Obligatory Disclaimer: The "Inu Yasha" series and its characters are the property of Rumiko Takahashi, Sunrise, Shounen Sunday, Viz, and other corporate types. I am none of those entities. I'm just a silly fan writing silly stories because it's fun. Suing me would only be a waste of time and funds, so please don't. Any original characters that show up belong to themselves. Just ask them.
Author's Disclaimer: Thoughts and opinions expressed in this work of fiction do not necessarily reflect those of the author.
I CHOOSE NOT TO WARN!
This story contains material that might be disturbing or downright triggering to some. Reader discretion advised.
One Plus One
A Modest Proposal
Winter had given way to early spring, though there was still a hint of chill in the air. Despite that, Naoki and Sachiko were enjoying their homemade bento on the school rooftop, their new favorite lunch spot. Technically it was against the rules, but once the threat of snow was over, Naoki had shown Sachiko his ability to pick locks with his claws.
It was so much more quiet, and even though they weren't picked on nearly so much now that they formed a united front, the best way to stay out of a bully's sights was to simply disappear.
Valentine's Day had come and gone, and now it was White Day. Sachiko was humming with contentment as she nibbled on one of the homemade cookies Naoki had made her in exchange for her Valentine's Day gift to him: her first attempt at making taiyaki. The cake ended up looking more like a mutant zebra than a fish, but apparently it tasted all right, and she'd beamed at Naoki's praise that she hadn't made the red bean filling too sweet.
"I think we're gonna have company soon," Naoki said, twitching his nose so Sachiko would understand.
Sachiko tensed. "Who?"
Naoki grinned. "You'll see. I thought he'd show up today."
Sachiko shrank a little closer to Naoki, sucking on what remained of her cookie rather than biting another piece off. She stayed that way until a familiar figure landed on the opposite end of the roof. Then she nearly dropped her cookie, remembering to catch it in her hand at the last minute.
"Papa!" she exclaimed in delight.
Naoki could smell the nervousness coming off his Dad, and he smirked.
"Oi, what's your problem, pup?" Inu Yasha barked.
"You don't have to ask me, Dad. You know what I think."
Inu Yasha huffed. "Brat. I should have known."
Sachiko blinked. "What's Naoki talking about, Papa?"
Inu Yasha walked around until he was directly in front of Sachiko before dropping down to his haunches. "I have two very important questions to ask you, Sachiko."
Sachiko set her bento down, carefully balancing her cookie on top of it before sitting up straight, trying to match Inu Yasha's grave body language. "What is it, Papa?"
For a split second, Inu Yasha wished that White Day fell on a new moon. It was so much easier for him to actually deal with his more delicate emotions when his youkai blood wasn't there to interfere. Two spots of intense color appeared on his cheeks, a condition not helped by Naoki's smug grin.
"You know I.. love you and your Mom very much, right?" The words sped out of his mouth rapid fire.
It took Sachiko a moment to translate, and once she had, the look she gave him said it all. "Of course, Papa!"
Inu Yasha let out the breath he didn't know he'd been holding. "That question didn't count, by the way. My first real question is..." Inu Yasha hesitated. He'd thought it would be much easier asking Sachiko first, but knowing how much rode on her opinion suddenly made him less sure of his strategy. "Would you be okay with it if I asked your Mom to marry me?"
Sachiko's face fell a mile. "But.. what about mating her?"
Inu Yasha wanted to smack himself, realizing that Sachiko didn't fully understand the differences.
"You're still going to, right, Dad?"
Inu Yasha nearly sighed in relief, and gave his son a grateful look. "That's the plan."
"So why marry her?" Sachiko asked.
"It's not an either/or thing, pup," Inu Yasha reassured her. "It's common for a couple to try a marriage first, then mate later on."
"Okay, I suppose, then," Sachiko said, still a bit unsure. "What's the second question?"
"This one is very, very personal, so if you need a few days to figure things out, let me know."
Inu Yasha drew a carved wooden box out of his pocket. "I've talked with your Mom about this, and Naoki agrees. I want you to be my daughter, not only in my heart, but legally. I'd like to adopt you, if I can. Would you let me?"
Sachiko's warm brown eyes, so like her mother's, filled with joy. "Let you? I don't care what any stupid papers say, you're my Papa. Father didn't want me. You do!"
Inu Yasha quickly found himself with an armful of pup as Sachiko clung to him. He shushed her, stroking her hair. "I'll fight for you, Sachiko," he promised. "I don't care what it takes."
When Sachiko finally let go, Inu Yasha presented her with the box. "You should have this, then. Since your Mom and I aren't mated yet, this will tell any youkai that you are under my protection. If they mess with you, they mess with me. Got it?"
Sachiko nodded her head so hard, Inu Yasha was amazed it didn't fly off. She opened the box and gasped, drawing out the fang threaded on a braid of dark and light hair.
"The dark ones are mine," Naoki added. "If Dad's not there to protect you, I will."
Naoki made his usual token sounds of protest as Sachiko switched targets, but Inu Yasha could tell his son was enjoying Sachiko's enthusiastic hug just as much as he had.
"Help me put it on?" Sachiko pleaded, after she'd let go of Naoki.
Inu Yasha took the necklace, and Sachiko turned around, moving her hair out of the way. He tied it carefully, having purposefully made it long enough to be a necklace now, but it would become a choker when she reached adulthood.
Now there was a terrifying thought.
Sachiko fingered her new treasure, turning back around. "Thank you, Papa."
"No, thank you.. Sa-chan."
Sachiko grinned even wider at the sound of her family's nickname for her.
"Now I'm gonna go ask your Granny for permission, so hopefully by the time you two get home, your Mom and I will be engaged."
"Good luck, Papa!" Sachiko called as Inu Yasha got a running start.
He raised his hand in farewell.
Sachiko huffed as she sat back against the wall again. "You knew about this," she accused.
"Guilty," Naoki said. "I wanted it to be a surprise."
"It sure is."
"And there's another one that I don't think even Mom knows about yet. I think it's what got Dad off his butt to finally ask her to marry him."
Naoki grinned with pride. "Her scent's changed."
Sachiko frowned. "So? You said that happens to human females all the time once they start their cycle."
"No, this is different." He leaned over and whispered the secret in her ear.
Sachiko's happy squeal could be heard all the way down the street.
Inu Yasha let out a sigh of relief as he landed at the Higurashi Shrine. Kagome's scent was at least an hour or two old, but Mama Higurashi's was strong enough to indicate that she was home. He went to the back door and knocked, his unofficial warning that he'd stopped by.
Mama Higurashi opened the door. "Inu Yasha-kun! What a surprise! I'm afraid Kagome went out shopping, since you're usually hard at work during the day."
"That's okay," Inu Yasha said. "Actually, I wanted to talk to you. Alone."
"Me? My, this does sound serious." She stood aside to allow him into the kitchen.
Inu Yasha entered, took off his shoes, but he couldn't bring himself to take a seat. He'd been right. It was definitely easier to ask Sachiko. He fidgeted in place, the words jumbling together in his mouth, but refusing to pass through his lips.
Inu Yasha blinked. "What?"
Mama took a sip from her teacup. "You're here to ask my permission to marry Kagome, aren't you?"
Inu Yasha's jaw dropped. "How'd you know?" he blurted out.
"A mother knows these things. I'm just happy that you're planning to do right by my daughter," Mama Higurashi said with a tone that was pure silk over hardened steel.
"I wanted to ask her! It wasn't intentional!"
Mama broke out into a smile, finally letting him know she'd been teasing him. "I know. If I'd even thought for a moment otherwise, you wouldn't still be intact. Believe me. I know where you sleep."
Inu Yasha fought against the urge to cup himself.
"I'd suggest asking her by the Goshinboku. My own husband asked me there, all those years ago, and you know the legend. If you're ready, that is."
Inu Yasha nodded. "I already have the ring," he said, drawing out an inlaid ivory box.
"Then I'd go outside and wait for her, if I were you. She shouldn't be long."
Inu Yasha started in surprise as Mama Higurashi stood up and embraced him.
"Take care of my girl, Inu Yasha-kun. Or else."
Inu Yasha gulped. "Yes, ma'am."
Kagome could tell something was different the moment she cleared the shrine steps. Just something in the air, brushing against her psyche. She looked around, and her eyes widened to see a very familiar figure sitting on the bench by the Goshinboku.
What on earth was he doing there? He'd said he had some major projects to work on.
As she drew nearer to the main house, he didn't even see her. He was toying with something in his hands, his brows drawn down, and his expression pensive. Frowning herself, Kagome went in the backdoor of the main house.
"Mama, I'm home!"
"Welcome home, Kagome," Mama replied.
Kagome set her two bags of groceries on the counter. "What's Inu Yasha doing here at this time of day? Is something wrong with Sachiko or Naoki?"
Mama's eyes sparkled. "Why don't you go out and ask him?"
Kagome gave her a wary look. "Something's definitely up," she said.
"Yes, and the sooner you go out there, the sooner you'll find out what it is."
Kagome rolled her eyes. "Okay, okay, I get the hint." She turned back around and headed out across the shrine grounds. The closer she got, the more she could see the tension radiating from him. She was a little hurt, and puzzled, that he hadn't caught her scent yet, then realized that the wind was blowing in the direction of the main house.
She changed her course enough so she wouldn't sneak up on him from behind.
Inu Yasha startled so badly that he nearly dropped the box in his hands. "Kagome!"
Kagome came around to join him, and he scooted over, making room for her on the bench.
"So, Mama said you wanted to talk to me?"
"Yeah." Inu Yasha felt like the world's biggest idiot. He'd been so preoccupied trying to figure out what to say, that he'd completely missed her arrival. Asking her to be his Intended had been the simplest thing in the world. The words had just flowed out of his mouth. This time, it was different. There hadn't even really been a proposal with Kikyou. Just a mutual agreement that they should marry.
Inu Yasha caught Kagome staring at the box in his hand, and inspiration finally struck.
"I have very few of my Mother's possessions left," he said. "Sachiko has one of them, and I think it's time that you have one as well."
Kagome's heart began beating just a little bit faster.
"My Father gave this to my Mother as a sign of his commitment to her. I wanna follow in his footsteps." Inu Yasha slipped off the bench and down onto one knee. Kagome clapped a hand over her mouth, and he could see that she was shaking. He held the ivory box in one hand, taking her free hand in the other. "Higurashi Kagome, will you marry me?"
Inu Yasha quickly learned where Sachiko had inherited her talent for enthusiastic hugs as Kagome launched herself at him, throwing her arms around his neck and holding him tightly.
"As long as you don't plan on dying anytime soon, yes. Yes, I'll marry you!"
Inu Yasha's arms went around her, returning her embrace. "Keh. Trust me. My Father was over a thousand years old, and I'm planning on beating him. I just got lucky that I found you so early."
Kagome nodded, unable to help the happy tears that were flowing from her eyes.
Neither knew how much time passed before they composed themselves. Eventually, they both rose and reclaimed their seats on the bench near the Goshinboku. Inu Yasha handed Kagome the box, and she opened it, letting out a gasp at the sight of the beautifully engraved silver ring with a chip of some sort of sparkling gemstone in it as the centerpiece.
"Ruby?" Kagome asked, simply out of curiosity.
Inu Yasha shook his head. "Let people think that, otherwise they might try and steal it. It's red diamond."
Kagome's eyes widened. "I didn't know such a thing existed."
"According to my Mother, it's the rarest of all diamond colors." Inu Yasha drew the ring out of the box to gently slip it on Kagome's finger before folding all of them over with his hand. "It's still not as rare or precious as you, though."
"Keep talking like that, and I might not let you go back to work," Kagome said, only half teasing.
Inu Yasha's cheeks darkened. "Er, on that note, there's really something else you should know."
"What?" Kagome asked, genuinely curious.
"Your scent's changed. It was really faint at first, but I knew for sure a few days ago."
"What's so weird about that? You've already told me you can smell the changes in my hormones."
"Uh-huh," Inu Yasha said, his eyes practically boring holes into her, willing her to understand.
Kagome sighed. "It's about the right time of the month, so why are you acting so strange?"
Inu Yasha winced. "It's not your period."
Kagome gaped at him, about to argue when he cut her off.
"You probably won't have one for the next eight months, give or take."
Realization finally hit, and Kagome was glad she was sitting down.
"Unless, of course..." It would nearly kill him to say it, but this was the modern era, after all. "You'd rather not keep it."
Kagome was reeling from his one-two punch. She lowered her arm to instinctively protect her lower abdomen. Pregnant. She was pregnant. She'd planned on waiting a year or so, but...
"That quickie in the alley behind the 'Happy Hunting Ground'?" she managed to ask.
Inu Yasha nodded sharply. "The timing would be right. Looks like we did cut it too close."
"That'll be a story for him or her to tell the grandkids."
"Didn't hear you complaining," Inu Yasha tried to joke, though it fell a little flat against the tension in the air.
Kagome reigned in her thoughts and fears, knowing that Inu Yasha was fighting not to close himself off, the battle playing out clearly over the rugged planes of his face.
Inu Yasha's head shot up, looking at her in a way that was almost heartbreaking as she gently took his hand and placed it on her abdomen.
"Unplanned doesn't mean unwanted, Inu Yasha," Kagome said. "I'd been planning to wait a bit, but apparently that wasn't meant to be. I've always wanted more children. I just didn't think it was going to be this soon."
"Kagome..." Inu Yasha's voice was soft and unbelievably tender, his eyes traveling from her face, to his hand, and back.
"Then I met you, and gained Naoki. Now our family is growing yet again. I know the kids will be thrilled."
Inu Yasha snorted. "Naoki knows already." He tapped his nose. "And I bet he told Sachiko after I left."
"After you left?"
"Yeah. I asked Sachiko for permission to marry you."
Kagome chuckled. "I bet that made her day!"
"Actually, she was devastated. She thought I didn't want to make you my mate anymore."
"It's cleared up, though. I also asked her about what we talked about the other day."
"And what did she say?"
Inu Yasha looked sheepish. "You were right. I should have more faith."
"Especially since Naoki jumped all over my offer," Kagome chided.
"I know, I know." A slight smile touched the corners of Inu Yasha's mouth. "Any thoughts on a wedding date?"
Kagome blushed. "I know it's a bit fast, but what about late July? That's when summer break starts, so we could all go on the honeymoon together."
"Keh. You should still be able to wear any dress you want, too."
Kagome whapped him lightly on the shoulder. "Maybe it's twins, so I can show off, instead."
"You're really happy about this," Inu Yasha said in awe.
"Of course I am, you idiot." Kagome reached up, slipping one arm over his shoulder, while the other rose so she could rub his ear. "I just needed a moment to get over the shock." A mischievous grin crossed her face. "You didn't need to wait for extra insurance before asking me to marry you, you know."
Inu Yasha choked. "Wench," he growled.
"Yup, your wench."
There was nothing he could really say to that, so he let his lips speak for him in a different way, capturing hers and savoring the moment, the scent of Kagome and the new life inside her drugging him with delight. It was quite some time before they parted, and even then, Kagome refused to let him go, leaning her forehead against his.
"You're just lucky I love you," Kagome said.
Inu Yasha closed his eyes, swallowing the lump in his throat. "Yeah. I'm the luckiest guy in the world."
And, for the first time in his life, he meant it.
~ Fin ~
Quick cultural note: White Day is March 14th, exactly one month after Valentine's Day in Japan. Valentine's Day in Japan is celebrated by gals giving guys chocolate, for either romantic reasons, or just as a thanks (usually called "obligation" chocolates). On White Day, men are encouraged to reciprocate with gifts, ranging from jewelry and lingerie to marshmallows.
Author's Note: And there we have it, the end of what was supposed to be a quick little short story that turned into a novel.
I know some of you are probably wondering about the remaining dangling potential plot threads, and why I'm ending the story with them still there. I was originally going to end with the wedding, but a new plotline developed between this point and that one. The new plot is darker and much more dramatic than the vast majority of what has come before.
So, I've divided things up. Those who like fluff with only a hint of drama can read this story and enjoy it as is. Those who don't mind stories that are more intense and dramatic might enjoy the sequel, too. As of this posting, I'm working on Chapter 5, and will start posting as soon as I've finished the rough draft, so I can keep on a regular posting schedule like I did with "One Plus One".
The rough draft of "One Plus One" took me a month and a half to write. If I can get the sequel out that fast, I'll be happy, but I can't make any promises.
Of course, I can't leave this without once again thanking all of you for your support, insights, comments, and feedback. Not only have they helped me grow, but you've all helped reassure me that it's okay to post things publicly again, no matter how wibbly or wobbly I may have felt about it in the beginning. It means the world to me, and I still have loads of stories to tell involving the Inu Yasha cast, so I'm hoping to be around for a good, long time.
Take care, and hopefully see you all next time!