I'm horribly sorry for delaying this fic for so long. I had a decent idea, or so I thought, and as I was writing it, I decided it sucked. Then writer's block set in (for this fic, anyway), real life got in the way, and ... well... you know how it goes from there.

But, at long last, here it is. Hope it was worth the wait!

Day Five.

"Inuyasha?"

She stepped into the hut, glancing around the immaculate living room.

"Inuko?"

Moving into the kitchen, Kagome could smell the remains of a delicious breakfast, though the sink was clear of dishes and the table wiped clean.

"Jiro?"

The miko's heart began beating faster, her palms sweating with nerves. Where were they? Had something happened to her family? As she began walking toward the bedrooms, she heard a squeal of laughter and the sounds of children babbling excitedly. The voices were nearing the hut at a fast pace.

"Uncle Souta did Sankontessou?"

"TRIED," Inuyasha corrected. "That's a inuyoukai trick. Your uncle Souta is human, like your mother."

"Can I do it?"

Lowering Kano to the ground, Inuyasha stepped away from the trio of young boys and chose a safe target. "Watch carefully but stay back," he warned. Then, as his sons stared in awe, he raced toward a hapless tree, screaming, "SANKONTESSOU!" The formerly stately oak split down the center, falling into two large halves with a resounding thud.

"Wow. Daddy's strong!"

Inuyasha wiped his claws off on his haori, brushing off stray wood chips. "Your turn."

"Me?" Inuko blinked in surprise.

"Jiro too," he affirmed. Glancing around the clearing, he rested his gaze on the old woodpile by the hut. He chose two medium-sized logs, standing each one right side up, and stood back. "Flex your claws, keep them strong, and just throw your body into it."

Inuko bit his lip, and ran stumbling toward the first log, slashing at it with all his might. "Sankontessou!"

A small chunk of wood flew off the side, landing several feet away. He sighed, turning back to his father. "I did it wrong?"

"You just need practice," Inuyasha replied. "One day you'll split it in half, and then we can find something bigger." A soft growl from beside him brought the hanyou's attention back to his other son.

Jiro's face was scrunched in concentration, a slight tinge of red leaking into his golden eyes. After a steadying breath, he raced at the other log, leaping with amazing grace for a three-year-old before coming down on the wood and slashing it almost in half.

Inuyasha gulped, quickly hiding his shock. "That was... good..."

Jiro beamed, wiping off his clothes in imitation of his father.

The inuhanyou males were brought out of their spontaneous lesson by the sound of clapping from the hut's entrance. "My, my, such strong boys I have!"

"Mommy!" Once appearing quite fierce, the young ones' faces quickly returned to the innocence of childhood, racing to hug their mother. They spoke simultaneously, each spouting stories of their last few days, punctuated with laughter and light growling.

"... and Daddy spilled the ramen and Jiro ran away..."

"... Inuko took Fluffy..."

"... but Jiro used his claws!"

"BOYS!"

They were suddenly silenced by the stern voice of their father, each jumping back several feet to gaze at him with subdued respect. Inuyasha strode over to Kagome, a sly smile eking its way out from his feigned seriousness. As he finally stood before her, he winked at his sons. "She's only human, give your poor mother some breathing room."

Kagome rolled her eyes, but leaned in for the warm kiss her mate offered. "Only human, hm?"

"Yes, but an amazing specimen." He waggled his eyebrows at her suggestively before removing Kano from his sling and passing the infant over to Kagome. "They're right, though. We need more ramen."

Sighing with good humor, Kagome smiled and walked back into the house. "Then I guess it's a good thing I brought some back with me."

The little boys cheered, racing in behind her to see what else their mother had brought back from the well. She settled Kano into his infant seat before opening up her bag and removing several small packages. "I have some new crayons, a couple of packages of juice mix, some chocolate pocky—"

"I'll hang on to that," Inuyasha grabbed the snack from her, placing the package safely out of reach. At her questioning stare, he shook his head. "Trust me, you don't want to go there."

She shook her head, chalking it up to the undoubtedly long list of mysteries she had yet to uncover from her absence. Moments later all the souvenirs were unpacked and the boys, with their young, non-existent attention spans, were running outdoors once again. A pair of warm arms encircled her from behind, and she shivered when the familiar, masculine scent of her mate surrounded her.

"We missed you." His voice was husky with a need that sent chills down her spine. He dipped his head to capture her earlobe in his mouth, nipping at it lightly before attacking it with soft licks and kisses.

"Inuyasha!"

"What?" His mouth moved lower to find amusement at the base of her neck, nuzzling the spot where it met her shoulder and thrilling at the faint hint of her arousal.

"Kano is right there!"

"So?"

"So!?"

The hanyou sighed, and backed away from his mate to regard her with an indifferent stare. "He's a baby, what does he know?"

Kagome blushed, but stepped back a bit nonetheless. "You're insatiable, you know that?"

"It's been five days, what did you expect?"

Okay, so she had to concede that point. Most of the time the hanyou accompanied her through the well, so this had been a particularly long time apart. Indeed, if she was honest with herself she was eager to spend some alone time with the half-demon as well. Still, it was barely noon and the children, with their demon hearing and noses, were only a few feet away...

Inuyasha grunted, seeing the conflicted look in Kagome's eyes. He knew he'd lose this battle, and decided to give up and save face.

"Later," she promised when he passed her on the way outdoors. "And it'll be worth the wait."

The tone in her voice heated his blood deliciously, and he tossed an answering wink at her before joining his sons outdoors for some good old roughhousing.

----------------------------------------------------------------

Dinner was over, the dishes cleared, and the sun quickly setting below the horizon. Inside the cozy hut Kagome, Inuyasha, and the pups were looking at the wedding pictures Kagome had developed earlier that morning.

"Mama pretty," Jiro announced happily.

My poor baby has no sense of style, Kagome thought ruefully as she glanced at the photo of her and Ayumi posing in their gaudy dresses. "Thanks sweetie."

Inuyasha seemed to share her opinion, his face scrunching up in distaste when the picture made its way into his hands. "What on earth did you do to deserve that punishment?"

Kagome glared at him, snatching the picture away. "Shut up."

"Shut up! Shut up!" Inuko chanted happily. He knew better than to repeat the more colorful language he heard, usually from his otou, but every now and then he could sneak in a little copycat behavior.

The last of the pictures had been passed when the grandfather clock on the far wall began chiming the hour.

"Bedtime!"

Inuko and Jiro pouted, but a look from Inuyasha sent them obediently stalking toward their bedroom. Kagome tucked in Jiro while Inuyasha settled in the elder brother.

"Story?"

Kagome sighed. "Mommy's a little tired tonight, sweetie. How about tomorrow?"

"I'll get it," Inuyasha offered, picking a random book from the bookshelf and settling himself on the floor between their futons. Kagome sent him a look of such warmth and admiration that the hanyou felt compelled to loosen the collar of his haori.

The miko walked slowly to the bedroom, enjoying the feel of being back at home with all of the comforting scents, sounds, and belongings. She stopped in on the baby, relieved that he was deep asleep and peacefully snoring. If what Inuyasha had told her was any indication, the little one was still worn out from his illness and would probably sleep through the night.

She'd managed to change into her sleeping kimono, brush her teeth and hair, and wash her face before Inuyasha finished reading the hanyou children to sleep. She found him sitting on their futon, staring somewhat somberly at the floor.

"Daijoubou?"

"Kagome, am I a bad father?"

The young woman's eyes rose, confused, and she gently sat beside him. "Whatever brought this on?"

"I told you Jiro ran off for a bit..."

"Yes?"

"What I didn't tell you is that he ran off because he wanted to find you. He said he hated me."

Kagome laughed quietly for a moment before realizing just how deeply affected her beloved husband was by the child's offhanded outburst. She wrapped an arm around him, offering her warmth and support. "Kids say stupid things all the time, Inuyasha. You have nothing to worry about."

"Maybe... but still, I don't really know how to cook, I make a huge mess of things, and I'm not the most patient person—"

Kagome held in the amused snort bubbling its way up. Instead, she settled for something more comforting. "When I came home, do you know what I saw?"

The hanyou shook his head, still staring listlessly at the floor. Kagome knelt down before him, pulling up his chin to gaze at him fondly.

"I saw three healthy, happy children being loved by a man they obviously adore. If that's not a good father, I don't know what is."

Inuyasha blinked at her in silence for a moment, finally allowing a soft smile to rise to the surface. "I am a good dad, aren't I?"

Kagome laughed, and reached up to give him a hug. "Just don't get a big head about it."

"Keh." Quicker than she could react, Kagome found herself being flung over his shoulder and pounced upon. She gasped from the shock, but recovered quickly at the feel of his lips stealing kisses from her own.

"Someone promised me a night worth waiting for," he reminded her ardently, his earlier grave thoughts dismissed entirely.

His mate rolled her eyes, the smile on her face betraying her. "Animal."

"And you love it, too," he smirked. He liked being a good father but... he liked being a good husband even better.