Title: Heart of an Uchiha

Author: enchanted nightingale

Beta Reader: pussycatadamah

Disclaimer: The characters do not belong to me. I only use them in my plot for fun.

Chapter 39 Welcome Home

There was a flurry of activity in the Western Palace. Word had reached them about Kagome's imminent arrival. Rooms were being readied, and dinner was cooked. However, some were not all that happy with this. Inuyasha for one was pouting, not that he admitted it, because the two wolf demons had been the ones sent to bring the group of humans to the capital. Sesshomaru did not care for his attitude or his grumbling. The Inu Lord had other priorities, ones that Naraku shared. Kouga had told them about Kagome getting hurt and they were eager to talk to the humans and settle the situation with Orochimaru once and for all. Most of Kagome's close friends were at the palace, even the human ones. Miroku created a bit of a commotion when he hit on the female demons that put together the not so small celebration and now he had Sango glaring at him and a red handprint on his face for his troubles. The whole celebration was going to take place in one of the bigger rooms that had a balcony which was currently occupied.

"Hm, can't see them yet," Inuyasha commented.

Sango sighed. "Kanna insisted they've just passed the gates and are approaching the palace steadily." She was giddy with anticipation. "I cannot wait to see her!"

"Che, she leaves our sight and trouble finds her," Inuyasha muttered.

The demon slayer gave him a knowing look. She, too, had been sad about Kagome and Sasuke. And as well as the males that gravitated around Kagome, she too wanted to have a few words with the Uchiha. While she understood that the shinobi had not meant to hurt her sister in everything but blood, she was still peeved at him. Because she held Sasuke responsible, even because he once associated with the insane human. The fact that he had wised up and escaped the snake Sanin did a lot to help the teen's fate.

"No mauling Sasuke as soon as you lay eyes on him," Miroku lectured for the hundredth time that week.

Naraku just smirked from his perch near the door while Inuyasha's father was more expressive and cursed under his breath.

"Oi!" Inuyasha yelled at his father. "Don't forget Sesshomaru has first dibs."

"That's debatable," Naraku commented. "I threatened him first."

Father and son glared at the spider demon, who pretty much ignored them.

"I can see them!" Ayame said with delight.

Kouga perked up. Sure enough Ginta and Hakkaku and a gaggle of humans came through the outer castle walls into the courtyard. Demonic vision helped a lot. To Miroku and Sango they were still too far away.

"We better go greet them then," Inuyasha said with a grin and hopped off the balcony with the rest of the demons, plus one demon slayer and a monk, who hopped on Kirara's back and descended.

One moment they hit the gravel that made up the courtyard and the next they were tackled by the miko one by one. Inuyasha was first. Kagome saw him and with a smile and a laugh tackled and hugged him, babbling about how she missed him. Then it was Sango's turn, then Ayame and Kouga before Miroku complained that he was feeling left out. Before the monk could do anything inappropriate Kagome pushed him back and hugged her arms around Kirara who was small sized again. Then Inutaisho made his move, taking the daughter his own son earned him and giving her a small twirl, making her laugh before Naraku swept her off her feet and hugged her close.

"Welcome back," he told her making her smile and squeezed him back.

Then they all greeted Sasuke, the humans being warmer about the greeting than the demons.

"And these are shinobi?" Inutaisho mused. "Hm, I see my son will have his job cut out for him. But not today. You are welcome to sleep and dine with us. Tomorrow we can talk about business. Now, introduce yourselves."

There was no way to deny the man. Jiraiya noticed this first, the distance the others held from the silver haired man with the stripes on his cheeks and the man with the long, wavy black hair. The last a few of the Konoha shinobi recognized.

"I am Jiraiya," the Toad Sanin went first. Then he introduced Kakashi, Neji, Naruto, Sakura and Shikamaru. "And of course you know Sasuke."

"We will also be having words with Sasuke," Inuyasha growled until Kagome tagged on his ears, the non human ones.

"Don't be all surly," the miko chastised him. "Now come on. I missed the castle. How are Hanna, Hakudoshi and Akago, Naraku? And Kaguya? Oh! Ayame! I definitely want to visit your cubs."

"Kaoru and Sanosuke are teething. And Mamoru is asking after his auntie," Ayame informed Kagome, who then smiled and turned to Sango with questions about her family and their common friends.

The Leaf shinobi saw how the guards at the doors bowed as the miko passed. How she recognized most of them by name and greeted them back.

'For demons they did not look scary,' had been one of Kakashi's thoughts. Then he had caught sight of sharp claws and reconsidered just a bit.

By the time they reached the main palace the visitors were suitably awed. Everything was big, the doors, the steps, the walls. And Inutaisho was quite proud of the fact.

"I had to build it large," he said. "Especially after the first war. Big meant power and money and allies. The otter demons helped with this as well as the tree demons."

"You are the master of the castle but not the lord of the land?" Jiraiya asked.

Inutaisho smirked. He looked younger than Jiraiya and Naruto found it disconcerting to realize that this was the Dog General Kyuubi had mentioned to the Godaime.

"I am on vacation of course," Inuyasha's father said. "I ruled for too long. All that paperwork…" he gave an exaggerated shudder. "No I am enjoying my retirement. I figure that in five hundred more years Sesshomaru will also get bored and either Inuyasha here will take over…"

"Not a chance in hell," said son and Naraku together, making lips quirk.

"... or I will step back up," Inutaisho said.

"You speak about centuries lightly," Jiraiya sighed.

"I'm around three millennia old," the Dog General revealed. "In my prime too. I've known demons that much older. My only enemy is mostly myself and how long I will be able to go on."

After suitably awing the humans once more he entered the castle and led them to their rooms to freshen up and then guards were ready to escort them to the room they would dine in.

"They certainly went all out," Kakashi observed to Jiraiya while the two were alone for a bit.

"They can obviously afford to do this," the Toad Sanin said. "And somehow, I'm not so worried about how we are going to deal with Orochimaru anymore."

End of chapter.