The Difference Love Makes

Two days after Kagome returned home and the well sealed behind her, Mama was sitting quietly on her own with a cup of tea and an opened letter in front of her. The children were at school and her father-in-law was at a friend's house; so for the first time Mama could indulge in tears. She grieved for the loss of a young man she considered as a son and who had died five hundred years in the past.

Technically she had been assured that Inuyasha had not died, but this made no difference with the well sealed; she would never see her son again and she worried still about how his life had turned out. Mama had developed a special rapport with the irascible young man who hid his kind and loving heart behind a brittle persona with which he tried to hide his self doubt and hatred from everyone.

His brash and coarse behaviour and language worked well for the most part, but it was easy for a mother to see through it to the often shy and frightened child beneath. Over the years, Inuyasha had come to accept her somewhat, in the place of his own much missed mother and trusted her with his thoughts and feelings knowing that she would not betray him.

Often when Kagome and Souta left for school; Mama would sit with him and just listen if he wished to speak, or just be there if he was silent or brooding, her presence was enough to comfort him and make him feel safe. Mama understood better than her daughter did about the 'Kikyou' situation and did not berate him for his loyalties to his first love, whilst she recognised the love he now had for her daughter.

Inuyasha was nothing if not complicated, but his word and his honour were all that he had had in his life and he held true to them. Once he had promised to aid and protect Kikyou, there had been no other option open to him, even at the risk of causing of pain to his friends and himself. But Mama had no doubt that Inuyasha would have been released by the tragic Kikyou in the end; love was always stronger than hate in the long run.

But now, all that opportunity was lost; Kagome and Inuyasha were separated not only by the closure of the well but also by the girl's foolish behaviour with a puppet Sesshoumaru. Her 'crush' had devastated the hanyou and time had been against the couple to repair the damage. This was the most damaging legacy of Naraku as far as Mama was concerned; this final separation of her children.

Since Kagome had come home so distressed and unable to fully explain to Mama all that had happened yet, Mama had been needed to comfort and she had only gleaned that Inuyasha had been returned to his brother's care as a child. This needed further clarification but Kagome had been unable to give it; hopefully getting back to school routine would settle her down and she'd be able to accept what could not be changed.

Strangely Kagome had been most eager to return to school on that Monday morning but had not divulged any particular reason for this and Mama was only too happy to see the girl without the tears falling down her cheeks to question her too closely. But now Mama was the one shedding tears in private for the boy who had always had to fight for his right to exist, let alone be happy.

A knock at the door brought Mama out of her despondency and she found out with a shock that she had been moping for longer than she had realised and the time for the appointment that had been made with her for that morning had arrived. Hastily wiping her eyes, she scanned the letter again for the name of her visitor before going to open the door.

A middle aged, bespectacled man a bit taller and older than Mrs Higurashi stood outside holding a briefcase and accompanied by a lovely young woman. Mama's eyes filled again as she saw the girl who looked very similar in colouring to the human Inuyasha, especially as she had such long hair. Violet eyes as well were after all, unusual. She blinked quickly and forced a large smile which did not fool the man.

He glanced at her shrewdly before asking if she would rather they returned on another day, but Mama said she was fine and as the meeting was about Kagome's education, she would rather not leave it any longer. At his nod, Mama invited the couple in and offered tea which was gladly accepted and then it was time to get down to business. Mr Shiroinu looked to his daughter, who was also his colleague and she got out her laptop and had soon pulled up Kagome's school records.

Mama was trying to not get concerned at the glaring gaps and false excuses all listed down on the computer for the last two years. Was she going to find herself in deep trouble after this visit because of the obvious truancy of her daughter to which she had conspired? Her nervousness was noticed by Mr Shiroinu who smiled reassuringly at her;

"Do not be concerned about the past; we are here to see if we can help Kagome make up some of the learning that she needs to enter college. As Director of Education it is my responsibility to make sure that all willing students achieve their potential."

"I...I don't understand, how can Kagome fully catch up on all she has lost?"

"Your daughter can have special tutors in maths, geography and science as a start, she is coping with her other subjects with perhaps a little extra help at times."

"That would be wonderful, but I'm afraid that we couldn't possibly afford such tutors. Is there no way she can catch up using computer work?"

"The method is not as efficient as when there is a tutor who can correct misunderstandings before they become entrenched ideas. You need have no concerns about the finances; the institute I direct can offer tutors in exceptional cases. Your daughter falls into this category." Before he had finished speaking there was an exasperated sound from the violet eyed daughter;

"Feh! My battery has gone flat, sorry do you think I can use one of your..?" Miss Shiroinu had stopped in dismay and looked to her father before going to Mama's side. The familiar exclamation coupled with the girl's looks, were too much and Mama had put her hand to her mouth with a stricken sob. Immediately, the girl put her arms round Mama's shoulders;

"Keh! I know it's a lot to take in an' all that but please there is no need to cry."

"Or perhaps something else causes your distress Madam Higurashi? You seemed upset when we first arrived. Can we help in anyway?" Mr Shiroinu was calm, his voice concerned.

"No, I'm sorry; it's only that your daughter reminds me greatly of someone who was very dear to me and the family."

"You talk as if the person is in the past; I'm sorry for your loss." Miss Shiroinu was gentle and encouraged Mama to talk to her, while her father made another pot of tea.

"Yes, he has recently died; a dear boy whom I considered as a son. He was a neglected child; an orphan and despite his tough guy exterior, he was a gentle and loving boy. We used to talk a great deal and even though no one could replace his mother in his heart, he came to trust me in her stead."

Mr Shiroinu placed steaming tea and a plate of sweet biscuits in front of them all and sat down studying Mama closely.

"I was not aware of any child who has died in any of the children's homes locally. Perhaps the boy had family somewhere and had gone to live with them. Will Kagome require time to take off for the funeral?"

"No, he died far away. He had an older brother who I hope eventually took care of him."

"You think his brother would not care for the younger boy? Perhaps I can find out for you, I have many contacts."

"Thank you, you are very kind; but it is not necessary. There were hard feelings between the boys and I can only hope that my son was finally happy. One of his greatest wishes and the one that caused him the bitterest tears was the estrangement with his brother whom he admired and loved above anyone else."

More tears accompanied this confession as she remembered holding Inuyasha to her in comfort; when he felt that he could only let his guard down and anguish out when nobody who was relying on him for being strong and not weak was around. Eventually Mama dried her eyes and smiled, apologising for bothering her guest with her problems.

Neither of her visitors had been put out however and went back to the business of arranging tutors for Kagome after Mr Shiroinu remembered that he had a spare battery for the laptop in his car. If Kagome was prepared to give up her Saturday mornings and an extra hour each evening besides giving up the idea of a small job in her spare time, she could attain college level within the year.

Mama agreed that Kagome would indeed be happy to do this in exchange for the schooling and her first lesson was set for the following Saturday with Miss Shiroinu who was a Mathematics Teacher. She would also be the tutor for geography and Mama was pleased to have already been introduced. The pair then packed up to leave after making sure that Mama was calm, Miss Shiroinu reminding her that she would see her again on Saturday.

She was interrupted from the washing up by another knock at the door and opened it to a young man who so closely resembled Miss Shiroinu that he could have been her brother. Taking a chance she said.

"Mr Shiroinu?" On receiving his brief nod she carried on. "How can I help you; has your father left something behind? Please come in, are you going to be one of Kagome's extra tutors?"

"No, well not as such; I will be taking up a teaching post at her school in the next term."

"Does Mr Shiroinu have more children in education?"

"Sort of, one of his other sons is the one who will tutor your daughter in Science."

"Quite the family business, that's nice and I really am most grateful to you all. Did you find what you were looking for?" Mama had turned back to her sink when she felt someone behind her enclose her in a familiar embrace, leaning his head on her back. She stiffened at the contact before she heard him say;

"Mama, it's me."

"Inuyasha, it's truly you?" Mama whispered and reached back to feel for his ears before turning to see him. He looked his normal human self and yet she could feel his ears and realised that he was wearing a concealment charm of some sort. "Let me see you properly, please my son; I need to see that you are well."

"Inuyasha removed a ring from his finger and the flowing raven hair turned white and the glistening violet eyes changed to gold. Mama reached to caress the puppy ears that once again were visible on his head. But he had changed, his clothing was modern, smart dress trousers and a shirt left open at the throat and he was now smiling, relaxed and happy. Mama crushed him to her and let him return the favour as he snuffled at her hair and sighed; his eyes watering from the old memories.

Eventually Mama made another pot of tea and he had some ramen for old time's sake; remembering that for her, it had been only days since she'd said farewell to a distraught young hanyou. Fondly watching the boy eat and his overall demeanour gave Mama a great deal of pleasure; he was more confident and assured than she had ever seen him before even when he was putting on his act, because this was natural.

Once over her pleasant shock and her maternal need to feed and cherish had been fulfilled for a while, Mama's need for answers came to the fore.

"Inuyasha, you share the same surname with Mr Shiroinu and his daughter; were you adopted by them."

"He is my father, she my sister; well to all intents and purposes. Really it is my brother Sesshoumaru and my niece Shami. Would you like me to introduce you to them now you know who they really are? "

Mama certainly would be interested in meeting the famed Sesshoumaru in person and seeing how such a short middle aged man had at one point captured her daughter's interest. She knew there was some illusion but Inuyasha was not greatly changed, however she had understood Sesshoumaru to be taller. Perhaps to children, the very real and dangerous personage of Inuyasha's brother had made him seem bigger in some way.

Inuyasha went to the door and called gently to his brother and once again Mr Shiroinu came in and sat down, this time with an amused smile visible around his lips. Mama made yet more tea and asked if Miss Shiroinu wanted to come in as well, only to be told that she had gone back to work.

"Please take off the concealment Sesshpapa; let Mama see how you really are." Inuyasha's intense look at his brother strongly reminded her of a much smaller child proudly showing off his parent. But when Mr Shiroinu removed his spectacles and the tall elegant Sesshoumaru was revealed, Mama fully understood how Kagome had been led astray; the youkai was staggeringly beautiful. Not that that was any excuse.

Mama was amazed at the sheer presence of the creature before her and was even more taken aback when he bowed his head to her and offered her his sincere thanks for her care of his little brother at a time when he himself had fallen short. Mama was gracious and did not demean the Lord's thanks by denying them; instead she too bowed saying,

"You have more than made up the lack My Lord. Inuyasha looks very well on your care for which I too am grateful; as I love this boy as a son."

"I am sorry that I did not realise how much the not knowing, would mean to you." Sesshoumaru now glanced at his red faced and horribly embarrassed brother, who just folded his arms and said 'Feh!' making them both laugh gently at him. Some things obviously hadn't changed.

"Kagome is going to be so pleased to see you Inuyasha not to mention, Souta and Grandpa."

"No, Mama. I don't want Kagome to know that I am here yet; please don't tell her."