I do not own InuYasha or any of the characters created by Rumiko Takahashi
While the men in Tameo's office waited for the headman to return, Toshiro stood up.
"Well that's that," he said. "Both boys have been seen to in a way that makes everybody happy. It's been an interesting experience, friends. May the gods of good fortune make sure it all turns out all right, but now I need to go."
"Leaving already, Toshiro-ojisan?" Susumu asked.
"My daughter-in-law right now . . . well, I want to be home for lunch time. I'm trying to keep the peace there as much as here. Here's hoping we have another girl in the family. I'm not sure if I can handle another grandson." He gave a small bow.
"You're sure you want to leave, Toshiro?" Daitaro asked. "I hear that household of yours is even more . . . interesting than what we're going through here."
"I wouldn't quite say that," the elder said. "But nearly, especially since Sayo-chan can't chase after Daiki and the others like she usually does." He turned to the village guard. "Don't forget, Susumu. Come soon and see me. We'll have a long talk and I'll tell you some stories. But I'd wait until after Sayo's delivered and back on her feet if I were you."
Susumu laughed, and walked the elder to the door. "Tell Yasuo he can always come here for a day or two if it gets too crazy."
"I wouldn't dare. Then I'd have to face that household all by myself," the older man said. And with a final bow and a round of goodbyes, he left.
"Well," Susumu said, sitting back down next to Daitaro, "it looks like we're getting close to the end."
"Merciful Buddha make it so," the old farmer said, shifting in his seat. "I don't mind being here, but I tell you, I'm getting tired of sitting."
"From sitting can come enlightenment," Miroku quipped, putting on his best monk face, half-closed eyes and a look of solemn wisdom. "Thus taught Daruma."
"Tell my feet and butt that," Daitaro replied. "Monks and farmers, we must be built differently."
Miroku laughed. "I'm not so sure about that. I've already told my own posterior that, more than once."
InuYasha not joining in the laughter, looked at the men, a look of confusion knitting his dark eyebrows together as he thought about something totally different.
Miroku, though, noticed. "What's wrong, InuYasha? I know our jokes weren't that bad."
The hanyou looked up, and tilted his head to the side. "I just don't get it. I can understand why I was here so I can approve of Aki working so close to my house, especially after him pranking me as well as you, Daitaro," he said. "But what I don't understand is I need to be here because of Tsuneo." He looked at all the men. "Is it an honor issue?"
Daitaro looked at the hanyou, surprised. "You're not a farmer."
"So?" InuYasha said. "What's that have to do with anything?"
Miroku patted InuYasha on the shoulder."You have to remember, friends, InuYasha had a very different upbringing than you or I," the monk said. "He didn't have a lot of experience with the life of a farming village."
"Neither did you, Bouzu," InuYasha said, his ear flicking. "Being raised in a temple by that old . . . monk, that's not village life either."
"True, true," Miroku conceded. "But I spent a lot more time in villages than you did. "
"I guess," InuYasha said. "You certainly knew how to find the good places to hus . . . visit."
"You really don't know?" Susumu asked.
InuYasha shook his head.
"You are the child of two noble houses," Miroku said. "And you are a warrior. That gives you certain rights."
"Bah," the hanyou said. "Never had any rights anywhere else. I either had to fight or run. Nobody ever acted like I could expect anything from anybody."
"You were never given the blessing of a kami before, either," Daitaro said. "That means nobody here's going to treat you like an outcast. Besides, you're married into our family."
"And warriors, when insulted by farmers have the right to satisfaction," Miroku said. "After what happened yesterday afternoon with Haname attacking Kagome, and Morio, his houseguest, making an attempt to kidnap her, his family has wronged your honor. And because he is head of the family, he is the responsible party. If you wanted, you could demand Haname's or even Tsuneo's head for what happened yesterday, and nobody would complain. Or stop you."
"As if," InuYasha said. He tapped his claws on the wood of the table, obviously uneasy with the discussion. "You just think they wouldn't complain."
"Still, whether you used the right or not, custom demands that Tsuneo be ready to give you satisfaction, up to his own life." Daitaro said. "He's going to want to do something for you, as restitution. Let him."
"He's right," Susumu said, nodding.
"What about you? Do you get to claim this type of stuff?" InuYasha asked. "You carry a sword."
"Well, maybe with some of the low-ranking people here, I might get away with using my sword, but everybody here knows I'm really a farmer who does guard duty. You, they've heard who your parents were. Besides, you're the hero who brought down that youkai who attacked the village, and the man who rescued those children from the bandits. Even if you don't use the privilege, they think of you like they would a warrior."
"Or worse," InuYasha said. "I hear more whispers than you do."
"Eh," Susumu said, shrugging. "They know you aren't a farmer, and carry a sword. Youkai, samurai, they talk about them all. As far as most people are concerned, it doesn't matter if a warrior has youki blood or not. You are both not farmers. You have the right."
Daitaro nodded. "You need to be seen accepting restitution from Tsuneo. Otherwise, you'll be saying his hurt to your honor was too big, and people would be expecting you to take vengeance." He picked up his sake cup, studied it for a moment, and put it down. "That would not be good."
"And with his wife, son and daughter . . . " Susumu said. "Well, you already know how they can talk. Let's be honest. We call you family, but if people are expecting you to take vengeance, whatever fear about your blood that still lingers could be fanned up like a coal in a fire pit."
InuYasha looked at the men surrounding him. "I understand honor. Honor is important. Almost went to hell because of it. Tsuneo didn't do anything to me that would want me to hurt him or his family. I'll do what you think's right. You don't have to worry."
"Well then, take his offer, whatever it is. It's his way of making things right," Miroku said. The hanyou nodded.
"We'll make a villager out of you yet," Daitaro said, smiling. "Or at least, someone who has a right to be here."
"Never thought I'd ever hear anybody tell me that," InuYasha said, looking at his hands. "I still say you people are weird."
Susumu and Daitaro laughed.
Shortly after, the door slid open, and Tameo, Kagome and Tsuneo filed back in.
"Toshiro left?" Tameo asked.
"Thought he shouldn't be away too long with Sayo like she is," Daitaro said.
"No doubt. We all know how . . . lively it is over there," the headman said. "Anyway, even with him gone, I think it's time we finish this up," the headman said. "It's been a long, rough morning. Lunch is almost ready, and I don't know about you, friends, but I'm ready for it."
"Ah, you always were nice to your stomach," Daitaro said.
"Not a bad way to be," Susumu said.
"You do reap the benefits," Daitaro replied, nodding, and laughed.
While they were joking, Kagome sat down by her husband, touching his hand briefly.
"How's the kid?" he asked as she settled down.
"Sleeping," Kagome replied. "It's probably what he needed the most. Where's Kinjiro and Aki-kun?"
"Kinjiro decided he had wasted enough time," Susumu said. "I suspect they're already headed up the hill to get to work."
"So soon?" Kagome asked.
"That's my little brother," Susumu said. He leaned forward on the table. "Never happier than when he can get to work. We'll send someone later to get Aki's things."
"True," Daitaro said, nodding. "At least this time, I don't have to worry about my cattle pens or my brewing."
That made Susumu raise his eyebrows. "I thought you were done with brewing," he said. "Wasn't that supposed to be your last batch for the year?"
The old man shrugged. "It was. But I felt cheated and decided to try one last batch," he said. "Probably taste like swill, but it's a long time until the fall."
This made Miroku grin. "You could always feed it to that bull of yours," the monk suggested.
Susumu held up his hands as if warding off trouble. "Don't give him ideas. We usually have enough trouble with that animal in the spring."
The three men laughed. While this went on, Tameo went to the table and prepared his ink. When it was ready, he picked up his brush, unrolled his scroll, and looked up Tsuneo, who had yet to sit down. "So are you sure you want me to put this in the village record?" he asked. "Does it need to be this formal?"
"I think so," said the elder. "If it's not for you and your family, it'll be there for mine. There will be complaining anyway, and saying you overstepped. You know how they are. A bunch of . . . "
"If you want, friend," Tameo said, cutting the elder off before he said more than he meant to. "Just tell me what you want to go in it." He held his brush over the paper, prepared to write.
Tsuneo took a deep breath. His face was a mask, but it couldn't hide the pain in how he held himself, or the emotion in his eyes. But his voice was clear and steady. "Put in the record that Tsuneo asks forgiveness for all the members of his ko for what they have done against the will of Heaven towards InuYasha-sama and the Miko-sama his wife," he said. His eyes avoided everyone else in the room but Tameo's, and those he held in a tight grip. "And how he asks forgiveness especially for the foolishness of his son in choice of companions and the behavior of his wife who attacked the very people who saved our village three years ago."
He turned to the young couple and bowed. "Please forgive an old man for not putting a stop to all of this."
InuYasha looked at Kagome, confused about what to do next.
Kagome tilted her head and gave the man a sad, understanding look."Tsuneo-sama, it wasn't your fault," Kagome said. "You didn't ask them to do this."
"You're too kind, Kagome-sama, but yes, it is. I knew they were unhappy, and talking badly about you and your husband. I am the head of the family. It was my duty to stop them, but I let them rattle on and didn't pay enough attention to what was going on. Things could have turned out much worse for you yesterday. We are lucky that your family kami had a different idea."
Kagome looked at InuYasha and, laid her hand on his, giving it a small squeeze. He looked at her questioningly, and she gave him an encouraging nod. The hanyou got to his feet, and gave the man a smaller bow. "You are an honorable man, Tsuneo. You've been hurt by this maybe more than me and Kagome. I don't know the right words to say for stuff like this, but I don't have any anger at you, or desire to make your pain any worse. I accept your apology."
He looked back at Kagome, and she smiled up at him. He turned back to Tsuneo. "We can't always control the actions of others. Sometimes, it's enough trouble controlling our own."
"Doesn't mean we don't have the responsibility sometimes," Tsuneo said.
"Yeah," InuYasha said. "Responsibility doesn't always pay attention to stuff like that, no matter what we say or do."
"Well," Tameo said, rewetting his brush as he considered their words. "You all managed to say a mouthful. How should I write this down?" He made the first character, then looked up. "I can say that Tsuneo offered an apology to InuYasha and Kagome-chan because of the unfortunate actions of his wife and his houseguest, and InuYasha accepted them. Trying to write everything you two just said would use more paper than I have here. And my hand would start to ache before I got all that down." He gave a small chuckle. "I'm not even sure I could remember it all."
Tsuneo snorted. "Concise and trying to ease the pain, that's you, Tameo. Well, at least what matters will be in the record. You make a good headman." He turned back to InuYasha.
"I hear you have wood that needs splitting into boards and a shed to be built. Let me take charge of that. It'd make me feel better if I could do something to make up for all the trouble my family put you through. Maybe that'll get it through their heads that I accept you. You're a good man, InuYasha-sama. Maybe one day, the rest of my ko will learn it too."
"I was going to need help with that anyway," InuYasha said. "I've got three down trees for boards. Do you think you can get Choujiro to help? Kinjiro told me he was the best."
This, for some reason, made Tsuneo laugh, and the elder sat down. "Kinjiro, eh? Seems my karma's all twisted up with that young sprout. Oh, I don't think there'll be any problem with that. I'll come see you in a couple of days and we can get started."
"You want me to enter that as well?" Tameo said.
"In recompense, Tsuneo and his ko will cut boards and build a storage shed for InuYasha-sama," Tameo said as he wrote. He looked up. "What if InuYasha doesn't have enough wood?"
"Put it down that we'll make up the difference," the elder said.
"Contract things," Miroku said, as InuYasha looked up surprised. "This is in case anybody else in the family complains if you don't have enough trees cut. You'd be amazed at how family members can fight over the stupidest things."
"Feh," InuYasha said, crossing his arms. "You know my brother. Don't have to tell me that."
Tameo put his brush down with a contented sigh, and blew lightly on the paper to help the ink dry. "Well, friends, I do believe we've got all our business done. Anybody ready for lunch?"
"Lunch?" Daitaro asked. "Not a drink?"
"Lunch," Tameo said. "Fish stew. I think I'd rather eat first."
Tsuneo shook his head. "Thanks, but I want to go check on Haname. She's got a lot to deal with, and I don't want some gossip to break the news to her." He sighed. "I suspect my household's going to be a mess for a while. I'm probably needed there. Sometimes, I wonder why Akina doesn't run back home to her parents. Who knows, with Morio and everything else, this might be the last stroke. Aki was more than she could handle, but . . . "
"Kaede-obaasan was going to send Haname home today," Kagome said. "The last dose of medicine she took made her sleep, but Kaede expected her to go home after she woke up."
"I'll check there first, then." He gave her a small smile. "Thank you. After all that happened . . . " Tsuneo looked up at InuYasha. "You are a person worth knowing, and your wife is a good woman. I'm glad to have gotten to know you better. I just wish . . . "
"Keh," the hanyou said, nodding. "I understand."
Daitaro turned around and leaned an arm on the table, looking ready to stand up. "Want some company?" .
Tsuneo shook his head. "Better not this time. Haname still blames you for that time Joben fell off the roof. As bad off as she is now, and with so much she's going to have to chew on, I think maybe another time. Tell that son of yours that it's about time he got married. I wish them well." He gave the old farmer a small smirk. "Wouldn't want to interfere with you giving Chime the news about what to expect."
Daitaro took a deep breath. "There is that . . . "
Tsuneo walked toward the door. Before he left, he turned and said, "I'll come by in a day or two to see how Isao's doing and how Aki's holding up."
Miroku stood up. "If you don't mind, Tsuneo-sama, I'll go with you. I can say sutras for your wife. I know she takes some comfort from them."
Tsuneo looked at the monk knowingly, and gave a small laugh. "Just prayers? Don't know if you're going to find anybody for your roofing party at my place - maybe Chiya-chan's husband or my other nephew. But yes, if you want to pray for my poor wife, you can certainly do that. She seems to like you for some reason, as much as she dislikes your partner. Anything that can smooth the rest of the day would be a good thing."
He stepped through the door, Miroku, with a nod to InuYasha and Kagome, following quickly behind him.
InuYasha looked at Kagome, and gestured toward the door. She nodded. "I think we'll be going home as well." Kagome stood up.
"Not surprised, cousin," Tameo said. "I am sorry all this happened, and how you got dragged into it. But maybe it'll all turn out for the better."
"Maybe," InuYasha said.
Kagome nodded. "I'll come by later to see how Isao is doing.".
"Hisa's good at doctoring things like this," Tameo said. "With my boys, she had lots of practice. If you don't make it back today, that's not a problem."
With some final goodbyes, the two left.
"One wild morning," Susumu said.
"I'd say so," Daitaro said. "Hope Hisa didn't make too much stew."
Tameo laughed. "I hope you have an appetite."