Kagome let Inuyasha lift her out of his drop top convertible and place her on the blacktop driveway then straightened her skirt while he got their overnight bags from the backseat. She'd never seen Sesshomaru's house, but she couldn't believe that this would be it. She almost thought Inuyasha might have gone to the wrong address.
A basketball hoop hung from above the garage and a wading pool sat in the yard next to the drive and rubber bath toys floated within it. A motored pink Barbie Jeep was parked by the sidewalk and a purple one was sitting a few feet away. Various other outdoor toys also littered the yard. It was obvious that the girls had taken over Sesshomaru's home.
Inside was no different. Dolls and board games littered the living room floor and dress up costumes hung from the back of chairs. Kagura sighed at the sight of the mess. "It looks like the playroom overflowed again, but don't worry, they'll clean it up before bed." She led Kagome and Inuyasha through the dining room and into the kitchen. "I put the emergency numbers up on the refridgerator so that if anything happens you can get in touch with us or Varsha. The girl's doctor's numbers are on there as well as Jaken's phone number. I wouldn't suggest calling him though. He's really annoying."
Kagome giggled, knowing exactly what Kagura meant. Inuyasha had settled in the living room and turned on the television. Kagome was to be in charge of the kids. He was just there for protection.
"There's food in the fridge if you get hungry. They're not allowed any sugar after supper, of course. It doesn't really affect Kanna, but it'd keep Rin up all night. You don't have to worry about cooking. I informed Reika, the housekeeper, and she's going to come by each afternoon about six and cook dinner for you. As far as breakfast goes, they usually have a bowl of cereal and a sandwich for lunch."
She lead them back through and to the stairs. "They should be in bed by ten, but Rin's usually asleep by nine. We'll be home by Monday afternoon at the latest, so you shouldn't have to worry about too much. Rin's tutor will be here at ten Monday morning. Just let her in and she'll take care of the rest. I swear, one of these days she's going to go to school, but we can't take her yet."
"She's still having problems with speech?" Kagome inquired, frowning. She would have thought thearpy was helping.
Kagura paused at the top of the stairs and shook her head, sighing. "I don't know what we're gonna do with her, Kagome. The agreement was that if Sesshomaru was to take her, she would have to talk and she does talk now...quite a bit actually, and out loud too, but she still speaks in third person. I'm hoping she'll grow out of it soon because she needs to be in a school environment, interacting with other children. Kanna loves it. When I think about how she was before, it's hard to believe she's the same person. Sometimes I don't even recognize her."
Kagome nodded in understanding. "Growing up with Naraku could be damaging to any child's psyche." Then she laughed. "She's not the only one who's changed. I'd have never taken you for the motherly type."
The wind youkai rolled her eyes. "Don't I know it. One year with those two and I sound like those moms you see on the playground. Three years ago I would have never pictured myself in this situation. But I don't think I mind all that much."
The young miko smiled and looked around wondering where Sesshomaru was. She hoped there wouldn't be a confrontation between the brothers before they left. While they were civil to one another, they wee still on rocky ground where their relationship was concerned. Maybe in time they could be more like a real family...
"Are you and Sesshomaru planning on having kids?"
The youkai stared in shock. "Gods no!" she exclaimed and then composed herself. "At least not right now. We've got enough problems right now as it is what with Rin and her tutoring and therapy for both girls. If we get them stabilized then we might consider it." She waved her hand for Kagome to follow her and opened a door to their right. "Girls, Kagome and Uncle Inuyasha are here. Come on downstairs 'cause we've got to go."
Both girls were lying on their stomachs with a box of crayons spilled out in front of them and a coloring book between them. They stopped what they were doing to look up at the two women before clamoring to their feet and racing past them, downstairs.
Sesshomaru met them in the entryway with their suitcases. It was the first time Kagome had ever seen him dressed so casually, even if he did wear khaki dockers, brown loafers and a blue button up pollo shirt, tucked neatly into his pants waist. A rubber band held his hair back out of his face and he glanced at his watch.
Kagome bowed to him and he nodded in return. The girls weren't quite so formal as they rushed up to him. Rin grabbed his leg and hugged as far around him as she could while Kanna hung back slightly. He knelt down to their eye level and the little girl threw her arms around his neck.
"Papa? When are you and Mama coming home?"
Kagome blanched. Papa? Mama? That she had not been expecting.
"Monday afternoon," he answered and surprised Kagome further when he hugged the child back. "Before you go to bed Monday night." She nodded, pleased with his answer and went to embrace Kagura the same way.
Sesshomaru put his hand on Kanna's head, gently brushing her white hair back. Neither needed any more acknowledgment than that as neither was used to receiving or doling out affection. Kagura, however, hugged the youngest and kissed her cheek before doing the same to Kanna and then bidding Kagome farewell.
When the door closed behind them, she looked at the kids and smiled. "So, what were you two doing when we came in?"
"Rin and Kanna were coloring in Rin's new book and Kanna was telling Rin a story," the dark haired girl answered cheerfully.
"Are you two okay upstairs or do you wanna bring it down here? Reika-san won't be here for another hour to fix dinner, so you've got plenty of time to play."
"We'll go upstairs. Thanks, Kagome." Kanna smiled at her and took the younger girl's hand, leading her back up to their room.
Kagome wondered back to the living room where Inuyasha was on the couch, his feet propped up on the coffee table. Some action movie was playing across the wide screen and she rolled her eyes. He always did like things that blew up, she thought and sat next to him, curling into his side. He shifted and put his arm around her shoulders, giving her a slight squeeze.
"She calls him papa."
He snorted. "Disturbing, isn't it?"
She pinched his side lightly and he yelped in surprise, then pouted. "Don't be rude, Inuyasha."
He growled, sulking. "I ain't being rude. Just look at him! What about him says father figure to you?"
"You're right, I guess." She sighed and put her arm around his waist. "But then, I'd never have pegged Kagura for a mother either. I guess that just goes to show how much people can change." He grunted, but didn't respond and she relaxed against him, letting his steady heartbeat drum in her ear and lull her into a light sleep.
Several hours later, after putting Rin to bed and seeing that Kanna was in her room watching a movie, Kagome had just come down from checking on them when her cell phone rang. She checked the number and flipped it open. "Hey Kaede-san, what's up?" She draped herself across one of the living room chairs and motioned for Inuyasha to turn the tv down so she could hear. It was unusual for the doctor to call when she was supposed to be at the retreat. They had, after all, postponed all of their appointments months ago when a new case had come up.
"Kagome, I hate to call you like this, but I'm in need of your aide."
She frowned and Inuyasha muted the television, turning his attention (and his super human hearing) completely to her. Something was obviously up and he wanted to know what.
"Whatever it is, I'll do all I can to help. You know that."
Kaede gave a long sigh. "I'm afraid you won't want to do this, but I have to ask anyway. You remember the patient that I told you about when I first came to the retreat?"
The girl nodded and then remembered the doctor couldn't see her. "Yeah, the little kitsune whose parents were killed. His dad was some big-shot in politics or something."
"He was the head of the youkai reform movement some thirty years ago. It was because of his work that youkai and hanyou share the same rights as ningens today."
"What's that got to do with anything?" Inuyasha wondered and Kagome glared at him, silently scolding him for eavesdropping on her conversation. He shrugged and rolled his eyes.
"Tell Inuyasha that I said hello," Kaede said, chuckling lightly. "You were going to tell him later anyway, child. He'd might as well hear it first hand."
"That's beside the point," Kagome mumbled. "So, what is it you want me to do?"
"Shippou is the only witness the police have and the only means that they can find to bring the culprits in. They think that it was an assassination and are afraid that if the killers, or the people who hired them, were to find out about Shippou's existence or his location, they would try to do away with him. He's the only one who can identify them.
"Somehow the information leaked to local press and now the entire world knows that the Tanaka's had a son. Luckily they don't know where he's staying, but it's only a matter of time before he's discovered. I've been trying for months to bring him out, but it's a long process you know and time is no longer on my side."
Kagome made a face, not understanding what the elder woman was asking her to do. "Still, what can I do? I'm not even finished with school yet."
"You told me that while you and Inuyasha were gone the first time, you managed to contact him and pull him into your 'forest'. Then when you were here looking for Naraku, you managed to do the same thing and pull him into your dream. Afterwards, when he wouldn't wake up in the hospital, you went in after him. Perhaps you could do that with Shippou?"
Kagome paled. "But...Kaede...I don't even know how I did that. I wouldn't even know how to start."
"Kagome, I'm only asking you to try. If it weren't so important, I wouldn't even ask. You understand the ramifications that the Tanaka murder has had on parliament? What it could mean for the nation's youkai and ningen populations?" She drew in a long breath and Kagome realized just how tired she sounded. "Despite the enacted laws of protection and the seeming stability of youkai rights, politians have been on unsteady ground for decades. Youkai are still a minority and have never ceased struggling. The Tanaka assassination was designed to look as if a human were responsible and possibly paid by some well known human as well. There are those, youkai and human, who would benefit greatly from such political unrest. If something is not done, and quickly, we may have a civil revolution on our hands."
Kagome looked at Inuyasha who stared right back at her. They both knew what it would involve if Kagome agreed to help. Someone had killed Shippou's parents and those same people were likely after Shippou, to keep him from ratting on them. And they'd likely come after anyone who got close to the kid, anyone who might be able to wake him or learn their identity.
If she got involved with this case, she'd be putting her life in danger again.
"It's up to you, Kagome," he said quietly, "but if you do go, I'm going with you."
"Inuyasha, you can't - what if someone comes after us? What if something did happen? You'd get hurt too. I don't want to put you in danger."
"Damnit, Kagome, if you're putting yourself in danger then I'm going to fucking be there to protect you. I ain't gonna just sit here and worry about you, that's for damn sure."
He crossed his arms stubbornly. "If you go then I go, no discussion. You can take it or leave it."
She closed her eyes and silently counted to ten. "Alright, I'll come see what I can do, but..." she trailed off and bit her lip. "Look, Inuyasha and I are in Kyoto right now. We're watching the girls for Sesshomaru and Kagura till Monday. Is it okay if I wait till then?"
"Yes, but don't wait any longer than that. It is only a matter of time before someone discovers his location."
"I know. We'll see you in a few days, Kaede-san. Goodnight." She flipped her phone off and glared at her boyfriend who glared right back. "You are such a pain."
"When are you gonna get it through that pretty lil' head of yours that I ain't gonna just sit back while someone I care about's in danger?" he leaned forward and thumped her on the nose lightly. "Just be happy I'm willing to save your ass again."
"I beg your pardon? As I recall, I was the one doing the ass saving that night. You're the one who managed to get himself stabbed and nearly bleed to death." She stood up and dug a book from her purse. "Then I had to go and drag you back out of that cave."
"Something distracted me, remember? That's why I didn't see him shoot that thing."
She gently pulled his ear, just enough to give him a start without actually hurting him. "I only showed up because I had already seen you get killed." She tapped her forehead, indicating she'd had a vision. "And if I hadn't come when I did and knocked you down,it wouldhave gone through your heart instead of your shoulder and you would be dead."
Sensing that she'd won the argument she stretched out on the couch, placing her legs in his lap and opened her book. But she couldn't concentrate. Instead she kept thinking of the coming week. She had hoped with the death of Naraku that she'd be normal. Guess that was never gonna happen...
Besides normalcy was totally overrated...