Epilogue: It Gets Better
Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha
In Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die
Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
I feel empty now. : ( I hope everyone enjoys the epilogue. It was by far the chapter I had the most fun writing, and I hope that no one feels cheated—I'm not too fond of epilogues that end too quickly, so…38 pages, baby!. By the way, this chapter was largely influenced by the style that Resmiranda uses in Chapter 39 of 'Tales From the House of the Moon'—which will be the best fanfiction you will ever read. Even if it is Sess/Kag—and don't give me that look. Seriously…her writing is absolutely brilliant. Better than many published writers today, so check it out if you haven't. You won't regret it, I promise you.
I know that I said next Friday, but… I couldn't wait. Which is really, really sad. But you guys deserve a break for putting up with my sporadic updates for so long. So without further ado--after three long years, here it is, the completion of 'The Pain'. So, Happy Thanksgiving, and have a good life!
She was crying before her feet ever touched the ground, and before Inuyasha knew it—before Kagome had a chance to rethink her decision, white light filled the well, swirled around them, and was gone.
Kagome thought she'd heard a faint 'thank you,' but she couldn't be sure she heard anything as she sobbed into Inuyasha's chest, letting the dull, useless orb slip from her fingers and onto the ground below.
The wish had to be unselfish, or the cycle would just start all over again, and that…couldn't happen. Unselfish and hated, the wish had worked, and Kagome cried.
The well would never let anyone through ever again.
And so they made a life in her time.
Kagome had been worried at first, but Inuyasha had adapted amazingly quick. Of course, there were some bumps that needed to be smoothed over.
The miko winced when his voice roared over the cell phone she'd given him. "Not so loud, Inuyasha. I can hear you if you use your normal voice."
"This stupid fucking machine just ate my card," he snapped, ignoring her comment.
"I said the machine won't give me back my fucking card!"
"Oh. Well…did you enter the right numbers?"
"Well, shit, Kagome. I didn't think of entering in the right numbers," he told her crisply, "I just felt like playing with the buttons. But if there are right numbers…"
"All right, all right," she said patiently, trying to placate him. "No need to get all snippy."
"The machine—just ate—my fucking card!" He was quiet, and if she listened carefully, she could hear him thinking. And then, "Will I be able to get it back if I slice it open?"
"No!" she told him a bit too suddenly.
"And by 'no', you mean 'yes'?"
"No, I mean 'no'."
"Don't worry, Inuyasha. We'll just go get it back tomorrow when the bank opens."
He paused for a moment before asking, "Can I slice it open anyway?"
"…Inuyasha. If you come home right now—and no slicing ATMs open—I won't be wearing any clothes when you get here." She laughed when she heard his phone cut off.
They both led fairly normal lives. Well, as normal as they could…
Kagome lay in bed, her back supported by pillows against the headboard, the lamp shining brightly on the opened book at her side. Maneuvering her right arm awkwardly, she highlighted a paragraph before closing the book with a sigh. Setting it on her nightstand, she turned her attentions to her mate, whose head was resting in her lap. She smiled. And when she ran her fingers along the edges of a fuzzy ear, he twitched them irritably and pulled Hiroshi, who was nestled in his side, closer with a strong arm.
Her smile widened when honey-hued eyes cracked up to peer up at her with half-hearted annoyance. "Good morning, sunshine," she told him a bit too happily, and he grunted.
"No way it's morning, wench. I'm hanyou. I know these things," he reminded her with a groggy smirk. "You finished studying?"
"Yeah—just finished for the night."
He snorted softly and turned his head into her stomach—she could feel the warmth of him through his t-shirt-turned-her-nightgown. "Don't see why you think you have to work so hard at it—you don't need books to heal people."
She hummed her response and reached over him to push some of Hiroshi's hair out of his face. The two-year old didn't budge.
"Want me to put him in his bed?"
She shook her head, still smiling, eyes bright. "Nah. Let him sleep with us tonight."
"Mm." He rolled off her lap and picked the little boy up, passing him to his mate once she'd sunk down into the covers and flicked the lamp off. Arms wrapped around Hiro, she sighed contently when her mate threw an arm over both of them, his lips burning her shoulder as they both drifted off to sleep.
They were happy, of course, but sometimes they remembered weeks of death and rotting corpses and 'God, what is that smell?', and when that happened, the house felt cold.
Once after she'd laid Hiroshi down for a nap, she'd walked in on him watching an old war movie, and she sank down onto the couch beside him.
Then her voice broke through the gun fire, and the sex, and the laughter, and love that never ceased even when minor characters—the nameless characters—did (very few people with names actually ever die unnaturally—everyone knows that). And he stared at her. "That's not how it goes. That's not how it goes at all." She stood, shot the screen one last contemptuous look—
"It's too clean. There's not enough blood."
—and left the room.
He realized she was right.
After she was gone, he tried to finish the movie—he wanted to know if all of the friends and lovers where still alive and unblemished and happy and beautiful by the end of it all—but he couldn't.
It was all wrong. They'd gotten it all. wrong.
They built their family…
Kagome stared out the window watching her son play in the sandbox while Daphne stood guard. Chuckling quietly to herself, she shook her head and began to stir the chocolate powder into her milk. "Inuyasha," she smiled when she felt strong arms wrap around her. He bent over her until his chin was resting on her shoulder, and for a long moment they both watched the pup play.
"You know…we have a really good dog," Kagome commented absently when the Akita failed to react to the little boy tugging violently on the thick fur of her curly tail.
"Mm. Hey, Kagome?"
"Don't freak out, okay?"
She smiled wryly. "What did you do?"
He laughed, and nearly said 'you', but that would just be crude. Nipping at her ear, he grinned against her. "You're pregnant."
The glass shattered as it hit the floor. She looked absolutely stunned for a long, long moment. But then she grinned, and said, "You've practiced those lines all day haven't you?"
He nearly scowled at her. "Is that all you have to say?"
"Well…it was very smooth," she admitted with a grin, turning around and leaning up to kiss the corner of his mouth. "I think Hiro needs a sister anyway."
"And by 'sister', you mean 'brother'?"
"No. I mean 'sister'."
"Dammit," he teased through his smile, kissing her again.
Normal things—such as shopping—were a lot more interesting than they ever were before the Well happened.
"Oi! We are not buying that for my pup!"
Kagome frowned, holding up the tiny baby outfit and searching for the problem. Seeing none, she shrugged at him. "But it's so cute."
Inuyasha scowled down at her with his arms folded across his chest. "Exactly. It's fucking pink."
"What's wrong with pink?"
"Wha—what's wrong with pink?" he repeated incredulously. "Kagome, it's a girly color!"
She shot him a look that told him she knew that full well. "Aaand we're having a girl," Kagome informed him, folding the tiny lacy outfit against her arm before moving on to the next rack.
"I've told you, wench. I've got a feeling about this one—it'll be another boy."
Annoyed grey eyes flicked to him reproachfully. "Don't call our daughter 'it', Inuyasha. …Or 'boy'."
"He is a boy! I'm not going to call him a fucking girl!"
"Inuyasha!" she hissed, glancing around quickly around them, and smiling apologetically at a frowning couple with a young boy in hand. "If you have to swear, don't do it so loudly—there are kids here!"
"Like they're listening to us," he snapped back.
A young boy in the clothing store chose this moment to call his sister a 'fucking girl', and Inuyasha paused. "Oh…well, shit," he told his mate, who was glaring dangerously at him.
She smacked her palm against her forehead, and refused to open her eyes as she pointed harshly towards the exit. "Leave. Leave now, and wait for me in the food court. I'll be there as soon as I finish up in here."
He rolled his eyes at her and uncrossed his arms. "Keh! Whatever. Just remember—no pink, wench. 'Cause he's a boy."
She bought as many pink things as she could find.
Life was always full of surprises…
"Ah-hah! Oh,god, yes—I am so good, wench!"
Kagome was on her tip-toes, placing groceries in the cabinets, and she glanced over her shoulder to see her mate leaning up against the kitchen door frame. He looked entirely too smug and gloating. Her eyebrows rose warily as she turned around to face him fully. "I'm almost scared to ask…"
He stared at her lazily, a cocky grin in place. "I can smell the pup now," he told her, and her eyebrows lowered to draw together.
"But you could smell her before." Her eyes narrowed when he didn't even seem irritated about the reference to their baby's sex.
"No, wench, I can smell the pup!"
"Oh, well, that's entirely different."
He scowled at her for a moment before breaking into that self-satisfied grin once again. "So…wanna guess again on whether the pup's a boy or girl?" Kagome gasped. "Choose carefully, wench, 'cause you're probably going to be wrong."
She stared at him for a moment before returning to her groceries. "I still say she's a girl, Dog-Boy. If your nose tells you otherwise, then it's probably broken."
"Wrong and wrong."
She smiled when she felt his arms wrap around her stomach, drawing her back against his chest. "Well, as long as he's healthy it never really mattered to me. And what's so bad about having a little girl, huh? Don't you want a daughter?"
"Keh. Never said it'd be bad, wench. There you go—jumping to conclusions again." He pressed his lips to the crook of her neck in a searing kiss.
She nearly dropped a cup of ramen. "I do that a lot," she admitted with a grin.
"Yeah, you do."
"So you do want a daughter!"
"Wouldn't mind it—What the…shit?"
Kagome started when he pulled away to whirl her around before dropping to his knees and taking a cautious sniff before pressing his ear to her belly. "What…are you do—"
"—Quiet, wench." He was silent for a few moments before his brows rose, and chuckling, he lifted himself to his feet to shake his head at the bemused woman. "Well, I'll be damned…Guess you were right after all."
"Wha—but you said…boy…"
"Yeah. I was right, too."
"'Too'? But…" Suddenly her brows shot up, and her hands flew to her stomach. "No," she breathed. "…Seriously?"
With a smile, he kissed her forehead. "Yep."
"You're not joking? Because if you are—" she began darkly. Her mate rolled his eyes at her.
"I can smell them both, Kagome—and before you ask again, no, my nose is not broken. So…you and Sango, both. Some of my manliness must have rubbed off on Miroku."
Kagome's eyes widened even more. "Sango had twins, too?"
His smile was almost bitter. "Once upon a time."
She was quiet as she stared through Inuyasha for several moments before her eyes snapped back up to his. "So I was right, too, huh? Bet you're wishing you didn't shred all those cute pink outfits now, aren't you, you baka?"
A lot of surprises…
"Mama…?" The young boy stuck his head into the living room where Inuyasha and Kagome were amusing themselves with a deck of cards.
"Hey, sweetie." She waved Hiroshi over to kiss his head. It was too much of a hassle nowadays to try to pick herself off the floor when she didn't have to. "Are you having fun playing with Azami?"
"Bullshit," Inuyasha accused, grabbing the small pile of cards to flip them over. Kagome smiled cattily when he glared at her, adding those cards to his own.
"Two threes." The hanyou started a new pile.
"You're such a wuss, Kagome—add more than one card to the fucking pile!"
"But I only have one four, you baka!"
"Why?" she asked. "Inuyasha—this game isn't exactly difficult with only two players! I know you have three fours!"
"Why doesn't Azami gots a pee-pee like me?"
Both mates simultaneously swiveled their heads to stare at the innocent child between them. Kagome looked like she was choking, and Inuyasha watched her for a moment with mild interest.
"What…exactly have you two been doing?" she asked with no small amount of trepidation.
"Ye-e-e-eah… Three fives."
And there were fights…
"I did not teach him that word, wench!"
"Then who did, Inuyasha? Where else did he hear it? He's with us all the time!"
"Fucking kitsune," Hiro called happily from down the hall, and Inuyasha groaned.
Kagome glared at him.
"Sesshoumaru, then?" He smiled as innocently as he knew how.
Some worse than others…
"I can't believe…I cannot believe you did that." Her voice wasn't even raised and it managed to hold more fury than he'd heard from her in at least a year. "Hiro, sweetie, why don't you go play outside? Take Daphne with you."
"What don't you believe about it?" he asked his very pregnant mate frostily.
"He's human, Inuyasha. Like that hit actually hurt you. You could have just let it slide. For me, like I asked you to."
"You think this is about that boy hitting me?" Her mate, equally as furious, rounded on her. "He called you a whore, Kagome. Or did you not get that part?"
"No, Inuyasha, he didn't. He said 'whore', yes. And he said it to me, but Hojo did not call me a whore!"
"Oh, what-the fuck-ever!"
"You make it sound like you think that though," she shot back, her fists balled on her hips.
"Don't even start that shit, Kagome," he warned her, running a hand through his hair. "And you're not turning this around—this is about that bastard you call a friend."
"No, it's not! This is about you leaping headfirst into every situation when you think my honor's been insulted. You attacked Hojo!" she informed him shrilly. "You broke his face, and he didn't deserve it—Don't touch me, Inuyasha! I'm seriously really mad about this!" she told him, and he winced when he smelled the beginnings of furious tears.
"S'not like he's in any pain," he grumbled sulkily. "You fixed him. He needed to toughen up anyways. Hiro could kick his ass with both hands behind his back."
"…Oh my God…" She stared at him incredulously, arms falling limply to her sides. "Are you making jokes right now? Do you think this is funny? Just get out of my sight right now. If you can't even take this seriously—you attacked one of my friends!"
"I fucking know that already, wench—I was there, remember? And he deserved it!"
Her eyes were suddenly cold as she crossed her arms. "Do you even know why Hojo punched you?"
He snorted. "Hell if I know. I wouldn't call that a punch, though."
"Because 'wench' can mean 'whore'. He punched you because he felt like you'd insulted me. I was trying to explain that you didn't really mean it, but I didn't really get to finish before you slammed him face first into a brick wall!"
She ended up holding her tears back until after he stormed out, and when he came back late that night, a few hours later, Shippou had just leapt onto his porch, hand already reaching for the knob.
"What are you doing here?" He grunted when he was shoved against the door by the, for once, humorless youkai.
"Get your ass into your house and take care of your mate," the kitsune hissed, eyes gleaming viciously in the moonlight. "Your son fucking called me when he couldn't find you, you stupid bastard. Are you fucking insane? Leaving her alone like that when she's nine months pregnant?"
Shippou was still snarling at him when he quickly opened the door to the smell of sweat and salt and Kagome. Shippou went straight to Hiro, who was still crying and clutching the phone to his chest, while the now-panicked hanyou sought out his mate.
She was crying in the bathtub.
He did manage to get his mate to the hospital before her water broke, though.
He'd never hated himself more, but she made it all better. She always did.
They named them Kimiko and Kannon.
They'd changed a lot, but everyone was really still the same.
There was a loud crash followed by a long string of angry curses. Kagome sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose before stealing a glance at the great taisho.
'As detached as ever,' she confirmed.
"I will wager my left arm that your baka of a mate has destroyed something priceless," he drawled, meeting her stare. "Again."
She let her head fall with a slight smile that couldn't be helped and shook her head. No, she wasn't going to take that action; she remembered all too well a certain hanyou's tussle with a certain kitsune and inu youkai that had taken place in the Great Hall only three weeks ago. Sesshoumaru hadn't been impressed—"I'm not surprised in the least…and that worries me."--, and Kagura almost had to be medicated—"Get. Out. Of. My. House. Now!" Rei had only just recently been allowed visitation rights—not that that really mattered. Kagura was still too furious to look at him.
Sure enough, the hanyou came storming through the great double doors—a broken statue and pedestal tucked under one arm, and a baby in the other. Hiroshi stumbled behind him with the other twin strapped to his back in a carrier. Kagome rushed forward to take the sleepy baby.
"I gots him, Mama!"
"'Got', and I know you do, but I haven't seen my baby boy in five-whole-minutes," she cooed, holding her arms out.
"You shouldn't leave your fucking shit—"
"—Language," Kagome warned.
"—lying in the middle of the floor where Hiro can trip over it," the hanyou grouched before his brother could accuse him of anything.
"But I din't trip over it, Papa! You did!"
"Inuyasha, our son is not to be used as a scapegoat. And you didn't hurt Mimi, did you?"
He shot her a mutinous glare. "Do you fucking think I'd hurt my daughter?"
The inu youkai merely stared at the remains of a gorgeous opaque dog; it was indeed a priceless relic. And what's more, it was indeed destroyed by his baka brother. With a weary sigh, he closed his eyes for a moment before he dared look upon the fool. There was once a time where he would have killed the hanyou for such injury. Exhaling slowly, he wished he was back in those simple times when killing your brother wasn't as frowned upon.
"That," he began slowly, chewing on the words as amber flicked from the heirloom to the brother, "has been in our family for almost two thousand years."
Inuyasha growled at him. "Then what was it doing lying in the middle of the fucking floor?"
"You know what," Kagome cut in, "give me Kimiko so that I can 'it' you."
"It was on a pedestal."
"In the middle of the…floor!" he snapped, wisely censuring his language.
Gold eyes glittered coldly at him. "The pedestal," he began with a forced patience, "reached your waist."
"My point is that it reached your waist. I am curious as to how you managed to accidentally knock it over. Did you fail to notice it?"
"It was in my way!"
"It's made of stone, you baka! I realize you are astoundingly ignorant, dear brother, but stone does-not-move."
"You do," he shot back.
"How creative," the youkai drawled. "Your ingenuity is awe-inspiring, yet I'm amazed you did not bust a vessel while coming up with that earth-shattering insult."
"Sit, boy." Kagome smiled at her newly retrieved daughter as her father fell to the ground with a censured "frick".
"Oh…oh wow," Kagome gasped as she caught her breath and grinned at the immaculate white-tiled ceiling. "That was…"
Her mate snorted, leaning against her so that his head rested on the cool metal of the shelves she was now pressed against. One hand sank to wrap around her waist and settle on the small of her back, disturbing boxes of medical tape and syringes as he did so. "Yeah. Shit, Kagome… I'm actually bleeding," he teased, and she flopped her head back to look at him—that's all she had the energy to do.
"Relax, wench, I'm fine. It was pretty damn sexy—"
"No, Inuyasha," she moaned, frowning at him. "You bled all over the instructional posters! I'm going to have to clean all of this up! And, oh—look…you've gotten blood on the insulin. Lovely."
He propped himself up on an elbow to push himself far enough away from her to see the tiny glass vials that rested on the shelf behind her, and then he turned his head to see the posters on the wall behind him, one in tatters on the floor. He smiled wolfishly. "I think the blood is the least of your worries. Not like anyone's using those posters anyway—and who needs insulin? Next time, you'll just have to make it to the bunk rooms."
"Well, you didn't exactly give me the chance, did you?" she grouched. "Bringing me lunch, indeed."
Rolling his eyes, he caught her hand and prevented her from twisting her skirt into some semblance of modesty. Her blouse and white lab coat rested on the floor at her feet. "You had plenty of chances," he told her lazily, grinding his hips provocatively against hers, and her stomach rolled pleasantly though the steel shelves behind her pressed roughly into her back. "Like now, for instance. And I don't know about you, but this is the best fucking lunch break I've had in a while—you fucking made me bleed, Kagome," he grinned before his mouth began to unravel her. "Do you have any idea how hot that is?"
Her fingers fisted themselves in his hair when a hand slid down between her thighs. "Oh, you cannot be serious!" She fought back laughter when his tongue ran along her collarbone. "You are such a dog!"
His fangs pricked her softly when he smirked against her. "Whatever. You love it."
She struggled to think when his claws trailed back up to her bare stomach, curling under the hemline of her twisted skirt. "I have a first-aid kit sticking in a very unpleasant place right now."
"Bunk rooms?" she asked hopefully.
"You had your chance."
"At least let me remove the first-aid kit from under my ass?"
"I'll think about it."
"Well, hello, stranger," Kagome teased, opening the door wider for Rei to step in and closing the door behind him. "I was beginning to wonder if you had forgotten where we lived."
"Sorry," he mumbled, and Kagome frowned.
He blushed, and looked over her shoulder. "Where's Inuyasha?"
"He's out sparing with your father," she told him slowly, trying to meet his eye. "I can call him if it's important. They're not too far; he should be able to hear—"
All of the blood drained from his flushed face. "Father's here?"
"…Yes. What's wrong, Rei?"
He grimaced and leaned back against the countertops, crossing his arms over his chest. "N-nothing's wrong…exactly," he hedged, and the door opened.
"Oi, wench, what's for din…ner…"
Inuyasha stared at him in muted shock, and then, "Please tell me this is something that Sesshoumaru already knows about…"
Rei blanched again. "Well…"
"Shit—and you brought this to my house? He's right outside on the fucking porch," he snapped, and Kagome looked more confused than ever. Inuyasha crossed his arms over his chest and glowered at the pup. "Okay…so you didn't talk to Sesshoumaru or Kagura about it… Did you at least talk to her parents? Or is this just a spur of the moment thing to you?"
Rei glared at him, straightening to stand at his full height.
"Fuck," the hanyou growled, and ran a hand through his hair, a sign of just how irritated he actually was. "Her parents are youkai, so they'll know that you've bound yourself to their daughter without even asking for their fucking blessing—you don't need it, Rei. You never needed it, but hell—you're supposed to at least fucking ask!"
"Wait…" Kagome cut in suddenly. "You and Eri are mates now, and Kagura doesn't even know?" When the youkai bit his lip, she groaned. "Re-e-ei…but…Kagura! She's going to have a fit!"
"You've really fucked it up this time, pup," Inuyasha agreed.
"I know that already," he admitted tightly.
And then Sesshoumaru walked into the room, and his eyes fell on his son, and after a very long, tense moment—"I will talk to your mother, you foolish pup. It is very important that you not visit until after she's had a few days to adjust. You will leave here right now, and discuss the matter with the kitsune's parents. You will apologize for your impertinence, assure them that she's in capable hands—though it does not appear to be so at the moment—and then, when Kagura is ready to see you, you will beg her forgiveness, as well."
Rei nodded, and stared at the floor. "Yes, Father."
Sesshoumaru turned to leave, but thought better of it, and pinned Rei with a strange look. "I fail to understand why you deemed it unnecessary to talk with us first, and I don't want your excuses, Rei. There is nothing we could have done to keep you from your mate, but you should have at least respected us enough to inform us of your decision. Especially one such as this."
He walked out without another word, and Inuyasha's face softened a bit. He clapped his nephew on the shoulder, and said, "He'll get over it."
And Kagome smiled at him. "So…this means there's going to be a wedding, right? Which means a bachelorette party!"
"Seriously though…it's about time," she told him matter-of-factly. "It's been what? Five years? Inuyasha and I hadn't even been dating five months…"
"Five months and you were already pregnant," Inuyasha reminded her with a smug grin before he barked out a laugh. "I rock."
"Get that, will you, Inuyasha?"
"Got it, wench," he called back when the doorbell rang again. "All right, pup. Up you go. No eating Hiro's crayons—right."
A familiar scent struck his nose—youkai, and he thought twice about taking Kannon with him, and stuck him in a play pen before striding over to the door. "Yes?"
A dark panther youkai stood in the doorway with a small woman—his mate, apparently. "Ah—hello, Inuyasha. I don't know if you remember me, but I'm—"
The panther nodded.
A silver ear swiveled around, listening for Kagome. Assured that she was still giving Kimiko a bath, he stepped outside, closing the door behind him. "What happened?"
"Tademas Nikko was revived from his coma last night at 8:37. We've got evidence pinning him to the murder of three young women in this area, and he would have been taken directly into custody to await his trial, but…"
Golden eyes narrowed suspiciously. "'But' what? Why is there a 'but'?"
Raidon grimaced, and Inuyasha crossed his arms and stood a bit straighter. "You didn't let him out, did you? Cause if I ever see him—I'll kill him."
The human—Musiko was her name, he thought—cleared her throat. "It's nothing like that," she assured him. "When he woke up, he…wasn't himself. It's like his brain's been fried. He just stares at the wall, repeating broken sentences."
The panther youkai looked as though there were something distasteful in his mouth. "Unless he's lying about this—which he's not, by the way—he'll never go to prison for all he's done. We have specialists checking him out as we speak, and I image by the end of tonight they're going to want to ship him off to a ward where he can be in a more suitable environment."
The hanyou looked furious for a moment before he exhaled slowly, unscrewing his arms to rub the back of his neck. "Listen. Kagome…she doesn't need to know this, okay? She hasn't even thought about that bastard in years. I don't need her feeling guilty about defending herself. He's not worth it."
Raidon nodded. "Understood." The emerald eyes glittered, and he smiled at the old acquaintance. "So…kids now, huh?"
"Three. I see that someone's able to put up with an asshole like you for more than five minutes."
The woman laughed.
"Yeah, well, who's to say she wasn't already bound to me by the end of those five minutes?"
The hanyou snorted. "Right. Well, thanks. For letting me know."
"Yeah. No problem. Have a nice life, Inuyasha."
He tipped his head, nodded once.
"How long have you been there?" he asked quietly, watching the black car pull out of their driveway, and disappear down the road.
Hiroshi stood up from the behind the shrubbery against the house, and brushed his hands off on his pants. "A long time—before they even got here," he admitted, and Inuyasha nodded again. "I wasn't meaning to eavesdrop, though—I came out when Kumiko started screaming. She gave me a headache."
Chuckling quietly, his father sat down on the porch steps and waved him over to sit beside him. "Can't really say I blame you, can I? I prefer trees myself, though. Any particular reason why you chose the bushes? Probably didn't help your headache much—you can hear everything under those windows."
The six-year old blushed, and shrugged, and his father nodded again. "I see. You're a good boy, Hiro. Braver than most your age, definitely stronger, and you look out for your brother and sister." He smiled at his son, who'd flushed even brighter under the high praises.
"She was crying harder than usual," he mumbled, picking at the smooth wooden planks beneath him with sharp, tiny claws.
"Keh—it's nothing to be ashamed of. To protect is our greatest instinct. One day you'll find a mate, have pups, and you'll do the same with them, too."
Inuyasha scoffed and tweaked an ear, and the boy grinned at him. "There's no maybe about it, pup. Anyway," he sighed, standing up and offering his son a hand, "Mimi's fine. 'Gome said she just woke up without Kannon next to her. Had a nightmare or something. So, what'd ya say to a hunt? Take your mind off of it?"
His eyes widened. "Now? Really?"
"Yes, really. Plenty of animals in this wood. And if we hurry we may be able to catch dinner—because that shit you eat…fish-sticks—hate to break it to you, pup, but that's not food."
Inuyasha gave him a warning look. "What about ramen? If you're comparing it to fish-sticks—"
"No, Papa! Let's go!"
He laughed, and ruffled his hair. "All right. Let me tell your mother we're leaving. I left Kan in his play pen, too." He started to open the door, but paused, his hand still on the door knob. "And Hiro?"
"Sir?" His brows lowered when this father's gold eyes pierced through him, but it was softened with a weak smile.
"Don't tell your mother about what you heard today."
"Because it'd hurt her..."
They celebrated together…
Souta sighed when he heard the hanyou call out to him, but he never looked away from his computer. "I'm not a kid anymore, Inuyasha," he muttered, fingers dancing across the keyboard. True enough. He was eighteen now, and Inuyasha was more of a friend than an idol.
"Yeah—whatever. You busy?"
A small smile flitted across his face. "You wouldn't go away even if I said I was."
"At least you know the way it works—" Souta could hear the smirk in his voice. "—Anyway, Kagome's birthday is tomorrow. Big surprise party at Sesshoumaru's and all that. Your mom already knows the details—"
"Do not get her bath supplies. That's the most half-assed gift you can give a girl."
The hanyou growled, and Souta's grin widened. "I'm not giving her those damn soaps again—smelled god-awful anyway."
"Don't give her ramen either"
"Oi! There is nothing wrong with ramen, pup." His tone suggested that Souta tread lightly. "And I've already gotten her a gift.
Dark eyebrow shot up, and were hidden behind a fringe of messy bangs. Souta spun his chair around to face him. "No kidding… Do I even want to know what it is?" he asked hesitantly.
When Inuyasha didn't say anything, Souta grimaced. "That bad, huh?"
"I think…I think she'll like it," he began uncertainly. "I mean—I know she'll want it, but if she starts blubberin'…" He broke off, running a hand through his hair. "Anyway, Kagura called me about a week ago and told me Sesshoumaru'd found something interesting, so I went and checked it out. I think…Kagome would appreciate it more than anyone else would."
Nodding slowly, suspiciously, Souta narrowed his eyes. "So if you've already found her a present, what do you need me for?"
"Well," Inuyasha muttered, strolling back towards the front door, "your sister is nosy. You know this, right?"
The man snickered while the hanyou opened the door to pull in an enormous package he'd leaned against the wall outside. "Right."
"Well, she has a bad habit of accidentally finding her presents every year. So-o-o, I'm placing you in charge of hiding this one somewhere around here. And if she comes looking for it, boot her ass out."
Souta found him the next day in the Inu no Taisho's humongous and pristine back yard. "Christ, Inuyasha—that thing weighs a ton. It was hell just to drag it to the car this morning."
The hanyou scoffed and told him he was just being lazy.
"Whatever, but I'm not dragging that thing all the way here. Take my car, or you can go get it…out…Holy shit, Inuyasha…" Souta tossed him a nervous glance. "Kagome looks furious."
"Keh. Wench thinks I'd forgotten her birthday—she couldn't find her present. She thinks this party was Rin and Eri's doing."
"Which it was, right."
The hanyou looked at him as if he'd grown another head. "I don't do parties."
"Right. Well—here are the keys. …You may want to hurry up and give her the present before her glare sets you aflame—which doesn't seem possible, but this is Kagome we're talking about."
"Just…be careful with my car? I want it back the same way I left it."
"Shitty and barely running?"
"I thought so."
Later after they'd all eaten, and after all the gifts had been opened, Inuyasha pulled her away from all of their damn noisy and nosy relatives. "Oi," he whispered against the shell of her ear. "I have a surprise for you, but we've got to go back to our place."
Some of the tension began to leave her body and she gave him a watery smile. "You really didn't forget?"
"Like I'd forget my mate's birthday—and the day we first met."
She laughed, and it sounded thick and relieved. "It's your birthday, too," she sighed against his lips, and he chuckled.
"No…Sesshoumaru already told me my birthday—today's for you, wench."
"Whatever, just close your eyes." A moment later she felt a blindfold being wrapped around her head and frowned.
"What's all this for?"
"To make sure you don't peek—because you're nosy as hell."
She laughed when he took her hand and led her away. "What about the kids?"
"Your mom's got 'em for the night."
"I should say good bye to everyone, and thank them—"
"They know already. Let's just go, Kagome."
"Yes, sir!" she teased and let him lead her along quietly, a small smile on her face. And when she was seated and buckled, she wrinkled her nose. "This doesn't feel like my car… This doesn't smell like my car, either," she informed him with a suspicious frown. "Who's—"
Inuyasha stared at her confused face and turned the ignition, grinning as the answer dawned on her upon hearing the loud, grating engine croak to life. "Souta."
He laughed. "We'll pay for a tune up when Christmas comes. If this piece of shit lasts that long."
And when she finally was in their house, sitting on the sofa with the present resting at her feet, he pulled the blindfold off, and waited for any change in her expression.
She stared blankly at the large wrapped gift for a long moment before she closed her eyes to memories. "Where," she began, stopped, cleared her throat, tried again—"Where did you find it?"
He was facing her, but suddenly found he didn't want to. He knew it was a possibility, but he didn't think…that it'd actually hurt her. "Actually…Sesshoumaru did. I just told him I'd gut him if he let some bald, skinny bastard buy it to put in some glass display case. Figured it'd mean more to you than anybody else."
She didn't say anything, but slid off the couch and onto the floor, letting a hand hover above the thin paper for a long moment before ripping it away almost desperately. A sob escaped her lips when she finally saw it, and she placed her small hand against the smooth bone, running it along the surface and tracing the deep gash left by that final, united attack that destroyed Naraku.
'Now Naraku's given us both a scar,' she'd murmured quietly, running a finger along the deep crease one night not so long after it was all over. 'I think…I'll keep it.'
Sango had never mended it after all.
And it made her so very sad to see that deep jagged scar left in the beautiful weapon that Sango had always taken such good care of, and for some reason, she felt like the boomerang was almost as sad as she was.
'But that's silly,' she thought, biting her lip. 'It's just a weapon.'
But all that care that Sango had put into cleaning and polishing and mending…
"Inuyasha," she breathed finally, fingers flowing along the paths that those of her old friend—sister—once made. "…Thank you."
And they mourned together…
Inuyasha once woke up to the smell of salt and Kagome and found her curled up on the couch, staring at Hiraikotsu, which rested above their mantle—right above the sheathed Tessaiga.
She sniffled and wiped her eyes with a hand. "They're all dead now," she told him thickly. "Kaede was so old already… Sango's dead. Miroku's dead. Sango and Miroku's children. Their children's children—all gone. And I don't even know how," she whispered. "What if they had horrible lives—what if…what if a youkai killed them, or a murderer, or disease, even?"
He took a single step closer, and her sadness nearly floored him—he hadn't felt this in at least eight years, the day Kagome died and was reborn. "I'm sorry, Kagome," he told her softly, honestly.
She stiffened, and another tear slipped down her stained cheek. "He was really old anyway," she tried to tell him casually. It was broken by a stuttering sob.
"Don't do that," he told her. "Don't even try to hold it all back, wench. Remember—it doesn't work that way?"
"Y-you hated him."
He crossed the room and knelt down in front of her, wiping a tear away with the pad of a finger. And then he smiled at her, and she thought she'd lose it all over again. She'd cried when they'd prayed for him—through the black and the flowers and the 'my condolences' that just sounded so impersonal… She'd cried, and he was furious with the old man for hurting her like this. "No. I never hated him, you idiot," he told her quietly. "He was good to you, so I couldn't hate him. We just enjoyed busting each other's balls a bit too much. I wouldn't have bothered with those damn dress shoes if I hated him," he teased weakly, and his smile faltered.
More tears fell and his forehead touched hers. "H-he didn't e-even remember m-me!" she hiccupped. "He'd f-forgotten all about m-me!"
"He was sick, Kagome. He wasn't your grandfather anymore. You don't want to remember him like that, do you?"
She shook her head against him and hiccupped again.
"Well…how do you want to remember him?"
She paused for a long moment before she released a sharp wail and threw herself into Inuyasha's arms. "I don't know!" she cried. "I don't remember—no wonder he f-forgot me. I abandoned him for three and a half years, Inuyasha! I a-abandoned him, and when I came back I had my own family—I never made time for him! Not even before the well! I just left him—just like Sango, Miroku, Shippou, and Kaede… Just like them."
It was strange how leaving his time had affected her more than him, but he'd always known that Kagome clung to people that she knew and loved. Even people that she didn't—she cared for everyone. She loved with everything she had, and maybe that was what attracted him to her in the first place. Losing them had been hard on her—her best friend, his best friend, and a grandmother. She'd lost Shippou's childhood, too, and though she still saw him today, that may have hurt her worse than anything else.
"…If you really want to know," he began hesitantly, wondering why the hell he was about to put this idea into her head. "what happened to them…if you really think it will make you feel better, ask Kagura or Shippou."
Kagome laughed, and it was the saddest sound he'd ever heard. "I don't want to know how they died. I don't want to know at all! I'm a horrible, horrible friend—and they were so good… Gramps was so good… And they're all gone now."
He sighed and bent down to loop an arm under her crooked legs, cradling her against his chest. "Let's go back to bed, Kagome."
She cried sometimes, for different reasons, but she wouldn't be Kagome if her grief or happiness didn't completely consume her when she felt them.
There were times when the past was closer than it seemed.
"Lookit me, Papa!"
"Well, would you look at that," he praised, smiling when Kimiko grinned toothily at him. "Keep that up, and you'll be just as strong as your brother. Oi—watch your sister, Hiroshi."
"I got her," he called back, standing under the young girl with his arms outstretched, ready to catch her should she fall from the monkey bars.
A small silver-haired boy tugged his big brother's pants. "Do me, Hiro! Do me next!"
"All right, all right—calm down, brat. M'kay, Mimi. Let's give Kan a turn now—just let go, and I'll catch you."
With a squeal of delight, she fell into his arms and slid down his body to the ground.
"Mama—come do the monkey bars with me!" Kannon called when his brother grabbed his waist to lift him up.
"Oh, wow…look how high he is! Such a big boy now. How about I go get ice cream for us, and after we eat then I'll climb the monkey bars with you? Sound good?"
"Okay—but don't forget!"
"I won't, baby," she assured him with a smile. "Hiro, can you watch them for a minute? We'll be right there—you can see the stand from here."
Inuyasha watched them from a distance, arms folded over his chest, while Kagome dealt with the vender. "Five cones please—two vanilla, two chocolate, and a strawberry. Inuyasha—will you hold these two? Ah…and this one…"
"Go ahead and give me another one so that you can pay. Wallet's in my pocket, wench, but my hands are full. Guess you'll have to get it."
She rolled her eyes when he smirked at her, but snuck a hand into his pocket to grab the billfold and paid. "You get to hold those four cones for that stunt," she informed him, licking her own vanilla cone before waving his wallet in his face. "And I'm not so sure I'll give this back either. Rin, Ayame, Eri, and I have been talking about visiting a strip club because we never go out anymore, and this'll come in handy. I mean—these guys are supposed to be—Ack!" she sputtered when Inuyasha's elbow suddenly came up under hers, shoving her ice cream into her chin. "Oh, real mature, Inuyasha," she spat, wiping it away with her hand.
"Says the grown mother of three that's trying to get a rise out of her mate by telling him she's going to a strip club. Hypocritical bitch."
"Now I'm all sticky." Her hand shot out to push his face into his ice cream, but he was too quick for her.
"Pathetic, Kagome," he teased. "I thought you were better than that…"
"I'll show you pathet—" She froze when a young couple that looked about their age walked towards them. The girl was beautiful with laughing blue eyes, so dark they were almost black. Her hand snuck around to squeeze the tall man's bottom and he swatted her hand away to glare at her.
"Pervert. What did I tell you about doing that in public?" he muttered crossly.
"Oh, come on, Satoshi—you love it when I touch you," she teased, and grabbed at his butt again, only to have her hand swatted away again.
"Stop that—it's embarrassing!" the boy hissed, pulling away from her.
"Why? You're handsome; you should appreciate your body. …Or let me…"
"Tell me again why it is you work in a shrine?"
The girl laughed and slipped her hand into his, standing on her tiptoes to kiss his cheek.
He finally smiled, and let her lead him along past them. "I swear you're trouble incarnate, Mariko—you'll be the death of me."
"And what a wonderful death that'll be, hm?"
Kagome's throat was dry, and she'd lost the power of speech. That girl—her blue eyes—so familiar—pervert—embarrassing.
Her eyes found Inuyasha's. He was watching them disappear down the park's pathway, gold glazed over with memories.
'So…they found each other again. After all this time…' And she thought she was going to cry, but then Inuyasha said, "The ice cream's starting to melt, Kagome. Let's get going."
A smile broke across her features, and she shook her head, wrapping an arm around his waist when he draped an arm over her shoulders, careful not to drip the ice cream on her.
"So…he's a girl in this life, huh?"
And Kagome laughed.
Just as they had been close, so were their children.
Hiro skirted past his mother, brushing a kiss against her cheek as he headed for the fridge. Seated at the island, she glanced up from her checkbook long enough to smile at him before rustling through some more receipts.
"Hello, Miroku," she called out absently as the red-headed hanyou traced his friend's path, stopping beside the bowed woman. He watched her calculate silently.
"Hey." He caught a can of soda before it pegged Kagome's shoulder and sent Hiro a half-hearted frown as he closed the fridge with his heel.
"So what are you two up to?" Kagome worried her lip as she quickly erased her previous calculation and rifled through the receipts again. She always hated balancing her checkbook—which is why she didn't do it daily as she was supposed to.
The older boy popped the tab open and took a quick swig before nodding to his best friend. "Just finished playing video games with Psycho-Boy here."
Kagome smiled when the boy frowned again, brows furrowing. The youngest of Shippou's kids—and the only boy—Miroku was brilliant, but quiet, and blushed more than anyone she'd ever known, and in that he was so very different from his namesake. The smallest praise or insult sent the boys face flaming.
He was really only immune to Hiroshi's teasing—unless a girl was involved. So when Hiroshi teased him, a girl was always involved.
Yes—the seventeen-year old hanyou was very quiet, but…he had his moments. When playing video games, for instance, he became a very different person.
Miroku reached over her shoulder to tap a receipt. "You just added this twice."
"Who do you think?" Hiroshi snorted and put his can back down on the counter. "Too damn good with a fucking sniper rifle…"
Not too mention it was a bit disconcerting—and hilarious—when the perpetually shy hanyou was telling him to 'suck it, bitch'. Kannon, the dipshit, was no longer allowed to bring camcorders into his room when he watched them play—not since he'd successfully and completely embarrassed the kitsune at a Christmas party. As a result, he didn't play for months, and he'd been stuck playing with Rei, who absolutely sucks at the game.
"That's because I don't rely on a tank all the time. That's just cheap, not to mention it makes you a sitting duck for snipers." He paused to glance over Kagome's shoulders again. "You're $52.46 off…You don't, uh, have a calculator that you can use by any chance…do you?" Miroku asked, a polite way of telling her she shouldn't rely on her own mathematical skills, or lack thereof—ever.
"No," she groaned, sending a desperate glance to her son as he sat casually against the counter top, opposite her. "Do you?"
With a wistful smile, he shook his head. "Left it in my locker."
"I hate math—I've always hated math. Your father should be doing this," she whined petulantly, making a show of shuffling through more receipts.
"Well…if you'd just keep it up as you spend it…"
"You're supposed to be supportive and say, 'yes, Mother, the old man should be balancing your checkbook'. Or, at the very least, 'yes, Mother, math is a worthy cause to slip into a bout of existential angst."
Hiro's eyebrows slipped up, and he slowly turned away. "O-o-o-okay…"
Miroku held out a hand. "Mind if I just…?"
She slid the book and receipts over to him. "Help yourself, sweetie. I'm out—oh… Hello, Rei."
"Hey, 'Gome." He made his way to the fridge, much as his cousin had done, and fished out a bottle of water. His eyes fell upon Hiro, who sat on the countertop a bit more mellow than usual. He smirked. "Get your ass kicked playing Halo?"
The hanyou snorted and took another sip of his Coke. "You're one to talk. At least I know how to throw a fucking grenade," he reminded him with a small smile. Sure, the game was old, but that hadn't really mattered much after Souta recommended it. His uncle had been the king of all things game when he was younger—and he still sometimes played with them, giving even Miroku a run for his money when he did.
"He's getting better about that," Miroku muttered distractedly, still adding up all of the receipts. "He remembered how to last time, at least…"
"You're talking about when he accidentally threw one? Against the wall? That he was three feet from?" His grin was his father's. "That was hilarious."
"Yeah," Rei commented sarcastically, "There's just something about blowing yourself up… Anyway, Kagome—I need you to talk to Eri."
Miroku slid her checkbook back over to her. "There you go."
"Oh, wow…that was really fast… Thanks, sweetie!"
He took a swig of his soda to hide his blush.
With a groan, Rei sank back against the refrigerator, letting his head rest against the stainless steel. "She wants to have a pup."
"…And you don't?"
He grimaced. "That's not it…exactly…"
Face blanking, she turned to her son. "Do you think Rei and I can have a minute alone, please?" She waited until they were gone before she dared look back at Rei, her eyes flashing dangerously. "Don't you ever tell your mate that you think she'll be a bad mother. Do you understand me, pup?" That kind of honesty was uncalled for—especially since it wasn't true.
There was a long moment of shocked silence before the youkai found his voice. "I don't think she'll be bad," he told her carefully. "I just don't think she's ready. She's barely thought this through—and as impetuous as she is, what's to say she won't wake up one morning when she's five—six months pregnant and decide that she doesn't want to be anymore? She actually told me the other day that she began dating me because I had baggage. Whatever the hell that means."
"Rei," she began softly, her face kindly stern, rather than the black scowl she held just seconds before, "you have no idea what you're talking about. She's actually a lot like me—albeit a bit bolder," she admitted slowly. "But we're very similar—both of us were mated on a whim—" Rei's face reddened. "Inuyasha and I had been mated for…not even a month when I found out I was pregnant with Hiroshi. I was seventeen—of course I'd never thought about being a mother so soon, but…it's different."
His arms crossed over his chest while he studied her tender expression, her eyes glazed over with memories.
"It's different when you know that there's a baby inside—something that you created with the most important person in your life. I can't explain it—but it's like…completion. And when you hold them for the first time…" Stormy eyes bore into Rei, and he blushed uncomfortably, ashamed. "Eri will be a fantastic mother. But this is another person we're talking about—a living, breathing being, so this isn't something you should do just to make her happy. This is something that you both have to be ready for." She smiled knowingly. "So are you ready, Rei?"
Inuyasha passed the youkai on his way out and seated himself on the counter where Hiroshi had been sitting a few minutes before. "What'd he want, wench?"
Scooting the stool back, she slipped off to walk around the island, slipping between his legs to wrap her arms around his waist. "Just helping him through a small crisis," she quipped, staring up at him through a fringe of sooty lashes.
"Inuyasha?" She grinned when he grabbed a lock of her hair to wind it gently around a clawed finger. "I love you."
Three weeks later, Eri called her with some exciting news…
Along with the past, they dealt with family issues, which occasionally led to legal issues…
Kagome sighed as she sat down in the chair opposite her husband, and he met her gaze stubbornly. Her smile was small but reassuring, and he released a breath he didn't know he'd been holding.
"I've called Sesshoumaru," she told him quietly, letting her eyes drift away from his to study the white cement room with mirrored glass windows. "He's talking to them now. With any luck, he can make this disappear."
He grunted and buried his face unenthusiastically in his hands, leaning against the table between them. "How's Mimi?"
"Not too well, actually. She was fine until she found out that her father's in jail for assaulting her boyfriend."
"She shouldn't waste her time worrying about that little shit. He's not worth her tears," he fumed. He looked up when Kagome's hands were over his, pulling them away from his face.
"She's worried about you, Inuyasha. We all are." Her hand slipped to cup his cheek. "His parents are pressing charges."
"I really couldn't care less, Kagome. Just another fucking human that can't handle his comeuppance."
She sighed again, and her hand fell back to the table. "Well, apparently you really did a number on him. He's in surgery right now."
Inuyasha laughed a sharp, caustic laugh and leaned back in his chair to cross his arms over his chest. "Fat lot of good that'll do."
Her brows slowly knitted together as dread filled her. "What did you do to him?"
His eyes flashed, and he lifted his chin defiantly. "He was going to force himself on Mimi if she hadn't broken his nose. I turned him into a fucking girl—now he can just go fuck himself."
Her eyes widened for a moment before she snorted incredulously and slowly shook her head. "That's…a bigger problem than just busting his face, Inuyasha…"
How many times had he begrudgingly let that boy into his house…?
"Well, it's a good thing he doesn't want children then, huh?"
She looked amused, which kind of shocked him. "Can't you at least pretend to feel a bit remorseful about it? It may help Sesshoumaru get you out of here."
"Keh—no. He got what he deserved. Shit—what is it with you two attracting fucking filth? Seems like every time I turn around, you're being harrassed."
"That's not funny, Inuyasha."
"No," he agreed. "It's not. It's a fucking problem, Kagome. Both of you are too fucking sweet; you scream 'I'm vulnerable' even if you're really not. What if it had been a youkai instead of a human? Remember Ushitsuyoi? Not all youkai are celibate, and she doesn't have your miko powers, so what if it had been a fucking youkai that had tried to force himself on her?"
She winced and sat back in her chair, folding her hands in her lap. "I don't know."
Sighing, he ran a hand through his hair, and asked, "What about the other pups?"
"Hiroshi was trying to get Kimiko to calm down when I left. I tried to tell her—it wasn't her fault, but…" She shook her head. "And Kannon… Well, you know Kannon… He's a bit, uh…furious with you because you didn't take him with you."
The hanyou snorted. "He'll get over it when I tell him I cut off the little shit's dick."
She winced again, and the doors opened.
Sesshoumaru and an officer stood in the doorway. The man was shorter, but looked pretty intimidating to Kagome. He frowned at them. "The Konishi family has decided not to press charges. You've met bail. …You're free to go. But first may I advise you that if such a situation should ever occur again, call the police rather than seeking your own justice. It's not your place to do our job."
Inuyasha glared at him, but when Kagome shot him a frantic look, he kept his mouth shut. If it had been Raidon's station, this whole situation would have been resolved much more quickly.
"Don't let me catch you in my station again. Next time, even God, himself, won't be able to talk me into letting you out on bail."
Sesshoumaru set his jaw at the implication, and nodded to Inuyasha, who brushed past the officer.
Later when the three were outside the station, Inuyasha turned to his brother. "Well, let's hear it."
The taisho raised a thin brow. "I beg your pardon?"
"Aren't you going to call me a baka—tell me all about how I almost ruined everything. Something along those lines?"
"Inuyasha…" his mate began, but he ignored her.
The other brow rose to match the other. "How presumptuous of you. Nothing you did was irreparable, brother. Kimiko will be fine, the human's alive, and the boy's parents value money more than the prospect of grandchildren." He turned on his heel and walked away from them.
Inuyasha alone heard him say, "Go to Mimi, you baka. You almost ruined everything."
Yes, they dealt with issues…
But it was okay because they were together.
"Mornin'" he yawned, bending down to kiss his mate.
"Mm," she hummed against his lips, smiling at him when he pulled away. "I've fixed you a bowl already."
"Better be ramen," he grumbled reaching for a cup before pouring himself a glass of water.
"What else would it be?" she asked dryly before smirking at him. "You sound tired. Didn't you get enough sleep?"
He grinned back at her. "I might have—if somebody hadn't kept me up all night."
"That was hardly my fault," she pointed out.
"Hey—you touch, you finish, wench."
"And that is a conversation I could have gone my entire life without hearing." Kannon plopped down into the first chair he could reach and began shoveling ramen into his mouth. "'Ank's, Old 'an," he muttered lightly, allowing the noodles to cool a bit in his mouth before swallowing them.
"No problem. Where's your sister?"
"Right here, Papa!" The girl threw her arms around her twin, squeezing his neck and leaning her chin on his shoulder. "Good morning, baby brother!"
He rolled his eyes, but grinned and waited for her to release him. "You've gotta cut that shit out, Mimi. I'm not a 'baby' anything."
Giggling, she pressed a kiss against his cheek and pulled away to make her way around the table to kiss her Papa.
He smiled at her, and had to wonder when she'd grown up. Yesterday she was playing with Barbies and princess clothes. Today she wore makeup and had guy friends—which had caused him no small amount of grief. His only comfort was knowing that Kannon would confront each of the guys that asked her out and tell them a story about an angry father that felt like the only men outside of family that should be allowed around his daughter had to be eunuchs. This story had been circulating for the last year now.
Her date-plans never really lasted that long. She always wondered why the guys would back out at the last minute. Kagome had a sneaking suspicion though—Inuyasha silently dared her to say something. He wouldn't deny it.
Kimiko was a daddy's girl, but he knew that she was every bit Kagome's daughter, even though she had his coloring. Kannon was almost exactly like him, which worried him sometimes. Trouble had a habit of following him to an almost frightening degree.
"Oi! No listening to that crap at the table." Inuyasha smacked the wooden surface to get his attention.
He raised an eyebrow and pulled the headphones back down and let them rest around his neck. "Huh?"
"I asked if you got another fucking haircut," he lied, jamming some more noodles into his mouth.
The pup grinned cockily. The twins were the only ones in the family that chose not to wear their hair long, and the choppy, silver locks barely reached their shoulders. Kannon's hair had even more layers in it than Kimiko's did, or as Inuyasha so eloquently put it, 'looks like it was attacked by a weedwacker—was the barber even sober?' But apparently the girls went crazy over it. Hell if he knew why…
Hiro stalked in looking thoroughly miserable, and whopped his younger brother upside the head. "Thanks for using all the hot water," he grouched, picking the seat between Kagome and the dipshit.
"No problem, man. By the way, Jules called. She's ready to give you your fucking balls back—seriously, dude? Hot water? Be a man and suck it up! Cold showers are good for you—especially with your…problem." He grinned when his brother's cheeks lit up in flames.
"Oh God," Inuyasha groaned.
Kimiko tried to smother her giggles in an attempt to frown reproachfully at him. "Now, Kan, it's not nice to pick on him. Julia is a very pretty girl."
"She is absolutely lovely," Kagome agreed, patting her son's flushed cheek.
Kannon sighed. "Yeah…you're probably right. I'm sorry that you don't have the stones to ask her to help you with your problem. If she ever gets tired of you, let her know I'm interes—" He broke off with a laugh when Hiroshi lunged at him, toppling his chair over, and stopping just shy of beating the bloody hell out of him when Inuyasha was suddenly there, holding him back by an arm.
"Have you two lost what little sense you have?"
Hiroshi was still snarling at his brother, but he shook his head curtly.
"No fighting around the girls. Or in the house. If you're going to kick each other's asses, do it outside. But know that if you're late for school," he drawled, staring pointedly at his youngest son, "I'm gonna kick your ass."
"Keh! I don't think you can, old man," Kannon told him airly, leaning back in his chair and crossing his arms over his chest. "You've lost your touch, I think. Now, you may be able to kick Hiro's ass—he has the body of a girl."
"Is that so? You really think you have what it takes, pup?"
Beside him Kagome watched warily. She knew where this was going. "Inuyasha—he can't spar before school anymore. If he's tardy again—"
"Listen to your mother, pup. You'll get flattened."
"I…don't think that's what she said."
"And for the record," Hiro broke in, "I do not have a girl's body."
Hiro was different from both of the twins, who were the extremes. In fact, if it wasn't for the silver hair, he could be Rei's twin—in both looks and personality. Lankier than Inuyasha had ever been, he still possessed that certain strength that demanded respect, and he stood a good three inches taller than his old man. From what Sesshoumaru had told his brother, Hiroshi fought as well as he did before he was even Hiroshi.
"You even fight like a girl," the young hanyou accused.
Kimiko's piercing eyes flashed. "And what is so bad about that, hm?"
"Aw, shit, Mimi, you know what I meant."
"No. I don't. And don't think I couldn't kick your butt, baby brother. I don't think it'd be very difficult the way you were whining like some kicked puppy last week when Hiro had you pinned with a single arm. 'Lemme go, Lemme go!'," she mimicked.
"Mimi…that hurt. Here," he muttered, pointing to his heart, ignoring his brother's pronounced snort.
She smiled brightly at him, her anger suddenly forgotten. "Just deflating that huge ego a bit, Kan."
"What would I do without you?"
"Silly. You can't do anything without me. I'm your partner in crime!"
"Oi! You better not be corrupting my daughter," Inuyasha growled.
"No worse than you and Mother sharing your sex stories at the breakfast table."
"…What? That's…what?" Hiro gagged, and pushed his bowl away. "Thanks, you dipshit. I'm so glad that you've made me painfully aware that our parents have sex."
"Christ—you can't smell it? And just because you're not getting any—"
Kagome closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "Why, why, why can't we have just one—just one—normal breakfast?"
They all stared at her.
"Why?" Kannon finally asked.
She sighed, and waved her hand dismissively. "Forget I said anything." Her grey eyes fell upon her oldest son. "So, sweetie, how long are you going to be staying?"
"It'll probably be at least another three days before the ceiling's finished. And I have to replace some of the lighting. I still can't believe he did that shit in my house. Fucking kitsune. My living room still reeks of smoke and burnt hair."
Kagome bit her lip and tried not to laugh. "Well…I'm sure he didn't mean to. Accidents happen."
"Mother… Shippou performed Fox Fire in-my-house! I just cannot see a single way that can be unintentional."
She took the opportunity to make a not-so-smooth transition to the crux of the matter. "…I wish you'd just move back in with us. I miss you."
He gave his mother a small smile. "I live half a mile away, Mother. S'not so bad."
"Hey. Did Mom ever tell you that you were an accident?"
Well. That was a conversation stopper.
Kannon just grinned at him.
"The best accident ever—" Inuyasha held a hand up to stop his mate.
"Really not helping, Kagome."
"Oh…right." She smiled weakly at Hiro.
"You two," Inuyasha commanded, pointing at the twins. "School. Now. Graduate or…you really don't want to know the alternative. But it involves working with Kagura as an interior designer."
"Bitchin'," the boy ground out dryly.
When Kimiko squealed excitedly, her father said "No, I was talking to him. You'd get to work with Sesshoumaru—at the computer. All day long. Inside. With that stiff bastard. So graduate."
"You only have 9 more weeks anyway," the miko reminded them cheerfully before smiling at Hiro, who still looked a bit shell-shocked. She waited until the twins were gone before standing and moving behind him to wrap her arms over his shoulders. "Hiro… I would never call you an accident—"
"—You just did! 'The best accident ever'! God, I fucking love staying here."
Kagome frowned. "You were a surprise. We hadn't really talked about having kids, but there was a sort of…ah…assumption that we'd wait until it was a bit safer."
"Naraku was a pain in the ass like never before seen. It would have been dangerous for us to raise a family with that bastard still alive. Hell, I shouldn't have mated your mother until after he was gone."
"Whatever," he sighed with a shrug, and Kagome's brows furrowed.
"You're really upset about this…" She pulled away and walked around to sit back in her seat where she could see his face.
"It's not everyday you find out your parents didn't want you," he muttered, wincing when his mother gasped in unabashed horror.
Inuyasha was suddenly on his feet, hands splayed across the table as he glowered at his son, a position he wasn't all too familiar with. If it had been Kannon, it wouldn't have really surprised him, but Hiroshi? "Hey, pup? Can you tell me how fucking old you are? I thought you were at least twenty-three, but I've been wrong before. Acting like a goddamn five-year-old sulking like that. I'm just going to assume that this fucking mood you're in this morning is about Julia."
Hiroshi lowered his eyes to the ground, but didn't say anything.
"You weren't planned—she never said you weren't wanted, dumb-ass. She cried for days when we thought we'd lost you—"
"Inuyasha." Kagome's voice was suddenly hard and firm, and she stared at him with stony eyes that matched her voice. "Enough."
Gold eyes stared at her for a long moment before flicking back to his son. His stance relaxed as he stood upright again, crossing his arms over his chest. "Apologize to your mother and get to work. Sesshoumaru'll have your ass if you're late."
With a sigh, Hiro was on his feet, bending over to kiss his mother's cheek. "Sorry, Mother."
She smiled at him.
"And if it helps, the twins weren't exactly planned either."
"…It does, actually."
"Oh, and…about Julia…"
"Don't 'father' me—just don't do something stupid, pup, like take a mate without really knowing if she's the one you're supposed to wait for. If she's just an attraction, best to end it now. If you really think that she's the one…"
"She's so pretty," Kagome repeated, clasping her hands together.
"Once again: not helping, Kagome."
The pup shrugged at his mother, who was frowning again.
"Maybe I just won't help you anymore. With your problem. Do you like cold showers, Inuyasha?" She yawned widely and stood to stretch her arms over her head, smirking when her mate stared at the skin it exposed when her shirt rode up a bit.
Inuyasha flicked his eyes from the pup, who looked like he had shit under his nose, to the door. "Work. Now."
"Ugg… Gladly. Don't forget, you have to be there in twenty minutes, too. They're updating security systems, and—"
"—I fucking know that already. I'm going in late today. Personal reasons. Out of my house."
Kagome laughed softly. "Mm…bet my help is sounding pretty good right now, isn't it, Dog-Boy? Well…I'm off to work, too. Cold shower for you, my mate."
With a growl him reached out and snagged a wrist.
"Inuyasha," she sighed, "I have to go to the hospital."
"Keh! The interns can manage without you for a while—take the day off."
He placed one of her hands on a bicep before smirking at her. "You touch, you finish."
She rolled her eyes. "Hiro? When you get off work, come and talk with me, okay? We don't have to talk about Julia if you don't want to, but…"
"I'm fine, Mother," he insisted irritably. "Just…forget about Julia, please. I'm gone."
Kagome waved bye to her son—the boy that was supposed to destroy half an army in cold blood. The one who used to read bedtime stories to his younger siblings, and still had a bad habit of ruffling Kimiko's hair everytime he passed her. He was so much like Inuyasha, and so much like her, that he really wasn't anything like them at all. They, like the twins, were extremes, and Hiro was the balance.
"He'll be okay," she murmured after she heard the door closed.
"'Course he will. And he could've picked a worse mate. I'm afraid to see who Kannon's going to bring home, though."
"Really? Because I'm more worried about Kimiko, whose suitors all seem to contract some illness or something before a date. It's so very peculiar…Almost as if," she gasped in mock revelation, "someone was planning the whole thing!"
"No regrets, wench." His lips found hers, and she had to agree.
There once was a girl that fell down a well and loved a boy—
XD Miroku is a girl! Muahahahaha! After mentioning Jakotsu's reincarnation in the last chapter, I had to have fun with him...
If you are interested, I'm thinking about writing a short sequel, no where near this involved, but at least ten chapter—about Hiroshi. It'll explain the whole Julia story, but first I've got to work out the kinks. And I've got a lot on my plate right now, so it will be at least Christmas before I submit anything else.
I love you all, and I really, really appreciate your reviews, patience, and support! This chapter is dedicated to you all!
Kimiko-- 'Beautiful history child', 'dear child'
Mariko-- 'True reason child'
Satoshi-- 'Clear-thinking'; 'quick-witted'
Quotes of Randomness:
"In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on." --Robert Frost
grenade exploded on Donut's head)
Simmons: Sarge, we need to get Donut airlifted out of here.
Sarge: Could you put that in a memo and entitle it "SHIT I ALREADY KNOW"? --Red vs. Blue
Shelia the tank
(stuck on a rock with her turret spinning in circles): Now that
you've mastered driving the M808V, let's move on to some of the
Caboose: No! No, wait! Go back! Why are there six pedals if there are only four directions? --Red vs. Blue