Epilogue: Inuyasha and Kagome
Returning to their small group of friends had been easier than either had anticipated. No one questioned their long stay on the other side of the well, as they all assumed that Kagome must have been adamant about finally getting some work done. While this assumption slightly irritated the hanyou, as it made it appear that he was incapable of bringing the girl back whenever he pleased, he let it pass. It was far less complicated than the truth. Besides, he wasn't in any hurry to be taunted mercilessly by Miroku, or to be given death threats by Sango, simply because he had finally claimed the bitch that had been rightfully his to take in the first place. And if Shippou knew what was good for his own skull, he would keep his mouth shut. So for the first few hours, things went on the way they always had…
Of course, once they got back out on the road, they ran into a few unexpected problems. For one thing, any time Miroku or Shippou went within a few feet of Kagome, Inuyasha would involuntarily start to growl murderously and bear his teeth. Then, when he was met with the inevitable looks of confusion from his traveling companions, he'd act defensive and sulk. Finally, after two whole days of growling and sulking, Kagome had had enough. Unable to stand the tension, or the noise, any longer, she apologized for him and explained everything that had happened at her home over the last week, omitting nothing, sparing no excruciating detail, no matter how insignificant it seemed. In fact, she had to "sit" Inuyasha a few times to keep him from censoring her. When he dared to complain to her about it afterward, she reminded him about the incident at her school.
"You told my friends. I told your friends. Now we're even. Just be thankful your parents are beyond my reach, or they'd be next."
"But I'm never going to hear the end of this! You even told them about…how I get when you're not around…" he whispered, a blush of humiliation spreading across his face. She favored him with a wry smile and a raised eyebrow.
"That's right! And I'll tell whoever I want, whenever I want! It's the truth, Inuyasha, and people need to know it." He glared at her as his own words left her mouth to be thrown back in his face. "Besides, koishii, I don't see how you expected to hide it from them! We're bound to get separated for a little while, sooner or later."
"That's what you think…" he grumbled, and that's when Kagome realized that she may have gotten more than she had bargained for. She couldn't help but cringe at the thought of what kind of effects her mating with the hanyou might have on their little group.
As predicted, Miroku found it all very amusing. For some time, he kept himself entertained by going out of his way to pass closely by Kagome-sama whenever he went anywhere, prompting the instinctive growl in Inuyasha's throat. Then he would turn to the hanyou with a look of bewildered innocence on his face, the same look that he had perfected on Sango. This had the end result of Inuyasha really getting angry at the monk, and the growls soon became earnest, and not just unconscious. Luckily, the hoshi had enough interest in self-preservation that he spotted the exact moment when this change occurred, and respectfully backed off.
Sango, on the other hand, found her everyday life thrown into upheaval. One of her chief concerns was that Inuyasha now insisted on bathing with Kagome-chan. That left two choices for the exterminator. She could either forgo all modesty and have to look at a naked hanyou every time she bathed (she wasn't concerned about him looking back, as whenever Kagome-chan was in his immediate sight, his eyes never left her body.) or she would be forced to bathe alone, and that presented it's own dangers… Plus, she had enjoyed spending her bath times with Kagome-chan. It was very nice to be able to confide in another girl every now and then. As much as she was embarrassed to admit it, she had hoped that she would have been able to use their next bath as an opportunity to ask her friend a few personal questions about what it was like to be with a man, even if that man was half youkai. Unfortunately, it was not to be, and so Sango found herself without a companion at bath time, much to her great annoyance. Miroku kindly offered to take Kagome-sama's place, but was politely declined with a sharp crack to the skull by Hiraikotsu.
That was the other problem. In the past, it had been she and Kagome-chan, fighting side by side in the war against the perverted males, but now that things had changed between her friend and Inuyasha, she often found herself alone on the battlefeild. Whereas before, a perverted comment from the hanyou would have earned him a fast and furious "SIT!", now all he received was a giggle or a blush and a whispered promise. To make matters worse, Inuyasha was coming out with such comments more frequently than he ever had before, as he was becoming more comfortable with public displays of affection. While she had to grudgingly admit that she had never seen the hanyou so happy or self-confident, seeing such things on a daily basis had only succeeded in encouraging the advances of a certain hoshi, who's new mantra had become "But Kagome-sama doesn't mind when Inuyasha does it!"
Sleeping arrangements, of course, had been changed immediately. Inuyasha finally consented to come down out of his tree, in favor of sharing Kagome's sleeping bag. Shippou found himself unwittingly relocated to the other side of the campfire, much to his dismay. Then, about three weeks later, the sleeping bag and it's occupants seemed to mysteriously move another ten feet away from the campsite, and every now and then, someone would wake in the night to the sounds of whimpers and growls, with the occasionally gasped "koi" thrown in for good measure. On the mornings following such nights, it became an unspoken rule of the camp that no one was to approach the sleeping bag under any circumstances, barring imminent danger, or make any loud, unnecessary noises, until it's occupants had caught up on their sleep. This law was strictly enforced, and was made after one particularly rough morning when Shippou tried to rouse the hanyou and his mate from their slumber, and nearly got his tail ripped off in the process by a naked and homicidal Inuyasha, operating on less than three hours of sleep.
Life continued on that way for quite some time. There were other changes, of course, but they worked through them. Inuyasha became more of a constant presence by Kagome's side, if that was even possible. Gone were the days of Kagome disappearing into the well for days at a time, with Inuyasha waiting not-so-patiently on the other end, for now he just followed her wherever she went. Occasionally, Kagome would still get a moment or two to herself. Afterall, even a mighty hanyou must answer to the call of nature, and he wasn't about to drag her along to witness that. In fact, it was on one such occasion that she left the camp in search of Sesshoumaru.
On their last trip home, she had learned that exams week at her school was rapidly approaching. If she hoped to pass any of them at all, she would need Sesshoumaru's help. Not that she didn't love having Inuyasha around, but the chances of her actually being able to get any studying done with him there were very slim. For some reason, being alone in her bedroom seemed to work like an aphrodisiac on her koibito, and she had a very hard time saying no, especially since the door to her bedroom had been fixed. So she had sought out her brother-in-law, and worked out a deal: an occupied Inuyasha in exchange for Ramen. Now those were terms she was more than happy to comply with. She already had to make huge Ramen buying excursions whenever she returned home, so shopping for one more wouldn't make much of a difference. She was just glad that the stuff was so cheap! If a little Ramen would be all it took to get Sesshoumaru's aid in certain matters, then she had a feeling that this could be the start of a beautiful relationship between herself and her koi's older brother.
When the day in question finally arrived, she took Inuyasha aside and explained to him very carefully what was about to happen and her reasons for leaving. He did not take it well. Undaunted, she "sat" him, explained her reasons again and told him in no uncertain terms that she was leaving for exactly one week, he was not to follow, and that she would be leaving something behind for him with her scent on it so that he wouldn't start feeling lonely or desperate. She never mentioned Sesshoumaru.
"What did she bribe you with?" Inuyasha asked suspiciously, tucking Kagome's pant tease into the front of his haori.
"She did not 'bribe' me, as you put it." Sesshoumaru scoffed. "We made an agreement."
"Fine, delude yourself, it makes no difference to me. All I want to know is what were the terms of your 'agreement'? What do you get out of this deal?"
"That is between the Wegome and myself." the youkai said quietly, plucking at a blade of grass and deliberately ignoring the growl that was rising in his younger brother's throat.
"Like hell it is! Asking you to keep me here for an entire week is a pretty big favor, Sesshoumaru! Now just what the hell did she offer you in return? And don't say you're doing this out of the kindness of your heart, because we both know that you don't have one!"
"What are you working yourself up for?" Sesshoumaru replied, ignoring the question entirely and sounding quite bored as he plucked at another blade of grass. "I'm not here to fight you. The Wegome was very specific about that. My initial plan was to simply rip both of your legs off, but she wouldn't agree to those terms…" he said with a sigh.
"Sesshoumaru…." Inuyasha snarled, beginning to lose his temper. "What did she-"
"Ramen." the youkai stated matter-of-factly.
"Ramen? My Ramen? She's bargaining with my Ramen?"
"Hai." Inuyasha was silent for a moment, his temperament hanging somewhere between indignant sulking and serious contemplation. Finally, he looked over at his nii-san and said simply,
"I told you it was good."
On day three, Inuyasha asked,
"So…how's that little kid doing?"
"No, asshole, the other ningen brat that follows you around!"
"Fine. She's fine."
"No more spots?"
"Heavens no. They were gone ages ago."
"Hmph." Inuyasha was silent for a moment, before continuing. "Speaking of brats, Souta says 'Hi'."
"Ah! Souta… Tell him that I also said 'hello.'" Sesshoumaru actually sounded pleased. Inuyasha shrugged.
"If I remember. And while we're still on the subject of whelps-"
"No. Absolutely not." Sesshoumaru said firmly, staring Inuyasha down with the hardest, coldest look he could muster.
"HEY! You don't even know what I was going to ask!" the hanyou whined in protest.
"Inuyasha, I don't even want to hear your name and whelp in the same sentence, unless someone is saying "Inuyasha is acting like a stupid whelp," in which case I'd be inclined to agree with them. Higurashi-san and I have an agreement, the Wegome was put onto the medicines for a reason, and now I don't want to hear another thing about it!"
"That's not what I was going to ask! Incidentally, I wouldn't bother to ask you or Higurashi-san for permission anyway! That's between me and the Wegome! Kagome! Shit! You stupid asshole, you've got me doing it now!" he swore, punching his brother on the shoulder. "No, what I need to know is how to keep a certain pesky brat away from me and my mate when we're trying to…to, uh, spend some time together, without killing said brat, because whenever I threaten to do that, my bitch gets angry and I'm the one who usually ends up with all the bruises! I just figured that you'd be the one to ask, since you claim to be an expert on the subject." Inuyasha grumbled uncomfortably.
"Oto-chan," Sesshoumaru said quietly, unable to mask the amusement in his voice. "Are you asking for my advice?" Inuyasha shifted in his seat for a moment, then looked intently up at the older youkai.
"Yeah, well, stranger things have happened…"