(The set of Masterpiece theater is back to its normal glory, the bookshelves neatly line the wooden walls, and the fire place is alight with a ginger glow from the crackling fire. Two figures sit in the rust colored arm chairs, legs crossed, staring at each other.)

Sango: (Stares intently at Miroku, eyebrows furrowed) Give it up monk.

Miroku: (Stares just as intently at Sango, eyes squinting) I'll never surrender.

Sango: (Points to the side, eyes still glued to Miroku's) Look, a gorgeous, scantily clad woman!

Miroku: (Smirks proudly) That may have worked the first two hundred and fifty times.. But it won't work this time!

Sango: She's holding up a sign that says 'Will bare child'!

Miroku: (His hands twitch a little, moving with a mind of their own) No… must… resist… must not lose…

Sango: Oh! Wait! The sign says will bear children!

Miroku: (His hands start convulsing, he frantically tries to pull them down with his legs) Must not give in…. So tempted…

Sango: Oh! And what is that underneath? Something about groping?

Miroku: (His hands break free of his legs, moving him out of his chair) I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!!! (Rushes to the end of the stage to see if the woman is there, only to find it is Earl in a wig, with the signs)

Miroku and Sango: (Gape) Huh?

Earl the Lawyer: (Twitches, red from head to toe with embarrassment) What can I say? Rambler really wanted to see Sango win for the thousandth time. Also, she figured you would be too disturbed to kill me when I tell you that your payment isn't coming until the end of the chapter.

Miroku: (Sulks) That is just so typical of her…. Delays it to the last minute…. (starts cursing when he notices the readers) Hello everyone! Long time no grope! So glad you could stop by after so long!

Sango: ( Turns toward readers) Welcome to the much too long awaited Chapter 10! Rambler is incredibly sorry that it took so long, and her only excuse is being very busy and hardly having time to breathe.

Miroku: (Goes back to his chair) To make it up to you she has allowed you all to bear my children.

Sango: (Whacks Miroku over the head) Hentai! Here is Earl with some important announcements from Rambling Coffee Addict.

Earl the Lawyer: Since she has been out of commission for nearly a year, she has a lot of questions to answer. Before she gets to those questions, she would like to thank Meow, for attempting to get her to write a new chapter by reviewing every day for a month or so. She apologizes again for the wait. Also, she loves your character, Metal Dragon, but she doesn't know if she will get a chance to use him, if she does, she will email you. Now, onto the questions Rambler answered, this is going to be long, so the uninterested should scroll down to the end. (Takes deep breath) Lady Ravenwaves, Rambler would like to assure you that the ending of this story has been in her head for two years now and she will try not to dawdle in getting to it… though keep in mind she does ramble. Also, if it seems like any of the passages are pointless, believe me they are not, she is laying the groundwork for future action. Romance for Sessy is probably not going to happen in this story, unfortunately Zipis1 and SP77. Rambler also doesn't think Kagura will be making an appearance, but if she does, it won't be in the same scenes as Sessy. Yes, Aquaprincess, Sango, Naraku, and Kikyo are all going to be in the fic, and will be appearing soon. Rin might not be in the story, but she might appear in one form or another (grins cryptically). The thing about post-traumatic stress disorder, SP77, is that it can kinda take the "backbone" and "spitfire" out of a person. Inu-Yasha's demon relatives have been torturing Takiko for over twenty years, and the only perople she had to turn to was her young son, and her oblivious husband. Even the strongest of us are breakable. Don't worry though, she will begin to get a little "spitfire" soon. The voices in the castle are Inu-Yasha's relatives. For now they are just choosing to stay in the shadows and be insidious, but that is just for now. Humble-Bumble, Kagome is fiery, but her world was turned upside down in a week. Rambler doesn't find it unreasonable to make her a little emotional considering her situation. Plus, as Asya18 pointed out, she has no sitting necklace like she does in the series. That necklace gave her the security and the confidence to behave around Inu-Yasha the way she did. Kagome will be back to her normal self soon, once she finds her feet and learns to cope with her situation. Also, as Rambler has stated before, Kagome had no knowledge of sex prior to being married. She is bound to be a little clueless. Also Asya18, Rambler doesn't like romances or comedies that ignore the grimmer sides of life. She finds the basic plotline of "boy and girl meet, and eventually fall in love" is uninteresting without various angsty things standing in their way. Also, wouldn't let her put it as a romantic dramedy, which is a better title for it. The final question I will answer for the fabulous Rambler is "Will there be a full lemon in this story." The answer is… (drum roll please) yes, but she will have to post it at a separate site and it will only be after the end of the story. So it will be a while, but there will still be citrus moments in the mean time! Last but not least, Rambler does not own or come up with Inu-Yasha, otherwise there would be a team of people who build their lives around helping her get this chapter out on time (Drops to the floor in exhaustion from effort)

Miroku: (Looks in amazement at Earl) My Gods! You memorized all that?

Earl the Lawyer: (Lifts head in a dignified fashion while fanning himself with a cloth) I would do anything for the magnificent, benevolent, beauteous Rambler. (Light streams from the sky and heavenly music plays.)

Sango: Wow, he's really got this lapdog thing down.

Earl the Lawyer: HEY!

Sango: (Shrugs dismissively) Anyhoo, lets get on to the chapter. The sooner that is done the sooner I get my payment!

Chapter 10

Remarkably, Time Goes On

The gray clouds rumbled dramatically, as if reprimanding the earth for some delinquent action. Despite the threat of the thunder, the rain splattered daintily to the ground, a rather polite, almost tactful summer downpour. Just enough to water the flowers in the garden. Kagome reveled in the peaceful atmosphere on the engawa of the castle, listening to the rhythms of the droplets as they splashed against the leaves and petals. Every once in a while, the frogs and insects added their voices to the chorus; an occasional croak or chirp every few minutes. The only sound that didn't seem to harmonize with the orchestra of nature was the weary, high voice of a certain kitsune.

"Ready?" Shippo asked, his orange eyebrows scrunched together as he watched Kagome carefully.

"Yes." Kagome answered with a sigh. This was the twentieth time the boy had asked her. She sat with her legs tucked underneath her, her pale hands lying expectantly on her knees, calmly keeping her eyes trained on the fox-child. Ashes were strewn around her, forming a circle.

"You sure?" He loathed the thought of harming her. What if she were bruised? Or she broke a bone or something? What if she fell over from the force with which he attacked her and was never able to walk again?

"Believe me Shippo," Kagome replied, trying to keep her eyes and tone soothing in spite of her waning patience, "I've been ready for the last thirty minutes."

Taking a deep, resigned sigh, Shippo rushed forward, flinging the feather forward toward Kagome. He closed his eyes unable to look, visions of the feather poking Kagome's eye out taunting him. Kagome immediately dropped her head and brought a single hand to her lips, and began muttering a prayer silently. The moist air around the girl crackled with energy, turning a slightly rosy color, before fading back to normal. She looked up just in time to see the feather fall limply to the floor, right where the line of ash lay.

"Excellent shield spell, Kagome." Kaede remarked from the her place against the brick wall, her coal eyes shimmering with praise. Kagome turned her head and beamed at the elderly miko. "Perhaps you are ready to defend yourself against something a bit more dastardly than a feather?" Her eyes drifted towards Shippo "Maybe a kitsune-bi?"

The fox's mouth gaped in muted horror, barely having survived attacking Kagome the first time. "I…" He faltered.

"Damn it, kit," Griped a new voice, "It's a kitsune-bi, not a fucking ball of fire. That attack couldn't knock her over, never mind kill her."

Kagome turned in surprise to see Inu-Yasha's red-clad legs hanging off the slope of the engawa's roof. He had been sitting there before the rain had started, and out of sheer stubbornness, decided the light shower was not going to move him from his spot. His bare feet swung slightly toward the garden, dirt and water falling on the wooden floor of the porch. Annoyed at his behavior, Kagome yelled back, "Shippo's attack is a ball of blue flames you idiot. And stop making this harder for him!" Her mind idly wondered exactly how long he had been listening in on her training session.

"Harder for him?" The hanyou snorted incredulously. "You're fucking nuts if you think you can get the brat to throw any attack at you again! It took him for fucking ever to throw a feather at you! A feather!"

"Unlike some bastards," Shippo retorted huffily, drawing himself up to his full height to stare down the dog-demon's feet, "I don't want to hurt Kagome!"

"Well you're certainly not helping her learn, stupid!"

"Then why don't you help her, Inu-Yasha?" Kaede suggested loudly, rubbing her temples in exasperation. Sometimes she wished she could just take Kagome back to her village and train her away from the distractions of the kitsune and the incredibly immature dog-demon. Since that was not among her available options, she was forced to baby-sit the two while she attempted to teach. "Since you are obviously so devoted to Kagome's learning, why don't you throw a light" She deliberately over-emphasized the word 'light', "attack at Kagome so she can practice?"

Kagome knew from the moment that Inu-Yasha hopped down from the roof that that was an incredibly bad idea. The hanyou leapt from the garden floor onto the wooden ledge of engawa, a dangerous gleam dancing in his amber eyes. He shook himself off violently to get dry, water flew all over the flowers. Gulping as he made his way over to her, she couldn't help but feel like a deer being stalked by a wolf. Kagome usually had a profound respect for the advice of the elderly miko, but at this moment she began to wonder if she was becoming a tad senile. That old woman was about to cost Kagome her life.

Inu-Yasha moved to stand in front of her, pushing the small kitsune out of the way with his leg. He didn't bother to hide his grin as he told her "I'm only gonna warn you once before I attack."

For some reason Kagome's lips refused to move from their position of opened mouth disbelief. She tried to say she wasn't ready, that she knew he was going to do something stupid, that she wanted to go back to Shippo throwing feathers at her. All that came out of her lead lips was "Uh…"

Inu-Yasha nodded as if that were some sort of an acquiescence, instead of a noise of terror. Licking his lips, Inu-Yasha crouched into a fighting stance. "Ready ?" Kagome's mouth opening and closing was his only answer. "Here I come!" Catapulting himself at Kagome, he threw his right arm into the air as if to slash her with his claws.

Squeaking, Kagome dived to the side, causing Inu-Yasha to trip over her leg. The hanyou yelped as he hit his head on the floor, before managing to do a somersault to return to a crouching position. She moved the hands covering her face to peer at Inu-Yasha as he rubbed his head irritably.

Kaede had managed to foresee something of this sort occurring, and had wisely moved to the side before the jumbled mess of dog demon came at her. She clapped sarcastically, "Well done, Inu-Yasha, you have helped Kagome practice her dodging skills! Not exactly what I had in mind, but good job nonetheless, Kagome."

Inu-Yasha sulked as he massaged the bump forming on his skull, glaring at Kagome. "Bitch."

Merely sniffing in response, she brushed off her kimono and stood up. "You knew I wasn't ready, Inu-Yasha. What did you think I would do?"

"Mikos should be able to put up energy shields under pressure!"

"And," Kaede interrupted, "They should know when to not bother and get the hell out of the way of a lunatic." She turned toward Kagome, who had gathered Shippo in her arms. "I think that is a fitting conclusion to our morning lessons, don't you Kagome? Why don't we take a break until after lunch?"

"But-" Inu-Yasha tried to protest.

"I am definitely ready for lunch!" Kagome ignored Inu-Yasha, sweeping past him to walk back inside the castle with Kaede.


"See you at dinner Inu-Yasha!" Kagome called over her shoulder before the door shut, leaving the hanyou alone on the engawa.

"Stupid, stubborn wench…" Inu-Yasha griped before making his way back onto the roof.

Much to Kagome's surprise, life went on after her marriage to Inu-Yasha. For a while she had entertained the notion that time itself would stop out of protest or horror, or just because it would be the sensible thing to do. Instead, the hours, days, and weeks seemed to dart by. She had been married to Inu-Yasha for a month now. A whole month. And here she had thought she would die by the third day. In actuality, the third day was relatively peaceful in comparison to the second. Kouga had failed to show up since his fight with Inu-Yasha. Taisho had been relatively well behaved at the dinner table, choosing to make dirty jokes and discuss the political struggles of the Western Lands than to prod into Inu-Yasha's and her sex life. Miroku had left the next week on another 'holy quest' to one of the nearby mountain villages, which conveniently had a renowned geisha house. But that was the kind of suffering Miroku was willing to endure, for the greater good, of course.

Inu-Yasha and Kagome still fought at least once a day, but the argument never ended with the bitter aftertaste the battles of the first week had had. Each could see the silent understanding in the other's eyes. They were partners for the next few months, for better or worse. Neither would do anything that would have jeopardized the other's interests, but they would annoy each other from time to time. Besides, it gave Kagome a chance to come up with new and creative insults. While Inu-Yasha may have stuck to his usual refrain of "bitch", "fucking bitch" or "wench", Kagome chose to try and learn the most out of living with the world's biggest tight ass, developing a whole new repertoire of ways to call him an idiot.

What surprised Kagome the most about her relationship with Inu-Yasha was the fact that they had formed a normal, and increasingly comfortable routine. Most days Kagome would wake up in the morning to the smell of breakfast steaming by the edge of the futon, placed there by Inu-Yasha, who awoke much earlier than her. It still bothered her that she woke up alone in his bed, but over the weeks she had come to accept it. Shippo would come bouncing in with a good morning hug, and would accompany her to her lessons with Kaede. The three of them would break for lunch, and explore the forests surrounding the Yamura castle in search of new spots to hold picnics. Kagome's personal favorite was a little lake with a tall, gnarled tree whose branches wove and twisted in all directions. She thought the tree looked something like an old, open hand, outstretched to grasp the sky. She dragged Kaede and Shippo there at least once a week.

After lunch, Kagome would continue her lessons with Kaede. Being taught by Kaede was so different from being taught by her grandfather. Kaede taught with calm, unhurried voice, gently pressing Kagome to always push herself further, but never to rush. Her grandfather had been so desperate for her to learn he had overwhelmed her with information. He taught her the history of archery, how to hold a bow and arrow, and how to find the best wood for making a bow in the same breath. His excitement and hope was almost too much for her to bear at times, because he expected her to learn so much, but she couldn't understand what he was saying. It reached the point where she had to teach herself archery, practicing outside after he had gone to sleep. The comforting thing about Kaede was there seemed to be no way to disappoint her, as long as Kagome tried, the old miko seemed pleased enough. Besides, she looked like an angel when compared to the antics of Inu-Yasha.

Inu-Yasha sometimes joined them to watch Kagome practice, either to heckle her or give his unwanted opinion on her progress. Each time he showed up uninvited she had every intention of ignoring him. Even his presence seemed to poke her repeatedly in the ribs however. She felt jittery around him; her cheeks grew hot, and she wanted to punch him just for being around her. The young miko found the hanyou impossible to disregard; he seemed to instinctively know how to push all her buttons.

After her lessons Kagome would freshen up, and join Inu-Yasha's family for dinner. She was very proud of the fact that she had convinced Shippo to join the family for supper. The feat took much cajoling, many hugs, and personal invitation from Taisho. Inu-Yasha pretended to be annoyed (she told herself and everyone else he pretended, and would not consider evidence to the contrary), saying the brat would ruin his appetite. Shippo and Inu-Yasha did bicker constantly during meals. Dinner often ended with Inu-Yasha's arms wildly thrashing in the air, while Shippo poked and tweaked his ears, with Taisho and Kagome chiding the hanyou for picking on a child in the background. Yet even with all of Inu-Yasha's whining and grumbling, the addition of Shippo to the dinner table had made the atmosphere feel more homey to Kagome, and lightened the dreary, stony room considerably.

Sesshoumaru had recently begun joining the family for dinner again, after discussions of Inu-Yasha's sex life ceased. He mostly sat primly at the table, casting dirty looks at Takiko, who would shiver in response, keeping her head low. Kagome had tried to stop this when she saw what was going on, sitting next to her at each supper, with Inu-Yasha sitting across from her, and Shippo sitting next to him. Sesshoumaru still glared at Takiko, but Takiko couldn't see his eyes from where she was sitting. Sometimes Kagome even invited Kaede to dinner, to enlarge the barrier between dog demon prince and his stepmother.

Kagome had also begun to spend considerable time with Takiko. Their friendship had started with Kagome's attempts to distract the woman from Sesshoumaru's incessant glowering at the dinner table through conversation. Through their conversations, Kagome discovered that her new mother-in-law had a passion for gardening. Takiko also had incredible knowledge of the medicinal and magical properties of plants. One day a week she would teach Kagome to garden, and to spot and cultivate certain medicinal plants. They started out gardening for only an hour or two, but the woman immediately took to Kagome, and their sessions grew longer and longer, until they were in the garden talking and working from morning till dusk. The young miko also invited Takiko to eat lunch with Kaede, Shippo and herself occasionally.

Every Sunday, Kagome, Inu-Yasha, Shippo and Takiko would go to the marketplace in the nearby village. They went not so much to buy things, so much as to give the miko and her mother-in-law a chance to mingle among people. Inu-Yasha had thought it a bad idea, but Kagome's starry eyed vision of making friends in the village would not be deterred. They went the first Sunday after the wedding, and Kagome skipped joyfully into the village to meet the curious, suspicious, and judgmental stares of the townsfolk. She was disheartened by the prejudice of the villagers, who at first would not sell anything to Takiko or herself because they were married to demons (they eventually complied once Inu-Yasha testily reminded them that their village would not be demon free without the protection of the Lord of the Western Lands).

Kagome did find a friend or two in the village though. One of which was the last person she had ever expected to see again, Inu-Yasha's best man from the wedding. Hiko had been the sole person to welcome their presence on the group's first trip to the marketplace. He spotted Kagome while he was across the way in a tavern, downing his first sake of the day. She was in front of one vender, trying to buy a piece of jewelry, only to be yelled at by the man. Immediately running to her side, he defended her against the villager. To get rid of the embarrassment of Kagome and the lush in front of his small shop, the man threw the piece of jewelry at her, saying it was free as long as she left. Kagome handed the necklace back to the man, much to the surprise of both the shop's owner, and Hiko, stating she wouldn't do business with someone who wouldn't respect her, and walked away. Hiko caught up to her as she marched off, unable to deny his urge to see the little girl he had abandoned so long ago.

He took the group to the tavern for lunch. The most he could give Kagome was a vague wisp of a story about his past without telling her who he was to her. Inu-Yasha seemed to have no hard feelings about him passing out at his wedding, simply grumbling that Hiko was a better alternative than his brother. From then on, every Sunday, Hiko faithfully showed up to have lunch with Kagome and the others, sobering up for a few hours for his daughter's sake. The desire for Hiko to tell her his identity was overwhelming, it was almost painful for him when she looked at him as an acquaintance. But he told himself that she deserved a father who was honorable, even if it was just the memory of a father who had died honorably, and had not abandoned his wife and family.

So the weeks went on and had turned into a whole month. This was an event Taisho thought should be celebrated, and since Taisho was never one to keep his opinions to himself, he made his view known at the dinner table that night. Especially since Miroku had come back to the castle for a few days. One had to take advantage of the cavalry while you had it. "So…Inu-Yasha," He opened the conversation casually, trying to lull his son into a false state of security. "What did you and Kagome do for your one month anniversary?"

Sesshoumaru groaned, dropping his napkin in frustration. "I thought we decided not to talk about the mating habits of the whelp and his bitch."

Inu-Yasha stiffened, instantly knowing he was not going to like this discussion. Although he had been counting every day and hour until his freedom, he decided to feign ignorance. "It's been a month already?" He grunted, keeping his eyes trained on the steak in front of him.

"Actually, I think it's been a little over a month," Taisho rubbed his bearded chin in an imitation of deep thought "That is why I asked what you did instead of what you are doing."

No, chuckling at his shitty humor would only give away that we haven't done anything… "Well, you know how I hate celebrating things… I don't even like birthday parties." He really didn't, especially since anytime in his childhood when they had tried to throw a birthday party for him, his family (and Miroku when he grew older), were usually the only ones in attendance. He had no friends, the village kids all thought he was a freak. So he was forced to celebrate the day of his birth with a bunch of people who wished he had never been born.

"But your mother always threw such great parties for you!" Bringing his mother into the argument was really a low blow, even for Taisho, but he would get what he wanted even if he had to use emotional blackmail.

His son's golden eyes hardened into brass. "How would you know? You weren't there for most of them. You only came to maybe two of them before I turned eighteen."

Apparently two can play at emotional blackmail, Taisho thought as Inu-Yasha's words pierced him. "I had a job to do son," He replied solemnly, refusing to back down or be sorry for something he considered a duty. "I have to protect the Western Lands, not just for the sake of the people and demons depending on me, but for you and your mother as well." He shrugged off his serious posture as quickly as he had put it on. "Besides, I heard all about your parties from your mother and the staff."

Inu-Yasha snorted. "And that's just as good as being there, I'm sure."

"It was the best I could do son." Taisho answered wearily, even at home he had to fight for every inch of space, especially for space in his own child's esteem. "Besides, I am here now!" He added brightly, his gregarious spirit refusing to give in to the depressing turn the conversation was taking. "So, about throwing a party for you crazy lovebirds-"

"Actually Taisho-sama," Kagome decided to take over the fight before Inu-Yasha committed hara-kiri at the dinner table, "I also don't like big parties. They're just so much work, and I really prefer spending time with close family and friends, like you, Takiko, Shippo, and Miroku-"

"And Sesshoumaru of course." Taisho added for her with a bemused look, knowing that Kagome and he had barely said two words to each other.

"Of course." She nodded absently. Abruptly she perked up on her pillow, struck with an idea, "Now that you mention it, I had been hoping to visit my family for our one month anniversary. I want to share my joy with them, and let my mother know how wonderful my life has been here." A little subtle flattery never failed to get her what she wanted with Taisho.

"I don't know…" Taisho stalled, having hoped to be able to get the two to do something more romantic.

"Wouldn't you prefer going to see my family to a big party with all of your relatives, Inu-Yasha?" Kagome asked her husband with saccharine sweetness, her eyes alight with thunderous threats. It's either my family or yours buddy, those are your only choices. She desperately wanted to see her brother, her grandfather, Buyo, and especially her mother. There was no way she was going to let this opportunity slip by her.

The hanyou eyed her wearily. He could tell she wouldn't take 'no' for answer this time, at least not before screeching at him like an angry cat. In any case, her family was preferable to his demon relatives leering at Kagome and himself. Inu-Yasha had done a reasonably good job at keeping them off of her back, making sure she was never alone, making sure she avoided the parts of castle (which meant most of the castle) where they lurked , just waiting for an opportunity to say something. Why let his efforts go to waste now?

But the new moonis coming up… The only concern was that if they left now, he would be vulnerable while he and Kagome were at her family's shrine. He had managed to keep his secret from her while still leaving her protected during the last new moon. Miroku had kept her busy downstairs for an hour or two after dinner, and Kagome had come back upstairs to find him locked in the bathroom, 'sick'. Although annoyed because she had been unable to take a bath, she seemed to have bought his excuse, simply going to bed. When she woke up the next morning, Inu-Yasha was 'better', and had breakfast waiting for her as usual. He had been planning to use the same strategy for the coming new moon, which was partly why Miroku had conveniently decided to spend a week at the castle. The strategy wouldn't work if they were traveling, however.

As if reading his thoughts, Miroku chimed in "Actually, could I come too? I don't mean to the Higurashi Shrine, only on the journey. I have a friend I want to visit a village away from Kagome's."

Taisho raised an eyebrow. "Now really, Miroku, is an anniversary trip the place for a monk?"

The houshi grinned broadly, "Absolutely." Somewhere to his right he heard Kagome choke on whatever she was eating. He immediately switched tactics, and facades, lowering his head humbly. "One might not consider it normal, but I feel it would be the best course of action in this case, Yamura-sama. I only insist for Inu-Yasha and Kagome's safety, of course. Just think of it" His hand waved dramatically in the air, as if creating a picture of some sort. "The two young love birds are gazing deep," His eyes closed, his chest rose as his hands clasped onto his chest "Deep, into each others eyes, and -" Miroku paused for effect "They are both brutally massacred by a band of wolf youkai because they are too distracted by love." The monk shook his head sadly, mourning the fate of his friend sitting a few seats away from him.

The Lord of the Western Lands could do nothing more than stare slack jawed at the monk for a moment. Where does he come up with this crap? "No son of mine… would ever be too distracted to fight off a band of wolf demons."

Sesshoumaru was amazed at his father's blind faith in Inu-Yasha. Hadn't he ever seen the idiot in action? "Actually Father," He corrected, "Inu-Yasha barely managed to defeat the wolf prince Kouga a month ago. There is no way that poor excuse for a dog demon could take on entire band of wolf youkai." Sometimes he felt much older than his father; it was extraordinarily irksome.

"Besides, it is not that I doubt Inu-Yasha's skill, Lord Yamura, but this is the first time that Lady Kagome and Inu-Yasha have traveled so far from the realm of the castle. Not to mention Kouga did infer during his last visit to Kagome he would be back for her. I only mean to suggest we err on the side of caution."

Taisho was always impressed by the many roles Miroku could play; monk, jester, lecher, politician, thief, and diplomat, he put on each façade as if he were simply putting on a hat. He was tempted to applaud. Mulling over the arguments he had heard, he did have to admit Kagome hadn't seen her family in a month, and that was a long time for a girl who had never been away from home before. Sitting straighter on his cushion, he pounded his fist on the table to indicate he had made a decision. "I think it is a great idea that Inu-Yasha and Kagome go to her family shrine for to celebrate their one month anniversary. Miroku is welcomed to join them on their journey and aid Inu-Yasha in keeping Kagome safe."

The momentary silence was interrupted by Inu-Yasha's hollow laugh. The dog demon raised a thick snowy eyebrow in warning toward his son "Do you have something to say, Inu-Yasha?"

Why are you still deciding everything in my life? Where I go, who I go with, who I marry? Why do you always interfere? Do you care about my opinion at all? Why do you find it easier to treat me like a subject than a son? Inu-Yasha dragged his eyes to stare vacantly at his father. "No."

"Then it is settled! You leave tomorrow."

Why is it easier to treat me like a subject than a son?

"Bye Miroku!" Kagome waved, watching as the monk made his way to a large hut on the side of the small village. She wasn't surprised when he called out and a girl, not much older than herself, came out of the hut. What astonished her was the girl didn't seem to be a geisha; she was dressed in a conservative kimono, her long hair hanging primly down her back. Though she couldn't hear their conversation, she could guess what the houshi said when the woman reached up and slapped his face. He only smiled, rubbing his cheek, and followed her back inside the hut, trying vainly to reach for her butt.

"Hey Inu-Yasha," She called to the hanyou, who was already heading back toward the large barrier walls the village had built to protect itself, "Who is Miroku visiting?"

"An old friend of his, this demon exterminator wench." He said off-handedly over his shoulder. Continuing to walk, he motioned for her to catch up with him. Her satchel was slung over his back, containing four days rations, and some clothes. When she had asked why he didn't bring anything with him, he responded that he was a wasn't a woman, and changing clothes every three hours was ridiculous any way. He ignored her snide comment about going to the extreme in the opposite direction: he wore the same outfit every day.

"Have you met her?" She asked as he helped her up onto their horse, which was waiting just outside the barriers. Her husband had thought it pointless to travel by horseback, saying something she didn't quite understand about being able to go faster than a horse. His father had simply replied that what he was suggesting was 'no way to travel with a lady', a comment which made Kagome even more curious.

"Once, but she seemed a little uncomfortable around me… being a demon exterminator and all." Inu-Yasha hopped up on the horse behind her, reaching around to grab the reins before kicking the horse's side to get it to move. In spite of their relationship, he still felt strange about being so close to her. His arms kept brushing against her sides as he held the reins, his legs kept rubbing against hers. He tried futilely to position himself in a diagonal position, so that his legs would somehow point in the direction of the horses rear, only to find his nose in Kagome's hair, which still smelled intoxicatingly like raspberries. He kept struggling, to the point that Kagome finally yelled at him and threatened to take over the reins, even though she had little experience riding horses.

Whenever he tried to distance himself from her, he just found himself nearer to some part of her. What made this so annoying was this was part of a rather alarming trend for Inu-Yasha. Fighting with her didn't seem to help push her away, at least not permanently. Every time they made up, or rather Kagome found some way to make her peace with him, he just felt more comfortable with her, more reassured by her presence. It was like she wasn't going to let him screw up, and even if he did, she would find a way to fix it.

In vain, Inu-Yasha had even tried to entice her interest in Miroku at the end of the first week of their marriage, hoping that it would make him less attracted to her. When he tried to broach the subject subtlety (You like Miroku, don't you?), she had only shrugged him off, saying that he was too lecherous for her taste. She just ranted about his last attempt to grab her ass. When Inu-Yasha had begun to defend the monk, and list his few positive qualities, and she actually started to come around, admitting that he was intelligent and attractive, he couldn't take it. He blew up at her and stormed off, unable to take the thought of her with the bouzo.

He tried to spend less time near her, only to find her spending more time with his mother, which he couldn't help but be grateful for. Even more disturbing was that the less time he spent with her, the more he thought about the time they spent together. The way her eyes sparkled when she was angry was permanently imprinted on his brain, as was her laugh, that full bodied sound which came from her gut, yet still somehow managed to sound as light as silver. Try as he might, he couldn't even stop thinking about their nights together, even though they had caused him many headaches and a great deal of embarrassment. His mind wandered through memories of the curves of her body, her sighs, and moans with no regard for Inu-Yasha's wishes. Twice a week they would put on a show for his father, making it seem as if he had claimed her as his mate. Every time it became harder to keep control, and to not actually claim her there and then. Just touching her was becoming almost more than he could bear.

The urge to abandon himself and drown in her became a siren song always in his head, constantly pulling at his consciousness. Being around her was stifling, Inu-Yasha felt like he couldn't breathe most of the time. He had been thrown in this sea of confusion by his father, forced to be in some semblance of a relationship with Kagome. He couldn't let his father win, he couldn't let himself forget Kikyo. Nearly once a day he found himself banging his head into a tree, saying over and over again "This isn't real, it's just for six months! Kikyo is real, she is not Kikyo!" Yet his attraction to Kagome just grew, the song becoming deafening as Inu-Yasha tried not to sink further.

Still lost in thought, Inu-Yasha was surprised when the Higurashi Shrine came into sight. Suddenly remembering himself, he gulped, looking up at the sky. The sun was high in this sky, it was a little after mid-day. That still left him plenty of time to find an excuse to leave before sunset for the night. He had hoped that since Miroku was traveling with them, he would have agreed to slow their traveling down a little so they wouldn't reach their destination till the new moon. The monk was in a hurry for some reason, however, and thought he should tell Kagome anyway. "There is no way you can hide your… situation from her for six months, Inu-Yasha. Might as well tell her now. What is the worst that could happen?"

The worst that could happen is she blabs my secret to the wrong person and I get killed because of it you fucking bouzo, he had told the priest so at the time, but he repeated it to himself in the hopes that he could somehow mentally slap the monk from far away. There was no way he was going to trust that information to a girl he had known for a month. Only his mother and father knew about the new moon. It wasn't like he actually even wanted his father to know, but he didn't have any control over who knew his condition when he was an infant. No, he would keep this from her if it was the last thing he did.

Ducking under Inu-Yasha's arms, Kagome hurled herself from the horse. She scrambled to her feet when she reached the ground with a thud, breaking out into a run up the stairs that led to her family shrine. It didn't matter that she scraped her knees when she jumped, all that mattered was getting to her family. "Kaa-san! Souta! Ji-chan!"

"Kagome?!" Within an instant Higurashi-san rushed out the door of the house, racing down the steps to meet her daughter. Tears brimming in her eyes, she finally reached Kagome, enfolding her in a tight hug. Both mother and daughter stood there for a long while, laughing and crying at the same time.

Inu-Yasha awkwardly brought the horse to the front of the shrine steps, averting his eyes. This was one of the most intimate, heartfelt moments he had ever witnessed, and he felt wholly out of place. The moment seemed as if it should be painted on someone's wall, and there he was ruining the composition, that red thing in the background that everyone stares at and wonders what the hell it is doing there. Choosing not to spoil the moment between the two, lest he be ensnared in the moment and forced to hug someone, he quickly made his way up the stairs and into the shrine.

Wandering aimlessly through the holy place, he wondered where the best spot to put Kagome's bags would be. He considered just dropping it among the candles and statues in the simple sanctuary, but he knew the wench would just chew him out about it later. Lost in thought, he took in the magnificent red and gold tapestries draped along the wall, and the golden sculptures dedicated to different ancestors. His hands reached out with a mind of it's own, tentatively moving to touch one of the particularly ornate sculptures of what seemed to be a dragon.

"Inu-Yasha-oni-chan!" The boy's voice abruptly called to him, causing him to jump five feet away from the statue and land in a warrior's crouched stance. The muscles in his shoulders relaxed a little when he saw it was only Souta, Kagome's kid brother.

"Keh. Hey kid." He greeted off-handedly, proceeding to return to his perusing of the shrine, although a tad more carefully.

Souta just smiled at him from the entrance of the shrine "You can relax, oni-chan! You don't have to pretend with me!" He said reassuringly, his chest held high with pride. "I know your secret!" His hand cupped his mouth in a conspiratorial fashion.

That immediately caught Inu-Yasha's attention, his eyes widening as he looked at the child in shock. His secret? This nine year old knew his secret? How was it possible… unless his loudmouth father had told Kagome and her family! Why hadn't she said anything? Was she just to damned polite to ask? Was that why she'd suggested they come to the shrine, because she thought it would be a safe place for him during the new moon? Did she do it out of pity? Why did everyone act like they had the goddamn right to run his life?! Stomping over to Souta, who still smiled at him in adoration, he grabbed the kid under his arms and lifted him off the ground. "Alright," He snarled, "Who told you and how many people know?"

(The set of masterpiece theater has been stripped of all of the furniture, even the fireplace, in anticipation that there might be some violent outburst in the next ten minutes. Sango and Miroku sit on the floor, tapping their feet anxiously, extraordinarily annoyed that Rambler took their chairs too.)

Miroku: (Grumbling) It should have been here by now!

Sango: (Pauses in her foot tapping) Wait…. Do you hear that?

Miroku: (Listens intently, suddenly hears the Hallelujah Chorus)

Earl the Lawyer: (Comes out dressed in a white suit, playing a harp) The divine Rambler wishes to thank you for your hard work-

Miroku: Yeah, yeah, give me my payment already!!! (Lightning strikes the set, a foot away from Miroku)

Earl the Lawyer: (Glares) Do not interrupt me boy! (Straightens his suit out a little and begins to play the harp) Rambler would like to thank you two for all your hard work, for without you this story would not be nearly so funny. (Sighs dramatically) You are the wind beneath the story's wings! You allow it to take flight! You are the foundation upon which this story stands! You are- well… you get the picture. And so, without further ado, here is your payment! (bows dramatically as a stream of light falls for the sky, and lands in Miroku's hands)

Sango: (Scowls) Hey! Where is mine?

Miroku: (Cackles a little as he looks at the catalogue in his hands) hehe….hahahah…..hehe.. MWAHAHAHA….. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Sango: (Peers over at the catalogue in Miroku's hand) It's just a stupid book with women in lingerie. What is so special about that?

Miroku: (Looks at her evilly) Oh, you'll see… They'll ALL see! (insert extraordinarily demented grin here. He flips through the catalogue, looking at one of the pages. He points to one of the girls on the page, shouting) Number C8812, in pink!

Sango: (Suddenly her cloths are transformed into a small pink satin nightie that hugs her curves and barely covers her ass. The nightie has a fluffy pink lining along her breasts, covering them from the readers' eyes, it also has a bunny tail on Sango's butt to match. Sango tries to cover herself up with her hands , crossing her legs, but it is no use.) WHAT IN THE HELLS???!!!!

Miroku: (Triumphantly holds the catalogue up in his hand, waving it around like a flag) This is no ordinary catalogue, this is a VICTORIAS SECRET CATALOGUE! Not only that! But I just have to say the number of the item, and the girl nearest me is instantly IN IT!!!! SWEET BUDDHA! THE POWER!!! (continues to laugh malevolently, inching his way toward Sango's rear end and Sango runs about the empty stage looking for anything to cover her. Right when Miroku is about to pinch the bunny tail of Sango's nightie, the Hallelujah Chorus intervenes. Another beam of light drops from the sky.)

Sango: Finally! My payment! Stand back monk! ( Instead of moving toward Sango, the beam hit's the priests hands, which were a centimeter away from the tail, causing him to drop the magazine. A pair of silver handcuffs are suddenly on his hands)

Miroku: (Quickly picking up the catalogue again, he looks at the handcuffs. He grins at her) Why Sango, I didn't know you were so kinky!

Sango: (Scoffs, smiling in satisfied triumph) Just try me houshi-sama… You have no idea what you are in for.

Miroku: (Gives her a patronizing look) Surely you didn't think these would stop me…It just forces me to be a little more creative… (Grins slyly as he reaches both hands toward her breasts. He gasps in surprise as he is suddenly receives an electric jolt).

Sango: (Smirks as Miroku twitches and tries to get his hair to go back down) Anytime you try to grope a woman houshi-sama, those handcuffs will electrocute you! Your days of lechery are OVER!!!!

Miroku: (Pouts a little, before his eyes return to the catalogue. The creepy demonic grin returns) Oh but Sango, even though I can't touch, I can always look! (He awkwardly flips through his catalogue once again) Number R7725, in yellow!

Sango: (Finds herself in a canary yellow corset and thong, and blushes beet red.) EEK!!! (She runs off stage trying to cover herself while shaking her fist at him) This isn't over monk!

Miroku: (Follows her, still carrying the catalogue in his handcuffed hands, cackling) Number T34599! (A squeal can be heard from offstage)

Earl the Lawyer: (Still calmly holding the harp) Hopefully they will have calmed down enough to host the next chapter… Anyhoo, remember to review! (Smiles to himself) Hey! I rhymed!