DISCLAIMER
Inuyasha (c) Rumiko Takahashi
No copyright infringement intended. The media used in this story is used for entertainment purposes only.

WARNINGS
SPOILER ALERT! Some scenes were taken from the last chapter of the manga.
IMPLIED SITUATIONS: Nothing explicitly described.


"Are you going to go back to see Sango once in a while?"

That question did not surprise me. I knew somebody was bound to ask me. After all, a few months had already passed since the last time I visited my beloved sister. But even before that question came out of Totosai's mouth, I'd already weighed my options.

I love my family. I especially adored my nieces. But then, there was a tendency of coming in at the wrong time…

"Aneue?" I called into the hut, looking for my sister. She persuaded me to visit her every now and then while I continue with my taijiya training.

"Kohaku?" she was cooking something foreign to me. She looked at me, her face brightening up as she greeted me with a warm smile when I entered their hut. "This is such a surprise!" She stood up, patting her hands to her skirt to dry them, and hugged me. I returned her hug. She grabbed my shoulders and looked at me in the eye. "Are you finally back for good?"

"Well…" was all I could manage to say. I hated to see that hopeful expression, but I couldn't tell her a lie. I need not finish my answer; she knew what I was going to say.

"You know, I still don't understand why you have to live like a nomad for your training. You can just stay here so I can help training you. And you'd get to watch the twins grow up! Maybe even find a village maiden suitable for you. A lot of girls have been asking about you since your last visit." She's really becoming desperate.

"Aneue, you know my reasons." I disliked venturing into this topic, but I couldn't blame her for trying. I loved her dearly, and I would love to stay here, but there were still some things that I must resolve on my own.

"I know," her voice sounding defeated. "I just miss you, that's all. We already lost time be—"

UWAAA~~~

"That's the twins," she half-ran to the room. "They must be hungry."

Just as she disappeared behind the divider, the pot started to boil.

"Kohaku, could you get that?" she called over. The cries lessened as she comforted her daughters.

"Sure," I removed the lid from the pot. When the steam cleared up, I found myself staring at the contents. I had never before been so dumbfounded by such a thing. Aneue must've gotten this from Kagome-sama. I looked around to get a clue of what to do next. Strange equipment surrounded the pot, ready to be used. Only, I don't know how to use them. "Aneue," I called over, "what am I supposed to do with this?"

"That's right!" I heard her come out of the room, realizing the predicament I was in. "I'll get this; you go change the twins."

"What?" The word barely came out of my mouth when another set of cries echoed through the house. I ran to my nieces, comforting them as I inspected their bottoms. A waft of putrid smell came rushing into my nostrils. "Where's aniue when you need him?"

"He's working. He won't be back until sunset."She answered from the kitchen.

"I hope he has a sutra that can expel this foul odor," I mumbled to myself as I examined the mess.

"I don't think those would work too well in this situation."

How she heard me through all the commotion, I had no idea.

But that was perfectly fine. After all our hard work, the twins gave me reason to go through another day. Their innocence brought back memories of my childhood. Their smiles made my exhaustion disappear. Their hugs cured my wounds.

But then... there is one other thing.

"Sango," aniue's sing-song voice drifted from their room and broke the stillness of the night. I could just picture him leaning over aneue's shoulder, trying to see her face.

"Hmmm?" was my sister's sleepy reply. "What is it Miroku?"

"I think the twins are old enough to be responsible of another human being," he said all too sweetly. There's no question that he had been hinting at something not too innocent.

Somebody shifted. "They're only two years old! They're still my babies!" Aneue had gotten sensitive at the slightest hint of somebody moving away. I couldn't really blame her. After Kagome-sama's disappearance and my insistence on training, the last thing she wanted was the departure of another family member.

"Of course they are," aniue tried to save himself. He even pecked her temple—as he had done before at the hint of trouble—for reinforcement. "That's not what I meant. What I'm saying is: don't you think they'd want a new playmate? Inuyasha's not exactly a pet, Shippou's busy with training, Rin's spending more time with Kaede, and Kohaku's not always here." I started to feel guilty, but then, "A little brother or sister would be healthy for them."

My eyes widened.

Realization must've dawned on aneue, too, after that not-so-subtle hint, "Well in that case, I completely agree."

Somebody shifted again.

"Miroku!" aneue gasped. "Now?" she was somewhat incredulous.

"Why not?" his tone was enticing, as if daring to be challenged by his wife, "the twins are sleeping; Kohaku's in the other room."

"What if we wake them up?" her voice was weakening.

"Oh," another shift, "we won't."

The rest of what happened that night would only be proven by aneue's now-bulging stomach.

If I remember correctly, the child should be born soon. And the cycle should start again.

"No," my voice cracked, an awkward grin to match the awkward memories, "that house is a bit cramped."

I'm sure he knows what I mean.

As we flew away from Totosai, Kirara purred and glanced at me.

I patted her fur, "What is it Kirara?"

I received a low growl and what seemed to be a glare.

That's right. Kirara was also a victim of my family. She'd been there on those occasions. Her keen senses of smell and hearing must've made everything worse.

A small purr came from behind me as I walked towards the hut. Kirara reduced to her neko form after landing. She trotted a few paces behind me as I looked for my sister. She, too, was anxious to see her old companion after months of no contact. She stayed by the entrance so as to give me and aneue some time to talk. As our conversation died down with my sister acknowledging defeat in our discussion, Kirara moved forward to be acknowledged herself.

But just as she neared my sister, a piercing cry emerged from one of the rooms. Kirara jumped in surprise. She looked around, searching for the source of such an awful loud sound, and saw my sister disappear in one of the rooms. I saw her follow aneue just before I approached the pot. I wondered if she knew what she was getting herself into.

Regardless of whether or not she did, she stayed there. When I came in to trade places with my sister, I saw her in a corner, not too far from the edge of the futon, staring at the creatures that made the piercing cry—my nieces.

I had no knowledge of what was about to happen. If I did, I would've diverted Kirara's attention and curiosity. But I was no fortune teller and neither was she. I went ahead and followed through aneue's request.

As the rancid smell entered my nose, I quickly reached for and put on my mask. If it worked for the miasma, I thought it was safe to assume that it would work for a non-youkai purpose.

But I was the lucky one. I merely had a moment of pure inconvenience. As for Kirara, whose sense of smell can detect slight changes in the air, it wasn't just an inconvenience.

It was a threat.

Not only did she not have a gas mask, she was also too close for comfort. The poor neko-youkai yelped a loud meow and jumped outside the nearest window, gasping for fresh air.

Guilt was the only word that could express what I felt at that moment—guilt over the fact that I was the one who unleashed such a foul smell, guilt over the fact that I did not warn her, guilt over the fact that I searched and found relief for myself but not her.

The same could be said on that fateful night. Kirara lied down beside me on the futon, burying her head into the pillow, fidgeting from one position to another, trying to drown out the noise she did not really need to hear.

Yet she was always more than happy to visit them. After all, she was with aneue all this time. The only time they ever get to see each other was during my visits. She couldn't bear to leave me alone to fend for myself since I was training alone, especially after my sister made her promise to look out after me.

She stopped her flight. We were suspended in mid-air, her eyes still on me. I looked down; the forest underneath us seemed so far away.

I didn't know what Kirara did—maybe it was guilt, maybe it was fear for my life—but I suddenly found myself standing in front of my family's hut, getting tackled by two little, identical girls.

"Otooji! Otooji!" they exclaimed, each pulling my arms, "Hurry! Aka-chan inside!" I let myself get dragged into the hut.

Kirara followed me in, reducing to her kitten form.

One step in and I could tell peace was merely a dream in this house. With the baby crying, the twins babbling, and the parents trying to keep the fuss at a minimum, no doubt this was going to be one long visit.

I sure hope you're right about this, Kirara.