to her.
“It was an honor,” the ex-monk replied.
She smiled at him, then looked down at the baby happily, taking his two hands in
her own and kissing his nose.
“Yukio. You’ll grow up big and strong and surrounded by people who love you,
you pushy little stinker.”
Yukio burbled and laughed, giving her a toothless grin. The rest of the group
laughed with him, his happy mood infectious, and Inuyasha placed an arm around
Kagome. She looked up at him and smiled softly, then nuzzled her head under his chin
with a content sigh. Shippou came up to sit on Inuyasha’s knee and look at the baby, and
the four of them painted a picture of familial bliss; an image that was not lost on the
remaining observers. Sango reached over to hold her husband’s hand, a soft, wistful smile
on her lips.
“Inuyasha,” Miroku began, then waited for the hanyou to turn his attention to him.
Kagome pulled back slightly from Inuyasha’s shoulder, but did not leave his loose
embrace. Shippou looked his way as well, and Yukio, by virtue of how he was being
held.
“Yeah, monk?”
“There is another meaning to the name Yukio,” he said.
“Another meaning?” Kagome repeated.
Miroku nodded seriously. “Yes. It can also mean nourished by Kami.”
“Eh?” Kagome gasped.
Inuyasha blinked, then looked at Kagome, a pleased smile widening his mouth.
“Nourished by Kami, eh? Well, that fits too.”
Kagome shivered under his intense gaze and blushed furiously.
Chapter Eight
“Hmmmmm,” Kaede said, her face serious and thinking. “And you say Kagome
just started making milk for the baby?”
Inuyasha nodded even as the object of their conversation sat not a meter from
them, red haori draped over her shoulders and Yukio nursing noisily in the small hut.
“Yes. One morning her scent was different and then she said she was wet and
wanted the pup. When I gave him to her, she put him to her breast and he started
nursing,” Inuyasha replied.
“But that was nothing new, Kaede-obachan,” Kagome interrupted. “Yukio often
squirmed under my pajama top and tried to get milk from me. The difference was that
this time, there was actually milk there for him. It was just a little at first, but I’ve been
making more and more, and he’s been feeding more often, about six times a day now,
almost every four hours, except at night.”
Kaede nodded. “Your body is adapting to the baby’s needs.”
“Kaede-babaa,” Inuyasha said. “Do you know why this happened?”
“Hmmm… it’s not unheard of for a woman to make milk for a baby that is not
hers, although usually it happens in a woman who has already had at least one child. It is
not understood why it happens or how, but sometimes a woman can force milk to come
by letting a baby nurse from her,” the elderly miko responded.
“So you’re saying that by letting Yukio nurse from me all those times, I actually
forced my body to make milk?” Kagome asked.
“That is one explanation, however, if it is, then it would be the first time I have
seen it in a young maiden who has never borne a child.”
“It was suggested that Kagome’s miko powers might have something to do with
it,” Inuyasha added.
“It is possible, but more likely it is Kagome’s loving heart.”
Inuyasha digested the reply, his face intent. “So… she wanted to feed him.”
“On some level of her mind, yes, and her body answered her wish by making
milk.”
“Wish?” Kagome repeated, a sudden frightening thought entering her mind.
“Kaede-sama, could… could the Shikon shards have done this?”
“Unlikely, child,” came the immediate answer. “The Shikon no Tama can grant
wishes and increase an individual’s power. However, in order to do that one must either
implant or touch the shards or channel power through them. You do not do any of those
things.”
Kagome sighed with relief. She’d been involved with the cursed jewel too long
not to be wary of any possible influence it might have, no matter how benign it might
seem at first.
“Well, that makes me feel a lot better,” she admitted.
Yukio made a noise that sounded like a combination of a whimper and a soft bark.
It was his signal for ‘next please’ and he only made it when it was time for her to switch
nipples for him. Kagome responded appropriately and soon he was happily eating away.
True to Inuyasha’s prediction, she had only had to scruff Yukio three times before
he figured out that it was the biting that was getting him punished. But what’s a poor pup
to do when the breast runs dry? He began to emit a little whimper in anticipation of being
punished and soon the noise was all he needed to make. He quickly customized it to be
unique from any other sound he made, and only made it once to signal Kagome to give
him the other breast. He had a separate sound for when he was finished, or at least when
the milk was all gone, that prompted her to burp and cuddle him.
His adaptation proved three things. One: he was extremely intelligent, but that
was already known. Two: he understood the use of sound as a means of communicating;
something that also suggested that he would be talking a lot sooner than most babies. And
three: that he could count, or at least he knew that he only got switched between nipples
ONCE during a feeding, so he only needed to make the ‘next please’ noise once.
“But now, I have a whole new problem,” she sighed.
“What’s that, Kagome?” Inuyasha asked.
“Do you realize what day it is? I’m supposed to go back tomorrow because I have
three tests next week and I have to go in to get my assignments. What am I going to do
with Yukio?” she complained.
Inuyasha huffed. “Well, it’s obvious isn’t it? You can’t go. You’ll have to stay
here.”
“Inuyasha,” she growled in a tone of voice that usually preceded a string of
‘osuwari’s. “That is not an option and you know it.”
“What are you going to do with the pup then? You don’t know if you can take
him through the well. And what are you going to do with all your milk?” he replied, his
voice almost -almost- a whine.
“I don’t know. I suppose I’ll have to try to take him with me.”
“Who will watch him while you’re in school?”
“I dunno. Mama or Jii-chan probably.”
Inuyasha gaped at her. “You’re not leaving our pup with either of them! They
don’t know the first thing about caring for a hanyou pup.”
“It’s not that different than caring for a human baby. He eats, sleeps and dirties
his diaper,” Kagome replied drolly.
“No. I won’t have it. Kagome, I refuse,” he stated firmly, folding his arms
defiantly.
“You refuse, huh. Well then I guess you’re going with me.”
“Eh?”
“Well, I’m going home no matter what you say. I’m going to try to take Yukio
with me. I suspect that I’ll be able to as long as I carry him. Since you refuse to let my
mother or grandfather watch Yukio, it stands to reason that the only other person able to
do it is you,” she clarified reasonably.
Inuyasha sputtered indignantly. “I’m not going to your world just to play
babysitter!”
“And why not? Yukio is your son as much as he is mine and that means being
responsible for him no matter where we are.”
Kaede chuckled. “She speaks true, Inuyasha.”
“You stay out of this, babaa!” he snapped.
“Hey! What did I say about cursing in front of the baby?” Kagome warned.
“What? I’m not allowed to say ‘babaa’ anymore?”
“Well… it is rather rude…”
“I’m rather rude! Or so you and the others keep telling me. And don’t try to
change the subject!”
Kagome sighed. “Inuyasha. You know I have to go. I can’t miss the tests and I
have to get my school work. Please, don’t fight me on this. Don’t make me subdue you in
order to go home. I hate doing it.”
Inuyasha scowled and looked away. “Feh.”
Kagome knew him well enough to know that his ‘feh’ meant that she would get
her way. As always, it was an empty victory because half the time she was fighting to
return to a place she really didn’t want to return to. Oh it was wonderful to see her family
and enjoy all the luxuries of the modern era, but as for the rest… for school and tests and
seeing her girlish friends who never thought about anything more serious than make-up,
boys and hair… She’d seen and done too much in the past two years for them to be able
to relate to her, and she had long ago outgrown them.
Yukio made his ‘I’m finished’ noise and she drew him up, cuddling him and
burping him gently. He’d taken to snuffling her and gurgling into her neck when she
patted him, his soft warm breath tickling her skin, and it always pulled on her heartstrings when he did it. She adored the infant completely and loved him as much as she
had come to love Inuyasha.
‘And what about this? What will my friends think of me having a baby? It’ll be
bad enough with Mama at first, but how could they ever understand? My place really is
here with Inuyasha. Every time I go back I realize that I belong there less and less.
‘But how can I leave my family? And what of the end of our Quest? We will find
all the shards and we will complete The Shikon no Tama. But what will happen then?
Will Kikyou come to claim her former lover and rob Yukio of his second father- the only
father he is going to remember? What will become of me? Of us?’
Yukio, ever sensitive to his adoptive mother’s moods, began to fret and fuss.
“Oi, is the pup okay?” Inuyasha asked, hearing the noises of distress.
Kagome bounced him a little bit and cooed. “I think he just has a little gas,” she
lied.
They were quiet for a few minutes as Kagome patted and soothed the distressed
baby. When he settled, Inuyasha spoke softly.
“So... tomorrow. The well. What are we going to do about the well?”
“What about the well?” Kagome asked.
He gave her an irritated look. “What do we do if it won’t let him through? And
how do we test it without risking his safety?”
She looked at the baby who was now trying to doze. “Oh. Ummm... I thought I’d
just hold him to my chest when I jumped in.”
“And have him splatter all over the bottom of the well if you go through but he
doesn’t?”
Her eyes opened wide. “I hadn’t thought of it that way.”
“We have to think of a way to keep him from getting hurt if he can’t go through.”
“Ummm... maybe you could lower me into the well and put me down slowly, that
way if he can’t go through, he’ll just be left behind at the bottom of the well.”
Inuyasha nodded, noticing a coil of rope on the hut floor. “That might work.” He
pointed to the rope. “Kaede-babaa?”
“Go ahead, Inuyasha,” the older woman replied.
Inuyasha picked up the rope and inspected it. “If we make a harness with this and
put it around you, I could lower you into the well.”
“And I can hold Yukio above my head so my hands will be the last thing to go
through.”
“Maybe the monk can stand at the bottom and be ready to catch him if he gets
stuck,” Inuyasha suggested,
“But what if that happens? What if he gets stuck? What do we do?”
Inuyasha looked at her, but had no answer, or rather she knew what he’d say, but
he wasn’t about to voice it for fear of getting sat.
“I have to go. You know I do,” she insisted.
He sighed and lowered his eyes. “Then I will stay with the pup and care for him
until you get back. He can eat the gruel again if he has to. I don’t know what you are
going to do with all of your milk. What if you dry up with no pup to nurse on you?”
“I can pump it. Make my body think he’s still nursing.”
“And do what with it?”
“Throw it away I guess. It’ll spoil before I have a chance to bring it back, unless I
freeze it.”
Inuyasha looked stricken. “You’d just... throw your milk out?”
Kagome shrugged. “I don’t know what else I could do with it. If I don’t pump it
then I might dry up, and if he’s not there to nurse from me...”
He looked away, his face sad and Kagome didn’t know why it affected him so
strongly. His forlorn expression struck her in her heart and she ached.
“But listen, Inuyasha. I don’t think it’s going to be an issue. I think the well will
let him through because one of us will be carrying him. We carry things through the well
with us all the time. I don’t see how this is any different.”
“We’ve never tried to carry anything living through,” he pointed out.
“True, but I do think it will be okay. Kaede-obachan, what do you think?”
“Hmmmm, I think there is a good chance that the well will recognize the baby as
belonging to you and Inuyasha, and let him through,” the old miko replied sagely.
Kagome looked at her, then at Inuyasha. “See. Kaede feels the same way I do. I
think it is going to be fine.” She looked down at Yukio and stroked his ears. “I just don’t
know what I am going to do with him if he can go through. My mother… We’ll have to
explain to her right away, and even then she’ll probably be very upset.”
“Bah! Your mother is a good woman, and a good mother. She will understand,”
Inuyasha answered.
“Inuyasha…” she gasped, pleased that he had such a high opinion of her mother.
“I think our biggest concern is getting the pup through the well. Once he is safely
through the well, the rest will be taken care of by me,” he assured.
“I know, and I’m sure it won’t be a problem. The well will let Yukio through; I’m
sure of it.”
“We’ll find out tomorrow, won’t we,” he answered, standing. “For now, I am
going hunting. You need more liver. There is liver in your time, yes, Kagome?”
She made a face. “Yes… but, I don’t think I want to eat it. It is different here.
There are no chemicals or preservatives in the food here. Back home food is processed
and treated, and animals are fed questionable food. I don’t think the liver of my time will
be as good as the liver here.”
He gave her a knowing look. “You just want to get out of eating it. I’m on to you,
wench,” he teased, a wry smile on his lips.
“I’m serious, Inuyasha. I eat the liver you bring me here, but I have doubts about
the liver at home.”
“Feh, then I’ll just hunt enough here to bring enough liver to your time. We know
we can take food across the well both ways.”
Kagome gasped as a memory hit her. “That’s right. I brought those youkai
himono with me that one time. They were alive.”
“Hmmm. Well, we should still be careful and lower you in,” he answered.
“Of course. I want to be safe.”
He gave her a tender smile and exited the hut, leaving her alone with Yukio and
Kaede.
The following day was quite the production in Kagome’s opinion. It seemed
Inuyasha weaved and reweaved and re-reweaved the harness from Kaede’s rope about
four dozen times before he was satisfied that it would hold without biting into her
armpits. She didn’t see any difference in the multiple permutations he came up with but
wisely kept her mouth shut. She’d long ago learned never to interfere with a hanyou on a
‘mission.’
When the time came, she wrapped up Yukio and packed her bag, and the whole
entourage, Kaede included, made their way to the Bone-Eater’s Well. Miroku climbed
down into the well and stood at the bottom. He would be there to catch Yukio the
moment he hit solid ground if the well didn’t let him through. The others watched as
Inuyasha put the harness on Kagome, then put it on her again, then put it on her again,
until she snapped and threatened to ‘sit’ him if he didn’t stop messing with it. While his
fussing and protective worry was endearing, it was getting on her nerves. Then she put
her bag on her back, picked up Yukio and sat on the edge of the well. She leaned over the
edge and waited until the harness pulled tight, then she let go of the ledge, allowing
Inuyasha to lower her down.
She saw Miroku waiting at the bottom and smiled at him, a sudden nervousness
hitting her. What if the well didn’t let Yukio though? Underneath her, she already began
to see the flashes of light that signaled the opening of the time slip and Miroku’s shocked
face as he witnessed it up close for the first time. The ground beneath him, of course,
stayed perfectly solid, but as her feet reached the bottom, they sunk right in. In keeping
with the plan, she lifted Yukio above her head, thankful that he was being quiet because
‘mother was moving’ and closed her eyes, cringing as she began to go into the slip.
‘Please, please, please...’ she silently begged. ‘Please let him through.’
The feel of him never left her hands as she felt herself be fully engulfed by the
time slip. Then the harness went slack and she was free falling, Yukio still in her hands,
and she knew that Inuyasha had released the rope the moment the well let Yukio pass
with her. Elation filled her and she drew the baby to her chest, allowing herself to fall
through time and land, still cradling him, on the other side.
“Whew,” she sighed, allowing the tension she’d been feeling to fade out of her
body. “Well, one obstacle down... a billion more to go.”
Beside her the time slip opened and Inuyasha came through, his face belying his
worry and then his relief at seeing them both safe.
“Heh,” he said, a cocky smirk on his lips. “So it worked. I knew it would.”
She stood up, rolling her eyes. “Of course. Never any doubts,” she said dryly.
He took her backpack, slinging it over one shoulder, and put his arm around her,
smiling as he lifted her up out of the well. Kagome paused as he slid open the well-house
doors, her heart catching in her throat. She knew what lay beyond those innocent-looking
doors. The time had come to face her mother.
Chapter Nine
Kagome held Yukio close to her chest as they approached the house. Inuyasha,
feeling her distress but not really understanding it, stayed close to her as they walked
across the shrine grounds. Just as they were approaching the doors, they slid open and
Souta ran out, almost hitting them.
“Ittekimasu!” he was calling, then skidded to an abrupt halt in front of them.
“Nee-chan! Inu-no-niichan!! Mama! Nee-chan’s back and she’s brought Inu-no-niichan
with her!!”
Kagone gulped, knowing her mother would now be waiting for her inside.
“Souta,” she greeted, managing a strained smile.
“Nee-chan. It’s good to see you!” her little brother enthused, then he noticed that
something had moved in his sister’s arms, something with ears, and his eyes narrowed.
“What’s that? Did you bring a puppy with you?”
Kagome blushed. “Ahh... no, Souta... Weren’t you on your way out?” she said,
trying to distract him.
“I was just going to Yugi’s house. What have you got, Nee-chan?”
“Ah, Kagome, Okaeri,” her mother greeted, coming to the doors.
“Mama,” she breathed, her heart catching in her throat.
Yukio took that exact moment to let out a cry in response to her sudden fear. She
saw her mother’s eyes open wide and her face go pale. Kagome cringed, gripping Yukio
even tighter against her.
“Mama, I can explain.”
“Kagome, what have you done?” her mother demanded softly, disbelievingly.
Inuyasha chose to make matters much, much worse by saying matter-of-factly,
“Kagome’s mother, we have a pup now.”
If her mother’s face could have gotten any paler, Kagome didn’t know, but she
saw her reach out to grip the edge of the door to keep herself standing.
“Mama, it’s not like that...”
“Come inside, Kagome,” her mother interrupted in a voice that brooked no
argument.
“Oh, nee-chan, I think you’re in trouble,” Souta said, edging away. “I’m gonna go
to Yugi’s house now. Bye!”
The fifth-grader dashed off as fast as his legs could carry him.
‘Sheesh, what a coward,’ Kagome thought, then steeled herself to face her
mother’s wrath.
Mama had already gone into the house and was waiting for her in the kitchen.
Inuyasha stayed close to her as she took off her shoes and slowly walked to her fate.
Yukio was fussing and fretting, and not making the situation any better.
“Here, give him to me,” Inuyasha offered. “The scent of your worry is just
making him worse.”
Reluctantly, she handed the baby over and he settled into Inuyasha’s arms,
quieting somewhat.
They entered the kitchen and Kagome waited, her eyes down, for her mother to
speak.
“You have two minutes to explain yourself, Kagome.”
“He’s an orphan. Both his parents are dead. His mother lived long enough to bring
him to Kaede’s village. He’s a hanyou like Inuyasha. Inuyasha and I... we’ve adopted
him,” she blurted.
The older woman looked at her, then at Inuyasha. “So he’s not yours and he’s not
Inuyasha’s,” she said.
“No. He is an inu-youkai hanyou like Inuyasha and looks just like him, but
Inuyasha is not his father,” Kagome replied honestly.
“I see.”
“We’ve taken him in. His name is Yukio,” she added.
“Yukio,” her mother repeated.
There was a short silence, then her mother sighed. “Kagome, how do you intend
to care for this child?”
She looked up at her mother, feeling some small measure of relief. “It’s not that
hard. Back in the Feudal Era, I have lots of help, and Inuyasha hunts for me.” She
lowered her eyes, pensive. “It’s here that will be difficult. Back there, it’s easy.”
“What do you feed him?”
“I...”
“Kagome makes milk for him!” Inuyasha answered brightly.
He said it with such pride and enthusiasm, as it if were the most amazing thing
that had ever happened, but Kagome felt her whole world come crashing down around
her at sight of her mother’s face.
“Makes milk? Kagome, are you nursing this baby?”
Kagome blushed and cringed and Inuyasha gave her a confused look.
“Yes, Mama.”
“But you said he’s not yours,” her mother said, her voice dangerously soft.
“He isn’t! But... I’d sleep with him and he’d crawl under my shirt at night and try
to get milk. A few days later, I started leaking milk. Kaede-obachan said it happens
sometimes when a woman lets a baby nurse from her...”
“You let the baby nurse from you when you didn’t have any milk?”
Kagome was really starting to panic now. She could tell her mother was furious
and she didn’t know how to make it any better.
“Y... yes. He was hungry and it would wake me up so I would feed him his gruel,
and I thought he was missing his mother so much and I didn’t mind and after a while I...”
“STOP!”
The woman said it with such force that even Inuyasha jumped and put himself
protectively in front of Kagome.
“You are going to a doctor,” her mother said coldly.
“Doctor? Mama, I can’t take him to a doctor! He’s a hanyou like Inuyasha.
They’ll think he’s deformed!” she argued.
Beside her, Inuyasha made a choked sound but she ignored him.
“I didn’t say the baby was going to the doctor. I said YOU are going to the doctor.
I will make the appointment and take you.”
Kagome blinked. “Why?...” she began, then stopped, her heart growing cold.
“You... you don’t believe me. You think I’m lying about Yukio...”
Her mother turned a hard gaze to Inuyasha. “And you. You are no longer
permitted to be with my daughter unchaperoned, and you are forbidden to sleep in her
room.”
“Huh? What the hell does that mean?”
“It means we’re not allowed to be alone together anymore,” Kagome explained.
“Why? We haven’t done anything wrong! And the pup...” Inuyasha argued,
getting upset.
“As for the baby, Kagome you will give him to me and I will watch him...”
“NO,” she replied immediately. “No, I will not. I will go to the doctor with you
and I will make sure Inuyasha and I are not alone together, but Yukio is mine and no one
is taking him away from me.”
“Kagome...”
“I’ll leave and never come back. I swear I will! I’ll go through the well and stay
there on the other side. Don’t think I won’t! Inuyasha would take me out of here in a
heartbeat and no one would be able to stop him,” she threatened, meaning every word.
Her mother’s eyes narrowed and Kagome could tell she was assessing her
daughter’s sincerity. She tried to put her conviction into her eyes and the stubborn set of
her jaw. Beside her, Inuyasha began to growl, deep and low in his throat, and Yukio grew
still and quiet, very, very quiet. Inuyasha passed him to her and put an arm around her
waist. His body was tense, ready to spring. All she had to do was say the word and he’d
leap right through the wall of the house if he had to, or blow a hole with Tessaiga. Kaze
no Kizu would waste the entire building, but she knew he wouldn’t think twice about
doing it if he thought they were in danger.
It was a tense stand-off and Kagome wondered who would give in first, then her
mother dropped her eyes and sighed.
“Alright. Keep him for now.”
“For now?” Inuyasha repeated, his voice almost a snarl.
“If this child is detrimental to my daughter’s health, I will do everything in my
power to keep it from her,” the older woman replied. “Now I am going to call my
OB/GYN and see if I can get you an appointment for tomorrow.”
It was a clear dismissal and Kagome took the opportunity to grab Inuyasha’s arm
and back him out of the room.
‘Oh God, that was horrible. What… what am I going to do?’
She was close to tears and nauseous with upset, her hands shaking. Inuyasha was
fuming, his hands clenched into tight fists.
“Baka,” Inuyasha grumbled. “Foolish woman to think he is yours. And just when
would you have carried and birthed him? We return to this wretched place twice a moon,
and even youkai pregnancies last longer than that. Breeding bellies are hard to hide. She’s
not making any sense. And to make you feel so poorly and to threaten to take Yukio...”
‘You’ve never see my mom like that, have you? Your only memories of her are of
when she is happy and pleased and helpful. You’ve never seen her when she’s mad. I’m
sorry, Inuyasha. I should have warned you,’ she thought sadly.
“Don’t worry, Inuyasha. If it comes to it, we’ll leave and not come back. I meant
what I said,” she assured. ‘I’m not giving up my baby.’
“You’d... you’d really sacrifice your life here to keep the pup?” he asked, his
voice soft and laced with wonder.
She looked sharply at him and saw the open, touched look on his face. ‘What is
this? He’s been like this ever since my milk came in...’
“Absolutely,” she replied with conviction. “No one is taking Yukio away from
me.”
If anything his face softened even more and she swore his eyes grew watery, but
he looked away too fast. Boldly, she took his hand, feeling the rough callused palm close
tentatively over her own.
“No one is taking the pup away from us,” she amended.
He met her gaze, his eyes as serious and determined as hers, and nodded once.
Yukio fussed, drawing their attention and Inuyasha crinkled his nose.
“He’s dirty.”
Kagome nodded. “And I should feed him as well. C’mon.”
Knowing that there would be Hell to pay if she tried to go up to her room, she
went into the living room instead. She lowered herself down to sit on one of the floor
cushions and Inuyasha draped his haori over her shoulders the way he always did when
she was about to nurse the baby. He sat next to her, putting himself into a protective
position against anyone or anything that might come through the doors.
As she reached for her bag to get a clean diaper, movement from the side caught
her attention and she looked up to see her grandfather sitting on the other side of the
room. The look on his face told her that he had heard everything she and her mother had
argued about. Flushing, and feeling very exposed, she lowered her gaze and returned to
what she was doing, her hands trembling.
Jii-chan came to sit in front of her as she laid Yukio on the floor on his spread out
blanket and took off his soiled diaper. She could tell he was watching her intently,
following her movements as she wiped the baby clean and dried his tender skin. When
she turned to pick up the clean diaper, she saw him stretch out a hand to touch the baby.
Her first instinct was to slap it away, grab Yukio and run, but oddly, Inuyasha placed a
gentle hand on her wrist. She looked at him and saw that he and her grandfather were
staring at each other.
After a few tense moments, Inuyasha gave a very small nod and Jii-chan picked
Yukio up. He was still naked and Kagome wanted to warn her grandfather that the baby
might soil him, but the look on the man’s face stopped her. He was looking to the infant’s
eyes, holding him lightly under the arms with his wrinkled, wizened hands. Yukio, to his
credit, didn’t fuss, but looked up at the man who held him and raised a grasping hand.
Jii-chan closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them again. He placed Yukio
in his lap, reached up and pulled the charm he had around his neck over his head. He used
the knots on the cord to shorten its length, ignoring the baby that grabbed at the stone and
batted it with clawed hands, then he gently slipped it over Yukio’s head, letting it rest on
his small chest. Yukio looked at it and played with it, then stuck it in his mouth. Jii-chan
gently pulled it out, running one finger over the baby’s lips, before placing a hand on
Yukio’s forehead and making a small prayer.
“Jii-chan...” Kagome breathed with gratitude and surprise, recognizing the
blessing.
“Forgive your mother for behaving badly. She is very worried about you,” he told
her as he gently placed Yukio back on his blanket.
“Hai, Jii-chan. Arigato,” she replied, quickly putting on the clean diaper and
wrapping him back up. ‘I’d wanted to get new diapers and new clothes for him while I
was here, and maybe a new carrier but...’
She picked him up, tucking him under the haori, preparing to feed him. He knew
what was coming and started to gurgle happily as she lifted her shirt and raised him to her
breast. He found the nipple on his own without any prompting, and she sighed with relief
at the feel of him nursing, the tension running out of her shoulders and back. Inuyasha
came close and put an arm around her, and she relaxed in his loose embrace. This was
normal. This was her world: Yukio and Inuyasha’s arms.
‘He likes to be close when I feed the baby. There’s something there. Something
deep and old. It comes into his eyes when he sees me with Yukio. Whatever it is, it softens
him and brings out his tender side. Yukio has brought us so much closer together.’
Yukio brought out her tender side too. She was gentler with Inuyasha, more
patient and tolerant. She hadn’t ‘sat’ him in three days- not since the morning her milk
came in and they’d had that awful fight over the liver. Speaking of liver...
“Inuyasha?”
“Hm?”
“Where’s the liver?”
“In your bag.”
“It needs to be put in the refrigerator... the cold box in the kitchen.”
“Now?”
“Soon.”
“Ok.”
He didn’t move and she was content to let him stay there. Another twenty minutes
wouldn’t make a difference. A few moments later a shadow fell over them and Inuyasha
tensed. She looked up to see her mother standing in the doorway with an unreadable
expression on her face as she watched her nurse the baby.
“Your appointment is for eleven ‘o clock tomorrow morning. We’ll leave here
around ten to get there on time,” her mother told her, her voice neutral.
Kagome nodded, swallowing the lump in her throat. “Hai, Mama.”
Jii-chan stood up and brushed off his hakama. “Mama. I would speak with you,”
he said quietly, walking over to her.
“Hey old man,” Inuyasha interrupted. “Could you take the two pots of liver from
Kagome’s bag and put them in the cold box?”
“Of course,” Jii-chan replied.
Moving without dislodging Yukio, Kagome retrieved the two clay jars full of
liver and gave them to her grandfather with a word of thanks. He gave Kagome a
reassuring smile and led her mother away.
‘Well… we weren’t alone until he left us alone, so I’m not going to worry about
it,’ she thought to herself.
“At least the old man has brains,” Inuyasha commented.
She gave a small grunt in acknowledgement but otherwise kept quiet. Yukio made
his ‘next please’ noise and she switched him, giving his bottom a pat as she did so. He
snuffled and latched on to her breast, sucking noisily.
‘It sounds like he’d be a messy eater, but he never spills a drop.’
A particularly hard suck made her wince a little. ‘Never leaves a drop either.
Little pig.’
“He’s growing,” she said, just for something to say.
“Yeah. Youkai and hanyou pups grow fast.”
She nodded, remembering how much Shippou had grown over the last two years.
“He’ll be walking by the end of the summer, I’d bet. Maybe talking too,”
Inuyasha predicted.
“That soon? He’ll only be six or seven months old by then,” she replied.
“Yeah. I can see it already.”
“When will he begin to teethe?”
“I’m not sure. Soon though. Another couple of weeks maybe.”
“Hmmm. That’s too soon to wean him. I was hoping to have him on solid food
before he cut teeth, but if he is going to start growing them that soon…”
“If he bites you, scruff him, but I think he’s learned his lesson there,” he said with
a hint of amusement.
“Yeah, he learned that quick.”
Inuyasha chuckled. “Must take after his mother,” he teased lightly. “I’m just the
stupid hanyou.”
“Don’t say that. I know you’re one of the smart ones. You try to hide it, but I
know. You’re a lot smarter than you let on,” she replied, unhappy that he’d put himself
down.
“Humans don’t expect animals to be intelligent. My human grandfather told my
mother I’d never learn to read and not to bother trying to teach me, but she didn’t listen to
him, and I learned pretty fast.”
“I remember when you stole my maths study guide,” she recalled fondly. “I was
so mad at you.”
“Now that I couldn’t read; all those weird signs and symbols.”
She snickered. “That’s okay. I couldn’t read it either.”
“You’ve often said that math is hard for you.”
She nodded. “The higher math, yes. Algebra, geometry, calculus…”
“Calc-u-what?”
She gave him a fond look. “Math with weird signs and symbols.”
He snorted. “Dunno what you need it for. If you can add and subtract, it should be
enough. Seems stupid to me.”
“Me too. I know I’ll never use it once I graduate.”
“Then why bother with it at all? Isn’t it a waste of time then?”
She sighed but did not get angry. Inuyasha had never really understood the
importance of her school work.
“Because in this time education is very important, and if I want to pass my tests
and do well, I have to learn the things they want.”
“Hmmph.”
Yukio made his ‘all gone’ noise and she drew him from underneath the haori,
pulling down her shirt to cover her breast again. She’d stopped wearing her bras because
they’d gotten too small for her lactating breasts. New bras were on her list of necessary
supplies to get while she was in the modern era. Gently, she draped him across her
shoulder and burped him, giving him an extra cuddle once he’d belched.
“You’ll teach him, right?” Inuyasha asked her suddenly, reaching over to rub the
pup’s ears. “You’ll teach him all your learning from all your books?”
She looked at him and smiled. “Of course.” ‘He’s not even considering the
possibility that we might not be together to see him grow up. I wonder what that means.’
He gave her a pleased smile. “Good.”
She yawned. It was too much to think about: her mother, the doctor, Yukio
growing up, her and Inuyasha’s future, her tests… oh yeah, the tests she hadn’t studied
for. Her head hurt.
“I’m tired,” she sighed.
“Then you should sleep.”
She shook her head. “I don’t want to be alone.”
Inuyasha looked around, then pulled them both with him as he moved to the wall,
placing his back against it and drawing her into his arms. They assumed the familiar
sleeping position they adopted when resting this way and curled together. She tucked
Yukio against her chest and snuggled him under the haori that was now draped over both
of them like a blanket. Inuyasha nuzzled her hair then rested his chin on top of her head.
She fell asleep feeling warm and safe.
Jii-chan woke them when it was time to eat, and dinner was a quiet affair full of
tension and unspoken words. Kagome refused to look at her mother, and Inuyasha made
sure that he was seated in the most protective position possible, with Kagome closest to
the door. She had Yukio around her chest in his sling and he was sleeping quietly after
having just been fed. Poor Souta tried to start conversations to lighten the mood, but none
of his cheerful anecdotes worked, and he finally gave up. After dinner he went up to his
room to study.
In keeping with the new rules, Kagome chose to study in the kitchen with the
shoji open so anyone could see that she and Inuyasha were doing nothing more risqué
than sitting at the table. He kept hold of Yukio, entertaining him when he wanted
attention and giving him to her for feeding and changing when necessary until she closed
her books and said she was headed up to bed. She changed and fed Yukio once more
before talking him into her bedroom. Inuyasha gave her a sad, longing look that broke her
heart, and she gave him a little nuzzle and a comforting stroke on his cheek before
closing the door on him, leaving him in the hall. He sat with his back to her bedroom
door, Tessaiga draped across his lap and tried to doze.
Kagome found sleep elusive for herself as well, the lack of Inuyasha’s comforting
presence making it hard for her to relax. Knowing he was right outside her door helped a
little, but even Yukio was fussy without the scent of his adoptive father nearby. Still, she
knew she should at least try to get some sleep. Tomorrow she was going to the doctor.
Chapter Ten
Morning came too soon and she greeted it with eyes that felt like they’d been
glued shut with sandpaper. Blinking slowly, she looked down at the reason she’d
awakened, and found that Yukio had tired of waiting for her to get up and had taken
matters into his own mouth, worming under her pajama top and finding the nipple by
himself.
His insistent sucking was what had brought her out of her uneasy sleep, and now
she looked at her clock. It was eight-thirty. She had an hour and a half before she had to
leave for the doctor with her mother. Cupping Yukio under his bottom, she sat up,
yawning, and ran a hand through her dirty hair. She needed a bath.
‘I’ll hand him to Inuyasha once he’s finished eating and go take one,’ she
decided.
No sooner had the thought left her mind when she heard a tentative knock at the
door.
“Kagome?” Inuyasha’s voice called.
“Yes?” she replied.
Without warning, Inuyasha entered the room. She squeaked and dived under the
blanket, dislodging Yukio in the process and earning an unhappy yowl from him for the
sudden ‘breakfast-interruptus.’ Amazingly, though, she didn’t ‘sit’ the impatient hanyou
for coming in without asking first.
“Agh! Sorry! Sorry! I didn’t peep! I swear!” he stammered.
She blinked out from underneath her coverlet and saw that he was flaming red
with embarrassment. The look on his face told her that he fully expected to be ‘sat,’
probably multiple times.
“It’s okay this time, Inuyasha, but next time ask me before you come in.”
He blinked at her, shocked, but nodded. Then he took off his haori and offered it
to her, laying it on the mattress and turning his back so she could put it on. “Here.”
“Thanks,” she said, accepting the garment and donning it, lifting the fussing
Yukio back up to where he wanted to be. He grabbed on roughly as if frightened that he’d
be pulled away again. She winced but didn’t scruff him. She probably should have, but it
was her fault he was upset, so she forgave him.
“You can turn around now,” she told Inuyasha.
He did so and sat by her bed, facing her. “How are you?” he asked.
His eyes were open and unguarded, and Kagome thought he looked a little
traumatized.
‘Hmmm, sleeping away from me was hard on him too.’
“I’m fine. Not looking forward to going to the doctor, but there’s no helping it.”
He nodded, his face serious and unhappy.
Yukio finished with the first breast and she switched him. He was gentler this
time, probably figuring out that momma wasn’t going to take his teat away.
“Once he’s finished, would you watch him while I take a bath?”
Inuyasha crinkled his nose. “Change him first.”
She chuckled. Diaper changing was the one thing the adult hanyou avoided at all
costs.
“What are you going to do if he soils his diaper when I’m at the doctor’s?”
He gave her a hopeful look. “Wait until you get home?”
“Inuyasha…” she warned.
“The old man? He’s changed pups before, right?”
“Inuyasha…”
“I’ll mess it up. I won’t do it right! My claws will rip the cloth and the moss will
fall out. You’ll come back to find the diaper on his head. You know it.”
“Inuyasha…” she almost growled. He was really pushing it.
He flattened his ears and submitted. “All right. I’ll change him if he soils.”
She gave him a bright smile and a pat on the head. “Good boy. I’ll bring you extra
ramen for being so brave.”
“Feh,” he snorted.
“Kagome?” her mother’s voice called, and she looked up to see her standing in
the open doorway. Inuyasha had never closed it from his earlier entrance.
“Yes, Mama?” she replied.
“You need to get ready to go.”
“I will as soon as Yukio’s finished, Mama. I’ll change him then go take a bath.”
“I’ll have breakfast ready by the time you come down,” the older woman said.
“Okay. Thank you, Mama.”
Her mother nodded and walked away, leaving the door open.
Yukio finished eating a few minutes later. She burped and changed him, then
gave him to Inuyasha to watch while she gathered clothes and went to bathe. When she
came out of the bathroom, she was surprised to see that Inuyasha had not gone down to
breakfast. Instead she found him lying on his back in her bed with Yukio draped on his
chest and one hand resting lightly on the baby’s back. The baby had his fists curled into
the cream fabric of his adopted father’s kimono and was sleeping peacefully. Inuyasha
had his eyes closed as well, and the scene was so endearing that she wished she had a
camera to capture it forever.
“Inuyasha,” she called and his eyes cracked open immediately. She offered him
his haori in exchange for the baby. “Here.”
He accepted the trade and she wrapped Yukio in his blanket before heading
downstairs.
Breakfast was about as fun as dinner had been, and no one spoke. Souta had
already left for school so it was just her, Inuyasha, Jii-chan and Mama.
“How long will you be gone?” Inuyasha asked as she prepared to leave with her
mother.
He was holding Yukio and looking very domestic.
“A couple of hours, I think. What will you do?”
He shrugged. “Try to get some sleep and hope the pup doesn’t soil his diaper until
you get back,” he replied with a small smile.
She gave him a light slap on the shoulder, then a soft stroke on his cheek. “I
promise we’ll come straight home from the appointment.”
He nodded gratefully and touched his forehead to hers for a brief moment.
“Okay.”
“I’ll see you when I get back.”
“Be safe, Kagome.”
She gave him a reassuring smile. “I will. I promise.”
“Let’s go, Kagome,” her mother said.
Kagome gave him a little sigh and a shrug, then followed her mother out.
They took the train and neither spoke as they traveled. Kagome fiddled with the
hem of the skirt she had put on. It was longer than the skirts she usually wore, but she
was feeling exposed and the extra cloth gave her some semblance of protection. When
they arrived at the OB/GYN office, Kagome gave the nurse her name, and was told to
wait in the full waiting room. Apparently one of the partners had been called to the
hospital for a birth so there was a backlog as the remaining doctors tried to make up for
the loss of a staff member. As a result, Kagome would not be seeing her mother’s
gynecologist, but another doctor instead.
After two hours of waiting, she and her mother were finally led back to an
examination room. There Kagome was instructed to remove all of her clothing and don
the flimsy examination gown. She sat on the examination table, shivering in the cold
room, with her mother studiously not looking at her and making her feel dirtier than she
already did, for another hour. When the doctor finally came in, she was practically to the
point of tears from all the nervous waiting and cold treatment.
Kagome had never been through a pelvic exam before. Her only consolation was
that the doctor was female, thus sparing her the trauma of having to submit to being
touched there by a strange man, but it was a small comfort. The exam was
uncomfortable, and the speculum the woman used was cold and hurt her when it was
opened. And while not overly rough, the doctor wasn’t gentle either and had a
disapproving look on her face for most of the exam, making Kagome feel like she had
committed some form of terrible sin. Her disapproving look deepened when she
examined Kagome’s breasts, and she wanted to just crawl into a hole and hide forever.
When the doctor finished, she pulled off her latex gloves as Kagome slowly sat up
and faced her mother, keeping her back to Kagome.
“Well, Mrs. Higurashi, I am happy to tell you that your daughter remains pure,”
the doctor said matter-of-factly.
Both Kagome and her mother flinched, and Kagome felt even worse.
“Excuse me?” her mother replied.
The doctor seemed slightly put out. “I assumed since you were so insistent on
having your daughter seen today, that you had reason to believe that she was no longer
pure. I am telling you that her hymen remains intact and there is no evidence of any
vaginal penetration.”
Kagome felt the heat rise in her cheeks and she gripped the edge of the table, her
stomach flip-flopping in her gut.
“That’s not…” her mother began to say, but was cut off by the doctor turning
around to face her patient.
“However, it is obvious that she has been engaging in some rather aberrant
behavior,” she said angrily, glaring at Kagome.
“Aberrant behavior?” Mrs. Higurashi repeated.
“Yes. Since there is no possible way she could have given birth, yet it is clear that
she is lactating, I can only assume that she is breastfeeding a child that is not hers. Just
whose baby are you nursing, girl, and what the hell do you think you are doing?”
Kagome stared at the doctor in shock. “I…” she stammered.
There was no way she could tell the truth, and the doctor wouldn’t believe her if
she tried.
“So it is possible for a woman to breastfeed without having become pregnant,”
Kagome’s mother said.
“Of course. The hormones that govern lactation are pituitary, not ovarian. Even a
woman who has undergone a hysterectomy would be able to lactate if stimulated. A
number of adoptive mothers undergo hormone therapy in order to induce lactation to
breastfeed their adoptive infants, but milk production can be induced by nipple
stimulation alone,” the doctor informed them tersely. “Since I am assuming no doctor in
their right mind would provide this girl with hormone therapy, I can only conclude that
she is allowing a baby to nurse from her and has been for quite some time. Which brings
me back to my original question. Whose baby is it?”
Kagome shrank back from the hard gaze, clutching the front of the flimsy
examination gown closed over her breasts. She was close to tears and a hair away from
exploding; not something she did often, but she was feeling extremely trapped and
threatened. Her mother must have seen the look on her face, and her protective maternal
instincts finally kicked in because she stood up and positioned herself by her daughter’s
side.
“My niece recently had a baby,” her mother lied smoothly. “Kagome’s been babysitting for them a lot.”
“Tell them they need to find a new baby-sitter. What your daughter is doing
cannot be considered child abuse, but it can be classified as molestation.”
“Molestation?!” Mrs. Higurashi exclaimed.
Kagome thought she was going to faint.
“Of course. She is putting a strange baby to breast, and she has done it often
enough to not only induce lactation, but she is producing significant amounts of milk.
The amount of nursing required in order to warrant that much milk, especially because
she is still a virgin and has never been pregnant, means she is doing it repeatedly on at
least a daily basis. This is a severe interference with the parental-infant bond, and I have
no doubt that the parents will be horrified to find out what their baby-sitter has been
doing to their infant.”
The doctor turned her hard gaze to her again. “Now, girl, you are going to stop
nursing this baby. Do you hear me? Because it is a family affair and you are a minor, I
will leave it to your mother to deal with you. You are just going to have to wait until you
have your own baby to nurse, but I strongly suggest you wait until you are least nineteen
and that you get some psychological help in the meantime. What you are doing is not
normal and is considered deviant behavior. Now go get dressed. I want to speak to your
mother alone.”
Humiliated, hurting and numb, Kagome slid off the examination table, gathered
her clothes and went into the bathroom. She felt filthy, her skin crawling where the
doctor had touched her, and cold from the lubricant gel that was still on her body. She sat
on the toilet and wiped herself clean repeatedly, using paper towels moistened with warm
water from the sink, but no matter how much she tried, she couldn’t get rid of the feeling
of slime on her flesh. She was shaking so badly, she could barely balance on one foot to
slip on her clothes, and she had to fumble with the zipper of her skirt five times before
she finally got it. When she finally finished dressing and made her way slowly to the
waiting room, her mother had already completed the check-out paperwork and was ready
to leave.
She shook all the way home, her arms crossed over her chest and her head bowed.
People stared at her on the train and she bit her lip hard enough to draw blood just to keep
from screaming. Her mother watched her with concerned eyes and stayed close by, her
attitude completely different from that of the morning. If it hadn’t been so sick, Kagome
might have started laughing.
She practically threw herself out of the train when they reached their stop and
hurried up the stairs and down the street, making her mother walk double-time just to
keep up. When she saw the welcome sight of the shrine stairs, she broke into a run,
ignoring her mother’s worried call. She had only one thought: get to Inuyasha. Inuyasha
would keep her safe. Inuyasha would make it all better. Inuyasha wouldn’t look at her as
if she were some deviant, baby-molesting filth to be locked away.
She hit the stairs running and took them two at time, her arms crossed tightly over
her breasts to support them because all-in-all she’d been gone more than five hours
including travel time, and it was well past time when she needed to nurse the baby. She
cleared the top of the stairs, passing under the shrine archway, and raced across the
paving stones. A flash of red and silver appeared in her view and she saw him: her
salvation, her sanity, standing at the other end of the shrine grounds. He was holding their
baby, his face pale and worried as he watched her coming towards him. Her tears had
already started to fall, and the sobs were building in her throat as his stunned figure grew
closer and closer. He must have realized that she had no intention of stopping until she
had literally run into him, because she saw him lift one arm to hold the baby out of the
way while the other opened out to her.
She hit him full force, thanking God he was so strong because he didn’t even
flinch, and his open arm came around her, cocooning her in the red folds of his haori as
the floodgates opened and she sobbed great wracking sobs into his shoulder. Yukio
answered her sobs with howls of his own and it was impossible to tell who was louder.
“Kagome,” Inuyasha breathed, his voice full of worry, heartbreak and fear.
She couldn’t bring herself to stop sobbing long enough to answer him. Instead she
gripped the front of his haori so tightly her knuckles turned white, and clung to him as if
he were the only thing on earth keeping her alive. He was certainly the only thing
keeping her standing, and he supported her easily, nuzzling into her hair in a useless
attempt to comfort her.
Yukio’s cries finally reached her and she pulled back long enough to take him
into her arms and hold him close.
“Shhh. Shhhhhhh, my baby. Kaa-san is here, and Otou,” she choked through her
tears, kissing his red face and little puppy ears as she wept. “We’re here and we love you.
We love you. We love you. We love you.”
Free from holding the baby, Inuyasha now wrapped both arms around her and
Yukio, pulling them into a tight embrace, holding them as if the force of his will alone
could make everything all better. Little did he know that, at least for her, he was
absolutely right. Inyuasha’s arms were safe. Inuyasha’s arms were where she belonged
and no one would ever take her from them.
She knew immediately when her mother entered the shrine grounds because
Inuyasha began to growl menacingly and pull her closer. Then he was moving them,
dragging her along with him as he snarled his warnings, and she realized that he was
headed for the well-house.
“No,” she managed to tell him. “My room. Take me to my room.”
He gave an unhappy grunt and growl, but obeyed. Lifting her into his arms, he
carried her bridal-style into the house and up to her room, slamming the door shut with a
kick of his foot. He deposited her and the baby onto the bed, but still did not let go of
them. Instead, he got on the bed with them, pulled them with him as he braced his back
against the wall, and wrapped himself around them as much as it was physically possible
for him to do.
Yukio was still whimpering little cries of worry, upset and hunger, and she
quieted him by giving him her breast, not caring if Inuyasha might be able to peep and
see her. He nursed desperately, his little fists balled against her, finding both comfort and
nourishment in the action. Inuyasha peeled her from him long enough to cover her with
his haori the way he always did, then pulled her back into his arms. She continued to
cling to him and cry heartbroken sobs until she finally stopped because she was too
exhausted to cry anymore. Drained, heart-sore and still very much in shock, she just lay
in his embrace, breathing softly with the occasion sniffle and hitched gasp.
“Kagome. Kagome, tell me what happened. You were gone such a long time. We
were worried,” he begged softly.
Shuddering at the memory, and feeling the emotion welling up over her again, she
drew a shaky, halting breath and answered him. She spoke in broken sobs and stuttered
whispers, but she told him everything that happened- from the moment she arrived at the
doctor, all the way up to the estrogen therapy the doctor wanted her to take that she had
no intention of taking to suppress her milk and dry her up. She could feel his anger
growing and knew he was practically vibrating with rage by the time she had finished her
tale, but he wouldn’t let her go.
Yukio had finished eating and was already sleeping in the cocoon of their
embrace when the stress and strain of her horrible day, plus that fact that she hadn’t slept
well the previous night, caught up with her and she felt herself losing consciousness.
Inuyasha noticed it too and rocked her a little, lulling her to rest. She fell asleep to the
sound of his soft breathing and his heartbeat in her ears.
Chapter Eleven
There are moments in a woman’s life; defining moments where everything
changes in a heartbeat and nothing is ever the same again. Your first crush. The day you
start menstruating. Your first boyfriend. Your first experience with sex. The day you
accept your first marriage proposal. Your wedding day. The birth of your first child
(“Congratulations, Mrs. Higurashi. It’s a girl.”). The unexpected loss of a husband and
having to raise two children alone. The day your daughter starts her first day of school.
The day she tells you the ancient well in the shrine leads to a place 500 years in the past.
The day a half-demon comes to drag her back there. The day she returns with her first
battle scars, and you realize she is putting herself in mortal danger and there’s nothing
you can do to stop it. The day she gets her heart broken and cries all night in her room.
The day you know she is falling in love. The day she starts high school. The day you
realize the little girl you raised is someone you don’t know anymore. The day she
appears, half-demon in tow, carrying a strange infant, and all your hopes and dreams for
her to have a normal life go completely up in smoke.
Defining moments. Defining decisions. Choices you make in the blink of an eye
and you can’t take them back. Things you thought were the right things to do only to find
everything going all wrong and spiraling out of control.
The day you make the worst decision of your life and damage something
precious, perhaps beyond repair.
Mama Higurashi sat at the kitchen table and poured herself another cup of sake in
the dark, the only light in the room coming from the displays on the microwave and
kitchen clock. It had been over a decade since she’d been this drunk, but tonight she
needed it to numb the pain. The pain of her beloved daughter’s humiliated, horrified face,
the accusing eyes, and the sick feeling in the pit of her stomach to know she had been the
cause of it.
She’d been so frightened. Her daughter, her precious Kagome, barely seventeen
and coming home with a babe-in-arms, a nursing one at that! Something had to be done!
She made the choice, laid down the law, and crushed her child with it. Oh what she
wouldn’t do for a chance to take it all back and do it differently.
She should have listened to Jii-chan instead of being blinded by her own irrational
panic. Now she wasn’t sure if what was broken could ever be fixed. Could the halfdemon with the dog ears heal her daughter’s wounds? The ones her own mother had put
there? Could he soothe the ache and make that horrible, broken look go away from her
child’s eyes?
They were upstairs now- in blatant disobedience of the new rules, but at least she
no longer heard her daughter’s heartbroken sobs. It had been quiet up there for hours and
neither of them had answered the call to dinner so perhaps Kagome had finally fallen into
painless sleep. She didn’t know when she herself would ever get to sleep. Every time she
closed her eyes she kept seeing that terrible, heart wrenching face, and she’d start to cry
all over again. Jii-chan tried to comfort her, tried to absolve her of the guilt for the
colossal error in judgment she’d made, but she’d be punishing herself for years. Would
Kagome ever forgive her?
There was movement by the doors and there he stood, white hair a stark contrast
to the darkness of the hallway behind him. She known he would come down eventually,
and she had been expecting him. He was viciously protective of her daughter, and there
was no way he would have let the events of the day go unchallenged. And really, she
would think less of him if he did. What man who truly loved her daughter would allow
her pain to go unpunished? The very fact that he stood there, ready to face down his
love’s own mother, was proof of his devotion, and she had to respect him for it even if
part of her was deathly afraid.
He could kill her in a heartbeat and she knew it. She’d seen what those claws
could do, but his body did not scream violence and revenge. His dog ears were drooped,
his eyes down, and his hands were clenched into hard fists at his sides. She didn’t know if
he was raging or weeping, then thought he was probably doing both.
“You should be proud of her,” he said suddenly in the heavy silence, his voice
rough with emotion. “You should be proud of her, woman, not ashamed. What she did…
She took an orphaned hanyou pup and loved him. Loved him enough to feed him from
her own body even though he was not hers. She took in a pup most others would have
killed outright or left to starve. That’s not something she should be punished for.”
He paused, but she could tell that he wasn’t finished speaking, so she stayed quiet,
waiting.
“Your daughter has the purest heart I’ve ever known. I have seen her sacrifice
more and give more of herself in a single day than most of us useless bastards do in our
entire lifetimes. Through her I have seen the world in all of its possibilities instead of all
of its disappointments. Every day I am awed and humbled by her power to love and
forgive. I know I am a worthless hanyou who is not worthy of her, but yet she stays with
me, and treats me with love and kindness- more love and kindness than I have ever
known, and I am thankful for every day that she is in my life.”
He looked up at her, his eyes blazing with fury. “I owe her more than my heart
and mind. I owe her my soul because she gave it back to me when I thought I’d lost it
forever. And if you ever hurt her like this again, I will take her away. I’ll take her through
that blasted well and destroy it on the other side. I won’t care if she hates me or ‘sits’ me
a thousand times. I will protect Kagome and I will protect my pup. Even from you.”
She swallowed hard, knowing if anyone would make good on his threats, it would
be this boy.
“I know,” she replied calmly. “And if I ever hurt one of my children like this
again, I’ll help you.”
He seemed surprised by her words, then nodded grimly, “We understand each
other then.”
She nodded. “As much as can be understood. Believe me, no one knows more
than I how horribly I behaved and how wrong I was. I don’t know why I did what I did. I
can only say that I feared for my daughter’s health. However, as soon as we were told
that what was happening was normal, I should have taken Kagome out of there. I should
not have subjected her to… that.”
“You should have trusted her. Kagome would not have lied to you.”
“I know, but sometimes parents find themselves making the wrong choices for the
right reasons, and they end up doing more harm than good by mistake. I pray you will
never find yourself in that position,” she told him.
He nodded, his mouth tightened into a thin line.
“I knew I had made a mistake the moment we got to the doctor’s office and I saw
how upset and nervous she was, but I didn’t listen to what my heart was telling me. I
didn’t know how much worse it was going to get until it was too late, and by then the
damage was already done.
“But as I listened to that hateful woman insult and debase my daughter, then
insult me and call my parenting skills into question, I realized that I had raised a child
almost no one would understand. My daughter’s heart and soul were so big and so pure,
the average person could not even begin to comprehend it. But I’d known that. I’d always
known that. It had just never been so clear to me than in that moment.”
The boy looked at her with pleading eyes. “If you knew, then why did you do it?
She didn’t deserve to suffer through that.”
“Because pretty soon you’ll understand what a parent will do to protect her child,
the lengths she will go to in order to keep her child safe,” she tried to explain. “I was
afraid for my daughter; I am still afraid for her. Every time she goes with you through the
well, I know there’s a chance she might not come back. I have seen the scars she bears
and the shadows behind her eyes. I have watched my carefree little girl worry about
bandages and emergency wound care when all she should be crying about is hair and
boys. When she came through with a baby and claimed it as her own… all I wanted to do
was save her.”
“From me,” he said with a dejected sigh.
She shook her head. “From that life. In your time, girls Kagome’s age may be
married and already have two children, but in this time she is still just a child. She has her
whole life ahead of her, full of dreams and opportunities that having a baby at seventeen
takes away from her. I wanted to spare her the hardships of the path she has chosen.”
“So if I love her, I should leave? Take the pup and go?” he asked suddenly.
She paused. Was that what she wanted? For her daughter to go back to being a
normal child? No more trips through the well, no more battles, no more half-demon
eating ramen in her kitchen? If she could make that choice for Kagome she would, but
she couldn’t and Kagome could never go back to being a normal girl. She had seen and
done too much.
And above all Mama knew Kagome loved this half-demon with all her heart, and
would be destroyed if she lost either him or the baby they were planning to raise together.
After all the damage she had done today, she was in no mood to cause her daughter any
more heartache and pain.
“No. If you love her, you will stay and see it through. If you love her enough to be
willing to die for her, be willing to live for her. Dying is easy, Inuyasha. It’s living that’s
the hard part,” she replied honestly.
The half-demon in her kitchen snorted. “Keh, you don’t need to tell me that,
woman. I’ve known it all my life. Humans and youkai have been trying to get rid of me
since the day I was born.”
“Like that helpless baby who lost both his parents.”
He nodded gravely.
She sighed and took another drink from her cup. She heard him sniff and grunt.
“Sake, eh?” he commented wryly.
She nodded, refilling the cup. “The drink of the repentant.”
He coughed lightly. “And the foolish.”
She shrugged. “Tonight, I am both.”
He looked away, his eyes thoughtful. “How well I know that feeling.”
They were quiet for several moments, then she gathered up her courage and
asked.
“How is Kagome?”
“Sleeping. The pup too,” he answered simply.
“She didn’t eat any dinner. Neither did you.”
“We weren’t hungry.”
“Are you hungry now?”
“Not really. Maybe later.”
“It’s already past nine,” she pointed out.
He shrugged.
She turned back to her drink. “I’ll be up a while longer. If she wakes, tell her I
want to speak with her. I’d like to apologize to her personally. I don’t know if it will do
any good, but I have to try.”
“I’ll tell her, but I don’t know if she will come down tonight,” he promised.
“I wouldn’t blame her if she didn’t.”
“But as you said, her heart is pure and big. I am sure she will forgive you. She’s
forgiven me worse,” he admitted.
“She loves you very much. Love makes it easy to forgive.”
“If only that forgiveness could make you forget the mistakes you made,” he
commented regretfully.
She nodded in perfect understanding and took another sip from her drink. “Thank
you for taking care of her,” she said after a moment, genuinely grateful.
“I will be staying in her room tonight,” he told her, his voice holding a hint of
challenge.
She nodded and gave in. It was wrong of her to separate them anyway.
“I know you would never do anything to dishonor my daughter,” she answered.
“There are some who say she dishonors herself just by being with me,” he said
sadly.
“Those who say that are simply ignorant and hateful. Don’t listen to them.
Kagome knows her own heart and she’s the one that matters.”
“Yes,” he agreed. “I’m going back up now.”
“Good night, Inuyasha.”
“Good night.”
The half-demon moved to leave her alone in the dark with her sake and her
regrets, but then she had a flash of inspiration.
‘Maybe I can make things a little better for Kagome tonight after all.’
“Inuyasha…” she called, and waited for him to look at her.
He paused in the doorway and blinked confusedly. “Yeah?”
“Kagome knows you love her, but… but sometimes it’s nice to hear the words.”
She saw his eyes open wide for a moment, then his face grew quiet and pensive.
He gave her a quiet nod of thanks and acknowledgment, and walked out of the room. She
watched him leave, before returning to her sake and her own dark thoughts.
*********
Inuyasha walked slowly up the stairs, his mind and heart heavy with the events of
the day. As he climbed the stairs, he let his fists relax and raised his hands to lick the
blood off his palms where his claws had dug into his skin. Some of the wounds were so
deep that blood had pooled out of them and dripped on the floor. He licked his hands
thoroughly, knowing that the pup would smell blood immediately and get upset. The
action gave him time to think about Kagome’s mother’s words.
‘Kagome knows you love her, but… but sometimes it’s nice to hear the words.’
He knew he’d never said it. But then again, she’d never said it either. It was this
unspoken agreement between them not to tell each other how they really felt. At least, not
with words anyway. They had been telegraphing ‘I love yous’ with touch and actions for
the better part of their relationship, but the words… the words had never left their lips.
He’d heard her say them- to others. Usually when she thought he couldn’t hear.
He’d heard her scream ‘I love Inuyasha!’ right before he ripped down the shoji of the
temple Kagura had taken Kagome to when Naraku had tried to steal Kagome’s eyes.
He’d heard her cry it as she thrust off the last of that damn baby’s control over her soul,
just moments before he’d clawed his way to her side.
How she’d looked at him then as she fell backwards and he caught her before she
hit the floor. Her eyes… her eyes had said it all, and again, later, when she opened them
and saw him kneeling next to her. ‘You came,’ her mouth had said, but her eyes had
whispered, ‘I love you. I adore you. You are my only one.’ And he’d felt shame and guilt
and self-hatred for being such a terrible fool, and vowed to never ever, ever let Kagome
suffer like that again.
He knew she’d told Sango of her love for him, and, obviously, her mother. The
fact that he had never said the words was apparently not lost on her and she’d said
something to them about it. Was she waiting for him to say them first? Had her
declaration of love not come because she wanted him to make the first move? Souta had
been so insistent that he tell that little girl he liked her, as if in this time the responsibility
for admitting feelings rested on the male. In his time, feelings were assumed and never
discussed, at least not by him, but now he wondered what would happen if he did finally
admit them and tell her. Would it change anything between them? Any more than the pup
had already changed things?
The pup. His son. His makeshift family. The life that bound him and Kagome
together. Finally, he had something to hold her with that was more permanent than a
Quest or a Duty. If they had a pup to raise, would she stay with him now? She’d all but
said she would. She’d threatened to leave with him and never return to this place he’d
come to resent because it took her from him, and stank and hurt his ears and made him
feel caged. She’d said she’d do it and he knew she’d been serious. What would she have
thought if she’d known how his heart had leapt for joy and danced a happy, elated dance
around his soul at the sound of those words?
But her mother wanted a different life for her daughter. One that didn’t include
violent hanyous and pups and time-traveling danger. If he loved her, he would take the
pup and leave, leave her to her world of school and tests and ‘machines.’ She wouldn’t
have him but she’d be alive and safe...
‘And devastated,’ he sighed. ‘And so would you, and you’d have a pup to raise
who had lost two mothers before he’d even learned to walk. And be honest, you’re too
damn selfish to give her up anyway. She’s yours, damnit and no one, no one is taking her
away from you. The rest of the world can fuck off.’ He chuckled. At least he was still
allowed to curse in his head.
The blood was gone and he put one hand palm down on the closed door,
stretching out his hearing to listen to the occupants of the room. Both Kagome and Yukio
were sleeping, their breath soft and even. Quietly he opened the door and took in the sight
of Kagome curled, still clothed, on the bed with Yukio tucked against her. She was still
wrapped in his haori, and all he could see of the pup was a tuft of silver hair sticking out
from underneath the fire rat cloth. He smiled at the sight, his human heart softening with
love and tenderness while his demon snarled protectively.
‘Mine. Mine mine mine mine mine! MINE!’
For once his two halves were in complete agreement.
He needed to hold her, to know she was safe, and feel her warmth against him so
he could sleep. Slowly, he approached the bed and rubbed her calf lightly with the back
of his hand. She roused a moment later and blinked at him with sleepy eyes.
“Inu… yasha?” she murmured.
“May I sleep with you in your bed tonight?” he asked, shocked at his own
boldness but it was too late now.
She stared at him and he blushed, suddenly realizing how his question might have
sounded. Did she think he was asking for that?
“Just to sleep!” he stammered, holding up his hands.
She gave him a tired smile and nodded. He let out the breath he didn’t know he
was holding and climbed in next to her, putting himself between her body and the wall.
Her bed was soft and smelled of her and he’d often slept in it, just never with her in it at
the same time. He settled down on his side as she rolled to her back, placing Yukio on her
chest. The fire rat haori fell open and he could see that the pup was sound asleep, dressed
only in his diaper. He reached out one hand to stroke the pup’s hair and back.
Kagome turned her head so that it touched his shoulder and he moved close. It
was odd to lie with her like this. They’d often slept curled together sitting up, but never
reclined side-by-side. He liked it. Her warmth ran the entire length of his body, and of
course, her scent was everywhere, wrapping around him like a sweet blanket. Somehow
his hand found hers and their fingers laced together across her stomach.
“I spoke to your mother,” he whispered.
He felt her tense beside him and he nuzzled her hair comfortingly.
“She wants to talk to you.”
“Not tonight,” came her soft reply.
“I told her that you probably wouldn’t come down. She’s drinking sake in the
dark down in the kitchen.”
“She is?”
He nodded, knowing she couldn’t see it, but would feel the movement against her
head.
“She… she feels badly about today. She’s very sorry. She said she wanted to
apologize to you personally,” he told her.
“She did?”
“She knows she made a big mistake. She wants to make up.”
She made a choked sound. “How can I ever forgive her for putting me through
that? You didn’t see how that doctor looked at me…”
“Is it any worse than some of the things I have done? You’ve forgiven me,
haven’t you?” he asked.
“Yes,” she replied without hesitation, and he felt immense relief at the words.
“But this is different. This is my mother, and I’ve never given her any reason to doubt
me.”
“I know, and I don’t excuse what she did, but… but sometimes parents make the
wrong choice for the right reason and end up making a big mistake,” he paraphrased to
her. “Maybe someday you’ll find yourself doing the same thing with Yukio and feeling
badly about it. And I’ll find you drinking sake in the dark.”
She laughed at that, softly. “Maybe.”
He nuzzled her again. “Kagome…” ‘I love you.’ “You’re safe now, and so is the
pup, and I don’t think it will happen again.”
“I think you’re right.”
“So maybe, it’s okay to forgive her and give her another chance. Doesn’t your
mother deserve the same forgiveness you give a worthless hanyou like me?”
Her hand on his tensed and clutched his fingers close. “You’re not a worthless
hanyou. Don’t ever say that. To me, you’re… you’re strong and good and perfect just the
way you are.”
He had to squeeze his eyes shut to halt the tears that threatened. “Kagome…” ‘I
love you.’
“But you’re right. She does deserve my forgiveness if she promises never to do it
again.”
“She won’t. I’m sure of it.”
She snuggled closer, shifting so that her body was pressed against his. “All right
then. I’ll talk to her tomorrow. Right now… right now I just want to lie here with you. Is
that okay?”
‘You have to ask?’ “Yeah. I told your mother I’d be staying in here with you
tonight. She didn’t tell me I couldn’t.”
She sighed, and on her chest, the pup snuffled in his sleep. She used her free hand
to pull the haori back over him to keep him warm.
“Good. I’m tired.”
“Then go back to sleep.”
“Mmm-hmmm,” she murmured and he could feel her slipping down into
unconsciousness.
“Sleep, Kagome.” ‘I love you.’
“Night… nu…yash…a.”
“Good night,” he answered but she was already asleep.
He smiled and buried his nose in her fragrant hair.
‘Kagome. I know I am not worthy of you, but I love you and I am never letting you
go. And someday… someday I’ll be brave enough to tell you.’
He closed his eyes, relaxing as the sound of her breathing and heartbeat, and her
scent, soothed him like a balm on his soul. Soon he joined her in peaceful, dreamless
sleep.
Chapter Twelve
Kagome awakened to find that she had rolled during the night and was now facing
Inuyasha. Yukio had slipped down between them, and was now sequestered in the space
between their chests. He didn’t seem to mind, however, because he was sleeping soundly
and looked perfectly content. She took the opportunity to study his little face while she
could because she knew he would be waking up soon. His expression mirrored
Inuyasha’s: relaxed and happy in peaceful sleep.
‘Inuyasha’s told me before that he likes sleeping in here because it smells so
much like me. I guess Yukio is the same way,’ she thought.
As if on cue, the object of her scrutiny yawned a huge toothless yawn and opened
sleepy eyes. They focused on her as he raised his fist to his mouth and made his ‘I’m
hungry’ sound. Smiling at him and patting his bottom, she rolled away from Inuyasha and
sat up, pulling the haori down over her as she unbuttoned her shirt and gave him what he
wanted. Behind her, she heard Inuyasha move and when she looked, she saw he that he
was now on his back.
“Morning,” she whispered.
Golden eyes cracked open and he smiled softly at her as he scratched his chest
and stretched.
“Morning,” he answered, his voice still thick with sleep.
“Did you get enough sleep?”
He nodded. “You?”
“I think so. I’ll feel a lot better after a bath. I still feel... dirty,” she admitted with a
frown.
“Don’t. That doctor was a stupid bitch...” He paused to see if she would punish
him for cursing in front of the baby. She gave him a dark look, but no ‘sit’ left her lips.
“She was wrong and she didn’t know what you had done. Don’t listen to her.”
“I know. But I still feel... violated. She touched me... there and it hurt.”
“She hurt you?” he asked, his voice almost a growl.
“Not badly, but no one’s ever... Y’know? It wasn’t very pleasant.”
His eyes darkened and he nodded. “What will you do today?”
“I have to study. My first test is tomorrow, but I wanted to go shopping too. There
are some things I need that really can’t wait until after my tests are over. I thought I’d go
out this morning and be back by lunchtime. Can you watch Yukio?”
He nodded. “Yeah. I’ll watch him.”
“I never asked... was he alright yesterday?
“Yeah, he was fine. We stayed in here and he slept most of the time, until he
needed changing.”
She gave him a knowing smile. “And did you do your duty and take care of it, or
did you go running to Jii-chan?”
He scowled. “The old man wasn’t here.”
She laughed at the look on his face. “So you had to do it.”
“It wasn’t too bad. He only wet so it didn’t stink as badly as it could have. I think
I got it right.”
She thought back to the tear-filled, sobbing haze that was the previous night. She
remembered having to change Yukio at least twice and hadn’t noticed anything amiss.
“You did fine. I didn’t notice anything wrong with how you changed him. One of
the things I’ll be getting today is new diapers that will be easier to use.”
“That would be good.”
Yukio wanted to be switched so she moved him over. The act of nursing him was
becoming so second nature that he barely had to make a noise before she was responding.
“Then this afternoon I’ll start studying.”
“Your test is tomorrow?”
She nodded. “The first one. I have three. The next two are on Friday.”
“Both on the same day?”
“Yes, history and maths.”
He frowned at the word ‘maths.’ “You always worry about that math.”
“It’s my hardest subject.”
“So I guess you will need to study hard.”
She nodded sadly. “I’m afraid so. If I want to pass the tests and do well, and have
a future, I will need to study a lot.”
He sighed, clearly unhappy, but knowing there was nothing to be done for it.
“But it’s easier now, right, now that you are in high scchhhkool? You don’t have
to pass that… what was it?”
“Entrance exam,” she offered.
“Yeah, that. You don’t have to worry about that anymore.”
“No, but I’m thinking about college.”
“Collllaaagggee? What’s that?”
“More school after high school, but more specialized. I decide what I want to
study. But…” She looked at Yukio. “But now I’m not so sure I want to go. I know my
mom wants me to get a degree, but with Yukio and hunting for the shards, I don’t know if
I can do both. It’s hard enough for me as it is, and I’m only in high school. College is
much harder. And the entrance exams are much worse than the ones for high school as
well.”
His eyes grew sad and he looked away, apparently thinking about something
serious. She knew the look and also knew he wouldn’t talk about it until he was good and
ready, so she stayed quiet and focused on Yukio, stroking his back and hair as he nursed.
“Kagome… do you… do you want to stay here?” Inuyasha finally asked softly
after a long silence.
“For another few days? That would be nice. It would give me time to really catch
up on my studies and maybe even get a little bit ahead. And I want to come back for my
seventeenth birthday. I want to spend a whole week here if you’ll let me,” she replied.
He laughed a mirthless laugh. “If I let you.”
She gave him an indignant look. “Well, it’s true. I have to fight you almost every
time to come back. I know you hate it when I have to leave you, but you make things so
much worse than they need to be. You know I always come back when I’m supposed to,
even if I’m a little late sometimes. I don’t know why you still don’t trust me after all this
time.”
“I do trust you. It’s just…” He stopped, his face pensive and far-away.
“Just what?” she asked, sensing that something much bigger was going on, and it
was something she wouldn’t like.
He shook his head. “Nothing. It wasn’t important. But that wasn’t what I was
asking you. I was asking if you wanted to stay here for good.”
She blinked, a shiver of ice running down her spine. “As in, not go back to the
Feudal Era with you?”
“Yes.”
A horrible feeling of panic seized her heart and she felt a lurch in her gut. Where
was this coming from? Did he not want her with him anymore? What was going on?
“But… but what about Yukio?”
“I’d take him with me. Kaede would help me raise him, and Sango. She and the
monk will have their own whelp soon enough,” he answered slowly, calmly- too calmly.
She swallowed hard, her heart pounding. Yukio had stopped eating and was lying
still in her arms. He hadn’t made a sound, and she knew he could sense her upset. She
tried to comfort him, but she was fast approaching full melt-down. After everything that
had happened in the past twenty-four hours, she just couldn’t take this right now.
Desperately, she grabbed onto her old reliable.
“What… what about the shards? You need me to find them.”
“We would manage. Kikyou can see them if it comes to it…”
“Kikyou?! KIKYOU?!” she exploded, snapping. “Is that what this is all about?
You’ll take my baby and give him to Kaede and replace me with Kikyou?!”
He sat up, hands open and eyes wide. “Kagome…” he tried but she was in no
mood to listen.
“How dare you? How dare you after all I’ve been through and suffered! How
could you just throw me aside like some useless piece of trash?!”
“That’s not what I meant!” Inuyasha argued, his face horrified.
“I can’t believe you still see me as a weak human who is nothing more than your
shard detector! After everything I’ve done for you and all the times I’ve saved you and
proved my worth over and over. Now you want to take my baby away from me and
replace me with an undead walking clay pot!!” she cried, weeping.
“NO! Kagome, listen to me!” he entreated.
“I swear if it wouldn’t break my bed, I’d ‘s’ you right into the floor right now,
you ungrateful, stupid idiot! Baka! Baka baka baka baka baka baka! BAKA!!!!!!”
Yukio screamed. He screamed like he did the night his mother died, a deafening
cry that found their spines and raked down them. Kagome clutched him to her chest and
rocked him, trying to calm him as she wept, her face buried in his soft silver hair. He
fussed against her, whimpering and whining.
“Shhhh, shhhhh, my baby. It’s all right. Kaa-san is here. No one is taking you
away. I promise. I promise. Don’t cry anymore. Don’t cry, Yukio.”
“Kagome,” Inuyasha begged, his voice pleading. “Kagome, please listen.”
“I don’t want to hear anything you have to say, baka!” she snarled back, making
him cringe.
“But you’ve got it all wrong!” he argued. “I’m trying to save you!”
“Save me? How are you trying to save me?” she snapped, still rocking the baby.
“Your mother… last night, she said having a pup would take away your chances,
and hurt your dreams, and you just said you might not be able to live both lives
anymore...” he explained desperately.
“My dreams? What do you know about my dreams? You’ve never asked me
about my dreams! And you leave what my mother says out of this! She has no idea what I
want!”
“I want you to be happy. I want you to have a good life…”
“So you’ll make me happy by taking away something precious to me?”
“No!”
“Then I don’t understand. You’re not making any sense.”
“I’m not… I don’t… I don’t want you to give up your chances for a good life. I
don’t want you to regret… regret being with me,” he finished softly.
“And don’t I get a choice in all of this?” she asked coldly, but her anger was
fading.
He looked at her with stricken eyes. “Of course.”
“Then stop trying to make my decisions for me. You’ve done this before and it
really pissed me off. It’s my life, these are my choices and I will make them. No one else.
Do you understand?”
“Kagome…” he breathed, his voice broken. “Yes, I understand.”
“Good. Then I choose you and Yukio. End of discussion.”
He stared at her in disbelief. “Just… just like that?”
“Yes,” she snipped back huffily, more peeved than anything else.
“Kagome…”
She turned away from him, comforting Yukio who was still whimpering. She
patted him and cooed, soothing him and telling him it was all okay. He snuffled and
pulled at her hair, his face worrying against her neck. She was so busy with the baby that
she almost didn’t hear Inuyasha’s faint voice.
“Thank you.”
She turned her head, surprised, and saw him kneeling on the mattress, his head
down, ears drooped and his hands limp on the bed in front of him.
“Inuyasha?” she asked.
“Thank you, Kagome. I… I didn’t know what I was going to do if you had said
yes.”
An immense weight lifted off of her and she relaxed completely at his soft words.
He hadn’t wanted to get rid of her after all.
“So you didn’t want me to stay here.”
He looked at her, his eyes heartbroken. “Never. But I wanted to do what was right
for you…”
She turned around, held Yukio with one hand and grabbed Inuyasha’s chin with
the other. “Let me decide what’s right for me from now on, okay?
He nodded gratefully. “Okay.”
“Good,” she said with finality then leaned towards him. “Now hold me you
infuriating, rude hanyou because you just scared the hell out of me, and I just can’t take
any more upset right now.”
He made a sound that was half chuckle and half sigh of relief, and wrapped his
arms around her.
“I’m sorry I worried you,” he apologized, burying his face in her hair.
“Just don’t do it again.”
“I was scared too. I was scared you’d choose to stay here.”
“You should know by now that I’d never do that. I’ve told you before that I
always want to be by your side.”
“Yes, but you will sacrifice so much to do it.”
“That’s my choice.”
“Yes,” he admitted.
“But at least now you know how I feel every time you go off with Kikyou, and I
don’t know if you’re coming back,” she commented off-handedly.
He stiffened and was quiet for several moments, and she knew her words had hit
home. She was certain that he was going to say something in answer when her mother
interrupted them with a knock on the door.
“Kagome? Kagome is everything all right?” the older woman asked through the
closed door.
“Hai, Mama. We’re fine,” she replied.
“Breakfast is ready.”
“Thank you, Mama, we’ll be down very soon.”
“All right.”
Kagome pulled away from Inuyasha, slipping out of his arms and stood up, still
holding Yukio.
“We should go eat, then I need to take a bath before I go out shopping,” she told
him, giving him back his haori.
He nodded and took the garment, but he was frowning.
‘Hmm. I really hit him with that, didn’t I? Well, maybe it’ll make him think twice
about a few things.’
She reached down and picked up Yukio’s blanket, wrapping him in it before
opening her bedroom door. Inuyasha stood from the bed, his eyes still downcast, and
came up behind her.
“Let’s go eat,” she offered, moving to leave the room.
“I’ll always come back,” he said suddenly.
She froze and stared at him in shock. “Inuyasha…”
“I promised you I’d never leave your side again. I know I’ve broken that promisea little- after you… saved Kikyou, but I’ve always come back. And I will always come
back. So don’t ever be scared that I won’t, okay?”
‘A little? And what about your promise to protect her and go to Hell with her?
How are you going to ‘always come back’ from that?’ she wanted to say, but she knew
that would only start another argument. Besides, she knew what he meant anyway and
knew he was sincere, at least in that moment. For now, she was content with his answer.
“Okay. Now, let’s go. I’m hungry and we didn’t eat dinner last night.”
He nodded and followed her down the stairs.
Once in the kitchen, Mama put plates with sausage and eggs down for them and
bowls of rice and miso. Inuyasha nodded in thanks for the food, but detoured to the
refrigerator. He opened the ‘cold box’ as he called it, and pulled out one of the clay jars
full of liver. This he gave to her mother.
“Here is liver for Kagome. She needs the nutrients because she is making milk for
the pup,” he told her.
The older woman took the jar from him and gave Kagome a stunned look.
“Kagome?”
“Just take some out and boil it, please, Mama,” she said, sitting down at the table
and putting Yukio in her lap.
“But…” She stopped and Kagome knew she was going to say ‘But you hate
liver.’ but stopped herself. Instead she said, “Of course, Inuyasha.”
“Kagome says the liver here in your time is not as good as the liver in mine, so I
hunted and brought extra.”
“You hunted?” her mother repeated.
“Inuyasha hunts in the Feudal Era, Mama. He’s a good provider,” she explained.
Mama Higurashi lifted the skin lid of the clay pot and looked inside, her eyes
opening wide at the sight of the glistening contents.
“I can see that,” she commented, then obediently retrieved a clean sauce pan and
filled it with water. “How much should I put in?”
Inuyasha stuck his hand into the jar and pulled out a bloody handful, dropping it
into the pot.
“That much’ll do,” he said, ignoring their stares.
He washed off his hand in the sink, took the jar from her mother, put the lid back
on it and returned it to the refrigerator. Then he sat down at the table and began heartily
eating his sausage and eggs.
Kagome just shook her head and turned to her own breakfast.
“Mama, I have to go shopping today. I want to get new diapers for Yukio and
some clothes. And I need a few things for myself.”
“All right. Would you like me to come with you?”
“If you want to,” she replied, eating a spoonful of her miso. She knew her mother
wanted to talk to her. An outing together involving shopping would probably be a safe
way for her and her mother to reconnect after the debacle of the previous day.
“I think I’d like that.”
Kagome nodded, then turned her attention to Yukio who was fussing a bit.
“He needs changed,” Inuyasha said simply, crinkling his nose.
“Mmm,” she agreed, putting down her spoon.
As if by previous agreement, they both stood. Inuyasha went upstairs to get a
clean diaper and moss from her bag, and she went into the living room. By the time she
had the dirty diaper off, he had brought her the new one and a dampened cleaning cloth.
“What is that?” her mother asked, seeing the layer of moss she placed on the
inside of the baby’s diaper.
“Moss.”
“Moss?”
She nodded. “It absorbs the wetness and keeps it away from his skin,” she
explained.
“Is that… sanitary?”
Kagome shrugged. “He seems fine so far and all the women in the Feudal Era use
it in their babies’ diapers.”
“They do?”
She nodded again, doing up the diaper around Yukio’s hips and fastening it. Then
she wrapped him back up in his blanket and gave him a cuddle. He gurgled at her and
snuffled into her neck.
“How old is he?” her mother questioned.
“Ummm… almost nine weeks,” she answered, standing and walking back to the
kitchen. Inuyasha was already there and eating.
“Nine weeks? He’s big for a baby that young.”
“Inuyasha says youkai and hanyou babies develop faster than human ones.”
“Can he turn over yet?”
Kagome nodded. “Yeah, and he can crawl on his belly pretty well too.”
“Keh, he could probably do that from birth,” Inuyasha commented. “Pups have to
be able to squirm to find the teat.”
She moved to sit back down in her chair so she could eat.
“Kagome, may I hold him?” her mother asked.
She paused, thinking, then gently pulled Yukio away from her shoulder and
offered him to her mother.
“Ummm, sure,” she said.
As the baby changed hands, he fussed a little, balking at the unfamiliar scent.
“Shhhh, it’s okay Yukio. She’s my mom and she just wants to hold you for a little
while, okay?” she soothed.
The baby turned worried golden eyes her way and she gave him a scratch behind
his ears.
“It’s okay, baby. Kaa-san’s right here.”
Mama Higurashi brought the infant up to her shoulder the way she had seen
Kagome do and rubbed his puppy ears. The action and the lack of fear from his mother
seemed to calm him and he settled down. She sat down next to Kagome on the side
closest to her so Yukio could see her.
“Ooof, he’s heavy.”
Kagome shrugged and returned to her breakfast.
“Heh, he eats well,” Inuyasha said, a hint of pride in his voice.
“So I’ve seen,” Mama commented. “Yukio… nourished by God.”
Kagome stared at her mother, her mouth full. “Y… you know that?” she
stammered, swallowing.
“I’m the daughter of a shrine family, and unlike you, I did pay attention to what
Jii-chan was telling me.”
Kagome blushed, then changed the subject. “Where is Jii-chan?”
“He had to go out to a neighboring shrine this morning on business. He’ll be back
later.”
“Liver’s ready,” Inuyasha interrupted, noticing the steaming pot on the stove.
Kagome stood up, took the pot and poured out the boiling water, then she
crumbled up the cooked liver with a bread knife and put it into her miso. It was as good a
way as any to eat it, and might just make it more tolerable.
“So, Kagome,” her mother questioned, bouncing Yukio lightly on her lap. “What
else can Yukio do?”
“Ummmm… he makes special sounds for when he’s hungry and needs to be
changed, and other things too. It’s like his own little language. He’s really smart. He’s
already learned not to bite me when he’s nursing.”
“He has?” the older woman said with a wistful sigh. “If only your brother had
been so easy. He drew blood on more than one occasion.”
Kagome grimaced. “Ouch. Well, his jaws are really strong and if he bites me
when he has teeth, he could really hurt me so it was important that he learn not to do that
before he started teething.”
“He’s very alert for a nine week old. I see him following your every move and
responding to your voice,” Mama noted.
“He responds to scent as well, and he’s real sensitive to emotions. If I’m upset, he
starts to fuss and worry.”
“Does he sleep through the night?”
“Ummm, mostly. Usually he’ll wake me up once or twice because he’s hungry,
but because he’s right in bed with me, I don’t even have to get up, and sometimes he just
feeds himself.”
“We should get him a cradle while we’re out today.”
“Why?” Kagome asked.
“What’s a cradle?” Inuyasha questioned.
“It’s a little bed for babies. It usually rocks back and forth, and babies sleep in
them,” Mama answered.
“Keh, we don’t need that. The pup sleeps with Kagome.”
“He shouldn’t.”
“Why not?” both of them asked.
“Because it’s dangerous. Many babies die or get hurt when they fall out of bed or
their parents roll on them.”
“Bah! Kagome won’t roll on him, and even if she did, she wouldn’t hurt him.
He’s a hanyou pup. He’s made of tougher stuff than human whelps.”
“She could roll on his head and suffocate him, or he could get tangled up in the
sheets and strangle himself,” the older woman warned.
Inuyasha snorted. “You think he’s that stupid? This pup knows better.”
“Still… as he gets older, he’ll grow much larger and take up more room.”
“It’s okay. Shippou still sleeps with me too.”
“Shippou?”
“The kitsune kit.”
“Oh, yes. Now I remember him. How old is he?”
“He’s three but he looks older.”
“Hmmm, I see.”
Kagome finished her miso. “Inuyasha says he’ll start teething any day now, and
he thinks he’ll be walking and talking by seven months.”
“Seven months? That’s early.”
“Not for a hanyou,” Inuyasha said.
Kagome stood up and put her dirty dishes in the sink. “I’m going to go take a
bath. I’ll be ready to go after that.”
“All right.”
Yukio made a distressed sound and his eyes opened wide as he watched her leave
the room.
“Here, give the pup to me before he starts fussing because he can’t smell his
mother,” Inuyasha said, coming over to get him.
Mama Higurashi gave him the baby and the infant settled down immediately,
recognizing his father. He sat down and cuddled the baby while she did the dishes. She
watched him as he kept the baby entertained with fingers and locks of hair.
“You make a good father,” she commented fondly.
Inuyasha shrugged. “I try.”
She nodded and turned to the sink.
“I told her you wanted to talk to her,” he said.
“Thank you. I’ll try to talk with her while we’re out.”
“Kagome likes shopping so I think she will be in a good mood.”
“Exactly.”
“I’m going to take the pup back upstairs,” he told her.
“Alright.”
Hefting the baby to his shoulder, Inuyasha stood and left the kitchen. Once
upstairs, he knocked on the door of the bathroom and waited for Kagome to acknowledge
him.
“Yes?” came her concerned voice.
“The pup and I are going into your room. Is that okay?” he said.
“Ummm… yeah. It’s okay.”
“Alright then.”
Turning away from the door and ignoring Yukio’s questioning gurgle at the sound
of his mother’s voice, he carried the pup to Kagome’s room and lay down on the bed
beside him. He unwrapped the pup from his blanket and put him on his back. The charm
the old man had put on him was still around the pup’s neck and he fingered the dark stone
absently. Yukio kicked a little and waved his fists, wanting attention. He was dry and fed
after all, and that meant playtime- at least until it was naptime. He took one tiny hand in
his own and let the pup draw the fingertip to his mouth. He felt the beginnings of lumps
forming on the pup’s gums, and knew teeth were not far behind.
“Teething already, eh? You’d better not bite your mother,” he warned.
Yukio just gurgled and half-barked a little yip. Inuyasha growled softly under his
breath and answered the pup with a small bark of his own, knowing the pup would
instinctively know the language of the inu-youkai. Pups were born knowing the basics.
The pup’s eyes opened wide as he smiled and laughed at his father. Inuyasha
smiled back, and lowered his nose to snuffle the pup’s belly playfully, mock growling
and snarling. Yukio responded with a high pitched happy squeal that was all human
because no youkai pup would ever make such a noise that blasted poor inu-ears so badly.
They were still ringing when the pup grabbed two handfuls of hair and pulled.
“Ow ow ow ow ow! Leggo! Leggo!” he complained, trying to extract his hair
from the pup’s fists, putting it behind his shoulders and out of pup-reach.
Yukio reacted to the loss by sticking his fist in his mouth and looking forlorn.
Inuyasha rubbed his belly in silent apology.
“You’re growing fast, pup. I can see the difference in you already and you haven’t
been with us two weeks.”
Yukio had nothing to say in answer. The rubbing action on his belly was lulling
him and his eyes were growing sleepy. Inuyasha watched the big eyes open and close
slowly as the pup tried to fight sleep, but eventually lost the battle. His little face relaxed
as he fell asleep, his fist dropping from his mouth to land on his chest. Inuyasha nuzzled
his hair with his nose and covered him back up with his blanket. The pup gave a soft sigh
as Inuyasha closed his own eyes and lightly dozed.
A short time later, Kagome opened the bedroom door and slipped in.
“I have to get some clothes. Don’t you dare peep,” she warned.
He cracked his eyes open just a little bit to see her dressed in her robe with a
towel wrapped around her hair, but closed them quickly when she turned his way.
“I’m not peeping,” he replied honestly. ‘At least, not anymore.’
“You’d better not.”
He smiled, his eyes still closed. It was an old joke between them because both had
seen the other naked on a number of occasions for various reasons, all accidental or
unavoidable. The incident with the Peach Man came to mind, and another time when
Kagome and Sango were bathing and they were attacked. Of course, Kagome had seen
him when Sesshoumaru’s toad had stolen Tessaiga when he and Miroku had been in the
hot spring, and also during the time Souta had tricked him into getting into a steaming hot
bath (he still didn’t know how modern humans could tolerate such hot water!)
The most recent time had been a few weeks before they killed Naraku. The
bastard had known his time was running out, and had sent a puppet to attack them when
he thought they were vulnerable. He and Miroku had been bathing when the puppet
blasted their camp, and there had been no time to worry about anything but grabbing
Tessaiga and running to protect Kagome. He’d fought nude, heedless of his bare skin or
the shocked looks from the women, and sent the puppet back to hell with a series of Kaze
no Kizus that had blasted it into tiny pieces. Well, Kagome had helped too… and Sango,
she’d gotten a few good shots in with Hiraikoutsu, and Miroku with Kazanna until the
Saimyoushou showed up… but it’d been mostly him. Or at least, that’s how he
remembered it.
When the danger had passed, he had turned to make sure Kagome was alright.
She’d blushed furiously and screamed for him to sit, slamming him to the ground.
Miroku had tossed his clothes on top of him, making him realize the full gravity of what
had happened, and he’d been more mortified than the time he’d gone full youkai and
slaughtered humans. Afterwards, however, it had been the running joke for weeks, and a
source of pride. Inuyasha could fight Naraku stark naked and still beat the shit out of him.
After that incident, it sufficed to say that Kagome had seen all he had to offer, and
he’d stopped being body conscious around her. He still covered up for modesty’s sake
but after someone sees you slicing up an enemy with nothing on except a sword and a
wicked smile, it took the mystery out of things. She’d relaxed a little around him as well.
The last time he’d rushed in on her at the hot springs, she’d only sat him once, and the
time here, when he’d come in while she was feeding Yukio, she hadn’t sat him at all.
‘Hmmm, maybe… maybe she doesn’t mind so much anymore if I see her naked,’
he thought.
Of course, with the pup and the new closeness they were sharing, it was only
natural for him to once again entertain fantasies of what it would be like to be with
Kagome. In fact, he was more hopeful for a more intimate and permanent relationship
with her than he had been in a very long time. This morning she’d chosen him and Yukio
without a moment’s hesitation. Did that mean she would choose and accept all of him if
he offered it? Sango had told him that she would, but he’d told the taijiya that he’d never
doom Kagome to a life of danger and ridicule.
‘But will her staying with me to raise the pup be any different than if we were
fully mates?’
The thought gave him pause and he knew he needed to do some serious thinking.
In the meantime, Kagome had gathered the clothing she’d wanted and headed
back out to the bathroom to dress. She returned a few minutes later with her mother
behind her.
“Mama wants me to bring Yukio along with us,” she told him.
That made his eyes flare open wide. “What?”
“She has a hat for him to hide his ears,” she said, picking up Yukio’s baby sling
and her bag with his clean diapers.
“You’re going to take the pup out there with you?” he asked with alarm.
She blinked at him. “Yes. Why? Is there something wrong with my taking him?
He’ll need to be fed in a few hours anyway. It’s better if he’s with me.”
“Because your world is hard on my senses. What will it do to the pup?”
“Oh… Well, we’ll try it and if he’s too fussy and unhappy, I’ll bring him back,
okay?”
He looked at the sleeping pup, his face full of concern.
“I don’t know…”
Kagome giggled and gave him a scratch behind his ears. “Don’t worry, Otou.
Kaa-san won’t let anything happen to Baby.”
“Feh. Oyaji,” he corrected again.
She gave him another fond look, but picked up Yukio, covered his head with a
little blue knit cap, and put him in his sling. He made a gurgling sound and a sigh, but
otherwise did not stir. She put the sling on and positioned it so the pup was against her
front, slightly to the left, then she moved to leave.
Inuyasha stood and followed her and her mother to the outside doors.
“You’ll come back if he starts to fuss and cry?” he asked, a growing worry in his
guts. She was taking the pup out into that stinking, noisy place he hated.
“Yes. I’ll bring him back the moment he starts to object. I promise.”
“Protect his ears. Your town is too loud.”
“I will. I will. Stop fussing,” she assured, putting on her shoes.
“Do you have his diapers?” he asked, walking with her and her mother as they
crossed the shrine grounds. Mama Higurashi was giving him amused looks and he could
tell she was trying to keep from laughing.
Kagome patted her bag. “Yes. I have clean diapers, cleaning cloths and moss.”
“And you’ll be back at lunchtime? Remember you have to study for your test.”
“Yes. We’ll be back by one. If you get hungry, you know how to make yourself
some ramen, right?” she asked.
“Boil water on the gas stove, put it in the cup, count to 90,” he replied.
“Right.”
“And you have everything you need to feed him?”
She gave him an incredulous look. “I have my breasts. What else do I need?”
Mama snickered behind him.
“Something to cover yourself with, woman,” he snapped back, irritated at being
laughed at even as he was taking off his haori. “Here, take this.”
“I really don’t need it. I have my jacket,” she answered, indicating the light blue
coat she wore.
‘But you always wear this when you nurse…’ “Still, it smells like me, and it’s
strong and will protect the pup,” he insisted, shoving it at her until she took it, folding it
and slipping under the strap of the baby sling.
“Thank you, Inuyasha. We’re going now,” she said, looking a little miffed.
They’d come to the steps and the shrine archway. Mama walked ahead, giving
him a moment alone with Kagome.
“You’ll be careful?” he asked.
Her impatient look faded and she stroked his cheek gently. “I promise. Everything
will be fine.”
“Come back safe,” he whispered, touching his forehead to hers.
“We will.”
He gave her a quick hug then let her go.
“I’ll watch the clock. If you’re a minute later than one, I’ll come looking for you,”
he warned.
She rolled her eyes. “Yes, overprotective Otou.”
“Oyaji!” he yelled back as she descended the stairs, leaving him behind and
feeling oddly bereft.
She waved a hand and joined her mother, going off into that world of stink and
racket. He stood at the top of the stairs and watched until he couldn’t see them anymore.
‘Alone again,’ he thought sadly. ‘I hate it here. I hate having to stay here in this
shrine while she goes out there. The only thing worthwhile in this damned place is the
food.’
He turned to walk slowly back to the house, but detoured to the God Tree. He
stared at it for a moment, then leaped into its branches, climbing high so he could see the
city. Friday. Kagome had said her tests were done on Friday. If he’d learned her calendar
correctly, today was Tuesday. That meant they had four more days including today
before they could go home.
‘Four more days, Kagome. Then we’re gone. I can’t wait to get back so I don’t
have to be left behind anymore.’
He stayed in the God Tree, keeping vigil until Kagome returned with his son.
Chapter Thirteen
Kagome and her mother went to a department store first. There Kagome bought
three nursing bras from the maternity section, ignoring the shocked and concerned looks
on the faces of the saleswomen when she opted to wear one out of the store thus proving
that she was the baby’s mother and not the older, more proper, woman with her. The bras
were a far sight different from her usual lacy underwires, but she needed the extra
support. It didn’t help that her mother told her that her breasts would probably not shrink
much even after she stopped making milk. Ordinarily a girl would be happy to increase
her bust size, but in this case Kagome hoped they would get at least a little smaller
because they were heavy and threw her balance off.
Yukio stayed quiet and only seemed to get fussy when they got close to the
perfume and cosmetic department so she avoided it and went directly to infants-wear.
There she picked out two types of diapers: a pack of the disposable kind and a pack of the
new cloth diapers that were supposed to be as good as disposables. She didn’t want to
bring disposable diapers to the Feudal Era because she knew how polluting they were.
She also got a diaper bag with lots of storage pockets for everything a baby needed.
Her mother pointed out a number of cradles and cribs but she refused them all.
She did let her mother buy a car seat that doubled as a bassinet, however, for times when
she would have to take Yukio in a car. The item was too big for them to carry so they
arranged to have it delivered. She also bought two new baby blankets, a teething ring, and
a couple of bibs.
Their next stop was a store that specialized in baby and infant clothing and needs.
There she stocked up on new clothes for Yukio, picking out a couple of one-pieces and
some shirt and pant sets, and socks for his little feet. Then she came across a red t-shirt
with a black and white dog head on it that said “BIG DOG” in English, and she just had
to have it. She bought it and put it on him while they were still in the store. It was way
too big for him, but she knew he’d grow into it soon enough.
Everywhere they went people stared and ogled at her and Yukio. Women
constantly wanted to ‘see the baby,’ cooing at him and marveling at his silver hair and
golden eyes. He didn’t seem to mind being stared at and talked to, although he was
getting a little cranky from being constantly jostled and woken up. There was one
particularly obnoxious woman with too much perfume and jewelry whom Yukio growled
at when she started saying what a cute baby he was and ‘coo-chee-coo-chee-coo.’ His
little growl was so cute that Kagome wasn’t able to stop him before it was too late. The
woman, heedless of the hanyou pup’s warning, touched him and scratched him under his
chin so he bit her. The woman gasped as she snatched her hand back and stared at
Kagome who winced and let out a string of ‘gomen-nasai’s and ‘bad baby! we don’t
bite!’s even though she was secretly proud of him for defending himself. The woman
sniffed haughtily at her and stormed off. Kagome wasn’t sorry to see her go.
By the time they had finished at the baby store, it was approaching noon and both
Yukio and her breasts were telling her it was time to find a quiet place to nurse him.
There was a park with a playground and a picnic area with trees not far from where they
were, so she headed for that. They passed an obento shop on the way and her mother
bought two for their lunch.
Once in the park, Kagome chose a spot a good distance away from the playground
and tables, sequestered in a tiny copse of four trees and sat down with her back against
the trunk of one as her mother sat next to her. She pulled Inuyasha’s haori from the strap
of the baby sling and draped it over her shoulders. Yukio, showing his intelligence and
development again, saw the red fabric, knew what it meant and began to get excited. She
laughed softly and tickled his belly as she took off her jacket, opened her shirt and drew
down the nursing flap on the new bra. Then she took him out of his blanket and brought
him to her breast. He began to feed immediately, making little happy burbles as he
sucked, and she cradled him with one arm as she ate her own lunch.
“It’s a beautiful day,” her mother sighed.
Kagome looked at the blue sky and sunshine and had to agree, although she also
had to agree with Inuyasha that modern day Tokyo was horribly noisy and smelly
compared to the sweet breezes and soft forest sounds of the Sengoku Jidai.
‘Inuyasha… he looked so forlorn and sad when we left him behind this morning.’
“Kagome…” her mother began and she knew the time for ‘The Talk’ had come.
She turned her head to look at her mom, waiting for her to continue.
“I’m sorry about yesterday.”
“You should have trusted me. I wouldn’t lie to you about something like that,”
she answered.
“I know, and you’re right, I should have. I have no excuse for why I behaved the
way I did.”
Kagome looked at Yukio, thinking about how she would feel if she believed her
baby was in danger. “You were trying to protect me. I understand.”
“Do you?”
She nodded. “Yes, I do, but… But this is my life, Mama, and I have to make these
choices.”
“I know that, but do you really understand the choices you are making, Kagome?
You’re not even seventeen.”
“I know I’m young, but back in the Feudal Era I’d have been married off the
moment I had my first period.”
“And had your first child by the age of fifteen, no doubt,” her mother agreed. “But
you can’t compare this time and that one. Don’t you know what you are doing to your
future?”
“I have no idea what my future is, Mama. I’m different. I live two lives. One here
and one there. I can’t just walk away from that.”
“I’m not asking you to. I just want you to think about the consequences,” her
mother argued.
“Like what? Like the pitying looks I got when those saleswomen found out Yukio
was mine and not my baby brother? Or the trouble I’m going to have tomorrow and the
next few days when I have to go to school, but somehow have to find a way to feed him?
Not to mention how much trouble I’d be in if someone at school found out I was nursing
a baby. Do you think any of them would believe I’m still a virgin? They’d all look at me
like that doctor did yesterday. And that’s just here. How about the prejudiced people in
the Feudal Era who hate hanyous and want to kill Yukio, and Inuyasha, and me? What
about the youkai who hate hanyous? They’ll try to kill us too,” she replied, switching
Yukio to the next nipple.
She found she liked the new bra. It hid her fairly well so she didn’t bother to
cover herself up with Inuyasha’s haori. Besides, where they were was quite secluded by
Tokyo standards and there was no one nearby.
Her mother shook her head. “So much danger and violence. Kagome, how can
you stand it?”
Kagome shrugged. “I just do. And I’m not alone. I have my friends, and Inuyasha.
Inuyasha protects me.”
“Inuyasha is in love with you.”
“I know,” she answered simply. Even though he’d never said it, she still knew.
“You know what he wants from you.”
She shook her head. “No I don’t. I don’t know. I don’t even think he knows. Right
now he’s saying we’ll stay together and raise Yukio. But he made a promise to Kikyou
and she intends to make him keep it. I don’t know what he is going to do when he
remembers that.”
“This Kikyou, she’s…”
“The undead miko Urasue resurrected. The one whose soul I have… or had. I’m
not sure anymore. She’s also Inuyasha’s first love. Fifty years ago Naraku tricked them
into betraying each other and he blames himself for it,” she explained, but she knew
she’d already told her mother all of this so there was no need to go into any detail.
“She’s also the one you saved?”
Kagome nodded. “Yeah.” She looked down at Yukio who looked up at her with
shining golden eyes as he nursed contentedly, his hat had fallen off revealing his puppy
ears which she rubbed lovingly before putting the hat back on. “I don’t know what she is
going to do when she finds out about Yukio.”
“What do you think she will do?”
“I’m not sure. I mean… it would look like I took her life even more wouldn’t it?
She was supposed to be with Inuyasha and live her life with him, but then Naraku tricked
them and well… Now I think she sees me as the interloper who took her man,” she
sighed. “Actually, she’s all but said that to me on a number of occasions.”
“But if I remember what you told me of this story, Kikyou wanted Inuyasha to
become human.”
“Yes. She wanted him to use the Shikon no Tama to become human so they could
live their lives together,” she confirmed with a sad nod.
“But Inuyasha isn’t human. Inuyasha is a half-demon,” Mama pointed out.
“Yes, but the Shikon no Tama would have made him human if he’d wished on it.”
Kagome saw a pensive look come to her mother’s face.
“Why did Kikyou want Inuyasha to become human?”
“So they could be together.”
“Why couldn’t they be together with him as he was?”
“Because she was a miko and he’s a hanyou, and hanyous are impure because
they have demon blood.”
“I see… So… you’re telling me that the boy who would die for you and frets over
you and takes care of you and loves you with everything he has is impure and unworthy
of a miko’s love? And you’re telling me that this innocent, helpless baby suffers the same
impurity?” Mama commented.
Kagome frowned. “Sick, isn’t it.”
“It’s more than sick, Kagome. It’s pathetically sad.”
“I know.”
“Kikyou didn’t love Inuyasha. She couldn’t have if she wanted him to change like
that for her; if she thought he was impure.”
“I know,” she whispered back, lifting Yukio to her shoulder to burp him because
he was finished, and putting her clothing back in order.
She checked his diaper and changed him, using one of the new disposables, while
Mama watched quietly. Then she let him stay on the blanket, looking up at her from his
position on his back. He reached for her so she gave him a finger to hold and he grasped
it with both hands.
“What are you going to do, Kagome?” her mother finally asked.
“I don’t know. Live, I guess. I’ll just take it one day at a time, Mama, and do the
best I can. It’s all I really can do. I don’t think further ahead than the next shard or the
next test. Speaking of tests… we should get back. I have to study and it’s getting late. If
we’re not back by one Inuyasha will come tracking us.”
Mama giggled. “I know he will.”
Kagome took off Inuyasha’s haori and folded it back up as she put her jacket back
on. Then she picked Yukio up, gave him a kiss and a snuggle before wrapping him in his
blanket and putting him in his sling. Standing, she slipped the strap over her head and
under her arm so he was against her body, safe and secure, and looked at her mother.
Mama stood as well, gathered the empty bento boxes and their shopping bags, and
together they walked towards home.
“Do you forgive me?” Mama asked suddenly, as she put the empty lunch boxes
into the public trash can.
“Yes,” Kagome answered.
“Thank you.”
“You’re my mother. You didn’t mean to hurt me. You were scared and thought
you were doing the right thing. Just… just don’t do it again, okay?”
Her mother smiled at her. “I won’t. I’ll make new mistakes instead of repeating
old ones. And so will you.”
“I know, and I’ll come running to you when I mess up with him and don’t know
what to do.”
Mama laughed softly. “I’ll buy you your own sake when you’re twenty.”
“Why twenty?”
“Because then you’ll be of age.”
“Heh, there’s no drinking age in the Sengoku Jidai,” she pointed out teasingly.
“Then you can get your own sake there.”
Kagome giggled and felt her heart get lighter. Things between her and her mother
would be okay. They walked together, teasing and laughing, all the way back to the
shrine.
Inuyasha was waiting for them at the top of the shrine steps when they returned,
his arms crossed and his face irritated.
“You’re late.”
She looked at her watch and saw that it read 1:03. “By 3 minutes.”
“Feh! It was a good thing I could smell you, otherwise I would have come
hunting.”
She gave him a fond look and a pat. “Did you eat lunch?”
“I made ramen.”
“Is Jii-chan back yet?” Mama asked as they crossed the shrine grounds.
“No, not yet.”
“So you were alone all morning?” the older woman questioned, her voice slightly
apologetic.
“Keh! Like I care,” he snapped back a little too quickly.
Kagome, reading his mood and knowing that he did care about being left all by
himself, rubbed his back as they walked. He didn’t acknowledge her gesture, but he did
lean back a little into her touch, and she smiled to herself.
‘You were lonely, weren’t you, Inuyasha?’
Together they entered the house and went into the kitchen.
“You ate SIX cups of ramen?!” Kagome squeaked, seeing the empty containers in
trash.
“What? I was hungry!”
Mama just laughed and shook her head, putting the shopping bags down on the
table.
“Has a delivery boy arrived yet?” she asked.
“Huh?” Inuyasha answered.
“We had some things sent here while we were shopping. Have they arrived?”
Inuyasha shrugged. “No one’s come yet. There were some people who came to
visit the shrine, but I left them alone and they went away.”
Mama nodded that she understood.
“I’m sure he’ll arrive later this afternoon then.”
“How was the pup?” Inuyasha asked, focusing on the sleeping bundle in the sling,
nose sniffing to reassure himself that the pup’s scent was normal.
Kagome giggled. “He was fine, but you’re not going to believe what he did.”
“What did he do?”
“Well, there was a woman who had too much perfume on and she wanted to see
him, but he started to growl at her. I heard this little ‘gggggggrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr’ coming from
him and at first I didn’t realize that he was warning her off.”
“Heh, good for him. She probably stank.”
Kagome crinkled her nose in recollection. “She did smell strongly, and I know he
didn’t like it when we got close to the perfumes in the store. But that’s not all. She
wouldn’t leave him alone, so when she touched him he bit her!”
Inuyasha chuckled and rubbed Yukio’s head, knocking off the hat again and
waking him.
“That’s my pup. You tell those stinking humans to leave you alone, right?”
“Hey, I’m a stinking human, y’know.”
He blinked at her. “No you’re not. You don’t pour false scent on you.”
“I wear perfume sometimes,” she reminded.
“Not a lot.”
She could see he was itching to hold Yukio so she took him out of his sling and
handed him over. It was time for her to study anyway. Inuyasha saw the hint of red under
the blanket and unwrapped him to see what it was.
“Eh? What is this?” he asked, seeing the red shirt with the dog on it.
Kagome blushed. “Ummm, it’s a new shirt I bought him. Isn’t it cute?”
Inuyasha screwed up his nose and blinked. “It’s a got a dog on it.”
“I know. It’s perfect.”
“What’s this funny writing?”
“Ummm… that’s English.”
“English. You take tests in English,” he commented.
She nodded. “Yes.”
“What’s it say?”
She gulped. “Umm… it says big dog.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Big dog?”
“You don’t think so?”
Yukio burbled and yipped. Inuyasha gave a little growl back, bringing the baby
up to his face.
“I don’t care what your funny kimono says, I’m the big dog around here, pup.
You’re just a little whelp. Got it?”
Yukio grabbed his nose and squeezed, making Inuyasha yowl and pull his head
away. He growled at the baby, but the infant just laughed.
“Keh. Spoiled whelp,” he snorted, but tucked him close to his shoulder.
Kagome just giggled. “I think he gets more like you every day. You’re a bad
influence.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” he complained.
“He’s becoming rude, bad tempered and selfish,” she teased, making sure
Inuyasha knew she wasn’t serious by rubbing his ears.
“Feh. That’s why I’m Oyaji,” he said, closing his eyes as she rubbed.
“Well, Oyaji, I have to study. Yukio’s all yours now,” she told him stepping back
and ignoring his sigh when she stopped rubbing.
“Has he been changed?”
She rolled her eyes. “Yes. I changed him when I fed him at lunch.”
“Okay then.”
“If you need me, I’ll be upstairs in my room.”
He nodded. “Okay.”
She gave Yukio a little kiss and nuzzled Inuyasha’s chin, then left them in the
kitchen with her mother.
All was quiet for hours. She sat at her desk, going over the material for the test the
next day and no one disturbed her. She took a break around 4 to change and feed Yukio,
then returned to her studies until her mother called her down to dinner. She was
memorizing some things for the test when there was a knock on the door.
Thinking it was her mom coming to tell her dinner was ready, she called back,
“I’ll be right down!”
There was no answer, but her door opened and she turned to see Inuyasha
standing in the doorway holding Yukio. His face was worried.
“What is it?” she asked, responding to his concern with her own.
“His scent’s changed.”
She blinked, trying to figure out the meaning of Inuyasha’s words. Then her eyes
opened wide.
“Oh no! Tonight’s…”
“His human night. Yeah, I think so,” he replied.
She looked at her calendar, the one she’d bought precisely because it had the
moon phases on it. “Tonight’s the full moon.”
Inuyasha nodded. “At least we don’t share the same night.”
“That’s good.”
“Yeah, but he’s getting really fussy. I think he can feel the change coming and he
doesn’t understand.”
She got up and came over to them, rubbing Yukio’s back and cooing to him.
Inuyasha had him against his shoulder and he was whimpering softly.
“Shhhhh, baby. Otou and Kaa-san are here. You’ll be alright.”
“He’ll probably transform at sunset and be human until sunrise. His youkai scent
started to fade at dusk.”
“At least we know when it happens now, and we’re here in my time so he’s safe,”
she noted, offering some comfort to the obviously worried adult hanyou.
“Yeah.”
“Inuyasha, what’s wrong?” she asked. ‘Why are you so concerned about this?
What aren’t you telling me?’
He shook his head. “Nothing. It’s just… He’s getting really upset and I don’t
think he’s going to settle down. It’s like he’s trying to fight the change.”
“But he can’t stop it.”
“I know. I just don’t know how quiet he’ll be. He’ll interrupt your studying.”
“We’ll just have to see, won’t we?”
“Yeah,” he admitted with a sigh.
Just then, Mama called them down to dinner and they went to eat. During dinner,
full sunset fell and Inuyasha was right. Yukio’s silver hair darkened to black, and his eyes
turned dark brown. His ears moved down to the sides of his head, and his claws faded to
human nails. And he began to cry. And cry. And cry. And cry.
“He’s scared out of his wits,” Inuyasha explained when Yukio had been at it for
almost two hours. The adult hanyou was walking him, rocking him, and trying to let
Kagome study but her baby’s cries were too distracting. “He feels cut off. He can’t smell.
He can’t hear. He can’t see. His body feels completely different. He doesn’t understand
what’s happening to him and we can’t make it go away.”
He got worse when Inuyasha took him out of Kagome’s sight, or rather when he
took Kagome out of Yukio’s sight.
“Kagome, I’m sorry. I know you need to study but he won’t stop crying if he
can’t see you,” he said, coming back into her bedroom after trying to take him out.
“It’s okay, really.”
“It’s not. You have to study and he’s distracting you.”
“I’ll survive.”
After a while, he seemed to settle, or at least run out of steam, and Kagome found
that if he could tell she was close by, he was a little calmer.
“I wonder if that’s because he lost his mother. He thinks I’ve gone away and
won’t come back,” she commented.
Inuyasha nodded, sitting with Yukio on her bed, rocking him slightly. “When he
has his hanyou powers, he can smell you nearby and knows you’re around even if he
can’t see you. Without the nose, he thinks you’ve abandoned him.”
“Poor little baby. Otou and Kaa-san won’t ever leave you,” she assured him,
nuzzling his little cheek and kissing him.
He sniffled and reached for her so she took him into her arms. He worried at her
neck and gripped her shirt tightly in both fists, but appeared to be calming down. That is,
until Inuyasha went out of his sensing range to use the bathroom. Then he started fussing
again.
“See, there’s Otou,” Kagome assured, turning Yukio so he could see his father
when he returned.
Upon seeing Inuyasha, Yukio stopped whimpering, and just looked about with
watery eyes.
“Heh, looks like he wants both of us,” Inuyasha said, coming over and rubbing
the baby’s head.
“So it seems,” she agreed.
Finally, they devised a plan using extra pillows for Kagome to study on the bed
with Yukio between her and Inuyasha. Assured that both his parents were there with him,
and worn out from all the crying, he eventually slipped into a restless sleep and both
Inuyasha and Kagome breathed sighs of relief.
“Is it that bad for you?” she asked Inuyasha suddenly. “Being human?”
He looked away, thinking, as if trying to find the words to describe what it was
like.
“The worst is the loss of scent,” he replied. “You humans can’t understand how
important it is to us. Smell tells us so much and when we don’t have it… it’s like being
blind. I remember when I was a little whelp. My mother was so protective of me on the
moonless nights, and I would cling to her because without my nose she was harder to
find. After she died, I remember being terrified without her; vulnerable and helpless. I’d
hide so no one would discover my secret. Mother always told me to never let anyone
know when my nose stopped working and my hair and eyes turned black. Even after
Sesshoumaru came for me, I still hid on those nights.”
“Wait, wait. Sesshoumaru came for you?”
Inuyasha frowned at the bad memories but nodded. “Yeah. After Mother died and
Oyaji was killed. Myouga-jiji told him I was orphaned and he came to do his duty as my
older brother.”
A sneer came to his face and she saw him clench a fist.
“How long were you with him?” she asked, honored that he was sharing with her.
“Until I could take care of and protect myself, which was as soon as I could get
strong enough. He hated me as much as I would come to hate him.”
“But you didn’t hate him right away.”
He shook his head. “No. The hate would come later. At first, I was just grateful
for someone to look after me. I was all alone and both my parents were dead. I thought
that he would teach me...” He paused for several moments before continuing in a
resigned voice, “My brother taught me many things. The first was that I was a hanyou
and less than the dirt he walked on. The second was how to hate.”
Kagome took his hand and held it tightly, trying to offer whatever comfort he
would allow. He squeezed her hand briefly then let it go.
“You should study. Your test is tomorrow.”
“I know, and I am. It’s just…”
“It was a long time ago. And I survived.” He looked down at Yukio sleeping
between them. “And this one won’t suffer like I did. He has us to take care of him.”
“Yes.”
“He’ll have what I didn’t, and it’ll be okay. That’s good enough, isn’t it?”
She nodded, tears forming in her eyes, but she blinked them away. “Yeah, it is.”
Giving his hand another squeeze she returned to her books. She studied until she
was too tired to stay awake, then lay down with Yukio against her chest. Inuyasha stayed
on the bed, but remained sitting up and awake. He kept vigil over them all night long.
Chapter Fourteen
The next two days passed uneventfully. Kagome had her tests to study for and
take, and most of her time was consumed by those two things. Inuyasha stayed behind
with Yukio when Kagome went to school, but he would bring Yukio to her during her
lunch break. She had half an hour for lunch and she would sneak up to the roof of the
school. There Inuyasha would give her his haori, her lunch and the baby, and sit next to
her while she ate her lunch and nursed Yukio. When she was finished, she would change
him quickly and give him back to his father, then she would return to her classroom and
Inuyasha would bring the baby back to the shrine.
On Friday morning she had her worst test: math, and she came out of it feeling
fairly confident that she’d done well. The test finished just at noon, and she hurried to
turn it in and get up to the roof where she knew Inuyasha would be waiting for her. She
was in such a rush that she didn’t notice the older woman she passed in the hall; the one
who frowned when she saw Kagome and followed her into the stairwell.
“I’m sorry I’m late,” Kagome apologized breathlessly, crossing the roof and
joining Inuyasha by the side of the utility room on top of the school.
He snorted at her and gave her his haori.
“How did the test go?” he asked.
She slipped the red garment over her shoulders, sat down, and reached for Yukio.
“I think I did well.”
He handed her the baby, who had already begun to fuss at the scent and sight of
his mother.
“That’s good.”
“Mmm hmmm,” she agreed, lifting her uniform top and undoing the nursing flap
on the bra.
She didn’t cover herself and the baby with the haori. Yukio’s latest thing was to
try to push and kick it away when she draped it over his head. It was as if he wanted to be
able to see her face while he nursed and no longer liked being covered up. Now she took
the sleeve of the haori and draped it over the top of her breast, hiding her skin from view,
but leaving Yukio uncovered. The compromise kept Yukio happy, but didn’t leave her
feeling exposed.
“Your last test is this afternoon?” Inuyasha asked, sitting close and watching her
feed Yukio the way he always did.
“Yes. History. Then I’m done.”
He nodded, an odd gleam in his eyes. “Then we can go back, can’t we Kagome?
We can go back tonight?”
She sighed. So much for a couple of quiet days in her time. ‘Well, I suppose I
really can’t complain. He did give me five days here without too much fuss, and he’s
done a wonderful job of looking after Yukio.’
“We need to go shopping for supplies, but yes, after that we can go.”
“Good. I want to get the pup back home. The air here is no good for him, and
you’re almost out of liver.”
‘And you want to get back to a place where you don’t have to hide what you are,’
she mentally added, noting the ball cap he wore to cover his ears. Yukio didn’t have a hat
on, but no one ever saw him because Inuyasha kept him in his baby sling and moved too
fast for normal humans to see.
“I’m eager to get back too. I miss Shippou, Sango and the others. But I want to
come back for my birthday.”
“When is it?”
“Next month. I’m sure my friends will want to throw a party for me because I’ll
be seventeen.”
He nodded and she saw him make a mental note of it. “Are these the friends I met
that time?”
“Yeah, Ayumi, Eri and Yuka.”
“And that guy… that Houjou guy. Him too?” he asked, his voice already holding
a hint of jealousy.
“Probably. But I’ve told you before, I’m not interested in Houjou.”
Yukio wanted to be switched so she undid the nursing flap on the other side and
moved him over, draping the haori sleeve across her breast.
“Is he a threat to the pup? Will he try to hurt Yukio because I’m the rival male?”
She blinked at him, stunned. “No, not at all. We don’t do things like that,
Inuyasha.”
He gave a grunt of acknowledgment.
“You wanted a week?” he asked.
She was shocked that he remembered. “Y… Yes. If I may.”
He frowned. “I’ll give you three days.”
She frowned back. “Five.”
“Four and not a day more!” he countered with finality.
“Okay, four, but you have to come with me to help take care of Yukio.”
He nodded. “Of course.”
“He’s starting to teethe. I can feel the bumps on his gums,” she commented.
Inuyasha agreed. “His fangs will come in first.”
She nodded, looking down at the baby who was looking up at her, big golden eyes
staring at her as he fed. She smiled at him and stroked his puppy ears.
“My little big dog,” she cooed to him.
“Feh!” Inuyasha snorted, but then his head whipped around.
“What is it?” she asked, seeing the look on his face and getting worried.
“Someone’s here,” he replied.
As if on cue, a female figure came into view, walking carefully and obviously
looking for something. The newcomer turned and saw them sitting against the utility
room exterior wall. Kagome recognized the woman and gasped, her blood turning cold.
Inuyasha, reacting to her obvious upset, began to growl warningly as she shrank back
behind him, trying to shield Yukio from view.
“Higurashi Kagome,” the doctor from Monday said coldly, coming towards them.
“I came here to your school to make sure you were doing as ordered. I see that you are
not. I will…”
She was cut off by an extremely pissed off hanyou grabbing her by the throat.
He’d moved so fast that he’d been nothing more than a growling red blur before his
inhumanly strong hand was wrapped around her neck.
“You!” he snarled. “I know your stinking scent. You’re that bitch doctor!”
The cap had become dislodged in his leap to grab her, revealing his ears- ears that
were now pinned flat against his head in fury. The older woman saw the dog ears sticking
out from the mass of silver hair and her eyes opened wide, even as her face began to turn
blue from lack of air. She scratched weakly at Inuyasha’s hand and wrist, but her
struggles were useless.
“You’re the one who made Kagome cry! You’re the one who hurt her and made
her feel dirty for feeding a motherless pup. Just who the hell do you think you are,
bitch?”
“Inuyasha,” Kagome begged, standing and tentatively making her way over to
where he was strangling the woman. Yukio had stopped nursing when he heard and felt
the upset, and was now letting out little whimpers of distress that could easily graduate
into his trademark wails if things didn’t calm down soon.
‘Please. If he starts howling, the whole school will come running up here and I’ll
be done for.’
“Inuyasha, please let her go.”
The enraged hanyou just continued to growl and lifted the kicking woman off the
ground by her neck.
“Inuyasha, don’t make me subdue you. Let her go right now!” she cried
desperately.
With a final snarl, he dropped the doctor unceremoniously to the rooftop. She
crumpled in a sprawling heap, her hands going to her throat as she gasped for air. He
stood over her, a menacing look on his face, and kept placing himself in her line of sight
every time she tried to look at Kagome and the baby.
“What… what are you?” she rasped, she staring up at him, her throat raw.
“Your worst nightmare, bitch.”
“Inuyasha,” Kagome scolded gently, coming to stand beside him. She held Yukio
close, but he was thankfully calming down now that she was relaxing.
There was an eerie silence. Kagome looked down at the terrified and shocked
doctor, knowing full well that the older woman could see that Yukio had dog ears, and a
strange calm came over her. Inuyasha stood at her shoulder and together they presented a
unified front. A gentle wind blew through their hair as they stared the doctor down and
time seemed to stop for a long, breathless moment.
Kagome knew she should be stunned, horrified and worried sick at the
repercussions of what was happening, but she felt oddly detached from it. What was done
was done and there was nothing she could do about it. Inuyasha was there and she knew
he would protect her, and Yukio was safe in her arms. The doctor was helpless to do
anything against them, and the knowledge brought her peace. She raised her chin proudly
and lifted her son closer to her chest, allowing him to turn and look down at the woman
as well. The doctor’s eyes opened even wider when she saw the infant’s golden eyes.
Inuyasha snarled and stepped forward, blocking the doctor’s view again. She
skittered backwards on her hands and rear end, her feet scraping along the rough rooftop.
“Quit staring, bitch. You don’t have the right to even look at her, you worthless
hag. If I had my way, I’d rip you to shreds for what you did to Kagome, and it is by her
grace and kindness alone that I let you live,” he seethed, sounding more like his halfbrother than he ever had.
The woman stammered incoherently, her mouth opening and closing like a fish
out of water.
“But I warn you. If you ever come anywhere near Kagome or my son ever again I.
Will. Kill! You! Now get the fuck out of my sight, bitch, before I really lose my temper!”
he ordered, backing up his threat with a vicious snarl as he drew Tessaiga and brandished
it in front of him.
With a choked scream, the woman scrambled to her feet and ran, practically
pissing herself to get away. Inuyasha gave a satisfied grunt and sheathed Tessaiga as she
nearly threw herself down the exit stairs, the rooftop door banging heavily behind her.
“I should ‘s’ you a dozen times for the language you just used,” Kagome said as
she rejoined him.
He tensed, waiting for the threatened punishment, but it never came. Instead, her
head pressed softly to his shoulder and she sighed.
“But I’m not going to because I understand completely.”
“Feh,” he replied, putting a protective arm around her.
Yukio burbled and yipped.
“I need to change him and get back downstairs,” she whispered, reluctantly
pulling away.
He gave a short nod and walked with her back to the wall of the utility room,
pulling a fresh diaper and a cleaning cloth from inside the chest of his kimono as she
handed him his haori. They were back to the cloth ones because the ‘modern’ disposable
diapers gave Yukio a rash. Kagome changed him and wrapped the dirty diaper up in a
plastic bag for later cleaning. Then she kissed Yukio’s cheek sweetly and put him in his
baby sling.
“I’ll see you when I get home,” she said as Inuyasha took the sling and put it
around him, securing Yukio against his chest.
“Yeah. Come back straight away. No wasting time.”
She rolled her eyes, but agreed. “Yes, yes. I will.”
“We’re going back tonight. I want to leave as soon as possible.”
“I know. I know.”
She moved to leave but he stopped her with a hand on her shoulder. She turned to
see him looking at her intently.
“Be safe, Kagome. Do well on your test.”
She gave him a tender smile and a nuzzle. “I will. Thank you.”
He snorted, but his eyes were kind.
With a final soft look, she headed back down the stairs, leaving Inuyasha behind.
Little did she know that he didn’t return to the shrine right away. As he hopped off the
roof he caught a familiar disgusting scent and tracked it to the doctor’s little white ‘auuutooo-mobile.’ With a wicked grin, he cracked his knuckles and left four deep gashes
down the length of her hood and roof. No sense in making a serious threat if you couldn’t
back it up with a little show of power.
********
Kagome did as promised and returned home as soon as school was over, ignoring
her friends’ invitation to join them for hamburgers. She knew that Inuyasha would be
furious if she was late, and she didn’t want to do anything to anger him. Besides, it had
been more than four hours and she knew Yukio would be getting hungry soon.
Inuyasha was waiting for her at the top of the shrine stairs when she arrived. He
was holding Yukio and the baby gurgled at her when she came into view. Kissing his
little cheek, she took him from his father and he snuggled into her shoulder happily as she
and Inuyasha walked side by side to the house.
“How’d the test go?” he asked.
“Great. It was the best of the three,” she replied brightly. “I’m just glad they’re all
over. I have my assignments for the next two weeks and no more tests until next month.”
“Then we can go?” he questioned eagerly.
“We need to go shopping first,” she reminded him as they entered the house.
“Shopping.” He spat the word like it was a curse.
“Tadaima,” she called out and heard an answering “Okaeri” from her mother and
grandfather in the kitchen.
“If we don’t go shopping we won’t have any ramen or potato chips.”
He sighed. “There is that,” he admitted. “Alright. We will go shopping right
away.”
“Just let me feed and change Yukio, then I’ll leave him with Mama,” she said,
going up to her room.
“Leave him?”
“He’ll be fine. He always naps after he eats. I’ll wrap him in his blanket and sling
and he won’t even know we’re gone.”
Inuyasha snorted. “That’s what you think. He’ll start bawling the moment we’re
both out of scent range.”
“You think?”
“You’re joking, right?”
She sat on her bed and he gave her his haori as he sat next to her. It was a ritual
for them now, and she was gathering up her courage to ask him what it was about her
nursing Yukio that fascinated him so much and why he insisted that she wear his haori
when she fed the baby.
“Well, he has to get used to other people taking care of him,” she said, continuing
the conversation as she went through the motions of feeding her son.
Yukio didn’t care if his adoptive parents talked while he ate. He had all he wanted
in his mouth and couldn’t care less what the adults did so long as it didn’t interrupt his
food-time.
“Why?” Inuyasha asked.
“Because sometimes he’s going to get left behind and he’ll have to be okay with
that.”
“We are never leaving this pup behind,” he replied sternly.
Kagome blinked at him. “Not even when he’s older and harder to carry? Do you
really want a toddler on a shard hunt with us?”
“It’s too dangerous to leave him with anyone. Until he can defend himself he’s a
target. We’ll just teach him to be quiet and not get in the way, but we’re taking him with
us everywhere we go.”
Kagome sighed and reluctantly agreed. “Okay. We’ll put him in his sling and I’ll
put a hat on his head, and we’ll take him with us.”
“Good.”
She changed Yukio when he finished eating and put him back in his sling, then
she put the sling on and carried him next to her chest as she and Inuyasha went grocery
shopping.
Mama had dinner ready for them when they returned and by the time they had
eaten, packed up their supplies and made their way through the well, several hours had
passed and it was already nightfall in the Sengoku Jidai. Inuyasha carried the supplies
and her bag out of the well for her as she climbed up.
“Ahhhh!” she breathed, stretching in the clean, clear night air. “It feels so good.”
Beside her, Inuyasha grunted in agreement and she could see all the lines of
tension and stress that always marred his body and face whenever they were in her time
slowly fade away.
‘Being there is really hard on him,’ she admitted to herself, looking up at the sea
of stars.
“Let’s go, Kagome,” he said, hefting the bags over his shoulder.
But she wasn’t ready to go down to the village just yet. She wanted to stay in this
peaceful forested place and be alone with Inuyasha for a little while before they had to
join the others.
“Wait, Inuyasha,” she said softly.
“Eh?” he replied, turning to look at her.
“Let’s just stay here for a little bit, ne?”
He blinked at her. “Why?”
“Because… Because it’s a beautiful night and I just want to relax for a few
minutes and look at the stars before we have to go. We can sit here and I can feed Yukio
and we can both recover from our trip.”
“Keh,” he scoffed. “I’m fine.”
She gave him a tender smile and she saw him blush at the attention. “I know. But
humor me, okay.”
“Alright, but not for too long. I want to find out if there have been any shard
rumors while we’ve been gone,” he agreed.
She gave him another smile and picked a tree on the edge of the clearing to sit
under.
“I know, but we can’t go anywhere until morning anyway so a few more minutes
won’t matter, right?”
“I guess,” he admitted, sitting down next to her.
Yukio was fussing in his sling, hungry and aware that something about his
environment had changed again. Kagome drew him out of the carrier and changed his
dirty diaper. Then she held him in her lap, humming softly to him as she began to lift up
her shirt.
“Here,” Inuyasha interrupted, holding out the haori.
She looked at him, her eyes soft, and offered her shoulder. He leaned over and
lightly draped the red garment across her shoulders, drawing the fabric to drape down
over her arms. She pushed it back and placed the huge sleeve across her chest as she
brought Yukio up to the nipple. She sighed as he began to nurse, and let herself relax.
There was something deep and easing about sitting there with Inuyasha. When
they were alone together, his gentler, sweeter side came out and she treasured those
moments. He could be tender and loving when he wanted to be, and she knew a man of
deep feeling lurked under his gruff exterior. There were many times she wished he would
show it more, and not be so afraid to appear ‘weak,’ but she knew many years of pain,
loneliness and hardship had shaped him into the man he had become, and she could not
expect him to suddenly cast off the defense mechanisms that had kept him alive for so
long.
Still, there were times like these when she was alone with him, and he was
watching her with a soft look in his eyes, that she knew her love was healing him and
easing his lonely heart. They were times when she could forget about the Shikon no
Tama, and her double life, and Kikyou, and just be Kagome, the one who loves Inuyasha
with all her heart and soul (well, most of it at the very least.) Times when she felt closer
to him than to anyone else, and she entertained dreams of a happy future with him by her
side and their own children at their feet.
Sometimes she thought he had those dreams too. She could see it in his eyes when
he thought she couldn’t see: the hope, the longing. Often she’d wanted to reach out and
touch him, to tell him that, yes, she felt the same way, and he didn’t have to be afraid that
she would reject him, but fear that he would reject her, fear that in the end she would lose
him to Kikyou always stopped her.
But tonight, under the stars and trees and gently blowing breeze, there was no
Kikyou. There was only her and Inuyasha and Yukio, and they were the only three people
that mattered in the world for those precious moments.
“So many stars,” she whispered. “You never see this many in my time unless
you’re out in the country, and even then I don’t think you can see as many as I do here.”
“Keh. It’s all your lights and eeellll-eectrriiisss-iiteee. They drown out the stars.”
“Your eyes can see perfectly in the dark, can’t they,” she commented.
“Mostly. I can’t see in total darkness, but I can see well at night. Much better than
your human eyes,” he jibed lightly.
She smiled at him as she switched Yukio. “It’s a good thing I’m with you then.
You’ll make sure I don’t stumble or walk into anything.”
“Keh!”
“What? Does that mean you won’t?”
He snorted. “If it comes to that, I’ll just carry you.”
“You always carry me,” she whispered. “In more ways than one.”
He looked at her and she could see his blush even in the moonlight. “Feh, you
need carrying, wench. With that weak, human body of yours,” he scoffed, covering his
embarrassment.
She didn’t take offense. Nothing, but nothing was going to ruin this night and this
perfect time for her. Not even Inuyasha himself.
“I’m better though, aren’t I? I’m not as weak as I was two years ago.”
He sighed and lowered his head, his ears drooping. If she didn’t take his bait and
argue with him, he never kept it up for long.
“No. You’re strong. Much stronger than I ever thought you’d be, and you’ve got
guts. You never back down from a fight,” he admitted.
“I have a good role model,” she teased.
“Feh. I’m no one’s role model.”
“You will be to Yukio.”
“He should expect to be disappointed.”
“I don’t think so. I think you’ll always be there for him, just as you’ve always
been there for me.”
“Not always...” he murmured softly.
“That doesn’t matter. You’re here now.”
He was quiet, having no answer, and she looked at the nursing infant. She could
tell he was almost finished. Soon Inuyasha would insist they go down to the village, but
she didn’t want their quiet time to end just yet. Besides, she was working up enough
courage to ask him about the haori and her nursing. It seemed that he might be in the
mood to talk about it if she could ask the right questions.
“Inuyasha...”
“Hmmm?”
“May I ask you a question?”
He bristled a little and her heart fell. “What kind of question?”
“A serious one.”
“About what?”
“About Yukio, and me, and your haori.”
“What about it? You need covering otherwise anyone can see your parts,” he
replied defensively.
“That’s not what I meant. You want me to wear your haori when I feed him. Even
when I have something else I can use, you always give it to me. And you always watch
me feed him. There’s something there, I can feel it. You get this look in your eyes... Will
you tell me about it?”
He sneered and looked away. “Bah. What are you going on about, woman?
There’s nothing to tell.”
It wasn’t the answer she was looking for, and for some reason she felt horribly
disappointed. She had hoped the feeling of closeness and love that she was feeling for
him would be reciprocated tonight, and they would talk of his past and of their future. His
cutting dismissal dashed all her wishful expectations.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered faintly, unable to hide the sadness in her voice.
“Forget I said anything.”
“Huh? What’s your problem tonight?”
She closed her eyes and held her temper. He was really trying to bait her into a
fight, and it was making her more sad than angry.
‘After all this time, and all we’ve been through, he still won’t share with me...’
“Oi! Kagome.”
She shook her head, burping Yukio because he was finished, and pulling her shirt
back down.
“It’s nothing.”
“It’s not nothing. I know you well enough to know that your ‘nothing’ means
something,” he countered gruffly.
She sighed, patting her son and soothing him as she put him back into his carrier.
He was already drifting off to sleep.
“I don’t want to fight with you, Inuyasha. I just want to sit here with you and feel
some peace. I was hoping you would share with me, but if you don’t want to, that’s okay.
I won’t try to make you.”
“Fine! Be that way!” he snapped.
She didn’t answer, just looked down at the sleeping infant, and smiled wistfully.
Then she drew the edges of Inuyasha’s haori around her to ward off the night chill. It was
warm, and wearing it was comforting to her. After all, giving her his haori had been the
first gesture of affection he had ever offered her, and the gift had saved her life more than
once.
“It’s because I want to be part of it,” he said suddenly after a long silence.
She blinked at him, surprised, but remained silent. He looked at her with guilty
eyes, his hands in his lap and his face contrite.
“If you’re wearing my fire-rat, I know you and the pup are protected. That’s
important to me,” he went on.
“Inuyasha...” she breathed softly, her heart melting.
“And I want to feel like I’m helping you in some way. That I can do something
worthwhile for you and the pup: protect you, provide you with meat and liver. I want to
know that I can give you something you need.”
She gave him a tender, grateful look, and reached out to hold his hand.
“Thank you. Thank you for sharing that with me.”
He shook his head, accepting her hand in his and lightly grasping it. “No. I should
be thanking you for what you did.”
“Me?” she replied, blushing, but inwardly smiling at his soft look, his tenderness.
“I didn’t do anything...”
“And that’s what makes it more beautiful. You don’t see what you did as anything
special when the rest of us are in awe of you. You asked me why I watch you when you
feed him. I watch because I still can’t believe it. I have to see it so I know it’s real.”
“Why?”
He let her hand go and looked away, his head down and his eyes dark with deep
emotion. She waited, holding her breath, because she could feel the change in him and
knew that he was going to talk, really talk to her.
‘Inuyasha. Will you? Will you really...’
“Because no one fed me,” he said quietly.
“What?” she repeated, uncertain that she had heard him correctly.
He took a deep breath and let it out slowly before speaking again.
“No one fed me. When my mother died, no one fed me. No one cared if I lived or
died. My mother was a noblewoman but no one gave a damn that I was her son. I was
just a filthy half-breed nobody wanted. I had no idea how to feed or take care of myself. I
scrounged food from the kitchens and the garbage, eating whatever I could get my hands
on. They’d chase me out when they caught me and beat me for ‘stealing.’ I was filthy and
starving, but nobody cared.”
‘Oh my God. Oh, Inuyasha...’
“Eventually my brother came for me and he took me with him, but by then I was
in pretty bad shape and he was furious at my mother’s relatives. I think he even killed a
couple of them. But even he didn’t feed me or bring me food. He told me the extent of his
obligation ended with his protection, and if I wanted to eat I had to find food for myself.
Sometimes, though, when I was really hungry, he’d toss me a rabbit- raw. Most of what I
learned about how to feed myself, I had to learn on my own because he never taught me.
My first kills were messy and bloody, but it was either that or go hungry, and if I ate
something that made me sick, I’d be punished.”
He paused and looked at her to see if she would say anything, but she was just
staring at him in shock.
‘Inuyasha...’
He went on, his voice thick with old pain.
“There was an inu-youkai bitch with three pups on my brother’s lands. I watched
her for weeks, hoping that if she got used to my scent and I learned her ways, that maybe
she’d accept me. That’s how I know so much about pups. But she rejected me when I
approached her, and my brother scruffed and cuffed me severely for even trying. I was
sore for days from his beating, and I’ll never forget what he told me that night. He said no
youkai would want me because I was a lowly hanyou, tainted with human blood, and the
dirt beneath a true youkai’s feet. No one would ever accept me. That was when I
understood my mother’s tears that one time. Why she had cried for me. She had known
what my life would be like, and she had wept for my sake.”
He stopped and shook his head as if getting rid of a hurtful memory. Kagome
waited, her heart pounding and breaking for this poor soul who had suffered so much.
‘Inuyasha, my beautiful Inuyasha. You didn’t deserve any of it...’
She wanted to throw herself into his arms and hold him until the pain went away,
but the words stuck in her throat, and he was speaking again before she could swallow
them.
“So you have no idea how it affects me to see you with Yukio, to see you feeding
him. To me, it’s a miracle. I don’t care that it’s normal. I don’t know anything about horoh-moans or fizz-ee-olo-gee and women. I don’t care if any woman he’d nursed from
would have made milk for him. They wouldn’t have. None of them would have even
tried. They would have let him starve to death before any one of them would have given
him a breast.
“You are the only woman I know who would allow an orphan half-breed to nurse
from her dry breast just because she wanted to comfort him when he was missing his
dead mother. You are the only one I know who would have cared that much, loved that
much, given that much. To take a hanyou pup who was not your own and nurse him, to
feed him from your own body…”
He raised his eyes and looked at her still staring at him with watery eyes. His own
eyes were wide and filled with adoration, awe and love.
“So it doesn’t matter to me if it’s normal and would have happened with anyone.
For me it’s amazing and unbelievable. That’s why the third meaning of ‘Yukio’ is so
fitting to me, why it means so much to me. To me… to me, I see you with him and I see
God.”
Finished and embarrassed by his own runaway mouth, he looked away,
concentrating on his hands, his claws.
“Inuyasha…” she breathed, and he cast a glance up.
Tears were streaming down her face, her cheeks wet with them, and he knew she
was crying for him. Unable to stand it, he looked away again, and almost stood to leave.
“Don’t. Please,” Kagome begged, one hand on his shoulder.
He nodded, still not looking at her and sat back down. A moment later a sleeping
Yukio was placed in his lap. He touched the pup’s hair with one finger, tracing the side of
his little face. He smelled of pup and milk and Kagome.
There was a rustle of cloth and the sound of something falling to the ground, then
Kagome’s hands were on his head and shoulders, turning him to look at her. She’d taken
off his haori and her shirt and bra, and her bare breasts were exposed to him, the nipples
reddened from Yukio’s earlier nursing. He blinked at her, confused and unsure of what
she was doing.
“Kagome?”
She shook her head, her eyes still brimmed with tears, put one hand on the back of
his neck and the other on his cheek, and pulled him towards her. Gently, she brought him
to her breast and pressed his mouth to her nipple.
“I would have fed you. I would have…”
He let out a choked sound that might have been a whimper, and her hands tangled
themselves in his hair, urging him to take what she offered. Opening his mouth, he let his
lips surround the toughened nipple and began to lightly suck.
Kagome felt him start to nurse and put her arms around him as she let more tears
fall down her cheeks. His sucking was so different from the infant’s, his mouth gentle
and his tongue softly licking. She knew she had only a very little bit of milk left, no more
than a mouthful at the very most after Yukio finished nursing, but she didn’t need milk to
feed him. The very act of bringing him to her breast and letting him suckle was enough.
Right now, she was feeding the abandoned orphan whom no one wanted, the little boy
Inuyasha who had lost his mother and never known his father; the lonely, bereft child that
still lived inside the adult hanyou and begged to be comforted.
Later she would nourish the man he had become, using a much different part of
her body. With Yukio sleeping soundly and tucked in his sling hung from a nearby tree
branch, they would kiss passionately for several minutes, and finally couple on the moss-
covered ground. For years afterward she would remember and cherish that first time, not
minding that it was awkward, and hurt a little, or that he had finished too soon. She
would always remember how he’d held her wrists tightly as if he was afraid she would
run away, then how he had clutched her to him with both arms wrapped around her as he
moved desperately inside her. The look of stricken awe on his face when he first mounted
and breached her was burned into her mind; how it changed to shocked bliss as he slid all
the way in, and the tears that rolled, unbidden and unnoticed, down his cheeks as they
made love- tears of old pain, of joy and of healing.
She would remember his face after his first climax, the way his eyes rolled back
and his jaw dropped open, and how he had cried out her name in the final moment. Then
the look of shocked embarrassment when he learned that women could climax too, and
that she had been left unsatisfied. She’d asked him to help her pleasure herself and he did
her one better, insisting that her pleasure was his responsibility. He’d brought his mouth
to the juncture of her thighs, and she discovered that his tongue was the most amazing
thing in the world.
Their second time followed shortly after her first climax, when she was still wet
and open from the first, and relaxed from her orgasm. He mounted again, this time a little
bolder and more self-assured, and never took his eyes off of her for a single second. Even
when she closed her eyes in rapture and arched her back, when she opened them again he
was still watching her intently. It was as if he didn’t want to miss a moment, especially
the moment of her climax, when her body jerked and she gasped and her passage
clenched around him like a rippling vice that milked his own orgasm from him. Then he
threw his head back and howled his triumph and victory as he emptied his seed into her
with self-satisfied pride.
And little Yukio slept soundly though it all as if instinctively knowing that his
adoptive parents were busy in the throes of passion and pleasure, that all was well, and
that he was perfectly safe from harm. When they were finished, they retrieved him from
his bough-cradle, and cuddled him between them as they snuggled together at the base of
the tree. He rolled towards their warmth, never waking, and tucked his tiny fists under
Kagome’s breast as they fell asleep still holding each other.
Chapter Fifteen
Kagome was awakened from her peaceful sleep by Yukio getting his own
midnight snack. She was disoriented at first, unsure of exactly where she was or why she
was half naked under Inuyasha’s haori, but then the memory of what had occurred came
rushing back to her and she flushed with heat.
‘Inuyasha and I, we… Oh my God, we actually… I’m not a virgin anymore.’ She
smiled to herself. ‘And neither is he.’
Somehow that knowledge brought her great pride and she snuggled further
against the warm body that was wrapped around her from behind. The body shifted and
moved, one hand coming to cup her under one breast and pull her closer. The haori slid to
the ground while a set of soft lips planted butterfly kisses all along her neck from her ear
to her shoulder. She moaned at the attention, then gasped when a set of sharp teeth bit her
very, very gently where her neck met her shoulder and a tongue laved the spot. Hot
breath tickled her ear and she shivered, but not with cold.
“Kagome…” Inuyasha’s husky voice murmured.
“Inuyasha,” she replied.
The hand on the side where Yukio was nursing slid down to stroke her thigh, the
clawed fingers sliding under her skirt to touch her bare skin. Ironically, the touch didn’t
have the effect her new lover thought it would have. Instead it served to remind her that
her panties were flung somewhere in the clearing and she had no idea where. The thought
made her giggle and Inuyasha froze.
“Kagome?” he whispered tentatively.
She craned her head to look at him, taking in his worried, uncertain eyes, and
gave him a sweet smile.
“I was just wondering where you threw my underwear.”
“The little white thing?”
“Yeah.”
He cast about with his eyes and nose, locating the object. “It’s over there. Do you
want me to get it?”
Kagome wasn’t imagining things when she thought his voice sounded
disappointed, and she giggled again, shaking her head.
“No,” she replied, pressing against him in a way she hoped would tell him that all
was well between them. “I just wanted to know where they were.”
The hand started stroking again and his lips kissed her shoulder.
“Okay.”
She sighed and let him continue his attentions. As his hand caressed her thigh,
lightly scratching with his claws- not hard enough to leave marks, but enough to make
her skin tingle- he trailed kisses down her shoulder. He turned her body and his own
enough so that he could bring his head around to her front, and began kissing the swell of
her breast. When his lips closed over the hard nipple she gasped and grew very still.
She was left with a strange decision. On one hand, she really liked what he was
doing and didn’t particularly want him to stop. However, the whole thing was surreal.
Yukio was actively nursing, and the thought of Inuyasha suckling at the other breast was
oddly disconcerting on a number of levels. The first, of course, being that they were
engaging in that type of intimacy with the baby right there. The second being that she
felt protective towards her infant’s food. The milk was ultimately Yukio’s and no one
else could lay claim to it. Her dilemma was that she didn’t want to refuse Inuyasha and
make him feel rejected, but at the same time she didn’t want him drinking Yukio’s milk
either. That and the fact that it was one thing to make love when the baby was sleeping in
his sling, but making love while he was awake and right there was something she was
definitely not comfortable with.
In the end though, she didn’t have to make the choice at all, because Inuyasha
already knew all of that, and he wouldn’t take milk from his son’s mouth either. He
sucked hard enough on the nipple to draw milk once, taking the smallest of mouthfuls,
then relaxed his lips and let his tongue just lick gently. Then he drew back and rested his
cheek against the soft mound of the breast, nuzzling into her flesh lovingly.
She relaxed when he released her and mentally berated herself for doubting him
for even a moment. Letting out a sigh, she lifted her free hand and threaded her fingers
into his long hair, rubbing the part of his scalp that she could reach in their awkward
position. He sighed in answer and drew her closer to him with arms that wrapped around
her waist, and not for the first time she marveled at hanyou flexibility, because she knew
that he was twisted around but it didn’t seem to bother him.
They stayed that way in tender silence for a brief moment until a noise from
Yukio caught their attention. Kagome had enough time to realize it was his little growl
before he kicked, whacking Inuyasha right on the chin.
“Ow! Brat!” Inuyasha yelled, reeling back and glaring at the baby. “What the hell
did you do that for, whelp!”
Two big golden eyes glared back and another warning growl rumbled out of the
tiny chest. Kagome began to laugh.
“He’s mad! He’s really, really mad!” she exclaimed, still giggling.
“Oi! It’s not funny!” Inuyasha complained, rubbing his sore chin. “Brat can kick.”
“He thought you were taking his milk,” she snickered, then bounced Yukio
lightly. “Oh you’re getting feisty. First you bite that smelly woman and now you kick
your father. You’d better be careful, Otou won’t tolerate that.”
“Damn straight, whelp,” Inuyasha growled warningly. “You can’t boss me
around.”
Yukio growled back, but Inuyasha silenced him with a hand on the back of his
neck. The adult hanyou didn’t even have to squeeze before the pup submitted, going limp
with a whine.
“Inuyasha, that’s enough,” Kagome said seriously when he didn’t take his hand
off Yukio’s neck right away.
Inuyasha obeyed, releasing the contrite pup who promptly began to sniffle and
cry. Kagome shushed him and pacified him with the other breast. His whimpers died as
soon as he had what he wanted.
“Don’t be rough with him,” she scolded.
“You can’t let him dominate you,” Inuyasha told her firmly.
“He’s just a baby. He doesn’t understand.”
“He’s a hanyou pup, Kagome. If he knows enough to growl and defend his milk,
he’s old enough to learn his place. Don’t question me on this.”
She gave him a disapproving look that softened when she saw him rub his chin
again.
“You’re just angry because he kicked you,” she teased lightly.
“Well, there’s nothing wrong with his legs for certain.”
She turned around to face him and they sat across from each other, both still in
various stages of undress. Inuyasha was as bare-chested as she, but he’d put his hakama
back on. He was staring at her hungrily, then his face flushed and he looked away shyly.
His embarrassment was endearing and she smiled. Leaning over, she kissed the
sore spot on his chin tenderly.
“Better now?” she asked softly.
He touched the place where her lips had just been and looked at her longingly.
She responded by kissing him gently, and his hands came up to cup her face as he kissed
her back, his tongue sliding across her lips.
“Kagome...”
“Inuyasha,” she replied, stroking his arm with her free hand, reassuring him and
reconnecting with him. He had to be feeling a little vulnerable and uncertain after what
had passed between them, and she wanted to be sure that he knew everything was okay.
“Thank you for last night.”
He pulled back, gasping in shock and stared at her wide-eyed, his upper teeth
biting his lower lip. Then he whipped away and squatted a few inches away from her, his
fists planted on the ground as he fought to hold in his emotions.
“Inuyasha?” she questioned, unhappy that what she thought would be reassurance
had the exact opposite affect.
“You’re thanking me?” he whispered faintly in disbelief, his head bowed.
“Yes. Shouldn’t I? You shared something precious with me last night, and I’m
very grateful,” she explained gently, not understanding why he was upset.
“You’re grateful?” he gasped, giving her another wide-eyed glance before he
looked away. “It was your first time too Kagome and you gave it to me. I’m the one who
should be grateful. I’m the one who was given something precious. You could have had
anyone: Houjou, Akitoki, even that stinking wolf, but it was me you chose. I’m the one
who should be licking your feet.”
“Inuyasha...”
“Thank you, Kagome.”
“Inuyasha.”
He looked at her, his eyes uncertain.
“You’re too far away.”
He gave her a shy, relieved smile and moved close again, taking her into his arms
from the side and nuzzling his nose into the crook of her neck.
“Oi, whelp, don’t you dare kick me again,” he warned Yukio.
Kagome giggled. “He won’t. He’s almost finished anyway.”
“You can tell?”
“Yeah.”
“So he’ll be done soon?”
She nodded, rubbing her chin against the top of his head. “Mm hmm.”
“Then he’ll sleep, right? It’s still dark,” he asked, his voice slightly hopeful.
“He should.”
“Okay.”
They stayed quiet until Yukio was finished eating, then Kagome burped him and
changed his diaper. A few minutes later, he was in his sling and settling down. Inuyasha
took him and hung the strap from the bough he’d been on before. She waited for him to
come back to her, her hands folded neatly in her lap, as proper as someone could be when
she was topless and not wearing any underwear.
“Kagome,” he breathed, returning to her side and sitting next to her.
“Inuyasha,” she answered calmly, watching his face as he tried to read her, his
eyes searching hers.
She could tell he wanted to make love again, but he was being so shy about itlike he was afraid to ask. His uncertainty was adorable and warmed her heart. She held in
her chuckle because she didn’t want him to think she was laughing at him, and waited for
him to make the first move.
It came in the form of a soft kiss which she returned eagerly. Then he let out a
long sigh and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close.
“Kagome... Is it alright, Kagome?”
“Yes,” she answered and kissed him with a little more force than he’d kissed her,
telling him in words and deeds that she wanted him.
“If we do this again, we won’t get back to the village before dawn,” he said when
their lips parted.
“That’s okay. I’d rather stay here and be alone with you anyway. I like having
you to myself.”
He gave a short laugh and hugged her tight.
“I don’t like sharing you with anyone else either.”
“I know.”
With a gentle push he laid her down, spreading his haori underneath her as a
barrier against the cold ground. She went willingly, letting him lead, knowing he
wouldn’t do anything to hurt her. He seemed determined to take his time, removing her
skirt and kissing her skin sweetly, mapping her body with his lips and hands. In moments
he had her moaning with pleasure and threading her fingers into his hair to rub his ears,
then he moved his head between her legs and she once again thanked anyone who was
listening for his very talented tongue.
In the aftermath of her climax, he urged her onto her stomach and she realized
that he wanted to take her from behind, obviously in the inu-youkai way. She obliged
him, and rose to her hands and knees, bracing herself for his next move. It came swiftly
and a little more roughly than she would have liked, but she bore it without complaint.
He draped himself across her back, lightly nipping at the base of her neck as his
hands reached under her to knead her breasts until they slid down to grasp her hips and
pull her onto him in time with his rhythm. She gasped, the position being deeper than the
one they had used before and her newly opened body protested the invasion, but she
didn’t want to tell him to stop. Instead she bit her lip and tried to concentrate on the
memory of his face during their first time, and the feelings it brought to her, to help her
ignore the soreness and discomfort: Inuyasha’s eyes misty with tears and love. Inuyasha’s
mouth opened in a silent cry. Inuyasha gasping her name as he climaxed…
‘I love you. I’ll do anything for you. You’re beautiful, my hanyou. I adore you.’
He stopped and she came back to herself, wondering if he’d finished. Slowly, he
pulled out of her and she turned her head to look over her shoulder. He was kneeling on
his haunches behind her and his head was down, his ears drooped. He was stroking
himself with one hand as well but it looked like he was going soft.
“Inuyasha?” she questioned. ‘What’s wrong?’ she wanted to ask. Was she failing
to please him?
“I don’t like it that way,” he answered breathlessly and he sounded like he was in
pain. “I can’t see your face. And... and you’re not responding the way you did before.
Kagome, was I hurting you?”
She turned around and sat down on his haori, facing him. She wasn’t sure how to
answer. She didn’t want to hurt him, but she didn’t want to lie either, then she realized
that he’d know if she was lying and that he’d already figured out that something wasn’t
right. The very fact that he’d stopped was a testament to his control and his sensitivity to
her reactions.
“A little,” she admitted as gently as she could. “It was a little deep and I’m still a
little sore.”
“Forgive me,” he whispered brokenly.
She moved close and touched his arm reassuringly. “It’s okay, really. We’re both
really new at this.”
He shook his head. “I don’t ever want to hurt you. Not ever. I’m sorry.”
He sounded devastated and her heart broke. Leaning over, she kissed his face and
stroked his chest lovingly.
“Shhh. It’s alright. I know you didn’t mean it. I forgive you.”
“Kagome...”
“I forgive you, Inuyasha,” she told him, then smiled a wicked smile. She thought
she knew a way to make sure he knew she didn’t blame him, or hold anything against
him.
Braver than she ever thought she could be, Kagome crouched over his lap and
took him into her mouth.
Her friend Yuka, who had a boyfriend, once compared going down on a boy to
eating a popsicle. At the time, she’d accepted the analogy because she had no personal
experience to go on. Now she realized that Yuka was dead wrong. It wasn’t anything at
all like eating a popsicle. For one thing, popsicles were very cold, not almost hot enough
to burn your mouth. And they got smaller when you licked and sucked them, not bigger.
And they tasted sweet and fruity, not salty and bitter. Then again, they also didn’t scream
your name and grab your hair, and altogether make you feel powerful and wanted and
loved and beautiful. Popsicles just didn’t have that strong an effect on her.
Inuyasha howling, writhing and ripping up the earth next to him with his claws so
he wouldn’t pull her hair out by its roots, now that had an effect on her.
He’d fallen to his back, gasping, moaning, and crying as she worked him, but she
knew she wasn’t doing it right. Ayumi had once found a stash of her parents’ adult films
and they’d popped one in during a late night sleepover- thus spurring Yuka to give them
the whole ‘popsicle’ talk. The woman on the screen had been able to take her man all the
way in, and she could barely fit half of Inuyasha before she started gagging. Then again,
she doubted Inuyasha cared.
He clutched her head again, but this time to stop her not encourage.
“Kagome! Kagome, stop! Stop! I’m going to...!”
‘Oh...’
She stopped, really not sure if she was ready to ‘swallow’ him if he did climax in
her mouth. Her actions, however, had made her want him and she had no intention of
leaving him hanging. Crawling up his body, she straddled his hips and lowered herself
down onto him. He grabbed her thighs, trying to dislodge her.
“Kagome, no! You’re sore!”
‘Hmmm, if you’re still thinking about that, I’m doing something wrong.’
“It’s okay. This way, I can control how deep you go and it won’t hurt me.”
He stared up at her, shell-shocked and wide-eyed. His pupils were almost
completely dilated, and he was breathing in huge, heaving gasps. She smiled at him, and
began to move.
The position did leave her in complete control, but also left her in charge of her
own pleasure. She tried to find a pace that pleased them both, but it was harder than she’d
thought it would be. Finally, she found a rhythm that worked, and with Inuyasha’s help as
he raised his hips to meet her, she was able to build the passion between them.
Looking down at him, she took in the sight of him beneath her. His hair was
spread out around his head in a fan of silken silver and his bangs were plastered to his
forehead in sweaty ringlets. His skin was flushed and damp, and the expression on his
face was one of abject adoration and bliss. He looked positively ravished and beautifulthe most beautiful thing she had ever seen in her entire lifetime. She took his hands,
squeezing them tight, and smiled at him.
“You are magnificent,” she whispered.
He gave a strangled cry in answer as he threw his head back and yanked his hands
from her grasp, reaching for her, begging.
“Kagome! Kagome, please... please let me...”
His hands were sliding up her sides, pushing her backwards, and she realized
what he was trying to do. Perfectly content to switch and let him do some of the work,
she shifted and let him lower her to her back. He became dislodged during the move, but
he remedied that as soon as he was between her legs again.
With him in control and both of them too far gone to wait, he drove her to a swift
and powerful climax, wasting no time and climaxing right after her. They both cried each
other’s names as they shuddered with release, and Inuyasha collapsed on top of her
immediately thereafter. They stayed there, a trembling, sweaty mass, until their breathing
calmed and their hearts stopped pounding.
“Okay. I like this position best,” she finally gasped, still tingling from her orgasm.
His answer was a low chuckle that graduated into a barking laugh, which felt very
strange considering that he was still inside her.
“Do you?” he replied, lifting up on his arms so he could look at her. “I like this
one too.”
Slowly he disengaged and came to rest beside her, one hand reaching to hold hers
tightly.
“Thank you,” he whispered.
She chuckled. “You’re welcome.”
“That was the best so far, ne?”
“Yeah,” she agreed.
“Good. Now I know where to start to make it even better,” he said, giving her a
cocky smirk. He looked so happy and pleased with himself.
She smiled back warmly. “Oh no, I think I’m in trouble.”
“You’ve been with me almost two years and you’re just figuring that out?”
“No, but you should know by now that I like trouble.”
“Heh, that’s why you got stuck with me.”
She slapped him lightly on the chest. “Hey, I’m not ‘stuck with you.’ Don’t ever
say that, especially not when we’re together like this, okay? I’m with you because I like
being with you and I want to be by your side.”
He gave her an awe-filled look. “I know. And that’s the most amazing thing of
all.”
They stared at each other and Kagome was certain he was going to tell her he
loved her. She was waiting for it, because then she could tell him she loved him too, but
the moment was broken by Yukio fussing in his sling. Kagome winced and Inuyasha
groaned.
“What timing, pup.”
“Do you think we disturbed him?” she asked.
“He’s probably been awake for a while, but figured since we were finished we
could pay attention to him now.”
“He is pushy.”
“He lives up to his name,” he reminded, then added, “Should we go get him?”
Kagome sighed. “Yeah. We probably should get more sleep, and I... I think I need
to rest some before we do that again.”
He looked at her in concern. “I didn’t hurt you, did I?”
She shook her head. “No, I’m just still a bit sore from before. It’s normal, I’m
sure. I’ve never been with a boy before and well...” She gave him a sly smile. “You’re
well endowed.”
He blinked at her then blushed. “I am?” Then he got a little irritated. “Wait, how
would you know?”
Now it was her turn to blush. “Well, I’ve seen guys naked before...”
“You have? Who? When?” he demanded.
She laughed at his jealously. “Well, you for one. And Miroku.”
“Miroku! What were you doing looking at that letch?!”
She rolled her eyes. “He was just getting out of the hot spring. I surprised him. It
was an accident. And... I’ve seen pictures of guys...”
“Pictures? Where?”
“Back home... in books...”
“Books? What kind of books have you been reading, woman?!”
She giggled. He was getting all flustered and jealous, and with him naked and still
sweaty, it was amusing. She half expected him to start marking his territory to warn off
other males.
‘If he starts peeing on trees, I’m gonna ‘sit’ him…’
“It’s nothing. Never mind. You’re nicely proportioned. Leave it at that. Besides,
there’s no reason for you to be jealous. As you said yourself, you were my first so that
tells you how I feel about any other guys.”
He snorted. “I just don’t like the idea of you looking at other men.”
“Why? None of them can compare to your greatness.”
His eyes narrowed. “Hey, you’re humoring me.”
She snickered. “Just a little. But it’s true. No one can compare to you, and no one
ever will. So relax, my jealous hanyou. I only have eyes for you.”
It looked like he would argue, but Yukio upped his fussing to a full cry.
“We’d better get him before he starts wailing loud enough to wake the village.
They’d come up here, torches burning, and we’d have to explain why we’re naked under
this tree,” she said.
He laughed and stood, walking over to retrieve their son. Kagome watched him,
enjoying the view as he moved. She figured after what they had done together, she was
allowed to look now. He was fluid grace and balance packaged into a lean, muscular
form that had not a spare ounce of flesh on it. His muscles rippled under his smooth skin,
showing off his washboard stomach and powerful legs. Oh, and he had a nice butt too.
It thrilled her to know that no one else had ever seen him this way, or shared what
they had shared. It certainly put her one up on Kikyou who’d never even kissed him
when she was alive.
‘Cold undead bitch,’ she thought, allowing herself a moment of bitterness.
She let herself feel it sometimes because then it wouldn’t ever control her. By
acknowledging her jealousy and resentment, and knowing her feelings were normal under
the circumstances, she was able to diffuse them and honor them for what they were: proof
that she loved Inuyasha. In this way, no one would ever be able to turn her against him or
use her negative feelings to force her to hurt him.
‘Oh well, her loss, my gain.’
He noticed her appreciative stare as he returned to her side carrying Yukio in his
sling and blushed a little. Then the blush faded and he lifted his head, his lips turning up
into a sultry smile and he put a little swagger into his step.
‘Hmm, I guess he figures he’s allowed to gloat some now too.’
“See something you like?” he asked huskily.
She smiled back, playing his game. “Mmm hmmm, better than any picture I’ve
ever seen.”
He sat down next to her and she looked at him through her lashes. “Only this one
I get to touch.”
She trailed a finger down his chest to his stomach, making him shiver.
“Kagome…” he sighed, closing his eyes in pleasure.
She giggled and took the baby from him, settling Yukio in her lap.
“And you, fussy boy. What do you want, hmmm?” she asked the infant.
He wasn’t hungry and he didn’t need to be changed, but he was wide awake and
looking at her with his big eyes.
“Do you want attention?” she asked sweetly, rubbing his belly and cooing.
He smiled and burbled happily, sticking his fist into his mouth.
“Fine, rub his belly will you,” Inuyasha sniffed in feigned annoyance.
“I’ve already rubbed a lot more than your belly tonight.”
“Keh!”
She snickered, then a feeling of wetness between her legs made her pause.
“Here, I need to clean up,” she said, giving Yukio back to him for a few moments.
He obliged her, entertaining the baby with his hair and fingers while she used
some of Yukio’s cleaning cloths to wipe herself off. Knowing what she was cleaning
from her skin made her think of something rather important that they hadn’t paid any
mind to until now, and she hoped she wasn’t going to regret getting caught up in the heat
of passion.
“Inuyasha?” she asked tentatively, finding her underwear and putting it back on.
“Hmm?”
“We didn’t use any birth control.”
“Birth control?”
“Ummm… something to keep me from getting pregnant,” she explained, slipping
on her skirt.
He blinked at her then shrugged. “It’s okay. I know your heat scent and you’re not
in it.”
She blushed. “You… you do?”
He gave her a tolerant look and tapped his nose. “It’s not like you can hide it from
me. It’s kind of obvious.”
“Oh. Well, you’ve never said anything…” she said, returning to his side and
settling next to him. She cast about for her bra and shirt, putting them on.
“I like living. It’s bad enough when you go into heat because you get all cranky a
few days later. I keep my head down because I know if I don’t you’ll slam it into the
ground- repeatedly.”
She chuckled nervously. “Am I really that bad?” ‘I never realized he could smell
when I’m fertile. I figured he could smell when I started bleeding, but I didn’t know he
could smell the other…’
“You can be. If you don’t get enough to eat and sleep, then you’re worse.”
“I didn’t realize that you were so aware of my body changes.”
He shrugged. “I’m aware of any change in your scent, Kagome. As I tried to tell
you, scent tells us inu-youkai a lot. We depend on it. I’m always aware of the scents
around us. I can’t help but notice when you smell different.”
“Well, in this case, I think that will help us a lot because you’ll be able to smell
when I’m fertile and we can use precautions.”
“Yeah, you wouldn’t want another pup while you’re still nursing this greedy
whelp,” he agreed, rubbing Yukio’s ears.
Yukio giggled and waved his hands at his father, then he rolled to look at
Kagome. She picked him up and held him in her lap while Inuyasha got dressed in his
hakama and under kimono.
“Now why wouldn’t I want another cute little baby like you, hmmm?” she said to
him, tickling him under his chin. “Could it be that you’re already turning out to be as
jealous as your father? All these cute men just vying for my attention. Whatever am I
going to do?”
Inuyasha snorted, draping his haori over her shoulders, then he settled behind her
and pulled her and Yukio with him as he braced his back against a tree.
“He starts interrupting us when we’re in the middle of something good and I’m
scruffing him,” the adult hanyou warned.
Kagome looked down at the baby in her lap, then gave Inuyasha a fond look.
“If he starts doing that then yes, he’ll need to learn not to.”
“Keh, he’ll be worse when he’s older.”
Kagome thought back to the time when Souta was two, remembering how Mama
couldn’t even go to the bathroom without him. He’d bang on the closed door and scream
until she came out. She wondered if Yukio would be the same way.
“We’ll manage,” she said with a shrug and a yawn. She was getting tired now that
everything had calmed down.
Yukio grabbed her finger and started gnawing on it.
“Ow. We really have to do something about your biting,” she complained, pulling
her finger away.
Inuyasha replaced her finger with his own and felt along the inside of the baby’s
mouth.
“He’s teething. The upper fangs are starting to come in.”
“Oh great.”
“We should get him something to chew on.”
“I already bought a teething ring for him. Do you want me to get it?”
“He can use my finger for now. He’s not hurting me.”
“You’re sure?”
He nodded. “Yeah. He’s getting sleepy again anyway. His eyes are getting tired.
He’ll go back to sleep soon.”
“Hmm, maybe he just wanted to be cuddled.”
“There is that.”
Kagome snuggled into Inuyasha’s strong chest. “I can understand why. I like to
be cuddled too.”
He nuzzled her hair and gave her a soft kiss on her temple in answer, then pulled
her closer. Kagome slipped the strap of the baby sling over her head and settled Yukio
against her body, sequestering him safely between the two of them. The infant gave a
tired gurgle and settled down with a tiny sigh. Kagome shared his sentiment and gave a
sigh of her own, pulling Inuyasha’s haori around her shoulders for warmth.
Inuyasha’s arms came further around her, tucking her into his embrace, and he
rested his chin on her head as she snuggled into his shoulder. She fell asleep to the sound
of his heartbeat in her ears.
When she woke again it was daylight. Inuyasha was already up and looking at her
with tenderness and peaceful contentment.
“Good morning,” he greeted.
She kissed him, loving the look on his face. “Now it’s a good morning,” she told
him.
He gave a throaty growl, his eyes turning heated and his hands gripping her a little
bit tighter.
“Be careful, woman, we have to get to the village sometime.”
“You mean we can’t stay here all day and just cuddle and make love and live on
air?”
She saw his face grow thoughtful as if he was actually considering it, then he
shook his head and frowned sadly.
“No. We need to find out about any shard rumors, and the others know that we’re
coming back very soon. Someone would interrupt us,” he answered with no small amount
of disappointment.
She giggled and pulled slowly out of his embrace, stretching. Yukio fussed in his
sling, and she knew it was just about time to feed and change him. Taking him out of his
carrier, she switched his diaper and gave him breakfast. She could already feel the more
prominent bumps from the fangs just beginning to cut through his gums, and knew that
even if he didn’t bite her, nursing him once he had teeth was going to be a challenge.
Inuyasha stayed next to her, nuzzling her and smiling at her and all around being
uncharacteristically affectionate. Joy was just radiating off of him in waves and she
couldn’t help but be happy herself, smiling at him and returning his affections until
Yukio was finished and they were ready to go. Inuyasha picked up their supplies and her
bag, and they left the well clearing.
They emerged from the forest and into the sunlight. It was a bright, beautiful day
and the village looked so quaint and peaceful with its rice paddies and wooden huts.
Kagome stopped to admire it and feel at home.
“We need our own hut,” Inuyasha said suddenly.
“Hmm?” she questioned, looking askance at him.
“What? You want to keep staying with Kaede after… last night?”
“Oh,” she replied, understanding.
He got a strange, excited look on his face and he hit his palm with one fist in
decision. “I will build you a hut, Kagome. No! A house! I will build you a good house,
Kagome, a strong house. With separate rooms for sleeping!”
“A house?” she repeated. He said it with such conviction and enthusiasm that she
was taken aback.
“And it will have a place for you to take your baths and glass windows!” he went
on happily.
There was something in his face, in his voice, in the way he was saying these
things, that set off little warning bells in her mind. There was something important going
on here, something that was being implied and not actually said. Something having to do
with the building of a house.
It hit her suddenly and she gasped. She remembered Miroku’s proposal to Sango,
how he had asked her to live with him and bear his child. Then after Naraku had been
defeated, he would not wed her until he had made a place for them to live and raise their
children. It had been a very important thing and everyone had helped build the couple’s
new home, but ultimately the greater part of the work and planning had been up to the
houshi at his own insistence.
Now Inuyasha was promising her a house of her own that he would build with his
own hands, and his vow was not unlike Miroku’s to Sango.
‘He’s… he’s proposing.’
For a moment her heart could not contain her joy, but then she came crashing
back down to earth. He wasn’t really asking her to marry him. No, he was assuming that
she would stay with him and live in the house he would build.
‘But you will…’ a little voice in her mind whispered.
Yes, but how dare he assume that without even asking her? She was just about to
tell him not to go all medieval on her when she realized that he essentially was medieval.
The Sengoku Jidai wasn’t all that different from Medieval Europe, and in these times a
man had to prove that he could provide his bride with food and shelter. Inuyasha was
only responding in the way that was accepted by his era. There was no such thing as
women’s rights and equal opportunity. With the sole exceptions of mikos and taijiyas like
Sango, women were expected to marry, bear lots of sons and obey their husbands.
She clenched her fists, unexpectedly angry. ‘He just wants me to drop everything,
spread my legs and be his little woman… of all the arrogant, selfish… that
CHAUVANISTIC PIG!’
‘But… but you want to be his woman,’ the little voice reminded. ‘And you know
he’d never ask you to leave your life or treat you as a sex object or something to vent his
need on. Look how he treated you last night when he found out he was hurting you. Those
were not the actions of someone who is arrogant and selfish. Even now, he is promising
to build you a house much finer than anything else in the village because he knows how
much more luxury you are used to. He wants you to be happy here. He wants you to stay
by his side and be his.’
Reality settled in on her as she remembered another person he had wanted to stay
by his side, and she almost started to cry. ‘I may be his, but he’s not mine and I can’t let
him do something like that for me.’
“Inuyasha, wait,” she said, interrupting his descriptive plans. “You don’t have to
do that.”
He stopped and blinked at her. “Of course I do. Where will we live if I don’t?”
She sighed. “Inuyasha. Don’t build me a house,” she said firmly.
He stared at her, his eyes opening wide, and for a moment he looked absolutely
crushed.
‘Oh no, he thinks I’m rejecting him.’
She scrambled to reassure him, reaching for his hands, while she tried to find the
words to tell him what she was feeling.
“Inuyasha… I don’t need a house. In… in my time, men and women… they stay
together and sometimes the man never builds the woman a house. But that’s okay
because she doesn’t need a house and she stays with him anyway.”
She could see him puzzling out her meaning, trying to understand what she was
telling him, then his face grew impossibly sad.
“What… what have I done? How have I behaved that you would think I would
use a woman in such a way? That I would use you… like that,” he answered softly,
pulling his hands away from hers.
‘Oh, Inuyasha…’
“You wouldn’t… and you won’t. I know that, but…” She trailed off, tears welling
in her eyes.
‘I have to do it. I have to tell him. It’s the only way he’ll understand.’
“But I love you,” she admitted, then met his stunned face. “I love you, Inuyasha,
and I want to be with you. I want nothing more than to be by your side forever. We’ve
talked about this before, about my decision to stay with you in spite of… everything. And
I know that while I am, and have always been, yours; you aren’t mine and you can’t
make the kind of promises to me that you’re making. But that’s okay. I’m okay with
that.”
He stared at her for a long moment, then his face fell and he looked away, his ears
drooping.
“Kikyou,” he breathed, his voice full of regret.
“Kikyou,” she confirmed. “I know you made her a promise, and she holds part of
your heart still. I know I’m her replacement and I’m okay with that because I chose it in
order to stay with you. But it means I have no right to you or claim to you because you’re
not free to be claimed. So until your relationship with her is resolved… in whatever way
it’s resolved, I’ll stay with you and take whatever you’re free to offer me.”
She stopped, unable to go on, and hoping she really didn’t have to. She’d said
most of what she’d needed to say, and she prayed he would understand.
He was quiet for a long time, his eyes looking down at the village, and she
concentrated on her son, holding him and rocking him against her shoulder. He was a
little fussy because she was upset, and she needed to comfort him almost as much as he
needed comforting.
“You’re not her replacement,” Inuyasha finally said, his voice sad and defeated.
“You never were. You couldn’t be when you are so much more to me than she ever was.
And you shouldn’t have to take whatever I’m free to give you. You deserve so much
better than me.”
“There is no one better, at least not for me Inuyasha.”
He gave a short nod as if he had expected her to say that, and his face grew even
sadder and more serious.
“Let’s go, Kagome,” he said, and began walking towards the village.
She looked at his back for a moment as he led the way, her heart aching and
bleeding silently. Then she hurried to join him, at his side where she had been for the
better part of two years. He didn’t look at her, but he did hold her hand when she reached
for his. It was a small consolation.
Chapter Sixteen
Three weeks. It had been three weeks since they had begun… whatever it was that
they’d begun. Three weeks since she had refused his promise, but not refused anything
else.
‘She didn’t refuse you. She just told you you had to do something about Kikyou,’
Inuyasha mentally berated himself. ‘And she’s right. You can’t stay between two women
anymore, you stupid worthless fuck. You can’t pledge yourself to one when you’re still
promised to another.’
He growled and took his frustration out on the carp he was gutting, blood
splattering everywhere.
‘But I want to build Kagome a house! And I want her to live in it with me, and the
pup, and our own pups that will come along later. I want to be with her. But how can I?
And what about Kikyou? How can I abandon her when she suffered so much for me?
How can I tell her I want to choose Kagome? And am I choosing Kagome for the right
reasons? Do I choose her because she mates with me? No, we don’t mate, we… we make
love as she calls it. Mating is too harsh a word for what she does to me. So do I choose
her because she’ll make love with me? If Kikyou had made love with me, would I feel any
different about her? Kikyou would never have made love with you, you idiot. You’re a
tainted hanyou, remember? That’s what got you into this mess in the first place. Kikyou
refused to touch you unless you became human. So does that mean that Kikyou didn’t
love me?’
He paused to think about that and decided he didn’t like the taste it left in his
mouth. He moved to the second carp. It was still flapping weakly, gasping for breath.
Usually the fox kit would come fishing with him and kill the catch as he swiped them
onto the riverbank, but recently Shippou had been distant and oddly quiet around him.
‘It’s because he smells you all over Kagome, and he knows what’s happened
between you and he wants to know why you’re not building her a fucking house! Or
worse, he knows why you’re not building her a house and thinks you’re an indecisive,
woman-using, fucked up bastard.’
He let out a snarl and gutted the carp while it was still alive, the death feeling
unusually satisfying today. His youkai side was raging, his blood boiling. It had no
qualms about choosing Kagome. Kagome mated with him, was fertile, and didn’t want to
purify the youkai out of him. As far as his youkai side was concerned, there was no
choice to be made.
But his human heart had other ideas. It remembered the lonely miko who had
reached out to an outcast hanyou. It remembered the long days of following her, of sitting
next to her, of listening for her call. His whole body would come alive at the sound of her
voice or the whiff of her scent. The heart remembered the love he had held for her, the
hope he had seen when he looked into her eyes.
‘I can’t just forget Kikyou. Kagome knows that.’
He took the livers and put them in the clay jar, noting that it was almost full.
‘Good. Kagome will have plenty of liver. I have to provide for her. She’s still
nursing the pup.’
He sighed. The pup. Yukio. His son. Another reason to choose Kagome. They
were raising the pup together. He remembered all too well her distress and upset when he
had suggested taking Yukio away from her, to ‘free’ her from the burden of her double
life. He never wanted to see that look on her face again. Kagome loved Yukio as if he
was her own child and he would never hurt her so badly as to take the pup away.
And what would Kikyou do with the pup anyway? She couldn’t feed him. The
pup would know she was dead when he smelled the grave soil. He could just imagine it.
‘I’m sorry, pup. I’m going to take you away from a living, breathing woman who
adores you and feeds you from her own breast, and give you to an undead walking pile of
clay and bones who can’t feed you and probably wouldn’t want to even if she could.
Aren’t I the best Oyaji ever? You may begin hating me now.’
He slammed his hand to the ground to keep himself from losing control. The pain
kept him focused, kept him functioning. If he let himself fall apart now he might never be
able to put himself back together. Slinging the gutted carp over his shoulder, he made his
way back to the village.
He found Kagome sitting with the taijiya, her somber brother and the fox kit
outside of the old woman’s hut. She had Yukio sitting in her lap wearing the red dog shirt
that she loved so much. He was growing into it. Actually, he was growing like crazy.
He’d easily doubled his weight in the time he had been with them. By his calculations the
pup was just over twelve weeks old and showing it. Already he was becoming more
mobile, crawling out of his carrier on his own and sitting up by himself. And he had
almost a full set of teeth, much to poor Kagome’s dismay. Even though the pup never bit
her with those teeth, he still put pressure on her nipples with them, making them sore and
red.
‘I can barely touch them now when we make love. They always hurt her, but it’s
too soon for her to wean him.’
He approached them and they looked his way when they saw him coming.
Kagome offered him a bright smile that always made his heart skip a beat and his
stomach clench because he knew he didn’t deserve her joy but couldn’t help but feel glad
to see it. Sango gave him a smile as well, but it was colder, more reserved, and her eyes
were veiled. Shippou pointedly looked away, concentrating on the pup in Kagome’s lap,
while the boy, Kohaku, met his gaze with haunted eyes.
‘Hm. My brother may have saved that kid’s life, but I think part of his soul’s
already dead. His sad face always gives me the creeps. He’s seen and done too much and
he remembers all of it. Sometimes I wonder if it wouldn’t have been better to have just let
him die.’
“Inuyasha,” Kagome greeted as he joined them.
“More liver and fish for dinner,” he said, offering her the clay jar and his catch.
“Thank you,” she replied.
Yukio squealed happily, making Inuyasha cringe, and opened his arms. The adult
hanyou responded by rubbing the pup’s ears.
“Hey, pup.”
“You are as diligent as always, Inuyasha,” Sango commented.
“Uhhh, yeah,” he stammered back, unable to meet her too calm gaze. ‘Woman
knows what’s going on too. Kagome talks to her a lot. I know how she feels about it. I’ve
heard her say she’d have dropped me off a cliff by now. It’s a good thing she’s sticking
close to home now that she’s starting to show. She’ll sit out the next shard hunt, I’m sure
of it.’
“Why don’t you take them in to Kaede, Inuyasha. I’m sure she’ll have an idea as
to what to do with them. Maybe she’ll bake them for us if we promise to share,” Kagome
suggested.
“Yeah, okay.” It was a clear dismissal and he felt a pang of jealousy. What were
she and the others talking about that she didn’t want him around to hear?
‘You most likely, you stupid fuck. She’s probably telling her all about your latest
escapades. No… Kagome would never betray our privacy that way,’ he thought, taking
his kill into the hut where the old woman was tying up dried herbs.
“Oi. Kaede-babaa. I brought fish and more liver.”
“Inuyasha,” the old miko answered. “Put them by the fire pit. I’ll cook them
later.”
“Kagome wanted to know if you could bake them if we promised to share.”
“Hrrrmmm. Yes, I can do that if you’ll bring me more wood.”
He sat next to her, crossing his legs. “I can do that later. Is there anything you
need help with right now?”
Kaede gave him a wry, knowing look. “It’s not polite to eavesdrop, Inuyasha.”
He snorted and bit his lip. “I’m not!” he protested.
Her look never changed but she reached over and handed him a bucket of fresh
herbs. “Separate those into leaves, stems and flowers.”
He grunted and got to work, but the old woman was right, he was eavesdropping.
Sometimes he swore Kagome forgot he had enhanced hearing.
“So, you were telling me about your trip home.” Sango’s voice, light and
interested.
He heard Kagome sigh. “It was good. I picked up my school work and celebrated
my birthday.”
“You’re seventeen now, ne?”
“Yep. My friends threw me a birthday party. It was a lot of fun.”
He smirked as he separated the herbs. Yeah, her party had been fun, but not as
much fun as she’d had once she got home. He’d stayed behind to watch Yukio because
no one knew about the pup, and when Kagome got back she wanted what she called
‘birthday sex.’ It wasn’t any different from their normal lovemaking, except that they
were doing it on her birthday and in her bed, but she’d said it was the best birthday
present ever.
Come to think of it, it had been just a little more exciting and urgent, but he’d
blamed the extra rush on knowing someone could walk in on them at any moment and
find them in a compromising position. And he’d taken extra care to make sure he pleased
her more than usual. He’d had no other present for her, so he opted for giving her a
couple of extra climaxes… okay, a few extra climaxes. She could be so damned
responsive when he got her going.
Inuyasha squirmed where he sat, his body reacting to the memory and he had to
squash his arousal.
‘Damn. I’m hopeless. I can’t go a single morning without thinking about her in
my arms. Well, it could have something to do with the fact that it’s her bleeding time
right now and I can’t have her until it’s over.’
It had only been three days but his body was already screaming, and he had at
least another two days to wait. Kagome had taken him into her mouth yesterday to help
ease the urge, and that had taken the edge off his need, but nothing compared to being
inside her and now that he had had her, he craved her like he craved food.
‘Two days. Just two more days…’ he reminded himself. Then they would have
two weeks of worry-free, or mostly worry-free, lovemaking until her heat cycle began.
He was already making plans about what to do on that first night.
He squirmed again, growling to himself and concentrating on separating the herbs
without shredding them with his claws. And turned his ears backward to catch more of
the conversation going on outside, ignoring Kaede’s tsk-ing mutter.
“So, has Inuyasha spoken with Kikyou?” he heard Sango ask.
He froze in mid-separation, his whole body tensing as he listened for Kagome’s
answer.
“No.” She sounded calm, but sad.
The taijiya snorted derisively. “Really Kagome, how can you stand it? You give
yourself to him and agree to raise this child with him, and yet you continue to let him
two-time you.”
He drooped his ears.
“It’s… it’s not that simple,” Kagome defended. “Inuyasha can’t forget about
Kikyou. I’ve always known that.”
‘Defending you again, you good-for-nothing jerk,’ he thought dourly. ‘You don’t
deserve the love and faith she shows you.’
“It is that simple,” Sango argued vehemently. “Who broke his seal? Who has
stayed beside him? Who has cared for him and saved him? How many times have you
risked your life to protect him? Do you think Kikyou would have approached him when
he was in full youkai form? Do you think she would have comforted him and forgiven
him when he slaughtered those human bandits? Do you think she would have saved you
if your places had been reversed and it was you who needed purifying?”
Inuyasha waited to hear her answer. He knew there were serious doubts about
Kikyou’s intentions and choices. Hell, he had them himself.
‘Would my Kikyou have behaved the way she has done? Is she truly only a
shadow of the woman she once was? A shell that bears her face and has her memories?’
“I… I don’t know. I have to believe she would have because Inuyasha would
never have fallen in love with someone who wouldn’t. I have to believe that someone
who would nurse a crippled bandit like Onigumo, even though he had filthy thoughts
about her and wanted to see her corrupted, would also have saved me if I needed help. I
have to believe that because the alternative is unthinkable.”
He closed his eyes, gritting his teeth at the wave of pride and bittersweet joy that
welled up inside his chest. The size of her heart never ceased to amaze him. Kikyou had
been pure and good, but no one... no one had a heart as pure and vast as Kagome.
Kagome forgave, and forgave and forgave. She harbored no hate or bitterness or
resentment. Yes, she was jealous and envious of Kikyou but she had every right to be,
and she never let those negative feelings stay for long.
Kikyou, on the other hand, had hated. Her hate had run deep and tainted their love
well before Naraku turned them against each other. She’d never trusted him and he’d
never really trusted her. Always she kept herself apart, blaming her responsibilities and
duties as a miko for her aloneness; all the while cursing those same duties for dooming
her to a life of servitude at the cost of her own happiness. She wore her pain and suffering
like a shroud, using it to hold her away from others, especially him. Kikyou had said she
wanted to be a normal woman and live with him as husband and wife, but what she had
really wanted was freedom.
‘And you were willing to give it to her because you loved her and were desperate
to finally belong somewhere. And she did love you. She did. As much as she was able.’
He stopped his thoughts because Kagome was speaking again and he focused on
her words.
“And we don’t know what broke his seal. I mean, I know I was the one who
pulled out Kikyou’s arrow, but he was already awake by then. Not even Kaede-obachan
knows why he woke up,” she continued.
Sango snorted. “I think it’s obvious that you did, and you could do it because you
have Kikyou’s soul. The only one who could have broken the seal was the one who put it
on him in the first place.”
‘That’s right. Kagome is Kikyou reincarnated. Her soul is Kikyou’s, well… except
for the part that Kikyou still has. I wonder. Does she miss that tiny piece sometimes?
Does it bring her pain? She’s never said…’
“I don’t know anything about that,” he heard Kagome sigh.
‘That’s a lie,’ he thought. ‘She knows it was her scent… or maybe her scream for
help. I don’t know exactly what it was, but I know it was she that woke me. I don’t think
she did it consciously. I think her soul just reached out for mine and grabbed hold of it. I
remember coming out of my long sleep to the scent of her coming towards me, but before
that…’
“What I do know is that Inuyasha still has feelings for Kikyou and I can’t
compete with them. She was his first love, and he feels responsible for her death because
Naraku made them betray each other, and Kikyou chose to follow him rather than use the
Shikon no Tama to heal her wounds,” Kagome went on.
“Kikyou chose to die because she was tired of having to live with her
responsibilities.”
Anger welled in him at the taijiya’s callous remark. ‘What the fuck does she
know?’
“I…” Kagome began.
“No, Kagome, listen to me. I’ve seen it before. People in my village, men who
had fought youkai all their lives got tired of always facing death, of always fighting.
They’d make mistakes or lose their hearts for the battle. Usually they’d die at the hands
of a youkai and everyone would say they died bravely fulfilling their duty, but Chichi-ue
would point them out to me and tell me they’d just given up. What looked like a valiant,
brave battle was just seppuku in disguise. In time, I could tell the difference too, and from
everything I have heard about Kikyou’s death, she used it as an escape from a life she
didn’t want to live any longer,” Sango explained, her voice hard with conviction.
“Oh my god. Don’t ever, ever let Inuyasha hear you say that,” Kagome gasped.
“Why not? It’s true and someone has to kick some sense into that boy because
you won’t. He clings to an idealized memory of a woman who never existed and ignores
the one in front of him. He takes responsibility for something that was not his fault, and
assumes blame where he is blameless. Do you see Kikyou coming around and begging
forgiveness for sealing him to that tree? Don’t forget it was Naraku’s claws that dealt
Kikyou her mortal wound not Inuyasha’s, but it was Kikyou’s arrow that pinned Inuyasha
to the God Tree. She shot him. Inuyasha never touched her.”
Inuyasha felt like he’d been kicked in the gut, and he clenched his fists as rage
roiled up inside of him.
‘No. That’s not true. It is my fault. If only I had trusted her… Kikyou would not
have died.’
Kagome seemed to be reading his mind because her next words were, “But if they
had only trusted each other and their love, Naraku would never have been able to force
them to betray each other.”
“And how do you think they could have done that? Naraku attacked Kikyou first
when Inuyasha wasn’t with her, then put the Shikon no Tama back into the shrine just so
Inuyasha would steal it and be in a position for Kikyou to shoot him. Just how do you
think that could have gone any differently other than Inuyasha finding Kikyou mortally
wounded and watching her die in his arms? Naraku wanted Kikyou’s death. The only
way they could have prevented that was if Inuyasha hadn’t left Kikyou alone, which he
did because she didn’t trust him and was ashamed of him because he was a hanyou. If she
had really and truly trusted and loved him, she would never have asked him to become
human for her. She would have loved him as a hanyou the way you do. Kikyou’s powers
weakened when she fell in love with Inuyasha while yours got stronger. Why do you
think that is?”
Sango’s angry words were blows to his heart, and he clenched his fists so tightly
his claws dug into his palms and blood seeped down to splash on the wooden floor.
‘Damn bitch’s mouth is running away with her, but no matter what I won’t… I
won’t hit a pregnant woman.’
“Inuyasha,” Kaede said softly and he opened his eyes to see her holding a cloth
out to him for his bleeding hands.
He was reaching for the cloth when the reed door flew open and a very pissed off
and weeping taijiya stormed in.
“Do you hear me, Inuyasha?! You don’t owe that undead clay pot anything! You
fulfilled your obligation when you killed Naraku and avenged her death! So you stop
hurting my friend! You’ll never find anyone who loves you as much as Kagome-chan!
Stop two-timing her, you selfish, ignorant, indecisive jerk!”
She took the wooden bucket with the herbs and smashed it over his head.
“BAKA!” she screamed, tears streaming down her face, then she ran out leaving a
very stunned Kagome in the doorway, holding Yukio.
“Ummm,” Kagome said, blinking at him.
He was holding his head and desperately trying to keep in the string of curses that
were begging to be let out. In a moment, she was by his side, placing Yukio in his lap,
pulling out one of her magic cold packs from her bag and putting it on the rising lump.
“Please forgive her, Inuyasha. She’s pregnant and all my books about pregnancy
say now is when all her hormones start going crazy. She’s not really herself and she
didn’t mean it,” she stammered, her hands shaking as she treated him.
He gritted his teeth and said nothing. She saw the wounds on his palms and he
knew she recognized them for what they were, but to her credit she kept quiet. Digging
into her bag again, she took out the bandages and other supplies to clean and dress the
wounds. As always, she tended him with gentleness and care, wiping the blood off of his
palms and spreading healing cream on the cuts before loosely wrapping them in white
gauze. He didn’t bother to tell her that the wounds would be gone by nightfall. In truth,
he needed her tender touch to soothe the aches in his soul, and he wanted nothing more
than to lay his head on her shoulder and beg her forgiveness for being such a bastard.
Instead he opted for taking her hands in his when she was finished dressing them
and raised regretful eyes to hers. She looked back at him with sorrow, understanding and
love.
‘I truly, truly do not deserve you,’ he thought sadly.
They looked into each other’s eyes for long moments, then Kagome leaned
forward and hugged him. It was forgiveness, comfort and absolution all at once and he
wrapped arms around her, pulling her as close as he could with Yukio in his lap, and
buried his face in her hair.
“I love you,” she whispered.
He answered with a soft breath of air against her skin as he nuzzled his lips
against her throat, feeling the steady pulse of her heartbeat beneath his mouth. He let his
tongue sneak out and taste her flesh, but for once since they’d become lovers his body did
not react to her closeness, other than to feel solace in her embrace.
‘I love you too Kagome,’ he replied silently.
She pulled back and kissed him on the forehead.
“Can you watch Yukio?” she asked.
He nodded, still not really able to speak.
“I’m gonna go make sure Sango is okay. I’ll be back in a little while.”
“Okay,” he managed faintly.
She gave him a watery smile and left the hut quietly. Yukio watched her go and
gave a little whimper of distress.
“Oi, pup. You’re with Oyaji now,” he told the pup, rubbing his ears.
Yukio turned huge golden eyes his way and whined, stuffing his fist into his
mouth. The action reminded Inuyasha of something he’d gotten for the pup, and he
reached into the front of his haori to get it.
“Here,” he said, handing Yukio a small river stone about twice the size of the
pup’s fist.
Yukio snatched it and immediately put it to his mouth, gnawing on it because it
was too big to fit. Inuyasha gave a grunt of approval. The pup was still teething and he’d
already bitten through multiple teething rings that Kagome had bought for him. He knew
Kagome would be upset, but pups typically teethed on rocks. This one was smooth and
clean because he’d taken it out of the river himself when he was fishing. Hopefully it
would last longer than the teething aids Kagome had spent money on.
Pup pacified, he turned his attention to Kaede and the wreckage of the herb
bucket.
“I’m sorry. I’ll clean this up,” he promised, already picking up the scattered
plants.
The old woman looked at him with wise and sympathetic eyes. “Think nothing of
it. I am sure Sango herself will bring me a new bucket to replace the one she broke. You
are alright, are you not?”
“Keh, I’m a lot more hard-headed than that, babaa.”
Kaede just chuckled. “Am I expected to ignore that?”
He snorted. “What? You got something to say too? Gonna tell me I’m a rotten,
two-timing bastard?”
The old miko sighed. “We have spoken of this before, Inuyasha. Kikyou-oneesama is no longer the woman you knew. My sister died over fifty years ago and what
walks in her image is naught but a fake shell of earth and bones.”
“But the soul is Kikyou’s,” he insisted.
“The soul is Kagome’s. What animates my sister now is a stolen piece of soul that
rightfully belongs to her reincarnation,” Kaede corrected.
“Am I to just abandon her then? To ignorantly go on with my life, heedless of her
pain and suffering?”
“Are you so certain she would think herself abandoned?”
“Huh?”
“Inuyasha, Naraku is dead and my sister’s death avenged. You and your traveling
companions have all returned here to this village. Where is Kikyou-onee-sama? She is
not here. She did not return to the village of her birth and to me, her sister. Here, we
would know what she is and she would have no fear of being discovered. And you are
here as well, Inuyasha. If she holds such love for you, why is she not here by your side?”
the old woman pointed out calmly.
Inuyasha shrugged. He was glad Kikyou wasn’t there. When his two loves were
in close proximity, he always felt torn in two.
“How the hell should I know? The last time we met, she was gathering shards
too.”
“To what end?”
“To complete the Shikon no Tama.”
“And then what?”
“I don’t know.”
“Inuyasha, it pains me to admit, but you can no longer assume that my sister’s
intentions for the jewel are pure,” Kaede warned.
He shook his head. “I refuse to believe to that. Kikyou… Kikyou’s been different
ever since Kagome saved her from Naraku’s miasma.”
“Ah yes, Kagome… that sweet, loving child who gives you all of herself and asks
nothing from you in return. Even when you were with my sister when she was alive, I
never saw your eyes soften for her the way they do for Kagome. You want to build her a
house.”
He sighed in defeat. “Yes. But she has refused me because of Kikyou.”
“She does not act like one who has refused a bonding.”
He knew she was referring to the cuddling and kissing he and Kagome got up to
when they were together in the hut. They had never made love or been sexually intimate
with each other under Kaede’s roof, but it was obvious to anyone with eyes that they
were lovers.
“She told me she would accept whatever I was free to give her until I had resolved
things with Kikyou,” he replied, feeling ashamed. ‘It sounds pathetic even when I say it.’
“And have you decided what you are going to do?”
He looked away from the knowing gaze. “No.”
“But yet you share your futon with Kagome and want to build her a house.”
He was getting irritated again, but mostly at himself. “Yes, damnit, I already said
that!”
Yukio dropped his rock and let out a plaintive cry. Inuyasha rolled his eyes even
as he shushed him. ‘Great, now the pup’s crying. If he’s still bawling by the time Kagome
gets back, she’ll think I’m at fault and sit me for sure.’
“And what of the little one? You’ve promised to raise him with Kagome, have
you not?”
He draped Yukio across his shoulder and patted his back. “Yes, old woman, you
know full well that I have.”
“Then you have already made your choice. It is just a matter of telling my sister.”
“How can I? How can I tell her I choose Kagome? I made a promise to her and
my life is hers. How can I turn my back on her when she has returned to me?”
Kaede held up one quieting finger. “Kikyou-onee-sama did return to you. She
returned to you as Kagome. She came back through time to free you and right a terrible
wrong. When Urasue resurrected my sister and put her into that clay body, she upset the
balance of things. Eventually, my sister must leave this world and her soul return into
Kagome. You know this, Inuyasha.”
He was going to protest, but she cut him off by continuing, “And your life does
not belong to her. In that, the taijiya speaks true. Your obligation ended with the death of
Naraku.”
“I can’t. I can’t abandon her and tell her she is all alone,” he replied brokenly. ‘I
made her a promise. I have nothing if I don’t have my word.’
“If you do not make a choice, eventually one will be made for you, and that
choice may be one you will not like. You may lose them both, Inuyasha.”
“I made her a promise.”
“So did my sister, but she is not here, Inuyasha. I have told you before that you
cannot be together. Kikyou-onee-sama’s wish was to die with you. The time for you to
live the life you planned together has passed.”
“But the Shikon no Tama could restore her to life, right?”
The old woman blinked at him. “And then what? Whose soul would she have?
Would you have her take Kagome’s?”
“No!” he gasped, practically choking on the idea. ‘Never! Never would I choose
one at the cost of the other’s life! That’s why I haven’t been able to choose. What if
Kikyou’s life depends upon me being there to protect her? I failed her twice… but… but I
can’t protect her if she keeps herself far away from me.’
“And say this deed is done and my sister is alive again. Would you keep your
promise and become human for her so that you may live as man and wife?”
He swallowed hard, pushing the lump in his throat back down. “If… if that is to
be our fate.”
“You would leave Kagome and your little one to be with Kikyou-onee-sama? You
would abandon the life you have made with them in an attempt to resurrect one that died
fifty years ago?” Kaede asked leadingly, making him feel pressured.
He looked at the warm bundle of pup in his arms and a pair of golden eyes
blinked back at him, little ears twitching in the silver hair. He was shocked by the rush of
love and fierce protectiveness that flooded through him, and he touched Yukio’s ears
gently.
‘Could I leave you? Could I turn my back on you and Kagome?’
“I don’t know,” he said aloud.
“And would you give up your power as a hanyou for a woman who could not love
you as one and forsake the one who has loved you as you are?”
“I don’t know.” ‘Stop it, you old hag. You are really pushing me!’
Kaede heaved a huge sigh and shook her head. “Oh, Inuyasha, you have gotten
yourself into a terrible bind; more terrible than the one you got yourself into when my
sister sealed you to that tree. I worry about the outcome, for I see nothing but pain ahead
if you do not make the right choice.”
“And that choice should be Kagome not Kikyou, right? You think so too, don’t
you babaa,” he snapped, losing his temper.
“You should choose the one who loves you purely, Inuyasha.”
“Are you saying Kikyou’s love is tainted?” Now he was really getting angry. ‘No
one speaks badly about Kikyou…’
“I am saying that you claim my sister loves you, but I repeat to you: if that is so,
why is she not here?”
“Because she’s out there gathering shards while I’m here saddled with a pregnant
taijiya, a nursing bitch and a helpless pup!”
There was dead silence, which was odd because he expected an answer from the
old miko, but she remained quiet and looked at something over his shoulder. His ears
twitched and a familiar scent wafted into his nose. Yukio smelled it too and made a
happy burble, but his own heart sank into his feet. He didn’t need to look in order to
know who was there.
‘No… oh FUCK no…’
Resigned to his fate and cursing his temper and runaway mouth, he turned his
head to see Kagome standing in the doorway. Her face was unreadable but her hands
were clenched.
“Kagome…” he breathed.
She stepped forward and took the pup from him, holding him against her
shoulder.
“I came to get him,” was all she said in answer.
“Sango is herself again?” Kaede asked.
Kagome nodded. “She sends her regrets and apologies and promises to bring you
a new bucket.”
The old woman grunted an assent. “I am glad she has calmed. Stress is bad for the
baby.”
“She went back to her hut to take a nap. Kohaku and Shippou went with her.”
“Rest will do her some good.”
‘They’re ignoring me; pretending I’m not here. What do I do? I know Kagome
heard me say that. How do I make it better?’ he thought frantically.
“Kagome,” he tried.
She looked at him and he immediately regretted speaking.
“Sango says to tell you she is very sorry for breaking the bucket over your head.”
He winced at her cold tone. ‘Obviously her blow did nothing to fix my fucked up
brain.’
He saw her take a deep breath and knew what was coming. He braced for it.
“I’m going home.”
‘What? No sit? No ‘Inuyasha you insensitive baka!’ Just: I’m going home?’ he
thought, stunned and concerned.
Somehow the fact that she hadn’t punished him struck more fear into his heart
than anything else.
“Kagome…”
“I’m sorry that Sango and Yukio and I are keeping you from doing what you want
to do,” she told him.
“I didn’t mean it like that…” he tried.
“Why don’t you go find Kikyou and you and she can hunt for shards together. She
can see them as well as I can so you don’t need me around.”
She turned to leave and he stood up, intent on stopping her.
“Kagome!”
“Osuwari.”
His face hit the hut floor and he was oddly glad.
‘Okay, she’s sat me and now… now we can make up, right?’
She was walking towards the forest when he caught up to her.
“Kagome! Oi! Wench!”
“Osuwari,” she repeated and down he went.
“Gah! Kagome-e-e!”
He picked himself up only to find himself subdued again, repeatedly as she let out
a string of sits that dropped him right there in the dirt. The truly frightening thing about it,
however, was not that she was pounding his face into the ground. No, he fully expected
that and was relieved to get it. The scary part was that there was no anger or emotion in
her words. They were just a carefully and deliberately timed series of ‘osuwari’s
purposefully designed to make it physically impossible for him to follow her.
“KAGO-O-M-E-E-E!!!”
The last thing he saw through his dust filled, pain-filled eyes was Yukio’s little
face peering over Kagome’s shoulder as she walked out of sight.
Chapter Seventeen
“SANKON TESSOU!” he screamed and another tree fell victim to his claws.
At this rate, the village would not only have enough firewood to last the winter
(which was still a number of months away) but enough logs to build eight new huts... or
four huts and a house. He sliced up the tree into human-manageable parts, cursing and
snarling the whole time, then he stopped, slammed his fists into the ground with earthshuddering force and let out a howl that ripped its way right out of his soul. He was sure
it shook the trees all the way to the village, but he didn’t care.
Four days. It had been four days. There was no breath, no word, no hint of when
Kagome would return and he was afraid to follow her. The futon was cold and her scent
was fading. He’d taken to shoving his face deep into her pillow just to catch a whiff of
her, and he had it stuffed into a hollow of the dead tree he now slept in because there was
no welcome for him in the village. Everywhere he went the people looked angrily at him,
not because he was a hanyou, but because he was the heartless bastard who had hurt the
Lady Kagome and made her run away. Even Kaede who he knew loved him, looked at
him with sad eyes and shook her head. Sango wouldn’t speak to him, and Shippou would
scream and cry. Only Miroku would look at him with something other than disgust or
disappointment. No, the houshi looked at him with pity.
“ARGHHH! KAGOME-E-E-E-E!!!!!!” he cried to the sky, but what he really
wanted to say was: Please come back to me. I’m lost without you. I’m sorry. Forgive me!
Please forgive me!
Growling, he returned to his work, dragging the cut up logs and throwing them
forcibly onto the huge pile he’d already amassed at the edge of the village. He turned
back to the forest, but paused as he looked up. The rains were coming and soon the
clouds would open to weep the tears he could not cry himself.
Miroku found him huddled by the well later that night, out in the rain and
drenched to the skin. He glared up at the monk through dripping bangs and saw him
standing there under one of Kagome’s umbrellas. A second one was in his hand, along
with a blanket.
‘Huh? Came to tend the pathetic loser, did you?’
“What do you want?” he snarled.
“Isn’t it obvious?” came the calm reply as Miroku opened the second umbrella
and offered it to him.
He growled and slapped the gift away. “Don’t need it, and I don’t need your pity,
bouzu!”
Anger flashed in the other man’s eyes briefly. “Your behavior is unbefitting for a
man of your character, Inuyasha.”
“Keh! What do you know about my character, monk?”
“I know that you are torturing yourself when you should be going to see Kagomesama.”
“And tell her what? I’m sorry I’m a pathetic, good-for-nothing bastard who made
you feel like you and the pup were a burden?” he snapped.
“That’s a start.”
He snorted. “Keh! She’d sit me into oblivion.”
“And it would be no more than you deserve, but you don’t know what she will do
until you go there.”
“How can I? After what I’ve done? She’s better off without me.” ‘She is. I’m a
burden to her, not the other way around.’
“I doubt Kagome-sama would agree. She loves you with all her heart. I am sure
she would find a way to forgive you.”
“I don’t deserve it.”
“That goes without saying, but seeing as whether or not she forgives you is not
your choice, your worthiness of that forgiveness is irrelevant.”
He growled and huddled further into his soaked clothes. Miroku retrieved the
umbrella and offered it again along with the dry blanket. He glared at it angrily.
“Inuyasha, please stop this. We are all worried about you and Kagome-sama. It is
obvious that you are in terrible pain. No doubt Kagome is suffering too in her country.
Pull yourself together and go to see her.”
He was losing it and he knew it. It was all he could do just to keep his emotions in
check, but he knew his agony must have been reflected in his eyes because his friend’s
face softened and the monk crouched down next to him.
“Inuyasha.”
“How can I? How can I, Miroku? How can I?”
“You just do, because Kagome-sama is more important than a petty argument or a
slip of the tongue.”
“What if she tells me she never wants to see me again? What if I’ve really lost her
this time? And the pup? What if she keeps my pup?” he asked, heartbroken.
“Then that is her decision and the choice between Kagome-sama and Kikyousama has been made for you.”
‘But I’d already chosen Kagome in my heart…’
“I’m afraid,” he admitted.
“I know. I’m sure Kagome-sama is frightened too. She fears you have gone to
Kikyou and left her behind.”
He shook his head. “I promised to never leave her side again. I know I haven’t
kept that promise, but I’ve always returned to her.”
Miroku nodded and put a hand on his wet shoulder. “And you must do so again; if
only to hear what she has to say to you.”
He closed his eyes in defeat and looked away. Miroku positioned the umbrella
over his shoulder, bracing it against the well so the wind wouldn’t blow it away and
placed the dry blanket in his lap. The action struck him as funny because his hakama was
soaked, but he didn’t say anything.
“I’ll pray for you, my friend.”
With that, the monk stood and slowly walked away, leaving him alone with his
pain, but at least a little bit drier. A moment later a warm bundle settled between his
knees and he looked down to see Shippou huddled there. The kit looked and smelled like
he’d been crying but his green eyes were dry now. He half expected him to start his usual
admonishments, but no recriminations or accusations came. Instead, Shippou merely
hunkered down into the dry blanket and tentatively rested his head against his chest.
Inuyasha closed his eyes and shivered, the small gesture doing more to break him
into pieces than any shouts or cries ever could. Somehow the kit knew that once you’d
held a warm life in your arms, you felt forever bereft if it was taken from you. He missed
Kagome and their pup more than he ever thought he possibly could. He missed them like
he would miss the use of a limb. But they were not here and Shippou was, and the kit
needed comforting as much as he did.
Slowly, he raised his arms and wrapped them around the young kitsune. Small
hands came up to hug him, and they both sighed. He nuzzled his nose into the flaming
red hair and gently stroked the kit’s back with one hand. It felt good to hold someone
again, to feel loved and wanted instead of outcast and alone.
“I’ll go get her in the morning. I promise,” he whispered.
Shippou’s cheek nodded against his chest. “Good.”
********
Morning dawned and it was dry, the rain having passed sometime during the
night. Shippou was still asleep against him, but woke immediately the moment he moved.
No words were spoken between them, but there was a silent understanding. The kit
hopped off his lap and he stood up to stretch, then he gave the kitsune a measuring look.
Shippou nodded to him, and waited, the umbrella and damp blanket tucked under his
little arm, as he peered over the edge of the well. With a final glance to Shippou and a
nod, he gathered his courage and jumped in.
The time slip accepted him, relieving one of his fears that Kagome had managed
to seal the well behind her, and he emerged on the other side. It was early and he hoped
that he had arrived before Kagome left for school. He crossed the shrine grounds and
leaped up onto the roof above Kagome’s window, peering down over the edge to peep
into her bedroom. He sighed with relief to see her still in bed, a little tuft of silver hair
sticking out from under the blankets to mark where the pup was nestled against her
instead of in the rocking ‘bassinet’ her mother had purchased and put in her room one
day. The only time the pup didn’t sleep with them was when they wanted the bed to
themselves for activities that didn’t involve sleeping.
Silently, he pulled open the window, grateful that it was unlocked and taking it as
a sign that she wasn’t trying to keep him out, and slipped in. Her alarm clock was set to
go off at any moment, so he turned it off because he wanted to be the one to wake her. He
crept up to the side of the bed and just looked at her sleeping face, his heart pounding
with fear and joy.
‘Kagome. My Kagome. My beautiful Kagome.’
Her scent filled his nostrils and he breathed deep, drinking it in like a man dying
of thirst. The missing pieces of his heart fell back into place the moment her smell
soothed his soul, and he relaxed for the first time in four days. His ease did not last long,
however, because Yukio caught his scent and roused with a questioning burble. The
pup’s movements woke Kagome and she opened sleepy, brown eyes. He froze.
She stared at him for long moments, perhaps wondering if he was a dream, then
her eyes filled up with tears and she whispered his name.
“Inuyasha.”
He laid his head on her mattress in a move that any inu-youkai would have
recognized as a gesture of submission.
“Kagome. I’m so sorry, Kagome,” he whispered, wanting desperately to wipe
away those tears and never see her cry because of him again.
“You came for me. I was so scared that you wouldn’t ever come.”
“I didn’t know that you wanted me to. I was so awful to you and I didn’t know if
you would still be mad at me.”
She just looked at him, her eyes so sad. He broke.
“Please forgive me,” he begged.
One hand snaked out from under the covers and stroked his cheek and face.
“I forgive you.”
He sighed, all the tension leaving his body in one huge rush, and nuzzled into her
hand. Under the covers, Yukio was moving and he pulled aside the blanket to see his pup.
Golden eyes and puppy ears and a big smile greeted him and he nuzzled the pup too,
making little noises of reunion that inu-youkai made after being separated. The pup
responded by grabbing onto his hair and gurgling. Kagome moved back, making room
for him on the bed and he moved to climb in beside her. She put a hand on his arm and
frowned.
“Your haori is damp.”
He shrugged. “I got stuck out in the rain,” he explained.
“You should get out of your wet clothes then and let them dry.”
“Oh. Okay.”
In one of her drawers was a set of pants that she had bought for him a long time
ago. They were grey and soft and she called them ‘sweat pants.’ He wore them very
rarely, usually when his own clothes weren’t wearable for one reason or another. He
retrieved them now and slipped into them as he removed his haori, kimono and hakama
spreading them over her curtain rod and the back of her desk chair to dry. Then he joined
her in the bed, snuggling up with Yukio between them.
‘I’m home. Thank the gods, I’m home.’
“Inuyasha,” she murmured into his hair.
“Kagome.”
His lips sought hers and found them, kissing her carefully, seeking reassurance
more than anything else. She responded, pressing close to him and the sweet scent and
warmth of her body ignited the fire in his loins. He was amazed when he smelled her own
faint arousal wafting up to his nostrils, and he kissed her a little more urgently.
‘It’s been four days. Her bleeding time is over,’ he thought with elation.
Yukio was deposited into his bassinet without too much fuss other than needing a
quick diaper change, and they returned to her bed.
Their joining was tentative and reverent, and more a reconnection than a wild,
passionate tryst. He took her with gentleness and no small amount of awe that she would
accept him back into her body so soon. He had been prepared to wait a good long while
before she let him make love to her again, and the fact that they were doing it within an
hour of being reunited was mind-boggling to him. Not that he was about to refuse. No,
not at all. For him, it was the clearest evidence of her forgiveness, and he wasn’t about to
pass it up.
They made love quietly, keeping the noise to the absolute minimum because they
knew that the rest of the household would be rising to start the day. When he slid his
tongue between her thighs, she stuffed her pillow into her mouth to muffle her moans,
and he bit her blankets to stifle his when he mounted. They climaxed together, each
swallowing the other’s cry in their mouths as they kissed in the final moments of their
coupling.
When it was over and they were resting in each other’s arms, and Kagome was
stroking his hair and telling him she loved him, he was struck with an overwhelming rush
of love, humility and relief. It took him over, making him tremble in her embrace, and
she drew him close to rest his head on her breasts. And he did something he hadn’t done
in decades, since he was just a little orphaned whelp and his brother had beaten him. He
cried.
“Nee-chan, are you getting up?” Souta’s voice called some twenty or so minutes
later, just before he entered the room.
The boy barged in, saw them cuddling in bed and his jaw dropped.
‘Oh shit,’ Inuyasha thought, realizing that Souta could tell Kagome’s mother and
grandfather everything.
“Nee-chan. Inu-no-niichan…”
He leaped out of the bed, heedless of his nakedness and grabbed the child,
covering his mouth as he closed the bedroom door hastily.
“Be quiet,” he hissed in the boy’s ear.
“Mmmmm-mmmmm-ppppphhhhhh!!!”
Kagome sat up in bed, looking guilty and shocked, holding her covers up to her
chest to hide her own nudity.
“Listen to me, boy. I’m not here and you didn’t see this. Got it?”
Souta blinked at him with terrified eyes.
“I’m going to get dressed and come in through the shoji. You will pretend to be
surprised to see me. Right?”
Souta agreed, eyes wide and head bobbing up and down so fast Inuyasha thought
it was going to fall off.
He let the kid go, fully prepared to have to deal with the repercussions of him
running out and calling the household. What Souta actually did shocked him.
“Inu-no-niichan,” he whispered loudly, hugging him around the neck. “I am so
glad to see you. Nee-chan was so sad!”
“Eh?” ‘What the fuck? Does this kid not have eyes?? I’m fucking naked here!’
“She cried and cried and said you were never coming back.”
“Yeah, well, she should know by now that I will always come back,” he told the
boy loud enough to make sure Kagome got his emphasis.
Kagome had the good grace to blush.
“Okay. I’m gonna get dressed and come in through the shoji.”
“And I’ll pretend to be surprised to see you,” Souta reiterated, pulling back.
“Right.”
“Okay. See you downstairs nee-chan!”
The boy ran out of the room and he turned to Kagome.
“Think he figured out what was going on?”
Kagome shrugged and gave him a shy smile. “I’m not sure. He’s in fifth grade.
I’m not sure how much kids his age know these days.”
He looked at her and the humor in their situation struck them, and they both
started to laugh softly.
“The look on Souta’s face when you jumped out of bed,” she said, snickering.
He nodded. “Yeah. Gave him quite a view, didn’t I.”
“Well, now he knows what greatness looks like.”
He snorted, but inwardly he was very pleased. ‘Greatness, eh? Tell me again what
I have done to deserve this woman?’
He stood and retrieved his clothes, glad that they were mostly dry.
“I’ll see you downstairs, then?” he asked hopefully.
She nodded. “I just have to feed Yukio and get dressed.”
“Okay.”
Once he was dressed, he gave her a quick kiss and hopped out of the window. He
counted to twenty, then strode in through the shoji finding Kagome’s mother and
grandfather in the kitchen with Souta.
“Yo,” he said.
“Inuyasha,” Mama greeted.
“Inu-no-niichan! It’s been so long since I’ve seen you!” Souta exclaimed loudly.
“Where have you been? Kagome has missed you soooo much!”
He froze, eye twitching. ‘Okay, kid, that’s enough!’ “Eh? Where’ve I been?
Where I always am,” he replied testily.
“I must admit I was rather curious when Kagome returned with Yukio and you
were not with her,” Mama commented leadingly with thinly veiled ire.
“Bah! I can’t be with her all the time,” he scoffed. ‘Shit. Shit shit shit! How much
did Kagome tell her?’
“Hmmm, and you’re sure it has nothing to do with a former love of yours who
happens to still be walking around?”
He swallowed hard as Mama came close to him.
‘Shhhhhiiiittttt... I’m dead. Kagome will find me in little pieces at the bottom of
the well.’
“Let me give you a little advice, Inuyasha,” Mama whispered sweetly.
“Eh?”
“Stop hurting my daughter.”
He gulped and managed a small nod. The woman gave him a wolfish smile and
moved away, returning to her preparation of breakfast.
“Ummm, I’ll go see about Kagome...” he stammered and made a hasty retreat out
of the room.
‘Whew. She can be scary...’ he thought as he hurried up the stairs.
“Kagome,” he said, entering the room and walking in on her feeding Yukio.
“Hmm? I thought I was going to meet you downstairs.”
“Yeah, well, your mother...” He trailed off.
Her eyes opened wide in understanding. “Oh. Yeah. I’m sorry about that.”
He sat next to her, smiling to himself at her lack of modesty around him. ‘Well,
it’s not like I haven’t seen all of her, repeatedly.’
“She’s your mom. It’s her job to protect you. Even from heartless, cruel bastards
like me.”
Her face fell and grew sad. “You aren’t heartless and cruel. In fact, it’s because
you’re not heartless and cruel that you’re having so much trouble choosing between
Kikyou and me. You don’t want either of us to be hurt.”
He took her hand and looked into her eyes. ‘Don’t you know that it’s you I love,
Kagome? And my trouble is I don’t know how to choose you without breaking my
promise to Kikyou or abandoning her.’
“Kagome, I’m sorry about what happened in Kaede’s hut. I didn’t mean it. You
and the pup... you’re never burdens to me.”
The pup made his ‘switch me now’ noise and Kagome put him to the second
breast. He smirked. ‘Pup’s got her trained already...’
“But we are burdens to you, Inuyasha. I know it. Yukio is loud and he slows us
down because we have to stop and feed him all the time, and I can’t fight as well with
him because his weight throws me off balance. And Sango has already said she is going
to stop traveling. Miroku will probably stop coming with us the closer it gets to the
baby’s birth time. Hunting shards is going to be a lot more difficult with us from now on.
Maybe you should go with Kikyou.”
‘What?! And leave you? Leave the pup? I could barely stand to be away from you
for four days!’ “Stop saying stupid things. I’m not going with Kikyou. I’m staying with
you and that’s final.”
“But the shards...”
“Naraku is dead. Any youkai left are small fry compared to him, no matter how
many shards they might manage to get. We’ll just find them, kill them and take their
shards. I’m not worried about the shards,” he replied truthfully.
She blinked at him. “Really? Then why?...”
He sighed. “I just don’t like being idle. I like having something to do. Without
something to occupy my time, I get bored.”
She giggled and looked down at Yukio. “I think you’re going to regret ever
saying that once he gets older. I can tell that life is never going to be boring with him
around.”
“Keh. Life’s not boring with you around.”
That earned him one of her brilliant smiles and he grinned.
“But just because I’m not worried about the shards doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be
looking for them. When can we go back, Kagome?” ‘I’ll give her the option of telling me
when she wants to go back, and give it to her... as long as it’s not too long a stay...’
She blinked at him. “Ummm... tomorrow?”
His grin widened. ‘One more night alone with her in her bed... during her most
infertile time.’ “Okay.”
“Can you watch Yukio while I’m at school?”
He nodded. “Sure. Should I bring him to you at lunchtime?”
“Yes, if you would. I’ve been pumping my milk and leaving him and a bottle with
Mama, but she says he doesn’t like it much and he cries a lot.”
‘Pumping? I wonder how she does that?’ “Well, he would. Your mother is still a
strange scent to him.”
She nodded. “I know, but it wasn’t like I had any choice. I couldn’t bring him to
school with me.”
“Yeah,” he agreed. “But I’m here now and I’ll take care of the pup.”
She leaned against him. “I know, and I’m so glad.”
He put his arm around her and held her close, nuzzling into her hair. ‘Not nearly
as glad as I am.’
He held her until Yukio was finished eating, then waited for her to get dressed so
they could both go down to breakfast. She put Yukio in a new blue ‘t-shirt,’ his diaper
and a pair of socks, which he hated and kept trying to kick off. He silently promised the
pup that he would remove the horrible torture devices from his poor feet as soon as
Kagome had left for school. Then they went downstairs to eat and joined the rest of the
family in the kitchen.
In short order, Kagome and Souta went off to school, Mama left to do her daily
shopping and Jii-chan went to tend to his shrine duties, leaving Inuyasha alone with the
pup. Overjoyed at being back with his family again, he decided to take Yukio for a little
trip into the Goshinboku, leaping up into the high branches and taking them as far as they
could safely go. There he sat with Yukio in his lap, surveying all of Tokyo that they
could see, and enjoying the swaying motion of the branches in the breeze. Together they
took off the hated socks and tossed them into the wind, and Yukio laughed as they
watched the little white tubes of cloth fly away.
He even played a game of ‘toss the pup;’ lightly flinging him into the air and then
leaping up to catch him. Yukio was scared the first couple of times, but soon learned to
appreciate the feel of the wind in his ears and began to laugh with glee. Inuyasha tossed
him until he squealed once too loudly and killed his poor hanyou hearing.
‘Pup, you have got to learn that something that high-pitched hurts!’
Dutifully, he took Yukio to Kagome’s school at exactly lunchtime, and she came
up to the roof to nurse him. She noticed the missing socks and gave him a look, but he
feigned innocence. Afterwards, he took Yukio building hopping, tucking the pup to his
chest with his head sticking out of the carrier and facing forward so he could see ahead as
they leaped from rooftop to rooftop.
“See this, pup. This is your strength. You’ll be able to do this when you’re older.
All these weak, slow humans, they can’t even see us. You’ll be able to jump higher and
move faster than any of them could ever dream of doing without one of their damn masheenes.”
By the time they got back to the shrine, Yukio was falling asleep so Inuyasha took
him upstairs to Kagome’s bedroom and settled down with him on Kagome’s bed. The
pup snuggled close to his chest, one fist grabbing a handful of his father’s red haori and
went to sleep. Inuyasha followed him into dreamland not long after.
A few hours later, he was the first to wake, his internal body clock telling him it
was almost time for Kagome to return from school. Next to him, Yukio snuffled and
made rousing noises. For an inu-youkai pup he was fairly vocal, giving more credence to
his belief that the pup would be talking soon. Technically, however, the pup was already
talking, just not in a language understood by humans. The guttural inu-youkai tongue of
growls, yips and barks was instinctual, and Yukio was speaking it more and more clearly.
He made a noise that could best be translated into human words as ‘leader-male’
which was the pup’s term for him, as well it should be because he was the alpha male of
their little pack and the pup knew it. Knowing one’s place within the pack hierarchy was
essential to survival, and pups learned early on where they fit in the pecking order. They
were close to the bottom, although protected by the blanket of ‘pupness’ which earned
them forgiveness for almost any transgression provided they groveled sufficiently.
Knowing who needed to be groveled to was also essential to survival, and Yukio had
learned very quickly that ‘leader-male’ was the supreme grovelee.
Pups, of course, were also protected by their mothers, who were usually higher in
the pecking order than even the alpha male, and some of those mothers could be
downright vicious. Kagome, he had seen, would sooner wipe an enemy off the face of the
earth than tolerate anyone who threatened her pup.
On their last shard hunt two weeks ago, Miroku, Shippou and Kirara had joined
them to follow a lead on a serpent youkai with a shard. The serpent youkai made the
mistake of targeting Kagome because she carried a hanyou infant, and she had singlehandedly ripped it to pieces with three over-powered purifying arrows fired in quick
succession. Really, he hadn’t even gotten the chance to get a swing in with Tessaiga
before the damn thing was dead, and Kagome had its shard in her little jar. It was all very
anti-climactic for him. All those weeks of nothing and the promise of their first fight in
over a month, and he hadn’t even been able to get one good whack in before it was all
over.
Miroku, however, had been impressed with the strength of Kagome’s arrows.
“Ahh, Kagome-sama. I am glad to see that you still have your miko powers,” the
houshi had commented as they traveled back to the village.
“Huh? Why wouldn’t I have them?” Kagome had asked from her place on
Inuyasha’s back.
“Because of your relationship with Inuyasha,” Miroku had replied.
Of course everyone knew about the change in their relationship. The whole damn
village had known they were sleeping together within the first day.
“Yeah, what about it?”
“Well... you are no longer a shrine maiden,” had been the answer, with the
emphasis on ‘maiden.’
“Huh? Oh… Well, that’s stupid. Kikyou still has her powers and she’s dead. Are
you trying to tell me you thought my powers had more to do with me being a virgin and
less to do with say… me actually breathing?” she had snapped peevishly, making her
‘ride’ lower his ears.
“Well, I suppose if you put it that way… Perhaps it is not true purity but purity of
heart then,” Miroku had tried valiantly.
It hadn’t worked.
“Uh huh. Yeah right. And Kikyou’s got such a pure heart. I mean, she’s only tried
to kill me… and drag Inuyasha to Hell… and helped Naraku by giving him all those
Shikon fragments. And don’t forget she stays undead by filling up her fake body with the
souls of dead girls. Now me, I’ve never tried to kill innocent people, never tried to drag
anyone to Hell. I certainly didn’t willingly help that bastard Naraku, resulting in his being
able to spawn detachments and causing the deaths of god knows how many people. And
I’m still among the living. But hey, I’ve had sex, so that makes Kikyou soooo much purer
than me. You are joking, right?”
Inuyasha had grimaced and kept his head down, offering a tentative sniff. ‘Yep,
just come out of heat. She’ll start bleeding any day now. Monk, you should read the signs
and stay out of her way before she tears you to pieces with those claws,’ he had thought,
not for the first time wishing that stupid humans had noses that could smell these changes
and know when to shut the fuck up.
“Inuyasha? Do you have any insights?” Miroku had asked.
‘Oh no, bouzu. I am not helping you. I want my head and my balls to stay right
where they are, thank you very much.’
“How about: Kagome is strong and grows stronger every day, and her power has
nothing to do with purity and everything to do with the strength of her heart,” he’d said.
“Good answer,” Kagome had praised, snuggling her cheek into the back of his
shoulder.
‘Heh. I know my woman, bouzu.’
Miroku had wisely stayed quiet about the subject for the rest of the trip home.
:Leader-male,: Yukio said again, bringing him out of his memory.
He grunted back what amounted to a, :Yeah, what?:
The pup snuffled into his chest. :Mother-female?:
He knew Kagome wasn’t there, but ought to be. Pups had no real sense of the
passage of time. Like human babies, their world existed of only the ‘now’ with no past or
future.
:Soon,: he answered.
:Hungry.:
:Yeah, I know.:
:Food?:
:Mother-female comes soon.:
:Hungry.: He added an extra whine for emphasis so Inuyasha would know he was
starving. Considering he was quite plump and well-fed, ‘leader-male’ wasn’t buying it.
:Wait.:
Another snuffle and whine, and a little squirm. :Hungry. Wet.:
Inuyasha rolled his eyes. Yes, the pup needed to be changed but he was hoping if
he held out long enough, Kagome would get home and do it.
:I know.:
:Hurts. Wet. Cold.:
With a sigh, he got out of bed and changed the pup, trying very hard not to inhale
until he’d dropped the soiled diaper out the bedroom window. Let Kagome deal with it
when she got home.
:There. Dry,: he told the pup, putting him a new diaper.
:Hungry.:
‘This again...’ :Wait.:
:Mother-female?:
:Soon.:
:Hungry.:
:I know.:
:Food?:
:No! Quiet!: He added an extra growl just to prove he meant business. Yukio
immediately groveled.
:Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry.:
Inuyasha sighed again and cuddled him. :Forgiven.:
A minute later...
:Hungry.:
‘Aww, damn...’
:Food?:
He caught the scent of Kagome and knew he was saved. The bad part was Yukio
caught her scent at the same time he did.
:Mother-female? Mother-female! Mother-female! Mother-female! Food! Hungry!
Hungry! Food, food, food!:
:Yes, okay! Mother-female comes.:
:Food! Food! Food!:
:Will you shut up!:
:Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. FOOD!:
He picked up the pup and carried him down the stairs to meet Kagome as she
came in the door. When Yukio saw his mother, he went into full cry.
:MOTHER-FEMALE! HUNGRY!!:
Kagome, of course, was unable to understand the words, but the message was
loud and clear. She gave Inuyasha a dour look and held up the dirty diaper by one dry
corner, then she took the sniffling, grasping pup from his hands.
“I’ll deal with you later,” she threatened, and took Yukio into the family room to
feed him, dropping the soiled diaper into the laundry tub on the way.
He followed her and gave her his haori as she sat down to nurse the pup. Yukio
was already scrabbling at her shirt, trying to hurry things along.
“Boy, he’s pushy today.”
“You should think about weaning him, or giving him some solid food. I don’t
think milk is enough for him anymore. He needs to start eating meat.”
She nodded and gasped when Yukio started nursing.
“Ouch.”
“Did he bite?”
“No. Just... he’s a little overeager.”
“He’s been fussy since he woke up from his nap,” he explained.
“That would explain it.”
He thought a distraction might help her get her mind off the pup’s enthusiasm.
“So, how was school?” he asked.
She gave a deep sigh and began to tell him.
After the pup was fed and quiet, she made him clean the dirty diaper as
punishment for tossing it out the window. Then he took hold of Yukio while she started
on her homework until dinner time. After dinner, they sat with the rest of the family in
the family room to watch some moving pictures on the TV-box, and later he played some
‘video games’ with Souta. Sometime during the evening, Kagome went back upstairs to
finish her homework, and he joined her in the bedroom after he was finished playing with
Souta.
In anticipation of engaging in some non-sleep related activities, he put Yukio in
his bassinet, telling him to stay and be quiet. The pup obeyed after only a token protest.
Both his and Kagome’s scents were all throughout the room so Yukio knew they were in
the ‘den’ and perfectly safe. Once the pup was secured out of the way, he began the
seduction of his lover, coaxing her into bed with him. After a few half-hearted threats to
‘sit’ him if he didn’t let her finish her homework, she finally put her books aside and
moved to studying his body: a subject he was more than willing to allow her to continue
educating herself in.
Two hours and five climaxes later: two for him and three for her, they were ready
to settle down and sleep for the night. Kagome retrieved Yukio from his bassinet on her
way back from cleaning up in the bathroom, and brought him to the bed with her where
Inuyasha was already waiting. She fed him and changed him, then put him in a one-piece
sleeper which he hated because it had feet. She ended up taking him out of it and putting
him in just a long t-shirt.
Ready for bed, they snuggled together under the covers with Kagome’s head on
his shoulder and Yukio tucked against her side but laying on top of his ribcage.
Exhausted from her long day, Kagome was the first to drift off, a murmured ‘I love you’
on her lips. He, however, stayed awake, still wound up from their lovemaking and the
fact that they had made up after their fight. Being without her those four days had been
agony and he still wasn’t entirely convinced that he wasn’t dreaming her forgiveness. If
he closed his eyes and slept, he might find himself still back in the Sengoku Jidai:
Kagome and pup-less when he woke up.
Sometime after Kagome fell asleep, Yukio woke and started crawling upwards
until his little head was tucked under his chin and his body was draped on his chest.
:Leader-male,: the pup snuffled sleepily.
:What?:
One little hand reached out to touch Kagome’s sleeping face. :Mother-female.:
:Yeah, she’s here too.:
Yukio nuzzled into his neck, sniffing and curling his hands into the locks of his
long, silver hair. He reached up and placed one hand across the pup’s back, cuddling him.
:Mother-female. Leader-male. Pack. Den. Safe. Home,: Yukio mumbled.
:Yeah.:
Under his chin, Yukio sighed contentedly and went back to sleep.
‘Pack. Den. Safe. Home. Yeah, pup. You got that right.’
Chapter Eighteen
Kagome pulled aside the reed mat that served as the door of Miroku and Sango’s
hut, and quietly entered. Then she pulled the door closed behind her, taking extra care to
make sure that no one could peep into the dwelling. The hut itself was cozy and had two
rooms: the main room and a separate room for sleeping that Miroku and Sango used
while Kohaku had his futon in the main room. Shippou slept in the main room too when
he wasn’t with Kaede or Inuyasha and her, but he curled up on blankets piled in the
corner.
All four of the hut’s primary occupants were there, but it was the visitor to the hut
who brought her through the door. Inuyasha sat on the far side, furthest away from the
entrance, holding a human Yukio in his lap, his black hair and dark eyes clearly visible
even in the dim light. She came over to sit beside him after greeting her friends and
rubbed her son’s back comfortingly.
“He’s confused,” Inuyasha told her as Yukio made little noises of distress.
She nodded. “It’s only the second time he’s been with us on a Full Moon.”
“He’s better this time than last. This time he didn’t start bawling at sunset,” he
replied, even as Yukio turned to look at his mother, reaching for her.
Kagome lifted her son into her arms, cooing to him.
“It’s okay, baby. I know you smell and feel different, but you’re still you.
Someday you’ll understand all about hanyous and how they have human times.”
“Have some dinner, Kagome-chan,” Sango offered, handing her a bowl of fish
and rice.
“Thank you, Sango-chan,” she replied and accepted the food with a grateful nod.
Her friend gave her a questioning look, and she replied with a silent signal that
meant ‘later.’ Since her and Inuyasha’s return to the Sengoku Jidai late that morning, she
hadn’t had any opportunity to talk to Sango and tell her what had happened between her
and Inuyasha. Sango had been out with Kohaku on one of the boy’s long walks while she
had been reacquainting herself with Kaede and spending time with Shippou. Then
Miroku had come to find her and Inuyasha to remind them that Yukio’s human night was
that evening, and to offer his hut as sanctuary.
Since Kaede was the village miko and the closest thing they had to a doctor,
Inuyasha could not be assured that no one would discover his secret if he stayed in her
hut on the night he lost his hanyou power. Miroku had been offering his and Sango’s
home as a safe place for Inuyasha to wait out the New Moon since the hut had been
completed. When he found out that Yukio’s night came when the moon was full, he
extended the offer to those nights as well.
So by the time Sango had returned with Kohaku, Kagome had already been back
in the village for several hours and Inuyasha was sitting in her hut talking with Miroku,
hiding Yukio from the eyes of the villagers. Kagome knew the pregnant woman must
have dozens of questions, and she was happy to answer them… just not in front of
Inuyasha. In truth, she suspected that their ‘girl talk’ would have to wait until morning
because she was fairly certain Inuyasha would want to go to the den tonight.
The den. While she had been able to prevent him from building a house for her,
she had not been able to stop him from making what amounted to a private love nest in
the forest. Since she refused to engage in any sexual activity in Kaede’s hut, and making
love out in the open forest left them vulnerable and exposed, not to mention distracted
from any approaching threats to them or Yukio in his sling, they needed a safe place for
their trysts. Inuyasha had provided that place in the form of a den.
It was a true den, dug out of the earth. He had carved it into a small hillside in the
forest, close to the stream where she liked to bathe. The entrance was almost completely
obscured by brush and foliage, and he lined the front with rocks to keep out the rain.
Inside it was spacious enough for the two of them to move around comfortably but not
quite high enough for them to stand. There was a small fire pit by the door, and a built-in
bassinet molded from the earth for Yukio at the very back. The floor was pounded
smooth and the ‘sleeping space’ was covered with a thick layer of buckwheat straw
which he kept clean and fresh so it always smelled of sweet hay. Blankets and a couple of
old futons he’d scrounged by calling in a couple of favors from villagers who owed him
for saving their lives, or in trade for firewood or game, lay on top of the straw- creating a
thick, comfortable, sweet-smelling bed.
His design of the small space gave her a number of insights into what any house
he built would be like, and she knew that if she ever did let him build it, it would be the
equivalent of a modern marvel. He’d taken elements from her house in Tokyo and
incorporated them into the den, creating what could only be described as built-in larders
and cubby hole dressers- all formed from packed earth and rock. There were spaces for
everything: wood, tinder, clothing, food, even her books and a flat space for studying.
Natural light was let in through the main entrance and five ledges were carved into the
walls for lamps if it was too dark. There was even a tiny spring that seeped fresh water
into a stone-lined basin that then shunted the excess out of the den via a bamboo tube that
served as a drain.
Because it was underground, it maintained a steady temperature and was readily
warmed by a small fire and their own body heat. Air vents were strategically placed to
reduce drafts while providing ventilation, and a door made of branches and leaves
attached to a reed mat could be placed over the entrance to keep in the warmth. In fact a
space Kagome had been worried would be quite cold and damp had proved to be
anything but; creating a warm, cozy and intimate place where she and Inuyasha could be
alone without threat of being disturbed.
The den was an architectural wonder, and a testament to his skill and intelligent
mind. It was no mere hole in the ground, but a tiny efficiency apartment a little larger
than about half the size of her bedroom in the Modern Era with all the amenities of homewell, most of them anyway. There was no indoor plumbing and no hot running water, but
she was sure if he’d been given enough time, he would have figured something out.
Everything was geared to provide for her comfort and safety, and that of their
son’s. Inuyasha had done his best to anticipate her needs and address them outright while
also satisfying his need to create a secure and easily defensible haven for his ‘family.’
Without smoke from the fire to give away its location, the den was almost invisible
simply by virtue of being right out in the open. Few would give the hillside with its cover
of brush and scrub trees a second glance. In fact, although the villagers knew Inuyasha
would take his lady into the forest on a regular basis, only Kaede, Shippou, Miroku and
Sango knew the den’s location.
She and Inuyasha spent at least every third night in the den, and she was pretty
sure he’d snuck away sometime during the day to make sure no interlopers had tried to
lay claim to it, and also to freshen the buckwheat and air it out from being empty while
they were in her time. She fully expected him to take her and Yukio there as soon as they
were finished eating dinner.
“Ah, Kagome-sama, now that we are all here, I have news of a possible shikon
fragment,” Miroku announced, bringing her out of her thoughts.
“Eh? Why didn’t you say something earlier, bouzu?” Inuyasha grumbled.
“Because Kagome-sama was not here, and because you could do nothing until
tomorrow unless you wanted to put your infant at risk,” the ex-monk replied mildly.
“Feh!”
“Where did you hear there was a fragment, Miroku?” Kagome asked.
“Two days ago some travelers on their way to Edo passed this way. As always, I
am eager for news of other places outside of this village so I went to see them. They
spoke of a boar youkai terrorizing the lands east of here that was proving exceptionally
hard to kill.”
“Hmmm. Sounds like a shikon shard to me,” Kagome agreed.
Inuyasha slapped his palm with his fist. “Right. We’ll go in the morning.”
“I’ll be staying here,” Sango said regretfully. “It’s time for me to stay close to
home. I don’t want to risk the baby if I get into a fight.”
“I think that’s wise, Sango-chan,” Kagome answered sympathetically.
The taijiya nodded and let out a wistful sigh. “I know. But I will miss all of the
excitement. You must tell me everything when you get back. I’ll be so bored here
knowing you’re out there.”
Kagome patted Yukio and smiled. “Just wait until you have one of these. You
won’t have time to be bored.”
Yukio gave a burble and snuffled at her. She cuddled him and rubbed his head,
missing his puppy ears.
“Somehow I don’t think it’s quite the same,” Sango commented.
“I’ll be going with you,” Miroku said.
“Me too!” Shippou added.
“Miroku? Are you sure?” Kagome answered.
He nodded. “It is still four months before the baby comes. It is safe for me to
leave. Besides, Kohaku is more than capable of protecting Sango.”
Kagome looked at the troubled teen and wondered if Miroku’s decision had less
to do with searching for a shard and more to do with him trying to coax the boy back to
the land of the living. Kohaku hardly spoke and his haunted brown eyes were windows to
his tortured soul. Maybe having his sister and unborn niece or nephew to look after would
give the young man a purpose, and help him start to overcome the horror he had lived
through.
“Kirara will be here as well,” Sango said. “And it isn’t like I can’t protect myself
if I have to. I just don’t want to go looking for trouble.”
She nodded that she understood. Part of her didn’t like taking Yukio on the shard
hunts with them, but Inuyasha refused to leave him behind and with good reason.
Hanyous were targets, especially infants, and Inuyasha didn’t trust anyone but himself
and Kagome to protect their son. Besides, being a hanyou actually made him a much
better traveler than a normal human baby. He was stronger, less vulnerable and he knew
when to be quiet and still.
“It’s decided then,” Inuyasha announced. “We’ll leave as soon as Kagome and I
get back from the den.”
“You’re going there tonight?” Sango asked, casting a glance at her.
Inuyasha snorted. “Of course.”
She nodded to Sango, telling her that she was fine with going to the den for the
night. The taijiya gave her an incredulous look as if to say that she was far more tolerant
and forgiving than Sango herself would be.
‘I know. You’d have dropped him off a cliff by now. But I’m not you, and I love
this man. And I know how badly he feels. If you’d seen him cry in my arms two nights
ago, you’d feel differently too,’ she thought, giving Sango a soft look.
Sango’s silent response to that amounted to a: ‘I’d have refused him until his balls
fell off before I’d have let him touch me again.’
She gave her dear friend a knowing smile.
“Oi! What are you two up to?” Inuyasha complained, looking at the two of them.
“Nothing,” Kagome replied innocently.
He frowned. “You were looking at each other strangely. Is it some weird woman
thing?”
“Yes,” Sango answered. “I was asking her how she could accept you back into her
bed so quickly when I would have made you wait until your parts turned blue before I let
you back in.”
Inuyasha blushed furiously and stammered an unintelligible response. Kagome
giggled.
“Woman, what’s made you so bold!” the adult hanyou demanded.
Sango shrugged. “Those hor-oh-moan things Kagome-chan keeps telling me
about. I feel oddly… free now.”
“Keh! Free? Bouzu, is your woman getting away from you? You’re letting her run
her mouth everywhere. What kind of a man of the house are you? You ought to rein her
in before she thinks she’s the leader here,” Inuyasha scoffed.
Miroku gave him a patient look while Shippou just gaped and shook his little head
in disbelief.
“You really are simple minded,” the kit said.
“Sango has her own mind and I love her for it. I did not expect her to give up her
opinions and become a typical wife when we married. Don’t tell me you do not do the
same with Kagome-sama,” the houshi replied.
Inuyasha cast her a guilty glance and she returned it with a look that said very
clearly: ‘If you ever want to have sex with me again, you will answer appropriately.’
“Ummm… ahhh…” he stuttered.
“Thought so,” Miroku commented.
“Sheesh, what a guy. I still don’t know what Kagome sees in you,” Shippou
sighed.
“Oi!”
“Inuyasha,” she warned, stopping him in mid-swing as he tried to pound the kit on
the head.
He snarled, but dropped his hand, grumbling. She gave him an approving nod and
turned to her dinner.
When they were finished eating, she helped Sango clean up the remainder of the
meal and the soiled bowls, ignoring Inuyasha’s impatient looks.
‘Hmmph, after a comment like that, I am gonna make you wait. Chauvinistic
jerk.’
Then she gave Yukio his dinner, taking Inuyasha’s suggestion and supplementing
her milk with a little bit if rice and fish that she’d saved for him when he was done
nursing. She let the infant take his time, not rushing him as he fed and letting him eat at
his own pace. He didn’t suck as heartily when he was in human form and he had a little
more gas so it took him longer to finish his meal. She cooed and rocked him, patting his
bottom and offering her breasts a couple of times to make sure he was completely
finished before she even thought about leaving the hut.
By the time she finally was ready to go, Inuyasha was huffing and fuming, but she
was fairly certain she’d gotten her point across. When they left the hut, he took hold of
her firmly but not roughly and she pinned him with a warning look that had him
flattening his ears and backing off. She gave him the cold shoulder all the way into the
forest and by the time they finally reached the den, she had him making all the gestures
she’d come to recognize as submission.
‘Good. So long as you know your place.’
He went ahead of her, sniffing the entrance of the shelter and giving her a nod that
it was safe. Crouching down, she passed through the low hanging opening and waited for
Inuyasha to light a fire so she could see. The flames illuminated a den that had obviously
gone unused for several days. Even with the fresh straw and fluffed bed, she could easily
tell that this was the first time anyone had been there for a while.
“I… I couldn’t stay in here,” he said, answering her unspoken question. “This is
our place and… and you were gone. I slept in my old tree and stayed as far away from
here as possible.”
She nodded to him and took off her shoes, placing them in the cubby by the
entrance made just for footwear. Then she knelt down on the bed as Inuyasha pulled the
door over the entrance, leaving a hole for the smoke to escape, and watched him as he
went through his ritual of settling into the den, sniffing the perimeter, checking the air
vents, inspecting the lamps and fixtures, and finally coming to join her on the bed. His
other ritual was to undress and place his clothes in one of the cubbies for clothing, and he
watched her in askance as he removed his haori. When she did not give him any reason to
believe his actions were unwelcome, he stripped the rest of the way and came to lie
beside her on his stomach with his head pillowed on his arms as he blinked at her in silent
apology.
Kagome had half a mind to give him one good whack across his bare backside as
punishment for being such a male chauvinistic pig, but decided that he’d groveled and
begged forgiveness as much as she could expect from him. Besides, naked Inuyasha by
firelight was a true sight to behold, and she wouldn’t mar that perfect flesh for anything.
She put Yukio down between them on the bed. Even without his heightened senses, he
recognized the den as a place of comfort and safety, and he relaxed immediately. Within
minutes he was asleep and she moved him to his bassinet.
She waited until the den was warmed up from the fire before removing her own
clothes and putting on a nightshirt. She wasn’t about to sleep in the nude when Inuyasha
was still ‘in the doghouse’ so to speak. The object of her affections snuggled up and
nibbled at her throat, humming happily as she settled down next to him and got under the
blankets.
“You’re not mad then?” he asked suddenly, breaking the silence of the space with
his uncertain voice.
“Oh, I’m mad, but I think you’ve gotten my message.”
He flattened his ears and dropped his head. “I’m sorry.”
She sighed and rubbed his ears affectionately. “I know. You’re just a product of
this era. You think women are just useful for breeding more sons.”
He gasped and reared back in abject disgust. “I do not!” he spat vehemently. “I
would never… never…”
He trailed off, sputtering and she had to laugh at his antics.
“It’s alright, Inuyasha. But I am a product of the modern era and in my time
women have their own minds. If you’re going to be with me, you’re going to have to
accept that,” she scolded gently.
He sighed. “I know. I shouldn’t ask you to stop being yourself any more than you
should ask me to stop being me. People who care about each other don’t ask the other
person to change to suit them. You taught me that.”
“Inuyasha,” she breathed with pride. ‘Okay, you’re getting back into my good
graces. The chances of your getting laid tonight just doubled.’
He gave her a questioning look. “But, Kagome… in your time… you said that
women don’t ask their men to build them houses. Is that good? If men know they don’t
have to build a house what’s to keep them from using several women at once?”
“Some do just that, and some women don’t mind. Most do though, and if they
find out their man is two-timing them they will leave him. As for the other, a man will
offer to build a house when he wants the woman to have his baby. In my time, a woman
can keep from getting pregnant until she is ready for a baby,” she explained.
“Your birth control.”
She nodded, pleased that he remembered the term. “Exactly.”
She saw him puzzling it out, his face intent with concentration. “So… when they
are ready to have pups, the man will build a house.”
“Sometimes. Sometimes the man builds a house before that, if it’s what both he
and the woman want.”
He gave her a sidelong glance. “But you don’t want me to build a house.”
She closed her eyes and sighed. “It’s not that I don’t want you to build a house,
Inuyasha. It’s that I want you to be free to live in it with me for as long as we both shall
live, and I want that to be longer than the end of our quest.”
He sighed too and gave her another look. “Kagome… Kagome can we talk about
this?”
She swallowed hard and nodded, and she wasn’t sure if he was relieved or
disappointed by her answer. After a few moments of pensive silence, he began to speak.
“I know that I promised to protect Kikyou and yes… go to Hell with her…”
Her heart sank and she had to bite the inside of her cheek to keep in the cry that
gathered at the back of her throat. He saw her do this and hurried to continue.
“But only if that was our fate. I always thought that my life was hers because she
died for me, however… I died for her too, and… and Naraku is dead now and she is
avenged. And… and she is nowhere near here. She has gone off on her own.”
He paused, thinking again. She waited, holding her breath.
“I know… I know that she comes back sometimes and she wants me to meet with
her, but she’s had many opportunities to drag me to Hell and she hasn’t. I don’t know,
but… she’s been different since you healed her. I… I think you healed more than
Naraku’s miasma that time. I think maybe you healed her heart too or part of it at least.
What I’m saying is I don’t think Kikyou wants to die anymore.”
She released the breath she’d been holding and nodded. Then she spoke from her
heart.
“If that is so, then I am glad. I am happy to have been able to help her. I know
there were those who thought I would be petty and not save her because she is in the way
of you being with me. That made me angry because I’m not like that, and I would never
let someone die because I was jealous. But if she no longer wants to die, what does that
mean for me and you?”
He looked away, his face uncertain. “I don’t know.”
“What is to keep her from coming for you and making you keep your promise?”
He began to look flustered so she cut him off before he could voice his thoughts.
She really didn’t want to get into a fight with him, and she knew that was what would
happen if he got irritated.
“I’ve heard you tell her that her life is yours, and I know that she’s said your life
is hers. In the end, she has a claim on you I can’t challenge. Unless you break that claim
by telling her that you no longer honor it, you aren’t free to be with me. I don’t even
know if she’d accept that even if you did tell her. And I know you still have feelings for
her. She comes within sight of you and... and you get all nervous and unstable. You go to
see her every single time regardless of my feelings and our circumstances.
“For two years, I have lived in her shadow, knowing full well that I have no right
to complain because I chose to stay with you even though I knew how you felt. I couldn’t
forget you and I wanted to be with you so I made this choice and I live with it. But things
have changed drastically between us and our relationship has progressed so much. If you
leave me now, I will lose… all that I have managed to create with you.”
She shivered, closing her eyes and felt Inuyasha’s arms hug her tight, his warm
breath on her neck.
“Kagome…”
“I’m… I’m terrified of what she will do, what she will think. When she sees
Yukio and finds out that we’re sleeping together, she’s going to think I’m using the baby
and sex to win you from her. I just know it. But I’m not. It… it just happened that way. I
didn’t plan it. I didn’t ask that poor woman to carry her baby here and give him to us. I
didn’t plan to seduce you into my bed. Making love to you was the most natural thing
I’ve ever done, and I wouldn’t change a single thing about that night. It was beautiful and
perfect. And I didn’t do it because I was thinking that I’d be one up on Kikyou if I did. I
did it because I love you and I wanted to share myself with you in a way no one else ever
had.”
“I didn’t feel seduced. In fact I thought I was the one pushing you that night. After
you… let me nurse from you, I just… I needed you,” he admitted.
She covered his hands with her own as he pressed them to her abdomen. “I know.
I needed you too.”
She rolled to her back and he propped himself up on one elbow to look down at
her. His eyes held all the love he had never voiced aloud, and she felt tears welling up in
her own.
“But I think… I think we may have made a mistake when we did this,” she
whispered softly. “I think it has made things so much more complicated and difficult for
the both of us.”
He flattened his ears and gave her a distressed, horrified stare.
“Kagome… do you… are you saying… are you telling me you want to stop?”
He looked absolutely bereft and her heart cried out to him. “No. No I don’t want
to stop, and that’s the worst of it. I don’t think I could even if I wanted to. But… that will
make things so much harder in the end.”
“Why are you assuming that I’m going to leave you?” he asked suddenly.
“Because… because you said… you said you’d go with… her.”
“Maybe I’ll go with her. Maybe. That is not for certain.”
Hope blossomed in her chest, small and fragile, but there. ‘Is he saying…what I
think he’s saying?’
“Inuyasha, are you saying that… you’ll choose me?”
He looked seriously at her as if trying to decide on the right words. “I am saying
that, when I am free, I will choose you.”
“But Kikyou…”
“Kikyou is dead.”
His words shocked her, and to be honest, he looked a little shocked himself, as if
he was surprised by his own admission.
‘Oh, oh my God. He finally said it. He acknowledged that Kikyou is dead.’
“But you love her…”
“I do,” he confirmed, and his answer confused her.
“But…”
“What? I can’t have room in my heart for you and her? She was my first love. I
will always have feelings for her and want to protect her. She was and is very special to
me. Does that mean I care for her more than you? No.”
‘What? Is he… is he going to say it? Is he finally going to say it?’
“Inuyasha…”
He stroked her hair tenderly. “I don’t want to go with Kikyou. Kikyou can’t be
mother to the pup, and she can’t have pups of her own. Now that I know what it is like to
have a mate and a family, I won’t give that up without a fight. I’ve made promises to you
too Kagome, and to Yukio, and I intend to keep them.”
‘But you can’t do both,’ she wanted to say.
“My biggest fear is that I won’t be able to choose one without sacrificing the
other. I couldn’t live knowing one of you had died because of me,” he admitted softly,
holding her hand. “But… but Naraku is dead and Kikyou has gone off on her own. I
don’t think she needs me to protect her anymore. Her greatest enemy is gone and she is
free to live. I think that is what she’s doing, and she’s doing it without me.”
“And are you okay with that, Inuyasha?”
A small smile graced his lips. “Yes. Because it will mean that you will let me
build you a house, and I will live in it with you and the pup, and pups of our own.”
She smiled back and grabbed the opportunity to change the subject. ‘I’m tired of
talking about this. Inuyasha has said he will choose me if he can. I have to be happy with
that because it’s all he can give me right now. Everything is in Kikyou’s hands. But will
she set him free? I don’t want to think about it anymore. I just want to love him while I
have him and not worry about the rest. It’s how I’ve lived the past two years, there’s no
sense in trying to change it now.’
“Our pups? And how many were you planning on having, hm?”
He gave her a heated look and a sexy smile. “Oh… two or three.”
“Not ten or twenty like Miroku and Sango?”
“Keh! He only said that so he wouldn’t have to worry about… what is it?... Birth
control.”
“I’m sure there’s birth control here. Women have always found ways to prevent
pregnancy. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sango or Kaede knew about a herb or tea that could
keep a woman from getting pregnant,” she told him.
“Heh, human women and their wily secrets. You wouldn’t need it if your weak
noses could tell you when not to mate.”
“Like with us?”
His sexy smile turned into a sly grin, and he made a show of sniffing her. “Yeah,”
he replied, a low rumble of pleasure escaping his throat. “And right now, you’re not in
heat and won’t be going into heat for at least another eight days.”
His nose at the juncture of her neck and shoulder sent little shivers of anticipation
through her and she shuddered.
“Inuyasha…” ‘Yes. This. I’ll keep this as long as I can, and the rest doesn’t
matter.’
His hand rubbed her abdomen just under her breasts. “So… am I forgiven?”
“Hmmm?” she answered, sinking into his seduction willingly.
“My runaway mouth,” he reminded.
“Oh, that. Yes, you’re forgiven. Provided you don’t stop what you’re doing.”
He shifted even closer and she could feel his fingers deftly undoing the buttons on
her night shirt.
“Is that my punishment?” he asked huskily. “To not stop?”
“Mmmm hmmm.”
“Then I won’t stop. I’ll keep going until you tell me you can’t take any more.”
“Don’t forget we have a shard hunt tomorrow and we’ll need to rest sometime.”
“Rest? Silly human. I’m a hanyou. I don’t need rest,” he cooed in her ear, his
hands slipping into her opened shirt to caress her naked skin.
“Yeah, but I do,” she replied, arching into his touch.
“Don’t worry. I’ll carry you and you can rest on my back,” he told her, moving to
cover her with his body. “I’ll have to because you won’t be able to walk.”
“Is that a promise?”
“Yeah.”
“Good.”
********
Morning came and Kagome woke to the sound of the forest birds singing in the
trees outside the den. The fire had gone out making the two lamps Inuyasha had lit the
only light or heat in the den, but she was cocooned in warmth because Inuyasha was
spooned behind her, holding her possessively against him. Sometime during the night
Yukio had crawled out of his earthen bassinet to cuddle with them under the blankets,
and his little body was now tucked against her stomach, his head resting just under her
breasts. He was a hanyou again, his hair silver and his puppy ears back on his head.
Dimly she wondered if he’d nursed during the night. If he had, she hadn’t been aware of
it.
‘Not that I would be after… that,’ she thought, remembering Inuyasha’s
enthusiastic lovemaking. Her body was still tingling from the pleasure he had given her,
the thrill of their joining and the ecstasy of being one with him in every way possible. At
one point he had lifted her legs and curled her body up, driving so deeply into her she
swore she could feel him hitting the back of her throat. She mentally felt down to her
nether regions and winced at the soreness there. ‘He wasn’t kidding. I probably won’t be
able to walk. Horny bastard. He’ll probably just smirk and tell me he keeps his promises.
I know he does. That’s what I’m afraid of.’
Not willing to allow herself to slide down into the depression she often felt
whenever she thought about Inuyasha, Kikyou and her, she pushed the thoughts from her
mind and concentrated on enjoying the feel of the two most important beings in her life
snuggled next to her.
‘This is heaven.’ Her smell wafted to her nose: the scent of sweat and sex. ‘Now if
only it was heaven with a hot bath. Now that would be paradise.’
She sighed and shifted a little. The movement woke both her hanyous. One
responded by nuzzling her neck and nibbling at her earlobe. The other just grabbed
breakfast.
Inuyasha let out a low growl. “Meddling whelp,” he grumbled, but there was no
real anger in his voice.
She patted her son’s back. “Good baby. You saved me from the evil sex fiend.”
“Evil sex fiend am I?” he repeated, giving her another light nip on her throat.
“Yes, you are and I’m mad at you.”
He pulled back and peered over her shoulder to look at her, his eyes showing true
concern. “Mad at me? Why? What’d I do?”
“You said I wasn’t going to be able to walk. I didn’t think you meant I wasn’t
going to be able to walk for a week.”
He gave her a lascivious grin, his eyes twinkling. “Hey, you can still feel your
legs can’t you?”
She stuck out her tongue at him.
“Tease,” he huffed.
“Insatiable letch.”
The grin got wider. “I am what you made me, woman.”
“Oh, so your overactive sex drive is my fault now?” she asked, incredulous.
“Of course. I never even acknowledged that I had a sex drive until you came into
my life. Now I have all those years of denial to make up for.”
“And you’ve decided to do all your catching up in two months?”
“Six at least!”
She rolled her eyes. “I’m doomed.”
He chuckled and kissed her, sighing happily. “Kagome. I’m glad. For a moment, I
thought you really were mad at me.”
“Hmmph,” she snorted.
He snuffled into her hair and licked her neck. “Isn’t that whelp done eating?”
“No. He just started. He hasn’t even asked for the second breast yet.”
Her lover responded with a frustrated growl.
“Besides, we have to get up anyway. We have a shard hunt, remember?”
He gave a suffering sigh. “I remember. I’ll just have to wait until tonight.”
“Tonight? We’re going to be camping out tonight.”
“So?”
“So? Miroku? Shippou?” she reminded.
He shrugged. “Tree?”
“Tree?”
“We’ll just find a tree, or some other good place away from the others.”
“Oh we will, huh?”
“Hey woman, I’ve got eight days before you go into heat. I’m not about to waste
them.”
“You know, we could use birth control and not worry about it.”
“What kind of birth control?”
“Well, I could go back to my time and buy some condoms.”
“Con-doms? What’s that?”
“Um…” She stopped, trying to figure out a way to explain prophylactics. “Well,
they’re these… sheaths that you put on before you make love and they catch the seed.”
He blinked at her. “Sheaths that catch the seed,” he repeated, then his eyes opened
wide. “Oh! You mean something I put on my…”
He blushed furiously and she snickered.
“Yeah,” she confirmed, making him blush more.
He sputtered and she snickered again, letting him off the hook. “Never mind. I’ll
ask Kaede if there’s a herb or something.”
Yukio asked to be switched; actually he asked then switched himself. He’d been
doing that for a few days as his upper body strength increased. Now Kagome just had to
make sure the nipple was available and he moved himself over.
“You said he talks,” she mentioned, changing the subject so he’d stop blushing.
He blinked at her, then nodded. “Uh, yeah. Inu-youkai language. He’s talking
pretty clearly these days.”
She frowned slightly. “I can’t understand him. It bothers me that I might be
missing out on something.”
“He’ll be talking in human words soon enough. Inu-youkai speech is pretty
simple. Our sounds don’t say words as much as they convey ideas or emotion. The pup
has no sense of place or time other than the pack and the present.”
She listened eagerly, always fascinated by his knowledge of his demon half and
its characteristics. He knew much more about his youkai side than he did his human one.
It made her sad because it meant that youkai had been closer to him than his human
family, which considering how often he had said he was a target until he was old enough
to start fighting back, said a lot about humans’ treatment of him. Youkai had tried to
destroy his body. Humans had tried to destroy his heart and soul. Sometimes she
shuddered at how close they had come to succeeding.
‘And the world would never have known this sweet, brave, wonderful,
compassionate being,’ she thought sadly.
“Can you teach me?” she asked suddenly.
“Eh?”
“Can you teach me your language so I can talk to him?”
“I could, well, mostly. Your human voice and ears can’t make or hear some of the
sounds. But why would you want to learn inu-youkai speech?”
She gave him an irritated glare. “Because he’s my son and if he’s talking I want to
be able to understand him.”
He flinched but blinked at her. “Oh. Okay. Umm…”
“Tell me how to say his name.”
“He doesn’t have a name.”
“Yes, he does.”
“Not in inu-youkai. There’s no term for name in our tongue. Names are the
individual’s scent and their title is one’s place in the pack. He calls me leader-male and
you mother-female. He recognizes Sango and Miroku as pack-female and pack-male.
Shippou he sees as pack-brother because he knows Shippou’s a pup too. It isn’t until we
learn spoken words that we start to acknowledge names,” he explained.
“So, what do I call him?”
“Pup,” he said simply, shrugging.
“Okay, how do I say that?”
He made a low noise in the back of his throat. She repeated it. Yukio stopped
eating and looked at them.
“See, you’ve gotten his attention now.”
The baby made a noise, and Kagome looked to Inuyasha. “What did he say?”
“Mother-female.”
She smiled and answered with the sound she’d just learned. Yukio blinked and
replied with a small whine.
“He said he’s hungry,” Inuyasha translated.
Kagome giggled. “Always thinking of food aren’t you, my baby. How do I tell
him he can go back to eating?”
The adult hanyou made the noise and she repeated it. Yukio must have understood
because he burbled and resumed nursing. Kagome gave Inuyasha a fond look.
“Thank you.”
He flushed. “It’s nothing, really.”
“It means a lot to me.”
He gave her a happy smile, preening under the praise, and she smiled.
“I love you,” she told him.
He gulped and kissed her. “Kagome.”
For a moment she thought he’d say the words, but he didn’t and she let it go, not
bothering to be angry about something she couldn’t change. For some reason, he felt he
couldn’t tell her that he loved her and she had to respect that, even if she didn’t always
understand his motives.
They waited for Yukio to finish eating, then Kagome changed him and left him in
Inuyasha’s care while she went to bathe in the stream. When she came back, she saw that
Inuyasha had already freshened the den, airing it out and discarding some straw that had
been crushed by their bodies overnight.
“Ready?” he asked her.
She nodded, picking up Yukio. “All we need to do is get the packs from Kaede’s
hut and we’ll be able to go.”
“Let’s go then,” he said, offering his back.
She blushed a little, remembering what he’d said about carrying her, then she got
on and he took them back to the village. Miroku, Sango and Shippou were already
waiting for them at the miko’s hut, and their knowing looks made her blush again.
“Good morning,” she greeted as Inuyasha set her down.
“Good morning, Kagome-chan,” Sango said, Kirara also mewing a greeting from
her place in the taijiya’s arms.
“Good morning, Kagome-sama,” Miroku answered as Shippou hopped into her
arms.
“Kagome!” the kit said happily. “You’re late. We’ve been ready since dawn.
Kaede’s already gone out to gather herbs for the day,” He dropped his voice to a
conspiratorial whisper. “What were you and Inuyasha doing?”
“Shippou-chan!” she gasped, then sidestepped to save the kit from Inuyasha’s
angry fist.
“Oi!”
Shippou swung over her shoulder and settled on her back, next to Yukio. The
baby blinked at him and burbled.
“Hi Yukio!”
A gurgle was his answer.
Inuyasha picked up the packs and handed Kagome her bow and arrows. Then they
said their good-byes. Miroku hugged and kissed his wife, and Sango gave her a hug and
told Inuyasha to behave himself on the trip. Shippou switched to Miroku’s shoulder,
Kagome got back onto Inuyasha, and they set off to the east at a quick pace.
They stopped around midday for lunch and to take care of Yukio. Inuyasha gave
her more lessons in inu-youkai with Miroku picking up some of it as well, and Kagome
was surprised to learn that Shippou already knew most of it because kitsune was similar.
All in all, the day went quickly in pleasant company with everyone, Inuyasha included, in
good spirits. Kagome mused on how much sex softened and settled the usually volatile
and irritable hanyou, and decided that if she’d known how much it would improve his
disposition, she’d have bedded him years ago. Miroku made a comment similar to her
own thoughts and Inuyasha only thumped him once.
Close to nightfall they made camp by a stream and Inuyasha fished for their
dinner. He was still insisting that Kagome eat liver because she was still making milk,
and fish liver was the easiest to come by. They were eating the fish he had caught when
Kagome suddenly felt the unmistakable presence of a Shikon shard. Inuyasha noticed her
stillness immediately and was on his feet.
“What is it?” he asked, one hand on Tessaiga’s hilt.
“Shards… two of them… coming at us with great speed…”
Terror seized her and she gasped, realizing who it was.
“Oh, oh no! Inuyasha! It’s Kouga!”
They had only a moment to brace themselves before the whirlwind that was the
youkai-wolf lord blew into their midst.
Chapter Nineteen
“Oi. Kagome. I thought I’d caught your pretty scent,” Kouga greeted, blowing
right past Inuyasha and grabbing her hands the way he always did.
She stammered nervously. “Kouga-kun…”
The next series of events happened so quickly, she barely had time to register
what was going on. Almost simultaneously, Inuyasha grabbed Kouga to rip him away
from her and Kouga took a surprised sniff.
“Bastard, you let go of her!” the hanyou ordered, throwing Kouga across the
clearing.
“Dog-shit, what have you done to my woman!?” the wolf youkai roared, leaping
up and coming at Inuyasha with both fists.
Inuyasha was ready for it and dodged, swiping at Kouga’s back with his claws.
“What? Smell me on her? Can’t stand the idea that you lost?!” he taunted.
‘Oh no. Kouga knows Inuyasha and I have mated! They’re going to fight over
me!’
The two angry males faced off, and Kagome was suddenly all too aware that the
fight would most likely end in the death of one or the other.
“Inuyasha…” she tried.
“You stay out of this!” he demanded, unsheathing Tessaiga.
“You worthless pile of dog-crap, how dare you touch Kagome?!”
“Kouga-kun!” she begged.
“Don’t worry, Kagome, I’ll kill this fucking half-breed and take you with me. He
won’t touch you again.”
“Over my dead body!” Inuyasha countered, attacking.
Kouga leaped out of the way. “No problem!”
Inuyasha roared and came at him again, brandishing Tessaiga. He missed when
Kouga used his superior speed to dodge the blow while managing to land a punch to
Inuyasha’s upper body, throwing the hanyou backwards.
“I’ll kill you for touching my woman!”
“She’s not your woman. She never was! Get that through your simple head, you
pathetic wolf!” Inuyasha seethed, picking himself up and preparing to attack again.
“Inuyasha!” she cried.
“I said stay out of this!” he ordered.
“Kagome-sama…” Miroku said, putting a hand on her shoulder and urging her
out of the battle zone. “There is nothing you can do. Long have they been rivals. They
must decide this in their own way.”
Shippou hopped onto her shoulder. “Yeah. They’re both simple-minded guys who
have to settle everything by fighting.”
“But…”
‘But Inuyasha could be killed. Or he could kill Kouga…’
Kouga slammed Inuyasha with a kick to his chest when the hanyou rushed him,
knocking Tessaiga out of his hands and sending him crashing into a pair of trees. Kagome
saw the trunks splinter and crack.
“Heh, take that, dog-crap. You never were any match for me. I should have killed
you years ago and claimed Kagome.”
“What, you think I need a stupid sword to kick your sorry ass?” Inuyasha snapped
back, leaping to his feet and preparing to fight.
“You don’t have a chance, fucking hanyou!”
“Shut up and die already, stinking wolf! Sankon Tessou!”
Inuyasha struck and Kouga dodged. However, Inuyasha had predicted that the
wolf would try to feint to the left and kicked off with his left foot at the last second,
throwing himself directly into Kouga’s path and landing a raking blow down the wolf
youkai’s side. Kouga screamed in pain and rounded on him, slashing out with his own
claws and ripping open Inuyasha’s shoulder. Both landed crouched on the ground,
bloodied and panting heavily. Kouga put his hand to the wound in his side and licked his
bloody fingers.
“I’ll get you for that, dog-crap.”
“Keh, I haven’t even begun to hurt you.”
They both sprang at the same time, lashing out at each other with fists and claws,
snarling and growling as they fought in earnest. Kagome had never seen them go at it
with such intensity, and she was sickened by the ferocity and brutal violence of their
combat.
‘They’re ripping each other to pieces!’ she thought, horrified as each landed
another blow to the other.
They were both bleeding freely now from numerous wounds and were obviously
equally matched. She had no idea who would win, and she feared the consequences of
either being the victor. Then Inuyasha missed a strike and gave Kouga an opening. The
wolf youkai slammed his fist into the hanyou’s abdomen, sending him crashing to his
knees.
“Inuyasha!!” she screamed, and her shout was joined by a frightened cry from
Yukio in the sling around her shoulder.
The cry stopped the fight for one tense moment as both fighters looked her way,
and a new terror seized her as she remembered Inuyasha’s warning: ‘Kouga is very
dangerous to this pup.’
‘He’ll kill Yukio…’
She glanced around frantically. The original plan had been for Shippou to take the
baby away to safety on Kirara, but the firecat had stayed in the village with Sango.
‘And Miroku doesn’t have his Kazaana anymore.’
The houshi looked at her and she swore he could read her thoughts because he
reached for the baby. “Give him to me. I still have my ofudas.”
“And I’ll protect him too, Kagome,” Shippou added, his small face serious.
“What is that caterwauling?! And that stench?!” Kouga demanded.
She gasped, knowing she only had a split-second to decide what to do.
“He unbalances you with his weight. You can’t use your arrows effectively,”
Miroku reminded urgently.
She quickly handed Yukio in his sling to her friend, trusting him to guard her
infant with his life. Kouga saw her do it and his eyes narrowed.
“What’s this? Another stinking dog-turd?”
Inuyasha picked himself up despite his belly wound and punched Kouga in the
back while he was distracted.
“Don’t turn your back on me, bastard. I’m your opponent!”
Kouga spun and let out a kick, but Inuyasha predicted the move and rolled out of
the way.
“It’s not yours. I can tell. Your stink may be all over it, but its blood smells
different,” the wolf youkai sneered.
“It’s none of your fucking business!” Inuyasha replied, taking another swipe with
his claws. He grazed Kouga’s thigh, drawing more blood.
“He’s an orphan! Both his parents are dead,” Kagome answered, hoping to play
on Kouga’s sympathies and commitment to his pack. “I’m taking care of him.”
“I tell you, Kagome, once you are my woman, I won’t let you pick up garbage
someone else threw away!” Kouga responded, sending out another kick, which
telegraphed off of a tree next to Inuyasha. He missed, but did prevent Inuyasha from
reaching Tessaiga.
“Garbage?! He’s a baby! His mother carried him all the way to the village with
three arrows in her back! She stayed alive long enough to bring him to us and then she
died!” Kagome yelled, her fists clenched in anger.
“Why didn’t you just drown it?!”
Kagome thought she was going to be sick. ‘Drown… drown him?!’
“Drown him? How can you say such horrible things?!”
“He’s a hanyou. Hanyous don’t deserve to live. Look at the weak assholes they
grow up to be!” the wolf youkai taunted, ducking under another swipe from Inuyasha’s
claws, spinning around and kicking the hanyou in the small of his back.
“Inuyasha!!”
Inuyasha hit the ground with a groan, but he was up almost instantly and back into
the fray.
“Sankon Tessou!” he roared, claws slashing down.
Kouga jumped, narrowly missing getting sliced in half. “Heh, still slow as ever,
dog-turd, but I may have to let you live. It sounds like Kagome has affection for that halfbreed whelp. That filthy thing will have to stay with you when I take Kagome as my
woman.”
“How many times do I have to tell you?! She’s not your woman!”
“How can I be? I’m a human! Our children would be hanyous!” Kagome added,
her voice desperate and angry.
“I wasn’t going to breed with you! I would never bring a hanyou taint to my tribe.
I would have gotten pups on a wolf youkai bitch, and killed any pups of ours,” Kouga
explained, dodging another near miss. He was keeping himself between Inuyasha and the
sword, refusing to allow the hanyou to get his blade.
“K… Killed them? Killed them? You would have killed our babies?!”
“Of course. Hanyous are filthy half-breeds. If I had sired dog-turd, I would have
slit his throat before he drew his first breath!”
‘Killed them. He would have killed them without a second thought,’ she realized,
the nausea rising up in her throat, only to be replaced by rage. ‘And he would have
expected me to let him! What kind of a woman does he think I am? That horrible beast!’
“Shut up and fight you wimpy bastard!” Inuyasha howled, slamming himself into
the wolf youkai and sending them both sprawling.
They were both up immediately, but now Inuyasha’s back was to Tessaiga and he
could easily reach it.
“Heh, why should I? You’re not worth my time, dog-shit. I’ll just take Kagome
and go!”
Kouga made a move towards where Kagome and the others were. Yukio was still
crying and his howls could easily be heard. The wolf youkai set eyes on the baby in
Miroku’s arms. Inuyasha grabbed Tessaiga and rushed to put himself between his pack
and Kouga.
“Bastard, you’re not getting anywhere near them!” he warned.
“Heh, that’s what you think!” Kouga sneered and jumped over the hanyou to land
right in front of Miroku, slapping a protesting Shippou away and sending the kit flying.
The ex-monk didn’t even have time to throw a single seal before the wolf youkai had
slammed him to the ground and snatched Yukio in his sling, ripping the handle cleanly in
two. Then he leaped away, crossing to the other side of the clearing. It happened so fast,
Kagome didn’t even have time to react, and her heart lodged in her throat when she saw
Yukio in Kouga’s grasp.
“Yukio!” she cried.
Inuyasha was paralyzed. If he attacked now with Kaze no Kizu, Yukio would get
hit by the blast too.
“Fucking bastard! Using a helpless pup as a shield against my Tessaiga!”
Kouga shrugged. “If you want him back, dog-shit, come and get him!”
“Inuyasha!” Kagome shouted, her voice terrified.
‘Oh, oh my god. He’s got him. He’s got Yukio. He’s going to kill him. He’s going
to kill my baby.’
“Kouga-kun, please! Please don’t hurt him!” she begged.
“He stinks of you. Do you actually feed this thing?” Kouga commented with
disgust.
Yukio, realizing that he was in the hands of a male who did not smell familiar,
upped his cries to full wails and he wailed like he did on the night his mother died, only
louder because his lungs were bigger now. His howls grabbed Kagome’s soul and pulled,
snapping something inside of her. Suddenly Kouga was no longer the wild, naïve suitor
who wouldn’t give up on her or the uneasy ally and friend who protected her and fought
with Inuyasha for her attentions. He was a threat to her child and she was the protective
mother who would do anything to save her infant.
“LET GO OF MY BABY!”
Without a moment’s hesitation, she grabbed her bow and fired, heedless of her
interference in the fight between them. She no longer cared about their petty rivalry; she
was going to protect her child. The arrow severed his arm where it met his shoulder, and
it was only the fact that any closer would have risked Yukio that kept the shot from being
fatal. With the arm hanging useless at his side, held on only by a flap of skin and thin
muscle, the wolf youkai was forced to release his captive, and Yukio fell, blood from the
spurting wound on Kouga’s shoulder splattering on his sling. Inuyasha moved faster than
she’d ever seen him move and snatched the baby in mid-air, then immediately brought
him to her side. She took him, clutching him to her chest, stilling his cries as best she
could.
‘Yukio. You’re safe. Thank god, you’re safe. My baby, my baby, I thought I’d lost
you.’
She raised her eyes to see the damage that she had done to the wolf lord. He was
down, his arm dangling by a few tendons and some skin. The bone looked like it had
been shattered. He was staring at her in shock, his eyes full of horror and betrayal. His
lips formed her name but she didn’t hear him. She could barely hear anything over the
pounding of her own heart.
“Now we end this, you sick bastard!” Inuyasha was snarling, Tessaiga at the
ready.
‘I… I almost killed him. I almost killed Kouga. I almost killed someone in cold
blood. Oh my god. Oh my god…’ she gasped to herself, realizing what she had just done.
She’d just attacked someone she had thought of as a trusted friend.
She started to shake uncontrollably, her legs going weak, and she collapsed.
Miroku was by her side instantly as was Shippou.
“Kagome!” “Kagome-sama!”
‘He took Yukio and I almost killed him. If he hadn’t been holding Yukio, I would
have aimed for his heart…’
“I wasn’t going to hurt the damn thing!” the wolf youkai insisted.
“Eat this, you fucking piece of shit! Kaze no…” Inuyasha snarled.
‘He’s going to kill Kouga while he’s helpless. No… No, don’t Inuyasha. Don’t.
You’re better than that.’
“No… don’t kill him,” she whispered hoarsely. “Please don’t kill him…”
“Inuyasha!” Miroku yelled. “Inuyasha, wait!”
The adult hanyou halted his swing and whirled around snarling. “WHAT?!”
“Kagome-sama…”
Inuyasha saw her collapsed on the ground and was by her side in a heartbeat.
“Kagome. Are you alright?”
Inuyasha was wounded and covered in blood. Yukio was still crying and
whimpering. Miroku was bleeding from the head wound Kouga had given him when he
knocked him down. Shippou had blood on his face too. Everywhere there was pain and
destruction. She couldn’t take it. She began to rock, a keening cry catching in the back of
her throat and coming out as a heart-broken moan.
“I think she’s going into shock,” Miroku said, using the term he had learned from
Kagome during the years they had been together.
‘Don’t, please. No more bloodshed. No more… no more fighting…’
“Inu… Inuyasha… the baby…” she stammered, staring blankly ahead.
His arm came around her. “It’s alright, Kagome, the pup’s safe.”
She gripped the sleeve of his haori tightly in her fist. “Please… no more
bloodshed…” she begged.
He sighed, closing his eyes for a second before he nodded and kissed her brow.
“Okay.”
Then he stood and faced the injured wolf lord, Tessaiga in his hand and ready to
strike.
“I wasn’t going to hurt the pup,” Kouga repeated, holding his dangling arm. “I
was just going to take Kagome.”
“Keh, like I fucking care what you planned to do. You took my pup, you stinking
asshole. I should kill you right here, but Kagome doesn’t want you dead. So run, you
wimpy bastard. Run and get out my face. You have your life for now, but the next time
you see us, we’ll be coming for your shards.”
She heard Kouga pick himself up and go, but she did not turn her head to look at
him. All her attention was focused on the sniffling infant who clung to her and turned
huge golden eyes her way. It was all over and relief flooded through her, but with the loss
of adrenaline came the horror of how close she had come to losing her son.
‘Yukio. I was so scared. My baby. My poor hanyou baby.’
Gathering the precious bundle to her chest, she buried her face in his silver hair
and began to cry. She cried with relief and sorrow at what had happened. She cried for
herself, for what she had almost done and the remorse she felt. She cried for her friends
who had risked their lives to protect her baby and bore wounds from their battle. And she
cried for her son who was despised by both worlds and forever stuck between them, for
the senseless hate and prejudice this time held for all those who were different, and the
overwhelming relief that they had saved him and that he was safe.
Then she was struck by the terrible realization that for every hanyou that lived,
dozens died: their brief lives snuffed out before they had a chance to live, and she began
to cry for them. She cried for all the hanyou babies who were drowned and slaughtered at
birth. She cried for all the ones orphaned and left to starve. She cried for those who were
hunted down and killed by humans and youkai alike. All those little lives cut down for no
reason other than that they were born.
‘It’s horrible. So horrible. I hate this world! I want to go home!’
“Kagome,” Inuyasha called to her, but she could only hug her baby and shake her
head.
“Kagome,” Shippou said, sitting beside her and touching her leg timidly.
‘Shippou, sweet Shippou, you don’t hate him do you? You won’t try to kill him,
will you? You’ve learned that hanyous aren’t worthless and deserve to die.’
She knew she was crying like she did the afternoon when she got back from the
doctor’s: great gasping sobs that wracked her thin body and made Inuyasha feel helpless.
‘Inuyasha…’
She looked at him. He was looking lost, his ears down, his eyes wide and
concerned.
‘My beautiful Inuyasha.’
“You’re injured…” she managed, focusing briefly on his bloodied clothing.
“Bah, these scratches are nothing. That wimpy wolf’s a weakling. I’ll be healed
by morning.”
‘He’s lying. He could have died too. I could have lost both of them…’
She cried harder, crying for him. Crying with sorrow and gratitude that he had
lived. Not just that he had survived his fight with Kouga, but that he had managed to
reach adulthood despite all the obstacles that had been in his way. He’d lived to maturity;
lived so that she could meet him and fall in love with him.
‘My beautiful, brave, wonderful, strong, courageous, loving Inuyasha.’
How many hanyous who had died had been born with his heart? How many could
have loved and been loved if they had been given a chance? How many had so much to
offer both worlds but were forever denied because they belonged to neither?
‘So much useless waste of life. Why? Why does it have to be this way?’
Inuyasha’s arms came around her and Yukio, pulling her close and she could hear
the infant and adult hanyous talking to each other in soft yips and whines, but she
couldn’t do anything except weep for the senselessness of it all and the hard life her poor
son was doomed to live.
“Kagome… Kagome, please stop crying…” Inuyasha pleaded softly.
She couldn’t obey and it seemed the heavens agreed with her because a storm had
clouded the previously clear sky and rain began to fall as the clouds cried with her.
“Shit! Where the hell did this come from?” Inuyasha growled.
“We need to find shelter. Kagome-sama and the infant should not be out in this,”
Miroku said worriedly.
“I smelled a human village not far from here before we set up camp,” Inuyasha
replied, putting his haori around Kagome and the baby.
“I smelled it too,” Shippou added.
“Let’s break camp and head for it then. With luck I can secure lodgings for at
least Kagome and Yukio for the night.”
Inuyasha gave a grunt of agreement, but left the breaking of camp to the houshi as
he picked up Kagome, who was still holding Yukio close to her chest, and began walking
towards the scent of the village. Miroku and Shippou, carrying the packs, caught up with
them just as they were reaching the settlement. It looked to be a decent sized town and
Miroku thought he saw what looked like a guest house.
By now night had fallen and the rain was coming down in sheets, the wind
howling like a lost soul, and all of them were soaked, except for Yukio because both his
parents shielded him with their bodies. Kagome had him tucked underneath her as she
turned her back to the storm, her head resting on Inuyasha’s shoulder. She’d stopped
crying, but was now still and silent in her lover’s arms.
Miroku led them to the place he thought was an inn and they were relieved to see
the sign welcoming travelers. The houshi stepped up to the doors and knocked, calling
out to the proprietor. After a few anxious moments, the shoji pulled back and a middleaged man holding a lantern peered out. Miroku bowed deeply.
“Greetings sir, we are weary travelers in need of shelter for the night. We have a
woman with an infant. If there is no room for us, might there be a place for her?”
Inuyasha set Kagome down gently as the man looked them over, his eyes darting
over him and Shippou.
“We’re all full. Look elsewhere,” he said gruffly.
Miroku sighed and bowed. “Thank you for your time. We are sorry to have
disturbed you so late in the evening.”
The man grunted and shut the shoji with a firm slam. They turned to leave,
Inuyasha scowling as he picked up Kagome again, and were walking away when there
was the sound of someone being struck and a sharp cry of pain. Then the shoji slid open
again and a woman called out to them.
“Wait. You said there was an infant with you?” she said.
They turned back and Inuyasha carried Kagome to the door. There he put her
down on her feet and stepped away. She stood there in the rain, her eyes downcast,
clutching Yukio close to her and trying to keep him dry.
“Oh Kami-sama. Come in, you poor thing,” the woman said, beckoning.
“My baby’s a hanyou,” she answered faintly, knowing that the male proprietor
had refused them lodgings because of Inuyasha and Shippou.
“It doesn’t matter. It’s not fit for man or beast out there tonight. Come in all of
you and forgive my husband’s rudeness.”
“Oi, woman! I told them we had no room!” the man shouted, holding the growing
lump on his head.
“Shut up! We’re empty and you know it, and I for one will not force an infant to
stay out in the rain and cold.”
“Thank you, kind mistress,” Miroku replied, urging Kagome into the building.
They entered, Inuyasha being the last to step through the doorway, his golden
eyes casting the man a withering glare.
“Come in, come in, my dear and sit by the fire. You’re soaked to the skin. I’ll get
you some hot tea and a dry yukata,” the woman told Kagome, guiding her to the common
room with its central firepit.
“Thank you. I have clothes…”
“No matter, I’ll still bring tea and warm soup. Sit down, all of you and rest.” She
took in Inuyasha’s bloodied clothes. “It looks like you have met with trouble this
evening.”
“A little. We had an altercation with one of the wolf youkai tribe.” Miroku
answered.
The woman nodded. “Yes, we have had trouble with them before, but not
recently. It’s rumored that they have stopped hunting humans.”
‘Because Kouga wanted to please me. Will he now return to his old ways?’
Kagome thought with a heavy heart.
“Keh! I doubt that one will be bothering you anytime soon,” Inuyasha replied.
“You appear to be injured. Do you need a doctor?” she asked him.
“Feh, I’m fine,” the hanyou scoffed.
“I’ll fetch water for the tea and bring the soup,” the woman told them, leaving the
common room.
Inuyasha knelt next to Kagome, bringing her bag with him. “Kagome, are you
alright?”
She nodded, still barely speaking, and held Yukio closer. He was being quiet, but
she saw the fear and uncertainty in his eyes when she looked at him. Inuyasha took his
drenched haori from her and opened the bag, pulling out a towel and patting her hair with
it.
“You’re soaked, woman. You should change out of those wet clothes before you
catch a cold.”
“You’re wet too,” she answered.
“Bah, I said I’m fine. Stop fussing over me.”
“Now, now, Inuyasha. Kagome-sama is only concerned for your welfare,” Miroku
chided.
“What about you, Miroku-sama? Did Kouga hurt you?” she asked.
“I hit my head on a tree root when he knocked me down. It’s just a bump and
nothing serious.”
“I’m glad.”
“I’m okay too!” Shippou added.
She smiled at him. “I’m glad, Shippou.”
She was silent for a few moments, then spoke again. “Do you think Kouga and his
tribe will go back to killing humans?”
“There is no way of knowing until they do,” Miroku responded reasonably.
“I… I hope not,” she said.
“I as well.”
“No matter what… I still don’t think he’s bad at heart.”
“Keh!” Inuyasha scoffed.
“He said he wasn’t going to hurt Yukio,” she noted softly.
Inuyasha snorted. “And you believed him?”
“I don’t know what to believe. You said he would kill Yukio outright, but he said
he would let you live because you would have to take care of Yukio after he took me
away. And… and he didn’t kill him right away. Maybe he didn’t mean him any harm.”
“He still took the pup. Does it matter why?”
She remembered Yukio’s terrified wails and clenched her jaw, the protective
mother instinct rising up in her again. “No.”
The proprietress returned with the water and soup, and placed both on the newly
kindled fire.
“There. They’ll be ready very soon, then you can eat and retire to your rooms.”
“We need only one room, kind mistress. We are well used to sharing space, and I
do not think my companions wish to be separated,” Miroku answered.
The woman nodded. “As you wish, houshi-sama. I’ll put extra futons in our
largest room.”
“Thank you.”
After the tea and soup were served, the woman left briefly to prepare the room
and returned to tell them it was ready. Wearily, they followed her through the inn to a
large room with three futons separated by a single privacy screen. Each futon had
blankets, a pillow and a clean yukata on it. Miroku bowed deeply to the woman for her
kindness and handed her several coins from their string of money.
The woman counted the coins, smiled and gave three back.
“This is more than enough, houshi-sama. Thank you.”
He bowed again and she bowed back, then left them alone, closing the room’s
shoji behind her. They spread out, Kagome going to the single futon on the other side of
the privacy screen. There she placed Yukio down on the mattress while she undressed
and put on the yukata. Then she knelt down and brought Yukio to her breast to feed him
his dinner. In all the commotion and upset, she hadn’t had any opportunity to nurse him.
It was proof of his confusion and uncertainty that he hadn’t started crying. He was wet
too, and she made a note to change him as soon as he was done eating.
For the first time, she wasn’t wearing Inuyasha’s haori as a nursing blanket. The
fire rat garment was soaked and draped across the screen to dry. It didn’t mean, however,
that Inuyasha wasn’t close by. He was in his usual place right next to her, and she didn’t
care if he saw her breasts because he’d seen them many times before.
“I was scared,” Inuyasha admitted softly as he watched Yukio feeding. “When
Kouga grabbed him, I was scared.”
She nodded. “Me too. I’m… I’m glad we’re all okay.” She looked at Inuyasha’s
bloody kimono and Yukio’s blood splattered sling.
“He needs a new sling. This one’s covered in blood and it was getting too small
for him anyway,” she commented.
“Heh. Pup grows well on your milk.”
She agreed, flushing slightly, and fell silent as the baby nursed. When he was
finished, she burped him and changed him, then convinced Inuyasha to let her treat his
belly wound. Shortly thereafter, they were ready to retire for the night. Inuyasha took one
of the futons from the other side of the privacy screen and put it next to Kagome’s,
combining them to make a single large bed that they could both sleep in comfortably.
Then she, Yukio and Inuyasha cuddled together under the blankets while Shippou shared
the remaining futon with Miroku. There was no love making or even a hint of sexual
activity between them, merely sweet kisses and caresses of love and reassurance until
they both fell asleep still holding each other with Yukio snuggled between them.
The following morning hunting down and killing the boar youkai seemed like
child’s play compared to the challenges of the previous day. One swing of Tessaiga and
the ‘impossible to kill’ monster was laid to waste, and its shard taken.
They were back on the road towards home by the middle of the afternoon.
Chapter Twenty
“Tadaima,” Kagome said wearily, pushing back the shoji and stepping into the
genkan. She was carrying Yukio because his sling was still broken, and he was sleeping
peacefully.
Inuyasha closed the doors behind her and they both entered the house. Suddenly
he sniffed loudly, began to growl and raced towards the kitchen. She barely had time to
register what was happening before she heard his angry snarl and a woman’s scream.
Running to the kitchen, she found Inuyasha crouched on the table, his hand around the
throat of the good doctor who had hurt her. Her mother was standing up, her eyes wide
and frightened; a set of photographs of a damaged car were scattered on the table.
“I told you I’d kill you if you came anywhere near Kagome or my son again,
bitch!”
“Inuyasha!” she cried.
Yukio, who had begun to awaken the moment his father started growling, came to
full consciousness and wailed in terror. He’d been extremely on edge and sensitive since
the incident with Kouga, and Kagome feared he’d been traumatized by it. He’d clung to
her and started crying at the slightest upset from either her or Inuyasha. It made for some
very long and sleepless nights of rocking and comforting him when he went into one of
his fits. Both she and Inuyasha were exhausted and on edge. Another altercation with the
doctor her mother had taken her to was the last thing they needed right now.
“What the Hell are you doing here?” Inuyasha demanded.
“Inuyasha, let her go!”
He ignored her and shook the woman roughly by the neck. “Answer me, bitch!”
“Inuyasha, don’t make me subdue you! Let her go right now!” she threatened.
Still snarling, he let the woman go, dropping her back down to the chair she had
been seated in. The doctor grabbed her throat and gasped for air.
“Kagome,” her mother said worriedly.
“What’s going on Mama?” she asked, bouncing Yukio to calm him. He sniffled
and let out a whine. Inuyasha barked something back in inu-youkai and the baby quieted,
his golden eyes red and watery.
“Dr. Ishimoro came by with some photographs she wanted you to see,” her
mother answered guardedly.
There was something in her eyes, a warning, and Kagome grew cold.
“What?” Inuyasha growled, still on the table, his hackles still raised.
“You damaged my car,” the doctor replied, picking up a photograph of a white car
with huge gashes across it.
“Keh! You’re lucky I didn’t do that to your…”
“Inuyasha!” she yelled warningly, and amazingly Inuyasha heard the note in her
voice and stopped, his head coming around to face her.
“What?”
“Don’t say another word,” she told him seriously.
He looked at her, confused. “Why?”
“Please, just trust me on this. Just stay quiet and don’t say anything else, okay?
Please, it’s very very important that you not say another word,” she pleaded.
He blinked at her but stayed silent.
“Here, why don’t you hold Yukio. You can talk to him and keep him calm,
alright?” she said, offering him the baby.
He hopped down from the table and took Yukio from her, still quiet. She smiled
and realized he was taking her seriously about not saying a word.
“You can talk. It’s okay. Just don’t talk to her and don’t answer any questions she
might ask you, okay?”
“O… okay,” he agreed but she could tell he was confused. She put a hand on his
arm to reassure him and also rubbed Yukio’s ears to comfort the still worried and
whimpering baby.
She turned to the doctor. “What do you want?”
The doctor held up a picture. “Your… thing did this to my car.”
“I don’t know anything about that,” she answered honestly. ‘I don’t. I had no idea
he’d done that. He must have done it after I went back to class.’
“And he’s not a thing, as you put it, he’s a hanyou,” she added angrily. ‘Oh well,
she’s already seen them so there’s no use in trying to lie about it. Besides, truth is
stranger than fiction, right?’
“Hanyou? Hanyous don’t exist,” Dr. Ishimoro scoffed.
“Seeing that there are two of them right here, I’d say you’re wrong about that.”
The doctor looked in the direction of Inuyasha and Yukio.
“The infant is one of them too?”
She gave the woman a tolerant look. “Isn’t it obvious? I would think the ears’d
give it away.”
The doctor looked at Mama Higurashi. “You let your daughter cavort with these
things?”
“You yourself told me Kagome is still a virgin so that means her honor is safe
with him. As for letting her be with him, I don’t have much say in the matter,” her mother
answered coldly.
“What kind of a mother are you?”
“One who understands that sometimes things happen that you can’t control, and
that you can make matters much worse by trying. I trust my daughter and I trust this boy.
I know Kagome is safe with him. ”
“Safe? He’s threatened to kill me twice and nearly destroyed my car!” Dr.
Ishimoro argued.
“You hurt my daughter. She came home sobbing from her visit with you.
Inuyasha is extremely protective of Kagome. I would say you were lucky to have escaped
your first encounter with him at all,” Mama replied matter-of-factly.
Throughout all of this, Yukio kept sniffling and whining, and his noise was an
unwelcome distraction. Finally, Kagome turned to Inuyasha and looked at him holding
Yukio. The adult hanyou looked as irritated and frustrated as the baby.
“Inuyasha, what’s wrong with him?” she asked.
“He can’t help it. It’s that damn noise,” Inuyasha complained.
“What noise?”
“The noise coming from that black bag. It hurts his ears.”
“Coming from the black bag…” she repeated, then grabbed the doctor’s purse,
zipping it open.
“Hey!” the doctor protested.
‘Just as I thought!’ A digital tape recorder with an extended microphone sat
nestled in the purse, recording light flashing. She grabbed it and tossed it to Inuyasha
who caught it in one hand with his superior reflexes.
“Give that back. That’s my property!” the doctor exclaimed.
“Inuyasha, smash that,” she said calmly.
“Smash it?”
“Yes. Destroy it.”
“O… Okay.”
He took it in one hand and crushed it easily, the plastic snapping and the internal
circuits shorting out.
“Be careful you don’t get shocked,” she warned just as it zapped him.
“Ow! Shit!”
He dropped the recorder, drew Tessaiga with his free hand and rammed the tip
into the piece of equipment.
“Watch the floor!” she said.
The sword pierced the recorder and the tatami as well.
‘Too late…’ she thought sadly. “I’m sorry, Mama.”
“It’s okay, honey.”
“There! Take that!” Inuyasha announced proudly, sheathing the sword.
“Has it stopped making noise?”
“Yeah.”
“Good. Now rip it up and make sure there is nothing of it left.”
Inuyasha obeyed, stomping on the recorder until it was in very many tiny pieces.
“You can’t do that. That belongs to me,” Dr. Ishimoro complained.
“You also have no evidence. You think anyone will believe you when you tell
them a hanyou destroyed your tape recorder with his hand and sword? Do you think
they’ll let you keep your medical license once you start telling stories like that?” she
replied coldly.
The doctor had no answer.
She sighed heavily. She was tired and stressed out. She wanted a bath, a hot meal,
her bed and her man, not necessarily in that order. She put a hand to her forehead and
took a deep breath.
“I’m sorry about your car. I didn’t know he was going to do that or I would have
stopped him. But you really need to consider yourself lucky that he didn’t use his claws
on you. Inuyasha is my protector, and he doesn’t live by the same moral code we do. His
world is simple and violent. You hurt me, you die. He’s very straightforward that way,”
she explained patiently.
“You really need to go away and not come back because I can’t guarantee that I’ll
always be able to stop him from seriously hurting you. In fact, if you keep bothering us
there’s a good chance I won’t be able to stop him because he’ll see you as an even bigger
threat than he already does.”
“Are you threatening me?” the doctor sneered.
She sighed again. “No. I’m explaining how things are to you. Inuyasha is my
protector. Inuyasha’s morality is different from ours. Inuyasha would not think twice
about killing you, ripping up your body and feeding it to the crows.” ‘Okay, maybe I am
exaggerating a little bit, but I really want her to go away!’
“She’s right,” her mother confirmed. “I’ve seen what he can do. You’re taking
your life into your hands if you pursue this.”
“I can’t believe this! First he threatens to kill me, then he gouges my car! Now he
threatens me again and destroys my recorder!”
“Which you no doubt intended to use to gather evidence to take us to court,”
Mama noted.
‘Ah so I was right about that,’ Kagome thought.
“Don’t make killing you the easiest way to get rid of you. He’ll do it without a
second thought,” her mother went on, reinforcing Kagome’s earlier words.
The doctor stood up abruptly. “This isn’t the end of this,” she warned.
“For your sake, I hope it is,” Mama replied.
“You’ll be hearing from me and my lawyer!” she threatened.
“Again, don’t make trouble for my daughter. It can only go badly for you.”
The woman snorted, but kept a good distance from the hanyou. “I’m not afraid of
that!”
“You should be,” Inuyasha growled. “There’s nowhere you can hide, bitch. I’ve
got your scent now. I could track you through a blinding snow and still rout you out from
whatever rock you crawled under.”
‘Okay, now he’s exaggerating, but she doesn’t need to know that.’
“Hah! You think I don’t know a few priests? Things like you can be banished!”
“I’d like to see any of your modern priests try, woman!” he countered.
“And you, little girl, I’ll be talking with your high school administrator about your
illness,” the doctor sneered.
Kagome blanched but did not reply. ‘If she gets me kicked out of high school, my
future is ruined. But… aside from telling the truth or killing her, I don’t know what to
do.’
“I warn you again. Don’t make trouble for my daughter,” Mama said very
seriously and very calmly.
Kagome looked at her mother and saw something in her eyes. There was peace
about her, and she was completely unruffled by the doctor’s accusations and threats.
‘She knows something I don’t,’ Kagome realized.
“We’ll see about that. I’m not someone who takes threats lightly.”
With that, the doctor stormed out. No one lifted a finger to stop her. When she
was gone, Kagome let out a heart-broken moan and dropped down into a chair.
“What am I going to do? If she talks to my school administrator, I’m done for!”
“Kagome, I know you wouldn’t like it, but the only way to deal with her is to kill
her or… or I could give her a head wound. Head wounds can make a human forget. I
could thump her right on the back of the skull…” Inuyasha offered tentatively.
“That won’t be necessary,” Mama replied calmly.
“What are we going to do then?” she asked.
Mama turned her head to look towards the dining room and they looked to see Jiichan standing there, a serious, unhappy expression on his face.
“You heard?” Mama asked.
The old man folded his arms and nodded.
“You know what to do then.”
Jii-chan nodded again and turned away, headed for the alcove with the telephone.
“Mama?”
“You are about to witness the power of the Higurashi name, Kagome. Your
grandfather’s ofudas and seals might not work as well as those of priests and mikos in the
Sengoku Jidai, but I think that has more to do with people’s lack of faith in this time than
an actual loss of spiritual power. What we do have is connections in some very high
places. The Higurashi shrine is very well respected, and Jii-chan knows many, many
people who would be more than willing to intercede on our behalf. We do not like to
abuse this power and we don’t ask for favors often, but in order to protect you and
Inuyasha we will do what we have to do. I would not be surprised if the good doctor finds
herself out of a job very soon, but I hope it does not come to that,” her mother answered
seriously.
‘Wow. I never knew my family had that kind of power!’ she thought, stunned.
“At the very least, you will not have to worry about her bothering you at school or
damaging your chances of getting into college. Nor will we have to worry about her
trying to get to us through the police or the courts. As for Inuyasha, I doubt any of the
priests she knows would be able to do anything to him, especially since you have a great
deal of spiritual power and he is under your protection,” the woman went on.
“Me? Inuyasha’s under my protection?”
Mama gave her a calm look. “Of course. You protect each other. If someone tried
to seal or banish him, I have no doubt that you’d prevent that from happening. You’d
probably even throw the seal back at the caster and hit him with it.”
‘A counter-curse! I did that with the black miko Tsubaki!’
“Keh! Kagome’s already done that!” Inuyasha said before she could speak.
Her mother blinked at her and she blushed.
“You have?”
“Ummm… yeah. It was a long time ago. A… umm… a black miko cursed me.”
“Cursed you?”
She looked away uncomfortably. “Um, yeah. She cast a curse that corrupted the
shikon shards and made them go into my neck. I… I couldn’t move and then she tried to
make me kill Inuyasha by shooting him with a miko’s arrow.”
Mama stared at Inuyasha, aghast. “She tried to kill you?”
The hanyou shrugged. “Well… she did miss…”
“I was trying to fight it and that, thankfully, affected my aim,” she explained
sheepishly.
“But when that bi… uhh… black miko sent her Shikigami after Kagome while I
was fighting a youkai, she just swung her bow and slapped it right back. It flew right into
Tsubaki’s eye,” Inuyasha said proudly.
‘He just loves telling my mother how I’ve escaped certain death,’ she thought
worriedly. ‘But he always sounds so proud when he tells her how I survived.’
“Back in her eye…” her mother repeated, fixing a serious gaze on her.
She smiled shyly.
Finally, Mama sighed and rolled her eyes. “This is why I never ask you about
your adventures over there.”
Inuyasha looked at her then at her mother, his face confused. “What? Why?
What’d I do?”
“Inuyasha, if Yukio was risking his life and almost dying, would you want to
know?” she replied reasonably.
“Keh! I’d be right there with him! Besides, it doesn’t matter. You’ve lived so far
haven’t you?”
Mama shook her head helplessly, trying to hold back a chuckle. “Inuyasha, there
are just some things a mother doesn’t need to know.”
Inuyasha blinked then snorted. “Right.”
She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. “While you regale Mama with
stories of my near-death, I’m going to go take a bath.”
Yukio burbled at her, making the noise for ‘mother-female’ and reached out one
little hand. She nuzzled him and replied in inu-youkai.
:Stay with Leader-male.:
He flicked his puppy ears, looked disappointed, and shrank back against his
father’s shoulder.
:Mother-female.:
:Be a good pup,: she added, giving him a kiss.
Then she turned to her mother. “Thank you, Mama, for everything.”
Mama smiled gently. “You’re welcome, Kagome.”
“Okay, bath time!” she enthused, leaving the room, but not before she heard
Inuyasha’s serious voice.
“I’ll always protect her.”
She paused and stood just out of sight, listening.
“I know,” her mother answered.
“If ever there is a time when Kagome does not live; you will know it is because I
am dead.”
“I know that too, and that frightens me because I know that it means if I lose one
of you, I’ll probably lose both because Kagome will do the same for you.”
“She shouldn’t. She has to take care of the pup.”
“I don’t think she could ever make that choice.”
‘She’s right. If I had to choose who to save? I... I couldn’t. I’d probably die with
them. Please, Inuyasha, don’t ever let it come to that.’
Sighing, shaking away the dour thoughts, she headed upstairs. The hot bath was
calling.
********
Kagome greeted the next day with no small amount of trepidation. While she
trusted her mother’s assurances that the doctor would not be a problem, she was still
worried. What if the doctor came to her school while she was there? What if she brought
people up to the roof during lunch time to see her feeding Yukio? She made a mental
note to tell Inuyasha that they had to meet somewhere else.
She yawned and stretched, jostling her bedmates slightly which caused both to
wake. One made a noise of protest and nuzzled his nose into her shoulder. Inuyasha
always hated to be roused out of a warm bed when he was cuddled with her. The other
made a very clear sound.
:Hungry.:
She sighed.
:Mother-female. Hungry.:
She shifted to give him access to her breasts and opened her nightshirt for him.
:Yes,: she answered.
Snuffling at the nipple, Yukio latched on and began to feed.
:Gently,: she admonished, tapping him on the back of his neck when he sucked a
little too hard.
:Sorry. Sorry. Sorry.:
She patted his back and soothed him. :Forgiven.:
Yukio resumed nursing but more gently and slowly this time.
Behind her, Inuyasha chuckled lowly. “Good pup. The longer you take, the longer
we get to keep her here with us,” he murmured, licking the back of her neck. :Hungry
too,: he growled in inu-youkai.
Yukio stopped feeding and looked up towards his father, making a sound Kagome
didn’t recognize, but Inuyasha laughed outright.
“What did he say?”
“He wanted to know of I wanted the food. He knows he’s low on the pecking
order compared to me and when I said I was hungry, he thought he had to give up the
milk to me,” he answered.
“Don’t even think about it,” she warned.
He barked a response to Yukio that told him it was okay to eat and licked the back
of her neck again.
“He doesn’t know it isn’t milk I’m hungry for,” he whispered, nibbling at her
earlobe.
She sighed. “Insatiable.”
“Your fault.”
“So you keep reminding me. Don’t I satisfy you?” she teased.
He growled softly. “Always, but then I just hunger for more.”
“Well, you’re gonna have to stay hungry because I have to get ready for school in
fifteen minutes.”
“That’s enough time, isn’t it?” he whined.
“Ah... no.” ‘Horny pig.’
“Damn,” he said with a sigh. “Are we going back tonight?”
“Tomorrow.”
He sighed again. “Okay.”
She reached a hand behind her to pat him comfortingly. “I’ll make it up to you
tonight.”
Inuyasha brightened. “Promise?”
“Yes, I promise.”
“Even if I want it four times?”
“We’ll see if I’m still conscious.” ‘FOUR times?’
He chuckled. “I’m kidding.”
‘Thank god.’ “Good.”
“I’ll want it five times,” he corrected, snickering into her hair.
“Horny dog,” she chided.
“For you, always.”
Yukio asked to be switched and she put one arm under him to lift him up so he
could reach the second nipple. She found that if she let him try to do it himself when she
was on her side, he would scrabble at her ribs in order to lift himself up and he’d scratch
her with his claws. She already had several healing wounds from his previous attempts,
and she found it easier, and less painful, to just prop him up herself.
“You know I am kidding, right?” Inuyasha said, a hint of concern in his voice.
She smiled. “I know.”
“I love what we do together, even if we only do it once.”
She nodded. “Maybe twice.”
He nuzzled her ear. “I’ll make them both good for you.”
She sighed, wishing she could stay in bed with him. “You always do.”
“I do my best.”
She tangled her fingers with his and held his hand in silent response. He sighed
and cuddled up, resting his forehead against the back of her neck. It was amazing how
important touch was to him; even the slightest, simplest caress could make him shiver.
‘No one has ever touched him like I do. Even before we... were lovers, I would
touch him all the time. He’s never said it, but I know he isn’t used to anyone being willing
to touch him because he is a hanyou. Horrible, prejudiced people. Makes me so mad...’
“Oi, what are you thinking about that’s making you all tense?”
“Just how touch means so much to you and how I’m the only one who’s ever
really done it, and how horrible the people of your time are to shun you because you’re a
hanyou. They really don’t know what they’re missing.”
“Keh! Why bother yourself with that? They aren’t worth your time. Besides, you
said it yourself, you touch me. That’s good enough,” he answered, licking her neck to
soothe her.
“But it’s so wrong. There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re good and kind and
strong and loving. It’s not right for them to hate you because of how you were born.”
“It’s just how they are. No sense in worrying about it.”
“But...”
He stilled her with a light nip at the nape of her neck. “Kagome... if they hadn’t
hated me, and if I hadn’t been shunned, and if things hadn’t happened the way that they
did, I would never have met you, and as hard and lonely it was, I wouldn’t change a thing
because I wouldn’t give up knowing you for the world.”
“But you and Kikyou...”
He sighed. “I would have become human for Kikyou, given up my hanyou
powers and my strength. And I would never have known what it was like to be loved as I
am, as a hanyou. No Kagome, I don’t ever wish things had been different... no, that’s not
true. I wish I hadn’t said Kikyou’s name when Urasue made her clay body. I wish I
hadn’t done that.”
“But then you wouldn’t have her now,” she said.
“I don’t have her now. Sometimes I think I never really did.”
“You have me.” ‘For as long as we can stay together.’
He nuzzled her ear. “I know.”
Yukio finished and she sat up to burp him, ignoring Inuyasha’s whine of protest.
“I’m sorry. I have to get ready for school. I’m just going to change him then go
get washed. You’ll bring him at lunch right? We need a different meeting place because
I’m worried Dr. Ishimoro might try to ambush us.”
“I’m worried about that too. That’s why I’m coming with you.”
“Coming with me? To school? Oh no no no.”
“Oh yes yes yes. You think I’m going to give that bi... wench a chance to corner
you when you’re away from me?”
“But you can’t come with me. What about Yukio?”
“I’ll have him with me.”
“What?!”
“I’ll just put him in that new carrier your mom bought yesterday and keep him
with me.”
“All day? He’ll go crazy!” she argued.
“He’s spent all day in his sling before. He’ll manage just fine.”
“But where will you stay?”
“On the roof.”
“The roof?”
“Yeah, what’s wrong with that? I can sit right above your classroom and listen for
you.”
“But... but...” ‘It’s too dangerous! Someone might see you!’
“No buts. I’m coming. I’ll wear one of those cap things over my ears.”
“What if something happens?!” she cried.
“What if something happens to you and I’m not there? I’m not willing to take that
chance. It’s not that I don’t trust your mother and the old man, but I’d rather not take the
risk,” he countered.
“I don’t like it.”
“You think I do? All day out in that noise and stink, with the pup no less? But I’d
rather that, than have something happen and me not be there to protect you. Please
Kagome. I need to be there to protect you.”
His sincerity and heartfelt plea made her give in. “All... alright. But you run at the
first sign of trouble coming at you.”
“I promise. I’ll smash through your glass window, grab you and go. We’ll be
through the well before they have a chance to even think about chasing us.”
‘That isn’t quite what I had in mind but... Oh it’s useless arguing. He’ll just
follow me anyway.’
She sighed and changed Yukio, who batted at her hands and burbled at her,
chattering away in inu-youkai, three-quarters of which she didn’t understand. She
cuddled him and blew raspberries on his belly, making him giggle, then gave him to
Inuyasha with a :Stay with leader-male.: and went to take her bath.
True to his word, Inuyasha went with her to school. In fact he carried her the
majority of the way there, dropping her off three blocks away. She kissed both him and
Yukio then told him to meet her in the basement of her school for lunch rather than on the
roof.
“There’s a door at the bottom of each staircase. Go through it and wait for me to
come down. I’ll call for you. Don’t come into the school unless there’s no one in the
hall,” she told him.
He had agreed then bounded off with Yukio while she walked the rest of the way
to school. Her friend Ayumi was walking in at the same time and the other girl saw her.
“Kagome-chan!” Ayumi greeted.
“Ayumi-chan,” she replied.
The girl came close. “How are you feeling?”
“I’m alright. I’ve come in to get my assignments and to turn in my homework,”
she answered as they walked into the school together.
“You’re looking very well. Much better than before. I remember when you were
so sick. You looked so tired and worn out.”
‘Yeah because Naraku was trying to kill us, and almost succeeding, on a regular
basis.’ “Yeah, the new treatment and this new attendance schedule have really helped.”
“How is your aunt in Sendai?”
She nodded, well familiar with the “cover story.” Her grandfather had told
everyone that she spent the majority of her time at her aunt’s house on the outskirts of
Sendai.
“She’s doing very well. I think the fresh air and the closeness to the ocean are
really good for both of us.”
“Well, you certainly have benefited from it.”
“Thanks.”
“I’m glad to see you. When do you have to go back?”
“Tomorrow.”
Ayumi looked disappointed. “Oh.”
“But I’ll be back in two weeks for five days because of our exams,” she offered.
Ayumi smiled. “We should study together like we used to, Kagome-chan. I miss
spending time with you. Since Yuka and Eri went to Waseda and Houjou went to Tokyo
Metropolitan, you and I are the only ones left from our group.”
“I know. I miss you too Ayumi.”
“How is Inuyasha?” the girl asked suddenly.
“He’s doing well.”
“Still two-timing you?”
“Not as much.”
“That’s good. He seemed okay the one time I met him at your house.”
She nodded, remembering the day Ayumi, Yuka and Eri had come over to meet
Inuyasha, and he had made a good impression on them.
“Yeah, he is. And he’s getting better.”
“I’m glad. You deserve to be happy, Kagome.”
She gave her friend a fond look. “Thank you, Ayumi. That means a lot to me.”
Ayumi just smiled and shrugged.
They went into their homeroom class together and took their seats. Kagome
turned in all of her homework and made arrangements with each of her teachers to pick
up her assignments after school. At lunch, she slipped out of the room and headed
quickly for the basement.
“Inuyasha,” she called when she reached the bottom of the basement stairs.
It was dim and cool down there and reminded her a bit of the den- without all the
metal and machine noise. Inuyasha materialized out of the gloom, his bare feet making no
sound on the concrete floor.
“Kagome,” he greeted as she hugged him and gave him a kiss.
Yukio gurgled at her and smiled.
:Mother-female,: he said.
:Pup.:
:Hungry.:
:I know.:
:Food?:
:Yes,: she confirmed, taking him from Inuyasha as he draped his haori over her
shoulders before she settled down with her back against the wall.
She lifted up her shirt and pulled down the nursing flap on the bra, giving him the
nipple.
:Food,: he said happily, beginning to nurse.
“How is your day going?” Inuyasha asked as he crouched down next to her.
“Okay. I have to see all my teachers after school to pick up my assignments.”
He nodded.
“How is yours?” she said as he handed her one of the two small bento boxes her
mother had made for their lunches.
He opened his lunch box and started eating. “I’m bored. Nothing good happening
and all your teachers talk about is stuff I don’t understand.”
“I haven’t even heard a rumor that Dr. Ishimoro caused any trouble,” she
admitted, opening her own box.
“Hmm. I guess the old man did his job then.”
“I guess so,” she agreed.
“Kagome-chan?” a female voice called from the top of the basement stairs,
followed by tentative footsteps heading down. “Kagome, are you down here?”
She froze, her heart lodging in her throat. ‘Ayumi-chan…’
Before either of them could do anything, the girl had reached the bottom of the
stairs and rounded the corner where they were. Her eyes searched and then found them
sitting against the wall.
“Kagome? What are you doing down in the basement?” Ayumi asked. “I saw you
come down here and… oh Inuyasha is here. Inuyasha-kun what…”
The girl stopped dead in her tracks when she realized what Kagome was doing.
She gasped, her eyes opening wide and took a step back.
“Kagome…”
“Ayumi-chan, it’s okay…” she tried, but the girl was already backpedaling.
“I… I’m sorry. I’ll… I’ll get out of here...”
Ayumi spun and ran for the stairs.
“Inuyasha, stop her! Quickly!”
Inuyasha obeyed, leaping over the girl and blocking her path to the stairs.
“Oi. Where do you think you’re going?” he demanded.
Ayumi collapsed at his feet, terrified. “Please don’t hurt me!”
“Huh? Why would I hurt you?” he asked, blinking at her.
She stared up at him. “Be… because Kagome says you’re reckless and violent
and…”
He gave Kagome an angry glare and she shrugged sheepishly. ‘Oops.’
“Hey. I’m only violent to those who hurt Kagome. Are you gonna hurt Kagome?”
“N… no.”
“Then you got nothing to worry about. Kagome just wanted me to stop you, that’s
all.”
“How’d you move so fast?” the girl asked, starting to overcome her fear.
“Keh! You thought that was fast? You haven’t seen anything.”
“Inuyasha,” Kagome warned and he quieted his boasting, then she turned to her
friend. “Ayumi-chan.”
‘She’s seen that I have a baby. She’ll see he’s not human. Ayumi may not have
gotten into Waseda, but she’s not stupid. Of all my friends, she was the one the most
sympathetic to Inuyasha. Maybe she can be trusted now. And even if she can’t, it’s too
late isn’t it,’ she thought sadly.
“Kagome-chan,” Ayumi answered, sitting up and facing her. “I… I didn’t know
you had a baby. If the high school administrator finds out…”
“Exactly. So you’re not going to tell him, right? Or anyone else, right?”
Ayumi shook her head. “No. Of course not. You’ll be expelled!”
The girl came over and knelt by her as Inuyasha returned to his place next to her
and resumed eating his lunch. Kagome blushed and Ayumi stared.
“When… when did you have him… her? I never even knew you were pregnant.”
“Him, and I wasn’t. This baby is an orphan.”
“But…”
“A woman can make milk and not be pregnant. It’s called induced lactation and
you can find out about it on-line,” Kagome explained.
“Induced lactation. But how… why?”
She shrugged. “I wasn’t actually planning it. It just kinda happened.”
Ayumi looked away. “Oh.”
“Anyway, you won’t tell anyone, right?”
Ayumi shook her head again. “No. I won’t tell anyone. I promise!”
“Good. Thank you.”
Yukio asked to be switched so she moved him over, giving Ayumi a good look at
him. The girl gasped.
“Kagome… the baby…”
“Has puppy ears, yes I know.”
She saw Ayumi gulp and knew her friend was just itching to ask. She smiled to
herself as Yukio took the second breast, mumbling a happy :Food.: in inu-youkai. She
barked back a soft, :Good pup.: to him and he sighed.
“Where did you get him?” the girl asked timidly.
“About nine ri from Edo.”
“Nine ri from Edo? What?”
She chucked. “It’s a long story.”
Ayumi bit her lip and stared at the baby. “Does he have a tail too?”
Inuyasha nearly choked on his food and coughed. “A tail??”
“Well… yeah, if he has dog ears couldn’t he have a tail too?”
The hanyou sputtered and Kagome held back a laugh.
“No, he doesn’t have a tail. He does have claws and fangs though. Fangs he’d
better be careful not to use on his mother when he feeds,” she warned gently, tapping
Yukio on the back of his neck when he grazed her nipple with a canine.
:Sorry! Sorry!:
She cuddled him and rubbed his back. :Forgiven.:
“Kagome…” Ayumi began uncertainly. “Kagome… is he… is he human?”
“No. Not exactly. But that’s obvious isn’t it?”
The girl tittered nervously, but nodded. “Yeah.”
“Yukio is a hanyou. An inu-hanyou to be exact.”
“Inu-hanyou?” Ayumi repeated.
“His mother was human, but his father was…”
“A dog demon?” the girl finished. “But Kagome… demons don’t exist…”
“Inuyasha, will you take off your cap, please?” she asked.
“My cap? Why? You spend all this time making me swear to always wear it when
I’m here in your blasted world and now you want me to take it off?” he complained.
She gave him a tolerant smile. “It’s okay, really. Go ahead and show Ayumi your
ears.”
He gave her a confused look, but obeyed, taking off the hat. Ayumi squealed
when she saw his dog ears.
“OW!” Inuyasha yelled.
“Inuyasha is an inu-hanyou too,” she explained.
“Are they real? Can I touch them?”
“Inuyasha?” she asked.
The hanyou bent his head so Ayumi could inspect his ears and the girl rubbed
them lightly.
“Be careful. They’re really sensitive,” Kagome warned.
“They’re so soft…”
“Keh. What were you expecting?”
“Is this why he’s so angry and violent all the time, Kagome?” Ayumi questioned.
“Hey! I am not,” he snorted, offended.
“No. He just puts up a front so no one will figure out he’s just a big fluffy puppy
inside,” Kagome teased.
“Fluffy puppy!? I’ll show you fluffy puppy!”
Ayumi giggled then sobered. “Hey wait a minute! If you’re an inu-hanyou and so
is the baby… is this baby yours? Are you two-timing Kagome again you big jerk?! And
then you ask her to raise it for you after you had a baby with your old girlfriend? You’ve
got some nerve buster!!”
“Eh?? What??!!” Inuyasha scrambled.
“Ayumi. Ayumi!” Kagome tried, but the girl was off on a roll of indignant rage.
“You better treat her right! Kagome’s too good hearted to tell you to stuff it, but I
know how much you made her cry!”
He looked at her, aghast. “You’ve been talking about me?”
“Of course she’s been talking about you! I’m her best friend. Who else is she
going to cry to when you cheat on her again? And now you bring her your illegitimate
half-demon baby to raise. You… you… Oooooo YOU HORRIBLE, TWO-TIMING,
VIOLENT, SELFISH JERK!” Ayumi yelled.
Inuyasha cringed and tried to hide behind Kagome.
“Kagom-e-e-e-e-e,” he begged.
She patted his hand comfortingly.
“Kagome! How can you defend him after what he’s done to you?!” Ayumi
demanded.
“Because the baby’s not his,” she said calmly.
“He’s not?”
“No. Yukio’s parents are dead. Inuyasha and I adopted him after his mother died.”
Ayumi deflated, all her earlier ire disappearing and she blushed with
embarrassment. “Oh. Sorry, I just thought…”
Inuyasha snorted. “That’s right. You should be sorry to think I would do such a
thing to Kagome.”
“Inuyasha…” Kagome warned.
“What? I’m not allowed to defend myself?”
“Of course you are, but Ayumi doesn’t understand about you and me. She made a
wrong assumption, but now we’ve fixed it. It’s okay.”
“Keh!” he sniffed, but didn’t say anything more.
“I really am sorry,” Ayumi apologized. “I shouldn’t have said those things to
you.”
“Feh! I’ve been called worse. Don’t worry about it.”
Ayumi looked away, ashamed, but Kagome saw Inuyasha soften and had to smile.
‘He’s so forgiving. He wants everyone to think he’s hard and cold, but he isn’t. He’s so
sweet. I love him so much.’
Yukio finished eating and she burped him, giving him a few extra cuddles
because the yelling had upset him.
“How much time is left for lunch?” she asked.
Ayumi blinked then looked at her watch. “Umm… eight minutes.”
“That’s enough time,” she commented, taking one of the clean diapers Inuyasha
had brought with him and a cleaning cloth. It always amazed her just how much he could
carry stuffed in his haori.
She laid the haori on the concrete floor and put Yukio on it so she could change
him, taking care not to dirty the red cloth. Then she put him in the clean diaper and redressed him in his snap-on sweat pants, giving his belly a little tickle. He giggled and
kicked.
“It looks like everything is quiet here. You should take him home,” she said,
giving his haori back.
“I’m not leaving you,” he refused, putting the garment on.
She handed him Yukio when he was ready for him.
“I don’t think anything is going to happen. Really, it’s okay.”
“I’ll say when it’s okay, woman, and I’m not convinced. I’m staying and that’s
final.”
She sighed, rolling her eyes. Ayumi looked to them.
“Is something wrong?” the girl asked.
“Someone else knows about Yukio and we were worried she would make trouble
for us today, but it doesn’t look like it.”
“Who?”
“A doctor who examined me when my mom found out I was lactating. She came
to the house yesterday and caused a scene,” she explained.
“Oh how horrible!”
She nodded. “But it’s okay. My mom and grandfather took care of it.”
“Oh.”
“Anyway, we need to get back,” she said, eating the last of her lunch quickly,
then standing up.
Ayumi and Inuyasha stood with her. She leaned over and kissed Yukio.
“I love you,” she told the baby. He burbled back at her.
She kissed Inuyasha on the cheek. “I love you too.”
He blushed but gave her a small smile.
“I’ll pick you up after school and take you home,” he told her.
“Okay. Be safe, put your cap back on and stay out of sight.”
“Yes, yes, wench, get going or you’ll be late.”
“And stay out of trouble,” she warned as she and Ayumi headed for the stairs.
“Me? You’re the trouble maker!”
“Be lucky you’re holding Yukio or I’d ‘s’ you.”
“Feh!”
She giggled as she and Ayumi went up the stairs.
“’S’ him?” her friend asked.
“Long story.”
“Oh.”
The rest of the day passed without incident and Inuyasha was true to his word. He
met her as soon as she was out of sight of the school and carried her home on his back;
leaping from building to building and making her laugh with the rush of excitement and
joy she felt whenever she was with him. That night she did her homework, ate dinner
with her family, played with her son and made love with her man- twice as promised. In
the morning they returned once again to the Sengoku Jidai and resumed their hunt for the
Shikon shards.
Chapter Twenty-One
One. Two. Three. The oni bellowed and fell with an earth-shaking thud, the body
twitching spasmodically.
“Hah! Take that!” Inuyasha enthused, flushed with victory from the battle and
pouring with sweat from the hot summer sun.
“Is it dead?” Kagome asked hopefully.
The hanyou gave the monstrous head a good kick, and they heard the sound of
bones breaking as the skull twisted around and the neck snapped.
“If it wasn’t before, it is now,” he replied. “Do you see its shard?”
She nodded, gulping. “It’s… it’s up its nose.”
There was a long pause, then Inuyasha blinked at her.
“Well?”
“Well what?” she stammered.
“Are you going to get the damn shard or not? We don’t have all day and we still
have to get Shippou and the pup.”
Wrinkling her nose in disgust, she knelt down and moved to stick her hand up the
dead oni’s bulbous nose.
“This is so grooooossssssss,” she whined, turning pleading eyes his way.
Rolling his eyes, he severed the nose from the skull and split the thing down its
middle.
“There. Now you don’t have to stick your hand up its nose,” he told her.
Kagome closed her eyes and quickly picked out the exposed shard. It came out
with a sickeningly wet pop and she pulled her hand back, trying not to heave at her green
goo-covered fingers.
“I need a bath or boiling water or an antiseptic cloth! This is so gross!”
“Bah! Just wipe your hand off with one of your napkins and be done with it,
woman. For someone who has no trouble changing a dirty diaper, you’re very
squeamish,” Inuyasha scoffed, snorting, but his eyes were twinkling with amusement.
“That’s different,” she complained, holding her hand as far away from herself as
possible.
“Keh!”
They walked together side-by-side until Kagome reached out to take his hand in
her clean one. He smiled at her and stole a quick kiss. She smiled back.
“Oh, it’s so hot. I can’t wait to get back to the village. I’m going to swim in the
river and spend the rest of my time in the den. It stays nice and cool in there,” she sighed.
“Not to mention no one’s there to see you naked but me,” he added, giving her a
sly smile.
She slapped his arm lightly. “You’re still a letch.”
“And it’s still your fault.”
They came to a stream and Kagome went for it.
“I’m going to wash off my hands,” she said.
He nodded. “I’ll go get Shippou and the pup.”
“Okay. Meet me back here.”
He gave a grunt of agreement and bounded off, leaping through the forest until he
found the old tree he was looking for. A large rock had been wedged between two of the
roots, and this he grabbed and pulled away.
“Oi…” he said, reaching into the hollow under the tree’s roots.
“Kitsune-bi!” came a loud shout just as foxfire flashed in his face.
“Oi! What the fuck did you do that for!?” he yelled, rubbing his stinging eyes.
“Inuyasha! What are you doing?! Don’t just pull the rock back and try to grab us
without saying who you are!?” the kitsune kit scolded, popping up out of the makeshift
hiding place.
“Who the hell else knows you’re in there?” the adult hanyou countered.
The kit scowled at him. “I don’t know! I’m supposed to protect Yukio. If
someone opens the den and I don’t know who it is, I’m gonna attack!”
Kirara gave a little mew of agreement as she hopped out of the hollow, her tails
flicking. Ever since the incident with Kouga, the firecat had come along on every shard
hunt.
“You could use your nose! No one else smells like me,” Inuyasha scowled, still
angry.
Shippou wrinkled his nose and sneezed. “You smell like dead Oni.”
He was about to argue when a third figure began to rise from the hole, puppy ears
perked up and golden eyes wide. One little pudgy hand grabbed a root for balance as the
pup lifted himself out, his small body dressed in a gray hakama gathered at the ankles
like his father’s and his red ‘Big Dog’ shirt which was almost too small for him now.
“’Tou!” Yukio burbled, and Inuyasha’s anger melted.
He knelt down and opened his arms as the pup plopped into them when he lost his
balance.
“Hey, pup,” he said fondly.
:Leader-male.: “’Tou,” Yukio said in both inu-youkai and spoken words.
Inuyasha, in an attempt to encourage Yukio to speak, had started to respond only
when he tried to use words so now the pup used both almost simultaneously.
‘Smart little whelp,’ he thought proudly.
True to his prediction, the pup- now eight months old but looking like a human
12-month old- had started walking and talking about two weeks ago or rather toddling
and gibbering. They still had no translations for some of the sounds he made.
Picking Yukio up, he balanced him against his side and rubbed his ears. The pup
smiled, revealing a full set of teeth- razor sharp fangs included- and one little hand
grabbed his haori while the other clutched a headless teddy bear. Inuyasha rolled his eyes.
‘Another one. That’s the fifth one so far. Kagome and her mother are going to be
angry when they see he’s done it again.’
Kagome and her mother had been trying to give the pup toys to play with, most of
which were completely unsuitable for a hanyou infant. Instead of taking his advice and
giving the pup rocks and wooden sticks and things too big for him to fit into his mouth,
they gave him things like rattles and ‘mobiles’ and stuffed animals. Yukio smashed the
rattles, ignored the mobiles, and decapitated the stuffed animals.
‘He’s a fucking hanyou, idiots! He’s ten times as strong as one of your human
whelps!’
:Mother-female.: “Kaa?”
“Don’t worry, Kaa-san is close. I’m taking you to her now,” he replied.
Still looking at Yukio, Inuyasha extended his other arm in invitation and Shippou
hopped into it, wrapping his legs around Inuyasha’s hip, then Kirara mewed and jumped
onto his shoulder.
“Where’s Kagome?” Shippou asked as Inuyasha began to walk in the direction of
Kagome.
“Washing her hands. She got Oni nose guts on them,” he replied.
“Oni nose guts?”
“The shard was in the damn thing’s nose. I guess it didn’t have the brains to put it
anywhere else.”
“Was it hard to kill?” the kit asked.
“Keh! Are you kidding? I didn’t even draw Tessaiga.”
“I’m glad. After that spider-youkai we fought last time, I’m glad this one was
easy.”
Shippou was referring to their last shard hunt, which had them battling against a
spider demon very much like the one they had defeated two years ago. This one had
proven to be quite a challenge and both Kagome and Inuyasha had been injured. Kagome,
to Inuyasha’s horror, had been bitten on the leg. Thankfully, stabbing herself with her
own purifying arrow had prevented the poison from spreading. After the demon was
dead, Inuyasha had ripped open the wound and sucked the poison out himself, then
Kagome treated it with an intensive infusion of herbs and her own modern anti-venom
medicine.
Fear of residual poison had caused her to not nurse Yukio for several days;
something the pup loudly protested even though he did fine on rice and fish, and when he
was finally allowed to nurse again, he’d almost torn her open with his teeth. Kagome was
trying to wean him, but had been unsuccessful so far. Inuyasha had told her to just stop
giving in when he threw his tantrums, but Kagome just couldn’t stand to see her baby cry.
In truth, he could understand the pup’s reluctance to give up his teat, and he’d told
Kagome so.
“You’re warm, smell familiar, and the milk tastes good. He gets cuddled, petted
and loved when he feeds. Now you’re telling him he won’t have those things anymore. I
wouldn’t want to be weaned either,” he’d explained one afternoon when she was
bemoaning her problem.
She’d given him a sly look and replied, “What makes you think you are?”
She, of course, was referring to his fondness for her breasts when they were
making love. He’d stammered, then blushed, then called her bluff and tackled her. They
didn’t discuss Yukio’s weaning problem for the rest of the afternoon.
He cleared the trees, carrying his precious cargo and Kagome turned to see them
approaching. Her eyes widened and then she covered her mouth to hold back a laugh. He
paused, confused and irritated.
“What?” he demanded. ‘What’s that look for, wench?’
“I... I saw you coming out of the woods carrying Yukio, Shippou and Kirara, and
for a moment you... you looked like Jizo,” she snickered.
“Eh?”
He took a moment to consider his situation. In one arm he held his pup. In the
other he held the kitsune kit, balanced on his hip. The firecat in her kitten form was
clinging to his shoulder, her fur tickling the side of his neck. He did look like Jizo.
‘What the Hell? I’m going soft!’
Giggling, Shippou jumped down, as did Kirara.
“Argh! Get off me!” he yelled as he quickly shoved Yukio into his mother’s arms.
“Inuyasha as the patron saint of small children? I don’t think so. He’s too smallminded of a guy,” Shippou teased.
“Oi!”
“Inuyasha,” Kagome scolded gently, preventing him from thumping the kit on the
head.
“You’re making it sound like I’m some kind of sentimental wimp!” he
complained.
She batted her eyes at him and gave him the look that always made his heart beat
faster and his stomach flutter, and other parts of him grow hot and heavy. One finger
tickled his throat as she leaned close.
“But you are sentimental...” she whispered in his ear, taking extra care to blow
softly into it.
He growled under his breath, feeling frustrated because he knew there’d be no
relief until they got back to the village, and he’d already gone without for the three days
they’d been traveling. Kagome refused to make love with Kirara and Shippou present so
he hadn’t even bothered to ask, but he was really starting to itch and if he didn’t get
scratched soon…
She gave him a wry smile and a hooded look.
‘Wench knows it too. She knows what she does to me,’ he thought dourly, then
brightened a bit. ‘But she knows what I do to her and I intend to make her suffer... and
beg... and...’
His thoughts of revenge did nothing to quell his arousal and he growled again.
Shippou gave him a knowing look and Yukio blinked his way.
‘Maybe I can steal her for a few minutes when we make camp tonight... The cat
can pup-sit for a bit, right? I’ll bribe her with some nice fish...’
“Ah, jeeze, are you two at it again?” Shippou teased. “There are little kids present,
you know.”
“Keh!” he scoffed. ‘As if that’s ever stopped me. Kagome would blush to know
how many times Yukio’s watched us when she thought he was sleeping.’
He gave Kagome a heated look and she flushed a little, dropping her eyes.
‘That’s my Kagome. Wild tennyo of lovemaking by night, but shy, blushing virgin
by day. Heh, she’d call me insatiable sex-fiend by night and impossible letch by day, but I
just can’t help it. She breathes in my ear and I want her. Or the sunlight catches in her
hair. Or she smiles at me. Or she plays with Yukio and I hear her laugh. Everything.
Everything about her excites me. Is that normal? Is this how that letch monk feels? No
wonder he propositioned every girl in sight. Not that I’d ever be with anyone who wasn’t
Kagome. Kagome’s the only one for me. She’s the only one who’s ever loved me for me.
Not even Kikyou did that.’
Kikyou. No one had seen or heard anything of Kikyou for months, and he often
wondered where the undead miko was located. Not that he was eager to see his former
love, but it was worrisome.
‘I hope nothing has happened to her. With Naraku dead, are there any enemies
out there powerful enough to hurt her?’
“Kaa,” Yukio burbled, drawing his attention back to his present company.
Kagome nuzzled the pup and addressed him in words and in inu-youkai. Her
grasp of the demon language amazed him. In such a short time she had learned most of
the sounds she could make with her human throat, and understood a good deal more than
that.
“How’s my little big dog?” she said, bouncing Yukio on her hip.
“Kaa!” the pup enthused, eyes bright and happy, one hand waving the headless
bear.
Kagome saw the decapitated toy, rolled her eyes and sighed. “Did it again, huh?”
He shrugged. “I told you he would. You and your mother should just give up and
do as I say, and only get him toys made of stone and wood.”
“Oh like the rocks you gave him to teethe on.”
He snorted. “They worked didn’t they? And he didn’t break them like he did your
plaass-taaccckkk teething things. How many did he eat? Six? Seven? They were a waste
of money. At least rocks and sticks are free.”
She gave him a dour look but didn’t answer. Instead she turned her attention to
Shippou.
“Did you have any problems in your hiding place, Shippou?” she asked the kit.
“No. Not until someone pulled the rock away without telling us who he was,”
Shippou replied, giving him an angry look. He glared back and huffed.
“Keh! Brat should have known it was me!”
“How was I supposed to know it was you when you stink of dead Oni? Why don’t
you take a bath?”
‘I’d love to. Preferably a warm one with Kagome. But then we wouldn’t get clean.
At least not right away. Damn, I have got to bribe the cat…’
“Why you…!” he growled.
“Inuyasha,” Kagome warned and he cringed.
‘At least she warns me now before she sits me. I’m not getting sat nearly as much
as I used to.’
It was true. Kagome hadn’t used the s-word on him for almost a month. The last
time she had made him eat dirt was the day Miroku and Sango’s daughter was born. He
had been waiting outside the hut with the nervous houshi, watching the man fret and pace
while Kagome was in with Kaede and Sango. The birth was taking a long time and
Miroku had been frightened. Human births were very dangerous, and both women and
pups died during it all the time, so the man had good reason to be worried about the
health and safety of his wife and unborn child. He’d decided that day to make sure
Kagome gave birth to their pups in her world where medicine and doctors were much
better, and women and pups didn’t die nearly as often.
At one point he’d considered knocking the agitated man out just so he would stop
pacing and fussing. He was upsetting Yukio with his actions and the pup wouldn’t settle
down. Besides, pacing and worrying were useless. The pup and Sango were in the hands
of the women, and they were doing something women had been helping other women do
for centuries. In truth he wasn’t that worried himself because he knew Kagome had
brought some of her modern medicine to help make sure both mother and pup would be
okay after the birth, and he had complete confidence in her and Kaede’s abilities.
Finally, after a very long time, and after several disturbing cries from Sango and
shouts of encouragement from Kagome as she ‘coached’ Sango through the birth, the
noxious smell of blood mixed with something else hit his nose. It was overwhelming and
both he and Shippou had turned slightly green. Then the unmistakable cry of a newborn
had split the air, and Miroku’s face had frozen in shock before he rushed up to the reed
door. Kagome had met him at the entrance, her face flushed and sweaty as if she had
been the one bringing a pup into the world. She had smiled at the new father and told him
he had a baby girl. Miroku had smiled the widest smile any of them had ever seen on his
face and ran in to see his wife and daughter. Kagome had given him and Shippou looks
that said it was okay for them to come in too.
He’d gone in, still a little dizzy from the smell, but not wanting to seem
unsupportive, and taken in the sight of the exhausted but oddly beatific taijiya and her
tiny pup. Really, the pup wasn’t even half the size Yukio had been when he was only two
months old. It was this red-faced, squirming, bald thing about the size of a boar piglet.
He’d stared at it, scratching his head, and innocently asked if all human pups were born
looking like beet-faced piglets.
He hadn’t even had time to realize what he’d said was wrong before his face hit
the hut floor and he was kicked out for being ‘an insensitive, stupid jerk.’ His only
vindication was that Shippou had whispered that he’d been secretly wondering the same
thing.
“At least kitsune kits are born with hair,” the fox had said.
He’d grunted in agreement but wisely kept his mouth shut.
Ever since, Kagome had been spending most of her time helping Sango handle the
responsibilities of being a new, first-time mother. Human pups were much more fragile
than inu-youkai or hanyou pups, and every little thing was a potential hazard. Seeing
what went into keeping a human pup alive, he wondered how any of them ever lived to
adulthood; yet no one could deny that humans were breeding like crazy, and he knew
from his time in the future that their ‘weak’ species had taken over the world.
He was jealous of the time Kagome spent with the taijiya because it cut into the
time she normally spent with him, and he didn’t like sharing her to begin with. But
Kagome wouldn’t say no to Sango when the woman asked for help, so he had to deal
with her absence as best he could. Shard hunts were even more welcome than usual
because it meant they’d be getting out of the village. Even though Shippou and Kirara
came with them, and they had Yukio, it still meant that he would have Kagome pretty
much to himself until they returned. Because of that, he didn’t care how much feeding
and changing Yukio slowed them down when they were traveling. It just meant that the
trips would take longer and he was fine with that.
‘Keh, I don’t even mind ‘helping people’ if it drags out the trip some. And if I can
get the cat to pup and kit-sit, that’s even better.’
“Feh, let’s make camp,” he said.
“But it’s not even getting dark,” Shippou replied.
“This is the only decent fishing stream within walking distance. If we stay here
and head for the village in the morning, we’ll be better off than heading home tonight and
having to camp somewhere where there’s no food or water.”
Shippou gave him a look that said, ‘You just want to be alone with Kagome.’ He
shrugged and sent back a look that replied, ‘Yeah. What of it?’ The kit dropped his gaze
and looked elsewhere. He smiled with victory.
Together they made camp and prepared to settle in for the night. On his way to
catch that evening’s dinner, he motioned for Kirara to join him. The firecat mewed and
followed.
“Okay, if I catch you a nice fish all your own, will you pup-sit for a while
tonight?”
The cat gave him a look that was all smug feline and mewed what amounted to
‘two fish.’
“Two?”
Kirara nodded.
“Deal.”
He put out his hand and Kirara placed her paw in it, sealing the pact.
‘Okay, now for the fish…’
He could be a damn good hunter and fisher when sufficiently motivated, and the
promise of being alone with Kagome without the interruption of the pups was incentive
enough. He caught two mid-size carp for Kirara and presented them to her for inspection.
When she approved, he returned to the stream to catch dinner for the rest of them and
nabbed five more fish. Kagome seasoned them and put them on spits to roast, and they
ate it with rice and some legumes and berries that Shippou had gathered.
Towards the middle of the meal, he sidled up to Kagome and blew a soft puff of
air against the nape of her neck and nuzzled her left earlobe. It was his little gesture that
meant he wanted her and asked for her attentions. She could respond one of three ways:
leaning back into his warmth which meant ‘Yes.’ and he could expect her to join him
shortly; leaning back into his warmth but with a touch on his wrist which meant ‘Yes, but
later.’ and he would have to wait until she was ready; or she could not lean back at all
which meant ‘No, not tonight.’
In all the times he had asked to make love, she’d told him ‘later’ only a handful of
times and she’d never said no. Tonight she looked in askance at him.
“Kirara’s gonna pup-sit for us,” he whispered, answering her unspoken question.
“Ah, so that’s why she has two fish and looks like a cat that got into the cream,”
she answered, leaning back into him. “Good. You’ve been getting cranky.”
‘She said yes. Oh yeah, she said yes…’ Her hand touched his wrist and his elation
dimmed a little. ‘Yes but later. Damn. Well, I suppose it is a bit early…’
“I have to feed Yukio, and change him, and get him ready for the night. Then we
can go have our time. I know it’s been three days for you, but just wait a little longer.
Okay?” she explained.
He sighed. “Okay.”
She gave him a kiss that held a good deal of promise and he contented himself
with that for the time being.
:Leader-male.: “’Tou!” Yukio said, toddling over to him and plopping down into
his lap.
“Whaddya want, pup?” he asked, settling his son on his knee.
The pup smiled widely at him and opened his arms, letting his little body fall
against his father’s chest, big eyes sparkling up at him. He smiled back and rubbed
Yukio’s back.
“’Tou.” :Leader-male, new den?:
He shook his head. :No. Pack rests then moves.:
:Where pack?: the pup asked, causing Inuyasha to smile.
‘He knows some pack members are missing.’
:Home at den.:
:We home too?:
:When light comes, pack moves.:
Yukio nodded and looked around the camp from his place in his father’s lap, big
eyes casting about. He caught sight of Shippou and grinned.
“Ip-po.”
Shippou, hearing Yukio’s name for him, came over and sat on Inuyasha’s other
knee.
“Hey Yukio.”
Yukio gurgled and pushed himself towards the kit, half falling into Shippou’s
arms.
“Ip-po.” :Pack-brother.:
The kitsune hugged the pup and the adult hanyou put loose arms around them
both. Shippou had become the closest thing to a brother the pup had and he took his
responsibility of protecting Yukio very seriously.
‘He didn’t hesitate to blast me with fox fire today. If I’d been an enemy, he’d have
bought Kirara enough time to transform and attack.’
It helped that Yukio recognized and adored the fox kit. Actually, Yukio loved just
about everyone. He was the most open and affectionate pup Inuyasha had ever known.
‘Heh, that’s your mother’s influence there, pup.’
Yukio was hugs, kisses, nuzzles and little growls of welcome. He was rarely
cranky or moody unless you woke him up or interrupted him while he was eating. Mostly
he was a well-fed, happy, bubbly pup who brightened the mood of anyone he was around.
Inuyasha patted the heads of both pups in his lap and smiled at Shippou.
“You did good today, Shippou,” he said, praising the kit. “If I had been a real
enemy, you would have given Kirara enough time to get out and fight.”
Shippou blinked in surprise then smiled. It didn’t take a genius to know that the
kit saw him and Kagome as his adoptive family. He’d been with them even before
Miroku and Sango had joined the group, and even though they loved to mutually torment
each other, he and the kit were also fiercely protective of each other as well.
He remembered a night in a time that seemed so very long ago. It had been
shortly after Shippou had joined them, and he had teased the kit mercilessly about when
he was ‘going to go home.’ Kagome had gotten angry at his taunts and sat him a couple
of times, shutting him up. Late that night, however, he was awakened by Shippou’s
whimpering cries and he realized that the kit was having a nightmare. He’d heard the
words ‘Otou’ and ‘Hiten’ and little sobbing pleas of fear and grief. He’d crept over to
where the kit had curled up on top of Kagome’s ‘sleeping bag’ and gently woke him.
When the kit opened his eyes, he’d taken Shippou into his lap and soothed him.
“Manten and Hiten. I dreamed…” Shippou had sniffled, clutching his haori in his
fists.
“They’re dead now,” he’d assured him. “They can’t hurt you ever again.”
“You killed them. Thank you. You avenged my father. I… I was too small and
weak.”
“Feh, you did what you could, but you’re just a pup. Someday you’ll be bigger
and you’ll be able to protect yourself.”
Shippou had nodded. “But until then I’m alone and I have nowhere to go.”
“What do you mean?” he’d asked. “You’re with us now.”
“I can stay with you? But I thought…”
“Keh! It will never be said that I left a child helpless and abandoned. Besides,
Kagome can use someone other than me around. I’m not much company for her most
days.”
The kit had nodded. “You are a meanie most of the time,” he’d commented, but
he’d said it with a smile.
“So your job is to make Kagome happy, okay?”
“Okay.”
From that night on, no more was said about Shippou ‘going home’ and it was
tacitly agreed upon that he was now part of their group. He’d done his job well, regaling
Kagome with stories and kitsune magic, and the girl had loved him. In time, Inuyasha had
come to love him as well, and ever since Yukio had come into their lives, his paternal
feelings had bled over to the kit even more. He didn’t see Shippou as his own son, but he
did see the kitsune as a pack pup who needed protection and guidance. Now the kit was
returning the favor by looking after Yukio when his father had to fight.
Yukio giggled as Shippou used one of his kitsune tricks to mimic fireflies,
causing tiny blinking lights to flash all around the pup’s head. Yukio watched the
flashing lights, smiling, and tried to catch them in his pudgy hands. Every time he
managed to grab one it would disappear with a little ‘pop’ and a shower of sparks. The
display even made him laugh as he watched the two youngsters’ antics.
“Okay little man, it’s time for your dinner,” Kagome said, picking up Yukio.
“Kaa,” he burbled.
:Hungry?: she asked. It was a rhetorical question most of the time.
‘Keh, pup would rather nurse than sleep or breathe,’ he thought with amusement.
“Ya! Kaa! Oood.” :Hungry! Mother-female. Food!:
Kagome laughed at his baby talk and nuzzled him. Inuyasha took the opportunity
to drape his haori over her shoulders. She didn’t really need or use it anymore, but it was
their little ritual and it kept the garment smelling of her. She pulled it over the top of her
breasts as she gave the pup his nipple and cuddled him while he nursed.
‘Yeah, I wouldn’t want to be weaned if it meant I’d lose that either,’ he mused,
watching Kagome rock and sing softly to her son while he fed.
Of course he knew that weaning the pup wouldn’t mean he would lose the cuddles
or the songs or the lullabies or any of the other things Kagome did, but Yukio didn’t
understand that. And to be honest, nothing would ever replace the emotional satisfaction
a baby got from nursing, from knowing his mother fed and cared for him.
When he was finished nursing, she fed him his solid food of cooked fish, rice and
vegetables. It wasn’t all that different from the gruel they had first fed him except that it
didn’t have to be as soft. Inuyasha had started giving him meat in small pieces as well
when it was available. As a result of Yukio eating so much solid food, Kagome had
begun to make less and less milk and nursed him less frequently.
‘I almost feel bad for the whelp, but he has to be weaned sometime. He can’t
suckle forever. I’d give it another three months before he’s off the teat completely.’
He waited while Kagome finished feeding and changing Yukio then they sat
together by the fire. Kirara transformed into her full firecat form and acted as a
comfortable, purring pillow for both the pup and the kitsune kit, and not long after
snuggling into her soft fur both of them were sound asleep. Kagome covered them with a
blanket and tucked her scarf in next to Yukio so he would have her scent close by. Then
she gave him a come hither look and offered him her hand. He responded with a grin that
soon turned into a sexy smile, and took her offering, standing up and pulling her to him.
His heart pounded in his chest as he kissed her passionately, his senses going into
overload at the feel, smell and taste of her. Then he picked her up, gave Kirara a grateful
nod and carried his lover bridal-style off to a more private location.
‘Thanks, cat! I think this is the beginning of a beautiful arrangement.’
Morning found him one very happy and sated hanyou, and he once again thanked
Kirara for her cooperation. The firecat gave him an agreeing mew. From her perspective
it was probably easy work. She got extra fish and all she had to do was watch two
sleeping youngsters for a couple of hours. She got something she wanted, he got
something he really wanted, the pup and kit were supervised and protected, and everyone
was happy- mainly him. From his point of view, it was perfect.
They ate breakfast, broke camp and headed for home as fast as Inuyasha could go.
He wasn’t really in a terrible hurry to get back to the village, but he just loved the rush of
using his power and after his night with Kagome he was feeling very dominant. That and
he loved how his seemingly reckless jumps made Kagome cling to him. Her secret places
would brush up against his back and he could excite her if he arched his spine in just the
right way. He often wondered if she knew he was doing it deliberately, but if she did she
never said anything. However, she would be a very eager and willing partner after one of
those rides.
“Ooof! Don’t go so fast!” she cried as he leaped to the crown of another tree.
“What? I thought you wanted to get back to the village to ‘swim in the river and
spend the rest of the time in the den’?” he answered.
“I want to get there in one piece!”
Yukio giggled at the wind in his ears from his place in the carrier on Kagome’s
back.
“Heh! Pup loves it! Don’t be so nervous. I’ve never dropped you, have I?”
“N... no...” she stammered and gripped him more tightly.
He hitched his arms further under her thighs and pulled her tighter onto his back,
loving the feel of her legs wrapped around his hips.
“Do you want to ride up here on Kirara with me Kagome?” Shippou asked as the
firecat flew alongside them.
Inuyasha scowled and went faster. “Keh! You think I’ll let her go whelp!?”
“Inu-ya-ah-sh-a-a-a!” she cried.
He just laughed and jumped into the open air.
They stopped for lunch and a rest. When it was time to leave, Kagome refused to
ride him if he was going to run wild again so he promised to go a little slower. In truth, he
had a particular destination in mind that he wanted to get to before nightfall: a lovely
little spot near a hot spring, and his mad dash in the morning had brought them within
walking distance, so he was happy to take it easy. Besides, he needed to take care of the
evening’s dinner and water supply because the hot spring had no fishing stream nearby.
“You want a bath?” he asked her as they traveled at a sedate pace. In a way he
was glad they had slowed down because the summer sun had made it another hot,
sweltering day.
“A bath?” she asked, and he could hear her interest.
‘You and your hot baths,’ he thought fondly. ‘But I fully plan to get in there with
you so…’
“Yeah, remember that hot spring we passed on the way out here?”
“We’re going there?” she asked eagerly.
“Yeah, why do you think I was going so fast? We’ll make it before nightfall.”
She slid her arms around his shoulders and hugged him, making her breasts press
against his back, and kissed his cheek happily.
“You are so sweet and wonderful. I love you.”
‘I never get tired of hearing you say that.’
His body shivered in reaction to her closeness and in anticipation of taking a bath
with her.
“Keh, as well you should,” he teased. “I’m far better to you than any other man
has ever been.”
She hummed an agreement and hitched her legs higher on his hips, pressing her
soft spot right against his spine.
“Yes, and I’m better to you than any other woman has ever been,” she whispered
huskily.
Desire flooded through him, making his vision cloud for a moment, and he had to
stop for a few seconds to get his body under control before he embarrassed himself.
“That goes without saying,” he answered breathlessly.
Her small chuckle tickled the back of his neck and she rubbed her secret place
against his back deliberately. The scent of her arousal hit his nose mixed with the scent of
her heat.
‘Shit. She’s coming into heat.’
This was both a good thing and a bad thing. It was a good thing in that her heat
cycle increased her desire for him. Her body- ripe for a pup- made her want him and she
would be much more likely to initiate lovemaking. In fact, her sexual desire during her
heats was almost enough to wear him out, and some of their wildest joinings had
happened when she was in heat. She was also coming into it more regularly as she nursed
Yukio less and less, her body slowly returning to normal from its switch to lactating
female.
The bad thing was that he had to wear the stupid artificial sheaths. Kagome didn’t
trust the herbs the old woman had given her to prevent her from getting pregnant so she
made him wear the sheaths as an added precaution. She did promise, however, that he
could stop wearing them once it didn’t matter if the herbs didn’t work and she got
pregnant, which would be sometime after she turned nineteen and had graduated from
high school. He very much looked forward to that time.
Even though she got the ‘thin’ ones, the things still pinched and reduced the
sensations he felt. Still, wearing them was better than not being able to have her at all,
and if the reduced sensation caused him to last longer then that could be very pleasurable
as well. He found that he could hold back through her climaxes, and then be able to make
her build again without climaxing himself and having to pull out. It made for some very
long love making sessions where he would bring her to her peak repeatedly and keep
going after she’d stopped shuddering. The only trouble with them was that sometimes her
natural wetness would dry up, but she had stuff from her world that could replace it until
her body replenished itself.
‘But did she bring the stuff with us?’
If there were no sheaths, they couldn’t make love and he didn’t like the thought of
that.
“Do we have those sheaths with us?” he asked softly, not wanting Shippou to hear
them.
“The condoms?” she answered just as softly.
“Yeah, those things.”
“Am I?...”
He nodded. “Yeah.”
“I think we have a package in my bag.”
He practically sighed with relief. ‘Oh good…’
“Good.”
She giggled. “Why? Do you have plans that involve using them?”
“You keep rubbing against me and I’ll use them right here under these trees, and I
won’t care if we have an audience.”
“Horny dog, and after last night too.”
“Keh, you think one night will sate me after not having you for three days?”
“You’re never sated.”
“Heh, your fault.”
She snuggled into his shoulder. “I know.”
Smiling to himself, he picked up the pace a little. He took them to a place he
hoped was full of small game. It was a clearing in the forest covered in tall grass and it
looked like a perfect place to hunt rabbits and ground birds. He put Kagome and Yukio
down and told her to fill up their water containers in a nearby stream, then he, Kirara and
Shippou hunted in the meadow.
They caught four rabbits and two ground birds, and Shippou found a patch of
flavorful mushrooms. Kagome could mix the meat and mushrooms with some of her
instant food and make a nice stew. It could cook on the fire that evening while Kagome
was taking her bath.
Dinner secured, Kagome got onto his back again and they headed for the hot
springs. They arrived at dusk with plenty of time to set up camp and for Kagome to start
dinner before it became full dark. Once the camp was ready, Kagome excused herself to
bathe.
“And where do you think you’re going?” he asked Shippou when the kit moved to
follow Kagome to the spring.
“I’m gonna go take a bath with Kagome,” the kitsune answered.
“No you’re not. I’m going to go take a bath with Kagome. You can go in after I
come back.”
Shippou gave him a knowing look. “You’re not going there to take a bath.”
Without Kagome there to stop him, he bopped the kit on the head. “Oi. Mind your
own business.”
“Whaah! I’m telling Kagome!”
“Fine, go ahead. After I get back from the bath. In the meantime, watch Yukio
and the stew.”
“You take too long and I’ll eat it all without you and not save you any!” Shippou
threatened.
He snorted and followed Kagome. He found her already naked and in the water,
her hair put up in a messy bun on her head. Smiling, he stripped and slipped in,
embracing her from behind and kissing her neck.
“Mmmm. I think I’ve caught a water tennyo. Legends say a man who catches a
water tennyo is granted his every wish,” he purred in her ear.
“Mmmm-hmmmm,” she sighed, turning in his embrace and straddling him. “And
what is your wish?”
He pulled her closer, growling softly. “You know what I wish.”
“Well, since you’ve caught me, your wish is my command,” she replied coyly.
He stroked her sides and licked the hollow of her throat. “Ooo, I like the sound of
that.”
She laughed softly. “I’m sure you do.”
“Where’s that damn sheath?”
“Over there,” she replied, pointing in the direction of her bathing supplies. A
familiar little packet lay beside them. “But we don’t need it right now, do we?”
He picked her up and laid her down on the bank of the spring, his hips between
her legs as he leaned over her, licking and caressing.
“Soon.”
She moaned and gave herself over to him, her arms coming up to stroke his back
and tangle in his hair.
He could never get enough of her: her body, her scent, the sound of her voice,
everything about her. Every time they made love he was humbled by her trust in him.
Each time he asked to have her, he half expected her to refuse him. He kept waiting for
her to come to her senses and realize that he was a lowly hanyou who was unworthy of
her, but she always welcomed him into her bed and her body with joy and love. Even
now when he fumbled in his need and haste, she only giggled and asked him what his
hurry was.
‘I still don’t deserve you. I don’t think I ever will. What half-breed deserves a
woman like you? You are my tennyo. A tennyo of love who came to heal my broken heart.
I do love you Kagome. I do. I love you so much. And someday I’ll build you a house and
live in it with you for as long as we both shall live.’
Their joining did take a little longer because of the sheath, but his urgency and
need from being denied her for three days made up for it, and he reached his peak at the
same time she did.
Afterwards, she took the sheath off of him, rinsed it out and put it in her bag.
Anything that wouldn’t rot in the ground, she always brought back to her world to
dispose of so she wouldn’t pollute his time. Looking at the sheath, he once again
marveled at its effectiveness and the simplicity of the design.
Kagome had once bought a ‘variety pack’ just for fun and showed him the
different shapes the sheaths could come in. There was one with soft spikes while another
had ridges and still another had little bumps all over it. She had explained that the shapes
were meant to increase a woman’s pleasure. He’d snorted and said it wasn’t the woman
who needed help to increase pleasure, but the man who was wearing the damn thing.
Still, they’d tried the one with the spikes just to see what would happen. While he’d hated
it because it was much thicker than their normal kind, her reaction had been…
interesting. They’d never used them again because he couldn’t climax while wearing
them, but he often wished that their thin kind had come in the different shapes just to see
her react that way again.
“I should wash and head back. Shippou wanted to bathe with you,” he said as they
slipped back into the warm water.
“Mmmm, okay. I think I’ll soak a bit.”
He kissed her, chuckling. “I knew you would.”
She gave him a sweet smile. “You know me so well. Thank you for remembering
this place and bringing us here.”
He smiled back and nuzzled her. “Thank you for being with me.”
“I love being with you.”
‘I love being with you too, my Kagome.’ He sighed and kissed her again, before
dunking his head under the water to wet his hair.
Kagome had ‘shampoo’ covered hands when he came up and she scrubbed his
hair, using the pads of her fingers to rub his scalp the way he liked. When his hair was
clean he rinsed it and washed his body, refusing to let her do it because he knew they
didn’t really have time to make love again.
“What took you so long? Yukio almost went after you,” Shippou complained
when he got back to camp.
Yukio was sitting next to Kirara in her full firecat form and looking rather put out.
“’Tou!” he cried when he saw his father.
“My hair takes a long time to wash,” he answered neutrally, staring the kit down.
“I’m going now,” Shippou said.
He nodded and sat down next to Kirara, pulling the pup into his lap.
“’Tou,” he sniffled, sucking his thumb. :Leader-male. You went away.:
“Pup,” he answered, rubbing Yukio’s ears. :I always come back.:
“Kaa?” :Mother-female?:
“She’ll be here soon. She is washing.”
The pup looked like he was going to start fussing so he decided to distract him.
“Here,” he said, giving the pup a rock he’d fished from the hot spring.
Yukio grabbed it with both hands and started gnawing on it happily. He smiled
and shook his head.
‘Rips up Kagome’s toys but give him a rock and he’s happy.’
Kagome returned with Shippou a short time later and they had dinner. Afterwards
they settled down for the night and cuddled up in Kagome’s large two-person sleeping
bag with Yukio between them, Shippou sleeping at Kagome’s head and Kirara curled at
their feet.
In the morning they finished the trip back to the village and arrived by midafternoon. After checking in with Sango, Miroku and Kaede, and leaving Shippou with
the miko so he could help her separate herbs, he and Kagome headed for the den. The day
was proving to be another scorcher and they were eager to escape into the coolness of the
forest.
He caught the unfamiliar yet familiar scent before they’d even reached the
hillside, and all his senses went on full alert.
‘I know this scent…’
He hadn’t smelled it in almost a year, but he knew it right away.
“What is it?” Kagome asked him as she took his hand.
“We have a visitor,” he answered.
“Huh?”
They cleared a set of trees and the mound that held their den came into view.
Sitting on top of it, playing with a bunch of picked flowers, was a little human girl they
knew all too well. Kagome gasped and stopped in her tracks, but Rin saw her and offered
a huge happy smile of welcome.
“Kagome-sama! Inuyasha-sama! Rin is so glad to see you. Sesshoumaru-sama
said to wait right here for you and here you are!”
Chapter Twenty-Two
“Rin-chan,” Kagome greeted, going to the little girl.
Rin hopped down from the top of the small hill and met her at the bottom.
“Rin picked flowers for Kagome-sama,” she said, offering the bouquet of
wildflowers.
Kagome accepted them and put them to her nose. “Thank you, Rin. They’re
lovely.”
“Where is he?” he demanded, going over to them. “Where’s my brother?”
‘He has to be around here somewhere. His scent is fresh…’
“Sesshoumaru-sama brought Rin here then he went away. Rin is to stay with you
until Sesshoumaru-sama comes for her.”
‘Huh? He dropped the kid off with us? What the fuck is that all about?’
“Oooooh, who is that?” Rin asked as Kagome took Yukio out of the carrier on her
back.
Kagome cast him a knowing glance as they both realized the potential danger.
‘That damn wolf is one thing. Sesshoumaru is another. If he tries to take the
pup…’
His hand gripped Tessaiga tightly, his senses on full alert and he placed himself in
a defensive position.
He saw Kagome sit down next to Rin with Yukio in her lap. Her face calm, but
her body tense.
‘She’s trying not to upset the pup or the girl.’
“This is Yukio.”
Rin giggled. “He looks just like Inuyasha-sama!”
“Yes, he does. That’s because he’s an inu-hanyou, just like Inuyasha.”
“Is he your baby, Kagome-sama?”
Kagome smiled and shook her head. “No. Yukio is an orphan, but Inuyasha and I
have adopted him.”
“Oooo! Like Sesshoumaru-sama and Rin. Rin is an orphan too…” Her little face
grew sad and forlorn. “Bandits killed Rin’s family. She was all alone until she found
Sesshoumaru-sama in the forest.”
Kagome nodded. “Rin-chan, do you know why Sesshoumaru-sama brought you
here?”
The little girl nodded, her dark eyes wide with fear. “Sesshoumaru-sama said Rin
would be safe here. Bad people are trying to take Sesshoumaru-sama’s land away.”
‘So someone is threatening the Western Lands, eh? That’s why he brought the
whelp here. To get her out of the battle zone.’
“Bad people?” Kagome repeated.
Rin nodded. “But Sesshoumaru-sama is great and powerful. He will defeat them
and come back for me.”
‘I wonder who’d be stupid enough to attack him in his own kingdom. Those damn
neko-youkai said they’d go back where they came from and not return. Maybe they
changed their minds.’
“Sesshoumaru-sama was bringing Rin to Inuyasha-sama’s village, but then he
brought Rin here instead.”
“He probably smelled the den. Our scents are all over this place,” he explained.
‘Would our scents be enough to cover the pup’s? His scent is still faint. Sesshoumaru
wouldn’t lower himself to crawl into a den and we haven’t been here for five days. He
might not have smelled him.’
“How long have you been waiting for us, Rin?” Kagome asked, casting him a
glance.
He shook his head slightly, silently telling her that he didn’t sense his brother
nearby.
“Rin has been here since this morning.”
‘Shit. He has to be close by. There is no way he would just leave her here and not
make sure she was with us. But where the fuck is he?’
The wind shifted and he caught the scent almost too late. He whirled around and
nearly drew Tessaiga as the figure of his half-brother came into view.
“Inuyasha. It is fitting for a half-breed such as yourself to live in a hole in the
ground,” his elder brother commented disdainfully. “This place reeks of you and the
human female. Did the villagers finally come to their senses and cast you out?”
“Keh! This is where we come to get away from them!” he countered. ‘Still an
arrogant asshole.’
Sesshoumaru’s eyes fell on Yukio and the cold gaze froze him to the core. He saw
Kagome clutch the pup close, her own eyes full of worry and fear.
“What is that?” the inu-youkai asked in a hard voice.
He drew Tessaiga and brandished it, ignoring Rin’s scream.
“You stay away from them.”
“So… the half-breed has taken a mate. I am surprised a miko of her power
lowered herself to breed with you.”
“Hey! I’m not lowering myself,” Kagome snapped back indignantly.
‘I love the girl’s guts, but she never did know when to back down. Then again,
she’s always stood up to Sesshoumaru and he’s never killed her…’
He saw Sesshoumaru take a deep sniff and narrow his eyes.
“The whelp is not yours.” It was a statement, not a question.
“What’s it to you?” he demanded, still brandishing his sword in front of him, the
blade turned with the cutting edge towards his brother.
“Human. Bring the whelp to me,” Sesshoumaru ordered.
Kagome hesitated, then moved to stand up.
“Kagome, stay where you are,” he warned.
“Fool. This Sesshoumaru would never dishonor himself by harming a helpless
pup. Woman, bring me the pup.”
He saw Kagome swallow and nod, walking towards them carrying Yukio.
“Kagome…”
“It’s okay Inuyasha. I don’t think he wants to hurt Yukio,” she countered softly,
although her voice betrayed her uncertainty.
“Wise girl. Let me see him.”
Sheathing Tessaiga, he stood close to Kagome’s shoulder, glaring as she offered
his brother the pup. Yukio looked frightened and he started to fret.
:Be still,: he heard Kagome tell him in inu-youkai and he saw Sesshoumaru’s eyes
widen a fraction.
“It’s okay, Yukio. This is Sesshoumaru-sama. He’s Otou’s brother.” :Leadermale. Pack brother.:
Yukio turned wide eyes to Sesshoumaru and did not look convinced.
:Mother-female. Scared.:
“You’re safe. Kaa-san and Otou won’t let anything happen to you,” she promised,
placing the pup into Sesshoumaru’s outstretched arm.
“Kaa!” Yukio protested, reaching for his mother. :Mother-female! Motherfemale!: “KAA!”
:SILENCE,: Sesshoumaru commanded and the pup went limp in submission,
whimpering as he was gripped by the back of his shirt and lifted up for the inu-youkai’s
critical inspection.
His heart spasmed to see his pup so roughly treated, and all his nerve endings
stood poised on the edge of action, ready to fight for his family if need be. He waited as
Sesshoumaru sniffed the pup a few times and slowly looked him over, his face never
once straying from its cold, emotionless expression. Yukio stayed limp, but his eyes were
terrified, like those of a rabbit caught in a wolf’s jaws. He gritted his teeth and gripped
Tessaiga’s hilt.
‘That’s enough. Poor pup’s scared out of his wits.’
“Okay, you’ve seen him. Now give the pup back to Kagome,” he growled.
“This Sesshoumaru knows the whelp’s sire,” Sesshoumaru said, dropping the pup
unceremoniously back into Kagome’s waiting hands. Yukio sniffled and grabbed his
mother, clinging to her desperately.
He breathed a sigh of relief once Kagome had the pup again, and he was able to
turn his attention to what his brother had said.
“You did? Who was he?” he asked.
“He was a general of our father’s. He fought beside Chichi-ue during the first
neko-youkai war.”
‘One of Oyaji’s generals…’
“He was gravely wounded in the battle and suffered the loss of an arm.”
“Keh! What is it with you youkai that you can’t seem to keep your arms?”
“You would be wise to hold your tongue, hanyou, or I will teach you what it is
like to lose a limb.”
“I’d like to see you try,” he countered.
“Inuyasha…” Kagome warned.
‘Heh. She won’t sit me in front of Sesshoumaru. She’d never humiliate me that
way.’
“Stay out of this, Kagome,” he answered.
As usual she ignored him and addressed Sesshoumaru.
“I’m sorry to tell you, but your father’s general is dead. This pup’s mother
brought him here when she herself was gravely wounded after her mate was killed.
Before she died, she told us her mate had given her instructions to come here if anything
ever happened to him,” she said calmly.
“The life of one willing to lower himself to mate with a human is no concern of
mine.”
‘Still singing that tune when you’ve got your own human whelp that you defend
viciously with one breath and deny caring about the next.’
“Rin told us you were bringing her here because there is trouble in the Western
Lands,” she commented.
“I must return immediately to handle the situation,” Sesshoumaru confirmed.
“Those damn cats again? I’ll come with you and help you send them running back
to where they came from,” he offered.
‘He’ll say no, but I’ll have done my ‘duty’ and made the offer...’
“This Sesshoumaru does not need the help of a hanyou to deal with insurgents.”
“So it’s not the neko-youkai,” Kagome commented.
“No. It is a human army amassed by a fool to ‘free’ the humans living in the
Western Lands from their demon master.”
‘So it’s humans. Normally Sesshoumaru wouldn’t bother with them, but if they’re
stupid enough to go after him… Sesshoumaru won’t go looking for a fight, but he won’t
run away from one either. Fools are all going to die.’
“I am sure this person is just misguided. I can’t imagine that you would be a bad
leader. I hear nothing but good things about the Western Lands,” Kagome replied.
“His reasons are of no importance. I will defeat him as a matter of course.”
“Keh! If it’s just lowly humans, why bring your whelp here for us to protect?” he
scoffed.
“I have reason to believe that not all of my subjects are trustworthy and Rin is an
obvious target. I bring her to you because I believe even you can handle the simple task
of watching a human child.”
He growled, bristling. “Why you…”
“We’ll keep her safe, Sesshoumaru-sama. You don’t need to worry about her,”
Kagome assured him.
“I am not concerned for her welfare.”
‘Yeah, right, sure you aren’t. That’s why Naraku was able to use her against you
twice.’
Sesshoumaru turned to go. “I will return for Rin once I have dealt with these
fools.”
“Don’t forget to come back for Rin, Sesshoumaru-sama,” the little girl reminded.
His brother didn’t answer as he walked away. He was just letting himself relax
when Kagome, still holding Yukio, rushed after him.
“Umm, Sesshoumaru-sama,” she called.
‘What the fuck is she up to?’
The inu-youkai paused but did not turn around.
“I… Inu… Inuyasha’s told me about how you came for him after his mother died,
and how you protected him until he was strong enough to fend for himself. I wanted to
thank you for doing that. Without you to watch out for him, he surely would have died.”
‘What the fuck? What the hell is she thanking him for?!’
Sesshoumaru turned his head to look at her through one eye over his shoulder.
“I did no more than my duty as the eldest son. It will never be said that this
Sesshoumaru was so dishonorable as to deny his responsibilities.”
The inu-youkai then left without another word. Inuyasha snorted and kicked dirt
in the direction his elder brother had gone.
“Did his duty as eldest son,” he spat disdainfully. “Oi, Kagome, what did you
thank him for?”
She was still staring in the direction Sesshoumaru had gone, a thoughtful look on
her face. Yukio was watching too, his little hands tangled in his mother’s shirt, but his
eyes looking off into the forest.
“Well, he did save you, didn’t he? If he hadn’t come to get you, your mother’s
relatives would have let you starve, right?”
“Keh! You think I was such a weakling that I wouldn’t have survived?” he
snapped back.
“No, but your chances greatly improved after he came for you. In any case, he did
come for you and he did protect you, and that’s more than your mother’s family did. I felt
it deserved acknowledgement, because I’m grateful to him.”
‘Huh?’
“Grateful? Why?”
She reached over and took his hand. “Because it meant you grew up and lived to
meet me.”
He softened and nuzzled her and the pup tenderly. “Well, there is that. I guess.
But don’t think he did it out of any affection he had for me.”
“I’m not so sure about that. For a moment when he was holding Yukio, I saw
something I thought might be regret.”
“Keh. You must have been imagining things.”
She shrugged and didn’t look convinced, but said nothing more and turned to Rin.
He took a moment to look back in the direction his brother had gone, his brow furrowed.
‘Regret, huh? Nah. Woman must have been imagining things. The great
Sesshoumaru regrets nothing.’
********
‘She thanked me. The human woman thanked me for doing nothing more than my
duty. It’s all I have ever done. Protecting that half-breed whelp from getting himself
killed. She’s learned inu-youkai as well. She spoke it to the pup to calm him.’
He paused, remembering how she had approached him. She had been afraid for
her pup and uncertain, but brave. He had no doubt that both of them would have proven
formidable opponents if he had meant ill-will. He knew all too well how ferociously a
mother could defend her offspring. His own mother had died defending him from a
dragon, and he remembered that terrible day very well. The look in her eyes was the same
one his brother’s woman had had in hers when she thought he might be a danger to the
pup.
‘Interesting. She is strong. Strong enough for my brother, and she tempers his
stupidity.’
The thought struck him as odd and he shoved it away.
‘It is none of my concern.’
He moved to walk on, but stopped again, his brow furrowed.
‘So Imaichiromaru is dead. Died defending a weak human female and his halfbreed whelp. Fool. He should have killed the pup at birth.’
A pang struck his heart as he remembered the pup his brother now cared for. He
had looked disturbingly similar to another inu-hanyou whelp that had been presented to
him as a squalling infant.
“Sesshoumaru, my heir, this is your younger brother Inuyasha.”
“But Chichi-ue, he is a hanyou.”
“Silence. He is your brother. If anything ever happens to me, you must do your
duty as my eldest son and protect him.”
Later he would see the whelp again, after it had been orphaned. Word had come
to him of Izayoi’s death and he had traveled to see to the well-being of his brother,
because it was his duty as eldest son and his father’s wish. He had found the half-breed
whelp sealed in a root cellar; kept in the dark like a caged animal. Inuyasha had been
filthy and starved, and he would never forget the sight of the wan face that peered up at
him from the dank dirt; hope, recognition and fear in the golden eyes.
“Aniki,” the whelp had said to him in a faint voice, eyes squinting in the sudden
light.
He had been struck with such rage at his brother’s condition that he’d slaughtered
the priest who had set the seals and two of the guards. Then he had taken the starving
half-breed with him, dragging the whelp to the nearest lake and throwing him in.
“Bathe and get rid of your horrid stink,” he had ordered the shivering child.
Inuyasha had obeyed without protest and followed him without a word
afterwards. Later, knowing the whelp was too weak to hunt on his own he had tossed him
a dead rabbit.
“Aniki, it’s raw.”
“That is no concern of mine. If you want your food cooked like a human’s, build a
fire and cook it yourself.”
“I don’t know how.”
“It is not my responsibility to teach you.”
Seeing the inu-hanyou pup in the human woman’s arms had brought back a lot of
his feelings of shame and regret at his treatment of his own brother. There had been a
time when the hanyou had worshipped him, looking up to him with trusting and adoring
eyes, and had followed him everywhere. It had irritated him to be shadowed by the halfbreed whelp, and he had made certain that it didn’t take long for him to figure out that his
brother held nothing for him but distain.
“Aniki, why do you hate me?”
“Because you are a hanyou, a filthy half-breed who is beneath me.”
“Chichi-ue and Haha-ue loved me.”
“Chichi-ue and his human wench are dead. I am all you have now until you can
fend for yourself. Get used to it.”
“If you hate me, why did you come for me and take me with you?”
“Because it is my duty as Chichi-ue’s eldest son and heir. Chichi-ue should have
drowned you at birth. Instead he risked his life to save you and that human bitch from
death. Neither of you deserved to live! But you are my brother and I am honor bound to
protect you. Expect nothing else from me.”
He had been cruel. Unnecessarily so, and he realized that now. At the time, he had
been filled with resentment and hate, and his own grief at the loss of his father. He had
taken it out on the child. He remembered well the beatings and scruffings he had given
his brother, and on rare occasions the ultimate humiliation of all: a human spanking
administered to the whelp’s bare backside. In the beginning, Inuyasha would beg and cry,
but then one day he stopped crying and never cried again.
On that day he knew he had broken something inside of the child, something that
could never be repaired or forgiven. Hanyou, filthy half-breed whelp, Inuyasha might
have been, but he was still their father’s son, and he had made an enemy of a potentially
powerful ally. The Leader of the Dogs’ blood ran in Inuyasha’s veins and it had bred true.
For a hanyou, Inuyasha would be strong. He saw that in the whelp’s unbreakable
determination to live, and he had often wondered when his abuse of the child would come
back to haunt him.
It had been disgraceful of him to treat the whelp so harshly and unbefitting of a
taiyoukai such as himself, but by the time he had realized the error of his ways, it was too
late and the damage had been done. Inuyasha had well and truly hated him by then, and
their decades-long battle of wills had begun.
‘It was better that way. He left as soon as he was able to fend for himself. It was
good that I no longer had to look at our father’s half-breed disgrace.’
The disgrace their father had bequeathed the famed Tessaiga.
For years he had gnashed his teeth and railed at the injustice of his father’s choice
to give his lowly hanyou sibling the famous sword, that and the fact that his father had
not entrusted him with the location of his grave. He had thought to force his father’s hand
and claim the sword for himself, only to be rejected by the sword and struck down by his
father’s own fang. The humiliation of his loss to his half-breed brother had made him
seethe and roil with indignant rage, and he had vowed to wield Tessaiga even if he had to
kill Inuyasha to do it.
It wasn’t until Naraku’s detachment broke the sword, that he would learn
Tessaiga’s true purpose. Now he would not dream of taking the sealing sword from
Inuyasha, if only to prevent other taiyoukai from learning the secret shame of the
hanyou’s wild youkai blood.
‘The dishonor he has brought to our family. Chichi-ue was right to give Tessaiga
to that half-breed.’
In its sheath Tenseiga pulsed once, reminding him of its presence, and he touched
the familiar hilt with his hand.
‘Tenseiga, you are talking to me much more. This Sesshoumaru is only beginning
to understand the things Chichi-ue was trying tell me.’
He looked at both of his swords. Toukijin, forged from the teeth of the oni that
broke Tessaiga, able to kill with its kenatsu alone, and Tenseiga, forged from Chichi-ue’s
fang, blade of healing that was able to revive those gone to the next world.
‘Life and death in my hand. Heavy burdens both and I can only hope to be worthy
of Chichi-ue’s favor.’
Tenseiga pulsed again, the power surging into his hand.
‘You are telling me to go back, are you not. Go back to the Western Lands to
defend and protect those who live there. This is the duty of the Lord of the Western
Lands. Whether the threat is youkai or human, both must be dealt with the same. Even
Chichi-ue, with his fondness for humans, would agree.’
He moved again, gathering his thoughts together.
‘I must go return order and rout this human rabble who dares to oppose me.
When they squabble and battle amongst themselves, it is no concern of mine, but when
they bring the stench of death and blood to my ancestral home, and bribe my servants to
betray me and conspire to take Rin, I have no choice but to answer in kind.’
He looked to the sky, frowning. ‘I do not want to fight humans. They are weak
and fragile things not worthy of my attention, but their insult cannot go ignored.’
Breathing deeply, he called his power and surrounded himself with a ball of light.
‘Besides, Rin cannot come home until I have made it safe for her to do so.’
It was his last thought before he took to the air and streaked off towards the
Western horizon.
********
“Kohaku!” Rin exclaimed and threw herself at the shocked boy.
“Rin,” Kohaku said in his soft voice, placing his hands on the girl’s shoulders.
“Rin is so glad to see you!” she said and hugged the boy tight.
Something akin to happiness came into Kohaku’s eyes and he saw Kagome smile.
‘Keh! Kid might be just what that boy needs right now.’
“Heh, I think they’ll be good for each other,” he commented beside her.
She turned to him and smiled. “I was just thinking the same thing. Kohaku is so
quiet and alone. I know he is tormented by his memories and blames himself for the
death of so many. None of us have any real time for him. You and I are busy looking for
shards and caring for Yukio, and Sango and Miroku are busy taking care of their
daughter. Maybe someone who can give all of her time to him is exactly what Kohaku
needs right now.”
He nodded. “She’ll have someone to distract her from thinking about my brother,
and he’ll have someone to keep him from sitting around and brooding all damn day.”
“A match made in heaven. Besides, it’s obvious that Rin has forgiven Kohaku for
trying to kill her. She did beg Sesshoumaru to save his life when Naraku ripped out his
Shikon shard.”
“And my cold-hearted brother did it. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?”
She shook her head. “No. Sesshoumaru isn’t as cold and unfeeling as he’d like us
to think he is. He tries hard to hide it, but he cares a lot more than I think even he is
comfortable with. The very fact that he can use Tenseiga is proof enough that his heart is
good.”
“Keh! I still don’t know how he managed that.”
“Your father knew his sons very well. He knew Sesshoumaru had a good heart,
but to wield Tenseiga he had to learn how to use it. And he knew you would be
compassionate enough to handle Tessaiga wisely, because you have the bigger heart and
have love for humans,” she replied.
“I don’t love humans!” he protested. ‘Well… maybe one or two…’
She smiled coyly and kissed him. “Yes, you do.”
He growled at her but she just snickered and handed him his son.
“Watch Yukio for a while? I’m going to see if Sango needs any help.”
She was gone before he could voice his disapproval. ‘Damn wench, running off
again. You’d think she’d never seen a pup before. She’s got one right here, and he’s
cuter.’
“Kaa,” Yukio whined mournfully, reaching out one hand in the direction Kagome
had gone. :Mother-female.:
“Heh, you’re with Oyaji now, pup.”
Yukio turned big watery eyes his way. :Mother-female gone.:
“No. She’s right here in the village. Nose her out,” he said, tapping his nose then
Yukio’s. :Mother-female with pack. Scent still here.:
He saw the pup sniff the air. :Mother-female scent.:
He nodded. :Mother-female busy with pack-female. Pup stay with leader-male.:
:Mother-female with pack-sister?:
“Yeah. She’s with the new pup.”
:Where pack-brother?: “Ip-po?”
He chuckled. “Shippou is with the old woman. Let’s go see what Kaede-babaa is
up to.”
“’K,” Yukio answered, chewing on his fist.
Turning, he headed for the miko’s hut, Yukio balanced on one arm and looking
around at everything. The pup was beginning to recognize home and specific places. He
knew the den, Kaede’s hut, and Sango and Miroku’s hut, and he knew the village was a
large above ground den that housed the whole pack.
They found the old miko tending her garden.
“Oi, Kaede-babaa,” he greeted, hopping up onto her fence.
“Inuyasha,” Kaede replied, pulling out some weeds and placing them in a basket.
“Babaa,” Yukio burbled, repeating his father.
“Agh! No! If Kagome hears you say that, she’ll sit me into oblivion!” he gasped.
Kaede just chuckled. Yukio looked at the woman and smiled. He was learning
that laughter meant he had done something pleasing.
“No! Don’t laugh!”
“Babaa,” the pup burbled again, giggling.
“Urk!”
“He becomes more like his father every day, Inuyasha,” Kaede teased, still
chuckling.
“Oi! Watch it! And stop laughing, you’re only encouraging him!”
“Babaa! Babaa! Babaa!”
“Argh! Shut up!” he yelled, scruffing the pup.
Yukio’s eyes went wide with surprise and hurt, but he submitted immediately like
he always did and groveled.
:Sorry. Sorry. Sorry!:
‘Awww, shit…’
He released the pup’s neck and cuddled him.
“I’m sorry too, pup.” :Sorry.:
:Sorry. Sorry. Pup good. Sorry!:
Yukio’s little whimpers made him feel awful for losing his temper, and he
nuzzled the pup, patting his back.
:Forgiven.: “Kaa-san should come and sit Oyaji. Oyaji deserves it.”
He looked up from comforting his son to see the old woman staring at him with
eyes that bore into his soul.
“What are you looking at?” he snorted.
Kaede smiled softly. “You make a good father, Inuyasha.”
“Feh!”
The old miko just shook her head and returned to her weeding.
“Where’s Shippou?”
“I sent him off to play with some of the village children. Where is Kagome?”
He sighed and hopped off the fence, coming to sit cross-legged by the old woman
with Yukio in his lap. The pup was still clingy and uncertain.
“She’s helping Sango,” he said with a forlorn sigh.
Kaede nodded. “The young taijiya is finding motherhood a challenge. She has not
the inherent patience Kagome possesses and the demands of an infant are taxing to her.”
He scoffed. “Especially human pups. They’re loud and cry all night. Inu-youkai
pups are much better behaved.”
Kaede just smiled knowingly. “What do you expect from a ‘beet-faced piglet?’”
“I didn’t mean it as an insult,” he said defensively.
“I know.”
They fell quiet for a while. Kaede weeded and he sat watching her. He gave
Yukio some of the flowers Kaede had taken out of the garden, and the pup busied himself
with ripping them up and seeing if they were edible. Inuyasha knew from experience that
they were, but horribly bitter.
“Pleh,” Yukio coughed, spitting the flowers out and scraping his tongue with his
teeth. “Pleh. Pleh. Pleh.”
“No good, huh pup?”
“Pleh.”
He patted the pup’s back as he spit out the rest of it.
“That’ll teach you. You won’t eat that again.”
“He does learn quickly,” Kaede commented.
Inuyasha beamed with pride. “He’s a smart one.”
Kaede nodded. “Smarter than his father.”
“Oi! What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing,” the miko replied innocently, handing Yukio a sweet root for him to
chew on. The pup munched on it happily.
He growled softly in irritation but Kaede ignored him, and they fell silent again.
“Kaede…” he began, feeling safe enough that Kagome was out of hearing
distance to bring up the subject. “No one has heard or seen Kikyou in a very long time.
Do you think something has happened to her?”
The old woman paused a moment, then resumed her weeding. “The one who
would know that is Kagome.”
“Kagome? Why? How?”
“If Kikyou-onee-sama had left this world, the part of her soul that belongs to
Kagome would return to her. Kagome could not help but feel it if it happened. If Kagome
has not felt my sister’s passing, then it is safe to assume that Kikyou-onee-sama remains
walking on this plane,” she explained.
He blinked, thinking. “Would Kagome tell me such a thing?”
Kaede gave him a tolerant look that made him feel sheepish for even asking such
an obviously stupid question.
‘Of course she would tell you, you idiot. She wouldn’t keep something like that
from you.’
“It is doubtful that Kagome would keep something like that from you, Inuyasha.
Indeed, I don’t think she could,” the old woman said, as if she could read and give voice
to his thoughts.
“But if Kikyou is still alive, why hasn’t she come to see me? She usually appears
once every few weeks, but it has been many months since her last visit.”
“Do you miss her, Inuyasha?” Kaede asked leadingly.
“No,” he answered immediately. “But I am… concerned.”
‘And if Kikyou is not around then nothing can be resolved…’
“It is as I said before. Kikyou-onee-sama is not here.”
“Do you think she has gone on without me?”
He was surprised by how hurt he was by the idea that Kikyou might have left him
without ever saying anything.
‘You would think I would at least deserve her coming to tell me something instead
of just disappearing and making me worry.’
“I cannot begin to know what my sister’s intentions are, and that is the source of
my primary worry.”
“Bah! I told you before, Kikyou is different now. Kagome healed her.”
“I believe you. Kagome is a remarkable child.”
‘She’s not a child anymore, but yes, she is more remarkable than you will ever
know, babaa.’
“Still, it would be better if we heard from her so we would know her whereabouts
and actions, ne?” she added.
“Yes, and I would like to speak with her as well.”
Kaede gave him a knowing look. “Have you decided what you are going to do?”
He nodded. “Ultimately the decision is Kikyou’s, but I have decided to choose
Kagome if I can.”
“And if you cannot? If my sister will not release her claim on you, what then?”
“I will beg her to let me live until Kagome comes to the end of her mortal life.
Kikyou is immortal and I will outlive Kagome by many centuries. I will ask her to wait
so that I may fulfill my promise to Kagome and our pup,” he replied.
‘It is the best I can do. And if Kikyou says no… I don’t know what I’ll do. I don’t
want to go with her, and it would mean my having to abandon Kagome and the pup. I… I
don’t think I can do that. Would my Kikyou, the one I loved, even ask such a thing of
me?’
Kaede nodded and wisely dropped the subject.
“How long will Rin be staying with us?” she asked.
“Keh! Hell if I know. Until my lord brother returns for her. Apparently, there’s a
human army after the Western Lands.”
“I have heard rumors that tell of this.”
‘Hmmm, and I haven’t. I wonder if this army actually poses a threat to
Sesshoumaru and our father’s kingdom.’
He didn’t like the way the thought made him feel.
‘Maybe I should have gone with him… No, I can’t leave Kagome and the pup.
Besides if he needs help, I know he’ll ask for it. He sent Jaken to fetch me when the cats
came back fifty years ago. It was how he found out that I had been sealed.’
“They’re fools. Sesshoumaru cares nothing for humans. They’re all going to die.”
“If that is so, why did he bring the child here for you to protect?” the old woman
asked wisely.
“How the Hell should I know? He says he doesn’t care about the girl, yet he
swore vengeance when Naraku tried to use her against him, and I know he saved her life
with Tenseiga. She said so when she begged my brother for Kohaku’s life. Why he would
do that is beyond me. Sesshoumaru has always hated humans.”
Kaede chuckled. “Perhaps your brother is discovering that he is more like his
father than he would care to admit.”
“Feh. I’ll let you be the one to tell him that, babaa. That way you’ll get slapped
with his youki whip and not me.”
“Hmmmm.”
Just then both he and Yukio caught Kagome’s scent coming towards them and
turned to face the direction she was coming from.
“Kaa,” Yukio burbled.
:Yes, mother-female comes.:
She came into view and Yukio squealed a greeting. Inuyasha let him go when he
struggled to get out of his lap, and he toddled over to grab his mother’s leg.
“Kaa!”
“How’s my little big dog?” she said sweetly, picking him up, cuddling him, and
giving him an inu-youkai greeting as well.
“Kaa!” :Mother-female.:
“How is the taijiya?” Kaede asked.
“Exhausted and impatient. Give her a battle with a demon scorpion and she’s in
her element. Give her an infant who needs her diaper changed and she’s helpless,” she
answered, coming to stand next to where he was sitting.
“Surely Sango is not that bad,” the old woman chided.
Kagome shook her head. “No, but motherhood isn’t what she thought it would be.
I think she thought her baby would be like Yukio and she’s not.”
“It will get easier for her once the infant is sleeping through the night.”
Kagome nodded. “I told her that. And Miroku does help her a lot. As much as he
can, I think. He can’t feed her, but he’ll rock her and change her and take her so Sango
gets a break.”
“He is a good husband.”
“Yes, he is. He’s a much better husband than I thought he would be. He’s stopped
being a lecher almost completely. He told me he intends to name the baby Miyoko.”
“Hmmm. A good name.”
“Yes it is,” she agreed. “Anyway, I’m hot. I’m going to go take a swim and then
go to the den.”
“It will be much cooler underground,” Kaede commented.
‘Heh, depends on what we’re doing, babaa…’ he thought lasciviously.
“You coming, Inuyasha?”
He stood, pretending to be irritated. “Feh, you and your water. Are you sure
you’re not a water demon in Kagome’s body?”
She gave him a sly look. “I promise I’ll give you the chance to find out,” she
teased.
“Heh. Later, babaa.”
“Babaa,” Yukio repeated and he cringed. ‘Shit…’
“Babaa?” Kagome scolded, her eyes flashing angrily. “What are you teaching our
son?”
“It’s not my fault! He just heard me say it and started calling her that!” he
stammered, sweating.
“Inuyasha…”
“Sit,” he sighed and closed his eyes. ‘Here it comes…’
“OSUWARI!”
His face hit the dirt.
“Gah! Kagome-e-e-e,” he growled.
Yukio giggled. “It,” he burbled.
“Feh, doesn’t work when you say it, pup,” he said, picking himself up.
“No, but this does. Osuwari!”
“Gah!” he gasped as he ate dust again. “What’d you do that for?!”
She stood over him, her face hard. “You are going to stop teaching our son bad
manners, right?”
“I didn’t do it on purpose!”
“Osuwari!”
“Agh! Stop that!” he yelled as he slammed into the ground a third time. “Alright!
Alright! I’ll stop being a rude, insensitive hanyou around the pup!”
“Thank you.”
He picked himself up, watching her warily just in case she decided that he hadn’t
been punished enough, but it looked like she was finished.
“Can’t subdue you too much. I might damage something I’ll want to use later,”
she teased softly so only he would hear.
He blushed then flooded with heat in other, lower places.
“Heh, what makes you think I’ll oblige you?” he groused, trying to keep a straight
face.
She looked surprised, then began to laugh softly and linked her arm with his,
pulling him with her as she walked away. “C’mon leader-male. I want that swim.”
“I still say you’re a water demon that took over Kagome’s body.”
“Hmmm, I might give you the chance to find out.”
“Might? Only might?”
“Well, you did piss me off.”
“I told you it wasn’t my fault! He heard me say ‘babaa’ and just repeated it.”
“Babaa,” Yukio said dutifully.
“Osuwari!”
He slammed to the ground.
“Gah!”
As he picked himself up a third time and ran after her, he heard Kaede cluck and
chuckle softly.
“That boy never learns.”
Chapter Twenty-Three
Inuyasha sat next to Miroku as they watched their women with their little ones.
Sango, Kirara, Shippou and Kagome were sitting on one of Kagome’s ‘picnic blankets’
and were enjoying the early autumn sunshine. Soon Kagome’s ‘school break’ would be
over and she would once again have to return to her world every two weeks. It would be
her last year before ‘college’ as she called it, and from what he understood of her time
that meant her official schooling was almost over. She didn’t have to go to ‘college’ but
her mother wanted her to, and she’d often told him going to ‘college’ would help her ‘get
a better job’ when she was grown-up.
He didn’t really want her to go to ‘college.’ First of all, it meant more ‘school’
which in turn meant more ‘tests’ and more time away from him, although he pretty much
went with her every time she traveled through the well now. Second of all, he really
didn’t see the point in her continuing. She had her life with him and the pup in his time.
He didn’t see any reason why she couldn’t stay with him and learn miko healing from
Kaede if she wanted to study to become a ‘nurse’ or a doctor. He had to admit, however,
that Kagome would make a very good doctor. Not only was she excellent at patching up
their many wounds with her modern medicine, she was also very good at diagnosing
problems.
A few weeks ago, she’d realized Sango’s troubles with her pup weren’t normal
and that the taijiya was suffering from something called ‘post-partum depression.’
Apparently this sometimes happened to women after whelping a pup when something
inside didn’t return to normal. This made women sad and unhappy and sometimes even
made them kill their pups. All this time they’d been assuming that Sango was just
suffering from new-mother jitters, but when she didn’t stop crying all the time and started
calling herself a bad mother, they’d started to get really worried. Miroku had even taken
the pup away from her a few times because he feared for the pup’s safety. The houshi had
hated doing it, and was beside himself with grief and concern for both his wife and his
daughter, but when he found bruises on the pup’s arms he’d grabbed the pup and run.
Thank Kami Kagome had figured out what was going on, and brought back books
that had recipes for herbal remedies and even some medicine from her time. It took a
couple of weeks, but slowly Sango began to return to normal, and everyone was relieved.
Now the last three months seemed like nothing but a bad dream that Sango had finally
awakened from, and the taijiya had often referred to her ‘depression’ as just that: a
horrible dream from which she could not wake. The young mother couldn’t thank
Kagome enough for realizing something was wrong and helping her. After reading
Kagome’s books, she’d been horrified to know that she could have killed her pup if her
condition had gone untreated. Inuyasha knew Miroku was eternally grateful as well
because Kagome had saved both his wife and pup, although Kagome waved off her
amazing accomplishments as she always did, saying it was nothing and refusing to take
any credit for her part in Sango’s recovery.
The houshi’s girl-pup, Miyoko, was three months old now and looking slightly
cuter than she did when she was born. Yukio, of course, now ten months old was a rolypoly pup who toddled after his mother wherever she went. Both mothers had their pups in
their laps as they talked, Kagome waving her hands as she animatedly told some tale
from her time. Sango and Shippou were listening avidly, nodding and smiling. Miyoko
was sleeping, and Yukio was looking bored.
‘Hmmm a bored pup will find his own trouble,’ he thought.
“It’s a beautiful sight, isn’t it,” Miroku commented with a contented sigh.
He grunted in agreement, caught on Kagome’s laughter.
“I cannot thank Kagome-sama enough for all she’s done. When the time comes
for you to build her that house, you can count on me to help as much as I can.”
He nodded. “I don’t know when that will be. With Kikyou gone from here, there
is no way to resolve things between us, and Kagome won’t let me build it until we know
what Kikyou’s decision is.”
“But you have told me you have chosen Kagome.”
“If I can, I will choose her, but Kikyou has to release me first.”
“You may be able to demand it of her since it seems obvious that she has
abandoned you.”
‘Abandoned me.’ The thought was a slap to his face. ‘Lowly hanyou doesn’t even
deserve a goodbye…’
“Maybe,” he replied non-committally.
Yukio, hanyou puppy ears catching the sound of his father’s voice, turned his
head to see him and smiled.
‘Heh, finally realized we were here, eh pup? Well, we are sitting downwind…’
“Otou!” the pup enthused, pushing himself out of Kagome’s lap and making his
way over.
Kagome paused in her story to look where he was going and saw the two of them
sitting in the shade of the trees. She cast him a brilliant smile and waved. Sango waved
too, then they went back to their conversation. Yukio toddled the rest of the way across
the clearing and plopped into his lap, giggling.
“Otou!”
He smiled at his son and rubbed his ears. “Hey, pup.”
He fished out a sweet root from his haori and gave it to Yukio for him to chew on.
The pup happily accepted the treat and started gnawing away as he settled into his
father’s lap, his little back against his abdomen. He put his arms around the pup the way
his own mother used to do when he was just a little whelp and pulled him close.
“I’m glad things are back to normal with Sango. Woman had us all worried,” he
commented.
“Almost,” Miroku replied, an unhappy note to his voice.
He turned to look at the houshi and saw him frowning. “Is something still wrong?
Does Kagome need to bring more medicine back from her time?”
Miroku shook his head. “It’s nothing like that…” He paused for a long time, his
face unhappy and indecisive.
‘Something’s really bothering him… Should I ask about it? Well, none of my
business if he doesn’t want to tell me.’
“Inuyasha…”
“What?”
“With the responsibilities of Yukio… has Kagome ever…”
“Has she ever what?”
Miroku struggled with the words, his hands clenching.
“Has she ever… refused you?”
“Refused me?” ‘Refused me what? Oh…’ He blushed and looked at his son. “No.”
Miroku sighed. “I see.”
‘Is he saying Sango isn’t… What the fuck is he asking me for? He’s the lecher!’
“Not all marital bliss, eh bouzu?” he teased. ‘Heh, serves him right for all the
women he groped!’
There was a pause, then Miroku answered, choosing his words carefully,
“Sango’s return to her wifely duties has been… slow.”
‘So she is leaving him high and dry.’
“Keh.”
“I am trying to be patient, but… my palms are starting to itch.”
‘Oh how well I know that feeling!’
“Been two days, eh letch?”
“More like two months,” Miroku admitted sadly.
He gaped. “Two months?!” ‘Two months. I’d have exploded by now. He must
really be desperate if he’s asking me about it.’ His own groin twinged in sympathy.
The houshi nodded, looking forlorn. “At first I thought it was the stress of
Miyoko, then later when Kagome-sama said Sango was suffering from a medical
condition that needed treatment, I thought it was that. But while she is getting better in
other ways… that has still not returned.”
“Have you… ummmm… asked her about it?” ‘And I’m getting involved in this
why? It’s not like the monk’s sex life is any concern of mine. Still, if his hands start to
wander… His pup may grow up without a father. The taijiya will probably kill him if she
finds out.’
“Yes. She says it hurts her.”
“Hurts her?”
Miroku swallowed uncomfortably and shifted a bit. “Yes. Her body… it… it
doesn’t get ready.”
‘Doesn’t get ready… Oh, is he saying…?’
“Ummm, Kagome has some stuff that might help. Makes things slippery,” he
offered.
Miroku blinked at him in surprise. “You and Kagome-sama have had this
problem?”
“Not really. Usually I just lick her. A few good swipes to her sweet spot and she’s
wetter than a fish,” he answered distractedly as Yukio tugged on his sleeve.
“Otou,” the pup gurgled, mouth red from the sweet root.
“Whaddya want, pup?” he asked fondly.
“Lick her? Sweet spot?” Miroku repeated, confused.
“Yeah, the little bump…” He got flustered and blushed, realizing what he was
saying. “Are you telling me you don’t lick your woman?”
Now it was Miroku’s turn to blush. “I…”
‘So he doesn’t, huh. Maybe all those years of pretending to be a womanizer were
just an act.’ A dark thought clouded his mind. ‘Or maybe he just took his pleasure where
he found it and didn’t return the favor.’ The idea did not sit well with him.
“Look. There’s a little bump there. Find it yourself. Like I said, a few good
swipes and your problem should be solved,” he said irritably.
The houshi’s eyes widened and he nodded. “Thank… thank you.”
He growled. “Don’t thank me. Your woman’s pleasure should come first because
she gives you pleasure. If you’re not making it good for her, it’s no wonder she’s saying
no.”
Miroku had the decency to look ashamed. “You are right, of course.”
“Damn right I am,” he snorted.
“Otou?” Yukio asked worriedly. :Pup bad?:
He hurried to reassure his son that his ire was not directed at him. :Pup good.
Pack-male displeases leader-male.:
Yukio turned wide, golden eyes towards Miroku, then slowly ducked his head
behind his father’s haori sleeve. He had to struggle to suppress the smile that threatened
to come out.
“My previous experience with women was limited…” the houshi began.
“And I had none,” he interrupted. “That’s no excuse. You find out what makes
her feel good and you do it. It’s not hard, it just takes longer.” ‘And the letch gets sex
advice from the virgin hanyou who didn’t even know women could climax… What is
wrong with this conversation? Am I really so different from other men that I do my best
to please my lover?’ That thought also did not sit well with him.
“Of… of course,” Miroku agreed nervously.
The houshi’s acquiescence did nothing to improve his mood. In the circle of his
sleeves, two golden eyes peered up at him, but otherwise the pup was still keeping his
head down.
“Women aren’t vessels for breeding more sons,” he said, repeating something
Kagome had once told him about the attitudes of the men in this era.
“Of course they aren’t!” the houshi gasped immediately.
‘Good. At least you’ve gotten that part.’
His temper was still piqued, however, and he was tired of discussing a subject he
felt he shouldn’t have to be talking about in the first place. Yukio was getting ready to
fuss, and there were better things he could be doing: like sitting with Kagome and
basking in her attentions. To that affect he did something he rarely did; he pulled a
Sesshoumaru.
‘Keh. It can never be said that bastard didn’t teach me how to deliver a good put
down.’
“This conversation is over,” he said coolly, very much like his brother would do,
and stood up, putting Yukio on his shoulders. “I’ve told you something you can do. The
rest is up to you. If you want more, ask Kagome for her books. She has two of them that
have been very good for us.”
He didn’t wait for Miroku’s reply before he walked over to where Kagome was
still sitting with Shippou, Sango and her pup.
Later that evening all of them gathered outside of Kaede’s hut for dinner. Earlier
in the day he’d dug out a fire pit and placed several fish wrapped in ‘foil’ from Kagome’s
time in a bed of hot coals, then covered them up with rocks. The fish stayed baking in the
coals for most of the afternoon, with more coals being added when needed, and when the
meal was ready, the fish was retrieved from the coals. They were flavorful and tender,
cooked in their own juices and the spices Kagome had wrapped with them. Served with
rice, vegetables and the ever present ramen noodles, it was a feast for eyes, noses and
tastebuds.
“Ah-men,” Yukio enthused, seeing the noodles.
“Yeah, you got that right, pup. Ninja food. Yummy.”
Of course, the pup couldn’t use chopsticks yet so he had to eat with his little
hands. Kagome would drain the noodles and give them to the pup as dry as she could
make them to reduce the mess. Many times she’d had to strip him almost naked after a
meal and wash his clothes until she got wise and started using a bib on him.
During the meal, Miroku was subdued, but not hostile, and he was friendly but
reserved. In the law of inu-youkai, it was up to the monk as the subordinate in the pack to
make up with him by offering the proper apologies and not the other way around. Sango
and Kagome seemed to know that something had transpired between them, but were
wisely keeping their mouths shut for the time being, although he was certain Kagome
would ask him about it later.
They were joined for dinner by Rin and Kohaku. The two were practically
inseparable these days, and some of the light was returning to the boy’s eyes.
Unfortunately, the same could not be said for Rin, whose eyes grew sadder and sadder as
the weeks went by and still Sesshoumaru did not return for her. Oh, she tried to hide her
worry and disappointment, and she was usually her bubbly self, but it was obvious that
she was missing the taiyoukai very much.
‘Keh. The girl has no sense at all,’ he thought dourly. ‘And my brother’s an
asshole. It’s been two months and he hasn’t even sent word of how things are going.’
“Inuyasha-sama?” the little girl asked during a pause in the meal.
“Yeah?”
“Do you think Sesshoumaru-sama has forgotten about Rin?”
He almost choked on his tea. ‘How the hell should I know? I never understood
why he kept a human whelp with him in the first place!’
He looked to Kagome for rescue, and she saved him without hesitation.
“I’m sure Sesshoumaru-sama has good reasons for not coming back for you, Rinchan,” she said.
“But the New Moon has come and gone twice and soon it will come again. Rin is
worried that something has happened to Sesshoumaru-sama.”
“Bah! You don’t have to be worried about that. No weak human army could hurt
my brother,” he scoffed. ‘However, it has been an awfully long time. He should have
defeated that army by now and come for her.’ He pushed away the little feeling of
foreboding and concern. ‘Bah! I’m really going soft if I’m starting to worry about that
bastard.’
The girl looked as if she was going to cry and Kagome glared at him.
“What? What did I do?” he complained defensively.
“But if Sesshoumaru-sama is alright, then why has he not come back for Rin?”
“Why don’t we write Sesshoumaru-sama a letter asking him if he knows when
you can go home. I’ll help you write it and Inuyasha will find a youkai courier who can
deliver it for us,” Kagome suggested.
“I will?” Kagome gave him a ‘death glare’ and his heart started pounding in his
chest. “Oh yes. Yes, I will,” he stammered. ‘Shit, she’s still scary…’
“You will? Oh thank you, Inuyasha-sama, Kagome-sama! Rin will be so happy to
hear from Sesshoumaru-sama!”
Pacified for the time-being, Rin forgot all about her sadness and the rest of the
meal progressed without further upset. Afterwards, however, he asked Kagome about her
plans to write a letter as they walked to the den.
“Are you really planning to do that?”
“Of course. We’ll write it and she’ll be happy. Then you’ll find a ‘courier’ and
send it off. It doesn’t really have to go to the Western Lands, she just has to think it did,”
she answered.
“Oh good, for a moment there I was worried. Bothering my brother about that girl
before he’s ready to come get her would probably make him leave her here just to spite
us.”
“Exactly,” she agreed, stooping down to enter the den. He’d widened the entrance
a little to accommodate going in with the pup on his back, but it still wasn’t high enough
to stand. “Then, if he still hasn’t come for her, you can write a letter of response and have
it sent here.”
“Me?”
“You know how Sesshoumaru talks, who better? Besides, your writing is nicer
than mine is and you know all the formal kanji used in this era. I don’t.”
He smiled to himself. Kagome had often commented on his writing, saying how
amazing it was that someone as rough and seemingly unschooled as him could write such
beautiful, flowing kanji.
“Keh! Alright, if you put it that way, I’ll do it.”
She gave him a little kiss on the cheek. “Thank you. It is worrisome though, isn’t
it? He should have come for her by now.”
‘My thoughts exactly. Maybe… maybe I should go and make sure everything’s
alright.’
“Bah! You worry too much. Sesshoumaru won’t be done in by a bunch of
humans. He’s probably enjoying the peace and quiet from that girl’s endless chatter.”
“You sound so certain.”
“Keh. I am.” ‘At least I think I am. Still… what is this feeling of wrong?’
“Alright then, I trust you.”
They settled into the den, lighting some candles and stowing their belongings, and
he took off his clothes as he usually did, folding them and putting them in their cubby. He
had no modesty in front of his family, and the den was more than warm enough for him.
Kagome was the one who was cold at night, but that just made her snuggle closer to him.
Since Rin was staying with Kaede and Sango and Miroku’s hut was full, they’d been
practically living in the den full time. In fact, they hadn’t missed a single night there since
Sango started coming out of her ‘depression.’
Kagome put Yukio down in his place. It wasn’t a bassinet anymore, but its own
little separate sleeping spot with straw and blankets. Having it didn’t keep him from
crawling in with them at night, but he knew enough to stay there until he was invited to
join them.
“So… do you want to tell me what is going on between you and Miroku?” she
asked.
“Hmm? What do you mean?” he tried, giving her his ‘soulful puppy-dog’ eyes.
“Don’t try to distract me with that look. It’s a dead give-away,” she said, smiling.
He growled softly.
“Why don’t you get more comfortable?” he suggested.
“No. I start taking off my clothes and you start getting all dominant dog on me,
and I’ll never find out why the two of you have barely said two words to each other since
this afternoon.”
“We weren’t that bad,” he complained.
“Inuyasha…” she warned.
He sighed. “It was man-talk,” he admitted, giving in. While he might be the
‘dominant dog,’ she was the true alpha and he couldn’t refuse her.
“Man-talk?”
He nodded. “Yeah. He was asking about… about our relationship.” He put a little
emphasis on the word relationship to make sure she knew he wasn’t talking about their
current living arrangements.
“He was?”
“Apparently he and Sango are… having difficulties. Has she talked to you about
this? It sounds like something two women would talk about more than two men.”
She shook her head. “Sango’s always been really shy about intimacy. I remember
when I tried to ask her about what it was like to be married before I got together with
you, she always got really nervous and reluctant to answer me.”
‘Heh, if the monk wasn’t doing his duty and pleasing her, she probably didn’t
want to tell Kagome that she was unhappy.’
“Come to think of it, she might have tried a couple of times but stopped herself. Is
it something really bad?”
‘For him it is…’ “She’s… been refusing him, and he told me his hands are
starting to itch.”
She blanched. “He wouldn’t be stupid enough to cheat on her would he?”
“I don’t know. She’s said no for two months…”
“Two months! My god, you go two days and you start getting cranky!”
‘Heh, that’s just what I thought.’
“Did he say why? Is it the baby?”
“That’s part of it, but…”
He blushingly relayed what Miroku had told him, what he had inferred from the
houshi’s remarks, and his little snit that afternoon. Kagome listened thoughtfully,
nodding every now and then, and stayed quiet until he was finished.
“So I can expect Miroku to ask about my books.”
“I hope so. Their little pup might not be as cute as Yukio, but I don’t want her to
grow up fatherless.”
She gave him a little smile. “Miyoko is plenty cute, she just doesn’t have the
puppy ears.”
“Or his hair, or little nose or big golden eyes…” he said, looking at the pup who
was looking at them because he’d heard his name.
“Kaa-san. Otou.”
“Come here my little big dog,” Kagome said, opening her arms. Yukio wasted no
time in going to her and snuggling into her side.
“Okay, he is cuter than Miyoko,” she agreed.
“Kaa-san,” he gurgled, reaching for her breasts.
She’d gotten him down to nursing only twice a day: once in the evening before
bed and again when they woke in the morning. By now she was making so little milk,
that he barely fed for five minutes, but it was enough to satisfy his need to suckle.
“Mmmm, Kaa-san knows what you want,” she cooed, lifting her shirt.
“Kaa-san! Oooo. Oood!” he replied enthusiastically.
She’d barely gotten the nipple exposed before he was on it.
“No teeth!” she reminded, and he gave a little grunt of agreement. “He’ll be the
death of me,” she sighed.
He shook his head. “I keep telling you, you have to harden your heart and let him
cry. If you keep giving in, you’ll never get him weaned.”
“I can’t do that, you know I can’t.”
He shrugged. They’d been through this many times before over the past two
months. In truth, he was amazed that she’d gotten him down as much as she had.
“All things considered, though, you shouldn’t have been surprised by Miroku,”
she said, obviously changing the subject.
“Hm? Why is that?”
“I was being honest when I said in this time men think women are just things they
use to breed sons. A woman’s pleasure isn’t something that they would necessarily think
about.”
‘What are we? A bunch of rutting animals that take our pleasure and don’t care if
our partner is left wanting?’
“I don’t think that way,” he argued.
“No, but you didn’t know much about lovemaking or giving pleasure when we
first started. I had to teach you. If the men and women here don’t know about the things I
do, how can they do any better?”
“It’s not that hard!” he answered, repeating what he’d said to the houshi. ‘It’s not.
How hard is it to remember what makes your woman moan?’ “They can learn. Besides,
that bouzu was always such a letch! It makes me sick to think he used women for his own
pleasure and didn’t care how they felt.”
She gave him a tender smile, her eyes warm with approval, and he knew that he’d
be getting and giving pleasure very soon. Yukio was already on the second breast and just
about finished.
‘Or I will if I have anything to say about it.’
“Miroku wasn’t as experienced as he would like us to believe. That Sango did tell
me. He wasn’t a virgin like you were, but I don’t think he’d had more than two or three
encounters before he met us, and for all his groping and suggestion, he never spent the
night with any of the women we met.”
“So it was all an act?”
She nodded. “Mostly.”
“Hmph! A letch and a liar. Feh!”
She giggled as she put Yukio down into his bed and checked his diaper. “Well
still, I hope he does ask me for my books. They can only help, right?”
He waited until she was finished changing him and settling him down in his bed,
before pulling her into his arms and slipping one hand under her shirt.
“Well, we certainly don’t need them anymore, do we?” he whispered huskily.
“Confident you’ve learned all you need from them, are you?” she answered coyly.
“Haven’t we?”
She smiled wickedly, reached over to one of the cubbies where they kept their
lovemaking supplies and pulled out a book. Turning to a random page, she showed him
the illustration.
“Maybe we should try this one tonight,” she suggested.
“What’s with the chair? And even you’re not that flexible, and I’d bang my head
on this low ceiling.”
She began to laugh and he laughed with her, loving the feel of her in his arms and
the heady freedom his heart enjoyed when he was alone with her.
‘I never laughed until I met her. I stopped laughing when my mother died. Now I
laugh again. This woman is amazing.’
She tossed the book over her shoulder and wrapped her arms around his neck. “I
guess we’ll just have to improvise then.”
“Heh, that’s half the fun.”
He kissed her and nothing more was said except when she moaned his name, or
when he moaned hers, until the candles burned low and guttered out.
Some untold hours later as they lay snuggled together in the dark with Yukio
nestled next to them, their conversation at dinner came back to him and he frowned.
‘What if something has happened to Sesshoumaru? What would happen to Oyaji’s
lands? It has been too long. Maybe I ought to go see what’s happened.’
“Hey,” he whispered in the dark. He knew she was still awake.
“Hmmm?” she murmured. “Again?”
He chuckled and kissed her bare shoulder. “No. I’ll let you rest.”
She rolled to her back, peering up at him in the darkness. He could see her
perfectly, but he knew she was just about blind.
“What is it then?”
“Do you think I should go?” he asked suddenly.
“Go? Go where?”
“To check on Sesshoumaru.” ‘If you think I should, I’ll go. I don’t want to, but…’
“Sesshoumaru? Are you really worried about him?”
“Bah! Why would I worry about that asshole?”
“Inuyasha,” she warned.
“Well, he is!”
“Not in front of Yukio.”
“He’s sleeping.”
“That’s what you think.”
He snorted. She was right, but she couldn’t see the pup in the dark so how would
she know.
“Do you want to go check on him?” she asked.
“Not really, but it’s not a matter of wanting is it? If everything was alright, he’d
have come for Rin. For whatever reason, he’s attached to that girl and I don’t think he
would have left her for this long if everything was okay. Gives me a bad feeling.”
She nodded. “I agree. How much time would you need?”
‘Well, there’s my answer. She’s concerned like I am.’
“Ten days. I hate to say this, but could you take Yukio to your time while I’m
gone? It’s been a while since any youkai have showed up to hunt him, but if I’m not
around, you’re both vulnerable.”
“You’re actually telling me to go home for ten days? That’s a first,” she teased.
“Don’t get used to it, wench.”
She giggled and kicked him lightly with her foot.
“Ow. Watch it.”
“Can you survive without me for that long?” she asked lightly.
‘I’ll miss you and crave you every day I am gone, but I can’t take you and the pup
with me. Not when I might be going into a war zone.’
“I’ll try.”
“Okay then. When do you want to leave?”
“In the morning?”
“That soon? That doesn’t give us much time to prepare.”
“Bah. I don’t need anything. Tessaiga and the clothes on my back are all I need.”
‘They’re all I own as well. All I have to give you. But you don’t care about that. You
never did.’
“Travel light?”
“And fast. On my own I can be there in three days.”
Her eyes widened in the darkness. “That fast?”
“I don’t need to sleep and I can go a long time without food. When I’m really
trying, I can go 80 to 90 ri in a day.”
“80 to 90 ri in a day! That’s over 300 kilometers!”
He shrugged. “It’s easy for me. I can go, see what’s going on, and come back.”
“What if what you find there… isn’t good?”
“Then I’ll find a way to send word that it’ll take longer. Maybe I’ll send the toad
on that two-headed dragonet Sesshoumaru has.”
“Okay. Do you want to hold off until tomorrow afternoon to give me time to go
back and get ramen for you to take along?”
His ears perked up at the sound of ‘ramen.’ “Yeah, okay.”
She rolled towards him and snuggled close.
“I’ll miss you. You’ll be careful, won’t you?”
“Keh! Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine.”
“I know you will. You’re Inuyasha.”
‘You say that like I’ve got the whole world in the palm of my hands.’ He wrapped
his arms around his heart and soul. ‘And maybe I do, right here in my arms.’
“Keh, sentimental woman.”
“One of us has to be.”
“Sentimental or a woman?” he teased, trying to cheer her sudden subdued mood.
It worked because she giggled. Then her hand stroked his chest and he shivered.
‘Is she…?’
“You’ll be gone a long time,” she whispered.
“Feh, not that long.”
“Long enough that I know what you’ll want to do the moment you see me again.”
“Feh, I want that when I’ve been away from you for half a day.”
“Letch.”
He nuzzled her throat, growling. “Always.”
She sighed. “Let’s make love again. Once more before you go.”
“Only once? Are we slowing down already?”
She laughed and he chuckled. “I love you,” she whispered.
“Kagome…” he breathed, kissing her.
They moved a mildly protesting Yukio to his sleeping space and covered him up
with his blankets. Then he proceeded to telegraph his love for her with his body, letting
his actions speak the words he felt he wasn’t permitted to say.
‘Someday, Kagome. Someday soon, I’ll declare my love for you and build you the
finest house in all of Musashi country.’
********
He ended up leaving much later than he wanted, but there were many questions to
be answered and plans to make before he left. They kept the real reason for his trip from
Rin, not wanting to alarm the child by admitting they were worried.
“This is very sudden, Kagome-chan,” Sango had said with concern.
“But it’s been coming,” Kagome had replied. “Sesshoumaru should have sent for
Rin by now.”
“Yes, it is worrisome,” Miroku had admitted, casting an eye towards where
Kohaku was ‘entertaining’ Rin.
“I’ll be back in ten days. Hopefully. If not, then I’ll send word,” he’d assured
them.
“I’ll be going to my country with Yukio to protect him. With Inuyasha gone, if a
youkai scents his hanyou blood, he could be at risk.”
The others had agreed.
“We’ll miss you Kagome,” Shippou had sniffed.
“Oi! And not me?” he’d groused, threatening the kit with a fist.
Shippou had yelped and hidden behind Kagome. “You’re still a meanie.”
“Take Kirara with you,” Sango had offered, and the firecat had mewed her assent.
“No. She should stay here and guard the village,” he’d replied, shaking his head.
On the way to the well, Miroku had pulled him aside for a moment.
“I want to thank you,” the houshi had said.
“For what?”
“For your… suggestion yesterday. It worked.”
He’d chuckled softly. “Told you it would.”
“You said Kagome has books?”
“Ummm, yeah.”
“Do you think she would…”
As if by magic, Kagome had appeared by their side.
“Here,” she had said, handing Miroku one of the aforementioned books.
“Inuyasha said you wanted to read our books. This is the first one. The first few chapters
cover the basics. After that, it goes into the advanced stuff not even Inuyasha and I have
tried yet. I hope it helps.”
She’d winked and smiled, then hurried to distract Sango before the taijiya had
time to suspect anything was going on. Miroku had looked stunned, then flipped open the
first pages and blushed.
“Oh my…”
He’d decided to enjoy the monk’s embarrassment. Peeping over the top of the
book, he’d looked at the illustration the monk had turned to.
“Oh yeah, that one. That one’s fun but you gotta be careful not to push her legs up
too high or she’ll get a cramp.”
Miroku had blushed even further, sputtered, slammed the book shut and shoved it
quickly into his robes with a hastily mumbled thank you. He’d snickered all the way to
the well, then teased the monk some more by telling Sango that he hoped she would have
a ‘very enjoyable evening.’ The taijiya had given him an odd look so he’d winked at her
and she’d blushed furiously.
“Later!” he’d called and jumped into the well after Kagome and Yukio once
they’d said their goodbyes.
He’d come back through alone a few hours later after ramen shopping and another
last lovemaking session that was more sweet and sad than wild. Shippou had been
waiting for him when he climbed out of the well carrying a bag of Ninja food, and a
second bag of medical supplies Kagome had bought for the old miko.
“You are coming back, right?” the kit had asked, his green eyes belying his
worry.
“Feh. Of course.”
Shippou had looked away, crossing his arms. “Good.”
Smiling, he’d taken the kit up in a rare hug and was hugged back. “I’m coming
back, I promise. I won’t leave you and the others.”
“Or Kagome.”
“That goes without saying.”
“You’ll be careful?”
“You know I will.”
“Okay.”
Shippou had moved to his shoulder and he’d carried the kit to the old woman’s
hut where he gave her the bag from Kagome.
“Be safe, Inuyasha,” Kaede had said, making a blessing over him.
He’d bowed his head and thanked her for her gesture, unnecessary as it might
have been.
“I will, Kaede-babaa.”
“Bring back good news for that poor child.”
“I will try. That’s why I’m going.”
He’d left the hut before the ache in his heart got to be too much to bear, much the
same way he had left a sadly quiet Kagome and openly crying Yukio in her time. Then
he’d gathered his resolve and courage, took one last look at the village he called home
and leaped off to the West.
Chapter Twenty-Four
It had been so long since he had traveled unfettered that he’d forgotten what it
was like. The ground was a green blur beneath him as he ran, leaping from tree top to tree
top, the sky an endless sea of white-capped blue. It struck him as odd that he actually
noticed stuff like the green and the blue when before he couldn’t care less what the land
around him looked like. He blamed Kagome’s influence. The woman was always
pointing out how lovely this field looked or how nice the view was or some such female
nonsense about trees and flowers and the weather, but when he finally reached the
outskirts of the Western Lands two days later, he had to admit that it was beautiful.
The weather was warm with autumn coming late to the temperate land, and he
remembered well the long sunny days and mild winters of his brief childhood. One of the
first things he had done once he was self-sufficient was leave the Western Lands behind
with a vow never to return. He hadn’t kept that vow, of course. Shard hunts had brought
him there a number of times over the years, but he never went there unless he had a
reason, and he always avoided his father’s stronghold. He had nothing but painful
memories of the great house on the coast. It was there that Sesshoumaru brought him
after his mother had died, it was there that he learned what it meant to be a hanyou
among youkai, it was there he had spent some of the most painful and sad years of his
young life. He hated that place more than he hated any other place in the whole of Nihon.
And now he was willingly going back there. He knew he must be insane.
Two days into his trip, he began noticing signs of invasion. Villages were
damaged, rice fields destroyed, and the signs and scents of recent violence and death
tainted the normally sweet wind. On the morning of the third day, he stopped in one small
village that seemed to have been severely affected. All of their fields had been decimated.
‘Fucking bastards. These people will starve if they can’t replace the food before
the growing season ends.’
He saw one rice field that had had all of its banks destroyed and the precious
water needed to grow the rice had run off.
‘Damnit.’
He was staring at the destruction when he heard a noise behind him. He turned to
see a group of peasant women, all looking wan and weary, staring at him with fear and
hope in their eyes. They regarded each other for several long moments then one of the
youngest ones ran forward and threw herself at his feet.
‘What the?’
“Inugami-sama! Inugami-sama, please help us!” she begged. “Our fields are
destroyed and our oxen driven off. All of our men are gone and not returned. We are
defenseless and helpless.”
Another of the women, looking older with earth-stained hands and a worn face,
came to try to drag the woman away.
“Hitomi, come away. Do not trouble the lord with our petty problems…”
‘Petty problems? Woman, your fields are destroyed and you’re all going to starve
if you don’t do something! Where the fuck is my brother? Not even he would have let this
go unanswered!’
“Get up,” he ordered, crossing his arms over his chest.
Both women scrambled to their feet, bowing and trembling.
“Forgive her, my lord. She is young and unused to hardship…”
“What happened here?” he demanded.
“An army, my lord. A terrible army came. They raided the village. They took our
food and our able bodied men…” the older one replied, her eyes down in respect.
“They took everything! The food, our men, and our beasts! Then youkai came and
destroyed the fields! We have nothing left! We will all starve!” the young one sobbed.
“Where is this army now?”
“It marched West, my lord, to make war upon the Great Lord,” the older woman
answered, eyes still down.
“How long ago was this?”
“Nigh on two moons, my lord.”
‘Two moons… Shit. Something must have happened to Sesshoumaru… Fuck!’
“Have you heard news of the army’s success?” he asked carefully.
“A man coming from the coast said the army was routed and survivors were
fleeing. He said several villages had been attacked and burned by soldiers and youkai
running away from the Great Lord,” the young one blurted.
‘So Sesshoumaru did rout the army. But if that’s true, why isn’t he seeing to his
people? He always took his responsibilities seriously. Even if he himself didn’t see to it,
he had seneschals and underlings who would.’
“And what news of the Lord?”
The older one ventured a brief glance, but dropped her eyes immediately when he
looked at her.
“Rumor has it that the Great Lord retreated into his castle after the last battle and
has not been seen since.”
‘So was he wounded? Did he rout the army then die? What the fuck is going on
here?!’
“If your men have not returned, you will have to fix your fields yourselves,” he
told them. “You said the army took your beasts?”
The older woman nodded while the younger began to cry. “What ones they could
catch. We freed as many as we could before the soldiers could take them and chased
them into the forests, but many were eaten and those that are left are too smart for us to
catch.”
He sighed. ‘I don’t have time for this, but if I don’t help these people, they’ll
starve. Kagome will understand. She’d want me to help them.’
“Alright. I will find and catch your beasts, and help you repair your rice fields.
After that, the rest will be up to you.”
The young one collapsed, sobbing in relief. Even the older one bowed more
deeply and he could smell tears on her face.
“Thank you, my lord.”
“Gather your women and your tools. How many beasts am I looking for?”
“Only two or three are left, my lord, and we have seen them in the lower forest.”
“Miyu tried to catch one this morning, but it got away,” the young one added.
He grunted that he understood and set off to catch the oxen. There turned out to
be three and a half because one had dropped a calf. He grabbed them by their horns and
dragged them, mooing loudly, to a corral the women had hastily prepared. The calf he
just picked up and tossed in, figuring it would know which one was its mother.
With the oxen corralled, he turned his attention to the fields. His first priority was
to repair the rice paddies, and he rolled up his haori sleeves, pulled back his hair, and set
to work on the ruptured banks. About twenty women came to help him, packing the earth
he dug up with his claws into the holes. It was slow work, even for him, and he did not
finish before late afternoon.
Afterwards, he went into the village at the head woman’s insistence. There he
found a number of other women who were either too old or left caring for young pups to
help in the fields. All of them looked tired and hungry, and the pups were too thin, their
eyes haunted and sad. He knew he didn’t have enough Ninja food to feed them all, but he
gave them what he had and showed them how to make it.
‘It’ll be enough to feed the pups, and I thought I smelled a couple of boars in the
forest. I can catch them and they’ll feed the women.’
Not one to rest while there was still work to be done, and driven by an unspoken
need to right the wrongs left behind by the army, he went into the forest to hunt. He
brought back three boars, a stag, and an armful of rabbits and ground birds. If the women
rationed the food, it would be enough to feed them for several days.
“Inugami-sama, please,” one of the women begged. “You have worked all day in
the heat and not stopped to rest or eat. Please, rest with us. We will prepare you a meal
and draw you a bath.”
“Keh, don’t waste your food on me. I’m fine.” But he knew he wasn’t fine. He’d
been traveling non-stop for over two days, and had spent the afternoon working hard. He
was exhausted, filthy, and starving, but he wasn’t about to take food he knew these
women didn’t have.
‘Plenty of fish in the streams…’
“We insist, my lord. You gave us your magic food to feed the children and
brought us all of this game. Please allow us to show you our gratitude. We have little to
offer, but what we have we have to share. You have saved our lives with your help today.
We must do something for you,” the headwoman pleaded.
He sighed heavily, but gave in, if only for the bath and a few hours of sleep. They
guided him to a hut that contained a large wooden tub and filled it with hot water. One
woman offered to take his clothes, giving him a white yukata to change into, and two
offered to stay and ‘wash his back.’ He refused, a little harshly, but he was tired and
hungry.
‘And sweaty and lonely. Kagome. I miss you so much. I see these women and they
need so much that I can’t give them. If you were here, you’d be out there comforting them
and using your medicine. I’m no good at any of this.’
“Please forgive them, my lord,” the headwoman said, making the trembling girls
leave.
“I’m sorry. I’ve been traveling a long time and I’m tired. It makes me cranky.
Besides, I already have someone who is special to me and we have a pup. I would never
betray her.”
The headwoman nodded. “The fidelity of your kind is well known, my lord. Inuyoukai mate for life, and nothing but death can sway them from their bond.”
‘Mate for life? Yes, we do. But Kagome’s life will be much shorter than mine. I’ll
have barely reached middle age when she is an old woman. There will come a time when
I’ll have to live without her,’ he thought sadly.
He moved behind a paper screen and disrobed, putting on the yukata. When he
came out, the headwoman bowed deeply.
“Do you wish your clothes to be washed and mended?”
“No. My clothes are special and linked to my youki. They will mend and clean
themselves.”
“Remarkable clothes.”
He grunted and looked at the bath. Soap, rinse water, towels, a bathing brush on a
long handle, and a bathing stool had been put out for him.
‘No ‘shampoo’ though. That’s something from Kagome’s time.’
“Is there anything else you require?”
“Privacy.”
“As you wish, my lord,” the headwoman answered and backed out of the hut, still
bowing.
Sitting on the stool, he dropped the yukata and scrubbed his body clean, then he
rinsed with the rinse water and got into the large tub for a long soak. He almost fell
asleep in the hot water, but noise from outside the hut roused him and he let out a
warning growl loud enough for the intruders to hear.
“Don’t even think about coming in here!” he snarled, using one of Kagome’s
‘modern’ terms.
There were frightened squeals and the sound of running feet, then the sound of the
headwoman scolding the girls as she caught them fleeing the scene of the crime. He
waited a few more minutes until he was certain no one else was planning to peep before
getting out of the tub, drying off and dressing in his clothes. When he was ready, he
stepped out of the hut and the headwoman, who had been waiting for him at the entrance
of a hut across the way, came over to guide him to his meal and rest.
The food was a meager supper of boiled roots and gathered vegetables. One of the
ground birds he had killed had also been de-boned and the meat roasted on spits. He ate
only the bare minimum required for politeness’ sake, knowing that none of it would go to
waste if he left it, then asked to be shown where he could sleep.
“Please pardon my forwardness my lord, but are you any relation to our Great
Lord?” the headwoman asked as he was led to yet another hut that had been prepared for
him.
“Sesshoumaru is my half-brother,” he replied, deliberately leaving off the term of
respect.
“Your half-brother? Then you are…”
“A hanyou. Yes.”
He waited for her disgust and hatred, but it did not come. Instead, she lowered her
gaze and nodded.
“Years ago my father told me a legend passed to him by his father of a younger
brother to the Great Lord who had been cast out.”
He snorted. “Cast out? I left, woman. No one cast me out.”
“He said there were rumors that the rejected brother would one day return with an
army to steal the Great Lord’s lands.”
“Is that so? Sounds just like my brother’s pansy-assed seneschals.”
“I must admit, when the army came I feared it was the legend coming true, but
their leader was a human; a man who called himself Takasho Nimori.”
‘Hmmph, never heard of him.’
He nodded. “Sesshoumaru said it was a human army that threatened him.”
“Not just human. Before the army came, a man passing through on his way to the
coast warned us that he had heard tale of the Great Lord’s marshal betraying him.”
‘So that’s what Sesshoumaru meant when he said not of all his subjects were
trustworthy. I feel sorry for anyone who dares to betray my brother. He’d rend them limb
from limb then leave them alive just to suffer.’
“My lord, have you returned for good?” the headwoman asked, bringing him out
of his thoughts.
“No. I just came to check on my brother. I live in Musashi country now.”
“Musashi? You have come a long way.”
“More than 200 ri and I have further to go before I reach my brother’s castle.”
They stopped outside of the hut and he turned to her. “I’ll rest for a while then go.
No one is to bother me.”
The headwoman bowed. “I will see that your wishes are obeyed, my lord. You
have been so kind to us. It is the least we can do.”
“Thank you. I’ll try to come back on my way home to let you know what’s
happening, and if any of your men are coming home.”
The headwoman took his hands and kissed them. “Thank you, my lord.”
He nodded to her then entered the hut, making sure the reed door fell closed
behind him. A little fire had been lit in the pit, and a futon with fresh bedding had been
laid out for him. Seeing the sleeping space, his heart ached and he wished for a cozy den
that smelled of fresh hay and Kagome.
‘Kagome. I wish you were here. I don’t know if I can sleep alone anymore.’
He didn’t bother with the futon, but sat with his back to the far wall, Tessaiga
resting against his shoulder. Sleep came slowly, but it did come because his body
desperately needed it. He slept lightly for only four or five hours, but it was enough for
his hanyou body to ‘recharge its batteries’ as Kagome would say.
It was the middle of the night when he emerged from the hut and the village was
quiet and still. He caught two night hares and left them in the hut as an offering for their
hospitality, then moved to continue on his journey to the Great House.
‘Hell if I know what I’m going to find there.’
********
Morning dawned on the fourth day and found him less than 20 ri away from the
coast. He’d stopped again to wait for dawn because he wanted to see clearly. Now he was
regretting that decision.
The human army had trampled the land in one huge swath that looked like a
massive road leveled by hundreds of feet, all leading to his father’s House. Any village in
its path was ransacked, then attacked by the youkai that followed the army, feeding on
the dead and the dying. Over and over he saw the same plight of the people as he had
seen in the little village the day before: women left behind, men conscripted to fight,
fields decimated and pups starving. And no one had heard a word of the Great Lord. They
knew the army had been defeated, the human leader killed, and the remaining soldiers
were running for their lives, but of the Great Lord, they knew nothing.
And everywhere, the rabble of the youkai world- the carrion eaters- wreaked
havoc on the countryside. The bastards actually had the audacity to challenge him; to call
him ‘filthy, weak hanyou’ and try to kill him. They were pathetic excuses for youkai and
he didn’t even bother to soil Tessaiga with their blood. By the time he reached the
familiar coastline, he was worried, pissed off and fed up.
‘Sesshoumaru, you asshole. You’d better be dead, because if you’re not and
aren’t gravely wounded, I’m killing you myself!’
The worst damage was just outside the walls of the Great House. Bordered by the
sea on one side, and sheer cliffs on two others, the only way to lay siege to it was from
the north side. It looked like the army had attempted to breach the first defensive walls
but that was the furthest they got. Parts of the hei had been burned in what was an
obvious effort to use fire to burn the Great House down, but that was the only damage the
castle sustained.
‘Stupid assholes. You think a taiyoukai’s castle would be vulnerable to fire? Were
you guys complete idiots?’
The long barren plain approaching the castle was a scorched graveyard of
hundreds of human skeletons that were picked clean by the carrion-eaters. Bones and bits
of hair and armor were scattered all over the hard, blackened ground, and everywhere the
scent of blood and death lingered. What disturbed him most, however, were the remains
of a huge cremation pyre just outside the Great House’s main gates. The bones here were
not human, but youkai- and not lowlife youkai either. Judging by the scraps of armor and
clothing that had escaped total incineration, the bodies appeared to be some of
Sesshoumaru’s seneschals.
‘He killed his own seneschals? What the fuck is going on here?! These were the
ones left in charge when he went off hunting Naraku! Why the fuck would he kill them?’
The last body answered some questions. It was what was left of Sesshoumaru’s
Lord Marshal. Not even the carrion-eaters had dared to touch the corpse of the inu-youkai
who had been dismembered, flayed open and nailed to a massive tree trunk that had been
forcibly rammed into the ground directly in front of the gates. All four limbs had been
removed, the rib cage cracked apart and the abdomen sliced open. The body was
contorted in agony, the sightless skull frozen in a horrible scream.
‘Looks like someone disemboweled him then injected him with poison. He was
dissolved alive from the inside out and there was fuck all he could do about it because his
arms and legs were ripped off,’ he thought, holding his nose to block out the stench of
rotted flesh and the remnants of his brother’s poison claws. ‘Whatever you did, you must
have really pissed Sesshoumaru off. Were the rumors true that you betrayed my brother?
If they were, it looks like he went easy on you.’
With no small amount of trepidation, he moved around the tree with its grotesque
warning, and scaled the gates and inner walls to reach the honmaru. Once inside the inner
circle, he noticed the complete lack of life. Where normally the Great House would have
its youkai retainers, staff and defenders, now there wasn’t a hint of activity. The tenshu
was deserted and in a terrible state of neglect. Parts of it looked smashed and blown
away, and two of the yagura had been destroyed.
‘Not quite deserted…’ he thought, catching a familiar scent and heading for it.
He found Jaken huddled outside the closed shoji of the Great Hall. The little toad
looked shell-shocked and was staring off into space.
“Oi. Toad,” he said, making Jaken nearly jump out of his skin.
“Inuyasha?!” the small youkai exclaimed.
“What the fuck is going on here?”
Jaken focused on him and stared at him for a long time, then the little toad ran to
him and threw himself at his feet.
“Inuyasha-sama!”
“Eh?” ‘What is it with people throwing themselves at my feet? And the toad has
never called me Inuyasha-sama!’ A cold feeling of dread filled him. ‘Does this mean that
Sesshoumaru... NO! There’s no body! And everyone I’ve talked to said that Sesshoumaru
defeated the army. He can’t be dead!’
He kicked Jaken lightly. “Get up and tell me what the fuck is going on here!
Where is my brother!?”
Jaken sat up, his huge eyes watery, his small body trembling. “Sesshoumaru-sama
lies within,” he replied, pointing to the closed doors.
He snorted and moved to open the doors but Jaken stopped him
“You must not! He will kill you if you approach him. He’s killed anyone who has
tried. He even attacked this Jaken, his faithful servant for over a hundred years!”
‘So he is still alive. Phew.’
He sat down cross-legged in front of the toad. “Tell me what the fuck happened
here.”
Tears spilled out of Jaken’s eyes. “It was horrible. At first it was just
Sesshoumaru-sama defeating that insolent human and his pathetic army. Jaken fought by
his side and Sesshoumaru-sama laid waste to them in a day. He left the bodies to rot as a
warning to any others who might try to come after or seek revenge. He hunted the
stragglers and struck them down as well. Then he returned to the House. I thought we
would have a celebration to commemorate his swift victory, but he came back with
murder in his eyes.”
Jaken shuddered at the memory. “Long we had suspected that there was a
betrayer. The army had magical wards to protect them and hide them from detection, and
they had been granted passage across the country in Sesshoumaru-sama’s absence. When
Sesshoumaru-sama returned from hunting the last of the human rabble, he knew that the
betrayer was Manshirou, his own Lord Marshal! He attacked and their battle was
terrible!”
“Was Sesshoumaru wounded?” he interrupted.
Jaken shook his head. “Not seriously. Tenseiga protected him from the worst of
it.”
“So he fought Manshirou here. That’s how the yagura got blown up?”
Jaken nodded. “But I haven’t told you the most horrible part. Manshirou had
conspired with that hated Naraku to plot Sesshoumaru-sama’s death!”
“WHAT?!”
The toad nodded again, furiously. “It would seem he was hoping Sesshoumarusama would be defeated by Naraku and then he would seize the Western Lands, but
Sesshoumaru-sama would never lose to a lowly hanyou!”
He winced but ignored the insult.
“When Sesshoumaru-sama defeated Naraku, Manshirou plotted to kill
Sesshoumaru-sama himself!”
“Oi! I defeated Naraku!”
“Never! I witnessed it myself! Sesshoumaru-sama dealt the killing blow!”
He whacked the toad on the head. “You were too busy hiding behind that twoheaded dragonet with Rin to see me destroy Naraku with my Tessaiga, you coward!”
“It’s not true!”
He grabbed Jaken and shook him, then realized if he killed the toad, he’d never
find out what happened. He threw him roughly to the floor and pulled Tessaiga.
“Tell me what happened next.”
Jaken began to shake violently, but not with fear of Tessaiga. “Sesshoumaru-sama
defeated Manshirou and began to mete out punishment. He dismembered Manshirou and
skewered him to a tree...”
“I saw what he did,” he interrupted.
Jaken shook his head. “No... you don’t understand. Sesshoumaru-sama used
Tenseiga on him to... to...”
‘He can’t be serious! He didn’t... He didn’t! Not even my brother would do such a
thing!’
“Don’t tell me he used Tenseiga to revive him then kill him again!”
Trembling even more, Jaken nodded. “He did it twice before Tenseiga rejected
him.”
‘Tenseiga rejected my brother?’
“He threw his father’s sword away and then... he went mad.”
“Went mad?”
Jaken nodded. “He drew Toukijin and began killing. Manshirou had conspirators,
and he killed those first, but then he moved on to anyone who was in his path: servants,
courtiers... anyone who dared to come near him. Most deserted him and escaped with
their lives; the rest he burned.”
‘The cremation pyre of youkai bones...’
“At first I thought Toukijin had taken him over the way it did Kaijinbou, but
Sesshoumaru-sama’s eyes were clear and he spoke with his own voice. I ran and hid, but
I would not abandon my lord, so I waited until it was all over. Sesshoumaru-sama had
retreated into the Great Hall. A few of the servants who remained faithful to him tried to
reach him, but he struck them down. Their bodies lie within. I tried, but he struck at my
voice and barely missed. The rest left, fleeing this place, but I remained behind. He’s...
been in there ever since.”
He sighed, his heart heavy, and sheathed Tessaiga. Then he stood and looked at
the closed shoji.
“I will deal with Sesshoumaru.” ‘What can I do if he’s gone crazy?’
Jaken stood and grabbed his haori sleeve. “You must not. If Sesshoumaru-sama is
not fit to rule, then you are rightfully the new lord! If Sesshoumaru-sama kills you, the
Western Lands will fall into the hands of the rabble!”
“Bah! I don’t want these lands. You’ve said it yourself. I’m a lowly hanyou. The
inu-youkai would never accept me as their leader.”
‘What was it that pushed him over the edge? Was it Tenseiga’s rejection? If the
sword accepted him again, would he return to reason?’
“Where is Tenseiga now, Jaken?”
Jaken turned and led the way out of the house. The sword was lying by the garden
next to the partially decomposed body of the two-headed dragonet.
“Ah-Un was killed during the fight between Sesshoumaru-sama and Manshirou,”
Jaken explained sadly. “Rin will be so sad. She was very fond of Ah-Un.”
“Sesshoumaru brought Rin to us before the fight.”
Jaken nodded. “I know. We discovered a plot to steal her, and Sesshoumaru
brought her to you to keep her out of danger.”
‘So that’s why he needed me to keep an eye on the kid!’
“I am very glad she was not here to see what happened. She would not have run
away and she would certainly have been killed.”
‘Maybe... or maybe that girl could have been for Sesshoumaru what Kagome is
for me: a reminder of my heart.’
Nodding, he approached Tenseiga and knelt before the sword. He knew both this
sword and his own had sentience, and chose their masters carefully.
‘Tenseiga, you rejected Sesshoumaru because he used you for evil and dishonored
Oyaji, didn’t you?’
He took Tessaiga out of its sheath and placed it beside its twin.
‘Tenseiga, Tessaiga: forged from Oyaji’s fangs until Tessaiga was broken and
repaired with mine, but still Oyaji’s fang lives in my blade. Tenseiga, great sword of
healing, will you help me for a short time?’ he addressed respectfully.
Slowly, he reached for the hilt, his hand shaking slightly.
‘Will you reject me as Tessaiga rejects Sesshoumaru?’
His hand closed on the hilt and there was a long, tense moment, then Tenseiga
pulsed twice in his hand and transformed, the blade beginning to glow with an unearthly
blue light. He breathed a sigh of relief.
‘Thank you, Tenseiga.’
With his free hand, he picked up Tessaiga and put it back in its sheath. Then he
stood and moved to walk away, but Tenseiga pulsed again.
‘What is it?’
He saw shadows moving in his peripheral vision, and looked at the body of AhUn. In the light cast by the sword he thought he saw... little ghouls picking at the corpse.
‘What are those things? Are... are they what Sesshoumaru strikes at when he uses
Tenseiga? Will it even work after the body has been dead all this time?’
Tenseiga pulsed again and he felt the pull. ‘I guess so. Okay then, it’s obvious
what you want, so here goes...’
Swinging the blade, he struck at the ghouls and killed them. They disappeared
with little shrieks and the moment they did, Ah-Un’s body healed and became whole
again.
‘Wow.’
He looked at Jaken, who was sputtering with shock.
“Inuyasha-sama...”
Behind him, Ah-Un groaned and began to struggle to stand.
“Toad, stay with the dragonet. I’m going to bring my brother back his sword.”
Jaken bowed and did as ordered, staying with the newly revived dragonet while
he went back into the house. Steeling his nerve, he marched to the Great Hall and threw
open the shoji.
“Oi! Sesshoumaru, you asshole! What the fuck do you think you’re...” He stopped
because the hall was empty except for the rotting bodies of three servants. ‘What the
fuck? He’s not here?’
A breeze from behind the main throne brought his brother’s scent to him and he
crossed the room, moving behind a separating screen to find a portion of the outer wall
slid open to the sea. The covered walkway looked out over the cliffs and the crashing
waves below.
Moving out of the house to the narrow gangway, he turned and saw Sesshoumaru
at the end of the corridor. His brother was slumped against the side of the house, staring
out at the sea. Physically, he did not seem harmed, but the look on his face froze Inuyasha
to the core.
“Oi! Sesshoumaru!” he began, making his way over.
Sesshoumaru moved almost too fast to see. Toukijin was out and striking, a blast
of power flying his way. Instinctively, he raised his hands to protect himself, blocking the
blow with Tenseiga. The sword pulsed and deflected the blast, sending the energy
careening harmlessly off into the air.
‘Tensegia...’ “Keh! Nice try,” he taunted.
Sesshoumaru glared at him from the corner of his eye. He hadn’t moved from his
spot on the gangway floor.
“So Tenseiga chooses its new master. A worthless half-breed. Take that useless
thing and go,” the inu-youkai ordered, hate in his voice.
“Feh! Not hardly. Like I’d want your sword. It just wanted me to come in here
and kick some sense into your stupid ass.”
Sesshoumaru struck again, and again he blocked with Tenseiga.
“Insolent whelp!”
“You’re one to talk! I’m not the one sitting here staring at fucking seagulls while
your lands fall apart!”
“What do I care for these lands?! They are full of worthless humans and traitors!”
The youkai lord flew to his feet and rushed at him, Toukijin slashing. He leapt
back, almost hitting his head on the roof of the walkway and blocked with Tenseiga.
Tenseiga pulsed and let out a burst of energy every time the demon sword hit it as
Sesshoumaru tried to cut his brother.
‘Shit! He’s fucking nuts!’ he thought as he was pushed back again. Tenseiga
continued to protect him and he did nothing offensive towards his brother, merely
defended and trusted in his father’s fang.
“They’re yours! Oyaji left them to you! You always took care of them! You said
it was your duty as Oyaji’s heir. You never got involved in the humans’ petty disputes
and you didn’t dispense Law, but you made sure they weren’t starving or being
slaughtered.”
“They are the scum that rose against me!”
“That bastard Takasho Nimori wasn’t from here! He was a foreigner who stole
men from the villages and forced them to fight if they wanted to protect their families!
Half of them didn’t even know you were back and thought they were fighting
Manshirou!”
“You will not say that cursed name in my presence, hanyou!”
Blades clashed and he held his ground, gritting his teeth and meeting
Sesshoumaru’s furious glare.
“I came all the way here because you left your brat with me, and she was pining
for you so much that she wouldn’t fucking shut up! I find villages burned, fields
destroyed, women and pups starving, carrion-eaters running around doing whatever they
damn well please, and my good-for-nothing brother who thinks he’s so much better than
me, staring off at the tides!!”
Using all of his strength, he thrust Sesshoumaru backwards, sending him flying
down the gangway.
“Why am I, the bastard hanyou, the one your seneschals have been saying was
cast out, doing more for your people than you are?”
“FILTHY HALF-BREED! Know your place and lick the ground!” Sesshoumaru
seethed, rising to his feet, his face starting to elongate.
‘Shit! He’s gonna transform!’
“I don’t bow to anyone! Least of all you! Go ahead and show your true form if
you want to lose your other arm! I’ve got both of Oyaji’s swords and I took down
Ryuukotsusei who killed Oyaji! Do you really think you can beat me in the state you’re
in?”
“How dare you threaten me, you worthless cur!” the taiyoukai raged, but he did
stop transforming.
“If you’ve got the energy to fight me, you’d be better off using it to rid Oyaji’s
lands of the rabble that are taking it over! The one who is responsible for these lands isn’t
me, it’s you, and you’ve got hordes of carrion eaters out there laying waste to your
countryside.”
As if on cue a mass of writhing lower youkai appeared on the cliffs, drawn by the
sounds of battle and the promise of fresh meat, and Sesshoumaru turned hateful eyes their
way.
‘Heh, there’s only one thing Sesshoumaru hates more than me, and it’s those
pathetic bastards.’
“Low-life SCUM!” Sesshoumaru roared, flying out to attack the carrion-eaters
with Toukijin.
‘And I’ll give you a hand,’ he thought gleefully, shoving Tenseiga into his
waistband and drawing Tessaiga as he leaped after his brother.
“Kaze no Kizu!”
He blasted a horde of them, sending their bits and pieces falling into the sea.
“Heh! Take that!”
Suddenly, Sesshoumaru slammed into him, knocking him down to the cliff. He
skidded on his back, thinking that Sesshoumaru had just attacked him, but the taiyoukai
only had eyes for his new prey.
‘What the fuck?’
“Stay out of this, hanyou!” Sesshoumaru ordered, before turning his blade to the
carrion-eaters.
At first, he was pissed off, but then he saw the light back in his brother’s eyes and
laughed to himself.
‘Okay, you wanna do the ass-kicking, I’ll let you. I’ve done plenty of it already.
I’ll let you have some of the fun.’
He sat back and watched as Sesshoumaru made short work of the youkai too
stupid to run away.
“Get out of my lands, worthless rabble,” the inu-youkai growled, finishing off the
remainder of them before coming to stand next to where he sat on the cliff.
“Keh! There’s plenty more where they came from. The whole of the Western
Lands is infested with them. I killed countless of them on my way here.”
Sesshoumaru growled again.
“Hey, what do you expect? You’ve been fucking brooding for two months, of
course they’re gonna move in and take what opportunities they can. They’re fucking
scavengers and you’ve got a whole field of bodies out there for them to feast on while
you were staring off into space. What the hell happened to you Sesshoumaru?”
His brother didn’t answer, but faced the sea, his long white hair blowing in the
wind. Then he turned and leaped back to the Great House, disappearing into the Great
Hall. Inuyasha followed.
Sesshoumaru crossed through the Great Hall and walked out of the house, not
stopping until he had left the main entrance. Inuyasha found him outside in the courtyard,
staring at Jaken who was standing there with Ah-Un. The toad youkai bowed deeply, his
nose almost touching the ground.
“Sesshoumaru-sama.”
“Jaken.”
There was silence, then Sesshoumaru spoke again, this time softly. “You stayed.”
“This Jaken would never abandon his lord.”
The inu-youkai did not reply, but Inuyasha swore he saw the cold golden eyes
soften.
‘Hmmm, maybe Kagome is right about him and he isn’t as hard-hearted as I
thought he was.’
Sesshoumaru moved and he, Jaken and Ah-Un followed him past the smashed
yagura and out of the honmaru. The inu-youkai crossed through the ninomaru and
sannomaru and came to the main gates. He opened them and exited the castle stronghold,
sparing only a glance for what was left of his Lord Marshal as he walked.
They came to the scorched battlefield full of human bones and Sesshoumaru
stopped to survey the sight. Inuyasha came to stand beside him and spied a group of
bones that caught his particular attention. Judging by the scraps of clothing and simple
geta scattered around where their feet would have been, it was obvious that these men
had been peasants, probably conscript farmers from one of the villages. He saw
Sesshoumaru turn his head to look where he was staring, and a little frown marred the
normally expressionless face.
‘He sees what I see. Poor bastards forced to their death.’
In his waistband, Tenseiga pulsed.
‘Hmmm, Tenseiga. You don’t like it either do you? Are you ready to go back to
your master?’
The sword pulsed again and he nodded, pulling it from his waistband.
“Oi. Sesshoumaru,” he said, offering his brother the blade.
Sesshoumaru was silent for several moments, then spoke, “Tenseiga has rejected
me and chosen a new master.”
He shook his head. “Tenseiga rejected you because you abused its power and
dishonored Oyaji. I think it will take you back if you vow to never use it to cause pain
again.”
The inu-youkai stared at the sword for a long time, then tentatively reached out to
grasp the hilt. Inuyasha saw the uncertainty in his brother’s eyes and did his best not to
smirk.
‘Taken down a notch or two, eh, asshole?’
Sesshoumaru’s hand closed on the hilt and the sword did nothing for several
seconds, then it pulsed and transformed. Showing more emotion than he’d ever seen his
brother show, he watched as Sesshoumaru lifted the sword from his hands, touched the
hilt to his forehead, and closed his eyes with relief. Then he turned and held the blade
high.
“Now hanyou, witness the true power of Tenseiga.”
Sesshoumaru swung the blade once in the direction of the dead peasants.
‘He’s killing those little ghouls...’
En masse, the bones grew flesh and the bodies healed, revealing a group of thirty
or so simple farmers.
‘Shit! All of them at once!’
The farmers drew breath and began to sit up, looking at their hands and at each
other.
“What happened?” one asked another.
“I don’t know. The last thing I remember was fire...”
“You were dead,” Sesshoumaru said simply.
The farmers turned their heads in their direction, eyes flying wide open when they
saw the inu-youkai and his entourage standing there.
‘Heh, never seen the ‘Great Lord’ up close have you?’
“My Lord!” one cried and threw himself to the ground. The others followed suit.
“You were dead. Now you are alive. Go back to your villages and trouble me no
longer. Your families and homes need you.”
“My Lord, did you revive us?” another of the men asked.
“Is there another here who possesses that power?” Sesshoumaru asked coldly.
‘Keh! Now they’re going to think you’re a fucking god!’
“N... no my Lord!”
“Go home. Tell your villages that this Sesshoumaru rules the Western Lands
again and will not tolerate rebellion.”
The peasants stood on shaky legs and bowed repeatedly as they backed away.
Finally, they turned and ran off, moving as fast as their legs could carry them.
Sesshoumaru watched them go impassively, his face once again a mask of stoic calm.
“Jaken,” the taiyoukai called.
“Hai, Sesshoumaru-sama,” the toad youkai replied, coming to stand next to his
lord.
“Take Ah-Un and gather your tribe. Bring them here to begin work on repairing
Chichi-ue’s house,” Sesshoumaru ordered.
“Yes, Sesshoumaru-sama. Immediately, Sesshoumaru-sama.”
“And send word to the other inu-youkai Houses that this Sesshoumaru rules
again. Their courtiers are to return here, but they are to be warned that traitors will suffer
the same fate as Manshirou,” he added.
“Yes, Sesshoumaru-sama. This Jaken will see it done.”
As the toad-youkai did as commanded, Sesshoumaru began to walk among the
skeletons. Inuyasha followed silently and it soon became apparent that his brother was
searching for more peasants. Each time he found one or a group of them, he would use
Tenseiga and return them to life. Some he could not revive because the bones had been
scattered by the carrion-eaters, but each time he found one intact, he wasted no time in
using the healing sword. The invading army made it easy for him by putting all of the
conscripts in the front lines. One swing of Tenseiga and he could revive dozens at once.
‘That sword… that sword is amazing. How could he have ever hated it and
resented Oyaji for giving Tessaiga to me? Look how effortlessly he wields that blade. He
resurrects fifty of them with one swing and barely breaks a sweat.’
But he knew that what Sesshoumaru was doing wasn’t easy, and he could see the
strain on his brother’s face as he walked the battlefield. However, the inu-youkai did not
stop until every peasant that could be revived had been returned to life. They huddled in
confused groups until Sesshoumaru ordered them to return to their homes, then they
dispersed, each heading for home as fast as they could go to spread the news of the Great
Lord’s mercy and divine power.
“You said there were villages burned and fields destroyed?” Sesshoumaru asked
him once their work on the battlefield was done.
“Yeah, lots of them,” he answered.
“You will show me these villages.”
‘Shit… is he asking me to help him?’ “Umm, sure.”
“We will kill the carrion-eaters as we go and rout them from these lands.”
‘He is asking me to help him! What the Hell? Who are you and what have you
done with my brother?’
“Keh! No arguments there!”
Sesshoumaru cast him a glance with one golden eye that perhaps was not quite as
cold and emotionless as it had been.
“Let us go.”
He hid his smirk and smug smile, and leaped forward. Sesshoumaru followed
close at his heels as they set off to restore the Western Lands together.
Chapter Twenty-Five
“I’m gonna get you!” Kagome teased, laughing. :Run! Pup, run! Mother-female
catch pup!:
Yukio let out a squeal of delight and toddled away as fast as his little legs could
carry him, which considering he was a hanyou, was pretty damn fast. Kagome gave chase
and they ran around the shrine grounds, laughing and playing in the warm afternoon
sunlight.
‘It’s a shame Inuyasha’s missing this,’ she thought as she marveled once again at
how quickly Yukio was developing.
Two days ago he’d mastered the words ‘Jii-chan’ and ‘Baa-chan’ much to Jiichan and Mama’s delight. He still called Souta ‘Outa’ because ‘S’ was still a problem for
him, but she was sure he’d get it soon.
Inuyasha had been gone for five days, and she was missing him terribly. Yukio
missed him too and often asked where he was. She kept telling him that his Otou-san had
gone away on a trip and would be back soon. She used the opportunity to teach him the
days of the week and the basics of counting. On her calendar she had circled the tenth
day, the day Inuyasha was supposed to come for them and they would go back through
the well, and she made it a point to mark off each day with him every morning, going
through the exercise of listing and counting off the days left. In this way, she had taught
him how to count to ten.
‘Inuyasha will be so proud when he hears Yukio recite his numbers. I know he
wants me to teach him everything I can.’
Yukio tried to hide behind Goshinboku, but he kept giggling so his hiding spot
was easily given away. Kagome played along anyway, making a show of looking for
him.
“Where is he? Where is Yukio?” :Where pup?: “Where’d he go. Oh no, I can’t
find him!” :Where pup? Pup missing! Mother-female find pup!:
She popped up behind him and pounced on him. “Found you!” :Caught!:
Yukio yelped then started laughing. “Okaa!”
Rolling him on his back, she rubbed him and blew raspberries on his belly as he
giggled and squirmed.
“Got you! Got you!” :Mother-female found pup!:
“Okaa!” :Mother-female! Pup good! Pup good!:
She snickered and rubbed her nose into his chest. “My little big dog.” :Good pup!:
Then she picked him up, held him high over her head and spun him around. He
put out his arms and his sounds of glee could be heard clear across the shrine grounds.
Bringing him close to her chest, she adjusted his hat because it had become a little loose
when she had spun him, and she didn’t want it falling off. Even though the shrine was
closed for the day, she didn’t want to take any chance that someone might come by and
see Yukio’s puppy ears. As a result, he always wore a hat whenever he was outside of the
house, no matter where they were going or what they were doing.
“Otou,” Yukio burbled, nuzzling her under her chin. :Leader-male gone.: Then he
held up one hand and silently folded each finger down like they had done that morning.
“One. Two. Three. Four. Five,” she counted off. “Five days before Otou comes
home.” :Good pup!:
He put his head on her shoulder and she swayed back and forth, rocking him and
cooing as she planted little kisses on his forehead. “Love you, baby.” :Mother-female
loves pup. Mother-female loves pup very much. Good pup.:
“Higurashi?”
Kagome froze at the voice.
‘Houjou?’
Slowly she turned around to see the young man standing there, a bouquet of
flowers in his hands. Her surprise soon turned to irritation, but not at the boy.
‘Eri… Yuka… I’m going to kill you.’
The previous day she and Ayumi had stopped at WacDonald’s on the way home
from school and they had run into their old friends from junior high. Kagome hadn’t seen
them since her 17th birthday party and they were eager to catch up with her. The girls had
asked about Inuyasha and she had answered carefully, making sure to leave out anything
about Yukio because she didn’t want them to know about him. Not that they couldn’t be
trusted, but well… they couldn’t be trusted. Houjou showing up at the shrine carrying
flowers was glaring proof of that.
‘I wish you two would just give it up! I’m not interested in Houjou. I love
Inuyasha!’
“Houjou-kun!” she stammered.
“Higurashi, why are you barking at that child?”
‘Barking? Oh… the inu-youkai…’
“Barking? Oh that. Ummm… it’s just a game we play,” she stuttered, hoping the
years since junior high hadn’t dulled any of his naiveté.
Yukio sniffed, turning golden eyes towards the boy. :New male. Not pack,: he
said, and clung to his mother worriedly. Strange males were never good; especially when
Otou wasn’t around. “Okaa?”
‘Damn.’
“Okaa?” Houjou repeated. “Higurashi, is this baby… yours?”
She drew herself up, one hand on Yukio’s back and met Houjou’s questioning
gaze.
“Yes.” ‘It’s too much to explain and he doesn’t need to know. It’s none of his
business anyway and maybe he’ll finally give up on me.’
Houjou flinched at her plain answer. “Does… does the school know?”
She shot him an irritated glare. “Being that I’m still in school, the answer to that
would be no.”
The boy looked away, his eyes falling to the flowers that hung limply at his side.
“Is this why you went to live at your aunt’s?”
She blinked. “Oh, no. No. I’ve been living in Sendai since I graduated from Junior
High. Yukio’s only ten months old.”
“Yukio… Ten months. You’ve been keeping him a secret for ten months?”
“It’s easy when I’m not here 90% of the time and only go in to school every two
weeks and to take exams,” she said with a shrug.
“And… and who is the father?”
“A boy I’ve been seeing since Junior High.”
Houjou’s eyes opened wide. “Since Junior High?”
She nodded, feeling sympathy for him because he was looking crushed. “I’m
sorry Houjou-kun. I tried to tell you…”
“Is he going to do right by you?” he asked suddenly.
‘Huh?’ “You mean is he going to marry me? I… I think so. Eventually.” ‘If he
doesn’t get sucked into Hell by his undead ex-girlfriend… who has been suspiciously
absent these last eight months.’
“Eventually?”
She nodded. “After I graduate High School and turn eighteen. Then I think we’ll
get married.”
“Where is he now?”
“Far away. He had to go away on a trip.”
“Away on a trip? Kagome, is he much older than you?”
‘Ummm, how should I answer that?’ “No. Not that much older. He’s eighteen.”
‘Or the equivalent in hanyou years. Funny how they grow fast as babies but then they
reach a point where everything slows down.’
Inuyasha explained that hanyou and youkai offspring grew fast to get out of the
helpless stage quickly. Once they weren’t so vulnerable, however, their development
slowed down. He predicted that Yukio would grow like a weed for the first two or three
years, then they would see a gradual slowdown. And of course, as she loved to tease him,
hanyous might grow fast but they matured very, very slowly.
Houjou nodded at her answer.
“Do you love him?” he questioned.
“Yes,” she replied without hesitation. ‘More than breath, more than life.’
The sadness in his eyes increased, but then she saw him shake his head slightly
and muster a soft smile. “I’m glad. I want you to be happy, Higurashi.”
‘Oh Houjou. You’re a good man. If I hadn’t fallen in love with Inuyasha, I would
have been happy to be your girlfriend.’ “Thank you, Houjou-kun.”
He smiled a little wider and offered her the flowers. “These are for you.”
She bowed slightly and accepted the flowers with her free hand, showing them to
Yukio.
“See the pretty flowers, Yukio?”
Yukio sniffed the flowers then grabbed one, ripped it off its stem and ate it.
“Yukio!”
“Pleh!” the baby sputtered, spitting out the foul tasting flower. :Not food,: he
complained.
Kagome started laughing, and Yukio gave her an irritated glare as if to say, ‘What
are you laughing at?’ He looked so much like his father in that moment that she just
laughed harder. She heard Houjou chuckling too.
“He is very cute, Higurashi,” the boy said, coming closer to get a good look at
him.
Yukio started warning him off with a little growl so Kagome bounced him and
gave him a shush.
“Hush, baby. It’s okay.”
Yukio stopped growling, but he kept up his little ‘stay away from my mother’
glare.
‘Damn, he does become more and more like Inuyasha every day. I think he’d be
proud to know Yukio was growling at Houjou. He’d probably tell him: Good job
defending our territory, pup. Next I’ll teach you how to pee on a tree.’
Houjou was looking at the baby with wary, suspicious eyes. “Does he take much
after his father, Higurashi?”
‘You have no idea.’
“Yes, he looks just like him.”
“His hair is… unusual.”
‘His hair? Houjou, his hair is the only thing about him that might be considered
normal.’
She nodded. “Yes, but I love it. I think it’s beautiful. His gold eyes too.”
She could see Houjou trying to be diplomatic, his face concerned and serious.
“Yes. His eyes are… different.”
She smiled, hoping it would distract him from any more questions. “He’s a very
special baby.”
“I can tell.”
Houjou lifted one hand to touch Yukio and the growl was back.
“He’s mimicking my aunt’s dogs,” she tried to explain, flushing with
embarrassment, then she turned to Yukio and said sharply, :Quiet. Bad pup!:
Yukio immediately groveled and whimpered, stuffing his fist into his mouth and
shrinking against her shoulder. :Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Not-pack male. Pup scared.:
:Pup safe.:
Turning her attention to the confused young man, she gave him a sheepish smile
and a shrug. “Sometimes I’m convinced he thinks he’s a dog.”
Houjou gave a nervous laugh.
‘Okay, how can I get rid of him because this is getting awkward?’
“Would you like to come in for some tea?”
‘There. Now because I’m not available, he should say no…’
“Thank you, Higurashi, but I need to go. Another time maybe, when your baby’s
father is visiting with you. I would like to meet him sometime.”
‘Oh yeah, and have him get jealous and go all alpha male on you. No thanks.’
She gave a strained giggle. “That might be nice, Houjou-kun.”
“I’ll have to meet the guy who beat me and warn him never to mistreat you.”
“Ahh… that’s very noble of you, Houjou-kun.” ‘Misguided and potentially lifethreatening, but noble.’
Just then, her mother returned from running errands and called out to her.
“Kagome!”
‘Saved by Mama.’
“Okaeri nasai, Mama,” she greeted as her mother crossed the shrine grounds. She
was pushing a brand new 3-wheeled baby stroller.
‘Oh no. Mama, what did you buy now?’
“Oh, hello Houjou. Did you come to see Kagome?” Mama asked politely.
Houjou bowed deeply. “Good afternoon Higurashi-san.”
Yukio, recognizing his grandmother, burbled a happy greeting and reached for
her.
“Baa-chan!” he said, using his new word.
Mama smiled widely and took his little hand. “How is my favorite grandson?”
He gurgled happily, chattering more greetings in inu-youkai that only Kagome
understood. :Mother-female mother. Pack-female. Home to den. Back safe. Good!:
Mama dug in her pocket and both Kagome and Yukio knew what was coming.
Kagome rolled her eyes but Yukio squealed in excitement.
‘Sheesh, he knows who spoils him more than Inuyasha and I do…’
“Were you a good boy?” Mama asked him.
“Hai! Goo bai,” he replied dutifully. He didn’t really know what he was saying
yet, but he’d memorized the correct response that earned him the goodie.
“Good boys get sweets,” Mama said, handing him a small piece of soft candy.
Yukio seized it with both hands and stuffed it in his mouth.
“Will you come inside and join us for lunch?” the older woman asked Houjou.
Houjou bowed again. “Thank you, but I must be going.”
He turned to her and bowed. She bowed back.
“It was good to see you, Higurashi. I’m glad that you are doing well.”
“It was good to see you, too, Houjou-kun.”
“Well, I’ll be seeing you,” he said with a wave as he moved to leave.
“Houjou-kun,” she called, making him stop. “I know Yuka and Eri were the ones
who told you I was here. They don’t know about Yukio. Please don’t tell them.”
Houjou’s face softened and he nodded. “I would never do anything that would
hurt you, Higurashi. I will keep your secret safe.”
“Thank you, Houjou-kun.”
“Take care, Higurashi.”
“You too.”
She watched him go then turned to her mother.
“He was always such a nice boy,” Mama commented with a wistful sigh.
‘And you would have preferred me with him. Yes, I know. Houjou would have
made a much nicer son-in-law than the rude, violent, selfish and irritating hanyou I
chose.’
“He’d always bring you get well gifts when you weren’t in school and come by to
visit.”
“I know,” she replied.
“But he’s awfully boring compared to Inuyasha, ne?”
“Mama!” she blurted, shocked.
Mama smiled a knowing smile and pushed the stroller, which was filled with her
shopping bags, towards the house. Kagome joined her.
“Well, he is. After all the excitement of that other world, a normal boy like
Houjou would seem so…”
“Tame,” she finished.
“I was going to say ordinary, but tame works too, and considering who you did
choose, it’s probably more appropriate.”
She giggled. “Inuyasha is anything but tame.”
“And you wouldn’t want him any other way.”
She took a moment to superimpose Inuyasha on Houjou, imagining the hanyou
giving her flowers and health sandals.
“Here’s some sandals. Wear them so you’ll stop complaining about how your feet
hurt, wench.”
She snickered and shook her head. “No. I wouldn’t. Now show me what you
bought now, Mama. A stroller? Why do I need a stroller?”
They entered the genkan and took off their shoes.
“Yukio’s getting so big. Soon he’ll be too heavy to carry. I thought a stroller
might help.”
She looked at the stroller. It was a very nice ‘sport’ model: low to the ground,
with a folding hood, and bicycle-like wheels.
“Oh Mama, it’s very nice. I’m sure I’ll get a lot of use out of it while I’m here.”
‘Because I just looovvvvveeee taking my hanyou baby out for strolls around
Tokyo.’
Mama smiled. “But you can’t use it over there?”
She shook her head. “Not really,” she admitted. “When he gets too heavy,
Inuyasha will carry him.”
Mama shrugged. “You’ll use it here then.”
They left the stroller in the genkan and entered the house.
“Shall I make some lunch?”
“I’ll help. We can make miso and ramen.”
“Ah-men!” Yukio repeated, recognizing the word.
Mama giggled. “I know he’s not Inuyasha’s, but he becomes more like his father
every day.”
Kagome sighed and rolled her eyes. “Don’t I know it.”
********
Ten days passed and Inuyasha did not come through the well to get her. It
bothered her a little bit because Inuyasha was nothing if not punctual, but she dismissed
her worry because she knew the Western Lands were some 1000 km from Kaede’s
village and super-hanyou speed or not, it was still a very long way to go.
Twelve days passed. No Inuyasha. She started to get a little nervous, but resolved
herself to wait. Although she missed him desperately and longed to see him again. It was
the most time they had spent apart in over two years.
Fourteen days passed. Still no Inuyasha. Yukio was beside himself because he
didn’t understand where Otou was if the day he was supposed to return had come and
gone, and she wasn’t much better.
Sixteen days and she’d had enough. She caved into her growing worry and went
through the well.
Heaving herself over the side of the well, Yukio in his carrier on her back, she
returned to the Sengoku Jidai and landed in the clearing. She scouted around but there
was no sign of Inuyasha and a sick feeling started to grow in the pit of her stomach.
‘He’s not here...’
“Kagome!” came a familiar voice and she turned to see Shippou coming towards
her.
“Ip-po,” Yukio said from his perch on her back.
‘Shippou… not Inuyasha, was waiting for me. That means… Oh no. No…’
Her legs gave out as a crushing grief hit her and she fell to her knees.
‘Inuyasha is…’
“He’s okay!” was the first thing the kitsune kit said as he jumped into her lap.
The words filtered through her numb mind. ‘He’s alright. Oh thank God.’
“He’s okay,” Shippou repeated. “Jaken arrived a few days ago. He said Inuyasha
was with Sesshomaru and they would be here as soon as they were finished in the
Western Lands.”
She blinked. ‘Inuyasha? With Sesshoumaru? What the hell?’ “Inuyasha’s with
Sesshoumaru?”
Shippou nodded. “We couldn’t believe it either, but from what Jaken says the
Western Lands were badly damaged and both of them are working to fix them. They’re
running out of time with Winter coming. A lot of people will starve if they can’t grow
enough food before the harvest season ends.”
She stood and Shippou hopped onto her shoulder to greet Yukio.
“Hi Yukio!”
“Ip-po.” :Pack-brother.: “Otou?” :Pack-leader?:
“Inuyasha’s not back yet, Yukio. Soon though.”
“Ooon?”
“Is Jaken still here, Shippou?” she asked. ‘I’ll get the toad to tell me what is going
on.’
“Yeah. He’s in the village with Rin and that two-headed dragon-youkai.”
She nodded and began walking towards the village. “Okay.”
In his carrier, she heard Yukio start to count.
“Chee, nee, an, hee, go, oko, hichee, hachee, koo, joo. Joo day. Otou, joo day.”
“Wow! Yukio can count to ten!” Shippou enthused.
“Mmm-hmmm. He learned while we were back in my time. We’d count every
day and he memorized the numbers.”
“He’s so smart. You can really tell he’s not Inuyasha’s son.”
“Don’t say that, Shippou,” she scolded gently. “Inuyasha’s not stupid. In fact,
he’s very smart. Hiding how smart he is is part of the mask he wears to protect himself,
but never forget his mother was a noblewoman and she educated him. He can read and he
writes beautifully, better than me.”
“If that’s true, then why does he let people think he isn’t, and why does he play
dumb?”
Inuyasha had only hinted at his reasons, but it was enough for her to guess.
“Because no one expects a hanyou to be anything more than a dumb animal. After
a while it was just easier to let people think he was simple-minded. Not only was it no
use in trying to explain to people who weren’t willing to listen, it gave him an advantage
because no one expected him to be able to figure things out,” she explained.
“Oh.”
“Inuyasha’s deep, Shippou. He’s very deep. What you see is only what he lets you
see, but I can tell you that he can speak very formally and well when he has to, he’s very
intuitive and observant, and he’s very, very sensitive. From what I have learned from
Sesshoumaru and Toutousai, Inuyasha is very much his father’s son.”
Shippou didn’t comment and she felt that she had said too much so she fell quiet
as she continued on her way to the village. She found Kaede weeding in her garden.
“Kaede-obachan,” she greeted.
“Ah, Kagome. You’re back,” the old miko said.
“Yes. I was worried about Inuyasha so I came to see why he hasn’t come for me.”
“The child and her youkai companions are with the houshi and his wife.”
Kagome nodded. “Thank you.”
“Kagome-sama!” Rin exclaimed as she approached the hut. The little girl was
sitting outside the hut with Jaken and Ah-Un beside her. Kohaku sat nearby, sharpening
the blade of his scythe and chain.
“I’m back,” she said, taking the child’s offered hands as Rin ran to meet her.
“Jaken-sama is here with Ah-Un! He says Sesshoumaru-sama will come for Rin
soon.”
“That is very good news.”
Rin jumped up a bit to see Yukio and Shippou. “Shippo-chan. Yukio-chan.”
Yukio burbled at her and smiled as Shippou hurried a greeting, jumped down and
headed into the hut to tell Miroku and Sango that Kagome was back. Kagome knelt down
and removed the carrier, freeing Yukio from its confines and placing him on the ground.
Rin immediately scooped him up and cuddled him. Yukio didn’t mind because she’d
been doing it for the better part of two months.
“Yukio-chan is so cute!!” the girl enthused. “He’s a little Inuyasha-sama!”
Jaken sputtered and rattled his Staff of Heads. “So that is the hanyou whelp.”
Kagome gave him a glare at his condescending tone of voice and it was enough to
make the little toad visibly sweat.
“Be careful what you say about my son, especially when Inuyasha is around.
Speaking of which, what happened in the Western Lands?”
Still sweating, Jaken spun her a tale of war, betrayal, and bloodshed. She flinched
when he told her of Tenseiga’s rejection. She knew the only person the proud
Sesshoumaru had any respect for was his father. Being rejected by his father’s fang must
have been a terrible blow for him, although the inu-youkai’s extreme reaction did surprise
her. Sesshoumaru did not strike her as the type who would suffer from depression, but
she didn’t doubt Jaken’s story of his murderous rage and subsequent withdrawl into
himself. The most shocking part, however, and the part that made her heart swell with
pride and love for her hanyou, was Inuyasha’s wielding of Tenseiga and his reviving of
Ah-Un. The fact that the great sword of healing accepted Inuyasha’s hand for even a
short time told her that Tenseiga saw Inuyasha as an equal to his full inu-youkai brother.
“So Sesshoumaru actually asked Inuyasha for help?” she questioned in disbelief.
Jaken snorted. “Sesshoumaru-sama did not need the hanyou’s help. It was merely
more expedient for Inuyasha to show him where the damage had been done.”
“Right,” she replied dryly. ‘Well, it isn’t like he hasn’t asked Inuyasha for help
before. The reason he found out Inuyasha had been sealed was because he sent Jaken to
ask if he’d fight the neko-youkai with him. And they have worked together in the past in a
kind of ‘common enemy now, I’ll kill you later’ way. And Sesshoumaru does care about
Inuyasha. I know he does. He came to stop Inuyasha from running rampant that time he
transformed into a full youkai and started killing. I know he said he didn’t kill Inuyasha
because killing him when he didn’t even know who he was wasn’t a victory, but I don’t
believe him.’
During their talk, Rin had set Yukio down and he’d toddled over to Ah-Un. The
two-headed dragon-like beast had lowered its heads down to examine the child and
Yukio, in his typical innocent fearlessness, had grabbed hold of the bridle. Surprised, AhUn jerked its heads up, pulling Yukio with it because he didn’t let go. Yukio let out a
delighted laugh as he was flung around. His mother, of course, was terrified.
“Yukio!” she screamed, leaping to her feet and grabbing for her son.
Ah-Un, now even more upset by the strange human rushing at him, rolled back its
eyes and reared up.
“Let go of my baby!” Kagome cried.
“Ah-Un! Bad Ah-Un! Put Yukio down,” Rin scolded.
“Kagome-chan!” “Kagome-sama!” Sango and Miroku exclaimed as they came
running out of their hut in response to her distressed cry.
“It’s got Yukio!”
They turned to see the child dangling from the reins as the dragon-youkai backed
up against the hut wall.
“Don’t corner it!” Sango warned. “Remember it can fly. If it spooks and takes off,
it could drop the baby!”
Kirara dashed out of the hut and transformed, growling a challenge, which only
served to make matters worse. Thankfully, the beast’s bridle prevented it from breathing
fire and setting everything around it ablaze, but that was a small consolation. Yukio,
heedless of the mortal danger he was in, continued to laugh and swing from the reins.
“Pony,” he burbled.
“Yukio, sweetheart, that’s not a pony!” Kagome yelled. “Let go of the reins, baby.
Let go!”
Ah-Un swung around, looking for a way out and Yukio swung with him, nearly
smashing into the side of the hut. Kagome almost fainted right there.
“Wheeeeeee!” the toddler said, giggling.
‘He thinks it’s a game. Like when Inuyasha and I swing him around. He doesn’t
realize that beast’s not playing!’ she thought frantically.
“Oi! What are you doing with my son?” a very irritated voice said behind her.
‘Inuyasha?!’
She whirled and there he was, looking exhausted and disheveled but perfect.
“Inuyasha!” she cried in both greeting and relief.
He gave her a short nod, but concentrated his attention on the threat to Yukio. He
drew Tessaiga and balanced it on his shoulder.
“Hey you! Put my pup down.”
The ranks of defenders split down the middle to allow the adult hanyou through,
but before anything else could happen Sesshoumaru appeared beside the beast as a flying
ball of light. He materialized, grabbed the beast’s bridle without so much as a flinch,
plucked the toddler from the reins and tossed him towards his father, all without ever
changing his neutral expression or batting an eye. Kagome, seeing her baby flying
through the air, screamed, but Inuyasha shoved Tessaiga into the ground tip first and
snatched Yukio in mid-flight.
“Wheeeee! OTOU!”
“Hey pup,” Inuyasha greeted, catching him and holding him close.
“Otou! Otou! Otou!” Yukio chattered excitedly, completely oblivious that he
could have just been killed. :Leader-male! Leader-male! Back safe! Leader-male!:
Kagome, her legs weak with relief, ran over and threw her arms around them
both.
“Inuyasha!”
He turned his head to look at her, his eyes full of love and joy. “Hi. I’m back.”
For a moment, she was speechless, then she kissed him. He jerked under her
touch, then she felt him relax and put an arm around her. His hand on the small of her
back pulled her tight against his body and she felt the tremors that ran through him.
“I missed you,” she breathed when the kiss finally ended.
His eyes were swirling with need and happiness. “I missed you too. So much.”
A wave of lust hit her and she gripped his haori, fighting herself so she didn’t
throw him to the ground right then and there. He smelled it too, because his eyes widened
and flashed with momentary surprise before answering in kind.
“Kagome…” he growled softly under his breath.
“This public display disgusts me,” Sesshoumaru’s condescending voice said,
breaking the spell they’d cast on each other.
“Oi. You’re just pissed because you haven’t gotten any in over two centuries,”
Inuyasha spat back. “Isn’t it high time you found a mate and started popping out a few
pups of your own?”
There was stunned silence and everyone braced for the explosion and subsequent
battle to the death. It never came.
“Rin,” Sesshoumaru called, stretching out his hand.
The little girl, overjoyed at seeing her benefactor again, ran to him and grabbed it.
“Sesshoumaru-sama! Rin is so happy to see you! She missed you so much!”
If anyone thought it was odd that the inu-youkai didn’t shrug off the child’s touch
or pull his hand away, no one said, mostly because they were still stunned by
Sesshoumaru’s lack of response to the obvious insult. He picked her up and placed her on
Ah-Un, then walked away without another word. Rin waved as Ah-Un followed its
master, Jaken hurrying beside it.
“Good-bye! Rin thanks you for taking care of her. She’ll be back!”
Sesshoumaru took to the air without so much as a backward glance.
“Sesshoumaru-sama! Wait for us!” Jaken cried, hopping up and down.
Rin bent down and offered her hand to the toad-youkai. “Come on, Jaken-sama.”
Jaken took the offered hand and hopped up onto the two-headed beast. Rin waved
a final time as Ah-Un flew after the fading figure in the sky.
“Bye!”
“Keh. Still an arrogant asshole,” Inuyasha huffed.
“Inuyasha…” she warned.
He gave her a frightened glance. “Don’t sit me! I’ve got the pup!”
Miroku, coming out of his shock, shook his head and tsk-ed. “Still the same as
always, I see. It is good you are back, Inuyasha. You were sorely missed.”
The others gathered around them, Kirara transforming back into her kitten form
and hopping onto Miroku’s shoulder. From inside the hut, Miyoko’s cry reached her
mother and Shippou called from within.
“Excuse me,” Sango said and hurried to answer her daughter’s wail.
Shippou came running out a moment later.
“Inuyasha!” the kit cried, leaping up to his shoulder.
“Oi, Shippou.”
“What happened?” he asked.
“Sesshoumaru’s two-headed dragonet had Yukio.”
The kitsune kit gasped.
“Actually, I think it was the other way around,” Sango commented, coming out of
the hut carrying Miyoko.
“How’d that happen?” Inuyasha asked, looking at Kagome.
Kagome blushed. “I was talking with Jaken and Rin was supposed to be watching
him, but somehow he toddled over to that beast and just grabbed its reins when no one
was looking.”
He looked at Yukio who was still beaming at him.
‘He knows and adores his father so much.’
“Oi, pup, you need to learn not to wander away from your keepers.”
“Otou.” :Leader-male. Pup happy leader-male back safe.:
He nuzzled his son. :Leader-male happy to be back with pack.: Then he turned
heated eyes her way and pulled her close again. :Leader-male very happy to be back with
pack,: he said in inu-youkai, knowing she would understand him.
She answered by lifting her head just slightly to bare her throat, a sign of obvious
submission, and she saw his nostrils flare and his eyes dilate as they focused on the pulse
point of her neck. A low growl escaped his lips and her knees went weak.
‘Oh god… what he does to me. One look and I’m a puddle of goo. A horny puddle
of goo…’
“You must tell us all about what you found in the Western Lands, Inuyasha,”
Miroku interrupted.
‘Now? We haven’t seen each other for 16 days. Can’t this wait?’
“Feh. Not much to tell. Fields destroyed, people starving, carrion-eaters running
rampant, my idiot brother staring at the tides while his lands fall apart…”
“It is true that you wielded Tenseiga?” the monk asked.
She felt Inuyasha puff up with pride and knew her hopes of a quick romantic tryst
were just trampled by her hanyou’s ego.
“Yeah. It’s true. My stupid brother threw it away. I still can’t believe that. He
used it to torture his Lord Marshal then got upset when it rejected him.”
“Jaken told us you used Tensiega to revive Ah-Un,” Sango noted.
He nodded. “That blade is incredible. It revived corpses that were weeks dead.”
“Amazing,” Miroku breathed. “Such power, and in the hands of someone who
seems so cold-hearted.”
Inuyasha had no answer, but Kagome saw something come into his eyes.
‘Hmmm, I wonder what he saw in his brother all those days they were together.’
“Inuyasha, you have returned,” Kaede’s voice said behind them.
Releasing her, Inuyasha turned to face the old miko, picking up Tessaiga in the
process and sheathing it.
“Oi, Kaede-baba.”
The old woman regarded him seriously for several seconds. “Hmmmmm. You
look hungry. I’ll make lunch.”
Kagome heard his stomach grumble in answer to the idea of food, and his face fell
a little.
“Yeah,” he replied, putting one hand on his rumbling belly. “Didn’t get a chance
to eat much. Sesshoumaru’s a bastard and he didn’t want to stop to rest or eat.”
“Sounds like someone else we know,” Miroku commented to his wife.
The taijiya nodded. “Must run in the family.”
“Oi!” Inuyasha growled, glaring at them, but they just smiled and looked
innocent.
“Come this way, Inuyasha,” Kaede beckoned.
“I have some stew I started this morning,” Sango offered. “I can bring it and we
can all eat together so Inuyasha can tell us about his adventures.”
“Hai, hai, an excellent idea,” Miroku argreed. “I’ll get it for you.”
Lunch turned into a welcome back feast, with numerous villagers bringing food
and coming to herald the village protector’s triumphant return. Kagome sat next to him,
listening to him speak of his time in the Western Lands, both before and after he found
Sesshoumaru, and tried to be patient. She knew that the others were happy to have him
back, just as she was, but she longed to get him alone. His close proximity was driving
her crazy because he was unwashed and smelled of honest sweat; a scent she always
found very arousing. To make matters worse, he kept brushing up against her and her
body, already tingling from his nearness, went into overdrive every time they touched.
She kept her hands neatly in her lap when she wasn’t eating or holding Yukio, and prayed
that lunch would end soon.
“And is the body of Manshirou still displayed by the castle gates?” Miroku asked.
She looked up and saw a twinkle in the houshi’s eyes.
‘He’s doing it on purpose,’ she realized suddenly. ‘It’s payback for embarrassing
him with that book…’
Inuyasha shoved a dumpling into his mouth and shook his head. “No. I convinced
him to take the damn thing down. None of his remaining seneschals would come back
with it still up there, and he could just forget any of the courtiers. They were scared to
death of him.”
“As well they should be. Sesshoumaru is a powerful inu-youkai. Manshirou was a
fool to conspire with Naraku and then try to overthrow Sesshoumaru himself,” Miroku
said.
“Well, he’s a dead fool now, so Sesshoumaru showed him.”
“Tell us again what you said to him when he said Tenseiga had chosen a new
master,” Shippou enthused.
“Heh, I said it only accepted me because it wanted me to go in there and kick his
stupid a… errr butt,” he answered, casting Kagome a worried glance.
“Oh to have been a fly on the wall for that,” Sango commented, snickering.
“Heh,” Inuyasha chuckled, and finished off his rice.
Kagome looked at his place setting and took in all the empty bowls and plates.
The hanyou had consumed an ungodly amount of food in a very short time.
‘He must have really been starving. Well, he did say that he gave all his ramen to
those hungry village children.’ She could just see him doing that, picturing the haunted
faces fill up with hope as he handed them the only food he had so that they would have
something to eat. ‘He gave them his last cup of ramen. This is why I adore this man.’
He looked at her and caught her staring at him with adoration. He blushed and
ducked his head, then peered back up at her through his bangs. Now that his belly was
full, she could sense his attention turning towards satisfying… other needs. Why she was
the only one who noticed this, she wasn’t sure. Or maybe the others did notice it, but
chose to ignore it. Whatever the reason, the longer they drew out the conversation, the
more Inuyasha began to fidget, and the more Inuyasha began to fidget, the greater the
chance he would lose his temper.
It was glaringly obvious that he was growing more and more impatient and
annoyed. His answers were becoming shorter, his voice a little harder. Even Yukio
noticed that his father was less than happy, and ducked his head down under her arm to
avoid scrutiny.
:Pup bad?:
She shook her head and patted him. :Pup good. Leader-male tired from trip.
Leader-male needs sleep.:
:Go to den?:
:Soon.:
Finally, after several more questions and nervous looks, Kaede intervened and
called an end to the meal.
“Inuyasha has come a long way and he is very tired. We should give him time
with his family and allow him to rest.”
“Thank you, Kaede-obachan,” she whispered as the group began to disperse.
“Old I may be, but blind I am not. The monk was playing with dangerous fire.”
She nodded vigorously, and turned just in time to see Inuyasha handing Yukio to
Miroku and heard her son’s loud protest.
“Here, watch the pup for us.”
“Ah…” the houshi stammered.
“Otou!” Yukio cried, reaching for his father only to wilt and sniffle when
Inuyasha barked a very clear, :Pup stay with pack-male.:
Already learning how to play them off each other, the toddler turned pleading
eyes her way. “Okaa!” :Mother-female!:
She kissed him but refused to take him from Miroku’s arms.
:Do as leader-male says.:
Big fat tears welled up in Yukio’s eyes and spilled over. “No!”
Inuyasha growled at him, low and angry. :Obey leader-male.:
“Otou…” he tried again, plaintively.
Inuyasha softened for a moment and rubbed his son’s ears. :Pup safe. Pup still
pack. Leader-male and mother-female have time alone. Pup is not being left behind.:
‘Oh, He was afraid he was being cast out of the pack…’
The reassurance only placated him a little bit.
“Don’t worry, sweetheart. Okaa will come get you before dinner,” she promised,
ignoring Inuyasha’s indignant snort. :Mother-female loves pup. Pup still pack. Motherfemale will come for pup. Pup be good. Pup stay with pack-male.:
“Go ahead and take him,” she told Miroku.
The monk nodded, casting her a knowing glance that made her blush, and carried
Yukio off as he and Sango went back to their hut. Once they were gone, Inuyasha nipped
at her neck and licked her ear.
“Run,” he whispered huskily.
“Huh?”
“Run. Run for the den. I’ll give chase and catch you. I’ll even be good and give
you a head start.”
‘Oh…’ She had no illusions as to what would happen when he ‘caught’ her, and a
rush of heat flooded her body. Inuyasha’s nostrils flared and he inhaled deeply, his eyes
dilating.
“Run,” he ordered hoarsely, a hint of desperation in his voice.
She ran.
She made it to Goshinboku before he tackled her from behind, and she almost hit
the ground face first but at the last moment he cushioned her with his body. Hungry lips
found hungry lips and they rolled in the leaves by the huge roots of the ancient tree.
Whatever he was hoping for, she knew he was shocked when he found himself straddled
and pinned to the forest floor. Surprised by her own aggression, but too thrilled by the
rush of power to care, she slammed him down by his shoulders and ravaged his mouth,
her fingers clawing at his clothing to reach bare flesh. Her need was raging out of control,
and if he was feeling even a fraction of the desire she was, she knew their coupling would
be frantic and brief. She didn’t care about that either. She needed him now.
She pulled open his hakama, freeing him from the confines of the red cloth as he
ripped off her panties. With one swift movement she took him, feeling him arch his back
and grab her hips to pull her further down onto him as they struggled in the throes of
passion. She screamed his name and he howled hers as they reached their peaks together,
then they trembled as one, her legs still gripping his hips as they rode out the aftershocks.
The whole thing lasted five minutes, if that. Actually, probably only three.
Gasping for breath, Inuyasha threw out his arms and went limp underneath her.
“Shit, woman, and I thought I was the sex fiend, but you just ravished me,” he
panted, smiling, his eyes sparkling.
She giggled, rubbing his chest. “I’m sorry. I see you and I lose complete control
over myself.”
He chuckled. “You have my full permission to lose control of yourself any time
you want.”
“I dunno. You might not be able to keep up with me,” she teased.
“Oh, but the fun I’d have trying.”
She gave a full laugh making him groan and close his eyes, and she knew she had
about ten minutes before he was ready to go again. Disengaging herself, she kissed his
nose and crouched beside him.
“Give me another head start?”
He blinked then gave her a wicked grin. “You’ve got until I can feel my legs
again.”
Snickering, she was off. She only hoped this time she’d actually make it to the
den.
Chapter Twenty-Six
Miroku flipped open Kagome’s book and resumed studying the chapter on
foreplay and manipulation of erogenous zones. He had to admit the book had proven to
be most educational and useful, and had significantly improved intimate relations
between him and Sango. It was obvious that the people in Kagome’s country were very
advanced indeed if they had time to devote to the kind of study and research that went
into writing such a book.
‘I wonder if they had to ask for volunteers,’ he thought.
He’d already read the book once through, including the ‘advanced chapters’
Kagome had said that not even she and Inuyasha had gotten to yet. He made it a point to
read those closely to absorb the information. Not one to be outdone, he fully intended to
reach the ‘advanced’ level before the hanyou and his lover did. He had a reputation as a
hentai to uphold after all; although some of the things the book talked about were very
strange and he knew he hadn’t a prayer in Hell of getting Sango to do even a fraction of
them.
There was a section on an organ in his body called a ‘prostate’ and it could be
manipulated by going through his anus. The book said the practice, when done properly,
was extremely arousing and pleasurable. Briefly he wondered if Inuyasha and Kagome
had tried it out for themselves. He tried to picture such a thing in his mind, but- even with
the book’s helpful illustrations- he couldn’t bring himself to imagine it.
‘I wonder if the artist hired to do this work volunteered for the job. And were live
models used…’
There were also two entire chapters devoted to toys and other ‘pleasure
enhancement’ tools. Some of the items were slightly disconcerting, and he wondered
what type of person would use such things in order to ‘increase their sexual enjoyment.’
A few of the things designed for men looked more painful than anything else, although
there was one ‘toy’ for women with two appendages that intrigued him. And of course,
the section on anal beads made him wonder if he still had his old rosary somewhere.
The black crow feather shimmered enticingly in the sunlight, reflecting rainbow
colors off of its surface. The book had said a feather or soft brush could be used in the
technique he planned to try, and the feather had appeared to him during one of his walks
in the forest like a divine gift from Buddha Himself.
‘I think I’ll try this tonight,’ he mused, reaching over to pick up the perfect
primary wing feather next to him.
‘It can never be said that I refused a sign from Providence.’
The sound of footsteps approaching made him hastily place the feather in the
book to mark his place and close it, slipping it into the folds of his robes. Sango might be
the direct benefactor of his new-found resource, but he wasn’t ready to reveal his secret
quite yet. Besides, he knew if she saw some of the things in the book, she’d make him
give it back to Kagome and he wasn’t finished with it. While Sango was definitely a
woman before her time, there were some things about her that were still very traditional;
her views on sex being one of them.
Unhappily, he had to admit that he had had a hand in shaping that view because
he had been her first. Reading Kagome’s book, he’d come to realize that he could have
made his wife’s first experience much better than it had been, and he could only hope that
he would be able to bring her around with his new talents. Still, he needed to ease her into
things because she was shy in bed and often nervous.
‘It’s like she is afraid of her own sexuality, like she thinks she’s not supposed to
enjoy it.’
Granted, since he had been tending more diligently to his ‘husbandly duties,’
getting her to perform her ‘wifely duties’ was becoming easier and easier, and he tried to
employ something new on a regular basis. Last night he had licked and sucked at her feet
and toes. It wasn’t something one would normally consider arousing, but put in the
proper context and time, it worked like a charm. It was amazing how the simplest things
could be used to give pleasure if employed in the right way. The book compared the
human body to a fine instrument. When played correctly and with skill, it could make the
most beautiful music, but skill took patience, time and practice… lots and lots of practice.
‘I have discipline. I have no trouble practicing.’
Putting aside his hentai thoughts, he turned to see Sango, carrying Miyoko,
coming around to the side of their home.
“How is Kohaku?” he asked softly as she came to sit beside him outside the hut.
He smiled at his baby girl who blinked at him with her dark eyes.
‘Miyoko, my daughter, my beautiful little girl.’
Sango’s brow furrowed and she looked away. “He’s… resting. He won’t admit it,
but I know he is going to miss Rin. I was very sad to see her go. She is the only one who
can really make him smile.”
He patted her hand reassuringly. “But he did smile. That means there is hope for
him.”
She looked at him and gave him a grateful smile. He smiled back, taking in her
beauty and her strength. She was perfect in his eyes, even in her flaws.
‘I do not think I can love this woman more.’
“Thank you,” she sighed, and leaned against him.
They were quiet for several moments before Sango spoke again.
“You were cruel to Inuyasha and Kagome today,” she teased.
“I was?” he replied innocently.
“You know you were. You knew they wanted to be alone, but you kept asking
questions. You’re very lucky Inuyasha has matured as much as he has. A year ago if
you’d done that, he’d have lost his temper and thumped you.”
“Heh,” he chuckled. “True. Our Inuyasha has certainly changed since he and
Kagome-sama adopted Yukio and became closer.”
She nodded against his shoulder. “Speaking of Yukio. Where is he? Did you leave
him with Kaede-sama?”
Miroku froze, a cold shiver running up his spine. “What do you mean? Isn’t he in
the hut? Didn’t you have him with you?”
She sat up and looked at him, her eyes concerned. “No. I haven’t seen him since
Inuyasha gave him to you at lunch and we returned here.”
“But I asked you to watch him when I went to help Keiko carry her water.”
“When did you ask me that?”
“A while after lunch. Keiko was struggling with the water yoke, and Tamu wasn’t
around to help her, so I offered to carry it for her. I put Yukio down and called to you to
watch him.”
She blanched and turned pale. “Miroku, I never heard you ask me to…” She
trailed off, her eyes opening wide. “Oh no…”
They both stood at the same time.
“I’ll go to Kaede-sama’s,” he said.
“I’ll leave Miyoko with Kohaku and get Kirara.”
They split up, each going in separate directions.
‘Buddha, please. Let the child be with the miko,’ he prayed as he ran to Kaede’s
hut.
“Kaede-sama!” he called, throwing aside the reed door as he hurried in.
“Houshi-sama? What is wrong?” the miko asked.
“Miroku? What’s happened?” Shippou, who was sitting with Kaede and helping
her with the herbs, questioned.
“Is Yukio not here with you?”
Both of them shook their heads.
“No. We thought the child was in your care.”
“Yeah, Inuyasha gave him to you to take care of,” the kit replied. “You didn’t lose
him, did you?”
“Ahh…” ‘This is bad. Very bad…’
Shippou’s eyes flew open wide. “You did lose him! Oh no! Inuyasha is going to
kill you!”
‘Don’t you think I know that? Right now I am more concerned that a ten-month
old hanyou baby might be wandering around out there by himself!’
“Houshi-sama,” Sango said breathlessly as she entered the hut. “No one’s seen
him. Is he not here?”
“No,” he answered.
“Oh no.”
He turned to the fox kit. “Shippou can you track him?”
The kitsune set his jaw and nodded. “I’ll try.”
“Do you know how much of a head start he has on you? How long ago do you
remember seeing him?” Kaede asked.
“After we returned to our hut when lunch was over. I put him down to help Keiko
carry a yoke of water because she’s 8 months pregnant and her useless husband won’t
help her. Sango was in the hut and I called out to her to pick him up. When I returned
from carrying the water, he wasn’t there so I assumed she had him.”
“But I never heard him call me,” she explained, then turned to her husband. “Did I
answer you when you told me to get him?”
He shook his head. “Not specifically, no.”
“Let’s go back to your hut, Miroku. I can try to pick up Yukio’s scent from
there,” Shippou said.
“Let me know if you find him. If you can’t catch his scent, you’ll have no choice
but to fetch Inuyasha,” Kaede said.
“Oh, Inuyasha isn’t going to like this!” Shippou fretted.
“Let’s go quickly. With luck he won’t have gotten far,” he hoped, offering an arm
for Shippou to hop into.
The kitsune kit gave him an incredulous look. “He’s a hanyou pup. He could be
half a ri away by now.”
Miroku’s heart lodged in his throat. “Please don’t say that Shippou.”
Shippou was able to track Yukio’s scent through the village. He lost it a couple of
times, but eventually he did find the trail again. It was amazing how far the toddler had
traveled, right past huts and gardens, with no one catching a glimpse of him. Miroku
believed the villagers when they said they hadn’t seen the child. All of them knew
Inuyasha’s son and were very interested in his well-being. Inuyasha was the village
protector and he was worth a hundred samurai in a battle against youkai or bandits. They
didn’t want anything to happen to him or his family, so he knew that if any one of them
had seen the toddler they would have raised the alarm.
Yukio had made his way through the village in almost a straight line. This was no
wandering child off exploring. No, this was a kid with a mission, and it soon became
apparent that he had a very specific goal in mind. Soon, they didn’t even need the scent
trail to guess where he was going, but knowing where he was headed offered no comfort.
Shippou stopped at the edge of the village, looking out into the woods known as
Inuyasha’s Forest. Miroku stopped with him and they were then joined by Sango on
Kirara. They all looked in the direction of the tree the hanyou had been sealed to and the
Bone-Eaters Well.
“He’s headed for the den,” Shippou said, voicing the conclusion they had all
already come to.
Miroku nodded gravely. The toddler might be a hanyou, and he might know
where he was going, but there was a great deal of dangerous forest between the village
and his destination, especially for an unprotected child.
“Kirara...” Sango said, preparing to go after Yukio, but Miroku put up a hand.
“No. It’s my responsibility. Inuyasha gave him to me and I was the one who lost
him.”
Sango gave him an incredulous look. “Does that really matter right now? He’s out
there in the forest alone!”
Miroku looked to the trees, his heart heavy and resolved.
“He’s headed right for the den. It won’t be hard to follow him. It’s better that only
I go. That way only I will face Inuyasha’s anger if he finds out I failed to watch his son.”
“If you think I’m going to let you go looking for that lost baby by yourself, you’re
out of your mind,” she countered.
She didn’t wait for his answer before she urged Kirara forward and the fire cat
took off. He shook his head and sighed.
“You should have seen that coming. Sango’s a mom too. There’s no way she was
going to let you search for Yukio alone,” Shippou said.
“Let’s go then, and hope we catch him before he makes it to the den.”
Shippou hopped up onto his shoulder and he set off at a run.
‘I hope no new youkai have come hunting in the forest. I know Inuyasha killed a
number of them before he left for the Western Lands, but he’s been gone for sixteen days
and that’s enough time for more demons to move in.’
“I hope no youkai are in here,” Shippou commented as if he could read the
monk’s mind.
“I was just praying that there weren’t any.”
He stopped once they were in the trees and Shippou got down to sniff for the
scent trail.
“This way,” he said, pointing towards Inuyasha’s tree.
There was no doubt about it now. Yukio was definitely headed for the den.
‘I sorely underestimated him. I thought since he was so young, there was no way
he could wander off like this. I didn’t realize that hanyou babies were this mobile so
quickly.’
They found a torn scrap of white cloth that looked vaguely familiar near
Inuyasha’s tree. Shippou didn’t even have to go near it to recognize the scent, and the fox
kit blushed.
“Those are Kagome’s,” he whispered.
It didn’t take much to figure out from the ripped cloth and the crushed grass what
had happened there.
‘Right out in the open. Inuyasha, you hentai.’
Shippou sniffed around and nodded. “He made it this far.”
‘Well, that’s a relief. But if he makes it all the way to the den, what will he be
interrupting when he gets there? And will Inuyasha let me live long enough to explain?’
“He went through here,” the fox said, indicating a deer path through the trees.
He nodded and Shippou hopped up again as they headed off.
“I can’t believe he made it this far,” he breathed in wonder.
“You shouldn’t be surprised. I was only a year old when my Otou was killed and
you know how I was. Hanyou pups don’t grow as fast as kitsune kits, but they’re still
faster than human babies.”
“Much faster,” he complained.
They came to a clearing and Sango and Kirara landed beside them.
“Any sign of him?” she asked.
Miroku shook his head. “Shippou said he made it to Inuyasha’s tree.”
Shippou jumped down and scouted for the trail while they talked.
“Over this way,” he called and dashed off into the bushes.
They followed, hoping to find the boy before he got them all into deeper trouble
than they were already in.
“Kami-sama I can’t believe he made it this far in such a short time!” Sango
panted.
“I was saying that earlier myself. Shippou said we shouldn’t be surprised.”
“I never realized how different hanyou babies were from human ones. In my
village, we never spent much time wondering about how the young were cared for and
grew. We only concentrated on how to kill them.”
He nodded gravely and said nothing in reply.
They caught up to the toddler just outside of the den. They arrived at the small
hillside at the same time Yukio came crawling out from beneath some undergrowth. He
was filthy and his clothes were a ragged mess, but he was unharmed. Miroku had only a
moment to breathe a sigh of relief and say a prayer of thanks before Yukio made a dash
for the den entrance.
“Yukio!” Sango gasped, running towards him.
The toddler startled and shied, feinting to the left faster than any of them
expected. He obviously hadn’t known they were there and his protective instincts kicked
in. Kirara snarled and grabbed for him, snatching him by his red shirt, but the shirt was
his old ‘Big Dog’ top that had seen better days and the fabric ripped on her fangs. The
child fell from her mouth and rolled, going under the firecat. He got to his feet and started
running again.
Miroku, who had sought to prevent Yukio from getting into the den, had run for
the hillside, and was there when the toddler popped out from underneath Kirara.
Reaching down, he grabbed the boy from behind before he could go through the
camouflaged reed door.
“Gotchya,” he said, picking him up, thankful that he did because the sounds
coming from inside the den were definitely not ones he would want to have interrupted.
Yukio, shocked and scared, twisted and snarled, then bit him and scratched at him
with his little claws, carving deep wounds into his forearms. He gasped at the sudden
unexpected pain and released the boy, dropping him practically into the den entrance.
“Houshi-sama!” Sango called as he clutched his bleeding arm.
“Otou! Okaa!” Yukio yelled as he barreled through the reed door and into the den.
There was a moment of stunned silence then an enraged howl erupted from inside
the underground shelter. It was answered by Yukio’s frightened scream.
“Ummm, I think we’d better get out of here fast,” Shippou suggested.
Sango, seeing the deep bite wound and gashes on his arms, took him by the
elbow.
“We need to wash those right away. Come over to the stream. Inuyasha will find
us,” she said.
He nodded, still a bit shocked by the extent of the damage such a little one could
cause, and followed his wife to the stream that ran not far from the den entrance.
“You shouldn’t have grabbed him like that. You frightened him and he protected
himself instinctively,” she scolded softly, kneeling next to him and washing the gashes in
the flowing cold water.
“I know he didn’t mean to hurt me.”
Sango cursed and shook her head, examining the bites. “These are deep.”
“He doesn’t know his own strength,” Shippou offered, looking sad and pale.
‘What is he more upset about? Yukio for hurting me or Inuyasha’s reaction when
he comes for us?’
“I know Shippou.”
“Inuyasha is going to be furious,” the kit continued, shivering.
He looked at his wife, who met his concerned gaze with one of her own, and her
mouth tightened into a thin line.
“It will be better because he wasn’t hurt. He may have interrupted their private
time, but he got there safely,” he said.
Her eyes told him that she wasn’t convinced.
“In any case, there is nothing to be done for it. What is done is done and I will
take responsibility for it.”
She sighed and nodded. “We should have Kaede treat these as soon as possible.”
“As soon as we’ve spoken with Inuyasha. I am sure he will be coming for us very
soon.”
Sango agreed and ministered to his wounds as much as she was able as they
awaited the imminent arrival of the angry hanyou.
********
Yukio screamed again and hid behind her, weeping and shaking. The shock was
just wearing off and clarity was only just returning to her addled brain as she tried to
grasp what had happened.
She and Inuyasha had been in the middle of making love when the reed door had
been ripped open and Yukio had come streaking in crying their names. Inuyasha, enraged
at being interrupted and not fully aware of what was going on, had turned on the child
with a feral snarl, scaring the liver out of her son. He’d screamed and dashed for her,
narrowly avoiding a swipe Inuyasha made with his claws at what he perceived was an
intruder, and tackled her, knocking her to the futon. Inuyasha finally came to his senses
and when he realized what he’d almost done, he slammed his fists into the den floor
repeatedly and struggled to get his body under control.
Kagome felt torn between them, not sure whom she should comfort; Inuyasha was
trembling with stymied need and shock at his attack on his own son, and Yukio was
whimpering and crying behind her in abject terror.
:Pup sorry, sorry, sorry! Sorry! Sorry! Sorry!:
“Fuck!” Inuyasha cursed loudly and she didn’t bother to punish him for it. “What
the hell is he doing here?”
“I don’t know,” she stammered, then reached behind her to pick up her shivering
baby.
His clothes were ripped and streaked with mud, and the back of his shirt was torn
completely open.
‘Oh no. His Big Dog shirt…’ she bemoaned.
“It looks like he ran all the way here…” she commented, looking him over. His
hands were filthy. ‘What on earth happened?’
Suddenly Inuyasha sniffed and growled. Then he grabbed Yukio by what was left
of his shirt and yanked him to his face.
“What have you done?” he demanded.
“Inuyasha!” she scolded, surprised by his rough treatment of the child. ‘He just
interrupted us. It’s not like we haven’t done it three times already and we’ll have other
opportunities…’
Yukio cringed and submitted, but Inuyasha continued to scruff him angrily.
“What have you done?!”
“Inuyasha!” she warned, getting angry and preparing to ‘sit’ him if he didn’t let
her baby go.
He flashed her a furious glare and bared his teeth. “Stay out of this!” he ordered.
She flinched and her eyes opened wide at his rage, then she stared as he took the
baby and pinned him down by his throat, snarling and growling. On some level she knew
he wasn’t hurting her son or applying any pressure at all on his tender windpipe, but it
was still painful to watch. Yukio began to wail, begging for forgiveness and squirming in
his father’s grasp. His struggles only earned him another scruffing.
“Inuyasha stop it!” she cried, unable to take it anymore.
“I said stay out of this!”
“Don’t punish him for wanting to be with us!”
“He reeks of Miroku’s blood!” he spat back.
She gasped. ‘Miroku’s blood?’
Still pinning Yukio, Inuyasha ground out an explanation, “Somehow he got away
from his keepers and made his way here… through the forest all by himself. At some
point Kirara and Miroku tried to stop him. He’s got their scents all over him. Miroku
must have grabbed him and he attacked. He’s got blood and flesh under his claws and it
smells like he may have bitten him too.”
‘Oh no…’
Yukio finally stopped struggling and his father let him up, only to grab him again.
:Did you attack pack-male?!:
:Pup sorry! Sorry! Sorry!:
:Did you attack pack-male?!:
:Pup scared! Pup go to den! Pack-male grabbed pup!:
:Pup never attacks pack-member! Never!:
Inuyasha deposited Yukio in his sleeping space none too gently and turned his
back. The pup, looking devastated, reached for his father, but Inuyasha moved away and
ignored him. He then turned pleading eyes her way and she didn’t know what to do.
“Turn your back. Don’t look at him,” Inuyasha commanded.
‘But if I do that he’ll think…’
“Do it. He’s being punished. Turn your back.”
‘He’s not trying to hurt Yukio, and Yukio obviously disobeyed and hurt our
friends. I… I have to trust him in this.’
Her heart breaking at the sight of her baby’s tear-streaked face, she did as
Inuyasha ordered and turned her back. Yukio’s cries of panic and horror when they
seemingly cast him out of the pack cut right through her, and it took all she had not to
pick him up and comfort him. She settled for comforting her adult hanyou, who was
obviously badly shaken and upset.
“Inuyasha,” she whispered gently, placing one hand on his bare shoulder.
His hand immediately came up to grasp hers, holding on to it like a lifeline.
“He ran away from them and came here through the forest,” he replied hoarsely.
She gulped, nodding, knowing his thoughts were just as dark as hers. ‘Anything
could have happened to him. Anything. My God, we could have lost him.’
She shivered and decided that Inuyasha’s punishment was paltry compared to
what could have happened to him if he’d gotten hurt, attacked or lost.
“Otou! Okaa!” Yukio cried, going to them and putting his hands on their backs,
scrabbling at their bare skin, trying to make them acknowledge him.
Inuyasha spun and snarled, making Yukio flinch and skitter back to his spot.
:PUP STAY!: “You stay where I put you!”
Yukio sucked in huge gasping breaths, sobbing and whimpering.
“Otouuuuuu… Okaaaaaaa…” :Pup sorry. Pup sorry…: he sniffled, and she had to
close her eyes and clench her fists not to turn around, but she was following Inuyasha’s
lead and he hadn’t told her she could.
“I know I’m being harsh,” he told her gently and she was relieved not to hear
anger in his voice. “But he has to learn now. He can’t ever turn his claws and fangs on a
pack member. He doesn’t know his own strength and he could really hurt one of them. In
a year or two he’ll be able to sever a limb without thinking, and he could kill a human
without really meaning to. Being strict with him now is the only way.”
“I understand,” she said, putting her hand on his shoulder again.
“And he disobeyed and ran away from the people we trusted to watch him. He has
to learn to listen to what we say.”
“He just wanted to be with us. We’re his parents and you’ve been gone for so
long. He missed you terribly,” she explained.
“I know and I understand that. Maybe it was wrong of me to leave him with the
monk, but I wanted time alone with you and he was only going to be away from us until
dinner.”
“I know. I don’t blame you for wanting that. I wanted to be alone with you too.”
She saw him swallow hard and close his eyes, shuddering, but not with arousal.
“He knew enough to track us here. He came all the way from the village all by
himself. If a youkai had sniffed him out he would have been completely unprotected and
defenseless,” he said brokenly.
“I know. I’m still reeling from it myself. On one hand, I’m amazed and proud of
him for being able to make it here without any guidance, but on the other hand, I’m
scared to death of what could have happened.”
He put his arm around her and pulled her close, touching his forehead to the side
of her temple.
“I know. I know,” he breathed, his hand tightening on her shoulder as he sighed.
“Otou… Okaa…” Yukio mewled plaintively behind them, still sniffling and
gasping in hitched breaths.
“Has he been punished enough?” she asked hopefully.
Inuyasha nodded. “Yeah. Let me go first.”
“Okay.”
She waited as Inuyasha slowly turned around to look at their son, his arms crossed
over his chest.
:Pup be good?: “You gonna listen now?”
:Pup good! Pup good!: “Otou… Hai…” he whimpered.
:Pup obey?: “You won’t disobey us again?”
:Pup good.: “Noooooo. Otou…”
:Pup never attack pack-member?: “You’ll never hurt a pack member again?”
:Never, never, never. Pup never.: “Noooooo.”
“Okay.” :Forgiven.:
He opened his arms and Yukio barreled into them, crying with relief and remorse.
:Pup sorry. Pup sorry!: “Otou. Otou.”
Inuyasha hugged his son and stroked his back tenderly, making little noises of
forgiveness and welcome.
“Okay, you can turn around now,” he told her, and she moved immediately,
wrapping her arms around both her hanyous with Yukio pressed between them, then she
gathered him up and held him close.
“Shhhh. Shhhh, my baby. It’s okay. You’re alright now. We forgive you. We love
you.”
“Okaa… Okaa…” her son sobbed, clutching at her and pressing his face to her
shoulder. :Mother-female. Mother-female.:
Inuyasha came close and put one arm around her shoulders as he rubbed Yukio’s
back and ears. Gently she took her son and lowered him to her breast. It wasn’t his
feeding time, and she knew feeding him now would mean she’d only have a little milk
for later, but letting him nurse was the quickest way of showing him that he was forgiven.
He latched on and began to suck desperately. He was a little rough but he wasn’t using
his teeth so she didn’t discipline him. He’d been disciplined enough already.
“I should go see how bad it is,” Inuyasha said.
“Miroku?”
He nodded. “Yeah.”
“Okay. I’ll clean him up in the stream and put him in new clothes, then I’ll come
find you.”
Inuyasha fingered the ruined shirt. “Your favorite Big Dog shirt…”
“It was old and too small for him anyway. I’ve been meaning to go back to that
store and look for another one.” She nuzzled him and teased. “I’ll get you one too if you
want.”
He gave her a little smile. “Heh. Don’t need a funny shirt to know I’m the big
dog.”
She giggled, then regarded him seriously. “I love you.”
His smile widened and he kissed her gently. “I’m glad to be home.”
“I’m glad you’re home too.”
Giving her another kiss, he pulled away and reached for his clothes.
“Don’t be too long. Miroku will probably need your medicines and bandages.”
She nodded. “I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
He gave a grunt of agreement and moved to leave the den, examining the ripped
reed door.
“I’ll fix this later.”
“Okay.”
With a final nod to her, he slipped out. She waited until Yukio was finished
nursing, letting him suckle long after her milk was gone just for the comfort value, then
dressed herself, found clean clothes for her son and carried him out to the stream.
********
It took Inuyasha longer than they had anticipated, but he did find them. He
seemed surprised to see them waiting for him by the stream, but he moved immediately
to Miroku’s side and examined the wounds.
“I’m sorry,” they both said at the same time.
“I put him down and went to help Keiko carry water and he wandered off,” he
explained, amazed that Inuyasha seemed more upset than angry.
“He called to me to watch him, but I never heard him,” Sango added.
“I tracked him up here, but when we caught up to him, he got scared and bit
Miroku,” Shippou said.
The hanyou took his arm and turned it to see the bite wounds. He saw Inuyasha
blanch and frown.
“These are deep…”
“I’ll be fine. He didn’t puncture anything serious.”
“He could’ve severed the tendons.”
“He could have, but he didn’t. He didn’t mean it. I grabbed him from behind and
frightened him.”
“You’re not mad?”
“No, of course not,” he answered, surprised to see the flash of fear and
uncertainty in the hanyou’s eyes. ‘He’s… he’s worried I’ll blame the child and hold it
against him because he’s a hanyou.’
“Yukio is just a baby,” Sango said and he realized that she’d seen and understood
what Inuyasha was thinking too. “It’s not his fault.”
‘Bless you, woman.’
“I shouldn’t have left him with you. Kagome spoils him and he’s used to getting
his way.”
“He’s just living up to his name,” he joked weakly.
“We’re just glad you’re not mad that we lost him,” Shippou admitted.
“Bah. I shouldn’t have expected a couple of weak humans to watch a hanyou pup.
He’s a handful for Kagome and me and we’re used to him.”
“We were amazed at how far he traveled. He knew exactly where he was going,”
Sango added.
Inuyasha nodded. “Pup’s always tracked us well. He just followed our scent.”
He coughed. “And it isn’t like you hadn’t left your scents behind for him to
follow,” he commented leadingly.
He saw the hanyou’s eyes narrow then open wide and a flush come to his cheeks
as he figured out what he was referring to.
‘Yes, we found Kagome’s torn undergarments under the tree, you shameless
hentai.’
Inuyasha sputtered a bit, but he just smiled and gave him a wink.
“But he did give us such a scare,” Sango said. “He was all alone in this forest with
no one to protect him. If it had been Miyoko out here, I would have been terrified.”
“Heh, Miyoko won’t be able to walk for at least another six months, and even
then she won’t get far when she does,” Inuyasha scoffed, then softened. “Still, I’m very
glad that he made it to the den safely, and I’m sorry he hurt you, Miroku.”
He waved his less injured arm. “As I said, it was more my fault than his. He was
just protecting himself.”
“I punished him and I’m sure he won’t do it again.”
‘Oh, I’m quite sure he won’t. From the way he screamed, his punishment must
have been very severe indeed.’
“I hope you didn’t hurt him,” Sango blurted, worried.
Inuyasha scowled at her. “Of course I didn’t hurt him. You think I would hurt my
son?”
“No… no. Of course you wouldn’t.”
“A spanking would be fine as long as it wasn’t too harsh,” he commented.
“I didn’t spank him,” Inuyasha countered. “I threatened him with rejection from
the pack. If he’d been old enough to know what he was doing, his attack on you could
have made me cast him out for a couple of days. That kind of threat to an inu-youkai is
much more effective than one of your human punishments.”
‘Hmmm, I wonder if all the beatings he got as a child will make him refuse to
raise his hand to his son. I know Kagome-sama said Sesshoumaru was extremely harsh
with Inuyasha.’
“Yes, I suppose that would work better than any spanking,” Sango agreed.
“Keh!”
“Sango-chan. Miroku-sama. Shippou,” Kagome greeted as she came to the stream
carrying a blotchy-faced, red-eyed Yukio.
‘Well, he is certainly looking very contrite.’
He watched as the girl gave Yukio to Inuyasha then came over to see his arms.
“Inuyasha said Yukio had your blood on him. Will you let me see?” she asked.
He nodded and lifted his sleeves. She gasped when she saw the punctures from
the child’s fangs.
“Kami-sama… he really bit you.”
“It’s mostly just a flesh wound,” he reassured her.
She turned his arm to see the gashes from Yukio’s claws. “And these gashes…”
“They will heal. We are just glad this is all that happened and nothing worse.”
“Kagome-chan, we are so sorry. Miroku went to help Keiko carry water and
asked me to watch Yukio but I didn’t hear him. When he came back and found that
Yukio wasn’t where he’d left him, he assumed I had him. It wasn’t until I asked him
where Yukio was that we realized he’d wandered off,” Sango apologized.
“You must have been so scared, Sango-chan.”
‘And as always, her first thoughts are for the pain of others and not for herself.’
“Me? I didn’t know how I was going to tell you if we couldn’t find him. If it had
been Miyoko who was missing, I would have been beside myself. I don’t know what we
would have done if anything had happened to him,” his wife admitted tearfully.
“Oh, Sango-chan,” Kagome said and hugged her.
Inuyasha brought Yukio over to him and made the child look at the damage he’d
done.
“Look what you did,” the adult hanyou scolded.
Still teary-eyed, Yukio looked at his father then to him and stuffed a fist into his
mouth.
“You will say you’re sorry and you will never do this again. Right?”
The toddler nodded, then reached for Miroku. Surprised, he took the boy into his
arms and was stunned when Yukio hugged him, whimpering.
“Orry, orry,” he sniffled.
Sighing, he patted the child’s back and hugged him. “I forgive you. I know you
didn’t mean to hurt me.”
Yukio whimpered again and Kirara hopped into his lap, rubbing up against the
child and mewing. The boy hugged the firecat in her kitten form and she purred for him.
“Orry, orry, orry,” he said, tears rolling down his little round cheeks.
Kirara licked his tears away and nuzzled him. Pulling away, he turned to his
father and opened his arms.
“Otou…”
Inuyasha moved to pick him up, but Kagome stopped him.
“I’ll take him. I need to wash and change him,” she said, lifting her son into her
arms.
“Okaa…” the boy murmured, resting his head on Kagome’s shoulder.
Kagome moved to take Yukio to the stream and Sango, Kirara and Shippou went
with her. There was a shallow pool formed by an eddy in the bank just a short distance
downstream that was perfect for bathing as long as you didn’t mind the cold water.
“Don’t… don’t tell anyone that Yukio bit you, please,” Inuyasha said once the
women were out of earshot.
“You don’t want anyone to know he can be dangerous.”
“The fewer reminders they have that he’s a hanyou the better. Let them think he’s
just a helpless baby with puppy ears. At least until he’s old enough to defend himself.”
He nodded. “As you wish.”
“The old woman can know. She’ll have to treat your wounds and she can be
trusted. I just don’t want anyone else knowing because they might decide two hanyous in
one village is two too many.”
“I doubt that. You’ve proven too many times that you are an invaluable village
protector, and I think you’ve saved all of their lives at least once,” he argued. “Besides,
who would blame an innocent child for defending himself in the only way he knew
how?”
Inuyasha’s eyes clouded and he frowned. “You’d be surprised, monk. You’d be
surprised.”
He regarded the hanyou seriously, wondering what painful memory he was
recalling.
‘He’s had a hard life and he wants to spare his son the pain he suffered.’
Knowing how much he loved and wanted to protect his own child, he would
never begrudge his friend that. He knew too well what humans could do if they turned
into a mob. And Inuyasha probably knew first hand what it was like to be hunted by one.
He thought of Yukio’s poor mother and the terror and pain she must have felt when her
mate was killed, then the agony and struggle of her last four days of life.
‘Horrible. And Kagome would do the same thing. We spend so much time
convincing ourselves that all demons and half-demons are evil. But how many of them
are like him? And how many of them have we killed just because they were different from
us?’
“I will never betray you, my friend,” he assured him.
Inuyasha’s eyes flooded with some emotion which might have been gratitude,
before closing off again.
“Bah! Like you could,” he snorted, huffing.
He waited, knowing the hanyou would most likely speak again. He’d been taking
lessons from Kagome on ‘the care and handling of irritable hanyous,’ and knew that if
you didn’t rise to take Inuyasha’s bait, a capitulation was soon to follow. It came a few
moments later.
“Oi, monk,” he said, casting him a side-long glance.
“Yes?”
“Thanks. The last thing I want is for the villagers to turn against us. I’d... I’d be
okay, but I’d be worried about the old woman, and Kagome... Kagome should never have
to see that, y’know?”
He nodded. “I know, and they won’t. Your home is safe. In time, you will build
Kagome a house in the village and live in it with her and your children.”
Inuyasha pursed his lips and nodded, and Miroku knew he wouldn’t get any more
out of the normally closed-off hanyou. What he’d gotten was enough to tell him all the
things Inuyasha couldn’t say.
‘You can trust me, Inuyasha. I know it’s taken you a long time to believe that, but
it’s true. We’ll all keep Yukio safe, and I’ll raise my children to respect and like hanyous.
It might be only the barest scratch in the surface of the hatred many feel towards them,
but at least it’s a step in the right direction.’
“We should get you to the old woman. She and Kagome should treat those
wounds,” Inuyasha finally said.
He stood. “I agree. Let us find the women and head back. I’m sure that Kagome
must be nearly finished washing Yukio by now.”
Inuyasha cocked his ear and listened for a moment. “Judging by how he’s wailing
about how cold the water is, my guess would be yes, she’ll be done with him soon.”
He chuckled and moved to walk down the path that lead downstream. Inuyasha
joined him, and they walked in companionable silence as they went to rejoin Kagome and
the others.
Chapter Twenty-Seven
Autumn progressed and all the signs pointed to a particularly harsh winter. As
Kagome studied and dealt with the added stresses of her senior year of high school,
Inuyasha and the village men prepared for the coming lean season. Much of the village’s
winter firewood needs were already taken care of thanks to Inuyasha’s tree cutting spree
that summer, but larders and root cellars still needed to be filled with food that would last
the winter.
When she wasn’t studying, Kagome was helping Kaede gather and dry herbs that
would soon no longer be easy to find. She also stocked up on medicines from her time,
preparing for the winter cold season, although the villagers rarely became ill with
something like the common cold. Infection was the worst fear most of the time and
Kaede’s poultices and tonics usually cured the minor cases, but her modern medicine was
always welcome, especially her bandages and treatments for burns. Kagome made sure
the old miko had plenty of gauze and anti-bacterial soaps and creams, plus her medicines
for poisons and venoms.
Yukio had been with them almost nine months and soon he would be a year old. It
was hard for her to believe that so much time had passed because it seemed to her that it
was only yesterday that his mother had come staggering into the village with her hanyou
infant. At the same time, she couldn’t imagine her life without the giggling bundle of
mischief the baby was turning into. Mobile and communicative, Yukio was getting into
all the trouble a toddler almost twice his age would find, and both she and Inuyasha were
having trouble keeping up with him. He was almost completely weaned now, with her
down to nursing him briefly once a day before bedtime.
With weaning well under way, she’d tackled the chore of potty-training him, only
to find that he practically did it himself. Inuyasha explained that Yukio knew instinctively
not to soil where he slept, or as the adult hanyou had so colorfully put it, “Pups know not
to shit in the den.” Instinct or no, he was ridiculously easy to house-train, and was now
just about off diapers. She had him in the walking pull-up diapers that served double-duty
as underwear just in case he had any ‘accidents.’
It was a cool late autumn day and Kagome and the others were all sitting outside
of Miroku’s hut, when she suddenly felt the familiar tingle of a shikon shard. She and
Inuyasha both snapped to attention at the same time.
“Kagome-sama?” Miroku questioned.
“Shikon fragments. Two of them, coming closer.”
Inuyasha began to growl loudly, making Yukio hide behind his mother.
“It’s that damn wolf. I can already smell his stink. And he’s brought friends.”
“Kouga?” ‘But Kouga usually approaches so fast…’
Gripping Tessaiga, the hanyou was off to face the challenge before Kagome could
stop him.
“Inuyasha!”
“Kagome-sama,” Miroku said and she turned to see the houshi and Shippou on
the transformed firecat.
“I’ll stay here with Kohaku and defend the village if something gets past
Inuyasha,” Sango offered, moving to put Miyoko into their hut.
“Thank you Sango-chan,” she answered gratefully, hopping onto the firecat
behind Miroku.
“It will be good to get back in action again,” the taijiya admitted.
“Forgive me if I hope that doesn’t happen,” the monk said quietly.
“Okaa-san! Okaa-san!” Yukio cried, seeing that he was about to be left behind.
“Stay with Sango,” she told him. :Pup stay with pack-female.:
“NO!” It was his new favorite word.
She growled at him. “Do as I say.”
He started to pout and give her his tell-tale pre-temper tantrum face.
‘I don’t have time for this…’ “Do it or Otou-san will scruff you,” she warned.
“NO!” :Mother-female don’t leave pup!:
:Pup stay with pack-female!:
His bottom lip started trembling and she knew he was seconds away from a fullfledged crying fit.
“I’ll watch him Kagome-chan,” Sango assured her.
‘Only because he knows better than to turn his claws on you…’
“Okay. Let’s go,” she said, hardening her heart before she changed her mind.
Miroku urged Kirara ahead and they took off, hoping to get there before
Inuyasha’s brashness caused serious damage to the village. She heard Yukio’s cries, but
knew he would be safe with Sango. If Kouga was coming, she didn’t want to give the
wolf youkai any chance to take her son.
They found Inuyasha standing, Tessaiga at the ready, at the edge of the forest.
They were surprised to find that the old miko was beside him, bow and arrows in her
hand along with Kagome’s bow.
“Here, child,” Kaede said, handing her the bow. “There are many approaching.”
“I know.” ‘I can feel the youki. But… why is he coming here. He’s never come to
the village. Is he… is he coming to get revenge on Inuyasha and me?’
They waited, along with a number of the village men, for the wolf youkai to come
out of the forest.
“I wanna know what the hell that stinking wolf is doing coming here,” Inuyasha
complained. “He should fucking know better.”
“Inuyasha,” she warned.
“What? Pup’s not here, right?”
She sighed. ‘It’s hopeless. I should just stop trying.’
“You say you know this youkai, Inuyasha?” Kaede asked.
The hanyou nodded. “He’s always pawing at Kagome, and calling her his
beloved. He even tried to take the pup. Kagome almost ripped his arm off.”
“I sense shards.”
“Kouga has two in his legs,” she replied. ‘But something is different. I can feel it.’
“Don’t worry, Kaede-babaa. I can handle these wimpy wolves without any
problems.”
“But please, let’s see what he wants first before we attack, okay?” she tried. ‘I
don’t want to have to hurt him any more than I already have.’
“Bah! Woman, the way you talk I might think you have feelings for that flea
bag.”
“He’s saved my life a couple of times. I owe him enough not to attack him unless
he attacks first.”
Inuyasha snorted but nodded in agreement.
When Kouga emerged from the trees, he was walking. That in and of itself was
odd, but what really gave her pause was who was walking beside him. Although she
hadn’t seen the red-headed female wolf youkai in almost two years, she recognized her
immediately.
“Ayame…” ‘Ayame. What is she doing with Kouga? Has he finally…’ she
wondered hopefully.
Hakkaku and Ginta were behind them, along with what seemed like the entire
remainder of the wolf pack.
“Oi! Wolf! What the hell are you up to coming here?” Inuyasha challenged.
Kagome put a restraining hand on his arm and took a step forward. “Inuyasha,
wait.” ‘The shards are here, but they’re not in his legs anymore. That’s why he was
walking. Could that mean what I think it means?’
“Oi, what the fuck are you doing, woman?” he hissed.
Kouga and Ayame looked at each other, then Ayame nodded and they both
approached, their hands up in peace. Inuyasha and Kagome moved forward to meet them
while the others stayed behind. Coming closer, she could see that Kouga’s arm had
healed rather well and for that she was glad. It was scarred but it looked like he had full
use of it.
“Kouga. Ayame,” she greeted.
“Kagome,” the female wolf youkai replied, nodding.
“Whaddya want, wolf?” Inuyasha growled.
“I came to speak with Kagome,” Kouga answered.
“Then speak to her and get the hell out of here.”
“Alone,” the wolf prince amended.
Inuyasha cracked his knuckles and bared his teeth. “Why I ought to…”
“Inuyasha,” she warned.
He blinked at her. “You can’t honestly tell me that you intend to go off with
him!”
She touched his shoulder to reassure him, and spoke gently, “Ayame is here. I
think I know what this means. I’ll be perfectly safe. Besides, if he tries anything, you’ll
kill him, right?”
Inuyasha snorted. “Right. One wrong move, one twitch out of place, and I’ll shred
you,” he threatened.
Kouga met his gaze without fear or submission, but nodded.
She stepped up to the wolf lord and nodded for him to lead the way. He turned
and walked away from the group, leading her closer to the trees but not out of sight.
“We shouldn’t go too far. You know how anxious he gets,” she reminded.
“I just want to get out of Dog-turd’s ear shot.” He walked a little further then
stopped. “This should be far enough.”
They stood and faced each other. It was an awkward silence because there was so
much between them and their last meeting had been so painful. Finally, Kagome gathered
enough courage to speak.
“Your arm… it looks like it healed well. I’m glad,” she commented.
He touched the scar, his eyes unreadable. “You did not damage me permanently.
You could have easily killed me, but you didn’t and for that I’m grateful.”
She lowered her gaze, blushing with shame. “I… I never wanted to hurt you…”
“But I had your pup. I forgot because it had been so long since I had been around
a breeding bitch how protective of her pups a mother could be. I was a fool to grab him.”
“And Inuyasha and the others… they said you would kill him.”
Kouga huffed. “Does he think I am that simple-minded? I am the leader of my
tribe. It would be beneath me to kill a helpless pup.”
‘But you did say you would have killed any pups of ours…’ she thought, but
decided not to remind him of that. Words spoken in the heat of battle could often not be
trusted.
She opted to nod instead. “I understand that now.”
“I would never have harmed him.”
“That makes me very glad to hear.”
Kouga took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I came… to say good-bye.”
‘Ah, it’s as I thought…’
“Good-bye?”
“The Eastern Cave is being abandoned. I am going with Ayame to the Northern
Cave. We will rebuild our tribe together.”
“You’re going to take her as your mate then?”
He nodded. “Yes.”
She smiled. “Good. I am glad.”
He shrugged. “She is not you, but she is a good woman. She will make me happy
and bear good pups.”
“Kouga… I’m sorry…”
“Don’t be. That stinking dog-turd had your heart long before I ever met you, and
nothing I ever did swayed it,” he admitted.
“I always appreciated your affections, Kouga, even if I didn’t return them.”
He gave her a sad nod. “You always treated me kindly, and helped me whenever
you could. That is another reason my behavior was so unforgivable. You thought of me
as pack, even protected my followers, and I repaid you by stealing your pup. Even Dogturd’s saved me more than once, though I hate to admit it.”
“I know you think he’s nothing more than a stupid, violent jerk, but you don’t
know him like I do and you’ve never seen the side of him he shows to me. He is a good
man and I love him very much,” she said softly.
Kouga sighed and looked away, his face pensive and weary.
“I wanted to see you one more time before I go; to apologize for taking your pup,
and also… to give you these.”
He reached into his armor and pulled out the shikon fragments, placing them in
her upturned hands.
‘His shards…’
“Kouga-kun, thank you.”
“There was a time when we were at war with the Gokuraku-chou when these were
invaluable, and again when we were fighting Naraku. But Naraku is dead and the
Gokuraku-chou are as decimated as my tribe. Now these shards only attract powerhungry youkai to my den. If I am to have pups and rebuild my tribe, it would be better
not to have something that attracts so much attention. It is true that I will not be as fast,
but I am strong, and I think it is time for me to stop depending on them,” he explained,
holding her hands.
She gave him a tender smile. “That is good to hear Kouga-kun.”
“This will also assure that Dog-turd doesn’t come hunting for them himself, and
hopefully I’ll never have to see him again.”
“Oi! How long are you gonna hold her hands, you fucker!” Inuyasha yelled,
looking like he was going to come storming over.
Both she and Kouga rolled their eyes and she gave Kouga a little wink.
“Inuyasha. Osuwari!”
The hanyou immediately hit the ground with a thud and a series of colorful
curses.
Kouga chuckled. “Although I think I will miss hearing you do that.”
She giggled, then grew serious. “The northern lands? They’re cold.”
“Not too cold, and they are more remote; fewer humans.”
“Will you go back to hunting humans?” she asked fearfully.
He shook his head. “No. We won’t attack humans unless they attack us.”
“I’m glad.”
She put the shards in the vial around her neck, then placed her hand on his scarred
arm.
“I’m so glad I didn’t cut your arm off. I was afraid that I had or that you would
lose it because it wouldn’t heal properly,” she admitted.
He touched the scar as well, threading his fingers with hers.
“It took a long time to heal and delayed our trip to the north. We had wanted to
leave earlier than this to make sure we could get through the mountain passes before the
snows. It will be a bad winter.”
“The weather readers here say the same thing. I hope that you will get to your
new cave safely.”
Her concern made him smile. “There’s no need to worry about me, Kagome. I
don’t need looking after like that mangy mutt of yours.”
She smiled and shook her head as she gently pulled her fingers from his. “The two
of you will never get along. I’m amazed that you haven’t killed each other, although I am
glad that you are both alive.”
“How is your pup?” he asked suddenly.
She beamed. “He’s doing really well. Walking, talking, and becoming more like
Inuyasha every day. He’ll be a year old in a little over a month.”
“That is good to hear.”
“His latest thing is to say ‘no’ to everything I tell him to do. And of course, he’s
learning all of Inuyasha’s bad habits…”
She looked over at Inuyasha to see him holding Yukio and frowned. ‘He must
have gotten away from Sango…’ Sure enough, the taijiya was running towards him, her
face flushed and sweaty from exertion.
“Like refusing to stay where he’s told,” she added dourly.
Kouga laughed softly. “While I hate to pass up a chance to insult Dog-turd, from
what I remember of pups, they’re all that way.”
She sighed as Yukio caught sight of her and she could hear his “OKAA-SAN!!!”
as he screamed at the top of his lungs, making everyone around him cringe.
“We’d better go back before Inuyasha pops a vein. We’ve been here for a while
and I’ve already sat him once, and he’s glaring at us as if looks could kill.”
Kouga chuckled. “And we should go. The wolves are making your villagers
nervous.”
She looked at Kaede and the village men and saw them looking very
uncomfortable. Turning to Kouga, they both walked back to where Inuyasha, Ayame, the
breathless Sango and the suddenly contrite Yukio were waiting.
‘Hmmm, must have just remembered that I told him to stay with Sango,’ she
fumed.
Ayame was cooing at the toddler and fussing over him. She turned to her
betrothed with an irritated look in her eyes and her hands on her hips.
‘Oh-oh… looks like Kouga’s in trouble already.’
“This was the pup you threatened?” the female wolf youkai demanded.
Kouga stammered and looked chagrined. “I wasn’t going to hurt him!” he
defended.
She whacked him on the head with her fist. “If it had been my pup you took, I
would have done a lot more than almost sever your arm!”
“Hah, take that you wimpy wolf,” Inuyasha taunted, earning him a thump on the
head from her as well.
“Hey, don’t call my mate names!”
“Mate?” the adult hanyou repeated.
Ayame smiled and hooked her arm with Kouga’s who was still rubbing his head.
“Kouga and I are to be married.”
Inuyasha looked at the two wolf youkai and then smiled wickedly.
“Well this means you won’t come sniffing around Kagome anymore, will you?
That is good news!”
“Congratulations,” Sango offered. “I hope you’re very happy together.”
“We will be, and I hope to have lots of pups that are just as cute as you,” Ayame
replied, scratching Yukio’s ears.
Yukio giggled at her, then saw his mother glaring at him and flattened his ears.
‘You’d better submit, you little stinker.’
Inuyasha looked at her, saw her glare and looked at his son.
“Okay, pup, what did you do?”
“I ordered him to stay with Sango and he obviously ran away from her,” she
ground out angrily, making Yukio shrink against his father.
Sango looked apologetic. “He’s just so fast, Kagome-chan.”
“It’s okay, Sango-chan. I understand. And he’s at that age where he’s going to
push his limits.”
Inuyasha sighed and then pinned Yukio with a look. :Did you disobey motherfemale?:
Big golden eyes blinked and turned misty, but he was honest and nodded. “Okaasan go ‘way.”
“Okaa-san told you to stay with Sango-chan,” she said firmly. “Okaa-san thought
there might be danger.”
Yukio sniffed and turned eyes to Kouga, sniffing again. :Not-pack male.: Then his
eyes widened and it was obvious that he remembered the last time he had smelled that
scent. He let out a frightened whine and scrabbled at his father’s haori. :Leader-male!
Leader-male!:
“Relax, pup. You’re safe. But this is why your mother told you to stay where she
put you. You wanna get scruffed?”
The toddler shook his head. “Noooooo.”
“Then you gotta listen to what we tell you,” he scolded, then turned to Kagome.
“So what do you think we should do with him?”
He was asking her what kind of punishment they should mete out, but he winked
at her and that told her it would be more threat than actual discipline.
“Oh I dunno. Maybe we ought to toss him,” she answered, referring to the
practice of making him lie down on the ground and submit. It was similar to pinning him,
but without the hand to his throat.
“Noooooooo!” Yukio cried, kicking.
Inuyasha grabbed his son’s legs and stopped him. “You don’t kick me. You don’t
kick anyone. Understand?”
Sniffling, Yukio nodded and began to chew on his fist like he always did when he
was upset.
“If you don’t want to get tossed and you don’t want to get scruffed, are you gonna
listen?” Inuyasha said.
He nodded vigorously. :Pup good! Pup good!:
“Okay.”
Inuyasha turned to Sango and handed Yukio to her.
“Here, take him back to the village. He is to stay with you until we come for
him.”
:Stay with pack-female,: he ordered Yukio. “If you don’t stay, you will be
punished. Got it?”
Yukio nodded again, tearfully, as Shippou hopped onto Sango’s shoulder.
“I’ll come with you, Yukio,” the kit offered.
“Shippou…” :Pack-brother.:
“See, Shippou is going with you,” she comforted. “Stay with Sango-chan and
we’ll come get you when we’re finished here, okay baby?”
“’Kay.”
“C’mon. I think I have some sweet roots in the hut,” Sango told him as she carried
him off.
Kagome watched them go.
“Why is it that when you tell him to do something, he does it, but when I tell him,
he ignores me?” she commented.
“One, because he’s attached to you and he doesn’t want you out of his sight if he
can help it. Two, I’m the one who punishes him. You’re the push-over,” he explained.
“I am not,” she complained. “I’ve scruffed him before.”
“Keh, like when? You keep threatening to do it, but I’ve never seen you follow
through. I’m not telling you to be harsh with him, but if you say you’re going to punish
him and he wheedles his way out of it, he’ll never respect you.”
“Respect me?” she repeated, getting angry. “Are you saying my baby doesn’t look
up to me?!”
Inuyasha cringed and flattened his ears just like Yukio had only minutes before.
“Eh…”
“We… should be going,” Kouga interrupted.
She turned to the wolves and blushed, realizing that she had been on the verge of
creating a scene right in front of them.
‘Not that that ever stopped me before, but…’
“Yes, you should,” Inuyasha replied brazenly.
“Inuyasha,” she warned, and he cringed again. ‘I’m a push-over, huh? Then why
are you submitting all over the place?’
Kouga took her hands in his and looked into her eyes. “Good-bye, Kagome. I’ll
never forget you. But you’ll have to learn to live without me from now on,” he said to
her.
His voice was sincere, but she could see the twinkle in his eyes that told her he
was doing it just to irritate Inuyasha. It worked because the hanyou bristled and started to
growl low in his throat.
“Get your hands off of her, you bastard! And in front of your own woman too!”
he seethed, swiping at the wolf youkai.
Kouga leaped out of the way, but just barely. “Hup!”
“Keh, you’ve gotten a lot slower, haven’t you wolf!”
“I’m still fast enough to outwit you!” Kouga countered. “But you’d better take
good care of her, Dog-turd. If I get a whiff that she’s unhappy, I’ll come gut you myself.”
“Just get out of here and mind your own fucking business!”
“C’mon Ayame. It’s time for us to go.”
The female wolf youkai smiled and nodded. “Good-bye.”
“Take care and be happy,” Kagome said.
“We will.”
Hakkaku and Ginta approached as their alpha-pair moved off.
“Thank you, Nee-chan,” Ginta said.
“Yes, thank you for everything. We’ll miss you,” Hakkaku added.
She smiled at them. “I’ll miss you too. Safe travels to your new cave and good
luck.”
“Oi! We’re leaving now!” Kouga warned as he and Ayame began to run back to
the trees. The wolves followed.
“Good-bye, Nee-chan!” “Bye!” Hakkaku and Ginta called as they hurried to catch
up.
“Bye!” she called after them, waving.
“And good riddance!” Inuyasha added.
“Osuwari,” she commanded, making him hit the dirt.
“Gah! What’d you do that for, wench?”
“Because you were being rude.”
She turned away, feeling oddly subdued herself. She was glad that Kouga was
alright and had finally moved on from his hopeless love for her, but part of her was sad to
see him go. He had always been kind to her and, like Houjou in her time, she could have
loved him if not for Inuyasha.
‘I hope you live a long, happy life with Ayame and have many pups, Kouga-kun.
You deserve it.’
“He gave you his shards?” Kaede asked her, breaking her out of her thoughts.
She touched the vial at her throat. “Yes. He said that they would attract attention
to his den that he didn’t want.”
“Feh. Wolf might actually have a brain after all,” Inuyasha grumbled.
Kagome just sighed. ‘At least I know Kouga would have been completely devoted
to me. Unlike Inuyasha who still hasn’t resolved things with Kikyou. No… that’s not true.
I’m not being fair. He hasn’t resolved things because no one has seen her for over nine
months. The last time she appeared was two weeks before we got Yukio and there’s been
no sign of her since.’
She knew Inuyasha was worried about the undead miko because he’d finally
gotten up enough courage to ask her if she had felt anything happen to Kikyou. After her
initial irritation wore off, she realized that he was just concerned for his former love’s
welfare, and was glad to be able to tell him that as far as her soul was concerned, Kikyou
seemed fine.
“Oi, Kagome, what are you brooding about that has that look on your face?”
Inuyasha demanded.
“Nothing,” she replied and tried to make her smile reach her eyes. “Let’s go get
Yukio. I’m sure he’s giving Sango a hard time.”
“I hope we will still have a hut left to live in,” Miroku commented, joining them
as they headed for the village.
“Keh.”
“So Kagome-sama, Kouga gave you his shards?” Miroku questioned.
“Yeah.”
“That means you have collected quite a bit of the Shikon no Tama.”
She looked at the fused jewel on the chain around her neck, along with the vial of
shards that she had yet to add to the main piece.
“About two-thirds I’d say.”
The houshi nodded. “If things go as they have been, soon you will have the whole
jewel in your possession.”
She nodded. “Yeah.” ‘And then what? Will Inuyasha make his wish? Will I have
to go back to my time and stay there? What will happen to us? To Yukio?’
Inuyasha sensed her distress and came close, his presence a welcome comfort.
She cast him a grateful look and reached for his hand. Like the situation with Kikyou, the
final solution was out of her hands, and there was really no point in worrying about it.
‘I’ll enjoy and cherish what I have while I have it. The rest will have to take care
of itself. I’ll just have to trust Inuyasha, and have faith that everything will work out
alright,’ she resolved as they returned to the village to pick up her son.
Chapter Twenty-Eight
Autumn progressed into winter and all the predictions of a harsh season came
true. If there was any evidence supporting global warming, Kagome had to admit that
winters in the Sengoku Jidai were much colder than those of the modern era and there
was a lot more snow. The bad weather halted any shard hunts, and Kagome contented
herself with studying for her mid-term exams and doing nothing more dangerous than
teaching Yukio how to make snowballs. The toddler loved the snow and seemed immune
to the cold. Unlike his mother, who would break out in shivers from just seeing him
running around in the snow with bare feet.
Inuyasha, aside from being bored and grumpy, was learning that cold winter
mornings were nice for cuddling in the warm den, and that spending the day curled
around your loved ones wasn’t so bad every now and then. He was also learning that
snow could be fun when played in with a hanyou pup and a kitsune kit who ganged up on
him. More than once she’d had to break up a snowball fight where she wasn’t sure who
she was saving: the youngsters or Inuyasha.
They celebrated Yukio’s first birthday in the Sengoku Jidai, approximating the
date based on what his dying mother had told them of his age when she brought him to
them. It snowed heavily that day and part of his present was a snow slide Inuyasha carved
into the hillside by the village and stomped smooth. Kagome poured water on it to make
it freeze and create a layer of slick ice, then they used coarse woven rucksacks as sleds
and sent Yukio sliding down it. All of the village children got a turn going down, as well
as a few of the adults, and the fun was a welcome break from the winter drudgery.
Kagome brought back tons of food from her time and they had a feast, complete with a
modern day red bean cake for Yukio and a birthday candle.
Two days after the big birthday bash, Kagome had to go back to her time to take
two major exams before the major winter break. Inuyasha was supposed to go with her,
but then word came from a neighboring village asking for help with a collapsed bridge.
Kagome convinced Inuyasha to go with the men who had volunteered to help repair the
bridge, saying that his strength and immunity to the cold would prove invaluable, not to
mention that his help would sow the seeds of good will between hanyous and humans. He
took Yukio with him because he knew she had to study, and without him there to watch
the toddler he wouldn’t leave Kagome alone. When the job was done, probably in as little
as two days with Inuyasha’s help, he and Yukio would come to her time to join her, and
they would all return together after her exams. They would also have a little birthday
party in her era for Yukio during that time as well, since she would never dream of
robbing her mother of an opportunity to continue spoiling the boy rotten.
Kagome put her pencil down as the teacher called a halt to the examination
period, and sighed with relief.
‘It’s over. Finally. And I think I passed.’
Looking over to Ayumi, she saw that her friend had put her head down on her
desk and was looking the worse for wear. She knew the girl hadn’t been feeling well, but
now Ayumi’s skin was flushed and sweaty, and her eyes looked glazed. Kagome’s own
throat tickled with the beginnings of a scratch and she frowned.
‘Looks like we’re both getting sick. Damn.’
“Ayumi-chan,” she said, reaching over to touch her friend.
“Oooohh… Kagome-chan. I don’t feel so well.”
“Sensei,” Kagome called. “Ayumi isn’t feeling well. May I take her to the nurse?”
The teacher came over, took one look at Ayumi’s flushed face and nodded. “Yes,
Higurashi. Please escort Yabumotou to the infirmary.”
Kagome stood and bowed. “Thank you, sensei.” Then she urged Ayumi to her
feet. “C’mon, Ayumi-chan, let’s go to the nurse.”
Ayumi stood slowly and leaned heavily on Kagome as they walked down to the
infirmary.
“Does your head hurt, Ayumi-chan?” she asked.
“I hurt all over,” the other girl admitted.
‘That’s not good…’
They arrived at the nurse’s office and the kindly woman took Ayumi’s
temperature and other vitals, then felt her glands and let out a deep sigh.
“Is someone home who can come pick you up?” the nurse asked.
“Is it that bad, senpai?” Ayumi replied.
“You have a high fever and the tell-tale signs of the flu. Besides you’re my fourth
case today. Go home before you infect anyone else and I have an even bigger epidemic
on my hands.”
‘The flu? Oh shit.’
The nurse turned to her. “You too. Are you feeling well?”
“Umm, I’ve got a sore throat. It started this morning.”
“Go home too. Even if you aren’t showing signs, you’ve been exposed and you’re
probably highly contagious.”
‘Contagious. Oh crap. I probably gave it to Souta. Mama’s gonna kill me.’
Ayumi was getting up and she helped her stand. “I’ll call my mom. She can come
get me.”
“Good. Go home. Take some flu medication and get lots of fluids and rest. It’s the
best thing for you right now.”
She gave both of them surgical masks. “Here, put these on before you spread it
and the whole school gets sick.”
They put the masks on and Ayumi made a weak joke. “But if the whole school
gets sick, won’t you get a day off?”
“Ha ha, funny. But I suppose I should be grateful. These days the flu’s just an
inconvenience. A hundred years ago an outbreak like this could kill one out of every
three people that got it, so I guess we should consider ourselves lucky,” the nurse replied
and her words made Kagome turn cold.
‘One out of every three could die… I… I can’t go back to the Sengoku Jidai. I
could bring this with me and infect the villagers…’ She grew even colder. ‘Inuyasha’s
coming for me today and he’s bringing Yukio. I could infect my baby…’
“Yes, you get out of here too. You’re looking even paler than a few minutes ago.
Do either of you need me to call your mothers?”
‘Is Mama even home? What about Jii-chan? Oh no, I shouldn’t be around him
either…’
“I’ll call my mom on my mobile,” Ayumi said. “Kagome, do you need a ride?”
“I… I need to call Mama.”
“You can use my mobile.”
“Okay, thanks.”
“I’ll get you both a dose of flu medication,” the nurse offered, and went to the
back room.
“Do you want to call your mom first and see if she can come get you?” Ayumi
asked, offering the cell phone.
“Yes, please.”
“Kagome are you feeling as bad as I am because you look really white.”
“Inuyasha is coming for me today with Yukio,” she whispered. “I… I can’t
expose my baby to this illness, and I can’t go back to the other time because I could
spread it there and people could die.”
Ayumi’s eyes widened as she realized what Kagome was saying. “Is there any
way to tell him not to come for you?”
“Only if Mama or Jii-chan are home and can catch him before he leaves the
shrine. But knowing him, he’ll come through the well and come straight here.”
“Oh no. But… you do have the mask on, and if you wash your hands…”
She nodded, and accepted the phone, dialing her home number.
As it turned out, Mama was home and more than willing to come pick her up. She
also had the welcome news that she, Jii-chan and Souta had all gotten flu shots because it
was predicted to be a very bad flu season due to major antigenic shifts in the virus that
year. Unfortunately, Mama had seen Inuyasha but he’d already left for her school,
carrying Yukio, so there was no way to tell him not to come.
‘He’s probably already waiting for me on the roof…’
Mama said she would disinfect her bedroom then come get her. Kagome gave the
phone back to Ayumi just as the nurse was returning with two doses of liquid flu
medication. She took off her mask long enough to drink the medicine, then put it back on
and washed her hands thoroughly.
“My mom is on her way,” Ayumi said as she put away her phone.
“Well, at least the exams are over,” she joked weakly.
“The two of you should stay here until your mothers come for you,” the nurse
suggested.
“I have to go to my locker,” she replied. ‘And to the roof to tell my hanyou lover
that he can’t touch me or come anywhere near me and he needs to get our baby away
from here.’
“Alright, but come back here once you have your things.”
“Thank you,” she answered and hurried out, sneaking up to the roof.
Sure enough, Inuyasha was sitting with his back to the machine room wall with
Yukio playing on his lap. The toddler smelled her before she even turned the corner, and
she could hear his happy babblings in spoken words and inu-youkai.
“Okaa-san! Okaa-san!” :Mother-female. Mother-female comes.:
‘Damn… I hope Inuyasha doesn’t let him go so he can come running to me.’
“Don’t let him go!” she cried as she hurried to come into their view. “Don’t let
him come to me!”
“Eh? Why not?” Inuyasha asked before he could see her. “And why are you so
early?” He stared at her when he saw her with the mask on her face. “What are you
wearing that thing for?”
He stood up and took a step forward.
“STOP!” she yelled, putting her hands out. “You… you can’t come any closer.”
“Huh?”
“Okaa?” Yukio asked from his place in Inuyasha’s arms.
“Listen to me, Inuyasha. You have to go back. You have to stay away from me.”
“What are you babbling about, wench?”
“I’m sick. I’ve been exposed to an illness you can get and spread to others. You
can’t come anywhere near me until I’m better.”
He snorted and Yukio mimicked him. “I’m a hanyou, wench. I don’t get sick.”
“You might not, but Yukio’s at risk,” she countered. “You have to keep him away
from me.”
She saw him pause and think about what she was saying.
“For how long?” he finally asked and she breathed a sigh of relief.
‘He won’t risk the baby. Kami-sama he is such a good father.’
“I… I don’t know. A week at least.”
“A week?!” His eyes narrowed. “Are you sure you aren’t making this up just so
you can have more time here?”
“Inuyasha! How dare you even think that I would do such a thing, you baka!” she
yelled, but was cut off by a coughing fit.
Inuyasha immediately capitulated. “Alright! Alright! I believe you. Just please
stop coughing.”
“I’m trying,” she said between coughs.
“Okaa-san?” Yukio called in a small voice, reaching out towards her.
“I’m sorry, baby, but I can’t hug you. Okaa-san’s sick.”
“Sick?” the toddler repeated.
“Yes. It means Okaa-san must stay in bed and rest and not play. Like when Jubae
wasn’t able to play with you that one time, remember? Because she had a fever.”
:Mother-female go to den?:
“Soon baby, but Otou-san is going to take you back to Kaede-obachan’s.”
“NO!” Yukio cried.
“Oi, pup! Whaddya mean ‘no?’ You’ll do as you’re told,” Inuyasha scolded.
Yukio sniffled. “Otou… want Okaa-san…”
“I’m sorry, baby,” she apologized. “Mama-baachan is coming to get me and I’m
going to go home with her. She’ll make medicine for me and I’ll rest and get better.”
Yukio would not be swayed. “Want Okaa-san,” he whined.
“I know, baby. I know. But you can’t. Okaa-san will make you sick. Inuyasha
take him back to Kaede’s, please. You should stay there too. I’ll come back when I’m
better.”
“You’ll be alright here?” he asked, his eyes showing a hint of concern.
She nodded. “Yes. Mama is coming and I’ll go home with her. I have to get back
downstairs. There are people who will come looking for me if I’m gone too long. You go
back and I’ll come as soon as I can. I promise.”
He looked reluctant to leave, a torn look on his face.
“Inuyasha. If I’m sick, you have to take care of Yukio.”
That did it. He steeled his face and gave her a quick nod. “I’ll come back to check
on you once I have him settled.”
Asking him not to do that was a lost cause so she just nodded.
“I love you both and I’m sorry, but I can’t risk making either of you sick or
bringing it with me to your time. What I have could decimate the whole village if they
got it.”
Inuyasha reacted to her last statement with alarm, but he did not say anything.
Instead an odd look came to his face and he pulled a still protesting Yukio closer to his
chest.
“I will be back,” he assured her and leaped off.
She sighed, already beginning to feel worse but glad that she was able to keep her
family safe, and headed back down to the nurse’s office.
By the time Mama came to get her and she was sequestered in her room, her
temperature had risen and she was burning up. Within two hours of coming home, her
fever climbed to 40° C and her mother put her in a cool bath to try to bring her
temperature down. The cool water gave her the chills and she began to shake
uncontrollably, even as the fever made her head spin.
The bath brought her temperature down slightly to 39° C, and Mama put her back
in bed and piled blankets on her. Even with five blankets and a comforter, she still
shivered and shook with chills despite her fever, making her hot and cold at the same
time. Mama gave her another dose of liquid flu medication and tried to get her to drink
some fluids, but it was all she could do just to lift her head. She finally fell into a restless
sleep sometime after nightfall only to be awakened by a thump on her window and a
muffled curse.
‘Inuyasha’s back and he’s found the seals…’ she thought.
She’d used the last of her strength that afternoon to put wards on her window and
door in order to prevent Inuyasha from coming into her room. Knowing her hanyou the
way that she did, she knew that the seals would be the only thing that would keep him
out. She didn’t like doing it, but she knew he would think himself immune and just come
barging in.
‘Even if he doesn’t get sick, he could still carry it and infect others. Inuyasha, I’m
sorry.’
There was another thump at her door, followed by another curse.
“Oi! Kagome!” she heard him yell.
She wanted to answer him, to explain why she’d locked him out, but she couldn’t
find her voice. Thankfully, she didn’t have to because she heard Mama gently telling him
what was going on.
“Woman, what’s with the seals?”
“Kagome is very sick, Inuyasha. She needs her rest.”
“I’d let her sleep!” he countered indignantly.
“And she’s very worried about spreading her sickness to you or the others in your
time. She put the wards on her room to make sure you stayed away from her and couldn’t
be infected.”
“But I’m fine. I never get sick!”
“You might not show any signs, but you could carry the sickness to your time and
give it to others who would get sick. If that happened, it could be very bad. The sickness
Kagome has used to kill a lot of people before we had medicines for it, and it still kills
people today if they are weak and can’t fight off the infection. She didn’t want to take the
risk,” she heard her mother explain patiently.
There was silence, then Inuyasha asked softly, “How sick is she? What does she
have?”
“Why don’t you come with me? Kagome won’t rest if she can hear your voice
and I have some medical books downstairs. I’ll make some ramen and you can read about
her sickness, alright?”
“Okay,” he finally said after a long pause.
She felt the familiar tingle of his youki fade as he followed her mother, and she
was very proud of him for not banging on the door and making a scene.
‘My Inuyasha is growing up,’ she thought as sleep claimed her again.
His youki returning roused her because she was always hyper-aware of him and
she woke feeling worse than she had before. Her head was pounding and her whole body
hurt all over. Not to mention the fact that she was drenched with sweat and still shivering.
‘Medicine’s worn off…’
The rustle of his clothes and the sound of his body sliding against the door told
her that he’d taken up the ‘guard’ position outside her room, but this confused her
because she didn’t know where Yukio was and she was worried about him. She tried to
speak, but found that she couldn’t form words. Thankfully inu-youkai didn’t require a
working voice box in order to speak it.
:Leader-male,: she said faintly, knowing he would hear her.
He was as hyper-aware of her as she was of him, and she knew he would be
listening for the slightest sound from her. Sure enough, she heard him move immediately.
“Kagome?”
:Where pup?:
“I left him with Kaede, and… don’t sit me, but the old woman and the houshi
sealed him in the hut.”
‘Sealed him? Oh I’ll bet that went over well…’
:Pup stay in den?:
“I had to. He would have tried to follow me if I hadn’t. Shippou went in with him
so he’s not alone in there.
:Danger to den.: It was the closest way she knew of saying she was concerned that
Yukio would tear Kaede’s hut apart.
“Bah, they can handle it. I told them to do what they had to do to subdue him and
keep him safe.”
:Danger to pack-members,: she warned.
“He won’t hurt them. He knows what will happen if he does.”
‘He won’t stand for that. He’s probably terrified and screaming his head off. My
poor baby.’
:Fear for pup.:
“Pup’s fine. It’s you who aren’t. Kagome, how are you feeling?”
:Hot. Cold. Hurts.:
“Your mother let me read her books. This inn-flooo-enzaaa is very bad.”
:Yes.:
“It kills humans all the time.”
:Yes,: she confirmed.
“But she said you weren’t in any danger.”
:No. Mother-female safe.:
“I understand now why you were so worried about others getting it.”
:Yes. Protect pack.:
He sighed loud enough for her to hear. “That’s my Kagome, always thinking of
others before herself.”
:Mother-female loves pack. Loves pup. Loves leader-male. Mother-female keeps
pack safe.:
“I know.”
:Hot. Cold. Need mother-female mother.: She was trying to convey to him that
she needed her mom to bring her more medicine.
“I’ll get her.”
She heard him move and a few minutes later her mother came in with a cup of hot
medicine and a mug of hot herbal tea.
“The tea will help you sleep,” she said.
She gave Mama a thankful nod and drank both cups. After she was finished, her
mother helped her into some clean pajamas and back into bed. The medicine started
working and she didn’t hurt so badly.
“Your fever’s still high. If it’s still this high in the morning, I’m calling the
doctor.”
She gave a grunt of agreement and tucked her head under the covers. It had gotten
to the point where even her scalp shivered. Her mother gave her a reassuring pat and left.
A moment later, she heard Inuyasha settle his back against her door again.
:Leader-male?:
“I’m here. I won’t leave you,” came his soft voice through the door.
:Hurts. Tired.:
“Then get some rest. You won’t get better if you don’t rest.”
:Yes.:
She closed her eyes, feeling safe because he was there and succumbed to sleep.
The next day, after sleeping almost fourteen hours straight, Mama brought her a
mug of thick liquid she knew too well. Sometime during her rest, Inuyasha had gathered
the ingredients and made his famous medicine for colds. Now that she knew what was in
it, she curled up her nose, but she also remembered how well it had worked. She didn’t
know what, if any, effect it would have on her flu, but she was feeling so poorly that she
was willing to give it a try. Besides, if she didn’t drink it, Inuyasha would be offended
and she didn’t want him to think she was ungrateful.
Her fever had come down some but it was still hovering around 38° C. She took
another bath, this one a little warmer and changed into clean pajamas while her mother
stripped her bed, changed her sheets, and aired out and disinfected her room. She didn’t
see Inuyasha, but she could feel his youki so she knew he was nearby. She heard him at
the door just as soon as she was settled back in bed.
“Inuyasha?” she whispered.
“I’m here,” came his immediate answer.
“Thank you for the medicine.”
She heard him snort and could almost visualize his blush. “I’ve told you before
that it’s nothing.”
“Where were you just now?”
“Downstairs with your brother and the old man. Your mom said it was safer for
me to be down there.”
“Have you seen Yukio?”
“Yes. He’s fine. Hates me right now, but he’s fine.”
“Does Kaede still have a hut?”
“Yes, but he smashed some of her buckets and almost burned it down by throwing
stuff in the fire pit.”
“Oh no. Is everyone alright?”
She heard him sigh. “Yeah, but…”
‘Oh-oh. I don’t like the sound of his voice…’
“Inuyasha? Did something else happen?”
“Yeah.” His voice was sad and tired.
“What was it?”
“I… I lost my temper with him.”
‘Oh no…’
“You did? What did you do?”
“It was after I found out that he’d almost burned the hut down. He or Shippou or
both of them could have been seriously hurt before anyone got to them if someone hadn’t
been there.”
‘I probably would have lost my temper over something like that too.’
“I don’t blame you for being upset. What did you do to him?”
He hesitated, then replied slowly, “I… I spanked him.”
‘Spanked him? Inuyasha’s never raised his hand to Yukio…’
“I’m sure you didn’t hurt him,” she assured him.
“His bottom was all red. I gave him five good swats.”
‘Only five?’ “I’m sure that got his attention.”
“Yeah. I just hated doing it. Sesshoumaru used to… do that, just to humiliate me
with a human punishment.”
‘Oh… But I bet he gave you more than five swats; probably a lot more…’
“I understand, but I think you did the right thing. If pinning him or scruffing him
wasn’t working, then you had to do something else. What he did was very dangerous and,
you’re right, they could have been badly hurt and Kaede could have lost her hut.”
“I guess. He screamed and the villagers thought I was killing him. Kaede was the
one who had to tell them he was just being punished.”
‘And that probably hurt you more than anything.’
“I’m sure it was hard for you.”
“Yeah,” he admitted.
“I miss you,” she told him suddenly.
“I miss you too. Are you feeling any better?”
“A little. I still have a fever and I still hurt, but it’s not as bad as it was. I’m tired
though.”
“Then you should sleep.”
“I shouldn’t be contagious for much longer, then you can bring Yukio back here.”
“One day before symptoms start and 5 days after is what the book said.”
“Five days? Oh…” she answered sadly. ‘Five more days until I can see Inuyasha
and Yukio again.’
“It’ll be alright. What’s important is that you get better.”
“Yeah.”
“You should get some sleep. I’ll still be here when you wake.”
“Okay.”
She huddled under the covers and snuggled into her pillow, imagining that it was
Inuyasha she was holding, and fell asleep. When she woke twelve hours later, it was to a
pair of concerned golden eyes looking down at her.
“Inuyasha!” she gasped hoarsely, alarmed to see him in her room, then realized he
was wearing a surgical mask. He was also dressed in his sweat pants and, to her dismay, a
red Big Dog shirt she had bought for him and planned to surprise him with. She had taken
black fabric paint and written “I’m the” in kanji on the shirt so it said “I’m the Big Dog”
half in Japanese and half in English.
“Your mother said it would be okay for me to come in if I wore these clothes and
put this thing on my face. I’m supposed to wash my hands if I touch you too,” he
explained.
“Why did she let you in?” she whispered, her throat dry and scratchy.
He looked away. “The old man kept tripping over me on the way to the
bathroom.”
She managed a small smile as he put his hand on her forehead.
“You still have a fever,” he said with a frown.
She nodded. She was still sweating and shivering, and she still hurt all over.
Unfortunately, she also had to urinate rather badly.
“I have to go to the bathroom.”
He nodded. “I’ll call for your mother,” he said, getting up.
Mama helped her to the bathroom and then got her into yet another set of clean
pajamas because the ones she was wearing were soaked with sweat.
“He was fretting so much and Jii-chan banged into him twice,” Mama explained.
“I felt it was safe as long as he wore the mask and put on clean clothes.”
“It’s okay, Mama. I sleep better if he’s there anyway.”
Her mother nodded and said nothing.
She saw that he’d opened the window to let in some air, but closed it to cut off the
draft when she came back in. Mama gave her another dose of medicine and Inuyasha
made her drink a glass of water, then both he and her mother tucked her back into bed,
arranging the blankets and fluffing her pillows, and she found how they fussed over her
like two mother hens highly amusing. Once she was settled, her mother left and Inuyasha
sat with his back against her bed. She fell asleep to the feel of his hand rubbing her leg.
She woke briefly in the middle of the night to see a black-haired human Inuyasha
keeping vigil by her bed. Mentally she wondered how she had lost track of the days and
forgotten that tonight was the new moon, but figured her illness gave her enough of an
excuse. He looked silly sitting there in modern clothes with Tessaiga leaning against his
shoulder and the surgical mask tied around his face, but she was smart enough not to let
him know that.
She stayed awake long enough to go to the bathroom, take more medicine and
drink another glass of water. Inuyasha helped her through all of it, his touch warm and
gentle, and she wanted desperately to cuddle with him and, oddly, make love. She didn’t
know how she could possibly want him because she was feeling terrible and exhausted,
but her body tingled at his touch and for once she was thankful that he didn’t have his
hanyou nose, otherwise he would have smelled her arousal.
He got her back into bed and she sent him on a conjured up errand to make her
some eggs and tea which gave her enough time to quickly take care of her problem before
he got back. As soon as she was finished, lonely though it may have been to be by
herself, she realized that the release actually made her feel somewhat better and she was
glad she had given in to the urge. By the time Inuyasha got back with the eggs and tea,
she was half-asleep. She roused herself enough to eat the food and thank him before she
rolled over, tucked herself under her blankets and conked out.
Her fever finally broke in the morning, and she spent the next three days coughing
and aching with Inuyasha fretting and worrying over her. The longer her sickness
dragged on, even though she assured him that she was getting better, the more he fussed
and hovered. But she did have to give him credit for his understanding and patience. In
all the times he helped her dress and undress, he never once touched her intimately or
even hinted at anything untoward. This of course only meant that she would really be in
for it when she was up to making love again, but somehow she couldn’t bring herself to
mind too much.
Her illness also hammered the final nail into Yukio’s weaning coffin as her milk
dried up completely during her convalescence. She knew he’d be terribly upset but there
really wasn’t anything she could do. Her body had no choice but to re-route resources
towards fighting the virus raging inside of her, and her milk was one of the functions that
was sacrificed for the good of the cause. Her son was still confined in Kaede’s hut,
although Inuyasha did go to see him every day, and they both agreed to bring him just as
soon as the danger of contagious illness was over.
The aftermath of the flu wiped her out, and she spent long hours sleeping, only to
wake up coughing. Her mother had arranged pillows so that she could sleep sitting up,
and that helped a little. Her cough was more bark than bite, but she knew every time she
went into another fit it distressed Inuyasha terribly. He hated to hear her struggling to
breathe, and felt helpless when nothing he did made it any better. She remembered from
the last time she had been sick how her cough had affected him. If there was one thing
that had made him fret and blanch, it was the sound of her coughing. The fever, chills and
sweating were of obvious concern to him, but her cough always made his eyes go wide
and his face turn a little paler.
It struck her that she didn’t know how his mother had died, but his reaction to her
illness made her wonder if Izayoi had died of a coughing illness. If that was the case, then
the fear of her cough came from Inuyasha’s old memories of his mother and part of him
still associated coughing with death. She tried to console him, to reassure him that she
was in no danger of getting worse or dying, and while she knew he understood that she
was going to be fine, a nameless fear still lurked behind his eyes that she could not make
go away.
“What am I going to do with you, koishii? You cough and cough, and you tell me
you’re getting better but I can hear the rattle in your lungs,” his whispered voice filtered
down into her half-conscious brain.
It had been four days and she was still exhausted from just breathing.
‘Koishii? Did he just call me beloved?’
A tender hand brushed the hair from her sweaty brow and she pretended to remain
asleep.
“You humans are so fragile. How did you ever take over the world? You must
have done it by numbers alone because you’re no match for the strength and power of a
youkai.”
He sighed and she did her best to stay very still.
“And you die so quickly. My life will have barely begun when yours is over. You
will be old and gray before I even reach full maturity, and you won’t live to see our pups
grow into full adults. What will we do without you? What will I do without you? Every
day I fall for you more deeply and more hopelessly, but I know our time together will be
so short compared to the years I will have to live alone. I don’t know how I will stand the
pain of your loss. Will I follow you in death, or will I spend my long life searching for
your reincarnation so that we can be together again?”
‘I… I never knew he thought about these things. All this time, I have been worried
about the well sealing or Kikyou taking him away from me, but Inuyasha… I know I’ll
never have to live without him, but he… he’ll live for centuries. He’ll have to go on when
I am long dead.’
For a moment she felt such sorrow for him. No matter how long she lived, he was
still doomed to lose her because her lifespan would never match his. For all the years and
time they would have together, his hair would still be silver and his face still young when
her bones had disintegrated into dust. It seemed so unfair and horribly tragic. How did he
stand knowing that he would live for hundreds of years after her death?
“But I can’t think about these things. You would think it so strange for me to have
deep thoughts and I would hurt you with things you have no power to change.”
‘He’s right. I’d hurt for him and not for me; hurt for my hanyou who found love
with a human only to lose her to Time. Oh my Inuyasha. My poor Inuyasha.’
She made a show of muttering and was shocked to feel his mask-covered lips kiss
her brow.
“Shhhhh, Kagome. Sleep. You don’t cough when you sleep.”
‘I’m sorry, koi, but after that… I can’t sleep anymore.’
She roused slowly, inwardly smiling at his attempts to get her to go back to sleep.
He shushed and petted her hair, trying to soothe her, but his attempts were in vain as
another coughing fit ripped its way out of her throat. She saw his eyes cloud and knew he
was frowning under the mask, as he helped support her and patted her back.
“I wish you’d stop coughing,” he admitted.
She looked at him and gave him a weak smile. “Me too.”
‘He doesn’t know I heard him. Maybe that’s for the best. He would just get
embarrassed and try to pick a fight.’
“Could you get Mama? I need more medicine.”
He smiled at her and nodded, standing immediately and going to get her mother.
She watched him go.
‘I don’t know what I can do, but I promise I’ll make what time we do have
together memorable enough to last you a hundred lifetimes, Inuyasha. At least until we
can find each other again.’
In the end Kagome was bed-ridden for ten days, and spent the next week
recovering. Inuyasha brought Yukio to her as soon as they were certain she was no longer
contagious, and the toddler- traumatized by his ordeal of being forced away from her and
sealed in the old miko’s hut- clung to her so tightly that she nicknamed him her ‘Velcro
baby.’ There was a new wariness of Inuyasha in his eyes as well, a shade that came into
them whenever his father first approached. She knew Yukio’s fear of him hurt Inuyasha
and she was glad when the fear faded after a few days of things being back to ‘normal.’
Although she tried to listen carefully every time he thought she was asleep,
nothing was ever said about his whispered words that one morning and he didn’t repeat
them. She even thought she might have dreamed that he had called her his beloved
because she couldn’t imagine him letting such a thing slip, but then she decided that it
couldn’t have been a dream because she had heard everything he had said afterwards.
Knowing that he had said it, even though he thought she couldn’t hear him, made her
heart glad and she contented herself with the hope that one day he would say them to her
willingly while she was awake.
There was no real rush to return to the Sengoku Jidai because the weather there
still restricted travel, but concern for how her friends were faring during the harsh winter
spurred her on and gave her an incentive to get better as soon as possible. Under
Inuyasha’s watchful eye and her mother’s tender care, she regained the weight she had
lost during her illness and built up her strength.
Almost three weeks to the day after she had fallen ill, she, Inuyasha and Yukio
returned to the Sengoku Jidai to be with their friends and to resume the life they had
made for each other there.
Chapter Twenty-Nine
The good thing about winter was that it always ended. Eight weeks after the first
cold snap, the snow melted and the temperatures crept higher, opening the roads and
making life much more pleasant; especially for Inuyasha who had insisted that Kaede
spend the coldest of the winter nights with them in the den. By virtue of it being
underground, the den was always a steady 12° C with very little variation. So even when
the temperatures outside were below freezing, the interior of the den was warm, and
could be made very cozy and comfortable with the addition of a small fire.
Inuyasha had fretted over the old miko’s health and welfare in the cold, and he
had practically forced her to stay with them in the den at night. After the first two nights
of sleeping in the warmth and deceptive comfort of the underground shelter, Kaede no
longer argued when Inuyasha came to get her. The soft bed and cozy space did wonders
for easing the ache in her bones and joints, and Inuyasha half expected her to ask for a
den of her own.
With the coming of Spring, Kagome saw the renewed restlessness come to her
beloved. It telegraphed itself into his impatience and wanderlust… and other lusts. The
normal bio-rhythms of the mating season hit her adult hanyou like a sledgehammer and
she bore the brunt of his raging libido. There were days when he didn’t let her leave the
den for anything other than a bathroom break, and every time she thought he’d reached
the peak of his sexual endurance, he surprised her by proving her wrong. She only hoped
that he would calm down once the summer arrived, otherwise no shard hunts would ever
be completed because she’d be too tired to stand up let alone travel anywhere.
Other than getting pounced on by an amorous hanyou what seemed like every five
minutes, but what was probably more like every few hours, her life was going well.
Yukio was seventeen months old and he had been with them for fifteen of those months.
He was talking even more and fully mobile now; able to run, climb and jump which he
did as much as possible- usually with one of them chasing after him and screaming his
name. He idolized his father and adored his mother, and almost everyone was wrapped
around his little clawed finger with few exceptions. He had almost free run of the little
village and could be seen exercising his wandering, independent soul all around town, as
was evidenced by the number of times Inuyasha had had to pluck him off a hut roof or
snatch him away from a charging bull.
Both parents were hard pressed to keep up with him, and Inuyasha actually
ventured to suggest leashing him or fitting him with his own set of prayer beads that
would transport him back to his mother instead of subduing him the way his father’s
binding beads did. He lasted on the leash all of half a day, and Kagome was afraid to try
the beads because she worried the transport spell wouldn’t take obstacles into account,
and accidentally slam her son into a hut or tree or other solid object as it yanked him back
to her.
The threat of the leash or the binding beads, however, worked wonders to
improve Yukio’s behavior. The leash was a humiliation worse than a spanking and he
would do anything to avoid being tethered. Seeing his indignant rage and resentment at
being controlled, Kagome seriously considered freeing Inuyasha from his bindings. It
seemed horribly unfair to her for Inuyasha to have them, and be bound by the subduing
spell when she refused to do the same to her son. He really didn’t need them anymore and
she wanted to prove to him that she trusted him implicitly. She could think of no better
way to prove her faith, love and trust in him than to remove the beads she thought he
hated and resented so much. She left them on, however, at the adult hanyou’s request.
Upon speaking with Inuyasha about his beads, he’d actually expressed distress at
her suggestion that she take them off. He’d clutched them in his hands and looked at her
as if she’d just threatened to steal his most prized possession. It was then that she realized
that for Inuyasha, the beads symbolized his connection to her and he had no desire to be
rid of them. He had argued that she had used the beads to save him more than once, and
that the subduing spell worked wonders when his temper got the better of him and he
really needed to sit and think things through a little more thoroughly. He recognized that
he was still a little too hot-headed and often acted before he should. Having the beads to
bring him down when he went haring off was a comfort more than a curse.
He had also made the case that the beads could be used to protect her should he
transform into his youkai form and go berserk. She didn’t bother to remind him that when
he was in his youkai form, the spell didn’t work because he simply couldn’t hear her over
the rush of the demon blood in his ears. In fact, after the first time he lost control of his
youkai blood, she’d never used the subduing spell to bring him down again.
Regardless of his reasons, it was painfully obvious that he did not want to be free
of the beads, so she left them. What she did do, though, was vow never to abuse them or
use them to punish him undeservedly. It amazed her how much his disposition had
improved now that they were so intimate and close. It was as if having her to love and be
with brought out a side of Inuyasha that he had never shown before. While still irritating,
abrasive and often reckless, much of his hurtful behavior had stopped and she found
herself not needing to subdue him in order to get her point across. In fact, she rarely sat
him more than a couple of times a month nowadays for minor infractions. His mouth,
however, was still a problem, although she was considering it a lost cause. Besides Yukio
was already imitating his father’s bad habit of saying whatever was on his mind, in
whatever language came to mind.
In truth, Yukio was too much like his father for Kagome’s liking, and for all that
Inuyasha was not the boy’s biological sire, he was really proving to her that, while nature
certainly shaped personality to some extent, nurture was the driving force in child
development. Her son was proud, stubborn and obstinate as hell, but also sweet, happy
and very affectionate. Because his life was safe, secure and loving, he wasn’t developing
the tough defense mechanisms Inuyasha had created in order to survive the hardships he
had had to endure. In many ways Kagome saw in Yukio what Inuyasha could have been
if Izayoi or his father had lived to raise him, and it made her somewhat sad, but Inuyasha
always shoved her pitying thoughts away when she spoke of them, saying that he was
fine and to be glad Yukio was so lucky to have them. It didn’t stop her from wishing
Inuyasha’s life had been different, though, and she promised to make his life as lucky as
Yukio’s from now on.
“Okaa-san, Otou-san,” Yukio said, popping his head back into the den.
Inuyasha was the first to rouse from the rumpled bed and he blinked at his son as
Kagome rolled over.
“Eh? Pup what are you doing out there?”
“Yukio baby, did you leave the den while we were sleeping?” Kagome asked.
“Yukio go outside,” he said simply, using his term for going out to relieve
himself, and hopped down into the bedcovers to join them.
Inuyasha rubbed his son’s ears and gave him a proud smile. “Good pup.”
Yukio beamed back, then sniffed and sniffed again, his little nose screwing up.
“Kussee,” he complained, holding his nose.
“Oi!”
Kagome just giggled. “I guess it is a little ripe in here. We should open the door
and let the den air out.
Inuyasha sniffed. “Smells fine in here to me. Smells like us and…” He gave her a
wicked leer. “… all the fun we’re having.”
Kagome groaned. “In the meantime, no one wants to watch our little bundle of
irrepressible energy and he’s bored to tears.”
“Feh, everyone spoils him. He needs to learn patience.”
She raised one eyebrow, “This from Mr. I-Don’t-Care-if-I’m-Human-andPowerless-I’m-Going-Out-To-Fight-Anyway. You’re one to talk about learning
patience.”
“Funny, you weren’t complaining about my ability to wait a couple of hours ago,”
he commented, giving her a smug wink.
She threw a pillow at him. “Hentai. Anyway, I don’t blame him for not wanting to
stay cooped up in here with us. Besides, I need to go out myself.”
Inuyasha rolled to his back and put his hands under his head. “Humph, I guess I’ll
let you.”
“Let me, huh? Oh thank you for giving me permission to go outside, oh exalted
one,” she said dourly.
“Heh. I like that. Say it again.”
“What part?”
“The ‘exalted one’ bit. Say that.”
“You sure?” ‘So you wanna be a chauvinistic pig, huh? I’ll show you…’
“Yeah.”
“Osuwari.”
Since he was already lying down, the beads didn’t take him far, but they did flip
him over onto his face.
“Gah!”
‘Humph, I swear you do it on purpose because you want me to sit you. I know I
promised not to abuse the beads, but that was just too blatant to ignore.’
Yukio giggled. “Otou-san go splat.”
Inuyasha just growled but that only made Yukio giggle more. Kagome gathered
up some clothes and slipped into them, then turned to the toddler.
“Baby wanna come with Okaa-san?”
Yukio clapped his hands and reached for her. “Okaa! Okaa! Yukio come!”
“Okay, get on my back then.”
He didn’t need to be told twice and hopped right up onto her back, holding onto
her shoulder. She took him out of the den and first went to their latrine, then down to the
stream.
“Okaa-san needs to wash. Yukio want a bath too?” she asked when they arrived at
their bathing spot.
Yukio immediately jumped down, his eyes wide.
“No! Cold! Cold! Cold!”
She laughed as she disrobed and slid into the water. “This from a baby that ran
around barefoot in the snow this winter.”
Yukio looked around. “Snow? Where snow? No snow,” he replied with
disappointment.
Kagome snickered and dunked her head under the water as Yukio sat cross-legged
on the stream bank. He looked just like a miniature version of Inuyasha, complete with
hands folded into the sleeves of his blue haori. Inuyasha kept saying he’d have to have
fire rat clothes made for the boy, but he needed to find a nest of the youkai rats first, then
he needed to find someone who knew how to turn the hides into clothing. Inuyasha’s
father had commissioned the clothes he wore and he had been presented with the haori,
kimono and hakama for his birthday one year. The clothing had been with him ever since
and had adjusted to fit him as he grew because they were linked to his youki and
practically indestructible.
Considering how hard hanyou children were on their clothing, fire rat and youkai
made garments were probably the only clothes that would last more than a few weeks,
but since fire rats were rare and youkai tailors even rarer, having a set of the protective
clothes made for Yukio was probably going to be no small task. Kagome had no doubts,
however that somehow Inuyasha would see it done, and Yukio would have his own set of
blazing red clothes before too long. Then he really would look exactly like his father.
She kept her head under the water for longer than Yukio was comfortable with
and she smiled to herself when she saw him peering worriedly down into the pool.
“Okaa-san! Okaa-san!” he cried.
With a burst of speed, she leaped up and splashed him.
“Gotchya!”
Yukio screamed then started laughing even as he got wet. Kagome grabbed him
and held him over the water.
“Oh no, I’m gonna drop you! Oh you’re so heavy!” she teased.
“No! No! No!” he yelled, but he was still laughing.
She threatened to drop him a few times, always catching him at the last second.
His squeals of delight filled the surrounding forest and she laughed with him.
“What is all this ruckus?!” Inuyasha groused. He was fully dressed and looked a
little peeved about it. “I heard screaming and I thought there was trouble. Instead I find a
wet human and an almost wet pup.”
“Otou! Otou! Save Yukio!” the toddler begged, reaching for his father.
Kagome grinned and tossed Yukio over to Inuyasha. “Catch the pup!”
“Wheeeeeeee!!!”
The adult hanyou snatched him up easily and swung him around, eliciting more
squeals of delight from the hanyou toddler.
“I swear pup, are you sure your father wasn’t part bird-youkai? You just love the
wind in your ears.”
“Again! Again!” Yukio pleaded.
Kagome smiled and finished her bath as Inuyasha tossed Yukio into the air
repeatedly. When she was finished, she dressed and made to head for the village.
“Oi! Where do you think you’re going?” Inuyasha demanded.
“Down to see how Kaede and our friends are doing. You remember them, right?”
“Bah! They’re fine. Nothing smells wrong. Let’s go back to the den.”
“I’d rather walk and stretch my legs a bit… and if you make one comment about
other ways I can stretch my legs I will make you eat dirt,” she warned.
He gave a little whine that told her that was exactly what he was thinking of
saying, and she had to suppress a smile.
“Besides, our son is well and truly awake now, and you know I don’t do anything
in front of him.”
“Feh,” he snorted and Yukio mimicked him, even as he followed her down to the
village, grumbling under his breath all the way.
“Inuyasha-sama! Kagome-sama!” Myouga greeted, leaping onto Inuyasha’s nose
as they entered Kaede’s hut. The flea servant had arrived at the beginning of spring after
safe travel from Toutousai’s forge was possible. He’d come to confirm the rumors of
Sesshoumaru, Inuyasha and Tenseiga for the youkai sword smith and had stayed. Both
Inuyasha and Kagome figured he would stick around until there was trouble then
disappear again.
Yukio did the honors and slapped the flea-youkai off his father. “Go ‘way, jiji.”
‘Jiji? When did he start calling Myouga ‘jiji’?’ she thought with an exasperated
sigh.
“Oi. Whaddya want, Myouga-jiji?” Inuyasha groused.
‘So that’s when,’ she said dourly to herself.
“Nothing Inuyasha-sama. It has just been a while since we have seen you,” the
flea youkai replied, hopping up onto Kagome’s shoulder.
Inuyasha snorted. “It hasn’t been that long.”
“No one in the village has seen you for two days.”
Inuyasha grinned. “Well, I’ve been busy, Jiji. Why? Is there trouble coming? You
gonna run away again?”
“Inuyasha. Kagome,” Kaede said, calling their attention to where she and Miroku
were sitting with two of the village men.
“Ah, Inuyasha-sama,” one of the men greeted.
Kagome could see her lover trying to put a name to his face and coming up blank.
“Asaki,” she whispered loud enough for hanyou ears.
He gave a grunt of acknowledgement. “Asaki.”
“The other is Taro,” she supplied again.
“Taro,” he repeated, nodding to the other man.
The first man, Asaki, approached and smiled at Yukio. “And Yukio-sama grows
bigger every day.”
Yukio sniffed at him, mumbling in inu-youkai, :Pack-male.:
“I swear he has grown so much while we were on our journey and we were only
gone three weeks. He is the size of my Yumi when she was two summers old.”
Inuyasha gave a small smile of paternal pride. “Hanyou pups grow fast.”
“So I am told. My Masumi told me he was chasing the oxen.”
Inuyasha rolled his eyes and nodded. “Yeah. But he won’t do that anymore.
We’ve threatened to leash him if he tries that again,” he replied, glaring at Yukio.
Yukio’s eyes opened wide and he flattened his ears as he put his fist in his mouth.
:Pup good!: he insisted.
Kagome moved to take her son because it looked like the men had come to talk to
Inuyasha. He reached for her, eager to get away from a possible leashing.
“No leash Yukio,” he whined as she cuddled him to her shoulder.
“No leash if you’re good,” she reassured him, rubbing his ears.
Yukio sighed and snuggled against her. “Ears…” he breathed.
“Mmm-hmmm, Okaa knows you like your ears rubbed.”
Yukio looked at her head, his hand coming up to touch her ear. “Okaa-san ears
funny.” He reached up and touched his own ears. “Yukio ears like Otou-san ears.”
She giggled and nuzzled him. “That just makes your and Otou-san’s ears special.”
“You should learn to mind your manners, Yukio-sama!” Myouga scolded,
hopping up and down on her shoulder as the toddler looked at him.
Yukio watched the flea-youkai bounce a few times then snatched him between
two fingers the way he’d seen his father do and squished him. Myouga let out a little
squeak and fell to the hut floor. Kagome tried very hard not laugh and gave her son a
glare.
“Ohhh, Inuyasha-sama, the boy is definitely your son...” Myouga whimpered,
collapsing on his back.
:Bad pup.: “That was very rude.”
Yukio cringed.
“You apologize to Myouga-jiichan this instant.”
Yukio peered down at the floor. “Yukio sorry, Jiji.”
Myouga didn’t answer. Kagome just sighed in defeat and gave up.
“I’m glad you joined us, Inuyasha. I was about to send someone looking for you,”
Miroku commented, drawing her attention away from her son.
“Heh! Know better than to do it yourself, eh bouzu?” Inuyasha replied with a glint
in his eyes.
Miroku gave him a knowing look and motioned for them to sit.
“These men have just returned from Kōtsuke,” he told them seriously.
‘Kōtsuke? That’s north of here,’ she thought as she sat down with Yukio in her
lap.
“Yeah, so what? What’s that got to do with me and Kagome?” Inuyasha
demanded, sitting down next to her.
“They bring some interesting news with them of their travels.”
Both men nodded vigorously as they sat down as well. “There is a terrible beast
that hunts the trade roads. Many samurai have been sent to kill it, but none have returned
alive. The daimyos are combining their resources to wage war upon the monster,” Taro
said.
“Hmmm, a possible shard?” Inuyasha answered, his ears twitching with interest.
‘Well, a shard hunt will get us out of the den at least…’ she mused.
Miroku nodded. “That is my belief, but there is more. Asaki, tell Inuyasha the
rest.”
“One of the daimyos sent a messenger to the holy temple of Zenko-ji in Shi Nano.
There is word of a shrine maiden of great spiritual power who can be found there, and the
daimyo wishes to enlist her help in slaying the beast,” Asaki said.
‘A shrine maiden of great spiritual power?’ she thought, her blood suddenly
growing cold. ‘Could it be Kikyou?’
She looked at Inuyasha but his face had gone unreadable.
‘If it is Kikyou, what is she doing at Zenko-ji? That’s in what will be Nagano... in
another few hundred years.’
“Did you see this miko?” Inuyasha asked carefully.
Both men shook their heads. “The daimyo had only just sent messengers once the
mountain passes opened up and they had yet to return,” Taro replied.
“Kōtsuke, you said?” the adult hanyou questioned.
Kagome’s heart sank even further into her stomach. ‘We’re going. Well, of course
we are. Inuyasha won’t pass up a shard hunt…’
“Yes, along the trade road,” Taro confirmed.
“We know that you and Kagome-sama seek to gather all of the Shikon shards,
Inuyasha-sama, so we came here immediately to tell you this news,” Asaki added.
Inuyasha nodded. “We’ll leave in the morning.”
‘At least he’s not insisting on going alone. But if it is Kikyou and we run into her,
what will we do? What will Inuyasha do? Kikyou’s been gone for over a year.’
“Okaa?” Yukio asked, turning worried eyes her way.
‘He feels my distress.’
“Okaa’s okay baby,” she comforted.
The village men stood and bowed. “We must go greet our families and prepare
the goods we traded for. We brought back fabric, paper, and some metal for smelting,”
Taro said.
“We may even have traded for some candy,” Asaki added, winking at Yukio and
smiling as his little ears perked up at the word ‘candy.’
“I don’t know. Only good pups who know their manners should have candy,” she
answered, giving Yukio a hard look.
“Yukio good! Yukio learn manners!”
“You promise?”
He nodded vigorously and she smiled. “Okay.”
Yukio grinned and hugged her.
“Come to our hut this evening. We’ll probably have it unpacked by then,” Asaki
told her.
She nodded. “Thank you.”
With a final bow, both men left and Miroku turned to Inuyasha. “You are thinking
the miko he speaks of is Kikyou?”
Inuyasha gave her a little worried glance then nodded. “Yeah.”
“That is Kaede-sama and my belief as well.”
“Inuyasha, what do you intend to do if this miko is Kikyou-onee-sama?” Kaede
asked bluntly.
Kagome winced. ‘Ah, so straightforward. I know you’re concerned about me but
trying to pin him down like that will only make things worse.’
“I don’t know,” he replied just as bluntly.
“Well, at least you’re being honest about it,” Miroku said. “Do you want me to
come with you?”
Inuyasha shook his head. “No. You stay here with Sango and… your pup.”
His voice had faltered before he’d said ‘your pup’ and the hesitation was not lost
on her.
‘He’s worried.’
“I will accompany Inuyasha-sama. I do not like to leave his side,” Myouga added
sagely.
Both Kagome and Inuyasha gave him incredulous looks.
“Is that so?” Inuyasha commented.
“You will take Kirara with you too. I am assuming Kagome-sama and Yukio will
be going as well?” Miroku said.
“Yes,” she replied before Inuyasha had a chance to answer. ‘If you think you’re
leaving us behind, Inuyasha, you’ve got another thing coming.’
Miroku nodded. “I thought as much. Are you certain you don’t want me to come
along?”
“Your place is with your family, monk. Stay where you belong,” Inuyasha
answered a little roughly.
‘And where is your place, Inuyasha? Will you stay where you belong?’ she
wondered with no small amount of concern.
Yukio, picking up on the change in mood in the room, started to fret.
“Okaa?”
She shushed him and bounced him lightly on her knee. “It’s fine, baby. Okaa’s
fine.”
Her son looked at her, then at his father and then back to her again. He blinked
and raised one eyebrow, an expression that was highly amusing on a child his age, but
she had to hold in her laughter because she knew he was being serious.
“Okaa-san sad,” he said simply, chewing on one fist.
None of the adults in the hut had any answer or comfort for him, and when he
looked to his father, Inuyasha looked away which made him even more upset.
:Leader-male?:
:Be still, pup,: came the stern answer, which did nothing to placate him.
:Pup good!!:
Kagome petted his hair and ears. “I know, baby. We know you’ve been good.
We’re not upset with you.”
:Mother-female loves pup.:
Yukio whined and burrowed his face into her chest. She wrapped arms around
him and pulled him close.
“We love you, baby.”
“Do you wish to leave him here with us for the evening?” Miroku offered.
“No,” Inuyasha answered immediately. “The pup stays with us.”
There was something in his voice, in the timbre of his words that told her he was
just as upset as she was.
“Very well. It was just an offer,” the monk said.
Inuyasha nodded. “He wouldn’t want to stay with you right now anyway, and
you’d have to seal him to make him. I don’t think that’s a good idea right now.”
‘No, definitely not. He thinks we’re upset with him. To force him away from us
would only traumatize him and make him think we’re rejecting him from the pack,’ she
thought in agreement.
“I agree,” Miroku spoke before she could say anything.
Inuyasha abruptly stood, his hands hanging limply at his sides. “I want to go back
to the den.”
She stood up with him, holding Yukio close. “I should probably go through the
well and get supplies for our trip.”
He nodded. “Later.”
His voice brooked no argument so she gave none.
‘He either wants comfort sex or he wants to talk. Knowing him, he’ll want both.’
“I will let Sango and Shippou know of your plans. Kirara will join you as always,
but I suspect Shippou will want to come along as well,” the monk said.
“He watches the pup for us,” Inuyasha confirmed.
“So you will come to our hut before you leave?”
Inuyasha nodded. “Yeah. We’ll come in the morning.”
“I will be there too,” Myouga said.
Miroku looked at them, a small smile gracing his lips. “We will leave you alone
until then. I am sure you have a lot of… plans and preparations to make.”
The very fact that he didn’t rise to take Miroku’s bait was proof that Inuyasha
wasn’t in the best of moods. He merely nodded, then put one hand under her elbow and
urged her out of the hut. She barely had time to say good-bye to Kaede before he was
practically pushing her through the doorway.
“I’ll see you later Kaede-obaachan,” she assured the old miko as she was ushered
past the reed door.
Kaede clucked and chuckled. “Of course, child. I’ll have a traveling medicine
bundle ready for you.”
“Thank you!” she called as Inuyasha gripped her arm a little tighter and gave her
a light pull.
Inuyasha was silent as they walked back to the den and she was afraid to speak.
The look on his face was one of grim determination and deep thought; two expressions
that marred his handsome features and made the cold settle even more into her gut. Poor
Yukio was so rattled that he’d transformed into “Velcro Baby” and dug his little claws
into her shirt, refusing to be dislodged even after they had reached the safety and comfort
of the den. It wasn’t until he had been soothed, coddled and placated that he finally
stopped whimpering and clinging, and let go.
Inuyasha gathered them both to him, his arm around her shoulder as he tucked his
son against his chest, and held them close. His tight embrace wasn’t what she was
expecting, and she couldn’t even begin to guess what was going on inside his head. She
wanted to ask him what he was thinking and to offer what little comfort she could, but his
silence made her worried and she feared his reaction should she say the wrong thing.
“Do you… do you want to go with me to my time and have us stay overnight
there?” she asked finally.
“No,” he answered softly. “I’ll… I’ll go with you, but I want to come back and
spend the night here in the den.”
“Alright.”
They fell silent again and Inuyasha tucked his face into her hair, breathing in and
out slowly. Kagome knew him well enough to know that he was getting his feelings
under control, and preparing to close himself off the way he always did when presented
with an emotional challenge. She didn’t want him to pull away from her and leave her
feeling abandoned. She was worried enough about the possibility that Kikyou wouldn’t
release Inuyasha from his promise that the last thing she wanted was for him to shut her
out.
“What do you want to do?” she asked, her voice loud in the silence.
“I don’t know. I… I just want to be with you and the pup right now. No one else.”
“Okay.”
She snuggled close and petted her son’s hair. He was tucked against his father’s
chest, his little head nestled under Inuyasha’s chin, and he was doing his best to stay quiet
and still. He knew his parents were unhappy and didn’t know what to do, so he opted to
do what his instincts were telling him and make himself as unnoticeable as possible.
“He’s upset,” she said, hoping to use Yukio as a way of keeping Inuyasha from
shutting them out.
“I know. Pup doesn’t understand.”
‘Neither do I,’ she thought sadly.
They stayed that way until Yukio fell asleep. Then Kagome put him carefully in
his bed so as not to wake him and turned her attention to comforting her adult hanyou.
Normally she didn’t initiate sex unless her libido was increased because of her heat cycle,
and she usually didn’t have to even then because he initiated lovemaking almost every
night. But now he seemed shy and uncertain, and she thought he might be feeling
insecure. Kikyou always managed to drive a wedge between them, and he might think
asking for attention under the current circumstances would get him refused.
Her suspicions were confirmed when he relaxed and sighed with relief as she
kissed him, and wrapped his arms around her.
“Kagome…” he breathed and the desperation in his voice told her everything she
needed to know. He was scared and worried, and he needed her to be the strong one
because he didn’t know what was going to happen any more than she did.
Their lovemaking was slow and gentle, almost reverent, and he took her with such
love and tenderness that she thought he was trying to tell her how much he loved her
before he had to say goodbye. She cried afterwards and he licked her tears away, whining
softly in a way that she had never heard him do before. Yukio woke up and wanted
cuddling so they snuggled with him under the covers, curling around each other and
drawing solace from the warmth and physical contact.
Later they all went to her time and did the shopping. It was one of the few times
the stroller Mama had bought came in handy, even though Yukio didn’t like it and
preferred to ride on one of his parents’ shoulders. They put him in it anyway and wheeled
him down the streets of Tokyo; looking very much like a normal mother and father taking
their young one out for walk. Well… as normal as two silver-haired, golden-eyed boys
dressed in hakamas and haoris and wearing caps to cover their dog ears could be.
Passer-bys always stopped to see the baby and Yukio always scowled at them if
Inuyasha’s glares didn’t scare them off to begin with. Kagome didn’t like to encourage
the anti-social behavior, but Inuyasha explained that it had less to do with Yukio not
liking people and much more to do with the strange scent. Strangers weren’t pack and
therefore could not be trusted, so Yukio didn’t want them near him.
A trip to the grocery store, two cartons of ramen and three bags of food later, they
returned to the shrine. Mama insisted on having them stay for dinner and Kagome didn’t
feel she could say no, especially since the journey to Kōtsuke was going to be a long one,
so it was well past dark before they got back to the den. Yukio was zapped out even
before they returned and not even the trip through the well woke him up. They settled
him into his bed and turned to each other once again.
Few words were spoken, as if neither of them knew what to say, or worse,
everything that could be said had already been said and there was no point in breaking the
peace between them. Kagome was painfully aware of his position, just as he was aware
of hers, but he had made his commitment to keep his promise to Kikyou if she demanded
it of him and he had no intention of breaking it. Inuyasha had nothing but the clothes on
his back, Tessaiga, and his word, and he was above all things an honorable man. One
wouldn’t think it of him with his crass ways and harsh mouth, but he took his
responsibilities and integrity very seriously, and she would never ask him to compromise
himself on something that was so very important to him.
It seemed funny to her that he valued his word above his hanyou nature. He’d
been willing to give up all his power, long life and strength to become human for Kikyou,
but he would not give up his honor. She, of course, would never dream of telling him that
to his face, but if there was anything she was slightly bitter about, it was the fact that he
was willing to give up so much for a woman who she believed had never truly loved him,
and yet he refused to deny her the claim she had placed upon him.
Kikyou said Inuyasha’s life was hers because she had died for him. Kagome felt
badly about that, but she had started to believe Sango and Kaede’s words that Inuyasha
had paid his debt to Kikyou with Naraku’s death and that Inuyasha was now free. She
wished Inuyasha believed it too, but it was obvious that he did not. Still, he maintained
that he would do all he could to stay with her and Yukio, intent on keeping his promise to
Kikyou after Kagome had lived out her short human lifetime. There was a huge kink in
that Grand Master Plan that she never bothered to point out, and it seemed it was the
elephant in the living room (or den as the case may be) that he absolutely refused to
acknowledge: the lives and needs of the family they planned to have.
If he went to Hell with Kikyou or went off with her wherever, who would be left
to be there for their children? If she was dead and Inuyasha was gone with his former
lover, there would be no one to guide and care for their family. Even if she lived to be
100 years old, from what Inuyasha had told her, their children would be barely out of
childhood when she died. Inuyasha insisted that he wanted pups and she was more than
willing to provide, but if he had plans to abandon her babies to go running off with the
clay pot after she was dead and buried, she needed to make it very clear to him that there
would be no pups if that was truly his intent. It was bad enough that Yukio would lose
both parents, but she wasn’t about to doom any other children to that fate if she could
help it.
She was really hoping, since the one who knew Kikyou the best was Inuyasha,
that he was right about Kikyou’s change of heart. However, she wasn’t holding her breath
because not even Kaede believed Kikyou had done that much of an about-face. The old
miko maintained that her sister was dead, and that the person who now bore her sister’s
face was nothing more than a pale imitation fueled by hatred and dead souls. It was true
that the undead miko had been different since that day Kagome had healed her of
Naraku’s miasma, and she wanted to believe that she had helped to comfort and ease
Kikyou’s wounded heart, but that seemed like such a huge task for someone as small as
she and she couldn’t bring herself to believe it.
What she should be doing, she knew, was preparing for the worst. She needed to
be ready to deal with the consequences of Kikyou demanding that Inuyasha go with her.
She half expected the miko to say her year away was a favor to Inuyasha in trade for
having to leave his second love.
‘I get a year and she gets him for eternity. Good trade.’
She had to be ready to be there for Yukio, to comfort him when his father did not
return, and be able to raise him as best she could without another hanyou around to help
her. There was so much she still didn’t know about hanyou development and growth. She
had no idea what to expect or how to handle situations she knew would be unique to himlike learning to use his hanyou powers, learning to use his senses, learning to hunt... so
much she wasn’t strong enough or fast enough to help him with, not to mention that she
would die well before he reached maturity.
‘My baby, my poor baby will be all alone. When I die, where will he go? Who will
help him? Who will love him? Who can I trust to take care of him after I’m gone?’
The grief threatened to overwhelm her because she knew there was a possibility
that she would lose Inuyasha to Kikyou once the undead miko found out about Yukio and
the fact that she and Inuyasha were now lovers.
‘She’ll think I did it on purpose to steal him from her, and she’ll take him. But I
didn’t! I didn’t do it on purpose. I just love him so much and it just happened; everything
just happened. But she won’t see it that way. She’s always seen me as a threat. Now her
fears will be confirmed and she’ll make him keep his promise. How? How will I do this?
How can I tell my baby that his father-the father he idolizes- isn’t coming back? How do
I live with this? How can I bear his loss?’
Tears threatened again and she tried valiantly to hold them back because she
knew both her hanyous would wake at the scent of the salt on her skin. She sniffed and
Inuyasha proved to her that he wasn’t as asleep as she thought he was by pulling her
closer to his body and nuzzling into her throat.
“You... you have to tell me everything you know about hanyou children. I need...
I need to know for Yukio. I need to be able to be a good mother to him...” she begged
him, her hands gripping his and threading their fingers together.
“Shhh. You are a good mother. No one could ask for a better mother than you,
Kagome,” he whispered, sucking on her earlobe because he knew it soothed her.
“But... you’ll be gone and I won’t know what to do...” There, she’d said it. He
would be gone and she would have to raise their baby alone.
He stiffened and pressed his lips against her flesh, and she could feel the slight
tremor running through his body at her words.
“We... we don’t know that,” he replied softly.
“But we do. We know we’re going where Kikyou might be. If she sees you and
demands that you go with her...”
He placed a hand over her mouth gently. “Don’t speak of such things. Not here,
not now.”
She bit back a sob and turned her head abruptly. “If I don’t now, then when?
Before she drags you to Hell? It will be too late then,” she hissed trying to keep her voice
down so Yukio wouldn’t wake up.
“I told you before that I don’t think Kikyou wants to die anymore. Besides the
Shikon no Tama isn’t complete yet.”
“But what if you’re wrong? What if she does? What if she just wants to take you
away with her once she finds out about us and Yukio? She’s always seen me as a threat.
You know she has. Once she sees us and the baby, she’ll know. You know she’ll know.
We won’t be able to hide it from her! She’ll take you away from us,” she interrupted
breathlessly, a little desperately.
“I won’t let that happen. I promise you that there will be time for us...”
“You can’t make that promise!” she rasped. “If Kikyou demands your life, you’ll
go. You know you will. You won’t break your word to her so any promises you make to
me are empty.”
It came out harsher than she’d wanted, but the words were still true. And they still
hurt.
“Stop it. Don’t... don’t be angry...”
“How can I not be angry? You won’t face the truth. Tomorrow or the next day or
the next... they could be our last days together and then you’ll be gone, and you’ll
abandon me, Yukio and our life to go with her, and all the promises you made me to
protect me and Yukio will be nothing.”
He tensed and gripped her tightly. “That isn’t true.”
“What will you do then? What will you do if she demands your life?”
“I will ask for more time. Time at least to raise our pup out of his infancy.”
“And if she says no. What then?”
“I... I don’t know.”
“You don’t know. None of us knows.”
She lost her battle with her tears and started to cry. Her tears, as always, distressed
Inuyasha and he cuddled her, trying to comfort.
“Don’t cry, Kagome. Please don’t cry.”
‘How can I not cry? You are my world, Inuyasha; you and Yukio. To lose you to
Kikyou now after all we’ve shared... Please don’t ask me not to cry. I’m not that brave.’
“I’m not that brave,” was all she said.
“Shhhhh. Please Kagome. Please trust me. I won’t break my word.”
“But how can you possibly keep it?”
“I don’t know, but I’ll find a way. I promise you. I will find a way.”
She shook her head and gave in to her grief, weeping openly and he gathered her
into his arms as he sat up, holding her and rocking her as she cried. She was making him
feel helpless and she knew it, but there was nothing she could do. She wouldn’t tell him
that they had made a mistake in letting their relationship go as far as it did. She wouldn’t
tell him that she would probably regret her choice for the rest of her life. She wouldn’t
beg him to forget Kikyou and choose her because she was alive and they had a family.
And because she wouldn’t do any of those things, and she was unable to voice her
sorrow, she could do nothing but cry and feel the helplessness of it all.
Yukio woke and crawled to them, whimpering and broadcasting his distress at his
mother’s tears. Neither could tell him why Okaa-san was crying, or offer him anything
more than a tearful hug. The stress and upset finally got to Inuyasha, and he stood
abruptly and left the den. Kagome wrapped her arms around her son and drew him close,
sniffling and trying to get herself under control. In the distance she heard the tell-tale
crash of a tree falling and knew that her adult hanyou had resorted to his unique form of
cutting firewood in order to deal with the emotions raging inside of him.
Left alone in the den, a strange calm settled over her and she stilled.
‘So this is how it will be,’ she thought, looking around the space she had come to
think of as her ‘home’ in the Sengoku Jidai. ‘This is what it will be like without him here.
I wonder how long it will take for his scent to fade.’
“Okaa-a-a-a,” Yukio whined, reaching for her face to touch the wetness on her
cheeks. :Mother-female hurt.:
She leaned down and kissed his cheek, cuddling him. “It’s alright, my baby. Okaa
is here and she won’t leave you.”
He snuffled against her chest, his little hands clutching at her shirt.
“I love you, my baby. I love you, Yukio.”
‘I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I know that no one will ever take you
away from me, and I’ll do the best I can no matter what happens.’
Hugging Yukio tightly and burying her face in his silver hair, she rocked him and
hummed soothingly under her breath, all the while cursing Fate who gave her everything
she ever wanted and now threatened to take it all away.
Chapter Thirty
The journey to Kōtsuke took four days. The distance was only 56 ri but the need
for food and sleep greatly diminished the number of traveling hours in a day. For once,
however, Inuyasha wasn’t complaining about how much the others slowed him down. In
fact, Kagome secretly suspected that he was going at a slower pace himself. He certainly
wasn’t going nearly as fast as he could, but even with the limitations of human bodies
and the needs of pups, he seemed to be in no particular hurry.
The trip was quiet. Shippou kept the conversation light and entertained Yukio,
who knew that something was very, very wrong between his parents but didn’t
understand exactly what, and avoided all subjects involving Kikyou. Even Myouga, who
normally took every opportunity to offer his advice and insights, stayed
uncharacteristically silent. It was as if a blanket of denial had been wrapped around them,
and none of them were eager to pull it back. They all knew what could happen, but were
pretending to remain blissfully ignorant.
At night, Shippou, Kirara and Myouga would watch Yukio while Kagome and
Inuyasha went off to be alone for a couple of hours. They would return to camp after they
had finished their private time, and all of them would take their places inside Kagome’s
sleeping bag. Shippou would settle next to Kagome on the side opposite of Inuyasha,
Yukio would be nestled between his parents, and Myouga would hop into Kirara’s fur as
she curled up at their feet. Together the six of them took up only a minimal amount of
space, but there was no lack of body warmth.
All along their travels, though they met many traders along the road, no one had
heard even a whisper of a ‘powerful shrine maiden’ coming to kill the beast that hunted
the trade roads. Most, in fact, thought they were the hired hunters and their little group
didn’t lack for food or shelter during the trip. It was a marked difference from other trips
they had taken where doors were shut and food was scarce.
Kagome was hoping since no one had heard a thing about the miko from Zenkoji, that the messengers had yet to return from their task, and that if the miko was indeed
Kikyou, they would miss her. With not even a rumor that the messengers had even been
sent, her hopes for a reprieve went up a little bit the further into Kōtsuke they traveled.
Even Inuyasha seemed a little more relaxed and focused on killing the monster of the
moment, and some of the clouds had gone from his eyes.
On the afternoon of the fifth day, they were attacked by the beast they’d been sent
to kill, thus making life a little easier since it had come to them. By this time, Inuyasha
was just itching for a fight to work off some of his nervous energy and stress, and he
went at the monster with full force. It was an ogre, very much like the one Naraku had
tried to trap them in that one time almost two years ago, only a little smaller, and it did
have shards, two in fact: one in its forehead and the other in its club.
It put up a good fight but it really didn’t stand a chance against Inuyasha. Her
adult hanyou prolonged the fight, however, by refusing to use Tessaiga. No, he used the
opportunity to turn the hunt into a lesson for Yukio, demonstrating the power of hanyou
claws alone. Watching him fight, she was thrilled to see him use his power. He leaped
from tree to tree, spinning and whirling as he sliced at the ogre. His silver hair was flying,
his body moving in graceful arcs that made her heart beat faster and her breath come in
short gasps of excitement. She wondered how Kikyou could have ever seen him like that
and not have been entranced by his beauty? How could she have wanted to strip this
magnificent creature of his strength and speed? He was glorious in his full display, and
she had the inkling that he was showing off just a little for her benefit because every now
and then he’d give her a look and a cocky smirk.
Oh yes, tonight they might take three hours and enjoy themselves just that much
more. With the pressure off and the prospect of avoiding Kikyou a real possibility, she
was certain that the joy would come back to their lovemaking, instead of the loving
sorrow that had laced through it recently.
Killing the beast was extremely satisfying for all of them. The shards were
collected, the threat to the traders was gone, and now they could go home, slipping out of
the country before the ‘powerful shrine maiden’ ever set foot in Kōtsuke. For the first
time since they had left Musashi, Kagome was feeling light and free, and smiles graced
the faces of their traveling party. They brought the head of the ogre to the daimyo and the
ecstatic man offered to reward them handsomely for their efforts. Without Miroku there
to ‘negotiate’ for them, Inuyasha brokered a very fair deal that earned them less in money
but promised favor to traders from Musashi.
It was the first time Kagome had ever seen him in a diplomatic position and she
was shocked to see how good he was at it. It drove home even further her belief that
Inuyasha was not a violent simpleton, but in actuality a very intelligent, deep-thinking
individual who only let people think less of him. She was fairly sure that he shocked
Shippou as well, and she hoped that maybe the kit would start realizing a few things
about Inuyasha. The deal he brokered would help the people of their village by ensuring
them a place to trade their goods, which would in turn increase the prosperity of
everyone. The very fact that he was even thinking about the villagers showed that he was
a natural born leader, and Kagome was immensely proud of him.
That night they feasted at a banquet in their honor and slept in the finest room.
Yukio was put with Shippou and the others, cuddled in the laps of numerous village
women who fawned over the youngsters and Kirara in her kitten form. Myouga, letch that
he was, was in flea-demon heaven and they knew they probably wouldn’t see him until
morning.
Inuyasha and Kagome took the opportunity to slip off together to make love in
their room. Their joining was joyful as Kagome had predicted and the only damper was
the fact that they had to be quiet as a courtesy to their hosts. Inuyasha promised a full day
of lovemaking once they got back to the den where they could be as loud as they wanted
and not have to worry about disturbing anyone. Kagome said she looked forward to that,
mostly because it would mean they had both come home. After they were finished, they
rescued Yukio, Shippou and Kirara from their admirers and they all settled down together
for the first night of worry-free sleep in five days.
In the morning, the happy group set out for home, laden with provisions and wellwishes. With everything going so well and spirits so high, Kagome should have known it
was doomed from the start and was never going to last.
********
“Bwah! That’s hot!” Inuyasha yelled, putting one foot in the onsen Kagome had
immersed herself in.
“Is it?” she asked innocently, blinking eyes at him. Yukio and Shippou blinked
back as well from their places in the hot spring.
Inuyasha growled. “You and your hot baths! Do you want to be boiled?”
She gave him a sly smile. “But they’re so good for aching muscles. Why don’t
you at least try it? It’s not so bad once you adjust to it.”
He huffed and she could see he was thinking about it. She was wet and naked, and
she knew he loved her like that because she could usually be persuaded to get dirty
enough to need another bath, but both young ones were there with her and that
automatically nixed any of those thoughts. Shippou was in his little swimming ring and
Yukio was tucked against her chest. Unlike his father, he loved hot baths, probably
because it meant he could stay with his mother, and often hopped in before he was even
undressed.
Inuyasha tried the water again and pulled back again, shaking his head. While he
could tolerate most onsen, this one was much hotter than usual and just too hot for him.
Not that his hanyou body couldn’t handle it, but it just wasn’t something he enjoyed.
“No. You stay and boil; I’ll go back to camp and get the cooking fire going.”
She smiled sweetly. “Okay. We’ll join you in a little while and I’ll make dinner.”
“Keh, woman, I want ramen.”
She pouted. “But we have all that wonderful food the villagers gave us. Why do
you want the instant noodles when you can have that?”
“Coz it tastes better. Right, pup?”
Yukio nodded enthusiastically, splashing water. “Ramen! Ramen!”
She sighed. “You’re corrupting him,” she complained.
“Feh. Told you I would.”
Shippou shook his head. “Like father like son…”
“Oi!” Inuyasha groused, but the kit was too far away in the onsen to whack on the
head.
“Oi,” Yukio repeated, reaching over to grab the swimming ring, but popping it
with his sharp nails instead.
“Kagome!!!!” Shippou cried, splashing as he sank into the hot spring.
Stifling a giggle, she fished him out of the deeper water and brought him to rest
against her like Yukio.
“You should know better by now, Shippou-chan.”
The drenched fox kit sputtered and glared at Yukio who did giggle.
“Shippou wet.”
Shippou just growled which only made Yukio giggle more and his father chuckle.
“That’s my pup.” :Good pup.:
Yukio beamed at the praise.
“Alright. Meet me back at camp,” Inuyasha said with finality.
“Okay, we’ll be there in a little while. I’m enjoying this.”
“Feh,” he snorted and stalked off.
“I’m going to get out too,” Shippou said, pushing away from her.
“Alright.”
She carried him to the edge of the spring and let him go, then moved back to rest
against one of the rocks in the center while the kitsune dressed. Yukio stayed with her,
his head resting against her shoulder as they soaked, steam rising up from the water as it
came in contact with the cooler night air.
“Mmmmm, feels so good, doesn’t it, baby,” she sighed.
Yukio burbled an affirmative and snuggled close.
“I’m glad we’ll be home soon,” Shippou commented from where he was seated
on the bank. “Inuyasha’s going faster now. We should be back in Musashi by tomorrow
night.”
Kagome nodded. “Yeah. I’ll feel so much better once we cross the border.”
Shippou agreed. “I miss Sango and Miroku.”
“Me too.”
They fell quiet, enjoying the peace of the place and the warmth of the water.
Kagome closed her eyes and leaned back, leaving only the tops of her breasts and above
out of the water. Yukio was so relaxed he was almost asleep.
A tingle of power crept up her spine and it was her only warning. Her eyes
snapped open as her senses came to full alert and she sat up straighter.
“Kagome?” Shippou asked, then sniffed the air.
“Shippou…” she breathed.
They both froze as a Shinidama-chuu came gliding into the clearing around the
onsen.
‘Kikyou…’
She knew the undead miko could not be more than a few moments behind her
soul-gatherers, and there was no time for her to get out of the spring and run for her
clothes. Shippou however…
“Shippou run,” she hissed.
The kitsune bounded off in a flurry of blue and red, and she felt some small
measure of relief. Shippou would run to Inuyasha and then Inuyasha would come running
to her.
‘Which may or may not be a good thing under the circumstances,’ she thought.
“Okaa?” Yukio asked quietly, sensing her distress.
:Pup be still. Be quiet,: she told him gently, not with anger but with warning.
He immediately understood that there was danger and hunkered close.
‘Maybe I could reach my clothes…’ she hoped, but movement from the trees
stopped her as several more Shinidama-chuu came gliding out, followed by Kikyou
herself.
The two women regarded each other silently. Kikyou’s face was as neutral as
ever, and Kagome once again found it hard to believe that this woman had ever smiled in
her lifetime. She drew her baby close, knowing there was no way she could hide him
because they were both naked and in the water. Yukio turned in her arms and looked at
the undead miko, blinking his huge golden eyes at her and sniffing. Then he crinkled up
his nose and opened his mouth to prove he was Inuyasha’s son.
“Kussee.”
Kagome gulped, but Kikyou’s expression didn’t change.
“Ummm…” she tried.
“When the daimyo said the ogre had been killed by a dog-eared hanyou and his
strangely dressed woman, I knew it could be none other than you. But it was talk of a
white-haired, dog-eared child that drew me to seek you out,” Kikyou cut her off.
The undead miko’s eyes settled on Yukio and Kagome found herself trying to
shield him from the uncomfortable stare.
“Now I see for myself that this was true.”
“Don’t be angry,” she begged.
“Angry? Angry that you gave Inuyasha something I cannot?” came the deadpan
answer.
“It’s not like that. I…”
“Kagome!” Inuyasha’s voice screamed as her hanyou came tearing into the
clearing.
There was a shimmer of light and he slammed full force into an invisible wall.
“Inuyasha!” she cried as he hit the ground with a heavy thud.
“Kikyou! What have you done?” he demanded, jumping to his feet, brushing off
the impact as if nothing had happened.
“I have put up a barrier,” Kikyou calmly replied.
“Kagome!” Shippou called as he and Kirara in her full firecat form came
streaking into the clearing.
“Don’t come any closer. Kikyou’s put up a barrier!” she warned and the firecat
landed with a snarl.
She pushed off with her feet and sliced through the water to get closer to
Inuyasha. He in turn moved to where she was as she rose from the onsen.
“Kagome,” he said, his hands against the barrier, and his eyes told of his fear and
worry.
“Inuyasha.”
“Otou-san!” Yukio called, reaching for his father, and Kagome cringed.
‘Inuyasha can’t get in, but maybe… maybe Yukio can get out…’
She put the naked toddler on his feet and gave him a push.
“Run, baby. Run for Otou-san.” :Go to Leader-male!:
He looked at her, saw her face and obeyed without a complaint. He never made it.
Even in the short distance between him and his father, the Shinidama-chuu swept down
and encircled him, lifting him up and carrying him to Kikyou.
‘No!’
Yukio, realizing the potential danger he was in and knowing this person was not
part of his pack, began to squirm and kick as he loudly protested his capture. The undead
miko held him in both hands, studying him the way a scientist would study a potential
specimen.
“Otou-san! Kaa-san!” Yukio yelled.
“Silence,” Kikyou ordered, and touched a finger to his forehead. He went limp
immediately and quieted, but it was obvious that he was still awake and aware because
his eyes were wide open and terrified.
“What have you done to my baby?” Kagome gasped.
“He is unharmed.”
“Kikyou!!” Inuyasha snarled. “Put my pup down!”
“You acknowledge this child as yours then?” Kikyou asked coolly.
“No! Yukio isn’t Inuyasha’s. He’s an orphan we adopted!” Kagome tried to
explain.
“It is obvious this child was not spawned by his seed. This boy is a true inuhanyou, not an even further diluted mixed-breed as any child fathered by Inuyasha would
be,” the miko replied calmly.
Kagome wasn’t sure if the comment was meant as an insult or not.
“What the fuck does it matter who sired him? He’s mine! Put him down!”
Inuyasha growled.
“Please don’t hurt my baby.”
“Hurt him?” Kikyou replied, blinking for the first time.
Any further statements she would have made were interrupted by Inuyasha
drawing Red Tessaiga and attempting to slice through the miko’s barrier. The blade
recoiled off the invisible wall, shocking Inuyasha back and sending him flying into a tree
trunk.
“Inuyasha!” Shippou yelled and hopped to his side.
“Inuyasha-a-a!” Kagome screamed, rushing to the barrier. She knelt beside it,
attempted to put her hands through it, and was blocked.
‘So Yukio wouldn’t have made it... He might have even been hurt if he’d tried to
go through...’
“Kagome!” he replied, crouching by the shield, his hands once again resting
against it.
“Inuyasha, you’re all right?”
“Keh! I’m fine, but my Tessaiga won’t cut through the fucking thing!”
‘If Tessaiga can’t cut it, then that means...’
She turned to Kikyou. “Kikyou, please. I don’t care what you do to me, just
please don’t hurt Inuyasha and don’t hurt my baby. Please!”
“Kagome, no!” Shippou cried.
“No. I’m the one you want,” Inuyasha argued. “Take me and leave Kagome and
my pup alone.”
“Inuyasha, no!”
“Shut up, Kagome! You and the pup must stay safe.”
The undead miko looked from one to the other, her face once again an unreadable
mask, and a cold realization settled into Kagome’s guts.
‘She knows. She sees. She heard him cry my name and sees him siding with me.
He hasn’t really looked at her even once. She knows our relationship is different now.’
“Kikyou, please. I’ll do whatever you want me to do. I’ll give Inuyasha to you
and leave forever, but please give me back my baby,” she pleaded softly.
She had to turn her head so she wouldn’t see Inuyasha’s heartbroken face.
“Kagome... Kagome, no. What would I do with the pup all by myself? I’m a
horrible father.”
Now she did look at him, tears in her eyes. “You’re a wonderful father. I... I
would have been very happy to bear your pups.”
“But what if she drags me to Hell? Who will raise the pup?!” he argued, his eyes
desperate.
She cast a terrified glance at Kikyou. Could she give them both up if it meant they
would live? The answer came to her without pause. ‘Yes. If it meant that Inuyasha and
Yukio would live, I would gladly die.’
“Kikyou. Take my life in exchange for Inuyasha’s. If I die, your soul will be
whole again. You’ve said before that there is no need for two of us in this time, and I’m
just in the way. Take me and let him live. You and he can raise Yukio together and have
a chance at the life the two of you lost when Naraku betrayed you.”
Kikyou did not react to her offer, her face remaining as impassive and unreadable
as ever. Inuyasha, however, went ballistic.
“Kagome-e-e-e!!!”
His voice ended in a snarl and he attacked the shield with his bare hands, gritting
his teeth as the barrier reacted by shocking him with bolts of purifying energy. It blew
him back twice and twice he threw himself at it again, roaring in pure fury.
“Inuyasha-sama! You must stop!” Myouga warned, hopping up to him.
“Let Kagome and my pup go!!!” Inuyasha howled and Kagome swore she saw his
eyes flash red.
‘Oh my god! Will he transform, even with Tessaiga at his hip?’
“Inuyasha! Osuwari!” she ordered, hoping a subduing would bring him back to
his senses.
He hit the dirt in mid-leap with a growl, but when he came up his eyes were clear.
“Kikyou-u-u,” he seethed, his claws rending the earth beneath him.
Kikyou watched the display silently without so much as a breath escaping her
lips, and if anything her silence frightened Kagome even more.
‘What is she thinking? What does she plan to do with Yukio? She isn’t saying or
doing anything...’
“Okaa...” Yukio said plaintively.
:Be still. Pup be quiet,: she warned, not wanting Kikyou to enchant him again and
possibly do him damage.
Yukio obeyed and his immediate acquiescence caused Kikyou to flick her eyes at
him for a second, before returning her stony gaze to Kagome and her former lover.
“Kikyou, please.”
She stood, still naked but not caring what Kikyou thought or saw, and reached out
her hands. “Please Kikyou. I know you’re not a bad person. You’d never hurt a child.
Yukio is an innocent in all of this and he’s already lost one set of parents. Please don’t
make him an orphan a second time. Give him back, please.”
“And each of you begs for the other’s life and the life of your child. Neither asks
for mercy for yourselves. Is this love? To care so much for the other that you care nothing
for your own safety?” the undead miko finally asked, her voice as emotionless as ever.
“Yes,” Kagome confirmed. “I don’t care what you do to me, but I want Inuyasha
and Yukio to live. I would die for them. Kill me and take back your soul if that is what it
will take for you to let my baby go.”
“Kagome!” both Inuyasha and Shippou cried in horror.
She smiled sadly at them. “I’ll do what I have to do because I love you.”
“No!” Inuyasha roared and renewed his attacks on the barrier, drawing Tessaiga
and slicing at it.
“Kon-gou-sou...” he began, preparing the diamond-spear blast.
“INUYASHA! NO! You could hit Yukio!!” she screamed in terror.
Kikyou’s Shinidama-chuu rushed at him, wrapping around him as Kikyou herself
brought Yukio to her body with one hand in order to free the other, and hit him with a
blast of her own purifying energy from her palm.
“Inu-ya-sha-a-a-!!!” Kagome yelled as he was blown back for the umpteenth time.
“He is a berserker. He must be subdued,” Kikyou said.
For once, she and the undead miko were in complete agreement.
“Osuwari! Osuwari! Osuwari!”
Inuyasha slammed into the ground repeatedly and finally stopped moving. When
he eventually did get up, Kagome knew he was going into shock. His eyes were dilated
and she could see the beads of perspiration clinging to his face.
‘I have to do something. I don’t have my bow and the barrier prevents me from
leaving here. There is only one thing I can do against her now, but if I do it... Inuyasha…
Inuyasha forgive me. If I do this I could kill her, but she has our baby and you’re just
hurting yourself. I don’t have any choice.’
Inuyasha’s eyes met hers and he seemed to understand what she was thinking. She
saw him swallow once and then nod, giving her his silent permission and his forgiveness.
‘Inuyasha. Kikyou. I’m sorry,’ she apologized and reached into herself for the
thread of power that connected her split soul. Grasping it in her spiritual hand, she Pulled.
Kikyou jerked and several souls escaped her fake body, but then Kagome felt
what could only be described as a mental slap and she was thrown back.
“Foolish girl. Did you think I wouldn’t find a way to defend myself from your
attempts to take back your soul?” the undead miko stated, showing just a hint of
annoyance.
“Kagome!” Shippou sobbed, rushing to where she lay sprawled on the ground.
“Kagome,” Inuyasha called, his hand on the barrier, then he began hitting it with
his fist, but not in the uncontrolled way he had been punching it before. This was more of
a show of helpless frustration and anguish.
Picking herself up from the grass, she shook off the pain but was left with the
headache.
‘It didn’t work. She blocked my attempt to take back the piece of me she still has.
What do I do? Do I try again, just harder??’
Gritting her teeth, she picked up the thread again and prepared to do battle.
‘I am just as strong as she is, maybe even stronger. I’m just untrained. But I can
do this. I have to do this, even if I don’t want to...’
Kikyou gave her a mirthless smile. “Going to try again, are you? But I sense your
heart is not in it. You still have no desire to hurt me. Even now, when I have your baby
and have cut you off from your lover, you still do not harbor any hate for me in your
heart. If you had, the jewel around your neck would reflect your taint, yet it remains
uncorrupted. What must our soul have gone through, I wonder, in the five hundred years
that separate us for it to become so pure? How many lives did it lead and what did it
suffer to have grown so large and learned so much?”
Kikyou’s statement stopped her in her tracks and a new inkling dawned on her,
one that gave her pause.
‘Does Kikyou... does she not want to hurt us?’
Lowering her hand to her side and dropping the thread, she regarded her greatest
rival with wary, but newly opened eyes.
“Kagome?” Inuyasha asked, but she waved him to be quiet.
There was a long silence, then Kikyou lowered her gaze to look at Yukio and
there was no denying that the miko’s face softened. Yukio looked back at her and stuffed
his fist into his mouth.
“Yukio want Okaa-san,” the child pleaded.
“Yu-ki-o,” Kikyou said slowly. “Nourished by god.”
‘So she knows the third meaning too. Well, of course she would know…’
Kikyou moved, half-gliding over to a large boulder on the edge of the hot spring,
and sat down upon it, her eyes focused on the toddler in her embrace. One hand lifted up
to lightly brush along the silver strands of his hair and the tops of his little ears. Kagome
saw him flick them away from her touch, but that was probably due to instinctive reflex
more than anything else.
She took the opportunity to hastily pull on her clothes.
“Kagome, what’s going on?” Shippou asked softly.
She cast a glance at him and gave him a reassuring smile. “I’m not sure yet,
Shippou-chan, but I think we might have been overreacting.”
“Overreacting?” Inuyasha hissed, his hands on the shield. “She’s got the pup and
she’s put up a fucking barrier. How can we be overreacting?”
She shook her head and turned to face Kikyou.
“Kikyou, if you truly don’t mean any harm, please show us your intentions by
lowering the barrier.”
Kikyou’s only reaction was a quick flick of her eyes, then there was a flash of
light and Inuyasha fell on his nose beside her.
‘So she doesn’t mean us any harm...’
Inuyasha recovered quickly and was barreling towards his former lover. He
stopped short of her and held out his hands.
“The pup, Kikyou. Give me my pup.”
“Theirs was always black,” the undead miko replied, then slowly took her eyes
from Yukio and raised them to Inuyasha.
“Eh?”
“In my dreams, our children always had black hair. They were human children
who slept in our arms and gathered at our feet,” she clarified with a note of regret in her
voice.
Inuyasha dropped his arms and flattened his ears. “Kikyou,” he whispered.
“It is ironic, but more fitting, don’t you think? An orphaned, outcast hanyou
raising an orphaned, outcast hanyou child?”
“Kikyou,” Kagome said, coming to stand beside Inuyasha.
The miko looked at her then offered Yukio to her. She took him, wrapping him up
in his haori, which she had grabbed before she walked over to them. Yukio, traumatized
and relieved to be safe again, latched on with his claws and clung to her.
“Okaa-san.” :Mother-female.:
“He is beautiful,” Kikyou breathed.
“Yukio...” Kagome sighed as she buried her face in his hair and hugged him tight.
:Mother-female loves pup.:
Inuyasha practically yanked him out of her embrace as he grabbed his son and
gave him a thorough sniffing to reassure himself that the child was unharmed and
unaltered. Yukio gave a little whine of protest but then clung to his father just as tightly
as he had clung to Kagome.
‘Poor Yukio. He’ll be Velcro Baby for at least two days now,’ she thought.
“Kikyou, thank you,” Inuyasha said, holding his son close.
“My reincarnation is correct. I would never harm a child. Not even a hanyou
one.”
Inuyasha flushed with shame and nodded, then handed Yukio to Kagome. He
crawled up to her shoulder, wrapped his arms around her neck and his legs around her
diaphragm, becoming a Yukio-shaped leech that had attached himself to her chest. She
patted him lovingly and held him close. He dug his little claws into the fabric of her shirt
and she knew if anyone tried to take him, he’d rend the garment to pieces.
The three of them stood and looked at each other, and Kagome did not know what
to say. Kikyou didn’t seem angry. She looked more sad than anything else.
“You... you said you followed us because the daimyo said we had a child with
us,” she finally said, breaking the uncomfortable silence.
“Yes,” Kikyou answered simply.
Inuyasha growled. “If that’s so, then what was the barrier for?”
Kikyou leveled eyes at him. “Would you have let me anywhere near your mate
and child if I had not?”
Inuyasha snorted but looked guilty.
“Yes, I know you have taken her for your mate. It is obvious to anyone with
eyes.”
Inuyasha straightened and looked briefly at Kagome. “It is true. Kagome and I
have become closer, but... I have not built her a house.”
Kikyou gazed at each of them individually, then turned her eyes to Inuyasha.
“You’ve been waiting for me.”
The adult hanyou bowed his head. “My promise binds me to you first. I was not
free to move on.”
“Yet you accepted her love and took her innocence.”
Inuyasha swallowed hard but said nothing, and Kikyou looked to Kagome.
“And you let him do this, knowing full well that my claim still stood. You
allowed him to taint you and bring shame upon you.”
Kagome glared, her fists clenching. “Hey! I’m not tainted and I’m not ashamed of
what I did. I love Inuyasha and I’m not sorry about what happened at all.”
Kikyou gave her a small smile. “No, you wouldn’t be. You live by a set of rules
that are alien and unknown to us in this time. It is why you have not been diminished by
your relations with him.”
“I am sorry about the way things happened,” she explained. “I know it looks like I
did it all on purpose, but I didn’t. I wasn’t intending to... mate with him, and Yukio...
well, Yukio was brought to us by his dying mother. She put him in my arms and begged
me to keep him safe.”
“Life goes on. It does not stop for the dead,” Kikyou replied cryptically. “My time
here ended over fifty years ago. If it were not for Urasue and her black magics, I would
never have been ripped from my rest. This life, this place, does not belong to me. I
merely walk in it.”
“Kikyou... what are you saying?” Inuyasha asked.
The undead miko placed a hand upon her chest in exactly the spot where Naraku’s
tentacle had punctured her.
“Do you know that the place where your hand sealed the wound in my chest is the
only place on my body that is always warm,” Kikyou told her.
Kagome swallowed and blushed. “I...”
“My sister once said to me that you were a remarkable child who was slowly
healing Inuyasha’s heart. What I had wanted to do while I was alive, you were now doing
in my stead. But my ways were tainted by my belief that all youkai were evil and needed
to be exterminated or controlled. You were free of such beliefs and were able to accept
him as a hanyou. I have come to realize that this is why my soul waited 500 years before
returning to right the wrong it had done.”
“Wrong?” Inuyasha gasped. “I am as guilty as you. I didn’t trust you. If I had
trusted you...”
Kikyou held up a hand. “It was not our fate, Inuyasha. Both of us... we loved, yes.
We did love. But we hated too. What I wanted from you was not pure. I understand that
now, more than you realize. If you had made the wish upon the Shikon no Tama back
then, it would have reflected my taint and possibly destroyed us both. Never forget that
the jewel is both good and evil, and any wish is sure to be twisted if given the chance.”
“Kikyou... I...” Inuyasha tried.
“And in this life, I tried to hold you to me, but Kagome had your heart and I could
not compete with it. How could I? I wanted your death. She has always wanted you to
live. I wanted your hate. She wanted your love. I wanted your suffering. She wanted you
to be happy. Her love was the pure love, and your soul knew it even if your heart did
not.”
Listening to the undead miko’s words, and hearing the regret and sorrow in her
voice Kagome realized what Kikyou was saying and her heart beat faster in her chest.
‘She... she’s going to release him! She’s... We... We’ll be able to be together...’
“I would be lying if I said I did not regret the lost opportunities we did not take.
But lost is what they are and we cannot bring them back, any more than we can make my
heart beat again or my body flesh instead of mud and bones.”
‘She understands. Life is for the living and not the dead.’
She looked and saw Inuyasha clenching his fists, his body taut and rigid.
‘He’s holding himself back for my sake... he shouldn’t have to.’
“I... I’ll leave you two alone,” she said softly.
Inuyasha stared wide-eyed at her, then his face softened in gratitude.
“Kagome...”
She gave him a tender smile and kissed his cheek gently. He nuzzled her, then
petted and nuzzled Yukio.
“I’ll be back at camp. Take your time. I’ll hold dinner. Okay?”
He nodded. “Thank you, Kagome.”
She nodded back then gave a small bow to Kikyou. Kikyou dipped her head
slightly in response. Knowing that was all she would get from the undead miko, Kagome
turned away and walked toward camp. Shippou was on Kirara in her full firecat form, the
kit was holding the rest of Yukio’s clothes in his small hands, and they watched her go
then fell in beside her. Myouga hopped up on her shoulder.
“You’re going to leave them alone, Kagome-sama?” the flea-youkai asked.
“I trust Inuyasha. If I’m going to have a future with him, I have to show him that
I’m not going to repeat Kikyou’s mistakes,” she answered.
‘Besides, if Kikyou is going to say good-bye, they should be free to hug and I
don’t want to see that.’
“Kagome is so much more mature than Inuyasha,” Shippou commented.
Kagome spared a brief glance towards the couple who stood facing each other and
bit her lip.
‘Inuyasha, I do trust you, but please... don’t take too long.’
Deliberately turning her back, she left the two former lovers alone and returned to
their camp.
Chapter Thirty-One
Inuyasha waited until Kagome was gone before he spoke.
“Kikyou...” he whispered, trying to put all of his regret and sadness in the name.
“Do not suffer for me, Inuyasha. In many ways your debt has been repaid
tenfold.”
He paused, his eyes downcast. “I... I’m still sorry.”
“Don’t be. You have found love. Isn’t that what you wished for with me?”
“But you’re alone! And... and I made you a promise.”
“The promise you made was to someone who no longer exists. Your Kikyou died
fifty years ago, Inuyasha, when she followed you in death.”
“Why... why are you saying these things to me now? Before you demanded that
my life was yours. You told me you wouldn’t give it to anyone else. Why the change of
heart?” he demanded.
‘All that time she made me think she would come for me. She made me deny
Kagome and kept me from building a house. Kagome may not see it as I do, but I am
dishonoring and shaming her by not making her my wife.’
She looked at him and did not answer. Her silence irritated him and he scowled.
“Kikyou, where have you been? No one has seen you in over a year. You just left
without telling anyone anything. The only way we knew you were even alive was
through Kagome. Where did you go?”
‘Why did you just leave me without a word? Why didn’t you set me free if you did
not intend to return?’
“After we last saw each other by Goshinboku all those months ago, my travels
took me into Shi Nano to a place called Zenko-ji. You have heard of this place, yes?”
He nodded that he had. “It’s a holy place like Mt. Hakurei.”
She nodded back. “Yes, but all are welcome there. It has been a shrine for
centuries. I went there looking for a Shikon shard and instead I found... peace.”
He blinked. ‘Peace?’ “Peace?”
“The holy ones there, men and women, they are pure in ways I had only hoped to
achieve while I was alive. They knew me for what I was immediately, but they offered
me no hatred or violence. Instead, they accepted me and invited me to stay. I have been
there ever since.”
There was something in her eyes, a serenity and calm, that he had only seen on
her face but once before. It was on the night he had agreed to become human for her. She
had taken his hand and smiled at him, and the same peaceful light had lit her eyes.
“Kikyou...” ‘Has she been happy?’
“For the first time since my resurrection, I found a place where I could live and be
myself,” she told him. “It is a rare thing for something which is an abomination to most
to find acceptance. I never understood the importance of it before I became... this. So
many times I had to hide what I was in order to find a small bit of peace. Then I came to
Zenko-ji and experienced acceptance. To them, I was not an abomination, but another
sentient being walking this earth in need of solace and a place to belong.”
“I’m glad. I am glad you found a place where you could be happy and accepted,”
he said honestly. ‘I’m glad you were safe, Kikyou. But why did you not send any word to
me? Why did you go away for over a year and leave me hanging?’
She smiled softly. “I have been re-learning how to live.”
“But why did you not send me any word that you were safe? I can read you
know,” he chided.
She chuckled. “I know. But would you have come seeking me out if you had
known where I was? Would you have left my reincarnation’s side to come to mine? By
then I had realized my claims on your life were unfounded and unfair. I allowed you to
blame yourself for something that was equally my fault. And I had betrayed you in more
ways than one with Naraku.”
He lowered his head and shifted his feet. “I understand what you were trying to do
with Naraku.”
“Do you? I don’t think you do, Inuyasha. I did not fire my arrow to free the
Kodoku in order to save you. If I had wanted that, I could have shot the Kodoku and
killed it, thus denying Naraku a new body. No, I chose to free the Kodoku and allow
Naraku his new body in order to see who was there. It was my own hubris which allowed
Naraku to become even more powerful. Then I added to my shame by giving him the
shard I stole from Kagome. I, in my arrogance and anger, thought I alone could purify the
Shikon no Tama and rid it, and Naraku, from the world. I deeply regret these decisions
because I know how much pain and death they caused,” she explained.
He swallowed hard and clenched his fists. ‘Kanna, Kagura, Goshinki who broke
my Tessaiga and freed my demon blood... All detachments from Naraku that he made
with the power of the Shikon no Tama...’
“I tried to kill Kagome that time, you know. On the day when all of you were
captured by Naraku’s illusions. I had instructed my Shinidama-chuu to drop her into the
miasma after I stole the shard.”
He gritted his teeth, stamping back the sudden rage he felt. ‘So I was right. Kikyou
had gone after Kagome...’
“I suspected but Kagome would not tell me what you had done to her.”
Kikyou made a soft sound. “Trust my reincarnation to keep the truth from you in
order to prevent you from being hurt. This is why she is more worthy of you than I could
ever be. I am happy that you have found love with her.”
He drooped his ears and closed his eyes. “I... I did love you, Kikyou.”
“I know. And I loved you. In my own way. But I could not love you as a hanyou,
and you needed to be loved for what you were. Now that I am this I understand too well
the importance of being loved and accepted as you are. It is a lesson I never learned in
life so I have had to learn it in death. Kagome loves you as a hanyou. She can give you
the peace and acceptance that you need. Your wish upon the Shikon no Tama will be
pure because she is not tainted as I was.”
He looked up at her, seeing her with eyes that were clear and sad, but
understanding.
“Kikyou...”
The undead miko reached into her kimono and drew out a small cloth bag. This
she removed from around her neck and handed to him.
“Give this to Kagome. With this and the shards she already has, it should be the
last or very close to it. I only ask that you not make your wish until I join you in the
village.”
He closed his hand around the bag, feeling the shard within. It felt about the right
size.
‘Is this it? Is this the last shard?’
“I won’t do anything until we see you again, Kikyou. I promise.”
She gave him a sad smile. “And your promises are never broken.”
He looked away again, flushing, then her hand caressed his cheek and her lips
were upon his. He was shocked at first, but then he hugged her and kissed her back,
softly, tenderly- a kiss good-bye.
“Live, Inuyasha. Live and be happy,” she whispered as she pulled away.
“Kikyou... I’ll never forget you, Kikyou.”
“And I shall never forget you, Inuyasha. You were my first love.”
“Mine too,” he admitted.
The Shinidama-chuu encircled their mistress and lifted her up.
“I’ll come to the village soon. Wait for me.”
He nodded, looking after her as the soul-catchers carried her away. “I will.”
“Thank you, Inuyasha, for loving me and remaining true even when I did not
deserve it. I free you from your promise. Go and be with Kagome. Build her the house
she deserves.”
He gave her a smile that lit up his eyes. “Thank you, Kikyou. Be safe until I see
you again.”
“And you, Inuyasha. Be safe and keep your family safe. Good-bye.”
“Good-bye, Kikyou.”
He watched until she was nothing more than a misty white speck against the dark
sky, no different from a twinkling star except in that it was moving, then he tucked the
shard she had given him close to his chest and drew a deep breath.
‘I’m free. She set me free. I can marry Kagome and build her a house and we can
have a family.’
The sudden rush of joy he felt was almost too much for him to contain.
‘Kagome. My beautiful Kagome. I am forever yours for as long as we both shall
live.’
He took a moment to compose himself before rushing off to find his lover and
soon-to-be wife. He found her sitting by the campfire, Yukio in her lap and playing with
the unopened carton of ramen as he impatiently waited for his father to return. Kirara in
her kitten form, Shippou and Myouga were all next to her.
“Kagome,” he said.
She looked up at him, and he saw the worry and fear fade from her eyes once she
saw his face.
“Otou-san!” Yukio cried happily, dropping the cup of ramen.
“Inuyasha-sama, you’ve returned,” Myouga announced.
“She’s gone?” Kagome asked him.
He nodded, moving to crouch beside her. Yukio leaped into his arms and he held
his pup close. “But she’ll be coming to the village soon.”
“She will?”
“She wanted me to give you this,” he told her, and gave her the bag.
She blinked at him then opened the bag, revealing the shard. He heard her gasp.
“Inuyasha...”
“Wow!” Shippou breathed, his eyes opening wide.
“Looks like the last of it. Yeah, I know.”
She fished her own shard out from inside the collar of her shirt and brought the
two pieces close to each other. “We’ll know for sure once I fuse them together.”
He put a hand on her wrist. “Tomorrow,” he requested.
She stopped and stared at him, but agreed, placing her shard back into her shirt
and wrapping Kikyou’s back up in its bag.
“Once it’s complete, it will attract even more trouble than it already does and I
want peace tonight,” he explained.
She nodded that she understood.
“There’s something else,” he began. ‘How do I tell her this?’
“She freed you.”
‘She knew...’
“You knew...”
She nodded again. “I suspected. That’s why I left you two alone. I wanted you to
be able to say good-bye without worrying about me being jealous.”
He grinned and kissed her. “My Kagome, always thinking of others and never of
herself…” ‘I can say it now. I’m free to say it…’ “I lo...”
She put a hand on his lips, halting his final confession.
“Later. When we’re alone. I want to be alone with you when you tell me the first
time because then I won’t have to worry about what I do to you when you finally do say
it.”
Her eyes were swimming with happy tears and he kissed them away. “Kagome...”
“Inuyasha...”
“Food!” Yukio yelled, shattering the mood.
“Oi, pup!” he scolded.
Yukio glared at him then stuck his fist in his mouth. “Yukio hungry. Want
ramen.”
Kagome giggled then began to laugh. “Our son has spoken.”
Inuyasha growled making Yukio blink and flatten his ears. :Pup good!:
Inuyasha nuzzled him with his nose to reassure him that he really wasn’t angry.
:Pup good.: “Pup has bad timing.”
“Bad timing?” Yukio repeated, confused.
Still nose to nose with his son, which made them both cross-eyed, he huffed.
“Pushy pup broke the mood.”
“Mood?” the toddler answered then grabbed a lock of his father’s hair and pulled.
“Ow! Ow! Ow! Leggo, pup!” he complained, pulling away.
“What’s your problem? You got some complaint?” Yukio asked, parroting back
statements he had heard his father make hundreds of times.
Inuyasha just sputtered and must have looked deranged because Yukio reached up
one hand and tapped him on the forehead. “You got a fever?”
“Wha??!!!”
Shippou sighed and shook his head. “Inuyasha is such a bad influence.”
Kirara mewed an assent while Myouga nodded. “He wasn’t always like that.
When his haha-ue-sama was alive, she was raising him to be a proper man…”
Inuyasha grabbed the flea-youkai and squished him. “Shut up!”
Kagome laughed and set the pot on the fire to boil. “I told you Yukio was turning
into you. This is why I wanted you to watch your mouth around him.”
“But I’ve stopped cursing around him!” he argued indignantly.
“You’re still teaching him how to be rude. The first thing he said when he saw
Kikyou was that she smelled bad.”
‘Well, she does. She reeks of grave dirt…’
Yukio nodded and grabbed his nose. “Kussee,” he said.
“See?” she said.
He frowned. “Now see here, pup. You need to mind your manners. No one likes a
rude brat running around.”
Kagome rolled her eyes. “Oh, now he gets it…”
“Feh, this is why we need a house with separate rooms for sleeping. So we can
put this brat in his place and make him stay there when he’s misbehaved.”
“And you’ll keep him his room precisely how?” she asked indredulously.
“Permanent seals? One of your ‘locks’? I know, I’ll get Toutousai to forge a
youki door that can only be opened from the outside when locked.”
“So I can lock you in there too when I want to be alone?” she teased.
“Oi!”
She smiled and kissed him to soothe his wounded pride. “I love you.”
He beamed at her and kissed her back, then hugged her with one arm because the
other still held his pup.
“I can build the house now, right Kagome?”
She gave him a tearful nod and rested her head on his shoulder. “Yes, you can
build the house.”
He sighed and all the tension left his body. ‘She’s accepted me. Did you have any
doubts that she would? Fool. She should. She should see you for the tainted half-breed
you are and run for the hills.’
He looked at her fondly and kissed her temple. “Kagome…”
“How many rooms should it have?” she asked faintly.
“Hmmm? Ummm, three at least. One for us and two for the pups, that way the
older ones won’t have to sleep with the littles.”
“Three bedrooms? It sounds like you plan to build me a palace.”
“Do you want one? I’ll build it. As big as you like…”
“No,” she cut him off. “I don’t need a palace or a big house. I’m happy in our den
actually. I think I’ll miss it.”
He smirked. “Who says we’re going to abandon it? You think I’d give up our love
nest?”
She chuckled. “I’m glad.”
The water was boiling so she pulled away from him to make the ramen. He
mourned the loss of her warmth beside him, but the smell of the food was adequate
repayment for his momentary lonliness, and soon she was handing him the steaming cup
of noodles. Yukio released him and turned to sit in his lap, clapping happily.
“Ramen! Ramen!”
Kagome placed his dinner on the ground beside his father’s knee.
“Here, you have to wait a bit, baby. It’s too hot to eat yet.”
Yukio pouted but knew what would happen if he ate the ramen when it was too
hot because he’d already learned that lesson. Inuyasha took the opportunity to hastily eat
his dinner in preparation for feeding his son once the noodles were cool enough for the
toddler to eat. Then he noticed that he and Yukio were the only ones with cup noodles.
“Hey, aren’t you eating?”
Kagome fished into her bag and pulled out one of the sacks of provisions given to
them by the villagers.
“You and Yukio may want those instant noodles, but the rest of us want real
food,” she answered.
“That’s because hanyous have no taste,” Shippou commented sagely.
“Oi!” he groused but the kit was just out of hitting range.
“Shippou, stop insulting Inuyasha,” Kagome scolded.
The kitsune looked chagrined but not really repentant. Then he brightened when
Kagome handed him a bowl of steamed rice and dumplings.
“Thank you, Kagome!”
“Keh. I still say the instant stuff is better,” he sniffed.
Kagome shrugged and ate her dinner. He ate two cups of ramen and then fed
Yukio his cup. The pup was still too young to use chopsticks, so he cut the noodles up
onto small bits and fed him with a spoon.
“How can you think you’re a bad father when you are so caring and attentive to
him?” Kagome asked him suddenly.
He drooped his ears and blushed a little. “Because I’m rude and violent and teach
him bad manners,” he replied.
She cocked her head and looked at him with amusement. “That’s true, but you’re
also loving and tender and he adores you.” She came up behind him and wrapped her
arms around his shoulders, pressing her soft breasts against his back and making him
shiver with desire. “I think you’re a wonderful father.”
Yukio looked up at the both of them and beamed.
“Otou-san. Okaa-san.”
She reached over his shoulder to rub the pup’s ears. “Okaa-san loves Yukio.”
Yukio giggled and grabbed at her hand. “Yukio loves Okaa-san, loves Otou-san.”
The toddler moved forward further into his lap and hugged him around his chest,
his little head right against his collarbone. He put one arm around his pup, and used the
other to reach up to hold Kagome’s hand.
‘My mate and my pup. Do I need anything else to sustain me in this world?’ he
asked himself. ‘I never thought I would ever have someone to love me. I never dreamed
of taking a wife or having pups. Then I met Kikyou and she loved me. I would have done
anything for her and I would have become human if Naraku hadn’t tricked us into
betraying each other. But was Kikyou right about her love not being pure? Would her
taint really have caused my wish to go wrong?’
“What are you thinking?” Kagome questioned. “You just got all tense.”
“Something Kikyou said to me before she left.”
“Oh?”
‘There’s no anger or jealousy in her voice when she speaks of Kikyou now…’
“Do you think what Kikyou said about my wish to become human might have
gone wrong if I’d made it all those years ago is true? That her love for me was tainted
with her hatred of youkai, and that the jewel would have used that to twist the wish?”
Kagome was quiet for a moment and he wondered what she was thinking about
this new revelation.
“Hmmm. She might be right. The Shikon no Tama is very sensitive to the energy
around it. It’s entirely possible that if her hatred was strong enough, it could have
affected your wish.”
He nodded. “So it might have corrupted the wish and destroyed us,” he added.
Her arms around him tightened a little bit. “I’m glad that didn’t happen. We’ll
have to be very careful with your wish.”
“She said your love was pure and wouldn’t taint the jewel.”
“Mmm. She said something very similar when I was there. She said it was the
reason my being with you didn’t decrease my spiritual powers.”
He turned his head to nuzzle her and lick her temple lightly.
‘Mmm, I love how you smell and taste…’ he thought with a small needy whine.
“Did Kikyou say where she’s been all this time?”
“Eh? Oh. Yeah. She’s been at Senko-ji,” he replied, forcing himself back from his
amourous haze.
“So she was the shrine maiden from the temple there.”
He nodded. “Kikyou told me the holy ones there accepted her even though they
knew she was dead, and that she found peace there.”
“Oh, that’s so wonderful. What a comfort that must be for her to not have to hide
what she is for fear of being hated and hunted.”
‘Like a hanyou… Kikyou’s learned what it’s like to be a hanyou. Now she
understands what my life has been like…’
“She said they taught her how important it is to be accepted as you are. She said it
was a lesson she never learned in life.”
He felt Kagome nod. “Yes. It’s important to love someone as they are and not
want to change them.”
He leaned back into her a little, seeking more contact. “You’ve never tried to
change me.”
She shook her head. “No, never. To me, you are Inuyasha and you’re perfect just
the way you are.”
He closed his eyes and sighed. “Thank you.”
She gave him a kiss on the cheek then playfully licked his ear; a clear sign that
she intended to pleasure him later because she knew what licking his ears did to him. He
groaned softly deep in his throat and nipped at her chin as he turned his head, then gave a
little moan and grasped at her when she pulled away.
“Later,” she whispered in his ear, giving it another quick lick.
He whined, but she just nuzzled him with her nose and moved to get more rice
and dumplings for herself.
“Yukio want some of Kaa-san’s dumplings?” she asked, offering the toddler one
of hers.
Yukio sniffed at it, his nose screwing up, and looked at her with suspicious eyes.
“Not ramen.”
“No, but they’re just as good.”
“Don’t believe her, pup. Nothing is as good as ramen,” he warned.
“Nothing?” she answered coyly.
‘Shit. If you wanna have her tonight, you’d better do some fast talking...’ He
stammered and back-pedaled. “No food is better than ramen,” he corrected hastily.
“Ahh, no food is better. Well, thank you for clarifying that.”
Shippou just shook his head. “I think I’m too young for this conversation.”
Kagome giggled and blushed, but Inuyasha just beamed proudly and reached over
to pat the fox kit on the head. “Someday you’ll understand, Shippou.”
The kitsune gave him a tolerant look. “I understand now.”
“Inuyasha-sama, you should be more discrete in front of the children!” Myouga
scolded.
“Hey she started it!” ‘With the ear licking and the teasing and the...’
He looked at his companions amused faces and realized they were kidding him.
He snorted and looked away, folding his arms into his sleeves.
“Keh!”
He watched and waited as Kagome finished up the dinner chores and got things
ready for the night. He pretended to not care about her actions or even be aware of her as
he played with his son, but when all the preparations for the evening were complete and
they were all settling down, he fixed her with a look that was pure heat and undisguised
need.
“Kirara, can you watch Yukio?” he heard her ask the firecat.
Kirara mewed and transformed into her full form. Yukio saw the firecat change
and launched a protest.
“No!”
“Now see here, pup. Otou and Kaa-san are going off to have some time alone
together. No pups allowed.”
“No leave Yukio!! No! No!”
Kagome came close and took him into her arms. He latched on to her with his
claws and clung.
“Now now, baby. Otou and Kaa-san need their time. You’ll be safe with Kirara
and Shippou-chan. And we always come back, ne? We’ve never left you for long, right?”
Yukio sniffled and sucked on his fist.
“Okaa-a-a-a. Nooooooo.”
“Hush. There’s lots of times when it’s just you and me, ne? Does Otou complain
when I spend time with you?”
The toddler blinked at her and sniffled again. “Yes.”
“Oi! I do not!” he protested.
“Yukio, sweetheart, Okaas and Otous need time alone. It helps Okaas and Otous
stay happy together. You want us to be happy, ne?”
Yukio gave her a perfect imitation of ‘soulful puppy dog eyes’ and Inuyasha
blanched.
‘He is turning into me!’
His pleading expression fell on a hardened heart. “Now Otou and I are going to go
have our time, and you are going to be a good pup and stay with Kirara, Shippou and
Myouga-jiichan, right? Because if you don’t, you’ll be in trouble and Otou will punish
you.”
Yukio looked his way and tried ‘soulful puppy dog eyes’ on him. He felt his
resolve wavering and bit his lip.
‘How does she say no to either of us when we make that face?’
But the thought of not having any alone time with Kagome was even less
appealing than refusing his pup what he wanted, and that gave him the strength to hold
his ground.
“Listen to Okaa, pup. If we go off and you follow, I’ll put you over my knee. Got
it?”
Yukio’s eyes widened at the threat and he shrunk back against his mother, eyes
tearing up again and spilling over.
“Noooooooooooooo.” :Pup good! Pup good.:
:Obey Leader-male,: he ordered.
“Are you going to be good and stay with Kirara and Shippou?” Kagome asked.
Yukio nodded sadly.
“Ye-e-e-sss.”
“You promise?”
“Yes.”
“Good. Remember promises have to be kept, right?”
Yukio nodded again. He knew keeping promises was very important to his
parents and was one of the values they were doing their best to instill in him.
“That’s right, pup. A man’s word is his bond. If you can’t be trusted to keep your
word, then no one will ever trust you with anything,” he reasserted. “Are you a man?”
Yukio nodded dutifully, and Inuyasha gave him a grunt of satisfaction. “Then
you’ll keep your word and leave Okaa and me alone until we come back.”
“And we will be back, baby. Before you go to sleep. We’ll all get into my
sleeping bag together, and you’ll snuggle up between us like always, safe and warm.
Okay?” Kagome added.
With a final pout and sniff, Yukio nodded. “Okay.”
Kagome smiled and kissed him on the cheek. “That’s my brave boy. Who’s a big
dog?”
The toddler beamed. “Me!”
“Good. That’s what I like to hear,” she said as she gently placed him next to
Kirara. “Be good now. Okaa and Otou will be back soon.”
“Not that soon,” he corrected, murmuring in her ear as he nipped at the lobe. ‘I’d
keep you to myself all night if I had the choice.’
“Hush.”
He growled then sighed as she nuzzled him. Reaching down, he rubbed his pup’s
ears and gave him a smile.
“You be good and keep an eye on the others, pup. Especially that fox. He’s a
tricky one.”
“Hey!” Shippou complained.
He snickered and gave the kit a smirk, then he wrapped his arms around Kagome
and pulled her close.
‘Mine.’
“Ready?” he asked.
She nodded and he could smell the beginnings of her excitement. Gathering her
up, he leapt off, taking her back to the banks of the hot spring.
“Back here?” she asked as he set her down.
“You don’t like it? I thought it would be nice. You could bathe afterwards…”
‘Did I make the wrong choice?’
“Yes, but Kikyou was just…”
‘Here. Oh. I understand.’ “We could find another onsen. Where there’s one, there
are usually others.”
She looked up at him, pleading and apologetic. “Please?”
“Heh, so my Kagome still gets jealous,” he teased, then raised his head to sniff the
area. He thought he caught the scent of another spring not too far away.
“This way,” he said, motioning for her to get on his back.
She obeyed and wrapped her legs around his hips, bringing her soft spot right
against his spine and deliberately rubbing it against him as he moved. Her arousal wafted
into his nose and his own body reacted with enthusiasm.
“Stop that, woman, or we won’t get to the spring,” he warned.
“Stop what?” she asked innocently.
He just gritted his teeth and growled in frustration. ‘I’ll make you pay for that,
tease.’
The second onsen was smaller, but thankfully not as hot. This one he would be
able to tolerate and that pleased him because he liked bathing with Kagome, especially
after lovemaking.
“Is this better?” he asked.
Her answer was a deep kiss that he took as a ‘yes’ and he returned her kiss
eagerly.
“I love you,” she whispered.
He shivered at the words and licked her neck. “I… I love you, koishii,” he
stammered, still half-afraid to admit it because then it would be real and it could be taken
away.
There. He’d said it. He’d finally said it, and the words broke the last chains from
around his heart. He could almost hear them shattering and falling in tiny orphaned links,
and his heart, open at last, beat wildly with its newfound freedom.
‘Kagome will never betray you. Never.’
She gasped and kissed him again, her hands cupping his face, and he could smell
the tears on her cheeks.
“Inuyasha. I love you, Inuyasha.”
“I love you, Kagome,” he repeated, licking at the salty wetness on her skin.
They fell together, landing on the soft grass and he took off his haori to use as a
makeshift blanket. Kissing her, he covered her with his body, his hands caressing and
stroking as they sought to bare her flesh to his hungry mouth and eyes.
“Ah, Inuyasha. Inuyasha,” she panted over and over as he licked his way across
her willing form.
“I love you,” he said again as he held her open and delved his tongue into her
core.
He loved licking her, mostly because she loved it so much and pleasing her
always meant he was being a good lover, but also because he loved the taste of her, the
smell of her. The place where her scent was strongest drew him like a moth to flame, and
he emmersed himself in the sensations, losing himself to the pleasure of satisfying her.
She let out a strangled cry as he worked her and grabbed his ears, rubbing them in time
with his rhythm. Her scent and flavor exploded all across his senses, and her sounds were
music in his sensitive ears as he brought her to climax.
He was in her before she stopped shuddering, sliding home with one thrust as she
wrapped her legs around his waist and pulled him in. Her back arched and she lifted up to
meet him with each stroke, tightening her muscles around him and driving him insane.
He didn’t last long and neither did she, and he came with her name and another ‘I love
you’ on his lips.
Afterwards they both slipped into the hot spring and he made love to her a second
time on its bank, and again in the onsen itself although that was a little trickier. He
couldn’t get enough of her; couldn’t get enough of her body, her moans, her hands on his
back and her nails scraping along his skin in her ecstacy. He couldn’t get enough of his
telling her he loved her and hearing that she loved him in return. He couldn’t get enough
of loving her with everything he had, of finally being free to make her his for good, and
promising her his life forever.
It was as if everything he had lived through and suffered up to now had been
preparing him, honing him for this reward, and now he knew what he was being offered
and would be a fool to use or mistreat it. Not that he would. He had absolutely no
intention of ever letting Kagome go, or of ever harming her or betraying her in any way.
‘Naraku could never have turned us against each other.’
Kagome was a precious gift as was his son; both of them gave a lonely, wounded
hanyou a second chance to belong somewhere and be part of a family.
‘Not to mention the lovemaking. Can’t forget the lovemaking. The lovemaking is
awesome.’
“You’ll want a wedding, right?” he asked her when they’d caught their breath and
were just soaking in the spring. Her head was resting on his shoulder and she had one
hand on his chest. He was sated, happy and surrounded by her love.
“Mmmmm, Mama and Jii-chan will.”
“In your time?”
She nodded.
“I know nothing about the customs of your time.”
She shrugged. “Things havn’t changed that much in 500 years. The clothing has
changed a bit, but I don’t mind having a traditional Shinto wedding.”
“Will you want one here?”
“Hmmmm, might be nice to have a little something. Kaede can officiate and
Yukio can be in it.”
He grunted an agreement. “Okay.”
‘I think it will be nice to marry you. The villagers will see me build you a house
and make my vows, and they will know that I am honorable.’
“Have you thought about what you’ll wish for?” she asked suddenly.
“On the jewel?”
“Yeah.”
“A little, but I havn’t really decided yet.”
She snuggled closer. “I trust you. You’ll make a good wish.”
‘You have such faith in me. I wish I had as much faith in me as you do.’
“I love you,” he said for the umpteenth time.
“Mmmmmmm, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of hearing you say that.”
He chuckled. “I hope not. Koishii,” he answered, kissing her temple.
“As much as I hate to leave here, we should be getting back. We promised Yukio
we wouldn’t be gone too long and I think it’s been almost three hours.”
He sighed and petted her back but reluctantly agreed. “Yeah.”
Together they got out of the onsen and dried each other off. Then he dressed her
in her clothes, taking time to kiss her soft places in promise of more loving to come at a
later time. She responded by going down on him and giving him another climax to hold
him over until they got back to the village. Then they slowly returned to camp after a few
more ardent kisses and ‘I love you’s.
The others were waiting for them when they got back. Yukio raced towards them
and jumped into Kagome’s arms. They both coddled and nuzzled him, which made him
quickly forget all his earlier upset about being left behind. Reassured that all was well
with his parents, the toddler started showing signs of his fatigue and they retired for the
night. Each of them took their usual places in Kagome’s sleeping bag and they cuddled in
happy contentment. In the morning they would return the Shikon no Tama back to the
village where everything had begun, and prepare for the final task destiny had in store for
them: the wish and dissolution of the sacred jewel.
Chapter Thirty-Two
Within the first week of returning to the village, Kagome had answered her own
question about where all of Tokyo’s trees had gone. It seemed that Inuyasha was hellbent on cutting the whole of ‘his’ forest down in order to build her house. He felled huge
trees and stripped them of their limbs and bark, giving them to the village woodsmiths to
smooth and polish. Then he set about preparing the foundation, showing her where the
first support logs would be sunk into the ground and marking the perimeter of the
dwelling.
Seeing the preliminary preparations for the house, she was struck by an odd sense
of déjà vu. Inuyasha had chosen a home site that was exactly on the land where her house
in Tokyo stood in the Modern Age. What was so disturbing about that was the fact that
years ago Jii-chan had pointed out markers on the concrete around their house that
defined the foundations of a much larger structure that had once occupied the place where
their house now stood. What she now realized was that those foundation markers were
for this house, the one Inuyasha was building for her, and that she would live in both
houses that occupied the same space, just five hundred years apart. The thought was
actually very unsettling to her because it was obvious that the house Inuyasha had built
her did not exist in the Modern Age, but yet it should have weathered the centuries with
the way he was building it. She made a note to ask Jii-chan if he knew what had
happened to the bigger house.
The house went up quickly with a hanyou as its primary builder. He did not need
sleep or much extra help, and the frame and most of the roof was completed within two
weeks. In fact, most of the delay was due to Inuyasha having to wait for the human
artisans to finish with things like the shoji, polished logs and carved stone shingles.
Luckily, there was a lot going on in the Modern Age that kept calling them back to
Tokyo, and that kept Inuyasha from going ballistic with impatience.
Kagome turned eighteen and there was a party that she went to with her friends,
and then she came home later for more ‘birthday sex.’ She was pretty sure if her mother
hadn’t figured out that she and Inuyasha were lovers beforehand, she knew now because
her headboard had slammed against the wall a couple of times in their enthusiasm, and
she’d also run into a mostly naked Inuyasha coaxing his son to use the toilet instead of
going outside the ‘den.’
The other major milestone was her high school graduation, and no one was more
shocked than Kagome that her schooling was now officially over. She didn’t know if she
was going to go to college, but she decided that she had time to make that choice and
opted to take a year off to get her life in the Sengoku Jidai settled first. Inuyasha and
Yukio came to the ceremony. She could see them sitting on the roof of the school,
looking down over the proceedings. He knew to wait for her signal before coming down
and was dressed in a new set of modern clothes Mama had purchased for him. The
moment the ceremony was over and she made sure she had her actual diploma in her
hands, she waved to them and he was by her side almost instantly. Now that she had
officially finished high school and had her diploma, there was nothing the school
administrator could say about her baby.
Ayumi was there, saw Inuyasha with Yukio, and came running over to see them.
Unfortunately, Eri and Yuka had come to the graduation as well, and their jaws dropped
when they saw Kagome with the man they had met at the house that one time with a
toddler that looked just like him. It also didn’t help that they were wearing identical
outfits, complete with matching hats. The girls tittered, stared and turned eight shades of
red when Inuyasha stood up close to Kagome, put one arm around her and grinned as the
toddler reached for her and very clearly called her “Okaa-san.” Their embarrassment
increased when Houjou appeared just behind Ayumi’s shoulder. Apparently, he had come
to the ceremony to watch a cousin graduate.
Kagome braced for the pissing contest between the two males, but it never came.
Houjou sized up Inuyasha and Inuyasha sized up Houjou, and they both seemed to
silently come to an agreement that fighting over Kagome would not be a good thing. The
only comment Houjou made was something to the extent of ‘Be good to her. She’s a
good woman.’ to which Inuyasha heartily agreed.
After graduation, everyone went to a post-graduation party to mingle and say their
final good-byes to their classmates and teachers. Kagome made a token appearance but
left after thanking all of her teachers, opting instead to attend her own private party back
at the shrine. Mama prepared a special meal and all of them gathered around to give
Kagome gifts and celebrate her achievement. Inuyasha seemed especially nervous and
she thought it was because he didn’t have a gift for her, but then he shyly presented her
with a necklace made of small polished beads the same color blue as her high school
uniform strung on a very thin braid of his hair.
“I thought you should keep wearing blue even though you won’t have to wear that
uuu-neee-form anymore,” he said.
At first she was so shocked she didn’t know what to say and he thought she didn’t
like it. The crushed and wounded look on his face cut her to the quick, and she scrambled
to reassure him that she loved it very much. She asked him if he had made it with his own
hands, and he blushed and replied that it had been a joint creation between himself,
Sango, Miroku and the trader who brought the beads. She put it on immediately and
kissed him senseless right in front of everyone else. Then she announced their
engagement, and Souta rolled his eyes and said it was about time.
Mama gave them a knowing smile and Jii-chan said they had to pick a date to
reserve the shrine. Kagome pouted and said she wanted to get married in Hawaii like all
the other Japanese girls dreamed, but that idea was shot down when Inuyasha asked
‘What’s Hawaii?’ and Mama asked ‘How will Inuyasha handle flying in a plane?’
Visions of him creating a scene when they tried to take Tessaiga from him filled her mind
and she quickly nixed the Hawaiian wedding. Jii-chan told her he could probably reserve
the shrine run by a colleague in Yokahama that had a lovely view and nice gardens.
By the time her birthday and graduation were over, two months had passed and
Kagome was starting to wonder what Kikyou had meant by ‘soon.’ The Shikon no Tama
was complete and she wore it around her neck, never taking it off. The fully re-formed
jewel attracted twice as much trouble as the shards themselves, and Kagome was very
eager to be rid of it so the village would stop being put in danger by youkai hunting for
its power. It seemed that every other day a new threat arrived that Inuyasha had to deal
with in one way or another, and while her hanyou was overjoyed to have things to kill in
order to work out his frustrations about the slowness of human woodsmiths and stone
masons, she was terrified for the villagers every time one showed up.
Finally, almost ten weeks since they had last seen her, Kikyou arrived in the
village. The return of the undead miko who was sister to Kaede caused quite a stir, and
the town was in a state of chaos for most of the day. When things calmed down, Kagome,
Inuyasha, Sango, Miroku, Kaede, Kikyou and the village headman all sat down together
to discuss the fate of the jewel. It was decided that Inuyasha would make his wish upon
the cursed jewel. If the wish was pure and good, it was believed that the jewel would
vanish from the world and that Midoriko’s soul would move on. Inuyasha said he knew
what he was going to wish for, but he would not reveal the details of it to anyone, not
even Kagome.
Kagome was concerned about the wish, but more so about something Kikyou had
said to her. She asked Kagome if she was prepared to make the sacrifice she would be
asked to make, and explained that the time slip would probably stop working once the
jewel was no longer in existence. Kagome hadn’t really given the jewel’s connection to
the time slip much thought recently, but the undead miko’s words struck home, and she
begged that they put off the wish for two days so she could go home and prepare her
family for the possibility that they might never see her again.
“I’ll go with you and bring the pup. Your mother has been good to me and I
would like to say good-bye. And she’ll want to see the pup one last time,” Inuyasha told
her as she headed nervously for the well.
‘One last time… Is it really possible that I might not be able to return?’
“Thank you. I’ll… I’ll feel better if you’re there to support me. This is going to be
very hard for me.”
“You must bring whatever you think you will want from your room. Fill several
bags and I’ll carry them across while the well still works.”
‘Whatever I think I’ll want? How about everything?’ she thought, but didn’t say
anything. Instead, she just nodded and gave him a small smile.
Yukio, wide-eyed and quiet because he knew his parents were upset, clung to
Inuyasha and looked at her with a worried expression on his little face. She blew him a
kiss and touched his nose, making him look cross-eyed at her finger.
“Go see Mama-baachan?” she asked.
At the sound of the name, Yukio cracked into a huge grin and he clapped his
hands. “Mama-baachan! Mama-baachan!”
‘And suddenly he is all smiles and all is right with the world because he’s going
to see his grandmother and she will give him candy,’ she thought wryly.
Inuyasha held Yukio close to his chest with one arm and put the other around her
as they leaped into the well and passed through the time slip.
‘If I’m trapped in the Sengoku Jidai, I’m certain I’d try to send a message to
Mama and Jii-chan telling them what happened. But how would I do that? I could leave a
message in the well… I know! I could have Inuyasha carve a message in the well for
Mama and Jii-chan, and tell them where to look for it. But… if I get trapped in the past
and ask Inuyasha to carve a message, wouldn’t it be here in the Modern Era?’
“Inuyasha?” she asked as he went ahead of her to leave the well house.
He stopped, still holding Yukio and looked at her. “Yeah?”
“If we get trapped in the past and I ask you to carve a message to Mama and Jiichan in the well, wouldn’t it be here now?”
He blinked and she could see the wheels turning. “Huh?”
“If we get trapped in the Sengoku Jidai, and I wanted to send a message to Mama
and Jii-chan here by having you carve a message in the well, wouldn’t that message exist
here now because we would have carved it back then?” she explained.
“So… if the well stops working, you’ll ask me to carve a message into the wood
letting your mother and the old man know what happened.”
“Yes. I’ll ask you to carve a message…” She looked at the rim of the well, and
pointed to a place on the inside of one of the sides. “Here. So… theoretically if we get
trapped in the past, there should be a message right here.”
She looked around, examining the wood inside the well, but didn’t see anything.
“Inuyasha, can you look?”
He came to her and handed her Yukio then carefully inspected the inside of the
well himself.
“I can’t see anything.”
A shiver of hope ran through her and she smiled. “So, if there is no message, then
the well must not close.”
Inuyasha thought for a moment. “But there is no way of knowing if this is the
same wood as the well in our time. That well may have been rebuilt or replaced with new
wood.”
Her heart sank. “Oh.” Then she spotted something that lifted her spirits. “No…
this is the same wood. Look here, this is where you and Miroku repaired the edge that
was damaged when you shoved a tree down the well that one time,” she said, pointing to
a section of the well rim that looked different from the rest.
Inuyasha inspected the section and nodded. “Yeah. It must be.”
“So… if this is the same wood and there’s no message, then the well must stay
open,” she reasoned hopefully.
He blinked at her. “I guess.”
She smiled at him and followed him out of the well house. ‘So the well doesn’t
close after all. I wonder then what happened to the house Inuyasha built for me. And
what happened to our den?’
There was another answer, of course, that she dreaded to even consider; that one
being that the well did close but that she was trapped in the Modern Era while he was
forced to stay in the Sengoku Jidai. She shuddered at the thought and shook it off as
quickly as possible.
“Mama-baachan!” Yukio’s voice greeted happily and she knew that her mother
was home.
“Tadaima!” she announced as she came in through the genkan, leaving her shoes
on the rack.
Inuyasha, barefoot as always, preceded her and she joined the both of them in the
kitchen.
“Okaeri nasai,” Mama greeted, already taking a laughing Yukio from his father.
“How’s my big boy?”
“Good! Good!” Yukio replied, hugging her.
“Bad,” Inuyasha corrected. “He’s been running rampant and getting into
everything.”
Mama giggled. “Toddlers do that. I remember when Kagome was three and
managed to get herself trapped on the roof. I still don’t know how she got up there.”
A vague memory triggered in her mind at the sound of her mother’s words. She
saw a brief flash of white and heard a deep, throaty chuckle, then the feeling of flying
high above the trees but yet knowing she was perfectly safe. A little frown crossed her
face as the memory faded and she couldn’t get it back.
“Heh, we’ve had to get him down off a few roofs, haven’t we, Kagome?”
She shook off her feeling of disconcertion and smiled at him. “Oh yes we have.
Like most dogs I know, he can go up, but he can’t get down,” she teased.
“Oi!” he huffed, but she just giggled and kissed him on the cheek.
“I must say I’m surprised to see the two of you so soon,” Mama said.
Kagome lowered her eyes, remembering why they had come. “I know Mama.
We… we wanted to come see you and Jii-chan before Inuyasha made his wish on the
Shikon no Tama. There’s… there’s a chance that the well won’t work after the jewel is
gone.”
“I… I see,” Mama replied carefully.
“But… but I don’t think it’s going to close. I know if I got trapped on the other
side I’d try to send you and Jii-chan a message carved in the well, but there’s nothing
there. That is the original well, isn’t it?” she added quickly.
“As far as I know,” Mama answered.
“I’ll talk to Jii-chan and ask him just to be sure, but I think if I left a message in
the well back then, it would be there now. You know, like in the movie Back to the
Future, when Marty wrote Doc that letter in the past, Doc had it with him in the future
and knew to wear the bullet-proof vest.”
“But… wouldn’t you have seen it already if it was there?” Mama asked, nodding.
“Not if I didn’t know what I was looking for. Inuyasha’s writing is very unique
and he uses the old kanji.”
“Oh?”
“You should see his writing, Mama. It’s beautiful; just like the ancient ink
paintings.”
“Oi, it’s not that nice,” Inuyasha corrected, blushing.
“It is. Don’t be so modest.”
Mama turned interested eyes his way. “Really? Would you be willing to address
the invitations then?”
“Eh? Invitations?”
“To the wedding, dear. We send invitations out about two months in advance, and
it’s best to have them addressed by hand,” Mama clarified. “I would do it myself, but if
your writing is as nice as Kagome says it is, the envelopes would look nicer if you wrote
them out. It’s not typically something a man would do, but…”
“I’ll do it,” he replied. “If it’s what Kagome wants.”
He looked to her and she nodded, smiling happily, then frowned at her mother.
“But Mama… you know we want a small wedding. Just close family and friends.
I know it’s tradition to invite as many guests as possible but…”
Mama nodded. “I understand. I’ll keep the guest list under fifty.”
“Fifty?! Do we know that many people?” she gasped.
“Well, there are a number of family connections that would be upset not to get an
invitation. They most likely won’t come though.”
Kagome sighed and her heart stopped pounding. “I hope not. Unless we get
married at night on the New Moon, Inuyasha is going to have his ears, and regardless
either Yukio or Inuyasha is going to have to wear a hat.”
Mama beamed and fluffed Inuyasha’s hair. “I was thinking a full Western-style
tuxedo with tails and a top hat.”
“I’m not wearing anything with tails,” Inuyasha snorted.
Kagome snickered. “Not those kinds of tails. The coat is long in the back. I’ll
show you pictures.”
He just blinked at her.
“Anyway all these details can be worked out later, after we know the well stays
open. In the meantime, we just want to spend time with you, Souta and Jii-chan, and I
need to pack some things from my room to take with me just in case the well does stop
working. I should probably do some shopping too.”
Mama nodded. “I’ll make Oden for dinner.”
“Oden!” she exclaimed and hugged her mother. “Thank you, Mama. That would
be wonderful.”
“Oden,” Yukio repeated, smiling. “Ramen?”
Mama rubbed the toddler’s ears. “Ramen too, for my good boy.”
“Oi, what about me?” Inuyasha growled.
Mama rubbed his ears too and soothed him. “For you too of course, Inuyasha.”
“Feh.”
Kagome laughed and then she and Inuyasha went up to her room while Yukio
stayed with his grandmother. She pulled out two soft-sided suitcases from her closet and
filled them up with clothing and other items that she did not want to be without should
she get trapped on the other side. She made a mental note to stock up on toiletries, ramen
noodles and condoms when she and Inuyasha went shopping.
After she was finished in her room, she and Inuyasha went downstairs and
Kagome helped her mother in the kitchen while Inuyasha played with Yukio in the living
room. Every now and then, the toddler would get away from him and coming running in,
laughing his head off as his father chased him about. Half the time, she thought Inuyasha
let him get away just so they’d both get attention from her.
Dinner was the promised Oden and ramen noodles for her hanyous, and everyone
enjoyed it. Afterwards, Kagome sat with Jii-chan and told him of the possibility of the
well closing after Inuyasha made his wish. She asked him if any messages had ever been
passed down through the Higurashi shrine that could be from her, but the old man shook
his head. He also confirmed that the well in the well house was the original well and had
not been rebuilt as far as he knew. His answer brought her a great deal of relief, but
another of his answers made her wonder again about what was to come.
Jii-chan had no idea what had happened to the original house on the property,
only that it had been gone for his whole lifetime. He, like her mother, herself and Souta,
had been born into the house that now stood on the old foundation, and there were no
pictures or descriptions of the house that had once occupied the same space. Most houses
were destroyed by fire, and she worried that a youkai or other attack had burned the
house down many centuries ago.
“See… Jii-chan says the posts for the original house were here,” she told
Inuyasha, pointing to a marker in the concrete around her house.
She and her adult hanyou had come outside after dinner for a little bit of fresh air
because Inuyasha didn’t like to be cooped up inside for too long.
“So?” he replied, crossing his arms.
“So, these are the foundations for our house, Inuyasha. The one you’re building in
the Sengoku Jidai. It’s not here and no one knows what happened to it.”
She saw him follow her train of thought, but the conclusion didn’t seem to bother
him as much as it did her.
“Yeah?” he said.
“Don’t you wonder what happened to it?”
“Does it matter?”
“Huh?”
“If something happens to our house, Kagome, I’ll build you a new one. Maybe
this one burned down or got too small for all the pups, and we built one somewhere else.
Maybe we moved to another village if ours got too big and noisy,” he explained without
concern.
“But it means the house you built won’t last through to this time.”
He shrugged. “Most don’t.”
“But… doesn’t it make you wonder what happened?”
“No. A house is a just a house, Kagome. I don’t care where we live as long as
we’re together.”
The way he said ‘together’ tripped her warning bells and she frowned as another
explanation crossed her mind.
‘Or maybe he tore it down after I died… Would he continue to live in the house he
built me if I was no longer there to live in it?’
She quickly decided to change the subject.
“I wonder what happened to our den,” she mused. “Probably buried under two
meters of concrete by now.”
He shrugged and picked her up, hopping easily on top of the back wall of the
shrine and facing in the direction of where the den would have been. She was surprised to
see a copse of trees in what appeared to be about the right area where the den was
located.
“Huh,” Inuyasha said, noticing the same thing she did.
Curious, she climbed onto his back and urged him forward to investigate. He gave
her a questioning look, but obliged her and they bounded off. The distance wasn’t all that
far away from her house and no major streets separated the two properties, and soon they
were standing before a very tall stone wall that was oddly reminiscent of the type of hei
that surrounded ancient castles. Inuyasha jumped on top of it, balancing easily on the
pointed roofed edge, and they could now see part of the roof of a very large, grand house
off in the distance. The wall seemed to surround the property which appeared to be a very
sizable estate and a monstrous portion of land by modern day standards. Kagome was
shocked that the city hadn’t seized it for building purposes. Her family’s shrine escaped
eminent domain only because it was a designated holy place. This looked like a private
residence.
‘Why did I forget this was here?’ she wondered.
Looking around from their high perch, she saw the stream that ran right by their
den.
‘It’s still here… Does that mean…’
Suddenly she really didn’t want to see the den, didn’t want to know what
happened to it. It was almost a compulsion willing her to leave and go back the way she
came. It was so strong that it was making her skin crawl.
She felt Inuyasha shift to move forward but stopped him.
“Wait, Inuyasha.”
“Eh? Don’t you want to see?”
“Yes, but… this place belongs to someone and I am sure they have security. If we
go onto their property, we could get in big trouble.”
“Feh! Like I care.”
The feeling of wrongness increased, making her even more uncomfortable.
“I do. We don’t need any trouble right now, Inuyasha. Let me ask my mother who
owns this place. Maybe Jii-chan knows them and we can get permission to go exploring,
okay? It’s enough to know that it’s still forest for now, right?”
“Feh. You were the one wondering about it, wench, not me.”
‘Is that because you don’t want to know either, because you think, if we did get
trapped, that I died centuries ago? Did you tear down our house and destroy our den in
your grief?’ she thought sadly.
She hugged his shoulders and gave him a little squeeze. “Let’s go back.”
He gave her a tolerant look, but nodded. “Okay. You still need to show me a
picture of this coat with ‘tails’ that your mother wants me to wear.”
He turned and bounded back to the shrine. Kagome made him stop for a moment
and she went into a store to buy a bridal magazine that had photographs of Western style
tuxedos in it, and they headed the rest of the way home.
“Mama,” she asked as they entered the living room where she, Jii-chan, and Souta
were sitting watching the evening news. Yukio was with them, playing with some toys on
the floor.
‘More toys? Mama, you have to stop this…’ she sighed mentally.
“Do you know who owns that property with all the trees? The one with the high
hei surrounding it?” she finished.
“Behind the shrine?” Mama questioned.
“Yeah.”
Mama looked at Jii-chan and knowing glances passed between them. “That’s part
of the Fushikenwa Estate,” Mama answered.
“Fushikenwa ?” ‘That’s one of the most powerful names in all of Japan…’
“Yes. That’s their Tokyo home. It’s usually empty this time of year, although I
think they have staff that live there and tend to it year-round,” Mama explained.
“Oh.”
“I’m surprised you don’t remember. You used to go wandering over there all the
time when you were just a little girl.”
“I did?”
Mama nodded. “It was just after Souta was born. I would be busy caring for him
and you’d go off. Several times you were caught in the forest over there. Apparently you
were getting in through the gate over the stream. You were small enough to slip through
the bars.”
Another memory resurfaced and Kagome saw green everywhere, tall trees, and a
man with white hair and a happy smile.
“Did a man with white hair bring me back?” she asked suddenly.
“White hair? No. He had black hair. A sweet young man with the brightest smile.
After the first time you were found there, he’d carry you back on his shoulders and bring
you home.”
More memories, dim with age, played for her: the man, still with white hair,
laughing and coming towards her.
“Here again, little one? Your mother is probably worried about you. I know mine
would be. Best I take you back, ne? It’s no good for you to be wandering about in here
anyway. Never know what you might stumble into.”
He’d pick her up effortlessly and put her on his shoulders, and then they… flew?
No, it couldn’t be. It only seemed like they were flying because he ran so fast.
“Kagome?” Inuyasha’s voice questioned, bringing her out of her memories.
“Huh? Oh. Ummm… I remember a man with white hair who would carry me like
that.”
Mama shook her head. “The man who brought you back always had black hair. I
think he was one of the security guards, although he didn’t wear a uniform.”
“Did he ever tell you his name?”
“If he did, I don’t remember. It was long ago.”
Kagome grew quiet and pensive until Yukio commanded her attention by
grabbing her leg.
“Okaa-san!”
She smiled down at him, noting that he had a pretty bright smile himself.
‘You’re always happy aren’t you, baby. You’re such a happy boy.’
Picking him up, she swung him once and then braced him against her side.
“Ooof, you’re getting heavy. Are you eating too much ramen?” she teased.
“No,” he answered immediately, not getting the joke.
She laughed and kissed him, sitting down with him in her lap. Inuyasha settled
next to her and they all watched television together. Later Souta managed to get Inuyasha
to play some video games with him, and they watched that, laughing at the antics the two
got up to. By unspoken agreement, they all stayed together as a family for the evening,
separating only when it was time for bed, and even then Kagome and Inuyasha stayed up
late with Mama and Jii-chan long after Souta had gone to his room and Yukio had passed
out in his father’s arms.
It wasn’t until well after midnight that they finally retired for the evening.
Inuyasha placed a still sleeping Yukio in the crib Mama had bought to replace the basinet
that had gotten too small, and climbed into bed with her. They made love only once but it
was enough, then they retrieved Yukio and cuddled with him as they all went to sleep. In
the morning, they went shopping with her mother, stocking up on the things they would
need if the well closed. She managed to get Inuyasha to distract Mama with Yukio long
enough for her to buy several boxes of condoms while the older woman wasn’t looking,
and sequester them in her bag discreetly.
By the time they finished at the store, it was lunchtime so Mama bought bento for
all of them and they ate in the park. There was a playground there so they took a short
time to play with Yukio on the swings and slide before heading back to the shrine. All in
all, it was a beautiful day filled with smiles and laughter, and Kagome thought if the well
did close that it had been a wonderful last day in Modern Japan that they all would
cherish.
The whole family turned up to wish them good-bye. Mama handed her another
bento box of food for all of her friends, and she added it to the mountain of stuff she had
to take with them. She hugged and kissed Mama, Jii-chan and Souta and thanked them
for everything- just in case it would be the last time she ever saw them. Inuyasha said his
good-byes too, accepting a hug from Mama and giving Souta one, and bowing to Jii-chan
for the first time she had ever seen him bow to anyone. Yukio, oblivious to what was
happening, hugged and kissed his grandmother and great-grandfather with the same open
affection he always did.
Kagome managed not to cry until the very end when she saw tears in her mother’s
eyes.
“Sayonara, Mama,” she whispered softly.
“Sayonara, Kagome.”
“I swear, if we do get trapped, I will find a way to let you know. I promise.”
“I’m glad. Thank you, Kagome.”
She sniffed a few times and wiped away her tears, then Inuyasha handed Yukio to
her so he could carry the bags, and she picked up the bento box and two sacks of
groceries. With a final wave and wish farewell, they jumped through the time slip and
reemerged on the other side.
They brought the bento box into the village for the others and gave Kaede all the
medical supplies they had purchased. Kikyou was in the hut with her sister and seemed
very intrigued by all of Kagome’s modern first aid supplies. Kaede was more interested
in the bento box Kagome had just for her.
More plans were made for the following day. The ceremony would begin at dawn.
Kagome was to bathe, purify the jewel one last time and make sure it was completely
pure before giving it to Inuyasha. The actual wish wouldn’t take place until late morning
after all the prayers and preparations had been made. This time there would be three
powerful mikos present to keep the jewel pure until the end. They could only hope it
would be enough to keep the jewel’s natural propensity for evil in check.
When there was no more to be said, Kagome left Inuyasha with Kikyou, giving
them some time together and walked back to the den with Yukio. Inuyasha didn’t realize
that she had gone for the den until she was almost there, and he admonished her for going
off into possibly youkai infested woods without him to protect her.
“Where else would I have gone?” she asked.
“Keh! To the monk’s hut. That’s where I thought you were going.”
“Why would I go there?”
“To wait for me. I told you I would only be a short while. Why did you go on
without me?”
He almost seemed hurt that she would leave for home without him.
“I’m sorry. It just seemed like the right place to go. It’s late, Yukio and I are tired,
and the den was the natural choice.”
He gave her a little nod that he understood and put an arm around her.
“So, what did you and Kikyou talk about after I left?” she asked as they walked
along through the forest.
She felt him stiffen and regretted her question immediately.
“I’m sorry. That was uncalled for. You don’t have to answer if you don’t want
to.”
“The past,” he admitted. “Where we went wrong. How Naraku tricked us so
easily. We are trying to make sure nothing like that happens again tomorrow. We have
decided to say special words that only we will know so that we can identify each other,
just in case.”
“Like code words,” she mused.
“Huh?”
“In my time, when people need to be sure if a person is the right person they give
them a code word. That way when someone asks for their code word, only those who
know the code can get in.”
He nodded. “Yeah. Like that.”
“So what’s the code word?”
“Eh?”
“The word you’re supposed to say so Kikyou will know it’s you.”
“My mother’s name.”
“Ah.”
“And she’ll say her mother’s name because I know it but very few people here
do.”
Kagome nodded. “Do you want to have a code word for you and me?”
“Your mother’s name?”
“Okay.”
They arrived at the den and Inuyasha went in first to make sure no interlopers had
tried to move in while they were gone. He signaled that it was safe and she entered with
Yukio. The toddler, seeing his bed and blankets, yawned and curled up on his futon. It
would be a while before he was invited to snuggle with his parents and he knew it. In
minutes he was asleep.
Inuyasha stripped as usual, stowing his clothes in their place and lit a small fire
while she changed into a yukata. She didn’t wear pajamas in the den because Inuyasha
liked her in things that were easy to get her out of. Most of the time she didn’t even wear
underwear but tonight she left it on. She was feeling a little unsettled with Kikyou in the
village and the wish coming so close, and she’d need a little coaxing tonight before she
would be ready to join with him. Leaving the panties on was his signal to take things
slow and be gentle.
As soon as the fire was lit and the den warming up, they settled in the bed
together. Inuyasha snuggled behind her, one hand slipping into the yukata to cup her
breast. It wasn’t always a sexual gesture, although it could be. Usually though, it was just
his preferred way of holding her when they were lying together in bed.
“Do you think the well will stay open?” she asked softly.
“I don’t know,” he replied simply.
“If it does close, why wouldn’t the message be there in the well?”
“I don’t know.”
She frowned. ‘Just once I wish he’d make something up to make me feel better
instead of being so bluntly honest. Well… it is one of the things I love most about him. My
hanyou never lies.’
“Kikyou thinks it’s going to close?” she questioned.
She felt him nod against her back. “Yeah.”
She gripped the jewel around her neck tightly. ‘This thing was in my body the first
time I went through the well. The only time I’ve been able to go through the time slip
without shards has been to go back to my time. That time Inuyasha took the shards from
me and pushed me into the well, I wasn’t able to get back here until I felt a shard in the
well. Inuyasha, though, he’s always been able to go through… Maybe that’s why there’s
no message in the well, because he goes through to tell Mama and Jii-chan that I can’t
come back…’
“You’re brooding,” Inuyasha scolded gently.
“I’m sorry. I think I’m allowed. It’s a scary thing.”
He pulled her tight. “I know. But… we have each other and… and the pup. And
I’m building the house. You’ll… you’ll have a good life here if it closes. I promise that
you’ll want for nothing. I’ll draw you as many hot baths as you like. I studied your…
boiler? thing and I think I can make something like it here. Toutousai can forge me a big
metal container and I can light a fire under it to keep water warm.”
He sounded so conciliatory and hopeful that she had to smile in spite of her fears.
Yes, he was right, they did have each other and Yukio, and she knew he would do
everything within his power to make sure she was as happy as she could be. His devotion
was complete and it humbled her sometimes. She’d always thought she was the one who
would love him more, but every day he proved her wrong. His loyalty knew no bounds. If
she had asked for the moon and stars, she knew he would have found a way to give them
to her.
His hand slipping down to caress her stomach, before traveling lower, distracted
her from her thoughts, which was probably his intent, but brought another thought to her
already troubled mind.
“Inuyasha?”
He groaned softly, realizing that his attempts to seduce weren’t working. “Yeah?”
“If… do you… would you…” she stammered.
“Would I, did I what?” he prompted, just a hint of impatience in his voice.
“Do you think… it would have been harder for you to choose me if we hadn’t…
you know… become closer?” she finally managed.
“You mean would I have had a harder time choosing you over Kikyou if we had
never mate… errrr… made love?”
“Yeah,” she whispered.
“No,” came the short and simple answer.
She rolled to her back and looked up at him. “No?”
“No,” he confirmed. “Even if we had never made love, I would still have chosen
you.”
“Really?”
He looked a little peeved. “Of course. You think I only love you because you
mate with me? You think I am that shallow?”
“N… no, of course not, I just thought…”
“That you were Kikyou’s replacement even though I’ve told you time and time
again that you are not. Who is doubting who now, hmm?”
She winced and looked away. “I’m sorry.”
“Not that it isn’t my fault. How many times did I run to her and leave you
wondering if you were second best?”
‘So he finally understands…’
His hand cupped her face and forced her to look at him. “You were never second
best. Kagome is Kagome, no one else, and no one’s replacement.”
“I… thank you,” she said, tears brimming in her eyes.
He kissed them away tenderly. “Kagome is Kagome,” he repeated. “Kagome
loves me as a hanyou, the only one who ever has. Kagome touches me and holds me and
mates with me as a hanyou, and doesn’t see it as a disgrace. Kagome’s power only got
stronger after she joined with me instead of weakening. Kagome’s voice and scent are the
things I hold onto when the world spins out from underneath me. How could I not choose
you? In truth, I’ve been yours for years; I just wasn’t free to tell you.”
“Inuyasha. I love you, Inuyasha.”
“I love you, koishii. Please trust me when I say that because I don’t say it lightly.
You need to have complete trust in me tomorrow or the jewel will use your doubt against
us.”
“I know. I promise I will trust you.”
He smiled and kissed her. “Thank you.”
“Inuyasha.”
“Now that that’s out of the way, koi, can we make love now?”
She chuckled, knowing he was pushing just a little to distract her.
“Besides our son will wake up soon and I don’t want him interrupting us,” he
added.
She reached up and threaded her fingers in his hair, finding his ears to rub and
scratch.
“We wouldn’t want that, now would we?” she breathed, smiling as he closed his
eyes in pleasure and let out a low moan.
“No…”
“Yes.”
“Yes?” he repeated, confused.
“Yes, we can make love now.”
He gave her a grateful smile. “Oh. Good.”
“It’d better be,” she teased.
His smile turned lascivious. “Isn’t it always?”
She grinned. “Yes.”
“I thought so. For a moment I was worried I’d lost my touch.”
She shook her head.
“Never,” she breathed, pulling him down on top of her and ending their
conversation with a heated kiss.
Chapter Thirty-Three
Dawn broke over the land and somehow Kagome knew it even in the darkness of
the den. Her eyes snapped open as she sensed the coming morning, and she quietly
roused herself from the blankets which was no small feat because Yukio was cuddled
against her as usual and Inuyasha’s limp arm lay draped across her waist. Her adult
hanyou made a small sound of protest when she pulled away but did not wake, then she
placed Yukio against him and he settled down again with a small sigh. The toddler didn’t
even twitch when she moved him.
Gathering her clothes and bathing supplies, she left the den as silently as she
could and made her way to the stream.
‘I’m to bathe and purify the jewel,’ she said to herself, pulling the yukata close to
her body. ‘No thoughts of doubt or fear must touch me today. The jewel must be as
untainted as I can make it.’
The water was cold as always and the bracing chill woke her up completely as she
submerged herself in it. Washing quickly, she made sure she was completely clean before
getting out of the stream and drying off on the bank. It seemed odd to her not to dress in
her school uniform anymore. She’d been wearing one form or another of it for so long
that to suddenly be without the familiar sailor suit felt wrong to her. In deference to that,
she had chosen a white dress with blue trim that had a similar crew-neck and a blue scarf.
This she wore with her normal cable socks and brown loafers, and, of course, Inuyasha’s
necklace which she rarely took off for anything other than bathing. The blue beads and
silver hair nestled against her skin just above her heart and tangled with the chain that
held the Shikon no Tama.
Touching the swirling pink jewel, she closed her eyes and brought forth her love
for the hanyou, using it to calm her and help her focus.
‘Only pure, good thoughts today,’ she reminded herself. ‘I love Inuyasha.
Inuyasha loves me. We will spend our lives together in the house he will build. Our son
will grow up big and strong, and never know the pain and hardship his father suffered.’
“Inuyasha is a fool,” came a cold voice from behind her and she gasped, whirling
around to face the intruder.
She found Kikyou, her face set into a deep frown, staring at her.
“Wh… what did you say?” she asked, trying to slow her pounding heart.
“He left you unprotected with the full jewel. Anything could have come upon you
unawares while you were otherwise engaged. It pains me to see that the lessons of the
past have not been learned. If he had not left me alone that night, Naraku would have had
no chance to attack us both separately,” the undead miko continued.
Kagome fought to quell her rising irritation. “If I remember correctly from what I
was told, he left you because you spent the night in the shrine praying and he wasn’t
allowed in,” she countered, defending her lover. “Was he supposed to just sit outside the
doors where you had shut him out like an obedient dog?”
A flicker of emotion passed through Kikyou’s eyes and she smiled slightly,
seemingly pleased by Kagome’s immediate defense.
“Our separation was as much my choosing as his,” Kikyou amended.
‘I doubt that. Knowing him as I do, if you’d let him stay with you, he’d have been
glued to your side,’ she thought dourly.
“But that does not change the fact that he left you undefended at a time when your
protection is crucial.”
“What makes you think he left me undefended? One scream from me and he’d be
here in a heartbeat,” she replied.
Kikyou cast around at the trees, her face never changing. “That is provided you
had a chance to scream. Your… den is close by?”
Suddenly she didn’t want the undead miko knowing the exact location of her and
Inuyasha’s safe haven. She crossed her arms and nodded. “Close enough.”
“You spent the night with him there?”
She nodded again, not sure where the conversation was going. “Yes. And Yukio
was with us too.”
“You… engaged in carnal pleasures?”
‘Carnal pleasures? Is that what you think lovemaking is? If you do, I feel so sorry
for you Kikyou.’
“If you’re asking if Inuyasha and I made love last night, the answer is yes, we
made love.”
A cold smirk came to the undead miko’s face. “That alone should have stripped
you of your miko powers.”
“Well, obviously it didn’t,” she answered, drawing up some purifying energy and
running it into her hands for the older miko to see.
“I know and that is an enigma.”
“No. I don’t think so. I don’t think purity has anything to do with miko power.
Tsubaki still had power and she was evil. You still have yours and you’re dead.”
She hadn’t meant it to come out as harshly as it had sounded and she winced.
“I’m sorry. That didn’t come out the way I wanted it to.”
“Does it matter? It is still the truth.”
“I guess not. Anyway, what are you doing here? I thought you and Kaede would
be setting up the ceremony and purifying the shrine.”
“My sister is engaged in that task. The houshi is assisting her. I came to see if you
were performing your duties as guardian of the jewel,” Kikyou replied.
Kagome drew herself up, a little put out by the insinuation that she might not be
doing what she was supposed to.
“As you can see, I am bathed and actively purifying the jewel.”
Cold eyes flicked to the swirling bauble around her neck, then focused on the
other necklace she wore.
‘Does she recognize Inuyasha’s hair?’
“You must be extremely careful not to taint the jewel today.”
‘It’d be a lot easier to do that if you’d stop insulting me and Inuyasha,’ she
thought dourly, but said nothing. ‘Or maybe… maybe she wants me to get angry and taint
the jewel. Maybe she’s not really Kikyou. Maybe she’s a youkai in Kikyou’s form!’
She sent out a tendril of power to see if she could tell if it was really Kikyou, but
the thread was slapped back. Wincing she stepped away, ready to defend herself or
scream for Inuyasha if need be.
“What’s Inuyasha’s mother’s name?” she blurted.
Kikyou gave her another cold smile. “So he told you of our special word.”
‘Yeah, code word, secret handshake and everything. Just answer the damn
question or I’m gonna scream loud enough to wake the whole village.’
“Yes, he did. Now tell me the name of Inuyasha’s mother or I’ll scream.”
“I could tell you, but I have no knowledge of your special word. I would have no
way of identifying you.”
“That’s easy. I’ve got the Shikon no Tama.”
“You could be a youkai who has stolen Kagome’s form and the jewel,” the
undead miko replied reasonably, her mouth curled into a wry smile of amusement.
“And you could be a youkai who has stolen Kikyou’s form,” she countered.
“And neither of you are youkai, and both of you should know that because you
don’t have any youki,” came a third voice, tired and a little irritated.
“Inuyasha,” Kagome gasped, seeing the hanyou come walking out of the trees. He
was naked from the waist up and carrying Yukio.
“Okaa-san!” the toddler greeted happily.
“How do you know, Inuyasha? If we were shape shifters, we could most likely
mask our youki,” Kikyou answered.
Inuyasha shrugged and crossed over to Kagome, putting an arm around her as
Yukio hopped into her embrace.
“Maybe, and maybe you could even mimic her scent. But you can’t mimic the
scent of me all over her,” he said, then turned to her. “Pup had to go out.”
She nodded.
“I was good! Went outside the den,” Yukio added with a big smile.
“That’s my big boy. You’re so smart and good.”
Inuyasha returned his attention to Kikyou, looking at her with concerned eyes and
it was obvious that he was wondering what they had been up to. As usual, Kikyou gave
nothing away with her expressionless face.
“Kasumi,” he said purposefully.
“Izayoi,” Kikyou replied without hesitation.
Inuyasha nodded with satisfaction, then looked to her and raised an eyebrow.
“Mama,” she offered.
He smiled softly. “Besides, you think this one wouldn’t know his mother?” he
added, rubbing Yukio’s ears.
“Ears!” Yukio giggled, covering his puppy ears.
“It would not be the first time a hanyou’s senses were fooled,” Kikyou
commented.
Inuyasha scowled a little. “Actually, Naraku never bothered to mask his scent. If I
had been more trusting and not been so quick to believe it was you, I would have figured
out that it was a fake by scent alone. And you should have been able to tell it wasn’t me
by the youki. My youki was never as evil or disgusting as that bastard’s.”
“True,” Kikyou agreed.
Feeling the growing tension and knowing the bad vibes could taint the easily
tainted jewel, Kagome stepped forward and put herself between the two former lovers.
“Maybe it’s not such a good idea to be dragging all of this up right now,” she
suggested, grasping the jewel in her hand.
“I agree. Kagome, lets go back to the den,” her lover answered.
His hand touched her arm and lightly grasped her elbow. The gesture wasn’t
intimate in any way but it made her shiver regardless; that and seeing him half-naked
always made her heart pound a little harder, but she knew she couldn’t go with him. She
had bathed and now had to concentrate all of her energies on making sure the jewel was
ready for his wish. Before she could gently tell him he had to wait, however, Kikyou
spoke in a disdainful voice.
“You would soil her with your base desires after she has cleansed herself?”
Inuyasha blinked, then flushed, then grew angry.
“Oi!” he growled, his eyes dark with hurt and upset.
“Kikyou…” she began.
“You make it sound like I rut on her like a mindless animal,” he complained.
“Aren’t you? I have heard the stories of your trysts from my sister. Sometimes
you disappear into your hovel and no one sees you for days. Have you so little control
over your lusts that you must sate yourself so often and keep your lover a prisoner in your
hole?”
Inuyasha sputtered, his eyes opening wide. “Wh… what?”
“Kikyou, it’s not like that. Inuyasha never forces me to do anything I don’t want
to do,” she defended.
“Okaa??” Yukio asked, sensing the growing upset and clinging to her more
tightly.
“Shhhh, it’s okay, baby.”
“He is a beast with no self-control. He always was. Why do you let him touch
you? You are a miko. You should not taint yourself with his impurity.”
Inuyasha flinched and she saw him go pale. The wounded look on his face broke
her heart, and she hurried to reassure him.
“Okay, that’s enough. I don’t know why you’re doing this Kikyou, but it stops
right now! There is nothing impure or tainted about Inuyasha, and he’s not a beast. He’s a
sweet, wonderful, devoted man and I love him. And if you ever loved him as much as he
says you did, you wouldn’t say such horrible things about him.”
The undead miko was undaunted. “He is a lowly hanyou; a dirty half-breed
spawned by a human and an evil demon. It is beneath you to even associate with him and
his ilk. That includes the child you now hold.”
Rage seized her and she gritted her teeth, mustering every ounce of self-control
she had not to scratch the bitch’s eyes out. How dare she say such terrible things about
Inuyasha and her baby! She clutched Yukio closer to her, noting that the toddler was
trying to make himself as small and unnoticeable as possible.
“Now you wait just one minute! Neither Inuyasha or Yukio are beneath me, and I
don’t lower myself or dirty myself by loving them! And there is nothing evil about my
baby!” she argued vehemently.
“His father was a youkai, the same as Inuyasha’s. Their evil runs true in their
offspring and there is nothing to be done about it. They are tainted by nature and easily
corrupted,” Kikyou countered.
“I refuse to believe that Inuyasha’s father was evil because he was a youkai,” she
replied angrily. “From everything I’ve heard about him, he was a fierce but fair and kind
leader who was good to the people living on his lands, and he loved Inuyasha’s mother
very, very much. No one who could father a son as loving and devoted as Inuyasha, and
forge a sword like Tenseiga- it’s sole purpose being to raise people from the dead- could
be evil.
“I’ve met lots of youkai who are good and decent people who love and feel pain
just the same as we do. Yes, there are evil youkai out there. I’ve met lots of them too, but
you know what, humans can be just as evil as youkai and they don’t have any demon
blood to blame it on.
“It’s wrong to judge someone just by who their parents were or what their
bloodline is. People should be judged by what they do and how many people they help.
And no one should blame an innocent baby for being born, hanyou or not.”
Kikyou raised an incredulous eyebrow. “Judged by what they do?” the undead
miko repeated. “And what if I were to tell you that your ‘loving’ and ‘devoted’ good
hanyou burned down the very village he now protects and is directly responsible for the
loss of my sister’s eye?”
Inuyasha gasped and cast her a guilty, worried look, but that only made her
angrier.
“I already knew that. I also know no one died that day except you and Naraku was
responsible for your wounds not Inuyasha, and that the fire was started by accident. As
for Kaede’s eye, if she’s forgiven him for it then I’m certainly not going to blame him for
something that happened before I was even born. And if you weigh all the good he’s
done since the village burned down, he’s more than made up for it. He’s saved hundreds
of lives and helped twice that many in the years I have known him. He might pretend not
to care, but he does and he always does the right thing no matter what. He’s the most
honest, loyal person I have ever met and he would never purposefully take an innocent
life.”
‘Except when he’s transformed… but even then, he only killed the bandits and
after that he refused to transform again. That was the whole reason he went after
Ryuukotsusei, so he could make Tessaiga lighter and be able to wield it again.’
Kikyou looked at Inuyasha. “What do you think of this, Inuyasha?”
The adult hanyou bared his teeth and growled softly. “What are you up to
Kikyou?” he demanded.
“I am showing her your true nature.”
“Excuse me, but I’ve seen his true nature,” Kagome interrupted. “I know exactly
what Inuyasha is and what he is not, and I don’t need you trying to make me think less of
him. Nothing you have to say will turn me against him or make me believe he isn’t what
I think he is.”
With that, she stood next to him, shoulder to shoulder and they faced Kikyou
together as a unified front. She expected Kikyou to look annoyed or even disgusted, but
she wasn’t prepared for the look of calm approval and satisfaction she got instead.
“Good,” Kikyou said finally after a long, tense silence.
“Good?” Inuyasha repeated, snorting. “What the hell was that all about?”
“You harbor no doubts towards Inuyasha in your heart. You have complete faith
and confidence in him. This trust is exactly what you need to keep the jewel pure, and
prevent it from warping the wish,” the undead miko told her.
“So this was a… a test?” she blurted.
“Yes. I was testing your commitment to each other.” She looked at Inuyasha.
“Did you see how quickly she defended you and how steadfast she stayed?”
Inuyasha nodded.
“You needed to see the depth of her love for you and trust in it. You still harbor
fears that she will someday reject you because you are a hanyou. These fears are exactly
the type of feelings you cannot afford to have today. You have seen her unequivocal trust
and faith in you; now you must have the same faith in her. Do you understand?”
She felt the tension flow out of him and saw him relax.
‘And his faith in Kikyou is restored as well as his faith in me.’
“I understand, Kikyou.”
“That being said, she still should not go with you, but rather she should come to
the shrine and help with the preparations there.”
He wilted a little, his ears drooping, but agreed. “Okay.”
She handed Yukio to him, having to literally peel the toddler off of her claw by
grasping claw.
“Ooof, let go Velcro Baby and go to Otou-san.”
“Okaa-san. Nooooooo…” Yukio whined.
Inuyasha took him and gave him a little shake. “Oi. None of that, pup. Okaa-san
is busy right now and that means we have to leave her alone. You come with me and be
good. I’ll fix us some breakfast and we’ll see Okaa-san later.”
“Nooooooo…”
“Oi. You wanna get scruffed?”
Yukio sniffed loudly and shook his head. “Noooo.”
“Then behave and do as I say.”
Kagome leaned over to kiss his little cheek and rub his ears. “Be good for Otousan.” Then she kissed Inuyasha on the lips. “You be good too. Think happy thoughts
about me and that will help you stay positive.”
“No it won’t because you won’t be there for me to act on my thoughts,” he
complained.
She gave an exasperated sigh. “Hentai.”
He grinned. “Only for you.”
“Aren’t I lucky.”
“You don’t think so?”
She gave him a soft look and a sweet smile. “Every day of my life,” she admitted
and gave him another kiss. “I love you.”
He breathed softly into her mouth as their lips parted. “And I love you, koi.”
She stepped away from him and gave Yukio one last rub to his ears. “I’ll see you
at the shrine.”
Inuyasha nodded, his eyes warm. “Okay. I’ll get the pup fed and us ready, and
then join you.”
Grasping the jewel in her hand, she nodded and poured all the love she felt in that
moment into it, then she followed Kikyou toward the village.
“I understand why you did what you did,” she began, hurrying to catch up to the
older miko.
“You and Inuyasha must trust each other. He and I never did. In my heart, I
always believed him to be capable of deceiving me.”
‘And he always thought you would betray him like all the others...’
“Thank you,” was all she said.
“Still, it was foolish of him to leave you unprotected.”
Now that she thought about it, she really had to agree. She should never have left
the safety of the den without Inuyasha. Even though Inuyasha routinely killed any youkai
intruders as a matter of course, and dealt with any youkai seeking the Shikon no Tama
with extreme prejudice, there was always a chance that a new threat had moved in
overnight.
“That was as much my fault as his,” she admitted. “I didn’t wake him when I left
the den.”
“I never knew him to be a heavy sleeper.”
She shrugged. “He can be when he feels safe. The first time he fell asleep on my
bed he slept there the whole night and never moved once.”
Kikyou made a soft ‘hmmm’ sound but otherwise did not answer, and Kagome
realized how her offhand comment must have sounded.
“That... that was before we were... you know... lovers. Wayyyy before. He came
to my house while I was trying to study and caused all this trouble. He wouldn’t leave me
alone and got into everything. I tried to get my little brother to entertain him but they
ended up in the bath and Inuyasha came running back because the water was too hot. He
finally passed out on my bed while he was watching me, but only after aggravating me
for hours.”
Kikyou laughed softly. “He always was a persistent distraction.”
‘Persistent distraction. Yes, he is isn’t he.’
“Well, he certainly never lets you forget he’s there.”
“Inuyasha was never very good at stealth and secrecy. Every time he tried to steal
the jewel from me, I always knew he was there well before he ever moved.”
She giggled, knowing exactly what Kikyou meant, but also knowing that the
undead miko was wrong. She heard him because he let her hear him. Had Inuyasha been
serious about killing Kikyou to get the jewel, she would never have seen him coming. It
was only the fact that he didn’t really want to harm her that made him break his hanyou
silence.
It seemed very strange to be having such a conversation with Kikyou, and she
found herself biting her lip with uncertainty as the two of them walked down the familiar
path to the village.
“Is it really all right?” she asked finally. “For me to be with Inuyasha instead of
you?”
“He and I had our time. It is over now. He has a new life with you and the child
you are raising. Besides, you are me. If it were not for the witch Urasue, I would still be
inside of you, sleeping my dreamless sleep. So in that way, he is with me- the me in you.”
Kikyou’s words warmed her and some of her uncertainty faded as she smiled.
“Thank you. I’m... I’m glad. Inuyasha says you have been living at the temple
Zenko-ji. He says you have found peace and acceptance there.”
Kikyou nodded. “I have.”
“I’m glad. Will you return there after... or will you stay in the village for a
while?”
“I have not decided. Much will depend on Inuyasha’s wish and the aftermath.”
“I hope you’re right and a good and pure wish makes the jewel disappear.
Midoriko has been fighting the youkai souls inside the Shikon no Tama for so long. I
hope she’ll be able to find peace and go to her rest,” she said absently, holding the jewel
in her hand.
She didn’t see the look of surprise and quiet admiration cross Kikyou’s face as
she passed the undead miko and headed up the tall stairs that led to the shrine.
The scent of incense and purifying herbs was strong as they entered the shrine
grounds, and she found Miroku and Kaede deep in prayer.
“We are setting up a barrier that will, hopefully, keep out any intruders until after
the ritual is complete,” the monk explained when he had finished his prayer.
Kagome knelt next to him and nodded.
“Are you nervous, Kagome-sama?” he asked.
“About the wish?”
He nodded.
“No. I trust Inuyasha. I’ll be nervous until he gets here. Until the jewel is gone it’s
still attracting youkai and men with evil hearts, and I’m worried about what we will do if
we are attacked during the ritual.”
“The barrier will keep them out.”
“Out of here, but what about the village? With you, me, Inuyasha and Kaede all
here, who is left to defend the village? We’d need a barrier to cover the whole town
before it would be safe,” she said.
Miroku’s eyes rose up to look at Kikyou and the undead miko nodded. “Leave
that to me.”
‘Oh yeah, that’s right. Kikyou is strong enough to make a barrier big enough to
surround the village.’
“Kikyou-onee-sama,” Kaede greeted, ending her prayer.
“It appears that we are almost ready, does it not?” the undead miko replied.
“Hai. We have done all we can to protect the shrine and ensure that the jewel is
not tainted by evil before Inuyasha makes his wish.”
“I am going to erect a barrier to protect the village from youkai attacks while we
are occupied here,” Kikyou said.
Kaede nodded. “Then there will be three barriers. Yours, the houshi’s and mine. I
pray it will be enough. The jewel has brought evil to everyone who has tried to use it.”
Kikyou nodded, then knelt down to begin creating her barrier around the town.
Kagome watched her in fascination as she drew on her miko powers and wove the
threads of her energy to make a shimmering shield that grew steadily to encompass the
shrine, the surrounding forest and the village.
‘She is amazing. I could never hope to be so powerful...’ Kagome thought, a small
pang of jealousy touching her heart. She shoved it away quickly, but Miroku picked up
on it.
“There is nothing Kikyou-sama can do that you cannot. It is merely a matter of
desire and training. Kikyou also embraces her holy vocation whereas you do not. That is
the only difference between her abilities and yours,” the monk explained.
“I’ve never been able to create a barrier like that,” she replied.
Miroku raised one eyebrow. “Have you ever tried?”
She blinked. “No, not really.”
“Your powers were honed in combat. Kikyou-sama’s were honed in protection.
That is why she builds barriers and you concentrate on offensive tactics. I have no doubt
that you could create a barrier as strong and large as Kikyou-sama’s if you had to.”
She smiled at him, pleased by his faith in her. “Thank you, Miroku.”
The monk shrugged. “I speak nothing but the truth.”
“Kikyou is protecting the village. Kaede’s barrier protects the shrine. What does
your barrier do?”
“It keeps out anyone who has doubts and fear. All those who feel Inuyasha is a
hanyou who will ask to become a full youkai, or those who harbor ill-will towards him,
will be refused entry into the inner circle. We are trying very hard to protect the jewel
from being tainted,” Miroku answered.
She touched the jewel at her neck for the umpteenth time that morning and
swallowed hard. Did she harbor any doubts inside her? She felt down into her heart and
sighed.
‘No. In my heart, I know he will do the right thing.’
“I’ve been keeping it pure since this morning.”
Miroku ran a hand over the glowing bead and nodded. “It is as pure as I have ever
seen it. Has Inuyasha shared his wish with you?”
She shook her head. “No.”
“I am sure he just wants to surprise us, ne?”
She nodded. “He does love to keep his secrets. It makes him think he has one up
on us.”
Miroku smiled and chuckled softly. Then he pulled a small dokko from inside his
robes and held it between his palms. Kagome knew he was praying and pooling his
power into the holy object. Using the dokko instead of his Houriki allowed him to set the
anchor for the barrier in much the same way the ‘Living Buddha’ had done on Mt.
Hakurei and put it into the small object. He could then set the dokko wherever he chose
and it would hold the barrier in place without him having to be in physical contact with it.
The thought made Kagome smile. Miroku wouldn’t want to be preoccupied with
keeping the barrier up while Inuyasha was making his wish. The houshi was too
inquisitive not to witness something which would likely be a momentous event. In truth
probably half the village would have shown up for it if Kaede and the village headman
had not agreed to keep the ceremony a secret from the majority of the villagers. Oh,
they’d see the barrier of course, and probably come to the shrine to see what was going
on, but the headman had already placed guards at the shrine entrance. No one who did not
belong was going to get onto the shrine grounds before the ceremony was over.
When all was said and done, there were three consecutive barriers, each smaller
than the other and all linked to holy objects that powered them. The first was Kikyou’s
village barrier. The second was the barrier Kaede put around the entire shrine sanctuary.
The third was Miroku’s barrier that covered just the heart of the shrine. Anyone wishing
to witness the ceremony up close would have to pass through both barriers that protected
the shrine itself. Once Inuyasha arrived, they would stand in the center of the shrine
together and be surrounded by Miroku, Kikyou and Kaede who would pray for the
purification of the jewel until the end. It was a bit of overkill, she had to admit, but with
the Shikon no Tama involved, she didn’t know if such a thing as overkill was possible.
The jewel had been used for such evil, destruction and death, that she was glad to see the
great lengths that were being taken to protect the purity of it. Nothing was being left to
chance. Nothing was getting through. Nothing was going to interfere this time.
With the preparations made and the stage set, all that was left was to wait for
Inuyasha. Sango and Shippou arrived shortly after Miroku finished his barrier, and it
pleased Kagome to no end to see them pass through it without so much as a flicker from
the shield.
‘They have no doubts. For all their complaining and teasing, they trust Inuyasha
completely. Do they know how strange and wonderful that is? A kitsune and a taijiya
trusting and considering a hanyou as one of their own. Inuyasha should be so proud.’
“Ohayo,” she greeted as the two came to join her and Miroku. The houshi smiled
at his wife and she smiled back.
“Kagome-e-e!” Shippou cried happily and hopped into her arms.
“Shippou-chan. Sango-chan,” she said, smiling at them.
“We saw the barriers go up and knew it was almost time,” the fox kit explained.
Kagome nodded. “We are waiting for Inuyasha now.”
Sango was dressed in her full taijiya armor with hiraikotsu slung across her back.
“I came prepared to defend the shrine from youkai, but it looks like my services
won’t be needed,” she said.
Kagome grinned at the slight note of disappointment in her voice. Sango was
itching to get back to ‘work,’ but so far she’d had little opportunity to practice her craft.
Inuyasha was usually so swift and thorough in keeping the village youkai-free, present
company excluded of course, that very little ever got past him. The last time Sango had
used hiraikotsu it was to bring down a carrion-crow and that was a bit like using a cannon
to knock out a mosquito.
“Don’t worry, Sango-chan. You’re still welcome here. I know Inuyasha will be
happy to see all of you here to support him. He’ll be so proud to know you believe in him
and trust him so much.”
“Well, we were there almost from the beginning. It’s right that we be here at the
end,” Sango replied.
“I was the first one to join your group!” Shippou enthused.
She smiled and scratched his head. “I remember Shippou-chan.”
The kit looked contrite for a moment. “I tried to steal your shards and tricked
Inuyasha into getting his hand stuck under a statue.”
“You were trying to avenge your father. Both Inuyasha and I understand why you
did what you did.”
Sango sat down next to her and hugged her knees, a wistful look on her face. “It
seems like so long ago. Naraku possessing Kohaku and forcing him to kill Chichi-ue and
the others, and me, then blaming it on Inuyasha and sending me out to kill him. He
should have killed me then.”
“Inuyasha wouldn’t have done that. He knew you were being tricked by Naraku.”
Sango frowned and looked down. “Before I met Inuyasha, I never would have
believed that a hanyou could be good at heart, but… but he’s taught me that many of my
views about youkai were wrong.”
“Me too! I’m a youkai!” Shippou added.
Sango smiled at the kitsune. “You too Shippou.”
“Inuyasha has taught us many things about the nature of hanyous and humans,”
Miroku commented sagely. “And you, Kagome-sama, have taught us many things about
accepting people as they are, and about the power of love.”
She blushed under the praise. “I didn’t do anything special.”
“Inuyasha wouldn’t think so. I think he thinks your love for him is nothing short
of a miracle,” Miroku told her. “It will destroy him if you are forced to return to your
own time after the Shikon no Tama is gone.”
Kagome winced and shivered. “Kikyou believes the well will close and I’ll be
trapped here. But… but there is a chance that I’ll have to go back to my time and stay
there,” she admitted.
“You’re very special Kagome-chan. I hope… I hope you will always be with us,”
Sango said.
“Yes. We don’t want you to leave Kagome,” Shippou agreed.
She hugged the kit. “I hope I will be here with you too. But I don’t want the well
to close either. I want things to stay the way they are.”
Miroku sighed. “I think all of us wish for that at one time or another.”
Kagome nodded, trying very hard not to let her fears seep into the jewel. She
knew it would use anything it could, and she wasn’t about to help it any.
‘I wonder where Inuyasha is,’ she thought. ‘He should have finished feeding
Yukio by now.’
“Where is Kohaku?” she asked suddenly.
“He is watching Miyoko. He hates the Jewel and he knows it. The Shikon shard in
his back was what allowed Naraku to control him all that time, and he doesn’t want to be
anywhere near it. He did tell me that he hopes it disappears from this world forever so it
can’t hurt anyone else,” Sango replied.
Kagome nodded that she understood. “I hope so too.”
“Will Inuyasha be here soon, Kagome?” Shippou questioned.
“Yes. He had to feed Yukio and get dressed. Then he was going to come to the
shrine.”
The fox kit fidgeted. “I hope so. I’m getting anxious.”
She smiled. “I know, Shippou-chan.”
“It looks like everything is ready,” Sango noted, looking around.
“Yes. Kikyou has put up a barrier around the village. Kaede’s barrier protects the
whole shrine, and Miroku’s keeps anyone who has any doubts about Inuyasha or harbors
dark thoughts about him out of the center,” she explained.
“It certainly seems like you have everything under control,” Sango said.
“We hope so,” Miroku replied. “The Jewel is very sensitive and easily influenced.
We are trying very hard to protect it from corruption as much as possible.”
“I don’t think you can be too careful at this point,” Sango agreed.
“Well, you should be proud. You and Shippou passed through Miroku’s barrier
without any trouble. That means you both trust Inuyasha very much,” Kagome pointed
out.
Shippou crossed his arms and huffed, looking very much like Inuyasha in that
moment, “Yeah, well, I suppose Inuyasha is alright. Even though he is a meanie most of
the time.”
She giggled and petted the kitsune’s hair, earning her a happy smile.
Suddenly the shield gave a little “ZAP” noise and she swiftly turned her head to
see Myouga bouncing just outside of it as Kirara in her kitten form joined them. The
firecat mewed and sat next to Sango as Kagome frowned.
‘So the flea-youkai doesn’t trust Inuyasha. Why does this not surprise me?’
Rising to her feet, she walked over to the edge of the barrier.
“What? You can’t come in Myouga-jiichan?” she asked innocently, watching the
little youkai shake off the aftereffects of getting zapped.
“Kagome-sama! You are looking well today! I came to see the ceremony with
Inuyasha-sama. Would you let me in?”
She looked at the others who all looked back at her with amused expressions.
“I can’t do that, Myouga-jiichan. The barrier is keyed to keep out anyone who
doubts Inuyasha.”
Myouga hopped up and down angrily. “How can you say such things, Kagomesama? Long I have been Inuyasha-sama’s faithful servant!”
She narrowed her eyes. “Oh really. So I guess we just imagined you running off
every time Inuyasha got into trouble.”
The flea-youkai stopped hopping and looked dejected.
“It is true I run away, but that is because I am an old man and no good at fighting.
I would just be a burden to Inuyasha-sama if he had to worry about my safety.”
‘Yeah, right… The problem is Inuyasha probably would worry about Myouga’s
safety. Regardless of his cowardly actions, he is still pack and Inuyasha would protect
him.’
“Ahh, I see. How noble of you,” Miroku replied smoothly.
“Yes, yes. So you see I do trust Inuyasha-sama. Please let me in.”
“I am sorry. My barrier is very specific. If you cannot pass it is because you have
doubts in your heart. We must protect the jewel from being tainted. If it keeps you out, it
is because you are a danger.”
Myouga started hopping again. “That is not possible! I am Inuyasha-sama’s
faithful servant!”
“Is that so?” Inuyasha’s voice commented dryly.
‘Inuyasha!’
She looked up to see him approaching, Yukio in his arms. He was dressed in his
usual fire-rat clothing but today it looked different on him. Today it looked regal, like the
fine robes of the shogun, and she realized that it wasn’t so much the clothes but how he
was carrying himself. His head was up as he walked, his ears forward, and his steps were
steady and self-assured as if he knew exactly his purpose in life and what he was
supposed to do. He looked older, finer and more majestic than she had ever seen himeven with their son in his arms, and the mid-morning sun sparkled off his silver hair and
glowed in his golden eyes. In short, he took her breath away.
“Inuyasha-sama!” Myouga cried. “I must beg your forgiveness. The barrier will
not let me in.”
“Really?” the adult inu-hanyou answered.
Yukio blinked down at the flea-youkai. “Jiji!”
“Yukio-sama! Rude as ever,” Myouga scolded, then let out an “Urk!” as Inuyasha
stepped on him. “Oh, I feel so crushed…”
“Keh. Well, at least if you’re here it means you’re not afraid for your life so that
does make me feel better,” Inuyasha said, passing through the barrier to stand next to her.
“Kagome,” he whispered lovingly, and her name was a benediction.
“Inuyasha,” she replied, smiling at him.
“Okaa-san,” Yukio said, and she nuzzled him.
“Hello, baby. Were you good for Otou-san?”
“Yes.”
“That’s good. Now, Okaa-san and Otou-san are going to be very busy very soon,
and you’ll have to be a good pup.”
Yukio nodded. “Otou say I stay with Kirara and be quiet.”
She tickled him and gave him another smile. “That’s right. And it’s very
important that no matter what happens, you stay with Kirara and be a good pup. Okay?”
For a moment, Yukio looked worried and he chewed on his fist, but nodded.
“Okay.”
The others stood and gathered around.
“Inuyasha,” Miroku greeted with a little bow.
“Miroku,” he answered.
“Are you prepared for this?” the houshi asked.
Inuyasha looked at her, his face serious and mature. “Yeah, I’m ready.”
“Let us proceed then,” Miroku replied.
Inuyasha nodded, then looked to Kirara who mewed and then transformed into
her full firecat form. Yukio went without protest when his father gave him to the firecat
and she took him to stand next to Sango and Shippou as his parents moved to the center
of the shrine grounds.
Kagome and Inuyasha faced each other and Kikyou, Kaede and Miroku came to
stand around them in a triangle. Within the perimeter of the innermost barrier, Sango,
Shippou, Kirara and Yukio bore witness. On the outside of the third shield but still on the
shrine grounds, waited the rest of the spectators: Myouga, the village headman and three
of his guards. Inuyasha gave her a reassuring smile.
“Nervous?” he asked.
She smiled at him. “Not now that you’re here.”
“That’s my Kagome. She always has such faith in me. She’s what allows me to be
so strong.”
Around them, the two mikos and the houshi began to pray, surrounding them with
purifying energy. Kagome took the Shikon no Tama from around her neck and offered it
to Inuyasha.
“I love you. I trust you,” she told him.
He gave her a tender smile, his eyes soft and swimming with emotion as he lifted
his hands to cup her own, placing the jewel in the cradle of their palms.
“Thank you,” he whispered.
She nodded and waited for him to make his wish.
“I’ve given this a lot of thought,” he began. “I have no need to be a full youkai
because you’ve taught me how to accept myself as a hanyou. I have no need to be human
for the same reasons. Besides I don’t want to be a youkai or a human, I just want to be
me. All I really want is to live in peace with you in the house I build and raise our pups,
and I don’t need a wish on the jewel for that.
“The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I don’t want anything from
this jewel. It’s done nothing but bring evil to anyone who’s ever used it, and no one has
ever tried to use it for good. Even those who might have had noble intentions in the
beginning, had those intentions twisted by the youkai souls in it. What I really want from
this thing is for it to go away and stop bringing pain to everyone who touches it. And
that’s why I chose the wish that I did.”
He paused after his explanation and there was a moment of tense silence, then he
took a deep breath, wrapped their hands around the Shikon no Tama and began to speak
loudly and clearly.
“I wish for Midoriko to win her battle with the youkai souls inside this jewel, and
for her to bless my mating with Kagome so that we may be together in love for as long as
we both shall live.”
He stopped speaking and the jewel began to glow pink, then pure white, the light
growing brighter and brighter until it was too bright to see and they all had to shield their
eyes. At some point Kagome and Inuyasha realized that the Shikon no Tama was no
longer in their hands and a brief panic ensued.
“Inuyasha! The jewel!” she cried.
“I know. It’s okay.”
She grabbed for him, blinded by the bright light that engulfed them and she felt
him wrap his arms around her.
“I’m here. I’ll always be here,” his voice comforted.
“And peace be with you both,” came a new, strange voice.
The light faded and the group saw that a new figure had joined them. She was
translucent and dressed in ancient armor.
“Midoriko,” Miroku breathed, recognizing the spirit.
“Midoriko?” Kagome repeated, shrinking in Inuyasha’s embrace.
The spirit looked at the hanyou and gave him a soft smile. Kagome felt Inuyasha
shiver under the mild gaze.
“Inuyasha. It seems that you have grown in the years you have searched to
complete the Shikon no Tama. No longer do you wish to become a full youkai,” the
ancient miko said.
“Bah! I’m strong enough as it is, and that jewel never brought anyone anything
but misery and pain. If I’d wished to become a full youkai, I know I would have lost
myself and run rampant,” he answered truthfully.
The spirit nodded, her eyes wise and approving.
“In all my years of fighting, in the centuries of my chosen imprisonment, always
those who possessed the jewel wished upon it either purity or power. None have ever
wished it love. It seems that a ‘lowly hanyou’ has finally found the true key to the jewel I
created so long ago. It was never about purity or power. Those things are fleeting and
cannot last. But love. Love is eternal.”
Inuyasha did a double take. “Eh?? But I didn’t. I wished for you to win, that’s
all!”
The ancient miko gave him a sardonic smile. “Are you sure? Did you not also
wish for me to bless your union with your beloved so that you might, as you said, ‘be
together in love for as long as we both shall live’? Is that not a wish in and of itself?”
The hanyou sputtered, but Kagome was catching on. “So you mean…?”
Midoriko nodded. “The youkai souls would have their say, and theirs is to grant
you both the same life.”
“So I’ll live as long as Inuyasha?”
“In a manner of speaking, yes.”
“But that’s not what I meant!” Inuyasha argued.
Kagome turned to him, hurt. “You mean you aren’t happy that I will now live as
long as you will, and we can grow old together because I won’t die centuries before you
do?”
The hanyou looked trapped between a rock and a hard place. “That’s not what I
meant either!”
“Whether that was your true intention or not, that was how your wish was
interpreted. Now that the jewel is gone, there is no taking it back,” Midoriko said.
“It’s gone? Is it really?” Kagome asked hopefully.
The ancient miko nodded. “The Shikon no Tama is no more.”
Kagome clapped her hands happily. “Oh! Oh, I’m so glad. You can go to your
rest now and find peace.”
“That is one of the paths that lay before me.”
Midoriko looked at Inuyasha, her eyes wise and gentle. “However, there was
another wish you wanted to make, but you had to make a choice because you could only
make one.”
The hanyou swallowed hard and nodded, but stayed silent.
“You wished you could see your first love restored to a living body so that she
would not be forced to subsist on the souls of the dead.”
Inuyasha lowered his gaze and nodded slowly. “Kikyou… Kikyou deserves better
than a life like… that.”
“Inuyasha…” both Kagome and Kikyou breathed in unison.
Midoriko turned to the undead miko. “We are sisters, you and I,” she said. “Our
souls were cut from the same cloth. Both of us were dedicated to a life of service and
sacrifice, with no thoughts for our own needs and desires. Forever alone we were, kept
apart from others because we were different. Both of us were betrayed by evil men who
sought to possess us. There is no one who knows your heart better than I, my sister, my
twin.
“I am not ready to go to my rest. I offer you then, the whole of me within you. In
doing so, the last of my power shall become yours, and both of us shall live again in one
body.”
“You suggest a merger?” Kikyou replied, blinking.
Midoriko nodded. “To do so you would have to release the souls that do not
belong to you, but I would replace them with mine and the purified remainder of the
youkai souls within me.”
Kikyou touched her chest. “I would live again?”
“We would share the body in eternal life. Forever together and never alone.”
“I…”
“Kikyou…” Inuyasha whispered.
“Yes,” the undead miko replied, answering the spirit’s question.
The ancient miko smiled and nodded. “So be it.”
Kikyou closed her eyes as Midoriko became a bright, glowing ball of light, which
then flew into Kikyou’s chest. Kikyou’s body jerked from the impact, then countless
souls burst forth from her form, streaking off in every direction. One came straight at
Kagome and slammed into her, making her gasp and fall to her knees.
“Kagome!” Inuyasha cried, kneeling beside her and taking her into his arms as
she recovered from the shock.
“My soul… my soul is whole again…” she panted, clutching her chest.
“Are you alright?”
“Yes.”
They turned their attention to Kikyou, who was now floating several inches above
the ground, encompassed in a brilliant glow. She remained suspended there for several
moments, then she landed softly and sank to the ground, the glow fading.
“Kikyou?” Inuyasha asked nervously after a minute of tense waiting.
Dark eyes opened and the miko slowly sat up. She seemed confused and looked at
her hands, then touched her chest over her heart.
“Our heart beats,” she said.
“Kikyou-sama? Midoriko-sama?” Miroku questioned, offering a hand.
“We are here.”
“Kikyou-onee-sama?” Kaede added.
“Kikyou is no more. Midoriko is no more. We are one. We have merged. We
are… Midorikyou.”
“Midorikyou,” they all breathed.
Slowly, with Miroku’s help, the miko who had once been Kikyou rose to her
shaky feet. Inuyasha, still on the ground holding Kagome, looked up at her with a mixture
of deep sadness and bittersweet joy.
“Kikyou…” he whispered so softly that only Kagome heard him.
Midorikyou looked at the hanyou and his mate.
“We loved you. We thank you for everything you tried to do for us.” She put out
her hands and they glowed white with power. “We bless your union. May you live in love
and happiness for as long as you both shall live.”
Kagome felt the power surge into her and was almost brought to tears by it. It
wrapped around her and Inuyasha like a comforting blanket, then sank into them, making
their skin tingle.
“The ceremony is over. The Shikon no Tama is gone. Go in peace,” the miko
announced.
As if to emphasize her point, the barrier around the village abruptly disappeared.
It was then that they realized that a crowd had gathered outside the shrine grounds, and
both Kaede and Miroku dropped their barriers, letting them in. Inuyasha helped Kagome
to her feet, supporting her because she was still a little wobbly.
“Are you sure you’re alright, Kagome?” he asked.
She smiled at him. “Yes, I’m sure.”
“Kagome!” Shippou cried and hopped onto her shoulder.
“Oi! Be careful!” Inuyasha warned.
“Oh, sorry, sorry! Are you alright Kagome?”
She nodded and smiled at the kit. “I think so, Shippou-chan.”
“Okaa-san! Otou-san!” Yukio exclaimed as Kirara brought him over to them.
Kagome bent down and picked up her son, holding him close as he hugged her.
“Otou and Okaa gone! I scared!”
“But you were good and stayed quiet, and here we are all safe and sound,” she
assured him with a kiss.
Inuyasha reached over and rubbed Yukio’s ears.
“I’m proud of you, pup. You were a real man.”
Yukio beamed at his father.
“Well, that was exciting,” Sango said as she joined them.
“I can’t believe it’s all over,” Kagome admitted. “And Kikyou merging with
Midoriko. I never suspected that!”
They looked over to where Midorikyou was standing surrounded by Miroku,
Kaede, the village headman and a number of other villagers.
“I think it was what they both wanted,” Sango commented.
“Yeah, and now Kikyou is alive again and doesn’t need souls anymore,” Shippou
added.
“And your lifespan, Kagome, that’s wonderful. I had worried for Inuyasha. Inuyoukai mate for life and they are very loyal. I knew you would die many centuries before
he did and I feared he would suffer from terrible grief,” the taijiya said.
She took Inuyasha’s hand and squeezed happily. “I know. I was worried about
that too.”
“You were?” Inuyasha asked, surprised.
She looked at him and smiled lovingly. “Of course. I knew your life would be
much longer than mine, and I kept thinking about how you would have to live without me
once I was gone. Now we can look forward to growing old together. Does that make you
happy?”
He smiled back, shyly. “Yes. That makes me happy. I… I was resigned to losing
you in a few short decades, watching your hair turn silver like mine, and your face grow
old while mine stayed young. I’m… I’m glad that you will be with me now until we are
both old.”
“Now you just need to finish that house of yours so she can make a proper
husband out of you,” Sango teased.
“Proper? Inuyasha will never be proper!” Shippou said, then ducked behind
Kagome’s shoulder.
“Oi!” the adult hanyou growled, threatening the kit.
“Kagome-e-e-e!” Shippou cried as he tried to run.
“Inuyasha, osuwari.”
“Gah!” he gasped as he hit the stone pavement of the shrine.
Yukio looked down at his father and giggled.
“You may never be proper, Inuyasha, but I love you just the way you are,”
Kagome cooed, soothing his ruffled pride.
“Keh!” he snorted as he stood up. His face and mouth said he was angry, but he
put his arm around her which told her all was forgiven.
“So? What now?” Kagome asked.
“I know the villagers have prepared a feast. Someone must have told them about
the ceremony because the village was buzzing with activity this morning,” Sango replied.
“I think we will all go back to Kaede’s hut to eat. I should also go get Kohaku and my
daughter.”
“Kagome, do you… do you want to check the well?” Inuyasha offered tentatively.
She shuddered. The well. So far, it didn’t look like she was going to get dragged
back to the Modern Era and forced to stay there, but she was half afraid to go near the
well just in case she had to be in close proximity for it to grab her. If she was going to be
tossed back to modern Tokyo, or trapped in the past, she wanted it to be after she had
more time with her family and friends.
“No,” she replied, shaking her head. “We can do it later. For now, I just want to
be with you and our life in this time and be happy.”
He smiled and kissed her. “I love you, Kagome.”
“I love you too, Inuyasha. So very much. And I look forward to telling you that
every day for the next what… six hundred or so years?”
He gave her a silly grin and a little shrug. “Nine hundred at least, maybe more. I
dunno how long hanyous live. I never knew one that made it out of adolescence.”
“Well, I look forward to finding out together.”
“Me too.”
At that moment, Inuyasha’s stomach growled and they all chuckled.
“C’mon. Let’s go get that bottomless pit of yours fed,” she teased, taking him by
the arm and gently leading the way.
“Ramen?” he asked.
“I’ll see what I can do,” she replied, hooking her arm through his as they walked
side-by-side off of the shrine grounds.
Chapter Thirty-Four
There was a catch. With the Shikon no Tama, there was always a catch. In
Inuyasha and Kagome’s case, there were three. The first they found out that evening
when it was discovered that the well had indeed closed, and not even Inuyasha could pass
through any longer. This came as a bit of a blow, but Kagome wasn’t completely
surprised, and she’d already said her good-byes to her family in anticipation of not being
able to return. She comforted herself in knowing that the reason there was no message in
the well was because she and Inuyasha were still alive in Modern Japan, and they would
probably be visiting her mother at the shrine some 450 years in the future. For her it
would be almost five centuries. For her mom, it would probably only be a few weeks.
Inuyasha finished the house and the two of them were married in a simple
ceremony officiated by Kaede and Miroku. The ritual was a primitive version of what
would become the traditional Shinto wedding, but not the actual ceremony Kagome had
come to recognize as the norm in Japan. That ceremony would not be performed until the
early 1900’s when it was standardized by the Shinto priests as the official wedding ritual.
Still, she was dressed in a white Shiro-maku and headdress that had been made with
loving care by the village women, and even Inuyasha had been coerced out of his fire-rat
and into formal wedding attire made from midnight blue fabric with gold trim that was a
gift from the daimyo and the village headman. During the ceremony they exchanged
vows and cups, but no rings. The giving of rings was a modern custom and did not exist
in the Sengoku Jidai. Inuyasha pledged his unfailing fidelity and love, and Kagome
couldn’t help but cry as she added her name to the marriage promises.
The ceremony was attended only by their core group and Yukio of course, who
was given the honor of holding his mother’s wedding fan during the ceremony. He was a
dutiful little angel dressed in a brand new set of fire-rat clothing that matched his father’s
normal clothes almost exactly. The resemblance to Inuyasha was uncanny and no one
could tell that the boy wasn’t Inuyasha’s biological son. Afterward, they attended a
wedding feast held in their honor and Kagome made the last of the ramen noodles she
had from their final shopping trip back in the Modern Era. Inuyasha fretted that he would
have to wait almost five centuries before he could have the treat again.
That night was the first night they spent together in the brand new house.
Inuyasha had refused to cross the threshold with her until they were lawfully husband and
wife, maintaining some small semblance of propriety if only for the benefit of the
villagers. Kagome had seen the house while it was being built, and had often toured it
with Sango or Miroku, but never had she and Inuyasha been inside it together. True to his
word, it was a veritable palace by the village’s standards. It had three decent-sized
bedrooms with their own sliding shoji, two common rooms, and a bathing room with a
huge tub and an adjacent boiler. It even had a quasi-toilet that could be flushed and
refilled with a bucket that was kept right next to it. The waste was sluiced down a
wooden tube that emptied into the house latrine located a short distance away. The house
was the marvel of the village and even the daimyo himself wanted some of its design for
his own palace in Edo, thus Inuyasha’s skills as an architect became highly prized and
desired. In exchange for his building talents, Inuyasha brokered a gift of land that would
eventually become the grounds of the Higurashi shrine.
After the wedding feast was over and the newlyweds were escorted to their new
home with smiles and well-wishes, Inuyasha and Kagome settled Yukio into his brand
new bedroom, on his own brand new futon, with brand new blankets, pillows and yukata.
Then they closed the shoji on the forlorn little figure sitting all alone on the huge new
bed, eyes blinking sadly as they abandoned him, and Inuyasha carried her to their own
bedroom at the other end of the house to celebrate their wedding night.
Hours later, after they had finished consummating their marriage and they had
settled down for some much needed rest, they heard the tell-tale shick of a shoji and the
patter, patter, patter of little feet hurrying towards them, then the shick of a second shoji
and the patter, patter, patter of little feet until Yukio plopped down on the futon with
them and began burrowing under the blankets.
“Oi!” Inuyasha had complained. “What do you think you’re doing, pup?”
Yukio had looked confused and rather put out. “What? You got quiet. I’m
allowed now.”
Kagome had gasped then groaned as she flushed beet red and buried her head
under the covers. Never before had it been so clear that their son not only knew what they
were up to, but had actually been waiting for them to finish so he could join them.
Inuyasha had just fumed, then sighed and gave his son a pat on the head. Yukio spent the
rest of the night with them.
The second catch they would learn about a few months after the wedding when
Inuyasha was gravely wounded during a surprise attack on the village. What they had
thought to be only one youkai had turned out to be two, and the second managed to get
behind Inuyasha and take a chunk out of him. Kagome, who had been fighting her own
battle with the first youkai along with Sango and Miroku, suddenly collapsed and could
not be revived. It was then that they discovered that the youkai souls in the Shikon no
Tama had been serious when they fulfilled the wish ‘for as long as they both shall live.’
Inuyasha, close to death, was placed next to his mate who also clung to life by a
thread, and it soon became clear that Inuyasha and Kagome’s lives were intrinsically
linked and one would not live without the other. As soon as Inuyasha began to claw his
way back from the brink, Kagome improved as well, and soon it was as if she had never
been near death at all. The incident shook both of them to their very cores, and Inuyasha
spent the better part of a day cursing and ranting about how this was why he wanted
nothing to do with the Jewel or its twisted wishes.
In the end, however, it meant two things. One: They had stopped aging and would
forever be the physical age they were when the wish was made. And two: If one died,
they both died, and Inuyasha had to learn the hard lesson that to protect Kagome he also
had to protect himself. This severely curtailed much of his recklessness which, in the
minds of everyone but Inuyasha himself, was a welcome change.
The third catch they wouldn't discover until almost two years later and it wasn't so
much a catch as it was a cruel twist of fate. It had nothing to do with the Shikon no Tama
or its warped wishes, and everything to do with hanyou physiology.
When Yukio turned two, they decided that it was time to give him a baby brother
or sister to play with, and Inuyasha made a great show of burning their remaining
condoms, vowing to never wear the hated sheaths again. But after almost a year of trying
to conceive a pup with no success, it became apparent that hanyous, like so many mixedblood cross-breeds, were sterile.
Inuyasha actually took the news harder than Kagome, and he mourned silently for
weeks. One of his dearest desires was to raise a family with Kagome and the reality that
he might never sire his own pup weighed heavily on him. He had known from his own
travels that no one had ever seen or heard of a hanyou having a child, but he had always
thought that was because hanyous weren't supposed to find mates and have families in
the first place. He had never realized that the real reason there were no hanyou-sired
children was because they couldn't have them.
His infertility did not mean, however, that their home lacked children. The
opposite was actually true because word spread of the hanyou Inuyasha and his village,
and their house became the place to bring unwanted hanyou pups. The raising of these
abandoned lostlings would become their primary task over the next 450 years.
The first came still in the womb. A gruff man arrived with his daughter who had
been raped by a bat-youkai much like the ones who had terrorized Shiori and her mother.
Discrete inquiries had confirmed that the child was indeed a product of rape and not the
indignant assumptions of a prejudiced father, and the young woman gave birth to a
healthy baby boy three months later. Kagome and Kaede were present at the birth and
acted as the woman's midwives. At the mother's request, they took the newborn away
immediately and removed him from the hut. Four days after her child's birth, she and her
father left the village. The girl hadn't even asked to see her son. Later they would learn
that she had killed herself by jumping off a cliff on the way home.
Inuyasha named the boy Tomo and they took him as their own son. Kagome
induced lactation by letting him nurse and her milk came in within a week just as it had
done for Yukio. Yukio, then almost three, was overjoyed to have a baby brother to look
after and fussed over the infant almost as much as his mother did. The boy had silverwhite hair that looked like his big brother's until it was seen in sunlight, then it became
apparent that the hair wasn't silver or white, but pearlescent and reflected subtle hues of
blue, lavender, pink and peach depending on the lighting conditions. He was very fine
boned and delicate looking like Shiori had been, and he had the same dark skin and white
irises. His personality was mild, although he had a temper when sufficiently pushed, and
he was lithe, quick and loved the wind. Inuyasha took a special trip to see Shiori and her
mother in order to learn more about the unique powers and qualities of a bat-hanyou so
they would know what to expect when Tomo got older.
The next hanyou came when Yukio was five. This one was the offspring of a
human man and a water-sprite, and he came by way of the river flowing next to the
village. He washed up on shore one morning, a babe of four to five months wrapped in a
blanket and placed in a floating basket. There was a note from his mother explaining that
he could not live in his mother's watery world and life on land was too dangerous for him
where he was. She had named her son Jounou, but Inuyasha changed it to Kawaro which
meant 'river son’ and they accepted him as their third child. The boy loved water and his
adoptive parents were hard pressed to keep him out of it. They discovered that, while he
could not actually breathe underwater, he could hold his breath for much longer than a
normal human and he could see, hear and navigate in water much better than a human.
His most striking features aside from his pale blue hair were his webbed fingers and toes.
When Yukio was six he got his first little sister. Unlike his other two siblings,
however, this one was not a hanyou, but a full blooded neko-youkai kitten. The kitten's
parents had been killed in a dispute over territory, and the humans who killed them
apparently had no stomach for murdering helpless infants so they brought the baby girl to
Kagome. The kitten looked very much like the red-headed neko-youkai who had been
with the group of neko-youkai who had attacked Sesshoumaru. She had the same flaming
red hair that was redder than Shippou’s and bright green eyes.
Kagome named the kitten Eri in honor of her junior high school friend and
proudly presented her to her brothers. When Yukio sniffed her she hissed and took a
swipe at him with her clawed hands. He growled at her and jumped back in the nick of
time. It was love at first sight. Over the years the inu-hanyou and the neko-youkai would
take great delight in tormenting each other as they grew older, and often the villagers
would see the spry redhead running, giggling manically, as she was being chased by a
very angry inu-hanyou pup.
For all their bravado however, the two were siblings and fiercely protected each
other. Years later when some neko-youkai who had heard about the kitten came to take
her to live with her own kind, Yukio had been the one to raise the alarm. The nekoyoukai had thought they were doing Eri a favor by offering to take her with them, but she
had caterwauled so loudly and had been defended so viciously by her adopted family,
that they left her with those who obviously loved her very much and whom she also loved
a great deal.
More unwanted, abandoned and orphaned hanyous would come to them over the
decades that they were married, and all in all they raised thirty-three children over the
course of three centuries, thirty-two of which were hanyous. The children came from all
corners of Japan and were all manner of cross-breeds. There was a bird-hanyou, Mariko,
with feathers instead of hair and a beak in the place where her nose and mouth should be,
and a monkey-hanyou, Ranma, who was covered in hair and could leap from tree to tree
as easily as breathing. There were two more inu-hanyous, a boy named Miroku in honor
of their dear departed friend and a girl named Izayoi after Inuyasha’s mother, and a
delicate but strong and fierce neko-hanyou was named Sango in memory of the taijiya
who was Kagome’s best friend and sister in the Sengoku Jidai.
Most of the children were brought as babies or toddlers, but one wolf-hanyou,
Ryoukan, came as a six year-old. The boy had witnessed the slaughter of his entire pack
at the hands of humans and he never felt comfortable living among or even close to them.
When Ryoukan was twelve and it was obvious that he was very unhappy in spite of the
fact that he loved his adoptive mother, even though she was human, Inuyasha sent word
to his once rival, Kouga of the Northern Cave. The wolf-youkai lord had mellowed quite
a bit with fatherhood and maturity, and had reconciled with Inuyasha and Kagome over
the years. He agreed to take the wolf-hanyou boy and raise him with the northern pack. It
was the greatest sacrifice his adoptive parents could make for their son’s happiness.
In addition to the children, older hanyous who had heard of Inuyasha’s village
came seeking a place to belong. Inuyasha allowed them to stay as long as they agreed to
protect the village and live in peace, and soon there was a thriving community of hanyous
adding color, talent and enrichment to the little village that wasn’t quite so little anymore.
The villagers, under Kaede, the village headman, and the revered miko
Midorikyou’s direction, accepted the newcomers as long as they lived peacefully, and the
village benefited greatly from their presence. Soon it became the norm to have a hanyou
as a neighbor and the two groups became a diverse whole. There were friendships,
cooperatives and marriages that came from the melding of the two worlds, but of course
there were no children, providing more evidence to the belief that hanyous were
incapable of reproducing.
Through it all Yukio grew in mind and body. He stood taller than his father and
was of a lighter build, but he possessed the same strength and easy grace. He had both of
his parents’ intelligence and quick-thinking, none of his father’s gruffness, and all of his
mother’s all-encompassing ability to love. Inuyasha taught him how to track and hunt,
fight, strategize and negotiate while his mother taught him tolerance, patience and the
importance of listening. And while his life was not completely without prejudice and
hate, he always had the safe haven and love of his family to ease his wounded heart. Of
all of the children, he was the one who stuck closest to home, and always visited often
even when he no longer lived in his parents’ house.
He loved and accepted each of his siblings, and was Aniki to all of them, even Eri
who would rather pull his ears than pay any attention to him. Firstborn and the
undisputed beta of the pack, all the children looked to him if their parents were not
available, or if they needed an intersession on their behalf, especially with their father.
Yukio, of all of them, had Inuyasha’s ear, and if anyone could bring the elder inu-hanyou
to reason and agreement, it was him. His siblings would rally to his cry and follow him
anywhere because he always protected them as fiercely as their father.
When he was eleven, Inuyasha gave him his first sword. It was a lightweight
katana made by a hanyou sword-smith in the village and imbued with protective youki.
His father taught him how to use it, instilling in him a respect for the blade and the
damage it could do. At this time he had four siblings (Tomo, Kawaro, Eri and his
mother’s newest baby, a moth-youkai girl his parents had named Yuka) and he practiced
his moves with eight year-old Tomo under Inuyasha’s watchful eye.
When he turned sixteen, his father disappeared and his uncle Sesshoumaru came
to act as the village protector in Inuyasha’s absence. The reserved taiyoukai would not set
foot in the village so Yukio went out to the forest where the inu-youkai lord stayed, but
Sesshoumaru refused to tell him where his father had gone. Finally after ten days,
Inuyasha returned and the reason for his unexplained absence became apparent. In his
hands he held a sword forged by the great youkai sword-smith Toutousai with a sheath
made from a branch from Bokusenou. It was Tessaiga’s equal and was made from
Inuyasha’s own fang. It was named very simply Kenshuga- Dog Protecting Fang and had
powers and attacks similar to Tessaiga forged into it.
Yukio’s hands shook when he accepted the gift and he held the sword close to his
chest. Of all the things his father could ever give him, Kenshuga was the greatest and
most telling. He gave his old katana to Tomo although the slight boy would probably
make a much better archer than a swordsman, and kept Kenshuga by his side day and
night. For weeks no one, not even Eri, could wipe the proud grin from his face.
The years passed and the children grew. The humans around them grew and aged
as well, as was to be expected. Kaede died a scant six years after Inuyasha and Kagome
were married, but thankfully the old miko had passed on the vast majority of her
knowledge to Kagome and she was able to step in as the village doctor. Miroku took over
the shrine duties, and Midorikyou came down from Zenko-ji to train two new mikos to
assist him. The once undead miko who was now the merger of two powerful holy women
was revered by youkai, hanyous, and humans alike and she ministered to all of them
equally. What some had once feared would be the creation of a monster had become a
beloved icon for peace, purity and love. Once the new mikos were ready, she returned to
her home in Zenko-ji and they wouldn’t see her again for a number of years.
Miroku and Sango had five healthy children: two daughters and three sons, all of
whom inherited their parents’ good looks and intelligence. Miyoko and Sakura became
mikos of the shrine when they came of age, while the boys Hiroshi and Jiro became
demon exterminators like their mother and Yasuo, the youngest son, followed in his
father’s footsteps and joined the monastery. Years later, Inuyasha would gift them the
land he was given by the daimyo to preserve it as a shrine after the unification of Japan
when he moved his family to the Western Lands during Oda Nobunaga’s attempts to
bring Japan under one sword.
The ambitious, ruthless general from Owari attacked the holy Buddhist monks of
Mt. Hiei in 1571, destroying their monastery and killing thousands. Yasuo was not of that
order, but he was affiliated with them, and Miroku feared for his son’s life. Inuyasha took
the boy and three Mt. Hiei monks who had managed to escape Nobunaga’s clutches to
Sesshoumaru where the Lord of the Western Lands was still respected and feared.
History would say that Nobunaga had been successful in completely destroying the Mt.
Hiei monks, but that was not entirely true. The three Inuyasha took to safety would go
underground and continue to fulfill their duties quietly, waiting for a time when their
order would rise again. The hanyou would not move his family back to Musashi until
after Nobunaga’s successor, Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s death in 1598.
Thanks to Kagome’s schooling, they knew the history of Japan and had
foreknowledge of who would be victorious and the outcome of major events. This
allowed them to forge alliances and avoid disaster as the Sengoku Jidai came to an end.
Numerous times Inuyasha would seek refuge in the stronghold of his father’s house
where Sesshoumaru, recognizing the advantages of fostering someone who knew the
future, would benefit from Kagome’s knowledge even as he provided his brother and his
growing brood with sanctuary. Their secret allowed Inuyasha and those closely
associated with him, to quietly rise in the ranks of power and influence. Later Kagome’s
knowledge of businesses and brands popular in modern Japan would guide them towards
shrewd investing and the accumulation of significant wealth.
As for the other members of their extended family, life proceeded for them in
much the same way it had. Sango and Miroku, being human, were limited to the span of
their mortal lifetimes, and while Kagome missed her friends dearly, Inuyasha knew she
was secretly glad to be among youkai and hanyous who did not age as quickly. Being
practically immortal as she was, she had to reconcile herself with the reality that humans
withered and died, but sometimes it was difficult for her when she knew the person.
Thankfully she was spared watching the houshi and taijiya age for the majority of their
older lives because she and Inuyasha were in the Western Lands. By the time they were
called back to Musashi in 1599, Miroku and Sango were already in their seventies.
Sango’s brother, Kohaku never fully recovered from his ordeal with Naraku,
although he did marry and father two beautiful children. Masumi did much to heal the
young man’s tortured soul and he loved his sons very much, but his life was fated to end
in tragedy. When a youkai-led gang of bandits attacked the village, the leader must have
known Kohaku’s history and sought to use it to his own advantage. Believing the young
man to be easily controlled, he tried to seize hold of Kohaku’s mind, but rather than be
enslaved against his will and forced to hurt those he loved, Kohaku turned his chain
scythe on himself and slit his own throat.
Sango, in a murderous, grieving rage, was the one to bring the youkai down at
Inuyasha’s insistence, and Masumi and her sons became part of Miroku’s family until the
monk’s death of old age in 1604. Sango followed him two years later in 1606. At that
time, Inuyasha stepped forward and vowed to look after all of the descendants of the
houshi, Sango, and Kohaku. In the mid-1800’s Miroku and Sango’s great-great-greatgreat-great-great granddaughter married Higurashi Kaemon and they became the first
caretakers of the Higurashi shrine in the newly renamed city of Tokyo that had expanded
over the years to assimilate the once little village. It shook Kagome to no end to know
that her family was the direct descendants of the monk and taijiya she had known and
loved.
Shippou grew up and stayed with Inuyasha until he found his own mate when he
was close to a century old. He mated with a lovely kitsune vixen who had no prejudice
against hanyous, and the two built a den near the village and raised a family there. Their
kits played with all of Inuyasha’s adopted children, as well as all the human children in
the village. He and his brood did much to foster goodwill and relations between kitsunes,
humans and hanyous.
In the mid-1700’s the attitude towards hanyous, at least in the youkai
communities, began to change. It became apparent that the time of the youkai was
waning and being replaced by the Age of Man, and if youkai wanted to survive, they
would have to learn how to get along and assimilate into human culture. Hanyous served
as a bridge between the two worlds, and the children who were once considered
abominations were now prized. As a result, Kagome and Inuyasha received their last
hanyou orphan, the rarest of all the hanyous- a dragon-hanyou- in 1785.
Tetsukazu was his name, and he came with it. He was a toddler of two, out of
diapers and already showing great power. His dragon father was dead, as was his human
mother, and his human relatives were terrified of him. They were afraid to kill him, and
afraid to seek another dragon to raise him so they brought him to Inuyasha and Kagome
and left him on their doorstep.
The boy was frightening in his intensity. He looked alarmingly human except
when you looked closer and saw that instead of skin he had miniscule little scales along
his neck, chest and abdomen. His nails were black claws and his hair was a jet black that
cascaded over his head and ran down in a ridge to the middle of his shoulder blades. His
face was human, but his eyes were a striking violet and his thin lips hid a set of deadly
reptilian fangs. His physical appearance, however, was not what struck fear into the
hearts of men. No, it was that he was born with the Sight of dragons and the power of
their ancient blood. From the time he could speak he was looking into the hearts of
mortals and telling them their Fate. He could also conjure a fireball at will and control
thunderstorms and lightning. He was by far the most powerful of all the hanyous
Inuyasha and Kagome had raised, and yet the one who needed their unconditional love
and acceptance the most.
To say that Inuyasha and Kagome were model parents was not entirely accurate.
Like all parents, they made mistakes and regretted them, but they did their best to do right
by all of their children, a task that was no small feat considering the staggering diversity
of the hanyous they had raised. What could be said about them was that they were
completely and totally devoted to each other and to their family, and it was this
unwavering love and support that set them apart. Both of them were adored by all of their
children, even Ryoukan, and every single one of them could be counted upon if the call
went out to rally the family.
No one doubted that Kagome would be an excellent mother because she took to
child-rearing so naturally. It was this ingrained predisposition towards children and
medicine that led her to become one of the most respected youkai and hanyou pediatric
doctors in the world. Her knowledge and experience from raising so many hanyous of so
many different lineages gave her a significant advantage in treating hanyou patients, and
her skills were in high demand in the secret, underground world the youkai had created
within human society.
The biggest surprise to anyone who didn’t really know him was Inuyasha.
Inuyasha, while firm and strict at times, loved each and every one of his adopted children
as if they were his own flesh and blood, and he protected them as viciously as any alpha
male defending his pack. He was a wealth of support and comfort to all of his “pups”
although overt physical affection was usually limited to his wife. Gruff and easily
irritated, the children grew up knowing their father was a hard task-master but fair, just
and honorable. They knew he would never lie to any of them, and would always tell them
plainly exactly what he thought they should do. His punishments were handed out
swiftly, but were never excessive and he never once beat any of them. Still, the children
held a healthy respect for his temper, and their mother’s ability to soothe it.
Like any good leader, he made sure that all the members of his “pack” were fed,
housed and cared for. His generosity was legendary, and he had been known to give away
his last bit of food or drink of water to anyone who needed it. He gave aid whenever it
was asked for, provided the cause was just, and defended those weaker than himself
against youkai and ambitious humans with evil in their hearts. He stood behind each of
his children, a respected patriarch who would step in only when asked, and woe betide
anyone who hurt any one of them. For a hanyou who was incapable of siring children, he
had fostered more lostlings and was called ‘father’ by more individuals than any other
hanyou in the history of Japan.
To each son he gave a sword made from his own fang and customized by
Toutousai to fit the unique needs of each boy. The only lack in the swords was their
names. Inuyasha, never very creative, simply named them Kenshuga and then the number
of the sword, so Tomo received Ni-kenshuga, Kawaro got San-kenshuga, Seto was given
Shi-kenshuga, and so on all the way up to Kenshuga the fourteenth, which was gifted to
Tetsukazu when he turned thirteen.
The dragon-hanyou received his sword three years earlier than any of his other
siblings because no one needed a sealing blade more than he did. When he reached
puberty, which was a very dangerous time for hanyous because the stirring of the sex
hormones could awaken dormant powers that could kill or cause madness (another reason
why many hanyous died young), his Sight soared and he could not shut out the visions
and voices. Inuyasha, realizing that his son would be driven insane by the Gift, raced to
Toutousai and had him forge a sword specifically designed to silence the voices and
temper the Sight. Now with Jyu-shi-kenshuga at his side, Tetsukazu could turn the Sight
on and off at will. The sword didn’t do much else, but the dragon-hanyou was so
powerful in his own right that he didn’t need anything other than the relief the sword
provided.
To each of his thirteen daughters he gave a necklace of protection made from
prayer beads and one of his fangs strung on a braid of his hair. Midorikyou blessed each
necklace and imbued it with miko power to shield and guard his girls from harm. He had
the immortal miko do the blessings because she was still the most powerful in the
protective magics while Kagome was fast becoming the most powerful in defensive ones.
Her arrows were known to waste an entire legion of youkai in a single strike, and had a
destructive power almost equal to that of Tessaiga. The necklaces could create a barrier
around the wearer that would protect her from attack, and because they were linked to
him through his fang, if the barrier was activated their father would know and come
running. More than once an over-amorous suitor would suddenly find himself staring
down the blade of Tessaiga as the protective hanyou seemingly appeared out of nowhere
to defend his daughters’ honor. Gruff and irritable he might be, but no one laid a finger
on his girls; not unless they wanted it cut off.
It was his complete dedication to his wife and family which earned the inuhanyou the respect and affection of all of his surviving children. None of his fourteen
sons ever challenged him for leadership of the pack, and all deferred to his word when he
laid it down as law- which wasn’t often. At some point in their lives, he had shed his
blood for each of his pups, and none of them took that lightly. Of the thirty-three children
he and Kagome had raised twenty-seven remained alive, twenty-six of which were
hanyous who made it out of puberty. Their success rate was unprecedented and was a
direct result of their exceptional commitment to the children’s safety and well-being.
Still, the six that had died weighed on their hearts, and they thought of them often,
especially in the misty memory of night or a gray-sky morning.
Two that had been lost died of natural causes.
Takako and Hansu were both cross-breeds of youkai whose life spans were much
closer to that of a human’s. They’d lived long, happy lives and died peacefully of old age
with their parents present. Hansu’s sword, Go-Kenshuga, was returned to his father and
he kept it in a place of honor at their Canadian house.
Two had been murdered.
The first was a rare kitsune-hanyou, near and dear to them because he reminded
them so much of sweet Shippou. He died protecting his adopted mother from a youkai
mob that attacked the village. Kagome had been nursing the latest of the littles they
would raise from infancy and was extremely vulnerable as she tried to protect the baby.
He was only fifteen, but he showed more bravery in the face of terrible danger than most
grown men twice his age.
Akihiro had used his kitsune magics to take on the likeness of his mother and
drew the youkai attacks upon himself. Inuyasha and Yukio, who was full grown and near
maturity by then, were unable to get to him in time and he sustained mortal wounds. He
died in his father’s arms. Inuyasha shed no tears for him, but the mourning howls of the
inu-youkai joined the wails of grief that rose above the village that night.
The second had been killed by a human mob, and it took all Inuyasha had not to
visit retribution upon them. In the end, he didn’t have to because humans from his own
village exacted their revenge on the ones who killed his eighth son, and brought Inuyasha
back the hand and severed head of the man who slew Hiei. Hiei’s sword, HachiKenshuga was refitted and given to Inuyasha’s twelfth son, a bull-hanyou named Isato.
Two had been killed by Inuyasha’s own hand.
The first was a fire-youkai hanyou who had always been a trouble-maker, but
when Hiro entered puberty he lost control of his youkai blood and went berserk. Inuyasha
tried to reason with him, but not even the pleading of his mother or his aniki reached him
in his wild youkai haze, and he set everything in his path ablaze with his rogue powers.
Inuyasha had no choice but to cut him down before he destroyed the village and all the
people in it. He hadn’t wanted to do it, and he did everything he could to bring the boy
back to his senses, but when Hiro turned his deadly fire on Kagome and the children, he
did not hesitate and took him out with one blow from Tessaiga.
He’d done the right thing, even though the decision was heart-wrenching. If he
hadn’t, he would have lost everything and many more would have been killed. Knowing
that hadn’t made it any easier though, and he shook afterward, his face blank and eyes
staring at what was left of the boy. Kagome had to come and take his arm to gently lead
him away from the broken body that was burning itself to ashes in its own cremation
pyre. By the time the fire finally went out, there was nothing left to bury.
Inuyasha’s only comfort was in knowing the boy died quickly and didn’t feel any
pain. He sequestered himself away in the den with Kagome for almost two days after the
dust had settled and the mess cleaned up to grieve in private and find solace in her arms.
No accusations or recriminations ever left her lips for his choice, and that was exactly
what his already broken heart needed. Hiro had been a challenge, but the boy hadn’t been
evil, just irresponsible and mischievous. His demise was a tragedy, but Inuyasha knew
that if anyone had had to kill him, it was best that he die at the hand of the father who had
loved him and would not let him suffer.
Thankfully no one else died that day, but he wasn’t able to save the house he had
built Kagome and it burned to the ground, thus explaining why it did not exist in the
modern age. It was the first time any of the children had ever seen their father in a fullblooded battle rage, and none of them ever wanted to see it again. For Inuyasha, however,
he had gotten a frightening glimpse of what could have happened to him if his father had
not sealed his youkai blood with Tessaiga.
The second was the hardest loss of all. Sai had been a reptilian hanyou, although
exactly which species of reptile-youkai had spawned him was unknown. It was known
that his mother was the youkai parent and that he had been birthed from an egg. He was
an odd hybrid of incongruous reptile and human traits, and his parents often marveled
that he had even survived conception and birth.
He was a sickly child, weak of limb and constitution. His cold and warm blood
had never melded well and stunted his growth. He could barely walk and his limbs were
twisted at odd angles at the joints, making it impossible for him to stand fully upright. His
skin was a sickly whitish-green that looked a lot like a fish’s underbelly, and what little
hair he possessed was found in grey, stringy wisps on his head. His eyes were
crocodilian, yellow-gold with slits for pupils and a third eyelid that was disturbing to look
at when you first saw it. His webbed hands and feet had stubby fingers and toes with
claws instead of nails.
What he lacked in physical strength, he gained in intelligence and he was easily
one of the smartest children they had ever raised. He had a quick wit and a dry sense of
humor, and an uncanny ability to see right through people. He was a bright light who
could make almost anyone smile and everyone’s lives were enriched by knowing him.
Kagome likened him to the Dickens’ character Tiny Tim from ‘A Christmas Carol’ and
he would occasionally repeat the line, “God bless us everyone.” just to get a few extra
laughs.
He needed to be kept warm and almost every day his father would carry him to a
place in the sun where he could bask. In winter, fires constantly blazed in his room to
keep his temperature high enough to prevent him from hibernating for weeks at a time
while his body wasted away. Regulating his body temperature was a continuing challenge
that his parents struggled to meet, and they were so grateful that none of their other
children who were living with them at the time were resentful of all the extra attention
Sai required. Quite the contrary; Sai’s siblings did everything they could to help their
brother, and during the years that Sai was with them, Yukio even came home to live in
the new house Inuyasha had built closer to the den and took over much of his father’s
daily responsibilities, thus freeing Inuyasha to look after his boy while Kagome cared for
the other children.
Sai was a blessing who taught Inuyasha patience. For all that he was gruff and
harsh with his healthy children; he was unfailingly gentle with Sai, often carrying the boy
on his back for hours. It was not uncommon to see them walking around town, the slight
child clinging to the fire-rat clothes. Inuyasha would go slowly and keep his pace smooth
to make it easier for him to hold on, and anyone who came close could hear him talking
to the boy, his voice calm and even. Inuyasha never lost his temper while he was carrying
Sai, and he never risked dropping him for anything. The two of them would often go off
together for entire afternoons as Inuyasha sought new places to take his son to bask.
Sai called himself the “useless son” knowing full well that Inuyasha valued
strength and he had none, but no words of disappointment or admonition ever left
Inuyasha’s lips and he never once gave credence to the boy’s self-recriminations. He
refused to compare the boy to his healthy sons, and never let him think that he was a
burden.
He was an artistic child, and he would sit for hours, slowly drawing with the
brush clasped oddly in his stubby hands. Inuyasha traded for art supplies and gave him
paints and paper, and kept him supplied with everything he needed to create his pictures.
To this day one of their most prized possessions was a portrait of his parents that Sai had
painted.
When Sai reached puberty something went horribly wrong inside his small body,
and he broke out in huge sections of callous scales and lost all of his hair. Then his lungs
changed and he developed a set of gills that were only partially functional, making it
impossible for him to breathe in air or in water. He lingered for days, gasping and
struggling for breath. His parents were horrified and helpless as they watched him cling
to life. Kagome did everything she could for him, everything she knew how to do to try
to ease his suffering, but nothing helped. In the end they were left with no choice but to
do the merciful thing.
They spoke gently to him explaining that they were going help him the only way
they could and to not be afraid, although by this time the boy was incoherent and they
had no way of knowing if he could understand them. Then Kagome gave him a doping
medicine that he absorbed through his skin and after he’d slipped into unconsciousness,
Inuyasha painlessly ended his misery. It was only the second time in her life that she had
ever seen Inuyasha openly weep, and the first time any of the children had seen their
father’s tears. His ashes were placed next to Akihiro and Hiei’s in the Higurashi shrine.
Kagome recognized the markers for the graves from her childhood, always thinking they
contained the remains of ancient relatives long dead. She’d never dreamed that she had
been looking at the graves of her own sons.
In 1728 at the age of 180, Yukio took a mate. She was a human girl from the
village whom he had known since she was a little child. He shared his blood with her thus
extending her life far beyond what would be the normal lifespan for a human. It was
known that full-blooded youkai could do this for human mates, and Sesshoumaru had
done it when he mated Rin, but no one knew it was possible for hanyous to do the same
thing for their mates until Yukio tried. It was just one more thing about hanyou
physiology that had gone unknown because no one had ever bothered to try. Of course
their marriage was childless, but Miaka had known about his sterility before she married
him and did not care. Unfortunately hanyous could not provide their mates with the near
immortality that full-blooded youkai enjoyed and Miaka died in 1962 after 234 years of
marriage. Yukio was devastated and moved back in with his parents to grieve.
After the Meiji Restoration of 1868, when commoners in Japan were allowed to
create or assume existing surnames, Inuyasha adopted the surname of Fushikenwa,
although not all of his children accepted it. Many created their own surnames; all of
which would soon become associated with some of the most powerful families in Japan.
By this time, Inuyasha and Kagome were quite well off and Inuyasha was able to secure
the property rights for a large tract of land surrounding their current house that
encompassed the forest around their old den which Inuyasha had rebuilt, and butted up
against the back of the Higurashi Shrine grounds. Part of it would be seized via eminent
domain for the building of a road, but the vast majority remained untouched.
Over the course of the passing centuries, amid childrearing and surviving in the
tumultuous, changing world that was Japan in the 1600, 1700, and 1800’s, there was one
star that Kagome held close to her heart, and that was the knowledge that she would see
her family again in the Modern Era. Many plans and possible scenarios were entertained
on what would be the best way to reveal the truth of her extraordinary life, and all of the
children knew that their mother looked forward to the turn of the millennium with eager
anticipation.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, plans began to solidify and the pieces
in an elaborate game of time-travel chess were put into place. Kagome and Inuyasha left
Japan for the New World and settled in Canada. They knew what was coming in the early
1900’s, wanted to avoid it, and it seemed that Canada was the best choice. Canada was
colder than Japan, but still had the large tracts of undeveloped forest that Inuyasha loved
so much. The rampant deforestation of his native land was a wound on his heart, and he
hated to watch it. A number of their adult children, Tetsukazu included, went with them
and they began to build the North American branch of their business empire.
They also wanted to avoid direct contact with the Higurashi family, although
individuals had been left in place to take care of the family and see to its needs. Miroku
also took up residence in what was now known as the Tokyo House, and it was he who
had found and returned a toddler Kagome back to her mother in 1986.
Inuyasha’s youngest inu-hanyou son had no idea he was returning his own mother
to her home. Long before Inuyasha and Kagome had decided not to tell the children the
whole story of their mother’s life in order to protect her from youkai who would seek to
use her knowledge of the future. As a result, the only ones who knew everything were
Yukio, because he had gone through the well with his parents, and Eri. Eri had only
found out because she was a horrible eavesdropper and knew something was up. The rest
of the family would not be told the full story until Inuyasha and Kagome called everyone
to their Canadian estate in 1997. At that time a date three years in advance was chosen for
the reunion in Tokyo and the final wheels were set in motion.
Another exciting thing that was happening in the world of youkai and hanyous in
the late 1900’s was the emergence of modern medicine, and with it the study of
infertility. Lack of heirs had been a growing problem for the remaining youkai races.
With hanyous unable to breed and pure-blooded youkai becoming rarer and rarer, many
bloodlines were facing extinction within another two generations. Even Sesshoumaru,
who was mated to Rin and had three hanyou children with her, had been forced to enter
into a contractual marriage with another inu-youkai family in order to beget a pureblooded Heir to the Western Lands. Thankfully the arrangement had been amicable and
was dissolved once two sons were conceived and delivered.
With the advent of fertility treatments and advanced obstetrics, eyes once again
turned to the hanyous as the hope of the youkai bloodlines, and Inuyasha was one of the
first hanyous to present himself for study on why he was unable to father his own pup. As
it turned out, while low sperm count was a problem, Inuyasha did possess sperm that
should have been viable. The issue was that they had no sense of direction, or as the
youkai fertility doctor put it: “The wigglies need a road map and some sex education.”
When put in a Petri dish with a viable egg, the sperm just wandered around
aimlessly, bumping into the egg every now and then but pretty much ignoring it. Kagome
likened them to his sword style, “Just keep swinging it around and eventually you’ll hit
something.”
Due to the miracle of modern medicine however, it was believed that, with some
fertility drugs aimed at increasing sperm count and some intense wiggly hand-holding, in
vitro fertilization was highly possible. As a result, after nearly fifteen years of trying and
waiting for the technology and techniques to improve, Kagome was finally pregnant with
their first biological child in the first pregnancy out of five attempts that had made it to
the third trimester. The couple had kept it a secret, not wanting to disappoint the family,
or the many youkai and hanyous who were intensely interested in a successful hanyouhuman birth, in case the pregnancy ended in another miscarriage. The only other person
who knew, beside the doctor who performed the in vitro procedure, was Yukio since he
still lived with his parents and they wouldn’t hide something like that from him.
Once Kagome passed the dreaded five-month milestone and it looked like she
might actually carry the infant to term, they began to get excited. The only problem was
the timing. If she held to her gestation timetable, she would be seven months pregnant
when the date of the reunion arrived. Inuyasha wanted to put it off until after the baby
was born, but Kagome refused. She had waited 452 years to see her mother again and she
didn’t want to wait any longer. Besides, she wanted Mama there when she gave birth, and
Inuyasha, who had never been able to withstand her pleading tears, agreed.
Since it was deemed too dangerous for her to fly from Canada to Japan, it was
decided that they would travel overland to California then take a privately chartered yacht
the rest of the way. The trip would take weeks, but it was deemed the safest way for her
to travel. If all went well, Kagome would return to her native Japan two days before the
reunion.
On May 29, 2000, Kagome Higurashi stepped onto the deck of the chartered
luxury yacht and began her long journey home.
Chapter Thirty-Five
The streamlined black racing bike purred between his legs like a lover as he
navigated the crowded, smelly streets of Tokyo. He was early and he knew it, but he’d
inherited some of his father’s impatience and he just couldn’t wait any longer. Besides, if
he arrived early he could make sure all the preparations had been made and that
everything was ready, and it would get him out of the house where his fatheroverprotective and worried sick about his pregnant mother- was going ballistic over every
little thing. Half the staff had already threatened to quit because of his tirades, and he’d
terrorized the crew of the chartered yacht so badly that they had actually considered
tossing him overboard into the Pacific. He knew their eagerness to get rid of their
troublesome passengers was the reason they had arrived in Japan four days ahead of
schedule. Not that he minded. The extra days gave his easily tired and stressed mother
some much needed time to rest and recouperate from the three week long trip.
At dawn he’d put on his black leather chaps and jacket on over his more formal
‘reunion’ attire, stuffed the remainder of his clothes for the day in a small satchel,
grabbed the bike and headed out. He’d have loved to go without a helmet, but Japan had
a mandatory helmet law and the last thing he needed was to get pulled over by the police.
He’d be able to avoid any fines of course, all the officer had to do was look at his driver’s
license and see his name before the man would be apologizing, bowing and letting him
go, but still, he didn’t need the aggravation.
The trip from the summerhouse in Osaka had taken him over four hours but he’d
enjoyed the freedom of riding the bike instead of being cooped up in a train. It took
longer, but he relished the time alone to gather his thoughts and prepare himself for the
events of the day. The moment he hit the outskirts of Tokyo, however, he hit the traffic
and he was rudely reminded of why his parents hated driving in Japan. He dearly missed
the wide-open spaces and countryside of Canada, and cursed Japanese drivers as they
failed to look ahead and pay any attention to the road around them.
Pulling a move out of an American action movie, he popped a curb and zipped
around a parked delivery truck on the pavement, narrowly avoiding the pedestrians that
clogged the sidewalk. His mother would have been shocked and horrified by his
recklessness, but he just smiled. His hanyou reflexes saved him every time and no one
got hurt. He knew Kagome hated the bike, and the way he handled it (too much like his
father did), but riding a motorcycle was the best way to get around Tokyo these days and
if he was going to do it, he might as well do it in style. Besides, what his mother didn’t
know couldn’t hurt her.
‘Ah, you may be all grown up now, but you’re still her baby.’
He did refrain from using the bike to climb the shrine stairs however, knowing
such disrespect would never be tolerated, and he wasn’t that dishonorable anyway.
Stepping off the bike, he secured it and set the alarm, slinging the small bag with the
remainder of his clothes over his shoulder, then he paused at the sight of the familiar tall
steps.
‘Four hundred and fifty-two years... Mama-baachan, I’ve come home.’
He was surprised at how fast his heart was beating, and he took a moment to calm
himself down. He removed his helmet and checked the concealment spell that masked his
hanyou features. To an untalented human he appeared to be a normal looking Japanese
man in his late twenties with long black hair and brown eyes. To anyone with Talent or
youkai blood, he looked the same as he always had: silver hair, gold eyes and doggy ears.
The spell was keyed to the signet ring he wore on his right hand, and he fingered the gold
band, trying to ignore the naked place on the ring finger of his left. His wedding ring was
gone, buried with his dead wife.
‘Miaka gave me the ring on our trip to Paris for our 160th wedding anniversary.
Silly little Western custom... I can’t believe it’s been almost 40 years. What’s four
decades when you had over twenty three?’ He felt the pain seize his heart again and drew
himself up, blinking back tears. ‘I will not be sad. I will not cry. Today is my mother’s
day. It’s her day to be reunited with Mama-baachan and I will not dampen it by
mourning. I’ve been waiting to see my grandmother again too.’
He had memories of his mother’s mother. Mostly it was her scent that was
ingrained on his psyche, and he would occasionally stop by on his frequent business trips
to Japan, unbeknownst to his parents of course, just to catch a whiff of her. When he
smelled her, he always thought of comfort and candy.
A taxi cab pulled up to the curb while he was staring at the stairs and the
passenger got out, narrowly missing hitting his bike with the car door. He almost barked
a warning and thinly-veiled threat as to what would happen if the bike was scratched, but
he stopped himself at the last minute. Primped, coiffed and dressed head to toe in Prada,
complete with a set of high-heeled thigh-high leather boots, he’d know her anywhere.
Her concealment spell made her look like a classy blonde but she couldn’t hide the red
hair, pointed ears and sharp claws from him.
He waited until she’d paid the driver and had made her way over to him before
addressing her.
“You’re early, mouse-chaser,” he said with a smirk.
“What’s it to you, boot-licker?”
“You’re never early for anything. You sleep twenty hours a day.”
“And I can get more work done in those other four hours than all of you bonechewers can in a week,” she shot back.
He grinned. “It’s good to see you too, Eri.”
“Yeah, yeah, don’t get too mushy Yukio, or I might feel the need to get familiar
with you and that would mess up my make-up.”
He blew a kiss at her. “But you’re lovely just the way you are. Ooo, is that a grey
hair?”
“Where?!”
He laughed and she hit him over the head with her purse, nailing one of his ears
with frightening accuracy.
“I’m too young for grey hairs, you jerk. And you should talk hanyou. Is that a
grey hair I see?”
He waved her off with a flick of a two-fingered salute. “I still have another eight
centuries in me at least, probably more.”
The neko-youkai sniffed and cast a disdainful look at the bike.
“That yours?”
“Yep.”
“Mom know?”
“Yep.”
“Still have your balls?”
“Last time I checked, but she did try.”
“I heard she took Dad’s away.”
“He smashed it into an embankment last year drag racing with some guy from
Oracle.”
“Ooops. Does he still have his balls?”
“As far as I know.”
“Ah. So, am I really early?”
He nodded.
“My day planner said noon.”
“We pushed it back three hours, and you’d know that if you ever listened to your
voicemail.”
She shrugged. “I was busy.”
“Uh huh. I know what that means,” he replied with a knowing grin, then nodded
his head to the stairs. “I came early to make sure everything was ready.”
He didn’t wait for her as he climbed the staircase, his heart fluttering. What would
Mama-baachan do when she discovered it was him?
“So who all is coming?” Eri asked him as she fell into step beside him.
“Everyone as far as I know.”
“Everyone?”
“Uh huh. Shippou called me on my cell phone last week to make sure he had the
date right.”
“Will Uncle be here too?”
There was only one Uncle.
He nodded. “I think so. I’m not sure. I know Aunt Rin was planning on being
here.”
“Hmm, if she’s coming, he probably will. Hopefully he’ll leave his cell phone at
home or he’ll spend the whole day on it.”
“You know him, no rest from the building of his Empire.”
“Have you heard from any of the others? Are they here too?”
“The last one was Isato and he called last night. His flight from Barcelona was
delayed in Rome.”
“When are Mom and Dad coming over?”
“Their train gets in at 2:30. They’ve hired a car to bring them from the station.”
“Train? Aren’t they staying at Tokyo House?”
He shook his head. “No. We’ve been at Osaka House.”
“Osaka House? Why?”
“Fewer steps.”
She mentally counted the steps at each property and didn’t come up with any
significant difference. “But...”
Yukio threw up his hands in surrender. “Hey. I don’t ask questions. With Mom
pregnant, Dad’s gone off the deep end. She’s lucky she can go to the bathroom without
him hovering over her.”
“Wait. Mom’s pregnant? When did this happen?”
“Ummm, about seven months ago. Right after we got back from Disney World
with Shippou and the great-grandkits.”
“Seven months! That... that means...”
“She’s in the third trimester. Yeah,” he replied, mentally crossing his fingers. ‘So
far, so good. She’s heavy and cranky, but in no pain other than what’s normal and no
abnormal bleeding. I even felt my little brother or sister kick yesterday.’
“And why wasn’t I told about this?”
“We didn’t tell anyone until she turned six months. I started making calls about 3
weeks ago.”
“Three WEEKS!? Why didn’t you call me?”
He shot her a glance and made the motion of holding a phone to his ear. “I’m
sorry the subscriber you have called does not answer,” he parroted in a falsetto. “I’m
sorry the subscriber you have called does not answer. I’m sorry the subscriber you have
called does not answer because she’s too busy screwing jaguar-youkai’s in Ecuador.”
Eri had the good sense to blush but otherwise did not comment. They reached the
top of the stairs and Yukio paused, taking in the sight. It was exactly as he remembered it,
but then he had to remind himself that he had been there as a toddler less than a month
before. For him it had been over four centuries, and his child self would never again play
among the hallowed trees and buildings.
“So? Boy? Girl? What?” Eri asked him, bringing him out of his memories.
He shrugged. “Dunno. The doctor who did the ultrasounds knows but Mom and
Dad said they wanted it to be a surprise. I guess they decided the whole Petri-dish and in
vitro thing was enough for them and they wanted some semblance of a natural
pregnancy.” He lowered his eyes and added more softly, “Mom’s hoping it’s a boy. She
told me Dad really wants a son.”
Eri snorted. “Well, he always was a chauvinistic pig. You should have seen the
look on his face when I asked him why Hikaru got a cool sword but all I got was a lousy
necklace.”
Yukio snickered even as he cast a glance to confirm that the ‘lousy necklace’ was
still around her neck.
“You’re lucky he didn’t put you across his knee for that.”
“He’d have to catch me first.”
Yukio giggled.
“So if everyone is coming that would make... what... seventy-five of us?”
He shook his head. “I counted 106 on the guest list. I’m hoping this place won’t
be too small.”
“106!” Eri sputtered.
“Well, there’s Mom and Dad, twenty-seven of us, eighteen mates and a couple of
significant others tossed in, plus Uncle and Aunt Rin and their pups, Shippou, Mitsiyomi,
the kits and grand-kits...”
“You think Kitarou and Rumiko will bring ... ahem... dates?”
Yukio shrugged. “If they do, they do. After thirty-three kids you would think no
one would be surprised that a couple of them turned out to be gay. Mom doesn’t care and
Dad’s getting over it. Everyone else should just follow their example and accept them.
Frankly, I think Dad was relieved the ‘big news’ Kitarou had for him was that he loved
another guy. “Dad, I’m gay” is a hell of a lot better than, “Dad, I’m going insane and I’m
going to burn Tokyo down.” Right?”
Eri blinked. “Well, when you put it that way...”
Yukio sighed and shook his head. “I don’t know what Dad would do if he had to
take down another one of us like he did Hiro. You weren’t there. You didn’t see him
before... and after. Up until the point Hiro turned on Mom and the kids, you could see
Dad was trying to figure out a way to bring him back. But I keep thinking, if he hadn’t…
if he hadn’t brought Hiro down with that strike… We all would have been orphans twice
over that day.”
Eri frowned and nodded gravely.
“Well, the caterers were supposed to be here twenty minutes ago,” Yukio said,
changing the subject.
“You used Shimanouchi right?”
He nodded. The caterer was youkai owned and operated, and familiar with the
unique needs and ‘tastes’ of youkai clientele. It was also one of the more reputable
businesses and refused to serve anything human-derived. None of the members of his
family condoned, supported or tolerated the consumption of human flesh, by-products, or
related parts whatsoever. He had vivid memories of his father’s reaction the last time a
caterer had tried to substitute a human-based broth in the soup to cut costs. In the seedy
underbelly of the darker youkai world, human products were cheap because their ‘meat’
rarely had to be purchased.
Thankfully, the only youkai who would practice such disgusting habits were on
the ‘Youkai Most Endangered List’ and were a dying breed. His family had been
involved in numerous battles between the human-eating and non-human eating youkai,
on the ‘non’ side of course, and he had fought beside his father and siblings to send the
scum back to hell many times.
“Well, Shimanouchi’s good. They’ll be here. The truck probably got stuck in
traffic. I passed a big accident on the way here in the cab. Turns out some yahoo on a
racing bike popped a curb and was driving on the sidewalk. People scattered into the
street and two cars got rear-ended when they slammed on their brakes.”
He gulped but said nothing. ‘Shit… I’ll probably hear about that if they got my
license plate number…I hope no one was hurt.’
“So, what’s on the menu?” Eri asked.
Yukio shrugged. “The usual: filet minon, salmon, sushi, roast capon and duck,
half a boar, a few pounds of shellfish, fruit and salads for the rabbit-food eaters, and the
mandatory oden and ramen. I told the caterer to bring a dozen cases of ramen. That might
be enough.”
Eri sniffed. “More money than the Gross National Product of some small
countries, the world at his fingertips; he could have anything he chooses to eat, and he
wants 10¢ salty noodles.”
Yukio licked his lips. “Food of the gods.”
“Thankfully the gods don’t get hypertension or both you and Dad would be dead
by now.”
“Hey I did talk him out of buying Cup-Men, didn’t I?”
“That is a plus. Now if only I could convince you to change your taste in wines.
The vineyards made a fantastic Pinot Grigio last year.”
He shuddered and made a face. “Pinot Grigio… yechhh. That’s right up there
with your catnip tea and Mom’s curry.”
Eri sniffed haughtily. “There is nothing wrong with my tea or Mom’s curry. I
happen to like curry. It’s not my fault that none of you bone-diggers can stomach the
spice.”
“I’ll remember you said that next time you get a bad batch of weed and someone
needs to peel you off the ceiling. I’ll ask Tetsu to do it instead of me… or squirt you
down with a power hose.”
“You wouldn’t!”
He grinned, mischief in his eyes. “Just watch me.”
“Mom would kill you.”
“Yeah, but Dad would help.”
She growled and gave him a very cat-like hiss. He just snickered.
Just then, they heard the sound of hurried footsteps running up the shrine stairs
and Yukio took a deep whiff to see if the newcomer was youkai, hanyou or human. He
recognized his grandmother’s scent immediately and tensed with excitement.
“Who is it?” Eri asked, noticing his sudden snap to attention.
“Mama-baachan,” he whispered back.
A hand on his arm conveyed all he needed from her. Siblings, rivals, and
sometimes opposites they might be, but in the end they were family and that was all that
mattered.
“Are you ready for this?” she questioned.
He nodded, eyes trained on the stairs. “I’ve been ready for four-hundred and fiftytwo years.”
‘Hi, Mama-baachan. I know you don’t recognize me but I’m your grandson,
Yukio,’ he practiced mentally, going over his pre-planned speech.
He caught one glimpse of her however, as she cleared the top step and all of his
carefully memorized greetings and explanations blew out the window.
********
Higurashi Mama ran breathlessly. She had so much to do and not enough hands to
do it with. She was rarely this frantic, but with her only daughter’s wedding a scant six
months away, she found herself rushing to lay plans and handle all the details while
Kagome was in the Sengoku Jidai. To add to her stress, the shrine had been reserved four
months prior for a family reunion of none other than the Fushikenwa family itself.
Looking at the guest list that had come with the caterer, her knees went weak when she
saw it was a veritable who’s who of Japan’s richest and most influential families. Some
of the guests had been benefactors of her family and the shrine since before she was born,
and she knew that she had to make sure the gathering went off without a hitch. As a
result, she was personally seeing to every detail.
‘Damn, the caterer is late…’ she thought, looking at her watch. ‘I hope Jii-chan
has the shrine ready.’
She reached the top step and almost ran directly into the tall, young man who was
standing on the shrine grounds.
“Oh! Gomen nasai!” she apologized, skidding to a halt, her grocery bags
clattering into each other.
The man seemed stunned and she took a moment to study him. He was dressed in
motorcycle riding leathers, but the open jacket revealed a formal white shirt with a
Mandarin collar and deep blue sapphire cabochon at the throat. His long black hair was
pulled neatly back into a ponytail and a diamond stud earring glittered from one earlobe.
‘He must be the owner of that expensive racing bike I saw parked at the bottom of
the shrine stairs.’
A young woman dressed in very expensive designer clothing stepped forward.
She wasn’t Japanese she could tell, because she had brilliant blonde hair and green eyes.
She extended her hand like a Westerner and gave her a smile.
“Good afternoon, I’m Eri Bast,” the woman greeted, shaking her hand firmly.
‘Bast. She’s one of the guests.’ Mama thought, recognizing the name and bowed
dutifully.
“Welcome to the Higurashi Shrine, Bast-san.”
“Thank you. I must ask you to please forgive my brother. He’s mentally deranged,
you see.”
‘Oh?”
“HEY!” the young man sputtered, his brown eyes flashing rage.
The blonde gave a wicked smirk at her brother’s ire, then spoke in a conspiratorial
whisper, “He was dropped one too many times as a baby.”
“I was not!”
Mama giggled, relieved by their humor. ‘At least they aren’t angry about the
caterers. The caterers. I must call them.’
She bowed deeply to the young man, ignoring his stare.
“Please forgive me. The caterers are late and I must call to see if something has
happened.”
The woman looked off in the direction of the shrine stairs and… sniffed?
“They’re coming,” Eri said.
Mama blinked and looked towards the shrine gates. “Oh?”
“I’m sure they’ll be here soon,” she added, completely unconcerned.
Mama gave her a nervous smile. “I’m glad, but I’ll call anyway as soon as I take
my groceries into the house.”
“I can help you,” the man offered, reaching for the bags.
“Oh no. Thank you, but I am fine. Please, enjoy the shrine. I will take in my
groceries, call the caterers and return shortly,” she replied, giving him another bow.
She hurried to the house, entering and practically kicking her shoes off in the
genkan.
“Tadaima!” she called as she entered the main dwelling. “Jii-chan, are you here?
There are guests on the grounds and the caterers aren’t here yet…”
“Hai! Hai!” came the voice from upstairs. “I am coming!”
“Arigato!”
Spinning she turned to go into the kitchen to put down her bags and nearly
collided with the young man.
“Oh!” she gasped. ‘He followed me into the house. Is he truly mentally ill?’
He just looked at her and didn’t say a word. He was very handsome, but his
expression was unsettling.
“I’m… I’m sorry,” she stammered, bowing. “I did not hear you come in, Bast-san.
I will call the caterer immediately. Is there something that you need?”
He was still staring her and it was making her very uncomfortable.
“My father is the head priest of the shrine. He will be down shortly. I will call the
caterer…”
“My name isn’t Bast,” he said softly.
She bowed again. “Please forgive me. I assumed…”
“My family name is Fushikenwa.”
‘Fushikenwa… one of the Fushikenwas himself is in my house. But I’ve never
read anything about them having a son who was mentally ill…’
“Please forgive my mistake, Fushikenwa-san,” she apologized with yet another
bow.
“Please stop bowing like that.”
“I’m… I’m sorry,” she replied, stopping herself from bowing again. “Is there
something I can do for you, Fushikenwa-san?”
“No,” he answered simply, then just stood there, looking at her with a curious yet
sad expression on his face, and she didn’t know what to do.
‘Where is the sister?’ “Your sister…”
“She’s outside. The caterers are here. She’s directing them.”
“Oh!” She scrambled to do something with her grocery bags, but he was standing
between her and the kitchen. “I’ll… I’ll just put these down and…”
He still blocked her path. “You really don’t know who I am, do you?” he said
suddenly. He sounded sad.
“Ah, I’m sorry, but I don’t know what…”
“I’d hoped you’d recognize me a little. This appearance isn’t all that different
from my true form. But it has been a long time and I’ve grown quite a bit.”
Now she was really getting nervous. ‘Where is Jii-chan?’ “Forgive me,
Fushikenwa-san, but I…”
“Yukio,” he corrected.
“Hm?”
“My given name is Yukio.”
‘Yukio. Like my grandson…’
“Mama-baachan. It’s me.”
“I’m sorry. I don’t know what you’re...”
The young man fingered a large signet ring on his right hand, then he slowly
removed it and before her very eyes his hair bled to silver, his eyes turned golden and his
ears moved up to the top of his head as two furry triangles.
“I’m Yukio.”
She stared, dumbfounded at the adult hanyou. “Y… Yukio?”
He nodded, giving her a sweet smile that showed his canines.
‘Yukio?’ “Yukio?” she repeated, the cold chill of shock flooding through her.
“Yes, Mama-baachan, it’s me.”
She dropped the shopping bags only to remember too late that one of the bags
contained eggs; eggs that smashed all over the floor.
“Oh!” she cried and bent down to try to handle the mess with her shaking hands
and addled mind.
Yukio crouched down, placing a small black leather bag on the floor, and gently
took her by the upper arms. “I will buy you a whole case of new eggs if you will give me
a hug,” he said.
She stilled, unable to stop staring at him, and she covered her mouth with her
hands. Then she suddenly slumped forward, wrapping her arms around his neck and
letting him support her because her knees had gone weak.
“Yukio!” she cried.
“Mama-baachan,” he answered and swept her up into a powerful hug.
Slowly her brain started working again and with the newfound brain function
came a million questions. How had he grown up so fast? Who was the woman he claimed
as a sister? Where did he get the ring that masked his appearance? But first and foremost
in her mind was the terrible, dreaded question: ‘if he is here as an adult, where is my
daughter?’
Panic seized her and he seemed to recognize it because he hugged her tighter.
“Kagome! Where is Kagome? What happened to