The Principle of Existence
Summary: Due to a declining birth rate, the government of Japan imposes a drastic new law that forces healthy males and females to get together to make children. For Inuyasha, a hanyou, this may be a chance he thought he never had to have a family. But will he ever find love too?
Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha and Co. They belong to the wonderfully talented Takahashi Rumiko.
Warning: Adults doing adult things.
Chapter 6 Compromises
Inuyasha kept the raggedy piece of worn canvas cloth tied over his head for many reasons. The obvious reason was his ears. Since he wasn't a normal little puppy dog, nothing on two feet should have them. It made people uncomfortable…afraid. So, he gave them comfort and it kept the stares at bay.
Secondly, work. He had a messy job. His ears were sensitive and couldn't handle the noise and grime of his job well. And lastly….he was just too lazy to pull it off. After work, he had only one thing on his mind.
And there it was.
It was so beautiful looking even as it was somehow nestled between an antiques shop and an old TV repair shop. Fading red banners hung from the low overhang with two red lanterns at each corner. Below the banners stood five rickety wooden stools. All were available at the moment, however, Inuyasha had his favorite and he would be occupying that seat in a few seconds.
It was the one on the end. That way, if anyone else arrived, or if it became busy, he wasn't crowded.
Not that it ever got that busy.
There were dozens upon maybe even hundreds of little ramen shops like that all over Japan. Enough in Tokyo alone to confuse anyone. And each one was different enough from the next. Most were independently owned. Not that any of that mattered to him. This was his stand. It served his favorite ramen. Nothing could compare.
And that was that.
He plopped down in his usual seat, gold eyes settling on the aged man bent over a boiling pot. No words were exchanged. None had to be. It was the same every time. Something Inuyasha liked about his life. This was constant. Nothing ever changed. Well…maybe the price did a couple of times, but that was to be expected.
He sat down at the same time every night. The old man always had his back to him, hunched over a huge boiling pot. Then, the old man would look back, his eyes bugging out through his ashen, loose skin. Something at the moment was said without anything being spoken, before the old man returned his attention to the boiling pot.
And then, out of thin air, Inuyasha's ramen was in front of him. Just like that. Tokyo-style ramen from the Chinese prefecture was his brand of ramen. Thick juicy slices of pork layered with scallions, eggs, and nori, all piled on top of a heaping pile of noodles that floated in soy-flavored chicken broth.
He grinned eagerly at the food, saliva dripping off the tips of his fangs. There was no explanation for it. This is what he craved. He had to have it every night for dinner. He could only recall a few instances when he wasn't in the city for his meal, but those were few and far between.
"Itadakimasu," he said his voice low as he picked up the chopsticks. He drove the plastic utensils into the soup and twirled up a nice first bite.
"Hi, could I have tsukemen please," a soft female voice ordered.
Inuyasha paid zero attention to this strange new customer. Probably lost. No good person ever choose to eat at a place like this. Not when there were nice places to eat at. And not when things like him ate here.
"Thank you," she replied as two bowls were placed in front of her. A whispered 'itadakimasu' hit his ears hard. He recognized that voice. Afraid to crank his neck around, he hunched over his bowl focusing on eating.
"How's your mother," the old man asked.
Inuyasha bared his fangs. The stupid old man knew his mother had died a long time ago. He had thought the old man had more respect than that. Not for him, but for his mother.
"She's doing fine. Oh, she was meaning to get a hold of you. She was wondering if you were free on Sunday?"
"Oh, what for?"
One of Inuyasha's ears swiveled towards the direction of the conversation he knew he shouldn't be listening to. But, he was feeling a bit jealous suddenly. He and the old man never had conversations, mostly because he had nothing to say. But this was his old man who tended his favorite ramen stand.
"Jii-chan needs someone to play mah-jong and drink sake with."
The old man chuckled. "Your mother requires a babysitter."
"Mama would never admit to that. However, she's attending a school function for my younger brother."
"On a Sunday?'
"No. It's on Saturday, but she won't be back from it until late Sunday night."
"What's your jii-chan doing on Saturday with your mother away?"
"Busy with the Shrine all day."
"I see…your mother has visitors babysitting him. Clever woman."
"If you say so. Neither of them would call it that."
"I just call them how I see them."
The girl laughed. It was a soft and warm sound, one that was pleasant to ears like his. One reason why he had a hard time settling for a woman. If their voice was too high-pitched, too whiny, his ears just couldn't handle it. Nor could he, but, the point was that if their talking or laughing hurt his ears once, he had to cut them off to prevent any further pain.
One of his defense mechanisms.
"How is your brother?"
"He's doing really well. Second year at Todai."
"He still studying…what was it? Soccer…baseball…Oh I forgot. My old man mind crumbles on me."
"Phooey. Boy should just become a doctor. Good money in that. And he can meet a nice girl too."
"He knows. He's seriously considering orthopedics."
"Smart kid. Tell your mother I'll be over. Your jii-chan always manages to get his hands on the best sake."
Inuyasha looked over at the woman whose chiming chuckle made her seem a bit too friendly with the old man. Inuyasha had always assumed that the old man was bitter. The old man was never nice to anyone.
He never expected the old man to have the ability to be nice to anyone. And her of all people? Why her? Of all…how did she know about this place? It left him speechless. Almost…
"What the fuck are you doing here?" he sputtered out, pointing a clawed finger at the only other customer at the ramen stand.
"Talking to Toutousai," the woman replied, ignoring the flabbergasted look on Inuyasha's face. "Hopefully without any rude interruptions."
"You don't belong here you- ow, what the fuck Toutousai."
Toutousai yanked on Inuyasha's cloth covered ear twice. "Keep your yap shut boy. That's no way to talk to a lady."
"Feh," Inuyasha snorted, rolling his eyes as he refocused his attention back to what really mattered. "She's no lady."
"Why you – "
"It's all right Toutousai," Kagome interjected, saving Inuaysha's ears. Kagome picked up her chopsticks and resumed her meal. "He just feels left out of the conversation. That's all."
"Fuck that. How did you know I was here?"
"Are you suggesting I followed you?"
Toutousai shook his head. As entertaining as it was to watch these two bicker like children, he had work to do. Even though he had only two customers currently, he made batches of his food for late-working salary-men and others who work the late shifts.
"Maybe. I've never seen you here before."
"I didn't follow you here."
"I might've made a few phone calls to track you down. All I was told was that you frequented a ramen shop in this district, but no one knew which one exactly. However, I didn't know it would be the same one I occasionally eat at. My jii-chan and Toutousai are old friends. It's all just an odd coincidence."
He narrowed his eyes at her. "Names."
"Names. I want the names of the people who talked to you. Bastards, they…" he shook his head as he sighed. She wouldn't get it. She seemed to be the social type, butting into business that wasn't hers. Just like what she was doing now. Following him here to get something from him. Then he looked over at her.
"Uh…oh, um, well I wanted to apologize about the movie thing. It was wrong of me to play up American stereotypes from their movies."
"I was right."
"Uh…"Kagome's voice trailed off as she returned to her food. She had forgotten about it for a moment. Whoops. Eating Toutousai's ramen was a treat for her. After stopping by the Sunset Shrine for a visit with her mother, the lady Higurashi gave Kagome some money for food and to pass along the message.
"I still think…I think that you are underestimating what I'm here for. I'm only here to help."
Inuyasha noticed how quickly she glossed over a much needed acknowledgement of his correct assumptions about the movie. Wench. What he really needed was for her to leave. Peace was what he craved, along with ramen, after a long day at work. Speaking of which, someone he worked with ratted him out.
"Who told you I was here?"
"No one," she confessed in between bites of pork and eggs dipped into brother. "Do they really know where you go after work? Have you told them?"
His mouth was opened to fire off a fabulous retort when Inuyasha froze, closing it. Back up. She was right. No happy hour for him. He didn't work to make friends.
"It's merely coincidence. Besides, you can't resist ramen made by the best."
Toutousai chuckled over the steamy pot. Such flattering words from such a beautiful lady. Only Kagome, her mother and Inuyasha's mother had been both beautiful and kind, to not only him, but everyone. If only the Higurashi matriarch and Iyazoi were alive at the same time…
"Old man makes piss…"Inuyasha grumbled to himself as he took another bit of ramen. A large thud to the top of his head knocked the food right out of his mouth. "Fuck Toutousai," he growled out, claws flexing and elongating.
Toutousai rested a large ladle against his shoulder. "I already warned you about your language."
"And I already told you old man, she's not a lady."
"Oh, and what makes you such an expert?" Toutousai eyed Inuyasha suspiciously.
"What makes you one?"
"I've meet enough females in my life to know a lady when I see one."
"Yeah, well at least I'm going to be mated to one,"
Toutousai froze. "Really?" he asked, his voice soft, but filled with excitement.
Kagome nodded. "It's how we know each other."
"You mean…" He glanced at Inuaysha and then switched his gaze over at Kagome. "When?"
"A few weeks now," Kagome replied, glancing over at Inuyasha for any sign of confirmation. Toutousai beamed at the two. Kagome then continued," She's very lovely. Graceful, intelligent, sophisticated, polite, a doctor…a lady."
Inuyasha sighed as his thoughts went to Kikyou. "Everything you're not."
Toutousai frowned. Whoops. For a second there he had thought…Then he remembered the talk about that government law. As someone well past his mating prime, Toutousai had kept himself uninvolved in those matters.
"Kikyou is from America. She's Japanese, but has little experience with the language and the culture, so I'm here to help them get accustomed to each other until Kikyou can manage on her own."
Inuyasha nodded in agreement to what Kagome had described to the old man.
"Anyway, since Kikyou is so intelligent, I won't be around too long to bother him."
"And good riddance too-ouch. Fuck it. Toutousai, I'm going to shred that shitty ladle into shreds."
"You show Kagome some respect boy."
"What do you fucking care so much?"
"I owe her family my life. You were too young of a pup back then to remember, so I'm forced to smack some sense into you."
"Despite what history says about us, and the kind of upbringing most humans have, the Higurashi clan took me into their home during the wars. We're tough, but not immortal. War is war. Your own father knew this."
"Jii-chan has told me the stories," Kagome softly said. Many of those stories weren't happy tales at all, but it was important to her grandfather that she and Souta know of them. Kagome had brought in a historian to record the stories for the Shrine's legacy.
Kagome smiled softly at the old demon. "You know that jii-chan believes that there is no debt to be paid by you. From what he says, he is the one with the debt."
"Your jii-chan has gotten senile in his old age."
"Then what are you?" Inuyasha snapped.
"Sharp as a tack."
"I know you. You can't even remember what happened yesterday."
"Leave him alone Inuyasha."
"You're telling me you believe everything this old fart blabs on about?"
Kagome frowned, remaining silent. Toutousai and her grandfather were fantastic storytellers, but she had to question the accuracy of the stories. Though Toutousai was a youkai, which enabled him the talent on accomplishing incredible feats, something she just couldn't be sure which tale was fact or fiction. And with her grandfather in the mix, their tales only grew in height.
"They are…interesting," she finally said when she noticed the longing look in Toutousai's bugged eyes. "Kept Souta and I entertained as kids."
Toutousai glanced back at his two customers. They were familiar to him, a remembrance of a time long past. But that was all. Toutousai knew Kagome. He knew Inuyasha. And if Inuyasha had been paired with a woman able to accept him, then Inuyasha would be loyal to her, no matter what. He only wished it could've been Kagome. Kami had other plans that he couldn't interfere with.
Was he crying for her?
Kagome was frustrated when she returned home. When she sought out Inuaysha, she, at least in her head, was adamant about teaching him the cultural surprises he would encounter with Kikyou. However, once in his presence, she faltered and said nothing about it instead.
Which meant she wasn't doing her job and that worried her. She was never one to give up is she knew that there was a chance. And Inuyasha and Kikyou had a change.
Sitting down on her couch, Kagome opened up her notes containing all the info she had on Inuyasha and Kikyou. Having talked to Kikyou frequently through emails, all saved, she had a plethora of tidbits that gave Kagome a glimpse into the Japanese-American woman. She had to show that Inuaysha.
But how? Her idea of bugging him didn't work out. Who would've guessed that they both knew Toutousai? Her grand plan to act like an American was her only option. But acting as an American as she knew them tube didn't mean she could actually reflect how Kikyou would behave.
And he could only know Kikyou if he was with her every free moment they shared together. Throwing them into a house would be disastrous. She'd seen a few of those reality shows where they did something like that. Of course, the more drama, the betting the ratings, but drama right now was unnecessary. They would just have to date, a lot.
Kagome started to make a list of all the places the three of them could attend. Dinner, the movies, oh…the zoo would be fun, and shopping, bookstores, anything from the extravagant to the mundane. Either way, they would be getting to know each other very well.
Sango stood up front of the large exercise room enclosed in mirrors and a padded floor. She was teaching a kendo class of about 15 students ranging from age 14 to some who wouldn't state out right what their age was. She was conducting hikitate-geiko, guiding the class through the kendo moves that unified their hearts and minds and bodies.
"Good job everyone. Let's take a fifteen minute break before we get into groups for gokaku-geiko."
The group of middle schoolers to middle agers dispersed, going to their bags and water bottles. Sango retreated to her stash. Pulling out a small towel, Sango wiped her forehead clean of sweat. She set her kendo stick down next to her and rested the towel on her lap so she could pull out her water bottle. As she gulped down the cool liquid, she took a good look at her class.
Each class was different, something she both liked and disliked about it. This class had more students than non-students enrolled this time. Sango knew how it went. After school, they would practice with their school kendo club. In between that and this class, homework and dinner was finished. And somehow they found time to go to college prep courses and hang out with their friends.
Sango wasn't any kind of scholar in school. She did well enough, but it was her athletic dominance that allowed her to skip some of the extra exam and college prep courses. As long as she shined on the mat or a field, she had nothing to worry about.
Miroku was the smart one. He was that kid in school. The one who did well without having to try, no homework, and studying meant looking at other girls. He just had a way with words and he wrote so eloquently. Becoming a lawyer was a natural career choice for him, though he could've easily been a politician. Sango never really understood why he didn't do something more public. He never explained his choice to her.
Their date went great and yet, she still had her doubts. Here she was teaching people how to fight. Miroku fought, in court, but it was for noble causes, nothing like her reasons. Miroku was a lover at heart, whereas Sango was already ready for a fight.
In the middle of her break, her cell phone went off. She hated to bring it to class, but had promised her brother that she'd keep it on and near her always.
"Moshi-moshi," she spoke into the phone.
"Sango, its Miroku."
She smiled at the sound of his voice. Realizing what she had just done, she quickly extinguished it. "Um, hi. What are you doing calling? I'm in the middle of teaching a class."
"I know. Which room are you in?"
"Which room…why- oh, you're here?"
"Wh-why?" she stammered out. She was getting warm.
"Don't you have a free-style fighting class?"
"After kendo. Are you…you're going to fight?"
"Normally I'm all for diplomacy, however, the physical benefits are well worth it."
"Ah, okay. I'm uh…I'm in room 5, northeast end."
"I'll see you in a few then."
Sango hung up. She almost couldn't believe it. Was he bluffing? Why here? Why now?
For you, a voice deep inside her head proudly proclaimed.
Sango shook her head. It was all happening way too fast. The dates, the phone calls. And now he was visiting her at work. She knew that it wasn't going to be good. He was a bad distraction.
Once the fifteen minutes were up, she called her students back to order. Pairing them off, she had them face each other, and on her command, they sparred.
Yes, he was a very bad distraction. He wasn't here yet and already her mind was occupied with him and not on her students' stances and forms. Instead her eyes were steady on the entrance, watching for his arrival.
How was she going to tell him that he couldn't just stop by like this? Work was work, something she kept separated from other parts of her life. To outsiders, what she did was unglamorous and unbecoming of a woman.
Nothing like what Miroku was normally interested in.
But why care? If the point of it all was to drive Miroku away, then she should be embracing this, using it to her advantage. Being stronger, physically, than a guy was one huge turn off and it scared them away. Straight men didn't want to date women that were too much like men.
Her heart stopped and her mind went blank when he stepped into the sparring room. Wearing loose-fitting pants and a gray tank top, he sauntered in carrying a bow-staff. His hair, which he kept tidy for work, was now loose and unruly.
And when her heart started back up, it pounded wildly in her chest.
Miroku took a seat and quietly watched as the kendo students sparred with one another. He was cautious about taking peeks at Sango, not wanting to bother her too much while she was working. She was dressed in traditional kendo garb and armor, her face mask dangling from her side and a kendo stick resting on her shoulder. In an outfit like that, she should've looked unflattering.
Instead, she was strong and confident. A warrior goddess. She took note of her student's work and then offered them tips to improve themselves. Sango would then step back and nod at the improvements made.
It was a bit awe-inspiring.
In school he had watched her at tournaments, cheering her on alongside Kagome. She was an artist at athletics. He never felt threatened or overpowered by her abilities. It just made him love her that much more.
After watching her out of the corner of his eye, Sango called halt and ended the class. Several students approached her. Miroku watched her interactions with them. She kept herself guarded at all times, saying only what was necessary and kept a physical distance from them. He knew she opened up rarely and he was lucky to be included in the small group of people she could act openly around.
Though it was Kagome that she could trust implicitly. Not that he was jealous of that. He was sure that Kagome was the reason that they had all remained as close as they did to this day.
Now he and Sango had to work on strengthening their own relationship and create a bond that could never be broken. He knew that fate could intervene at any moment, so they had what time the gods had granted them.
It was a good ten, fifteen minutes of Q and A before Sango was left alone. He didn't move or say anything, he just watched. Sango picked up items that were left behind and tidied up the room for the next class.
She was a sight to behold.
"I didn't know you still kept up with it," she finally said as she picked up a small bag. It was a coin purse someone had dropped.
"I believe someone once told me that a strong mind required a strong body," he calmly stated with a sly smile.
Sango walked over to the weapons rack. She replaced her kendo stick and pulled off a staff similar to Miroku's. She walked to the middle of the room and pointed the end of the staff at him.
"Let's see how strong you still are."
Miroku stood, gripping his weapon loosely. As he cruised over to Sango, he had the biggest grin on his face.
How did he get so lucky?