Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha or any of the characters.
The sun hadn't risen yet, and the world was chilled by the predawn cold. The birds were already up, singing their welcome to the dawn that was going to come. When Inuyasha slowly started to drift out of his deep sleep the world seemed to be moving along at a normal pace. Last night he had snuck out for a few hours and worked on the house, trying to get as much done as possible. He needed less rest than others, and had worked tirelessly until well into the night. Inuyasha had eventually snuck back in, moving silently so he wouldn't wake up an emotionally exhausted Kagome.
He woke up slowly, not paying attention much to his surroundings, well as much as he could. He could hear Kagome breathing, appearing to be asleep by the pace. He could hear a cat walking by the outside of the hut, but that was all peripheral. He felt relaxed for the first time in years. The house was mostly finished. He'd finished the foundation and the outer walls last night, and had even had time to finish some of the inner walls. His home was almost complete, and knowing that soon he would have a place that was his own healed a part of him that he hadn't even known was broken. It had been so long since he'd had a place that he would call home, a place where he knew no one could challenge him. Well except for Kagome, she could pretty much challenge him anytime she wanted. Still, building a place where he would have a family, and live in peace, was more than he had thought he would ever get.
Well, that was if he didn't screw it up. She was already so damn mad at him. Getting a home, a place to live, was his dream, but if it wasn't hers he was screwed. He knew that she was the other part that would make him better, fix whatever went wrong, but he also knew that he was not the best at making her happy. A lot of the time he knew he didn't deserve her, but he wasn't strong enough to let her go.
Inuyasha cracked on eye and looked down at Kagome. He was sitting behind her, leaning against the wall of the hut. At some point after he had gotten back a blanket had found it's way across his shoulders, and he smiled a little when he realized Kagome had woken up, put a blanket on him, and gone back to bed without him even realizing it. He had been more tired than he thought, which worried him a little. If she could move around and not wake him, he might have missed something else that would have hurt them. He pushed the thought aside, and looked down at Kagome. They were fine, and that was what mattered.
She had been so frustrated with him last night, but had still wanted to keep him warm. She was so damn caring. She never seemed to give up on him, even when she wanted to strangle him. She was laying on her side, facing him, one arm curled up under her pillow, the other flung out, her hand almost brushing against his leg. Inuyasha pealed back the blanket around him, and laid it down on top of her. Kagome muttered softly, and pulled it closer to her.
With a small grunt Inuyasha stood and walked out into the common area. A small part of him felt confined by the small space, knowing that soon they would have something bigger and better. He wanted to show it to her now, wanting to be done, but he also knew that as a surprise it was a much better gift. The center fire pit had gone down to just embers, and Inuyasha built it back up a little. He didn't want to get the hut too warm, but he needed the fire to be just a little bit bigger.
Kagome woke up some time later, when the sun had already risen into the sky. She noticed that the blanket she had given Inuyasha the night before had been placed over her, and she smiled a little, pulling it closer. When she looked over to where he'd been sleeping she saw that he was gone, and part of her was afraid he had completely ignored her and left once again. Slowly she got up and pulled her hair up into a quick bun. Wrapping the blanket around her she peeked her head on the other side of the curtain and felt her heart warm at the sight. Inuyasha was hunched over a medium sized fire, a frying pan held out over the fire. A bowl was already set up beside him, everything placed nicely. When she stepped out from behind the curtain Inuyasha turned, his eyes a little distracted and flicking back to the pan in front of him every few seconds.
"I made your plate first. I can warm it back up if it got cold." He smiled at her, and turned back to the fire, biting his lower lip in concentration.
Kagome laughed, and sat down next to him, picking up her plate. "It still feels warm to me."
Inuyasha just nodded and focused his attention on the food that was cooking. When he could see that it was done he quickly pulled it out of the fire, and placed it haphazardly on his plate. He turned towards her with a big grin, and proudly picked up a spoon. "Ha! See, I can cook. I don't know what they hell Miroku and Sango always complained about."
Kagome placed her hand over her mouth, trying hard not to laugh at him. He looked like twelve year old who had just proven that he was the best in the world. When his face suddenly turned serious, Kagome felt a pang of sadness. She was enjoying not being mad at him.
"Look Kagome, I'm sorry. I just had some stuff to do. I'll probably be done with it today, tomorrow at the latest. I figured you'd be wanting some space anyway, so yeah, I didn't really think ok? Just, I'm going to bring you to see Sango and Miroku, and then I'm gonna head back and try and finish today. I swear I'll come get you at sundown and I'll bring some meat back for dinner and we'll eat together, ok?" He knew he was babbling, but he couldn't stop. He couldn't tell what the hell kind of look that was on her face. Why the hell wouldn't she let him see what she was thinking? She used to be so easy to read damn it!
It took Kagome a moment to deal with the change of topic, but when she finally grasped what he had said she gave him one of her biggest smiles. Her whole face lit up, and she looked like he had just given her everything she ever wanted. He smiled back at her, not really sure what was happening, but willing to go with it.
"Thank you Inuyasha, that sounds perfect! Do they know that I've come back?" Kagome asked, thinking ahead to when she would be seeing her friend again.
Inuyasha shook his head, flinging his bangs into his eyes. Kagome leaned forward, without a thought about what she was doing, and brushed them back into place. Inuyasha caught her hand and held it in his, pulling her forward and closer to him. Their half eaten breakfast was forgotten, both of them focused on what was happening.
Inuyasha pulled her until she was right in front of him. Kagome let out a small gasp, her face confused and shocked. Without hesitating Inuyasha pulled her into his lap and turned her so she was facing away from him. He rested his chin on her shoulder, and placed her bowl in her lap.
"I don't think they know you're here. Word travels pretty slow in between towns, and you just got back. You could probably surprise them still." He answered, acting like what he had done was completely normal.
Inuyasha smiled, loving that he had just completely thrown her. Kagome's scent had spiked for a moment, and he wasn't sure that he'd be able to resist kissing her, or worse really, but once he had her in his lap she had become more nervous than anything. He'd been able to hold himself back, but he couldn't have kept from touching her. When she'd reached out and touched him so casually he'd known that he had to at least do something. He buried his head into her hair while he waited for her to relax into him, and smiled. He loved how she felt against him, so soft and warm. He had never been one for touching, always willing to keep himself separated, but with her he couldn't. He had had a craving to touch her since the first night, and as long as he kept himself under control he knew that he'd be able to enjoy just being with her.
"I missed you." He mumbled into her neck, letting his arms tighten for a moment. Kagome rested her hands on his arms, and nodded quickly. He could smell the slightly salty scent of her tears. She relaxed against him and leaned her head against his, resting there for just a moment. "I missed you too." She whispered.
She picked her bowl back up and continued to eat, trying not to get too emotional. She knew he didn't like it when she cried, but if the talked about this she would cry. She wasn't ready and she was pretty sure he wasn't either. The time they spent apart had been the worst in her life, always wondering if he was alive, or if she had just imagined him being alright when she had last seen him. Wondering if she would ever see him again, and if she would get her life back. All that pain, and it had built up over the years instead of dissipating.
After a while Kagome finished her breakfast and they just sat like that, together, trying to relearn the feel of what it was like to be with the other. She had missed him, and he had missed her, and now was their chance to get back some of what they had. Of course things were different. They had both changed, but right now they could learn new things about each other, and let themselves grow together instead of being pulled apart.
Inuyasha was the first one to move, and he gently placed a kiss on the top of her head, then helped her stand. They had places to go, and people to see, and they would have more time to spend together. He was anxious to get the house done. When it was done they could spend as much time together as they wanted, not just these small little moments.
"I'm going to take a quick bath and get dressed, then I'll be ready to go." Kagome said, pulling out some cloths to wear for the day. Inuyasha nodded, having figured she would probably want to do that. She was a very clean person. He should probably try and take after her a little more, but he wanted to do something while she was bathing, and wouldn't have time to do both.
He waited until she was gone from the hut, and already out of sight before he hurried towards the forest. He didn't go too quickly, but he went fast enough that she wouldn't have been able to keep up with him. Tree's blurred past him until he reached the edge of the piece of land he'd given Shippou. Cautiously Inuyasha entered the young fox demons territory, using his nose to see where the boy was. He remained careful, sticking to the trees as much as possible. He needed to be stay downwind of Shippou, not wanting to alert the boy that he was being checked in on.
He found Shippou not too far from the center of his small territory, and he almost gave himself away with a laugh when he saw the state that the boy was in. Shippou had dirt and leaves matted into his hair, and his cloths had small tears in places. The 'shelter' that he had started to build was a sad little collection of smaller trees, placed in a way that resembled a tent. There wasn't any kind of roof, and Inuyasha knew that if it rained in the next few days Shippou would be getting wet.
He was trying though, and Inuyasha could see some pride in the boy when he paused from trying to add more wood to the shack. That was the whole point, knowing that you could survive on your own, and that everything on your land was built with your own two hands. Shippou had been coddled by both Kagome and the family that Inuyasha had sent him to, the boy needed to learn how to be on his own. This would teach him.
Feeling some satisfaction that Shippou was alright, and would be in the future, Inuyasha left. He took his time returning, knowing that she would be in the hot spring for a long time trying to make herself presentable when she saw Sango after all these years. When he did finally get back to the hut she hadn't returned yet, and he snorted at his accurate assessment of her. It wasn't too long until she came back, humming softly.
"Hey! Where were you? I came back for my soap and you were gone." Kagome asked, her voice laced with confusion.
Inuyasha blushed, realizing that if he told her that he was checking on Shippou he would be caught doing something nice, and he wasn't sure he liked that idea. It would ruin his reputation. Kagome raised an eyebrow at his blush and looked at him expectantly.
Inuyasha sighed and snapped, "I was checking on the little shit."
It took a moment for Kagome to figure out exactly which 'little shit' he was talking about, but when she did she laughed. She quickly turned it into a cough when she saw the look he was giving her. "Really? How is he?" She asked innocently, her face free of any laughter.
"Dirty, crappy hut, but fine. He'll figure it out." Inuyasha answered gruffly, crossing his arms over his chest.
Kagome nodded, satisfied that if there had been something seriously wrong he would have told her. She quickly put her things away and they went outside into the sunlight. The day was beautiful, and Kagome was ready to spend it catching up with her best friends. She was startled for a moment when Inuyasha crouched down, offering his back to her. It had been so long since she had felt the soaring sensation of Inuyasha running, and she eagerly climbed up.
For a moment it was like the both of them had returned to the time before all of their pain. Kagome gripped his shoulders, and Inuyasha let out a deep breath, and then he ran. All they could feel for a moment was joy, the rightness of what was happening making them feel like they were kids again. Kagome let out a loud peel of laughter, throwing her arms up in the air as Inuyasha sped up.
Inuyasha laughed as well, but his was more to himself than anything else. Her excitement was contagious, and he went as fast as he could, jumping from tree top to tree to until all they had was a flat plain to run on. He loved the feel of her on his back, the familiar feeling one that he never wanted to loose. It was like she had never left, and at the same time been gone too long.
Their joy lasted all the way to the village that Miroku and Sango had settled in. When Inuyasha landed softly outside the grouping of houses he felt like it wasn't enough time, like they could have gone on for days. With a little regret he let her off, and they started walking towards the hut that Inuyasha could smell belonged to the couple. Inuyasha was hesitant, the steps taking him forward slowing down as he got closer.
It had been almost four months since he had last seen them. They had brought him a picnic and had set it up right next to the well, their almost year old child playing next to the blanket. They came every few months, but never on a regular schedule. They had their own life, the kind of life that he had abandoned. He knew they didn't hate him, but they had grown apart, and now he wasn't sure how to approach them. For them life had moved on, but for him it had been frozen until the well had pulled him towards the world that held Kagome. Without her his life had come to a dead halt, but they had continued, and had even created new life. How could he go to them now and expect them to just want to pick up where they had left off? There was no way for that to happen. Everything had changed too much.
Kagome saw him slowing down, and slowed her pace to walk with him. She could see the worry written across his face, and she started to feel a little nervous herself. Sango and Miroku would be older, and would have moved on with their lives. Kagome knew that she had changed, and there was no way that both Miroku and Sango had stayed the exact same. Would they still be friends? Kagome didn't know if she could stand it if they had become so different that they wouldn't be able to connect like they had before. Maybe they should have thought this through a little more before just barging into their town and home, and the life they had built.
"Uncl' Yasha!" A little voice yelled, and a chubby little toddler waddled over to grab Inuyasha's pants. The voice turned the heads of two adults, who had previously been talking with their neighbors. Sango's face scrunched up in confusion, walking over to Inuyasha. Kagome had drifted off to the side, and neither Sango nor Miroku saw her immediately, they were to focused on the strange sight in front of them. Inuyasha had left his post.
"Inuyasha?" Sango called, "What are you doing here? Did something happen? Are you alright? I haven't seen you away from the well since…since Kagome left." Sango paused in front of him, her confusion growing. He looked better, like he had been taking care of himself for longer than the 20 minutes he usually allowed himself a month to be selfish and take care of his own needs.
"What Sango said." Miroku chimed in, standing just behind her.
Inuyasha ran his hand through his hand, not sure what to do. They obviously hadn't seen Kagome, and she was looking completely confused. After a moment he just pointed at her, letting their eyes tell them all the answers. With the other hand Inuyasha picked up the baby, not wanting her to get lost while his parents were caught up with their hello's.
It took them a moment to process what they were seeing. Everything seemed to still for those few seconds, the only one not phased being the little girl playing with Inuyasha's hair. The stillness ended when the Sango's shout cut through the air. Suddenly everything was in motion. Sango and Kagome were crying and hugging and laughing, Miroku was clapping Inuyasha on the back, and the rest of the villagers were watching them like they were crazy.
Inuyasha smiled at Miroku, something that Miroku hadn't seen in a very long time. Inuyasha had held back all emotion, just let himself fall back into time over the last few years. He would sit in his tree, all day, every day, and think about what had been. It hadn't been healthy, but something about it had also been so much a part of Inuyasha that neither him nor Sango had felt that they could take him from it. Without the well to watch Inuyasha would be lost. And to him 3 years was nothing, a little blip in the years he would have. Miroku had just decided to try and talk to him next time they got a chance to visit, but they hadn't been sure when that would be.
Sango and Kagome continued to cry as they hugged each other, babbling nonsensical things to each other. Kagome felt at home, like she had finally found that feeling she had expected to gain right away. Her eyes were overflowing with tears, her mind had blanked on words to say, and she had never been happier in her life. The friends she had on her side of the well had been sweet, but they had never understood her distance after high school, feeling that she had just grown apart from them. Occasionally they would all get together for old times sake, but they had never been as close as they had been before. She also knew that they would never understand pain, or suffering, or loss the way that she and Sango did. The trials they went through together had been something that bonded them together, and Kagome knew that it had been silly to think otherwise. They were best friends until the day they died.
Sango and Kagome finally began to calm down, their tears turning to laughing hiccups, and their excited hugging turning into a more calm version. As their emotions evened out they turned to the men and Kagome noticed a new little person being played with by Inuyasha. He had the baby girl curled up in his arms, as he tickled her. Kagome took a moment just to watch him play with the child, imagining what could have been, and what could still be.
"He's amazing with her isn't he?" Sango whispered into her ear, knowing that look in her friends eyes.
Kagome just nodded and smiled, not looking away. "She's beautiful Sango. How old is she?"
"Just over a year now. We took her to visit Inuyasha as soon as we thought it was safe to travel, but he hasn't had a chance to see her since." Sango answered, feeling a moment of guilt that they hadn't gone to see Inuyasha or the well in so long.
"What's her name?" Kagome asked, walking a little closer to the boys. Sango followed, laughing lightly as she did.
"Well thankfully I talked Miroku out of naming her something stupid. He is horrible at picking baby names, seriously. We had to fight over it, until we came up with the perfect name. Suki." Sango was beaming, looking at her beloved child.
Kagome nodded. She reached out and waved to the little girl, smiling at her. "Hello Suki, I'm Kagome." She said, trying to keep her voice from breaking. She was sad to have missed their wedding, and the birth of her closest friends first child. Here was a beautiful child that was the proof that they really had come to terms with who they were, and she envied them that.
Inuyasha saw a fleeting moment of sadness cross her eyes, but than it was gone, and her focus was back on the child in front of them. He turned towards Kagome a little and handed Suki to her, though it wasn't completely easy. The little girl had grabbed a handful of his shirt and protested being moved from "Uncl' Yasha" when he tried. Kagome laughed and when she finally had the baby, she distracted her enough that the baby didn't seem to mind being separated from her favorite uncle.
Inuyasha pulled Miroku aside, stepping a little ways away from the girls so they couldn't over hear.
"I have to leave."
Miroku snorted and gave him a not too pleasant look. "So you're going to leave me with the ladies alone? That's just cruel, what do you have to do that your going to leave me alone?"
"None of your damn business monk. You can 'handle' them just fine. I'm sure they won't want you around anyway. I'll be back to pick her up at dinner time."
Inuyasha didn't wait for a reply, but instead just walked over to the women and gave Kagome a small kiss on the cheek. "I'll be back by sundown."
Kagome just nodded and waved him off, too intent on talking to her friend to take in the fact that he had just given her another sign of affection. Or that he was doing it because he was leaving. By the time it had sunk in and she looked up he was already out of sight, and Miroku had run away to another part of village, leaving them with the baby.
"Figures he would take off without taking Suki. We want to catch up, but he leaves us with the baby to take care of." Sango muttered, looking around for her wandering husband.
Kagome laughed and shook her head, cuddling Suki a little closer. "No, really, it's alright. She's so cute I can't imagine her being a problem."
Sango let out a noise of disbelief. "You haven't been around a lot of one year olds have you?"
Kagome shook her head, and a sad smile crossed her face. "Maybe someday, but not soon. I just got back a few days ago, and we already have gotten into fights." There was no question about who the 'we' was, it had been obvious to Sango that something was not right between Kagome and Inuyasha.
Sango shrugged, "I don't know, Inuyasha hasn't really been dealing with people for a while. It might just be that he needs to adjust to it again. It's been 3 years since he's spent a long amount of time with anyone. Maybe you should just give him some time?" Kagome looked away, unsure what to think. That hadn't even crossed her mind. "Speaking of three years, how did you return? After the first year I began to think the well had closed for good!"
Kagome nodded, and began to retell the tale of how Inuyasha had gotten through. She also continued to play with Suki, letting her imagination wander in the back of her mind about the maybe one day when she would have a baby of her own. Would it have dog ears? Would the pregnancy be different? Questions that she hadn't dared think of while they traveled, and were too painful when they had been separated, now flooded her mind. But now? Now she let herself dream, just a little, about what could be.
She had been chased for hours, men coming very close to catching her. The night had been the longest of her life, and no matter how long she had run they had refused to give up. For now she thought they were off her trail. In a moment of brilliance she had let her mount travel up stream in a small brook, and when she was sure they had gone far enough that they wouldn't be easy to find she had turned the horse back towards Inuyasha's forest, a place that was no her only hope.
The day had been long as well, because she needed to keep going. She did have to stop to rest her mount occasionally, but she only dared do that when it was absolutely necessary. She was determined not to get sidetracked from her destination. He was going to save her and her child.
She had heard stories about this man, the one who had defeated the powerful demon Naraku. Both had been extraordinarily powerful half demons, and news of the battle had spread quickly and far. It was said that he had a fondness for humans that most humans that untrue, and most demons thought weak. He had been accompanied by a companion that was a powerful priestess. She had disappeared after the battle, and the woman guessed that she had probably been killed. The man had also retreated from the world into his forest. Demons believed that the human woman had died, and he had been so struck with grief that he could not leave his territory any more. They had made fun of Inuyasha, saying that he was pathetic to be so upset about a human woman, but it had touched her. She knew that anyone who cared that deeply about a human woman would be capable of caring for a half demon child.
The road was getting dark, and the day had almost ended. She wasn't sure where she would camp for a few minutes, but from the way her baby was kicking she knew that she needed to rest soon. Every few moments she prayed that her flight wouldn't permanently harm her little one, but knew that if they didn't find somewhere to go where they would stay safe, the baby would die anyway. At least this way she knew that she'd tried to save it's life.
Up ahead the woman saw a small clearing, enough space for her to lay down and for her horse to graze. She guided the exhausted animal to the clearing, than released it to graze as it wanted. She had already learned that as long as you kept in sight the horse wouldn't wander far. On one side of the clearing a small patch of bushes stood against the trees. She knew that she should stay hidden, and she looked to see if there was a way for her to hide among them. Big as her stomach was the woman was still able to kneel down in the dirt and glance under the bushes. What she saw as enough to make her go back to the horse. She took off the saddle and bridal, and brushed him down with a comb she had stuffed into a saddlebag before she left. With a quick brush the horse looked much better, and seemed to be more upbeat and awake. His head raised instead of it being lowered to the ground, and he let her rest against him.
The woman pulled the horse over to the side of the woods and tied him up to a tree. He wouldn't be immediately noticeable, and she made sure that he could get to some grass if needed. Once the horse was taken care of she went back to the grouping of bushes and crawled underneath the branches. In the center of the bushes was a completely clear area, big enough for her to lay down and take a long needed rest. She would be completely out of sight, and she would be safe to rest for a little while. With a sigh she turned onto her side and curled up. One arm was tucked under her head as a pillow, and the other lay protectively against her stomach.
As she drifted to sleep she promised herself that she wouldn't stay too long. She was going to get up in just an hour or so and continue. She only had one more day to go before she would be at her destination, and she wanted to beat the men there.
Her mind started to lose the ability to form complete sentences, and she was quickly asleep in her protected corner.