It was 5 o'clock in the morning when Sesshoumaru stepped onto the welcome mat. The world was dark and still, as three sharp knocks cut through the mist hanging low on the ground. The door quickly opened and light flooded the entryway.
Kaede's single eye and weathered scowl greeted him. They exchanged nods and she stepped aside to let him enter, closing the door after him and leaving the quiet morning behind.
Their footsteps echoed in the hall. His were deliberate, confident. Hers, a quiet shuffle.
Sesshoumaru pondered her hunched frame and quiet mannerisms. He could easily see how some found her intimidating. She certainly didn't possess a tolerance for nonsense, though her actions spoke of a more patient heart. Kaede was as serious as she was compassionate, as strict as she was kind.
Dr. Taisho held a great amount of respect for her and her work. He followed her to the kitchen and saw a decent fire already warming the room under an iron pot.
Miroku sat at the kitchen table, hunched over his notes, writing the last lines of a full page. Sesshoumaru thought it early for him to be awake, even without content worthy of the official log but made no comment. Kaede sat on a small stool in front of the fire, lifted the lid of the pot and stirred the steaming contents. Sesshoumaru inhaled deeply, drawing in the thick scent of porridge; comforting in it's simplicity.
He joined Miroku at the table just as he put down his ink pen, closed the book and pushed it away from himself. He ran his hands over his face as he sighed. There were dark circles under his eyes and Sesshoumaru wondered if he had even gone to bed.
"Good morning, Doctor." Miroku finally greeted with an artificial smile. His face looked as weathered as Kaede's.
"Hnn." Sesshoumaru nodded.
Miroku swung his legs over the bench to face the fire. "That smells good, Kaede. Is it done yet?"
"'tis ready enough." she said. She reached for the bowls stacked beside her and filled two, tapping the ladle on the pot's edge and hanging it from the mantel. The two men savored the warm meal in silence. Kaede began peeling the potato crop Miroku had dug the day before, tossing the peelings into the fire. It was late summer and the garden's bounty of fruit had begun to taper off, so they were relying a little more on the vegetable garden.
Just as the sun was rising, the quiet of the morning was ended by a noisy racket outside the front door. The three in the kitchen listened to metallic clanks and the wooden knocking. Raucous voices joked and hollered in the early morning light as their construction crew arrived on schedule once more.
Kaede rose from her stool and left the kitchen to let the rowdy bunch inside. When they barreled past the doorway, materials in hand, they threw cheerful, loud greetings at their employers. The two doctors offered far less cheerful returns.
Kaede followed after and did not sit, but arranged a second breakfast tray with 3 bowls of porridge and a pot of tea- bound for the patients wing.
She'd been spending most of her days at the ward lately, much as she had when Kagome first arrived. She appeared in the wee hours of the morning and left in the evenings after dinner, time that was mostly spent shadowing Kagome as the two women cared for Shippo together.
Their little patient had yet to make any noticeable improvement, though slow progress was still being made. He had settled into a routine with his surrogate mother and clearly favored her embrace, much to Kagome's delight.
However, men were still out of the question in the little boys world. It was a dark day when Dr. Taisho tried to give him a small physical. None of them would ever forget it, though Dr. Taisho would certainly try to.
Kaede knocked, opened the door and found Kagome already seated at her art table. The sun was slowly brightening the room.
"Good morning, Sister!" she practically sang.
"Good morning, child." Kaede returned, setting her breakfast tray down. She looked over to what they had dubbed "Shippo's corner" to check on her younger charge.
He lay on the floor, breathing evenly under his blanket. The empty bowl beside him pleased her. It had contained a mixture that stopped Shippo's blood thirst. This alternative of ink and olive oil served him well enough and was much more gentle on his fair skin. It even healed the rash that had cropped up under the rancid blood.
Something different about the corner caught her eye and a chuckle escaped her. Kagome never missed an opportunity to create art. The girl had laid paper under the bowl to catch the inky prints of two small hands.
Kaede went to the corner and placed a serving of porridge under the blanket. Shippo jumped at the sudden intrusion but soon began to eat.
Only then did the old woman finally sit down to her own breakfast and poured herself a nice, hot cup of tea.
She loudly blew the steam from her cup, drawing a fond glance from the girl across the room. Usually a silent place, every sound that reached her ears was a treasure. The most treasured were the sounds coming from just outside her room. Beyond where her new window was going to be, Kagome could hear the men working on her garden pond.
Every scrape of the shovels and jovial laugh brought a much-needed smile to her face. The recent days had been increasingly melancholy. Something was wrong with Sango and the stress was starting to wear on everyone, Miroku most of all. As their misfortunes wore on, her heart was breaking for them both.
This gloomy reverie was happily interrupted by an unexpected knock on the door. Kaede answered it and found an uneasy construction worker standing in their threshold.
"Good morning, Sister." he greeted Kaede first and then looked over to Kagome, "Good morning, little sister."
Kagome eyed him curiously, "Good morning, Ginta. What brings you here?"
He adjusted his tool belt guiltily, "Well, um, H-hakkaku and I got little carried away with digging.. Accidentally made the pond too big and dug up your blue flowers…" he trailed off, looking down.
"My forget-me-nots?" she pouted with wide eyes.
His apologies gushed out, "It was an accident! We're really sorry!"
Kagome calmed quickly in the face of his adorable remorse and smiled, "It's ok. Where did you put them?"
He relaxed a bit, "By the food garden.."
"Then I'll put them in a vase so we can enjoy them. I should thank you for picking them for me!" She gave him a reassuring smile that soothed his guilty face. They went to the garden where she found a much larger pond than planned. It only made her love it more. She also found that it took many more heartening words for the two workers to believe they were forgiven. She was happy to give them all and gathered the last of her beloved forget-me-nots to put in some water. She was arranging them in her favorite vase when an unexpected knocking made her jump out of her skin. It was coming from the front door.
She ignored it with a forced shrug, assuming Miroku would answer. After a time, it only grew louder with no one to answer it and Kagome grew more nervous. Surely whoever it was should have given up by now.
More time passed and she sat down on the threadbare sofa to wait. When it still did not stop, she fought back the fear rising from the pit of her stomach. She dreaded this feeling more than anything.
Kagome suddenly sprang to her feet, determined to fight back. She squared her shoulders and went to answer the door herself but froze at the end of the hallway. She hadn't ventured this far in almost a year. A deep breath bolstered her courage and steadied the shaking hand that reached for the lock and cracked the door open.
"Who's there?" she called, angry that her voice was shaking.
A gruff, male voice answered, "Reporter from the London Herald, looking for Dr. Sesshoumaru Taisho. Is this the Mental Ward?"
Her eyes widened. "He's not here. I'm afraid you'll have to try again, later." she replied nervously. A reporter was not exactly welcome.
The man became impatient, "Hold on, now. I've been trying to get a hold of him for weeks! Aren't you expecting him? Can't I come in and wait?"
Kagome fought down the enormous quaver in her voice and quickly made up an excuse, "Y-you need an appointment."
"Keh. He would do that." he grumbled. Not knowing what else to say and in a bit of a panic, Kagome began to close the door.
"Wait!" he stopped her, "What if it's family?"
She paused, quaver gone. Curious in spite of herself, Kagome opened the door another inch and peeked out.
She gasped and then relaxed, opening the door the rest of the way. The resemblance was unmistakable. Though this man's eyes were darker than his.
He returned her open stare with an apologetic, lopsided grin, "Hello, Miss. My name's Inuyasha."
He guys! Hope you like this snippet! It's about time that good-for-nothing Inuyasha showed his face around here. i was starting to miss the dickens out of him.
Let me know what you think :)
And, as always, thanks for reading.