Blanket Disclaimer: The writer does not own any characters created by Rumiko Takahashi but like everyone else wishes she did. All original characters or concepts are the author Inuma Asahi De's (with the exception of historical figures).

Chapter Ninety-Eight

So it Begins

The light outside the room faded as Inuyasha gently positioned the sword in his belt, his eyes traveling upwards towards Sesshoumaru slowly. The older man was standing with his chin held up high but his eyes somehow lowered: a contradiction on his face. Inuyasha licked his lips as the thought consumed him.

"I just don't get him—after everything in our lives, it seems so impossible for him to have changed so much." He shook his head, his fingers brushing against the edge of Tetsusaiga at his waist. The coolness of the sword's handle made him relax instantly and the vague pulse of its power brought him tremendous comfort he almost couldn't explain. "It's like it's trying to speak to me." He narrowed his eyes and his fingers tightened on the Kashira of the sword. Tetsusaiga pulsed again in his hands and he inhaled sharply as its message seemed to materialize in his mind.

"Trust." It spoke softly in an ancient language he was sure he shouldn't understand but did.

"Can I trust Sesshoumaru?" Inuyasha exhaled slowly and resisted the urge to shake his head back and forth. "No." He spoke internally, the sound firm as it resounded throughout his head. "But—," He hesitated as Tetsusaiga vibrated steadily under his grip, the gentleness of the action making it seem almost like a purr. If he would have really been thinking about it, he would have thought it odd for a sword to do such a thing and yet, it all seemed so normal, as if this was what demonic arts meant—a sword that was as demon as he was. "I trust this sword." Inuyasha acknowledged as he allowed his body to calm. "I might not trust Sesshoumaru but I trust you Tetsusaiga."

The sword stopped vibrating and pulsating immediately, seeming to go dormant under his touch. The dog demon didn't think anything of it as he broke eye contact with his brother, not realizing how long the two had been staring at one another. As if by silent agreement, Sesshoumaru turned around and started out the door. Rin, seeming unfazed by the movement from her husband, merely looked over her shoulder, watching as he disappeared into the fading twilight. A slight huff left her mouth and her shoulders sagged as if disappointed but the momentary melancholy didn't last long.

"Okaa-sama?" Takeshi whispered as he knelt at his mother's side, looking anxiously after his father.

"Saki ni iku." Rin waved a hand towards the door, motioning for the boy to 'go ahead' and leave after his father.

Takeshi immediately rose and turned respectfully towards the other people in the room: his elders. He bowed low towards them and Inuyasha felt the urge to bow towards the boy, his nephew, in return but didn't. "Konbanwa." The boy told them as he raised his head looking first at Inuyasha, "Ojii-san." He smiled slight and turned next towards Kagome. "Obaa-san."

Kagome sent the boy a sweet smile as she heard the respectful term of endearment. "Aunt—I'm somebody's aunt." She realized, her eyes actually misting a little bit from the humbling thought. "Konbanwa." She spoke in Nihon-go without really realizing it as she bowed to the boy.

Takeshi smiled brightly in return, his mother's smile on his father's face. "That's pretty good." He laughed slightly and nodded towards his uncle one last time before turning on his heel and heading off into the night.

"That boy—always on Chichie heels." Rin shook her head only switching to English once her son had left. "It's getting late." She changed the subject as she looked away from the quickly fading day towards Inuyasha and Kagome. "Might I offer you some dinner?"

"Um," Kagome blinked as the offer entered her brain, she hadn't even thought of the possibility of being asked to stay for dinner and now that the question was presented to her, it felt strange. "Ah," She turned towards Inuyasha, the feeling of his own flustered emotions scrapping against her psyche. "Inuyasha?"

"Um," Inuyasha mumbled just like her, turning towards his wife with blindsided eyes. "I—guess," He cleared his throat slightly and looked towards Rin. "That would be fine." He crossed his arms over his chest and shifted awkwardly. "We didn't really have any plans."

"Excellent." Rin smiled and with the grace of a crane lifted herself from the ground without use of her hands. She seemed to glide upwards move than stand, her hands coming in front of her, folding delicately in a regal position. "It will be a simple meal I'm afraid—we weren't prepared for anything too extravagant."

"Of course." Kagome interjected as she rose to her feet as well feeling absolutely klutzy in comparison to the other woman. "We thank you for whatever you can offer."

"Yes." Rin smiled sweetly and then sent Inuyasha an imploring look. "If you like your son may come."

Inuyasha's eyes widened and he had to clutch his jaw in order to force himself not to gap. "How—?"

"I'm a demon." Rin sent him an amused look as she raised one delicate hand and touched her nose. "His smells all over you." She shook her head and turned towards the porch door moving with small steps towards the entrance. "And another," she paused thoughtfully and gave Inuyasha a strange look. "A kitsune?" She chuckled as the Nihon-go word dropped off her tongue, Kagome recognizing it instantly for fox, although she wasn't sure how. "He can come as well, oh." She smiled brightly and then her eyes narrowed as an almost devious smile graced her features. "The human's mate can come as well—if her condition permits."

"You know all of that?" Kagome cut in before Inuyasha could say a word. "Even that she's pregnant?"

"The nose knows." Rin wiggled her eyebrows in the most undignified way she could manage making Kagome giggle. "It also knows that both pups, obviously, are adopted." She sent Kagome a soft smile as if to say it might be possible later that another pup may come, a pup that wasn't adopted.

Kagome flushed immediately as the idea jumped up inside her head. It was an idea she had been toying with for months, one might even say for the better part of a year now. "A child—my child—," She dared to glance at Inuyasha who seemed completely unaware of the silent exchange that had occurred between the two women. "His child—." An image of Takeshi popped into her head, his dark hair and those burnt brown ears on top of his head so like his uncle. "Would they look like him?" She wondered even as the image of Takeshi morphed.

His dark black hair changed turning blackish brown with obvious red and blondish tints maybe even silver. Bright gold eyes were replaced with almost silver grey irises, which were highlighted with beautiful sweeps of deep gold that flared just around his pupils making his eyes appear to have a natural glow. Inuyasha's strong Irish nose replaced Takeshi's delicate Nippon one and his chin appeared as well followed by thicker eyebrows and higher cheekbones. Before Kagome realized it, Takeshi had completely changed becoming a whole new person who stood before her in her mind's eye. A perfect mixture of Inuyasha and herself seemed to stand right in front of her: tall like his father and with a coloration more like his mother. He was handsome, she couldn't deny, and on his face she could just imagine Inuyasha's smile, cocky and boyishly charming—his father's son.

"Well," Inuyasha suddenly spoke, the image in Kagome's mind breaking away instantly as she was brought back to reality, a reality where such a child might, and probably would, never exist. "We'll need to go to the ship to get them."

"Myoga go get-to them!" The old flea shot up, drawing their attention back to his previously forgotten presence.

Inuyasha opened his mouth to protest, irritation with the elderly man still biting at his tongue. Before he could say anything, however, he snapped his mouth closed and took a deep breath. He could tell by the look on Myoga's face that the flea would be downright relieved to leave them at this moment. He seemed uncomfortable and awkward and, most of all, extremely tried. "Are you sure?" Inuyasha managed to ask and Myoga nodded his head so sharply that the dog demon couldn't deny him. "Okay—be quick about it."

"Hai!" Myoga called quickly and ran out of the room, his old body moving so quickly that he seemed ten years younger in that moment.

Tetsusaiga pulsed at his side and Inuyasha sighed, his hand reaching for the sword, rubbing his thumb against it carefully.

Kagome watched him carefully, the slump of his shoulders telling her far more than his mind ever could in that moment. She reached for him slowly but her fingers stopped midair as the image of that unborn boy flickered back into her brain. She couldn't explain it and she couldn't understand it but her hand stopped and she turned quickly towards Rin. The older woman smiled at her softly, almost apologetically and Kagome frowned. "Why?" The words were spoken in her head but she was sure by the look on Rin's face that the woman had somehow heard her or maybe just felt it like an empath could.

The woman only shrugged as if she had no idea but Kagome knew she had to, Rin had to know. "Dinner will be served on the other side." Rin spoke changing the subject of a conversation that had never existed out loud as she looked out the door towards the frozen garden. The snow was falling once more, the cold flakes drifting down so slowly that they seemed almost haunting.

Kagome followed Rin as she stepped onto the porch, her eyes taking in the strange silence of the courtyard. The only disturbance in the snow were the footprints of Sesshoumaru and Takeshi, all other footprints seemed to be long gone covered by another layer of white. "It's so peaceful." She whispered to Rin as she allowed the image of the boy to disappear back into a safe place in her mind. She would question Rin later, after all there would be plenty of time for questioning that she was sure of. "Living in Jamaica, I forgot what snow was like." She commented as she turned to look back at Inuyasha.

The dog demon in question was staring down at the sword on his hip, his golden eyes filled with contemplation and what appeared to be astonishment. Rin smiled for the sight and glanced towards Kagome, checking to see if the girl saw the look as well; which, of course, she had.

Kagome watched Inuyasha carefully studying the way his gold eyes ran over the sword, starting at the top and gradually sailing back down towards its hand guard. Those serious eyes ran up and down the handle again and again, so enraptured that he didn't appear to notice either woman looking at him. "His father's sword." She thought to herself not bothering to question how she knew the information, she had given up questioning such things an hour ago. Kagome licked her lips as she took her eyes off him and looked at the swords handle, studying the wispy ends of the white wrap that was rung around it. "It doesn't look like much." She told herself even as her heart jolted in her chest. For the briefest of moment, she felt another presence swarm around them, a gigantic compilation of energy that made her skin prickle. "What the—?" She started to whisper just as the presence evaporated in the air. Her eyes flickered towards Rin only to find the other woman looking straight at her.

"You felt it?" Her eyes seemed to say as they gazed at Kagome.

The younger girl couldn't even nod in return, only mentally scream the word 'yes' at the top of her lungs. She didn't for a moment worry if Rin understood; however, Kagome knew she did.

"Inuyasha-sama." Rin called as she turned away from Kagome focusing her attention on her brother-in-law.

The dog demon's head shot up, his ears twitching from the sound of Rin's voice. "Hai?"

"This way," She motioned with one hand towards her left as she smiled in a way that only she could. The expression was so soft and sweet that it was almost as if she was a child with that smile on her face and not an adult. "Myoga will have your sons and daughter-in-law soon, so we should prepare."

Inuyasha nodded his head and looked towards his wife, the overwhelming urge to be by her side suddenly consuming him now that everything appeared to be winding down and the adrenaline in his body was ebbing. Cautiously, his eyes watching Rin with a bit of worry he stepped over the threshold of the door. Clawed fingers reached behind him and pulled the door closed as his other free hand reached for Kagome.

Understanding instantly, Kagome moved towards her husband, her own hand rising to meet his. The spark of natural electricity which always seemed to run between them made Kagome's stomach flip flop and she inhaled sharply. The warmth of his fingers brushing against her own made her whole body feel abruptly heavy as if it no longer needed to support itself because it knew there was another who could support its weight without trying.

"Inuyasha." The name was whispered in her mind her subconscious wanting to pull him to her, to wrap herself around him and take comfort from him but she didn't dare.

Inuyasha allowed his fingers to intertwine with hers in that moment, interweaving his calloused fingertips with her own before he pulled her towards his side. He didn't dare to hold her, however, not in front of Rin, a product of a country where affection was highly frowned upon in public. For the moment, he was content to inhale her scent as he held onto each finger as if he needed that precious lifeline in order to take another step. "Kagome." He mumbled as the sweet smell of the sea and Irish lilies made his heart steady in his chest.

Unable to resist, he leaned down and placed a soft kiss on Kagome's forehead, his lips lingering over the spot for several seconds. Kagome sighed sweetly in response, her body moving a little closer to his as she allowed herself a precious second to relax. Encouraged, Inuyasha dipped his head, prepared to kiss her full on the mouth. His heart hammered in his chest wanting nothing more than to consume her in that second.

"Auh hm." Rin cleared her throat suddenly making both Inuyasha and Kagome jump apart.

The younger dog demon turned his eyes upwards in time to see the bright red face of his sister-in-law. "Damn it." He cursed as he realized how brazen it was in this society to touch your wife so openly in public and so indecently. "I mean—come on—Otou-sama only kissed Okaa-sama once in front of me!" He chastised himself as a blush appeared on even his cheeks. "Sorry." He quickly apologized and Rin let out an awkward laugh in return.

"No, no, its fine." She said with a little bow as she started down the walkway without another thought, although her body did appear stiff as she moved, some of her grace leaving her.

Humiliated, Kagome felt her face grow even redder. She, unlike Inuyasha, was naturally a modest person, which made their display of affection in front of her sister-in-law even worst. "I can't believe we did that." She covered her face with her hands as she began walking. "She must think I'm a—I can't even say it." She resisted the urge to throw her hands up in the air exasperated. "I should just change the subject—just—anything—change it." She thought rapidly wanting the embarrassed feeling to disappear and leave her only wallowing in humiliation. "So," She blurted out as she looked straight at Rin's back. "You're a half demon like Inuyasha?"

Rin stopped dead in front of her and Kagome felt a lump form in her throat that had nothing to do with nervousness and everything to do with her own feeling of stupidity at the moment.

"Who asks that?" She yelled at herself and was just about to take her words back when Rin chuckled slightly.

"Yes and no." The older woman shrugged as she started walking again guiding them down the porch and around it towards the other side. It appeared as if the porch wrapped around the entirety of the building. "Inuyasha is a half demon by love," She explained gingerly as if her words held little or no importance in reality. "I am a half demon by force."

"What?" Kagome whispered out the word all her earlier fears and embarrassments washing away as she tried to comprehend what Rin had said.

Behind her, Inuyasha felt his stomach drop to his feet, unlike Kagome, he had understood what Rin meant immediately. "She was," He paused trying to find the right word but unable to think of any that were delicate, there just weren't delicate words for things like this. "—raped?" All three adults stopped walking as the word hovered in the air around them just like the snowflakes as they came to earth.

"My mother," Rin began slowly as she turned and looked out across the complex. They had gone quite a ways during their short walk and now were standing looking out at another part of the garden. This section was wide opened with very few trees or bushes or plants in general. It was almost as if it were set up to be a play area, which was possible seeing that Rin and Sesshoumaru did have a child, albeit a big one. "My mother," Rin tried one more time as a soft smile formed on her face. "—was a beautiful woman, both inside and out." She closed her eyes and the soft smile turned so beautifully sad that it enchanted Kagome and Inuyasha both, captivating them as they listened to the girl. "She raised me with grace and civility and never once told me I had my father's face." Rin reached up as she spoke, the tips of her small fingers brushing at her cheek. "Luckily, to my knowledge, I don't look like him at all anyway."

"You do look more human than half." Kagome spoke, unsure of what else one was supposed to say in a conversation such as this. Even though she had what could be called firsthand experience with the subject, her experience was more along the lines of what Rin's mother had experienced and not what the daughter of such an unfortunate circumstance would understand.

"Yes," Rin's eyes snapped opened dark and perfect in so many ways. "I even have more human ears." She pulled back her hair revealing perfectly rounded ears as she grinned, the look befitting her.

"So how did you meet Sesshoumaru?" Kagome quickly cut in changing the subject once more to something that had to be a much safer subject.

"After my mother died."

Kagome felt like banging her head on the wall as the darkness that seemed to have settled on the conversation grew. "No matter what I do—." She whined and glanced at Inuyasha. Immediately, she noticed the uncomfortable look on the dog demon's face and grimaced apologetically. "Sorry." She wanted to say but knew better than to voice the thought out loud, although she wasn't sure if it mattered anymore whether she spoke out loud or silent. "Rin can probably hear my every thought." She told herself just as the girl began speaking once more.

"I was living at a Miko temple," Rin spoke slowly, giving no indication whether she had heard Kagome's thoughts or not. "Masquerading as a human if you will."

"Good word." Inuyasha commented and Rin laughed slightly.

"Kagome's word." She told them as she sent Kagome a thankful smile.

"He used it first, I just stole it," Kagome pointed towards Inuyasha as she allowed herself to relax a bit. "Long story."

"I know." Rin nodded and the other miko instantly frowned understanding exactly what Rin had meant.

"She knows everything—the gift of empathy at its best, I suppose." Kagome shuddered feeling just slightly uncomfortable. "Is that how everyone will feel when they know about me?" She wondered but didn't have time to give the idea too much thought; Rin didn't let her.

"A group of wolf demons attacked the temple, it was a horrible incident." Rin spoke matter-of-factly, but it was obvious by her tone that the very idea still haunted her to this day. "At least twenty of our sisters died, mulled, eaten." The woman sighed as if tired and raised her hand up to rub her temple gingerly. "I was huddled, hidden in a tree when the leader came and started a fire."

"They burned the temple." Inuyasha deduced, speaking in a low whisper.

Rin moved her hand from her face and sent her brother-in-law a taunt smile. "Burn it to the ground! Burn it to the ground." The older demon snorted as she mimicked the man from so long ago, her eyes burning for a second in a way that seemed impossible on such a sweet face. "I couldn't move—I couldn't think. I was going to let myself die."

Rin hesitated then and the burning look in her eye calmed as it was replaced by another one, a softer one.

"And then," Her tight smile eased, becoming something far more gentle, far more herself. "I heard the swoosh of a sword and the scream of a man being cut down."

"Sesshoumaru." Kagome offered as she watched Rin's eyes become far off and distant.

"He saved me." Rin nodded and suddenly an amused chuckle bubbled up from her throat. "He told me I should leave—go to a village and disappear. I explained I was a half demon. He said," She laughed a little bit more and shivered as a cold wind suddenly blew about them. "He said, half demon or not you should still have enough pride to keep yourself alive." Rin buried her hands in her sleeves and sent Kagome a soft peaceful look. "I stood up—and I followed him, I never stopped following him and he never once turned me away."

Inuyasha crossed his arms over his chest as he took the story in, finding in hardly believable and yet unable to deny that Rin's scent had held nothing but truth. "How is this even the same person?" He asked himself as he licked his lips and tried not to stare at Rin with perfect disbelief. "How long ago was that?" He asked already knowing that it had to of been at least a hundred years or so but thinking sternly that it couldn't be more. "There's no way Sesshoumaru would have accepted a half demon so easily four hundred—three hundred years ago—fuck even now it seem improbable."

"Three hundred years—a little more." Rin shrugged as she answered, she too already knew many things.

"Wow." Kagome spoke in disbelief not noticing the disgruntled look that popped up on her husband's face. "You've been together—um—quite a while."

Rin blushed but didn't comment as they began walking once more, as if it had been an agreed upon move. "It doesn't seem that way." She spoke gingerly and Kagome nodded her head in understanding.

Her and Inuyasha had been married over six months now but it felt like it had only been a day. "It's still so fresh and new." She thought to herself and she trailed closely behind Rin's back not noticing that Inuyasha was still standing where they had left him. Not even her empathy seemed to notice in that moment.

The dog demon stared after the two women his eyes dangerously narrowed as his thoughts turned over and over again in his mind, turbulent. "Four hundred years ago we barely escaped Sesshoumaru's claws." He thought to himself as he stared at Rin and Kagome in front of him without seeing either. "A hundred years later he meets her and—doesn't raise a finger." He bit his lower lip being careful not to draw blood because in present company blood would draw attention. "What happened in that hundred years or," He glanced at his sister-in-law expectantly the idea rattling around in his brain actually bringing him some comfort. "Could Rin have made the change happen?"

Part of him sincerely hoped so and he, at least, knew exactly why.

-break-

Miroku leaned over the railing of the ship as he watched the last of the crew trudge back onto the Shikuro for the night. They seemed to be in good spirits, laughing and joking with each other as some of them stumbled up the gangplank laughing ridiculously. Their faces were bright red and their eyes were glazed from whatever alcohol they had managed to get a hold of. Some of them were holding onto food that looked downright unappealing and unrecognizable to the young man's eyes but he didn't dare say a word as he watched them scarf it down.

"I just hope they don't vomit it up later." He told himself with a shake of his head as he looked towards Totosai who was standing a little to his left. The old man was watching the men intently too, his eyes seeming a bit dazed as if he couldn't believe some of the things he was seeing. The sight gave Miroku pause and he frowned heavily as he shifted his weight on the railing, turning himself so that he could see the man. "Totosai?"

The old man blinked quickly and methodically turned his attention towards the other man. "Miroku-sama?" He mumbled honorably as he nodded his head at the boy and offered him a slightly dazed smile.

"Why didn't you go out?" Miroku jerked his chin towards the shore as he pushed himself officially off the railing, crossing his arms over his chest. "Or go with Otou-san?"

Totosai finally smiled from the question and shook his head slowly as if to brush it off and away from him. His eyes turned away from Miroku and he looked down at the dock below them. He blinked once, then twice and finally a third time before a low sigh shook his whole body to the core. "Totosai," He began slowly as he looked up and out over the water into the thriving metropolis before them. "Not-to welcome."

"Not welcomed?" Miroku muttered in response as he furrowed his eyebrows trying to understand what the man meant. "Why wouldn't you be welcomed here?" He uncrossed his arms, allowing one hand to wash over the scenery. "It's you home."

"No—no—no." Totosai grinned sadly, his expression catching Miroku completely off guard. "Not-to home, Shikuro." The old man nodded sharply as he looked towards Miroku with weary and suddenly aged eyes. "Shikuro home—only-y home."

"But?" The younger man started to protest only to be interrupted by the sound of footsteps hitting the gangplank hard and at a run.

"Miroku-sama!" Myoga's voice hit the air, loud and adamant.

"Hai?" Miroku returned the call, switching languages only briefly as he watched Myoga nearly leap over the last few feet of the gangplank, landing on the quarterdeck firmly.

Myoga ignored Miroku for all of a second as his eyes caught sight of Totosai. The two stared at each other, their old eyes connecting in a way that Miroku had never actually seen between them before. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the two men bowed towards each other, dipping their bodies until their eyes had to break contact. "Gomen naisai." Myoga whispered the apology, his eyes raising slowly once more towards Totosai who shook his head and offered a strained tight lipped smile in return.

"No need-u." He mumbled and raised his body back up to its normal hunched over height.

Myoga nodded but something about the lines in his forehead seemed to say he didn't believe Totosai was fine in the least. Still, he turned away from the other man and back towards Miroku without a second thought. "Inuyasha-sama want-to Miroku-sama and Sango-sama to come—Shippo-chan too."

"Come?" Miroku frowned as he tried to concentrate on Myoga's words despite how distracted he was by the strange exchange he had just witnessed.

"Hai," Myoga nodded once sharply as he motioned towards a small litter that was just now catching up with him. "For Sango-sama."

Miroku stared at the litter and shook his head in complete confusion. "Why are we going?" He asked as he raised a concerned eyebrow not wanting to move his wife unless his father was the one telling him it was a good idea.

"For dinner." Myoga's words were so blunt that Miroku almost couldn't believe that he was discounting them.

"Dinner?" Miroku said the word slowly as if it had a strange taste he couldn't quite get used to. "What the hell happened?" He finally burst unable to contain the question as he stared at Myoga who seemed relatively unphased by everything. "I was expecting a fight."

The old flea smiled apologetically and glanced over towards Totosai who was also looking at him with no small bit of suspicion. The other old demon's suspicion, however, didn't seem to focus on the dinner or the possible fight, it seemed deeply rooted in something neither could understand. Feeling far more exposed than he felt comfortable with, Myoga shifted his eyes away from his friend and back towards Miroku. "Myoga will explain on the way."

"Huh?" Miroku felt dumb founded his mind not yet processing what Myoga had actually said.

Frustrated by the whole thing, the flea demon actually growled before losing his temper to a certain degree. "Shitagau!" He yelled towards Miroku and pointed towards the back hallway as men on deck, whether sober or drunk, stopped and stared at the bizarre spectacle. Unlike the mean on deck, however, Miroku had understood the command and the fact that Myoga had just ordered him to 'obey.' "Ima," The flea demon continued on irritation seeming to bubble up in his throat. "Miroku-sama."

"Obey now." The words echoed in Miroku's ears and without any thought he turned and walked towards the back cabin where he knew both Sango and Shippo currently were. He couldn't explain why he listened, he outranked Myoga on this ship and yet, in that moment, he felt as if he were but a child once more.

The old flea demon huffed and his hands shook a little as he watched Miroku walk towards the hallway. He wasn't moving quickly by any means but he was moving and for that Myoga was thankful.

"Myoga-kun?"

Myoga stopped and turned back towards his lifelong friend. The two stared at each other once again, their eyes connecting in a way that only long time friends can connect. An unspoken question formed between them as old eyes meet old eyes. It flowed like water back and forth in the space connecting their bodies and neither one of them wanted to stop that flow. To stop it was to come to a conclusion, to generate an answer, and neither could possibly stand the answer to come.

After several seconds Myoga nodded once, slow and controlled even as his eyes grew dark with melancholy. "Hai." The old flea spoke, his voice breaking just a little bit as the weight of everything that had happened in the past few hours hit him hard.

Totosai looked away at the admission and bit his lip as his eyes traveled out across the Nippon night. Myoga followed his gaze, neither man bothering to speak as their hearts ached in their chest from the joint realization they both had made.

They were home, after nearly four hundred years of avoiding this place—they were home—and both of them, from the bottom of their hearts, wished they weren't.

-break-

Almost thirty minutes later, Miroku reached out his hand towards Sango, helping her out of the strange litter of Myoga finished telling them the story of what had taken place in their absence. At first, even Miroku and Sango had not believed everything they had heard. It seemed dangerous to be here, to be near a man that Inuyasha had told them had tried to kill him as a child. The father-to-be looked down at the swollen stomach of his very pregnant wife and held back the urge to shove her inside the litter once more but refrained.

"If this Rin is—what Myoga says she is—we'll be okay." He told himself even though he was sure he didn't believe himself.

Sango huffed as she grasped Miroku's hand tightly to keep her balance as her foot came down in contact with the ground finally. "Oh, thank God." She whispered to herself as a wave of dizziness and slight nausea gripped her to her core.

"Are you okay?" Shippo whispered as he tugged on the skirt she wore, the only article of clothing she currently could fit into, a dark burgundy gown and petticoat that Miroku had stolen off a vessel somewhere around India from a woman he had described as full bodied.

"That's a term for wine and," She paused in her own thought as her swollen feet started to ache a little. "Pregnant women the size of whales." Her chin wobbled as she tried to hold back tears that she couldn't contain. She felt the sharp intake of air around her from both Shippo and Miroku as they realized exactly what her look meant and tried not to cower in fear of her oncoming tears. "I'm so—so—so," She tried to stop the words knowing they were irrational. With conviction she bit down on her lip and lowered her chin so that she could control her emotions. After several seconds she felt the emotion ebb, the tears receding. She sighed thankfully and feeling controlled once more opened her eyes just in time to see her giant looming burgundy stomach mocking her. "Huge." The word left her mouth before she had a chance to stop it.

"Sango?" Miroku reached for her trying to think of something to say or do to stop the onslaught but his mind was blank, absolutely blank. "Damn it!"

"Do something!" Shippo whimpered as he inched away from the woman in terror.

"I'm trying to think of something." Miroku hissed back as he reached for his wife only to get his hand slapped away within an instant.

"I'm not a child that scrapped its knee!" Sango chastised as she motioned towards her completely morphed body. "I'm a giant, legitimately a giant—like Gulliver's Travels giant in the—the—whatever place that was." She threw her hands up exasperated and Miroku docked to miss being hit in the face.

"Brab—something." Shippo mumbled as he tried to remember the book. Kagome had read it to him only a few months before but he couldn't remember the name just yet.

"Not helping." Miroku practically growled towards the child as he looked towards his wife. "Sango—they were tall," Miroku tried to comfort the best he could but even he had never been good at this sort of thing, mainly because of who had raised him. "You're just wi—."

Sango sent him a death glare, her eyes blazing with such red hot fury that he simply shut his mouth and smiled at her horrified.

"Good move." Shippo whispered as he inched towards Myoga, the safer of the three adults he was surrounded by.

Myoga simply shook his head from their antics and with an old yet gentle hand reached for Sango's shoulder. The woman jumped at the contact and turned as if ready to scream but the sight of Myoga's soft smile and worn eyes made her pause. "Sango-sama." He said her name with the love and affection of a grandfather—a great grandfather. "Look." He motioned towards the world she had yet to take in and as Sango turned every emotion in her head came back into complete control.

A gorgeous red roof trimmed with a daring black covered in white snow that reflected the already patient moonlight filled her vision. The soft glow of paper lanterns, the paper dyed with wondrous blues and reds and pinks and all sorts of pastels, flickered as they swayed in the soft cold breeze. The light from them danced, reflecting the smooth dark reddish brown wood of a door and illuminating the soft white paper of the screens that lead inside them. Shadows performed intricate plays as that light continued to illuminate everything, branches from trees becoming swans and snowflakes becoming black stars.

Her dark eyes fluttered as she took in the house before her having never in her life seen anything like it. "Amazing." She whispered feeling almost breathless as Shippo once more came to stand beside her, his bright green eyes filled with the same images, taking them in wholeheartedly.

"Wow—this place is—." The child hesitated and looked up at Sango and Miroku as if asking them to provide his tongue with the right word.

"Unbelievable." Miroku provided without taking his eyes off the house.

Satisfied, Myoga motioned with his hand towards them. "This way." He whispered softly as he started towards the house and one room in particular where three shadows were just barely outlined inside.

Offering his hand to his wife, Miroku guided her along the slight path towards the building or house, as it were, Myoga leading the way with Shippo hot on his heels. "Is this de house?" Shippo asked as he came up beside Myoga practically hoping up and down in his excitement.

"Hai." Myoga responded as he reached the three short steps which lead upwards onto a small porch that seemed to wrap around the entirety of the building. Within seconds his hands were on the door frame and tugging at the edge opening it effortlessly and without any caution.

Miroku blinked quickly as the somewhat startled face of his father came into view along with, Kagome's, and a strange woman he didn't know. Together they were all sitting in the middle of a rather large room with no wood on the floor or furniture either. "Um."

"Miroku." Inuyasha stood up immediately unable to stop the wave of relief he actually felt looking at his son. "It's good to see you." Quickly, he crossed the room reaching out his hand towards the other man in lue of simply hugging him.

Miroku took the offered hand automatically, feeling the same relief his father did within seconds of the two hands grasping one another. "You as well." He whispered the word as softly as possible as he held his father's hand a little longer than he should have. "Otou-san."

"Pup." Inuyasha mumbled in return and Miroku knew the significance of the term of endearment instantly.

He smiled as his body relaxed some of his earlier anxiety replaced simply with a feeling of security, the feeling all children get when their parents are within their reach. "Myoga filled us in on the way here." He commented as he motioned towards Myoga who was still standing beside the door not moving.

"Good." Inuyasha whispered as he glanced at the man and bit his lip unsure if he should tell Myoga to stay for dinner or not. In the end, it was not his decision to make however.

"Myoga excu-zu himself." The little demon bowed his head with those blunt words and closed the door much to everyone's shock. Everyone's shock that is, except Kagome.

The young Miko felt the tremble of emotions that seemed to come off of Myoga like sweat: fear, anger, humiliation, but most of all regret. "So much regret." Kagome narrowed her eyes not sure why such an emotion would encompass Myoga so entirely.

A sudden grunt from Sango was the only thing that brought the group and Kagome out of their stupor. "That was a good kick." Sango commented as she rubbed at her injured side stiffly.

Immediately Inuyasha and Miroku both turned towards the woman taking in her flushed cheeks. "Come here." Inuyasha was the first to react with his firm command causing the girl to roll her eyes but obeyed. "You need to sit."

"I'm fine." Sango groused but allowed Inuyasha to lead her towards the side of the room where Kagome still sat. A pillow rested on the floor there, which made Sango frown. "I'm I supposed to sit on that?" She questioned internally but not willing to insult the unknown woman sitting across from said pillow refrained. Between Miroku and Inuyasha, she was lowered to the ground beside Kagome as she grumbled inaudible words that everyone in the room was sure were better left unsaid. "Thank you." She finally pronounced out loud as she shifted uncomfortably. "I'm never standing up." She grumbled towards Kagome who instantly laughed and reached out a hand to squeeze Sango's shoulder.

"It's good to see you." Kagome whispered sincerely and motioned towards the tiny Shippo who bounded towards her and plopped himself down in her lap without hesitation.

"Here Miroku." Inuyasha motioned to a spot on the ground beside Sango before he himself rounded the women and took his place back beside Kagome. "Um," He cleared his throat slightly and motioned towards the woman across from them. "This is Rin-sama." He addressed in a mixture of both languages. "My brother's wife."

Happily (albeit uncomfortably to some extent) seated, Sango and Miroku turned their focus towards the woman who sat before them her position in the room seeming to signify that she held all the power within it. Before either Sango or Miroku could introduce themselves the woman surprised them by presenting them with a beautiful almost sparkling smile.

"Hello." It grew even brighter as she spoke and dipped her head downwards. The hair that flowed about her shoulders dangled down brushing the tatami mat slightly before she raised again. "I am Rin but please," She tilted her head to the side her beautiful dark eyes seeming to smile as vibrantly as her pink lips. "Call me Obaa-san." She brought her hands up in front of her clasping her fingers together as her eyes sparkled at the prospect of being someone's aunt.

"She's older than you?" Sango asked bluntly, both her personality and her late stage of pregnancy making her tongue loose with no exceptions.

Inuyasha winced at the blunt comment and glanced towards Kagome who merely shrugged as if to say she had been thinking the same thing. "Yes," He answered before commenting dryly under his breath, "I guess I'm just mature for my age."

"That's a laugh." Miroku mumbled under his breath as well causing Sango and Kagome to laugh and, surprisingly, Rin as well.

"You must be Sango-sama." The woman spoke, the sparkle in her eyes never fading as she placed her hands back down in her lap.

Sango blushed at the honorific Rin had placed on the end of her name but nodded none the less. "No need to speak so—so—highly." Sango waved her hand adamantly as she brushed her fingers over her stomach absently.

"Sango-san then." Rin corrected and turned towards Miroku. "And you must be Miroku-sama."

It was only after she had said Miroku's name that Kagome's amusement faded into something else completely. Her brow furrowed and she pursed her lips as she studied Rin with abject scrutiny. "We never told her their names." The younger miko clicked her tongue as she stared at Rin who didn't turn towards her even once. "Is that part of being a miko? An empath?"

Unlike Kagome, Miroku didn't think anything of the fact that the woman had known his name. Instead, he couldn't help but be transfixed by the sweet smile that spread across her face as she spoke, the young man not able to stop himself from shifting a bit awkwardly. This was nothing like meeting his grandfathers, this was his aunt, his young aunt who had a smile that lit up the whole room and eyes that sparkled like a little girl's. "And she called me -sama." He shook his head not even sure why that fact made him feel proud. "Yes—I'm Miroku," He bowed a bit as his father had taught him to over the past few months. "And well—," He raised his head and smiled modestly as he waved his hand as if to dismiss a thought. "No need for the –sama."

Rin shook her head as if this entertained her greatly and bowed her head. "Of course." She acknowledged as she bowed her head towards him as well. "Miroku-san." She settled on, just as she had with Sango. Her head raised back up only seconds later and she turned her attention towards the child sitting prestigiously at Sango's side as if guarding her expanding stomach.

"And this is?" She asked even as her eyes sparkled, seeming to say she already knew but wanted to give the child the benefit of the doubt.

"Shippo." The little boy spoke proudly as he puffed up his chest to look bigger.

"Shippo-chan." Rin smiled brightly at the boy, her eyes filled with admiration as he stood up and held up his chin a little higher. "A fine looking man." She nodded sharply and glanced towards Inuyasha once more. "Such fine boys you have."

"They're okay." Inuyasha shrugged vaguely as he smiled down at the little red headed boy even as his heart twanged slightly. It was a sensation that Kagome didn't miss and one she understood all too well.

Shippo for his part sent the older man a coy smirk befitting of having spent time with Inuyasha. "You should count your blessings," The little boy crossed his arms over his chest and made a strange clicking noise with his tongue. "Not everyone gets a kit like me."

Rin laughed as did everyone in the room including Kagome. For the past few months of her newly married life, she had become distracted from the child focusing instead on the relationship she was building with the man she loved dearly. And now, looking back on her own distraction, she couldn't help but feel bad, her heart aching a little bit for the neglect she had inflicted on the boy. "I was selfish." She narrowed her eyes as the smile began to leave her face. "I was so distracted that I—I let Myoga and Totosai take him without a second thought."

"Don't worry too much."

Kagome's head shot up as the voice filled her mind, surrounding her like an old friends. "Where—?" Her eyes tore through the room, looking everywhere for the source but the voice was only in her mind, existing nowhere else. Her eyes narrowed and her graze shifted to Rin who was already looking at her intrigued but knowledgeable all at the same time.

A slight scraping at the door stopped Kagome before she could comment on the strangeness of the look. Hastily, six pairs of eyes shifted towards the door taking in the slight opening that had formed as if someone had opened the door just a fraction of an inch.

Rin's sudden chuckle made everyone almost jump and their heads snap around to view the young woman. "It looks like we have one more for dinner tonight." She spoke sweetly as she looked towards the shoiji door. "Mariko-chan." Rin whispered as she motioned towards the crack in the door.

Inuyasha glanced towards the door, the scent coming from the other side familiar and unfamiliar all at once. It was soft, there was really no other way to describe it, soft and relaxing and gentle. The smell of everything that one thinks of when they are content: flowers, summer breezes, light rain, fresh soil turned up for planting. The smell of all these things and somehow more.

"Ma," Rin's sing song voice filled the air as the woman leaned forward and smiled sweetly. "Ri—ko." She sounded out the name, making it into a playful melody.

A giggle came from behind the door and two little hands, no bigger than Inuyasha's ears pulled at the door revealing two large bright sharp gold eyes. Instantly, as if realizing they had no other choice, the door was flung open with a loud clatter revealing the most precious child anyone in the room had ever seen.

Sitting between Inuyasha and Kagome, Shippo in particular had to keep his jaw from falling to the ground as he watched the little girl bound into the room. Unlike her brother who had inherited his mother's more human features, this child was her father's gem. Silvery hair, reflective and bright shimmered behind her, tightened into an unkempt braid that had wispy silvery strands floating all around it. Her little kimono was covered in bright koi fish with a background as blue as the water from the pond they lived in. Her rounded baby cheeks carried soft dimples as she smiled and her bright beautiful golden eyes sparkled with all her warmth.

"Wow." Shippo mumbled as his bright green eyes rounded with absolute infatuation.

"Okaa-sama." The girl called and flung herself into Rin's already open and awaiting arms. The woman laughed and pulled the child into a hug, whispering soft sweet words into two fluttering ears on top the girl's head.

"Mariko-chan." Rin whispered sweetly as she reached up and softly massaged one little ear as she continued to speak softly in Nihon-go.

Inuyasha caught words here and there but Rin was speaking so quietly that even he could not really hear her. The words for uncle appeared and aunt and some others explaining the connection but he didn't say a word in comment for fear of not really saying the correct thing. Finally, and much to his surprise, Rin raised her head and removed one hand from a protesting ear to point in his direction.

"Inuyasha-ojii-sama."

The little girl's large gold eyes, like an owl's eyes too large for her face, turned towards him and blinked once. "Inuyasha," She repeated the name slowly as she brought her fist up to grab at her hair pulling as if nervous. "Ojii-sama." The girl finished and managed to smile shyly before hiding her face in her mother's shoulder.

"Konnichiwa." The dog demon just barely managed to say as he stared at her every feature seeing his brother and seeing his sister-in-law but most of all seeing something else, something he did not want to see. He couldn't help but see a different little girl, with grey eyes instead of gold and deep dark hair instead of silver and a face with a delicate French nose and high cheekbones. "A little girl."

"Konnichiwa." The little girl responded with a loud giggle as she peaked out from her mother's shoulder to look at the much older dog demon.

"She's so—adorable." Kagome mumbled as her heart swelled an image forming in her head that she could have sworn was not her own. It was of another little girl with dark hair and grayish eyes who did not exist and probably never would.

"Arigato." Rin spoke softly in the ear of the little girl, watching as the girl's eyes sparkled.

"Arigato." The little girl mimicked as she giggled and stuck her tongue out ever so slightly in an innocent nervous gesture.

"Kagome-obaa-san." She pointed towards Kagome who smiled softly at the girl, the emotion in her eyes enough to say more than any words could have. "Miroku—," Rin paused not too sure how to introduce the cousins as it were. In the end she settled for the easiest of expressions. "San. Sango-san." Rin continued to introduce them but it seemed at this point, Mariko only had eyes for the other small child no older than herself.

"This is Shippo." Rin spoke in English first before switching easily to Nihon-go. "Shippo-chan desu."

"Shippo-chan." The girl repeated sweetly as she beamed at the sweating Shippo.

"Konnichiwa." Rin coached and the little girl nodded at her mother pushing herself away from the safety of the lap so she could stand on her own.

"Konnichiwa." She did as she was told, her mother's careful hands guiding her so that she followed the greeting with a sloppy bow once again.

"Konnichiwa." The group returned, all except the shell shocked Shippo who could do nothing but stare at the little girl in wonder.

Rin smiled with a look of pride and adoration on her face. Her hand ventured upwards and caught a flickering ear once more, delicately massaging it while the little girl growled happily and fell back into her mother's lap.

"How old is she?" Sango asked as she watched the little girl practically rub her mother's hand in delight.

Rin lifted her head and smiled suspiciously before glancing at Shippo. "I think about Shippo-chan age." She smiled playfully as she watched the little boy turn bright red to the root's of his red hair. "How old are you dear?"

"Seven." Shippo puffed up his chest proudly and Rin nodded feigning very realistically that she was impressed.

"Mariko-chan is six." The woman pursed her lips looking highly entertained. "I bet you can play together."

"Really?" Shippo asked, his voice just a bit too excited to be inconspicuous.

"Mariko-chan!" A loud cry filled the room and suddenly a person, larger than any person they had seen so far in this country appeared in the door way. "Mariko—gomen naisi!" The woman fell into a bow the second she saw the party she was screaming at.

Rin waved her hand as if it was nothing and motioned towards Miroku and Sango instantly. "This is really perfect timing." She commented as she suddenly lifted Mariko up and into her lap firmly both hands now wrapping around the child as if to hold her securely. "This is the midwife." She explained and then looked at Inuyasha. Her eyes stayed on the younger man for a moment, studying him carefully with her deep dark eyes. Finally, she smiled and turned away having eyes only for the midwife this time. "Inuyasha-sama desu." She motioned towards Inuyasha who looked towards the woman completely baffled.

"Inuyasha-sama?" The woman repeated slowly and looked down at the full grown man with wide eyes. "Inuyasha-sama." She repeated, his name no longer sounding like a question but perfect astonishment.

"Hai." Inuyasha whispered as a distinctly uncomfortable feeling turned in his stomach. This woman was looking at him in a way too familiar way, as if he should know exactly who she was and yet, he couldn't place her face. "Well, that's not completely true." Inuyasha thought as he looked the strange demon up and down. "I think I've smelled that scent before."

"Sugoi!" The woman suddenly cried out and Inuyasha nearly jumped out of his skin as she landed on her knees in front of him, grabbing for his face with her old fat hands. "Inuyasha-sama wa—." She cried out as she began babbling so quickly in Nihon-go that even Inuyasha had no idea what she was saying any more. "Watashi wa josan-shidesu. Anata wa oboete imasen ka?"

Surprisingly though, even though Inuyasha could no longer understand the woman, Kagome could. The young woman felt completely and utterly perplexed, the foreign words that were entering her ears making perfect sense the second they hit her brain. She couldn't comprehend it how each and every word seemed to make faultless logical sense when it shouldn't have. "What's going on?" She asked herself, forcing her hands not to jump up and grab at her hair to yank.

"Kagome-sama."

Her head snapped up just in time to see Rin smiled at her. Kagome felt her heart pound in her chest fiercely as she watched Rin's dainty hands point towards something she had been ignoring. Instantly, her yes traveled to her husband just in time to see the dog demon attempt to get away from the midwife's ungodly strong hands, in vain.

"You should help." Rin commented and Kagome turned back towards the woman sending her a funny look that she couldn't contain.

Whether, the woman had gotten her attention because of her own internal freak out or the woman had gotten it so that she could protect her husband, Kagome wasn't sure. Either way, she chose to focus only on Inuyasha. It was the only way she could think of to contain her fears. "Inuyasha." Kagome grabbed him and pulled him back down. "Didn't you hear her?" She spoke not carrying whether anyone realized she had understood the woman or not.

"Huh?" The petrified dog demon stared at his wife as if she had grown a second head.

"She's the midwife," Kagome felt strange translated the words. First and foremost, because Inuyasha knew the language but also because she—well—she should not. "She was your midwife."

Inuyasha turned his head slowly towards the woman, his eyes trailing over the old woman's face as if expecting her to suddenly bite him or at the very least speak rapidly again. "What?" He whispered as he looked at the woman who was still smiling at him, unhindered by his blunt rejection.

"Yes." Rin explained, taking the attention away from Kagome before it could actually be put on her at all. "Akane-san birthed you and Sesshoumaru and Takeshi and Maiko." She glanced down at the girl who had perked up the second she had heard her name and smiled. "Maybe even Jii-chan." She continued on, Inuyasha recognizing that Jii-chan had been for the girl's benefit and not his own. He was her Jii-chan but his Otou-sama. "She's ancient." Rin covered her mouth as the words left it and blushed profusely but didn't apologize to the old woman, after all, the woman didn't speak English. "Thank god." She shook her head but continued on, her eyes now traveling towards Sango. "With your condition, I thought she might be a good person to introduce you to."

Sango glanced down at her stomach as if it were some strange thing she barely comprehended was there for a moment. "Yes," She spoke after a second dragging her eyes away from her stomach hastily. "We—I'm due soon and we needed—yes." She stumbled over her words as she glanced at an equally confused but even further relieved Miroku.

"Yes." He started where she left off looking towards Rin with wonder. "Thank you—we—." He hesitated not wanting to say the words, so Sango of course said them for him.

"—were beginning to worry." She explained as she held a hand up over her heart and let out a breath that she felt she had been holding for weeks, if not months. "So—thank you." Sango turned towards Akane and bowed slightly as Inuyasha had told them once. "Ari—Arigato." She stumbled over the words and winced as she mispronounced them (or so she thought). "Akane-san."

The midwife nodded her head and looked towards Rin expectantly; waiting for the oncoming translation of a language she did not know. If the midwife was surprised that Rin seemed to know the language she didn't flutter so much as an eyelash about the thought. Instead, she simply listened intently as Rin explained their thanks a little bit more in depth. At one point she even delicately motioned towards Sango, her slender fingers moving like a wave as they seemed to brush the edge of Sango's very body. The gesture made Sango feel somewhat uncomfortable especially since she didn't understand the very language they were speaking in.

Sitting beside her, Kagome felt the discomfort distinctly. It was a feeling she had grown used to from Sango as the pregnancy had progressed. Discomfort, it seemed, was the most common emotion during pregnancy, next to a strange contentment that she had never really understood. Carefully, she reached over the distance between them, careful not to upset Shippo and touched Sango's shoulder gently. "This is good, right?"

Sango, only seeming somewhat startled by the touch, nodded her head and smiled faintly. "It's a relief." She admitted even as her shoulders began to slump a little. "But—still scary. I mean she doesn't speak English."

Kagome opened her mouth wanting to say, 'that's okay I speak Nihon-go' but hesitated. How did you tell someone you speak a language magically when you weren't even sure what magic you had used. "It's empathy—it has to be but—," She frowned as a strange thought shook her to her very core. "If I can learn languages from my gift—can I—?" She glanced towards Sango her eyes glazing with a desire she could not control. "Sango knows Italian—can't I—?

"Kagome-sama!"

She jumped nearly out of her skin as the words hit her like a brick wall. Her hands flew away from Sango as if she already realized why Rin's voice had hit her so urgently. Her heart hammered and she stood without knowing what else to do. She became aware instantly that Rin had stood as well, the conversation with the midwife gone.

"Kagome-sama." Rin spoke again as Kagome stared down at a startled Sango, who was looking up at Kagome confused. "Daijou bu desu ka?"

The look on the pregnant woman's face seemed to say, 'I don't understand what's wrong.' It mirrored the looked on Kagome's face, the younger woman knowing something was wrong but not aware just yet the extent that wrongness.

"I'm fine—Rin-sama." Kagome felt Inuyasha the second he stood, his hands reaching for her, making contact with her elbow. The sensation seemed to have a calming effect and she shuddered as she brought her hands closer to her body. "I'm sorry." She apologized even though she wasn't sure what she was apologizing for.

"Kagome." Inuyasha whispered her name, the worry in his voice making her feel terrible for whatever it was she had or had not done. "What's going on?"

"I just—." Kagome stopped and turned to look at him over her shoulder.

His eyes were bright and full of all the worry that had filled him lately. They were beautiful eyes, gorgeous and dangerous and haunting. Suddenly, and without warning, she saw the caricature she had envisioned early in those eyes. The boy was looking at her, staring at her much as his father did sometimes with a mixture of worry and admiration. Worry because that was simply the only thing he could really do with her half the time and admiration because to him, she practically walked on water. The image disappeared within only a few moments and she blinked coming back to herself, a lie she had not known she was creating already dancing on her tongue as if pre-prepared.

"I'm just tired—I thought I saw something—it was silly." She laughed and glanced down at the people in the room away from Inuyasha's eyes which she knew would not believe her. "I'm sorry Rin-sama."

Rin shook her head, a slight fear in her eyes that Kagome could both feel and see making Kagome's stomach drop. "Don't be—why don't we eat so you can get some sleep." She suggested and motioned towards the midwife, mumbling something so quietly that none of them bothered to even try to hear her words. "I'll have rooms prepared for you."

"Thank you." Kagome replied as if speaking for all of them and lowered herself back to the ground. Unintentionally, she felt Inuyasha lower with her, coming down to sit beside her again, although this time a bit closer than before.

The dog demon stared at his wife for a few seconds as the conversation changed to what food they would have that night. Words he recognized from his childhood and delicacies he had not experienced in hundreds of years rang out in his mind but he ignored them all. Despite everything that had just happened, every strangeness that Kagome had presented, one thought only grew in his mind. It was something he had only just realized and something that made him worry even more about Kagome than normal and that was probably because it was the most abnormal thing he had ever heard her do.

"Kagome," He thought as his eyes looked at the spot where her hair curled around her ear deliciously. "Understood Nihon-go."

-break-

Kagome and Inuyasha lay in the darkened room, staring up at the ceiling as the little flickering lamp illuminated everything around them. The bed they were laying on was like none Kagome had ever seen in her life. It was practically a thick sheet on the floor covered by another, albeit less thick, sheet on top of her. And the pillow, the pillow was a whole 'nother story. It was practically the size of the back of Kagome's head and barely seemed worthwhile to put underneath her head. Not only that but it seemed filled with this weird combination of beads and something she couldn't quite place, maybe feathers?

The young girl held back a sigh and glanced, just barely maneuvering her eyes, towards the man beside her. He was laying on his side with his back to her, which was relatively normal, Inuyasha had a habit of sleeping on his side and turned away, mainly when he was significantly tired. "He must be exhausted." She told herself, acknowledging her own exhaustion as her eyes grew heavy and her body ached.

For several minutes she tried to let her body drift, allowing herself to shift into unconsciousness but as she did a nagging sensation gripped at her limps. She felt almost as if she were being watched by some shadow far away from herself, by something she could and might never see. Instantly, her eyes snapped opened and the limited light in the darkness around her seeped into her vision. She blinked several times, the slight increase in her heart rate making her frown as she glanced around the room, not moving save her eyes once more. Alas, there was nothing there. There was no stranger in the dark, there were no ghost.

She shifted her head and the strange beads inside the pillow made a noise that hurt her ears making her sigh loudly into the semi-dark. Beside her Inuyasha shifted and she heard him grumble slightly before his body turned until he was on his back. His head lolled towards her and his eyes blinked sleepily before he yawned. "Did I wake you?" She asked of the man beside her, sharing the small strange bed.

"No." His muffled reply came as he turned once more and pushed himself upwards and over onto his stomach with a grunt. "Can't sleep?" He asked even as the stupidity behind the question hit his brain hard.

"No." Kagome answered him anyway with a slight chuckle as she raised her hands up and rubbed at her face with a moan. "Every time I close my eyes," She paused as she drug her hands over her face tiredly. "I think of—or something else—I don't even know what it is, it's just there. Thoughts I can't even control." She finally pulled her hands away from her face, her voice a quiet desperation in the stillness. "Everything's just so—arg."

"Yeah." Inuyasha agreed as he adjusted the strange pillow under his chin, it had been years since he had slept on a futon. "I forgot how different it is—I miss pillows." He shrugged and let his thoughts sink away from him. He had been somewhat asleep before her sigh had brought him back to wakefulness and now that he was awake once more, his mind began to roam. Instantly, the day's events began to invade his mind until he too felt Kagome's full frustration. "Damn," He cursed under his breath as he closed his eyes and shoved the pillow out of his way resting his chin on his arms instead. "I don't even know what to think anymore."

Kagome nodded and they slipped into silence once more. The silence consumed them for a moment and Kagome bit her lip as her mind was bombarded with her own feelings and Inuyasha's as well. Pushing herself upwards next to him she shook her head and tried to smile in the darkness. "Well," She mumbled as she looked down at him, waiting for his bright shining eyes to turn towards her before she continued. "Let's try to think positively—." She stopped and had to keep herself from laughing as she realized how ridiculous she sounded. "Who am I kidding?" She threw her hands up in the air just as Inuyasha pushed himself upwards as well into a seated position, his bare chest looking cold in the lamp light. "The only positive thing that happened today is we didn't die and even that's debatable!"

For a moment, Inuyasha wasn't sure what to make of her words and then before he could help himself he started to laugh. "Oh god." He managed to say between fits of laughter. "

The sound was contagious and unable to help herself Kagome allowed her own laughter to permeate the air. "This bed—well its okay but the pillow." She sat up and grabbed the pillow showing it to him as she shook it, the beads hitting each other inside. "This is not a pillow."

"I agree." He laughed as well as her face split with her own delight.

"And," She continued her hands swinging around with her delight as her laughter hit the air like a wind chime. "What did we eat for dinner?" She grimaced at the thought of the strange meal of rice and some kind of soup and fish. "That was not food."

"Hey," Inuyasha pointed at her adamantly and glared. "That was good food." He jammed his pointed finger downwards into the futon to reiterate his point. "I haven't eaten like that since before you were born."

She lost it at his words and shook her head dreadfully. "I'm not that old—," She held her stomach as pain began to set up in her side. "Not like you." She added and stuck her tongue out at him as he glared at her playfully, his golden eyes starting to gleam with an emotion she recognized all too well.

"Hey!" He growled and unable to resist jumped her and pinned her to the bed. "Who you calling old?"

"You." She threw back in his face and the dog demon growled down at her, his knee already working between her legs to push them apart.

"I'll show you who's old." The growl he released reverberated in the air, heady, the sensation slipping down her body like a hot wetness. "There's nothing old about me." He growled as he lowered his bare chest towards her clothed one.

Kagome smirked in return even as her blush crept down from her cheeks to her neck. "Nothing at all." She told him and raised herself up in time to kiss the spot where his chin and his neck met. Instantly, Inuyasha hissed and closed his eyes, the demon inside of him delighting in her initiative.

"Kagome—Kagome—Kagome." He mumbled her name over and over again an almost wolfish smile appearing on his face as he felt the caress of her lips on his jaw in response. "Kagome." He moaned slightly as she continued along the curve of his jaw, moving towards his bare throat, a spot she knew drove him crazy when she kissed it. "You better be careful."

"Why?" She mumbled against his flesh, the feel of him panting making her heart hammer with power.

"Don't start something you don't want to finish." He growled playfully as his hands grasped her hips suddenly and he growled as he pushed against her.

His eyes gleamed in the light and he hissed before surprisingly burying his face in her shoulder. For a moment he was quiet and Kagome already knew why. Pulling himself up, he blinked and frowned almost apologetically. His gold eyes grew tired but love continued to seep off of every part of him as he watched her delicate features in the candle light.

"Maybe I am old." He told her but she only smiled and reached up to brush at his cheek.

"Not old," Kagome whispered to him as she studied his strong chin and loving yet embarrassed smile. "Just tired.

"Tired." He simply repeated as his tired body ached and his will began to dissolve. "I wish I had the energy to make love to you right now."

She blushed and she felt his body react but the reaction was weak and not quite enough. Forcing the blush down from her face she pulled him back down the dog demon coming willingly, his body weight resting deliciously on top of her. "I wish," She spoke softly into his ear, watching as it flicked. "I had the energy to be made love to."

She felt his smile on her shoulder and smiled in return as the laughter began to bubble up inside of both of them again; a sweet sort of comic relief they both needed. "That made no sense." He whispered into her neck and shoulder as his hands came up moving gingerly until they came across her short hair. Clawed fingers pressed against the strands delicately not wanting to nick the flesh underneath them but still desiring to feel them.

In return Kagome allowed her own fingers to dip into Inuyasha's hair as well. She caressed his naked back between the silky strands, delighting in the way his muscles rippled under her fingers. She heard him whine slightly in the back of his throat and then he quieted as he pushed himself up away from her until he was hovering over her. His eyes were intense in that moment and Kagome could feel his desire, as well as his exhaustion coming off of him in waves. She bit her lip and the feeling doubled making her stop.

"Inuyasha." She began slowly, knowing she was teasing him without mercy even when his body was on full shut down. "We start our training tomorrow." It was the first thing she could think of and the last thing she had actually wanted to.

Inuyasha immediately sighed, his exhaustion consuming all the desire that had been left in his body. In one swift motion, he pulled himself up breaking all body contact he had with her before pushing himself to the right. With a soft thump, he landed on his side next to her, his body facing her and his pelvis budding up against her hip. One hand fell to her stomach, which he gently rubbed with his thumb for a moment. It was an odd gesture and even Kagome wasn't completely sure why he had made it.

"Training—that's not training." He mumbled the word as he continued to run his thumb over her stomach, his eyes closing for a second as if in thought. "My senpai is my nephew." He spoke as evenly as possible but the sarcasm was impossible to hide in his voice. "That's going to be hell."

Kagome nodded in understanding as she felt her eyes actually begin to droop. The sweet motion of his hand was lulling her to sleep and making her mind fuzzy. Thoughts trickled in and out of her mind as she sighed softly to herself, the day's events becoming harder and harder to focus on the more he moved. "Can you," She began to ask as she looked up at the ceiling, her eyes staring at the wood absently. "Believe that—since the beginning," She felt her mind clear for a moment as the words formed inside her. "Since the moment we met each other, since before," She shook her head, wakefulness coming back to her as the thoughts consumed her. "This has been planned."

Inuyasha stopped rubbing her stomach as the words hit him, his hand becoming a dead weight there. "I think we just have to," He told her as he looked towards his hand, staring at the spot it rested on with a subconscious desire. "We don't have a choice really." He licked his lips, earlier thoughts he had returning to him, eating at him. "You know Kagome." He looked up at her, the two making eye contact in a way that had become simply natural to them. "There's still so much I don't understand about this—all of this." He spoke as he looked directly into her grey eyes, taking comfort in their swirling consistency. "Sesshoumaru—hating me and my mother and now—."

"Rin—he married a woman like Rin." Kagome filled in when it appeared he didn't know the words to use anymore.

"Yeah." Inuyasha groaned and finally removed his hand from her stomach in favor of pushing himself off his side and onto his flat back. His hands automatically came up to his face and he covered his eyes with his hands.

Kagome bit her lip as she watched him, her stomach feeling cold where his hand had been moments before. "Should I tell him?" She thought to herself as memories of the strange emotions she had felt coming from Sesshoumaru touched the tip of her psyche. She opened her mouth, prepared to say at least something, although she didn't know what it was she was going to say exactly but stopped when his lips moved just before hers.

"And then you—I just don't understand what's going on with you either." Inuyasha inhaled heavily and released the breath only seconds later as he removed his hands from his face to look at her. "I," He stopped and looked away from her, his eyes searching the floor trying to think. "You—you understood," He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye as if to afraid to ask her this question directly to her face. "Nihon-go."

The young miko didn't say anything for a moment, her eyes shifting away from him just as his own had. "I know." Was all she managed to eventually say, an abject silence building instantly between the two of them.

Inuyasha allowed it to hover in the air for a few moments before he even dared to push further. "Why?"

Kagome opened her mouth, fully prepared to say the same exact words she had only seconds before but something stopped her. Perhaps it was because he was her husband and she trusted him or perhaps it simply was because she had never been a good liar or maybe even, it was because she couldn't lie to him; whatever it was, so told the three word truth. "I don't know."

The words came out in a daring whisper as she raised her eyes up. Gold and grey connected instantly as they had thousands of times but this time there was something earnest about their connection. Inuyasha felt it from the pit of his soul, the fear, the anger, the frustration but most of all the determination in her heart.

"But," Kagome continued on, looking directly at him all the fire of her full potential swirling as black met white creating perfect grey. "I intend to find out."

-break-

Kagome's eyes drifted left and right as they walked through the large grove of Sakura trees. She recognized it instantly as the spot from Inuyasha's memories of his mother, as well as the place where they had entered the inner sanctuary that was the family quarters. In her mind's eye, she could see the orchard as it had looked in Inuyasha's memories of springtime, bright and pink and white and filled with flowers. She could just imagine the fragrance that would fill the air if every tree was in bloom and the texture of the little flower petals as they floated down to earth.

"It is beautiful in spring." Rin spoke suddenly and Kagome jumped, her eyes snapping towards the woman before her in surprise.

"It's like she read my mind." She mused and bit her lower lip as she continued walking slowly after Rin. "What are we doing here, anyway?"

"We," Rin motioned to the snow covered landscape, her delicate white fingers barely peeking out from her thick robe. "Will start our training here."

"Oh." Kagome nodded and didn't bother to ask how a place like this would be beneficial to their training. "Rin knows things—she knows how I learned a language in a second." She told herself as she watched the girl's back, taking in every hair as the wind played with the strands. "And yet—she made it seem like I know so much more than her." Kagome chewed on her lower lip as the thought tickled her mind. "How can I know more? It's not possible." She asked herself firmly as she stopped dead in her tracks, staring at Rin's still moving back. "Rin-sama." Kagome began slowly as she looked at the other woman. "Can I ask you something?"

Rin stopped and looked over her shoulder at the other girl calmly. "What?"

"You said—I'm—I can do things you can't so," Kagome hesitated and shifted from one foot to the other as if embarrassed, which she was. "But you also said, I am going to learn from you. What will I learn from you—if you can't do what I can do—um—what can you teach me?" She rubbed her head as she tried to word the sentence correctly, not noticing the soft amusement on Rin's face.

"Not enough." The girl whispered as the wind caught her hair, pulling on it gently as she turned away from Kagome and looked towards the Sakura trees around them. "I can only teach you the basics; namely," She looked back towards Kagome and allowed the smile on her face to brighten sweetly. "How to control your power." She chuckled slightly, the sound whimsical as it hit the air. "After that, I can only offer insight, guidance, maybe a little help."

"Oh." Kagome allowed the word to leave her mouth like a vacant breath. "That's it—that's all she can teach me." She felt small as the words touched her mind, feeling dangerous and lonesome.

"It feels so insignificant." Rin continued on as if reading Kagome's mind making the younger girl's head snap up in surprise. "Like I should be able to teach you so much more—but I can't." She finished bluntly as she reached for the trunk of one of the Sakura trees. Her fingers felt the bark slightly, running over the roof edge slowly. "No one can." She pulled her hands away from the bark, dropping them to her sides as she looked towards Kagome once more. "There is not a person in the world quite like you Kagome—you are the first." Her deep brown eyes were imploring, dipping deep into Kagome's heart. "Only you can forge the path—." Rin reached out as the final word in her dangling sentence hung in the air.

The milky white fingers of her hand splayed opened, beaconing Kagome as the edge of her kimono shifted in the breeze. A cool supernatural wind circled around Rin, nipping at the edge of her hair, toying with the soft, delicate skin of her wrist where Kimono met skin. Kagome's eyes stared at her hand, watching as the fine hairs on the back of her hand were teased and her nails (more like claws) glistened in the bright sun overhead. She felt her hand react without her consist reaching upwards, as her fingers twitched opening with cosmic understanding. Tan, rough fingers met frail skin, white as snow, the wind around them automatically gusting as the two made contact.

Kagome felt a shock wash over her system, Rin's emotions flooding her directly. She could feel the confidence, the fear, and the complete understanding of what they were destined to achieve fill her body, encasing her. She gasped, her heartbeat racing as the warmth from Rin's fingertips made her want to cry from the pure security it brought.

"Only you can forged the path Kagome," Rin repeated as she pulled Kagome a little closer, the movement making the girl's bright grey eyes flutter as she looked directly at Rin. "And I," Rin paused as she looked down at their joined hands. Kagome's eyes followed, widening as she saw the telltale signs of a faint glow, the same glow she had begun to associate with her powers. "—I will guide you."

The younger miko felt her whole body fill with the reassurance of Rin's words. She couldn't even explain it but it was almost as if suddenly she understood exactly what Rin was going to do even though she had no idea what that was yet at all.

"But I won't be alone," Rin spoke as she held onto Kagome's hand a little tighter, her fingers surprisingly strong for one so small. "We won't be alone Kagome."

"What?" Kagome narrowed her eyes dangerously but didn't question right away, instead she chose to listen, knowing that all things are revealed in time. "Who's coming with us?"

"Not a who." Rin whispered firmly and, finally, dropped her hand from Kagome's. The wind around them immediately died down, exhausting itself. "But a what—not all guides take the shape of what we expect them to."

Kagome's eyebrows knitted together, confusion mounting in her mind now that she was disconnected from Rin once more. "I don't understand." She shook her head as she spoke and the black haired demon smiled, a sweet yet strange purse of her lips.

"Follow." She commanded simply and turned away. Her body moved as if she were floating instead of walking, the snow under her feet crunching the only indication that she touched the ground at all. "There is much to learn Kagome, and very little time to learn it."

Kagome hesitated as she watched Rin start along the path again, her eyes for the first time taking in the place at the end of this particular path. It was a tree, the largest tree she could ever recall seeing. How she had missed it before was beyond her. It towered over the Sakura trees around it, the branches actually filled with impossible leaves as green as if it were spring time. Around its trunk a thick rope was tied with strange white triangle papers that blew in the wind and encompassing the tree, fencing it off for protection was a short stone fence, a small stairway of only three steps leading up from the fence towards the tree.

As they neared the tree Rin stopped, the white and red outfit she was currently wearing blowing with the coldness of the wind. "Take off your shoes Kagome." She commanded without taking her eyes off the tree, while she easily slipped off her own sandal looking shoes.

Kagome blinked dramatically at the very suggestion, a distant memory assaulting her for only a moment.

"Kagome where are your shoz?" Her mother dropped her hands in complete exasperation.

"Lying somewhere," She replied as her heart ached in her chest, the knowledge her life was over making her feel sick. "With my dignity."

"Your mother isn't here," Rin's voice hit Kagome's ears forcing her to come back into reality. "So don't worry."

Kagome blushed but listened to the words. Bending down, balancing on one foot, she pulled off her boots, dropping them on the ground beside the small stone steps. She inhaled deeply as her feet hit the cold ground, her socks crunching against the snow making her toes freeze with anger. She hissed and winced, her eyes jumping up to the surprisingly green tree as if it held some great secret in its branches. In front of her Rin stood still, her own bare feet hidden by the edge of her large billowing red pants, the same pants Kagome knew Inuyasha's mother had once worn.

"Come Kagome." Rin held up her hand towards the other woman, her fingers moving in a soft sensuous gesture that made the skin on Kagome's arms, even hidden as they were under fabric, prickle. "It is time." Rin finished and turned away completely, her hand falling to her sides as she looked up at the tall intimidating tree before her. "Is it not Goshinboku?"

The younger Miko gulped as she listened to Rin actually talk to the tree feeling uncomfortable and not just because the cold wind was biting at her flesh. Chewing on her lower lip she took a step forward, the sound of the snow mixed with the dirt loud in her ears as she followed Rin towards the short set of stairs leading to the impossible snowless grass and the gate that separated the sacred tree from the world. The moment she stepped passed the gate warmth flowed over her whole body as if she had suddenly stepped directly into summer.

"How is this possible?" Kagome whispered as the sun beating down on her became hot and the breeze that had been gnawingly cold became beautifully mellow. She closed her eyes as it surrounded her, pulling at her clothes and wrapping her up in the delicious sensation of tingling warmth. "Just like Jamaica." She told herself, not realizing how much she had missed the feeling of a summer breeze on her skin until that moment.

In front of her, aware and unaware of her student's nostalgia, Rin stepped farther into the sanctuary. The tree before her seemed to shake in response, leaves rustling as the warmth of the wind awakened it as well. "Goshinboku." Rin whispered a truly exceptional smile brightening her every feature.

Her attention becoming fixed on Rin once more, Kagome tilted her head to the side. "Rin?" She called as the older woman bowed to the tree, showing it the respect one might give a person but not a plant.

At the sound of her name, the girl turned, her eyes sparkling as they looked at Kagome. "This Kagome," She brought her fingers up towards the tree as if she were introducing Kagome to it. "Is Goshinboku—a sacred tree Izayoi planted four hundred years ago." Rin's words made the breath leave Kagome's lungs as her eyes widened. "And with its guidance, we will learn everything we need to beat the Shikon-no-Tama."

-break-

Inuyasha stepped into the training hall, his bright eyes taking in the landscape so quickly that he didn't have time to comprehend much of what he was seeing, merely calculate the dangers and securities within it. There were swords of all varieties lining the walls, some were even western and made him raise an eyebrow. The sight of a broadsword in particular caught his attention and he tilted his head to one side in surprise.

"Why would a European sword be in this room?" He asked himself but the thought quickly left his mind as his sharp eyes took in the other weapons, which graced the walls.

A pair of kamas hung loosely on the wall, the curve of the sickle shaped weapon hitting the light with a deadly glint. An equally deadly pair of sai hung near the deadly blade, the sharp end of the three pronged weapon a stark reminder that he was in a dojo, surrounded by dangerous weapons and (there was a high probability) dangerous people. He frowned as he allowed the thought to reverberate in his brain, his hand creeping subconsciously towards the handle of his new or, in fact, old sword.

"Something about this room makes me highly uncomfortable." He told himself and snorted as he shook his head from the thought. "Not like its not obvious or anything." His ears twitched as he heard the telltale sound of approaching footsteps and he inhaled sharply in order to take in the scent of the new comer.

Instantly, the smell of his nephew reached his nose, the odd combination of a deep lurking forest and a faint stream almost relaxing. His ear flicked towards the door the second the boy's hand came in contact with the handle and he turned, just in time to see the door begin to slide.

"Ojii-san?"

The sound of the strange greeting made Inuyasha shift uneasily as he took in the surprised face of his young nephew. "Takeshi." He mumbled as the boy bowed at the door respectfully and crossed the threshold into the dojo.

"Good morning, Ojii-san." The boy bowed towards his elder just as he had the doorway and crossed the room. "Did you have a good night sleep?" He asked as he approached the back wall of the dojo, his clawed fingers already reaching for a sword, which rested against the wall.

Inuyasha watched as his nephew's fingers curved around the sword sheath and he popped his neck lightly. "Yes." He responded bluntly as the youth took the sword and easily arranged it against his side, looping it through the hakama gingerly.

"That's good." He recognized as he lifted his head up and sent his uncle the same easy smile that had been on his mother's face the night before. "Chichie will be here soon." The boy explained as he began to cross the room his body moving with such a lack of care that it actually made Inuyasha more antsy. "He has some business."

"Really?" Inuyasha asked shortly, as his ears perked up even higher on his head wanting to hear even the slightest of noise that might penetrate the room. "Be on guard." He coached himself as his eyes darted towards the door Takeshi had left opened.

"Yeah." The boy responded with an infliction on the end of the word that made it sound like a question. "Are you okay," He asked as he eyed the older man carefully, tapping the hilt of his own sword gently. "Ojii-san?"

"Don't cal—." Inuyasha stopped himself and snorted slightly as he touched the edge of Tetsusiagia's handle. The sword pulsed under his fingers, the sensation calming him tremendously in a way he understood and yet didn't. "I guess we wait for—Sesshoumaru then?" He asked, allowing the boy to call him uncle for now, no matter how uncomfortable it actually made him feel.

"Well," Takeshi shrugged as he moved towards the middle of the training hall. "He told me to get started."

"Get what started?" Inuyasha asked even though he already knew exactly what the boy was referring to.

"Training." Takeshi explained as he looked at his uncle over his shoulder, his expression a little bit confused looking.

"Well," Inuyasha grumbled as he looked at the younger man dryly, crossing his arms over his chest as he spoke. "This is insulting."

"Why?" Takeshi turned completely now, facing Inuyasha head on as he crossed his own arms over his chest darkly. "I'm old enough."

"We've been over this," Inuyasha brought a hand up to rub at his temple, he felt a headache coming on. "You're a child." He held up his hand before the boy could even so much as let out a squeak of insult. "I'm not arguing about this with an infant."

"Look," Takeshi gritted his teeth and glared at his uncle, a slight blush highlighting his young features. "Get off your fucking high horse already." The boy bit out each and every word, the purity of the insult making Inuyasha's mouth open wide in amazement.

"What?" Inuyasha felt somehow violated at the admission.

The bit that had been in the boy's voice instantly faded as his eyes grew huge as if just now realizing what he had done. "I'm so sorry Ojii-san—," The boy apologized, even if he was technically the senpai in this situation, he had still be disrespectful to his older and that was not acceptable. "But," He threw in as he looked at the other man his eyes narrowing. "I know about this—I've been studying for years."

"So have I." Inuyasha huffed and crossed his arms over his chest as he looked out across the smooth wooden floor. "I've trained all over the fucking world kid. I've been training since before you were born, hell, since before you were even thought of!" The older of the two felt his patience snap, hating the way he was being treated by a brother who pissed him off in the first place. "I lived with a group of monks on top of a mountain for over twenty years when I was just a bit older than you and that was over three hundred years ago." Inuyasha yelled at the boy, watching as Takeshi's golden eyes darkened in a way that absently reminded him of himself. "I'm the Captain of a damn pirate ship! I've fought with guns, swords, knifes," He held up his hands them shaking them for the boy to see. "And my own bloody fist to the death and I'm still here—I'm still alive." He threw his hands up in the air exasperated. "I fight to live, boy." He stared at the child watching as the darkness in his eyes grew into realization and something else like admiration. "And you've never done that in your life!"

Takeshi bowed his head slightly, understanding his uncle while at the same time growing to understand even more so what he had to do. "You're right, I've never fought to the death." The boy admitted making Inuyasha pause, his sharp eyes turning towards the child slowly. "But I," The boy visibly gulped as if what he was about to say was difficult to say and it was; it really and truly was. "I still—I—I know things you don't."

Inuyasha growled low in his throat watching with satisfaction as the boy's ears pressed flat against his skull. He heard the telltale sign of submission from the boy's throat, the whine satisfying the demon that was about to break out, his control barely existent.

"Ojii-san," Takeshi sighed as he spoke, his hands that had been crossed over his chest falling, the left one draping itself over his sword. "I know you're strong." The boy lifted his head and looked right towards his uncle, his eyes bearing the look of truth. "But this isn't about strength or years of training or experience." His words were calculated, slow and deliberate as if they were prepared but, somehow, Inuyasha knew they weren't. These words were simply wise beyond their years. "This is about protecting our home," He motioned towards the room around him even as his ears continued to bare down on his skull. "And our pack." He inhaled sharply and looked towards his uncle with conviction.

"You listen and you listen well pup, this isn't about you anymore." He heard his grandfather's voice, the sound of it hitting him hard in the stomach. "You have responsibilities—a family!" Paedar's voice rang out in his mind, hitting him square in the stomach until he felt sick.

"I—you're amazing—a pirate? Guns and swords—that incredible and—," He whispered the words, his voice sounding distinctly uncomfortable but truthfully all the same. "To train for so long, you have to be perfect at it—but," He shook his head and looked up at his uncle once more, respect in his gold en eyes. "—it's human, it's human perfect not demon."

Inuyasha narrowed his eyes not sure how to react to what the boy was saying. The demon inside of him stirred but he held it back, controlling it as he watched the boy lift his chin with stony determination and just a hint of fear.

"And a human," Takeshi nodded his head, the abject apology in his voice noted by Inuyasha instantly. "Could never teach you a demonic skill, they don't have the blood nor power to do that." The boy looked down at his feet and Inuyasha saw the wince and the trepidation on the boy's face. "But I—even if I'm young, I do."

The air around them grew completely still as if all of it had actually been sucked from the room, drug away from them to somewhere else.

"I can help you learn because I've studied demonic swords far longer than you." The boy lifted his head and looked at his uncle with both determination and a wince of well placed fear. "And the only reason for that is the world's prejudice. It's not your fault," He held up his hands as if trying to stop Inuyasha from exploding. "It's just—the world's sad truth." He faltered and furrowed his brow looking as if he as waiting for his uncle to speak, to yell, or to punch him in the face. "You were trained in a human world, not a demon one."

The breath left Inuyasha's body and against his will he suddenly heard his grandfather's voice, loud and clear in his head. "You know that, I didn't train you—you left—you found humans to train you," His grandfather screamed in his head no longer a memory but a reality as if his grandfather was right there pointing out his own fault. "You know all that and yet you still let your pride get in the way." Inuyasha could hear the large hand of Paedar actually slam on the top of the table in the small kitchen, the sound making him wince as the words resounded in his head.

He felt a shudder, a shiver, and a strange tingle go from his hand into his body, Tetsusiaga seeming to respond to his very thoughts with an opinion of its own. He knew without having to even think, that the opinion was not in his favor. Attempting not to groan, Inuyasha sighed, his stomach turning. He couldn't deny that he was allowing his pride to interfere with what he had to do once more but he wanted to deny it now and forever.

"But I can't—damn old man haunts me wherever I go." He growled to himself and reached up a hand to rub at the back of his neck tiredly. "Where," He began, dragging his hand down his neck slowly, pulling at some of the hair at the nape of his neck. "Where do we start?"

Takeshi looked absolutely stunned by the sudden change, his gold eyes blinking rapidly as he fumbled for words. "A—Ano—Chichiue wants us," He hesitated as if he had forgotten what his father had actually told him. "To warm up—with sword connection exercises until he gets here."

"Connection." Inuyasha mumbled as he looked down at Tetsusaiga strangely. "I remember hearing that somewhere." He told himself as he touched the handle of the sword, running his thumb over the rough worn fabric there. A vague memory surfaced in his mind, the image of his father holding Tetsusaiga in practice reaching the fringes of his psyche before it washed completely away once more.

"Demonic swords are made from demonic energy," Takeshi explained as he motioned towards the center of the room, pulling his sword from his hip as he knelt easily to the ground. "Usually taken from the fang of a powerful demon."

The older of the two dog demons nodded in understanding, vague memories of this same lesson, given to him long ago flooding his brain. He could just see his father, maybe even in the same room, as he slowly and carefully explained the lesson but the words were hollow and hard for him to remember as if he had been very young. "I think I was." He thought to himself as he shook his head and turned towards his nephew, trying to remember everything he could. "The fang," He began carefully but with his chin raised high and proper, knowledgably. "It's where the energy is strongest in our bodies, right?"

"Yeah," Takeshi nodded as his uncle lowered himself to the ground beside him. "Fangs are deeply rooted in our bodies both literally and figuratively."

"And that's," Inuyasha interrupted before the boy could continue on. "Why they carry a lot of energy in them." He crossed the room as he spoke coming to the spot where Takeshi had seated himself.

The younger dog demon nodded his head firmly as he turned towards the front of the room where most of the weapons hung on the wall. Vigilantly, he placed his own sword in front of him with the utmost of care before bowing towards it with all the respect he could muster. "Our fangs preserve energy better than the rest of our body as well." He continued on with the lesson, a lesson which had been given from father to son in their family for generations they didn't know existed. "Because unlike other parts of our body, our fangs don't decay."

"Made from my fang to fit in your hand."

Inuyasha blinked rapidly as he saw his father hovering over his small form in his mind's eye. Slowly, he took Tetsusiaga and sat it in front of him with the same sweet care Takeshi had with his own sword. He felt his body bend as he moved away from it, his fingers slipping off the sword as he shuddered. "Otou-sama." He thought as he bowed to the sword and in that moment it was as if he was bowing not to the man's fang but to the man himself. "This sword," He spoke carefully as he raised up and studied the weapon. "Is made from your Jii-san's fang."

"Mine's made from Chichiue fang." Takeshi whispered as he looked at his own sword, his eyes filled with pride. "Father called it Chichinokiba."

"Father's Fang." Inuyasha nodded as he spoke, the name of the sword fitting, since he could tell it really had come from his brother's fang. Gingerly, he followed the boy's gaze, taking in the sword for the first time. It had a clean handle unlike his own, the hilt tightly woven with crimson red fabric intermingled with a cherry wood. It was a beautifully crafted sword but clearly had not seen much use over the boy's short life time.

"I think that's why Chichiue wanted me to start this exercise instead of him." Takeshi continued on as he allowed his fingers to gently touch the edge of the sword once more. "Normally a sword is made from your own fang, so it naturally connects with you." Takeshi explained as he glanced at the older man out of the corner of his eye. "Since your sword is Jii-chan fang though," He motioned towards the sword on the ground, his fingers seeming to almost caress it. "You will have to create the connection with it."

"Okay." Inuyasha nodded his head and glanced down at Tetsusaiga already knowing that connecting with the sword wouldn't be a problem in the least. "I connected with it the moment I saw it, didn't I?" He acknowledged as he allowed his eyes to roam over the sword fully. Even now he could feel the pulse of the sword, as if it had a heart within it that was beating with life. "It's the energy—the demonic energy—father's energy." He realized as he bit his lip and tilted his head slightly to the side as he narrowed his eyes. "Four hundred years almost and it recognizes that energy in me." He felt his heart clench in his chest, the memory of his father's final lesson suddenly overwhelming him.

Inutaisho held Tetsusiaga in his hands gently maneuvering the sword through a swift kata as his youngest son sat on the floor before him. "A sword," He whispered as he swung the blade down in front of him with deadly grace and accuracy. "Should be an extension of your arm." He faked left, the blade cutting at a diagonal line, rushing and hissing as it hit nothing but air.

Inuyasha's large gold eyes followed the movement, not able to actually see most of the strikes because of his father's sheer speed. "Sugoi." He whispered in Nihon-go even though his father was actually speaking English for a change, probably because his mother was beside him, watching with unemotional eyes.

A final slash, straight for the most preferential target (the head) went straight towards his father's imaginary opponent, killing the invisible adversary immediately. Inutaisho smirked, the sword still held out to his side mocking the fallen opponent. The blade gleamed as sunlight poured into the room from the opened Shoji door and in one swift motion, he straightened. He flicked the sword across his body, the quick motion cutting the wind and blood that wasn't actually there was cleaned from the blade. In one more hasty motion, he brought the sword to his waist, sheathing it easily.

Immediately Inuyasha clapped, his heart hammering in his chest with excitement. "That was amazing." He spoke quickly as he turned towards his mother, grabbing at her arms as if to reiterate his point. "Did you see Okaa-san, did you?"

"I sure did." She smiled at him but there was a strain in the gesture, a strain he ignored as any child would.

"I want to learn." Inuyasha continued on as he stood up and ran towards his father, catching the man on the leg of his hakama.

The demon lord laughed in response and ruffled Inuyasha's hair as he knelt down to the boy's level. "And you will." He explained as he showed the sword to Inuyasha, the worn handle catching Inuyasha's eyes. "Remember how I said—this sword was made for you?"

Inuyasha nodded as he looked at the unsheathed blade, his golden eyes watching as the sword seemed to shimmer for just the barest of seconds.

"It was—it will know you always." He spoke cryptically and calmly, Inuyasha's young mind not quiet understanding the words. "It will recognize you because my blood runs in your veins."

"Nani?" The little dog demon tilted his head to the side not really understanding what his father had meant.

Inutaisho merely smiled, the affection he had for his young son brimming in his eyes completely, making him seem actually vulnerable for only a second. "When you're older," He straightened and turned towards something Inuyasha had not actually seen. "You'll understand—what do you need Sesshoumaru?"

The young pup turned quickly towards his older brother, watching as the man looked at him, the same affection he had seen in his father's face on Sesshoumaru's own.

Inuyasha blinked and furrowed his brow as the memory faded and he came back to himself. Immediately, he became aware of his nephew beside him, looking at him with concern in those strikingly familiar gold eyes.

"Ano—."

Inuyasha quickly shook his head pushing the memory completely from his mind. "I've already," He began quickly as the pulsation from Tetsusiaga made him shiver. "Connected." He finished hastily, feeling distinctly uncomfortable as he shifted in his spot. "I'm connected to the sword."

"What?"

"I can feel it when I touch the sword," Inuyasha explained even as the memory threatened to nip at his heels, bothering him to his very core. "It pulses—," He spoke trying to keep his distraction as concealed as possible; luckily his nephew's surprise at his own sword prodigy seemed to do the trick. "It speaks to me as a sword should."

"But—," Takeshi's hands fell to the ground as his mouth opened with disbelief. "You need training and discipline," He stuttered as he tried to comprehend how what he was hearing was even possible. "And practice and t-t-time—and—."

"Meditation?" The older demon spoke the words as if they were a vile substance, latching onto them, allowing them to erase all other words from his brain.

"How'd you know?" The boy whispered as his shoulders slumped completely with the realization that his lesson was futile.

"This kind of thing always takes meditation." Inuyasha shrugged and looked away towards the sword on the ground. Even from here he could feel it somehow, like it was alive. It felt warm and inviting and gentle, a soft heat radiating off of it that he knew only he could feel. "I hate meditating." He muttered but there was no bite in the sword, only gentleness caused by the swords iridescent yet unseen warmth. "So," He licked his lips and looked towards his somewhat peeved looking nephew. "If I'm already connected with the sword, then what's next?"

"Ano—well," Takeshi looked at him as if he had grown another head before shaking his own roughly. "Making it transform."

A vague and rough memory of his father surfaced instantly once again and he shivered. He could just see the burn of the blade as it shinned brightly with fire nearly on its tip. The whole of the sword shimmered and then exploded growing to at least five times its normal size as his father swung it in a high arch.

"Otou-sama—he made it transform when he went into battle." He thought as he blinked slightly, the memory slipping away from him. The older dog demon shook his head, tiredness falling over him in that very moment. "I'm exhausted." He told himself as he rubbed at the back of his neck the tension in his shoulders making him ache all over. "Absolutely exhausted and it's only been maybe an hour." Dropping his hands to the floor, he glanced over at his nephew, already knowing that this could only end in more strain. "Let me guess," Inuyasha turned back towards the sword his eyes narrowing with disdain. "We do that with meditation also."

"Yes." The younger demon nodded his head once sharply, watching as his uncle frowned with distaste.

"Every time." Inuyasha grumbled as he relaxed himself and prepared for the undeniable suffering which was about to incur. "Damn it." He muttered under his breath, the memories of his father flowing throughout his mind, a bright crispness that felt exactly like Tetsusaiga pulsing.

End of Chapter

Please Review

A/N: Here is the next installment. I hope everyone enjoyed it and enjoyed the epic training that is now underway for both Inuyasha and Kagome. And—very soon—there will be a new addition to the group! As well as some comical, you're kind of cousin's jokes. Have a great day and happy reading.

P.S. Another great, brilliant artist has created a picture for this fiction. Liberty of Mind on Deviant Art has made a painting of Kagome with Inuyasha's mark on her shoulder. The painting is named for the chapter, "The Mark of the Dog." It is very well down and captures the significance of the symbol through the artist interpretation quite nicely. So, I would like to extend my thanks for the beautiful piece once more and invite anyone who is interested to go see it.

On another note, there is another great artwork of Kagome made by INU-KAG-LOVE. It is the current icon for this fiction and represents Kagome before she joins Inuyasha's crew, so to speak.

Bonus Point:

How did Sesshoumaru originally lose his arm? (On another note, he does have his arm in this fiction)

Last Chapter's Bonus Point:

Sesshoumaru gave Rin a brand new Kimono (possibly a Yukata)! Congrats to the winners:

HaevenlyEclipse, atem4321, Miketsukame, Mi Ling Chi, RockStarAnimeLover, Asian Delicacy, Everliss the wolf, AiydanWarrior, Cagome, Glon Morski, sesshylovr

Notes:

Gulliver's Travels – A book written by Jonathan Swift (an Irishman and clergyman) in 1726, amended in 1735. In the book, Gulliver visit four races. The first is the Lilliput, tiny people; the next is the Brobdingnag, the giants; the next is the Laputa, who live on a flying island (at this time he also visits the Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Glubbdubdrib, and ironically, Japan); and the last is the Houyhnhnms who look like horses.

Translations:

Watashi wa josan-shidesu. Anata wa oboete imasen ka? – I'm the midwife. Don't you remember?

Chichinokiba – Father's Fang

Akane (the midwife) – Brillant Red

Mariko – child of true reason

Next Chapter:

Goshinboku

See you then!

UNEDITED

POSTED

5/6/2014