I do not own InuYasha or any of the characters created by Rumiko Takahashi

Chapter 113

Once properly dressed in his jacket, InuYasha looked at the sky judging the time, and decided to go down to the river to fish and give Kagome a little more opportunity to spend with Sango before he went and got her.

He was a familiar sight down by the riverbank. The local boys, if any of them showed up, always found it fascinating how he would start his fishing by searching along the willows and weeds lining the river bank looking for the places where fish were likely to gather. Once he was on the prowl, a small group would start to gather to watch him as he checked his favorite fishing holes. Having spotted his prey, the hanyou would carefully move downstream and, silently slip into the water, or sometimes lie on the edge of the bank, and then with a lightning quick move of his hands, grab and pop the fish out of the water. Sometimes, he even managed to tickle it in. It was all very fascinating, and occasionally one of the boys managed a similar feat, and would brag about it to his friends, how he caught a fish InuYasha-style.

This time, three boys gathered to watch him work this magic, staying back far enough from the stream not to accidently spook the fish. The hanyou was lying on the bank next to his favorite fishing hole, where an undercut bank was also partially sheltered by a willow. He looked at the boys for a minute, grinning, then very carefully moved forward into position, his hand in the water.

The boys were not disappointed. A minute or two later there was a splash as he lifted his hand and pulled out a nice-sized fish to join another already waiting.

"That's a big one, InuYasha-sama!" said Akemi, one of the village boys who had a reputation for being a good fish catcher himself.

"Yeah, it is," he said, as he dispatched it before tying a willow branch through its mouth so he could carry it home.

"How'd you learn to fish like that?" one of the other boys asked. He was about thirteen, and belonged to someone on Takeshi's side of the village. He didn't stop to watch often, but his muddy knees showed that he had already been out to the fields already, and was taking a break.

"Got hungry," InuYasha replied. "You can learn a lot when you're hungry."

"I get hungry too, but I've never been able to catch one that way," the boy said. "Easier to pull weeds."

"Maybe I was hungrier than you," InuYasha replied. "And there weren't any weeds for me to pull to get my dinner."

Akemi nodded sagely and punched his friend in the arm. "You'll never learn to sneak up on a fish like that. I know you, Jiro. You're too noisy. Better use a line if you want any fish."

"Bah," the third boy said. "You just got a swelled head because you managed to tease a fish out of water last week. But your otousan doesn't keep you working like Jiro's does."

"Neither does yours. What's your excuse?" Akemi answered, giving the boy a hard look. "I've seen you fish."

"Bet it took some practice learning not to spook'em," Jiro said. He gave the two other boys a shove. "Better not get into a fight over something as stupid as who's too noisy to fish."

"It did take some practice. I got pretty hungry before I figured that one out," InuYasha replied. "Took me a while before I realized how well they see what's going on along the river bank."

InuYasha looked up as he heard a jingle of brass rings, and watched Miroku walk up to the boys. "Not everybody has the same gifts," the monk said to the boys. "That's why there's more than one way to catch a fish."

"Your way is the driest," InuYasha said, looking up at his friend.

"Dry?" Jiro asked.

"He buys'em from a fisherman," InuYasha said, standing up, and walking over to the monk. "See you later, boys. I'm going to take this home."

Miroku followed him toward the hill. "You have several young admirers, it seems."

The hanyou shrugged. "People fishing talk the same language. You're heading home?"

The monk nodded. "I didn't have as much to do in the village today."

"Ah," InuYasha said. "So that means you're free to come pester me?"

"Actually, I was thinking about lunch," Miroku said. "I just happened to see you. It's hard to miss when you go fishing. It seems you always get a few boys to watch."

"At least those boys aren't getting into trouble," InuYasha said. "I wonder how Kinjiro's managing with that stupid baka today."

"I got a glimpse of them, but didn't stop to talk," Miroku said, shaking his head. "They were working in one of the fields. I don't think Kinjiro's ready to trust Aki. He was still wearing that leg chain. It would be nice if he'd settle down and behave before his obaasan sees him. She's not doing well. And that won't help at all."

InuYasha shrugged. "For a kid who dreams of never having to work, he's sure learning the hard way about what work feels like," the hanyou said, shifting the fish to his other hand. "But as tough as Kinjiro is, it's not as hard as the lesson Aki would have learned if he had really gotten away and lost in the woods the other day. Bandits, youkai, hunger are harder teachers."

Miroku looked at InuYasha, and saw the introspective look in the hanyou's eyes. "It sounds like you know what that's like from first hand experience."

InuYasha's ear twitched. "Keh," he said. "It was a long time ago. Don't want to talk about it. Just glad he didn't have to find out."

They walked together, not saying much else, both lost somewhere deep in thought, until they reached the turnoff to Miroku's place. The monk was surprised when InuYasha followed him.

"You're coming to my place?" he asked.

"Kagome went there," InuYasha explained.

"You have to promise me something then," Miroku said.

"What is it, Bouzu?" InuYasha looked at him carefully. "You've been acting kind of weird since we began walking up the hill."

The monk shrugged. "After dealing with Haname and Morio, I need to do some meditation. If you go and get Kagome right away, everybody will come pouring out and I won't get a chance. I need you to give me a few minutes of quiet while I do it."

"I guess," InuYasha said, looking at his friend oddly. "But I'm not going to wait all day to get my wife and go home for lunch."

"No, no, It won't take long. It's just that . . . you know what it was like seeing what happened to that man."

"Morio?" the hanyou said.

Miroku nodded, frowning. "What happened to him . . . disturbs me."

"Feh," InuYasha replied. "I think it disturbs everybody who sees him."

"So you see my problem," the monk said.

"Yeah, yeah." InuYasha held up his catch. "Just remember, I've got fish here that need to get home."

As they reached Miroku's homestead, InuYasha taking up a post under one of the trees, a bit away from the building, and Miroku sat on a sunny spot not far from the window. He took a meditative pose, eyes half lidded, feet in a lotus position, hands cupped in the proper position for someone about to do serious meditation.

It was a calm day, with only a little breeze. Outside of some bird chattering in the distance, and the faint voice of the women inside, it was quiet. For a short time, Miroku held his position, his breathing soft and regular, tuning out the world. But after a peal of laughter came out of the house, the monk raised an eyebrow.

InuYasha's ears tracked the sound, hearing the women talk, and he frowned. "You're sure you shouldn't move further away from the house?"

Miroku looking up at his friend, shook his head and resumed his meditative demeanor. He held his concentration for a few minutes, but the discussion drifting out of the window began to win. Little by little, Miroku tilted his head towards the sound.

"And then Erime told her mother about finding Tama in the woods alone with Shigeo," Sango said. The voice was loud and clear, like she was near the window.

There was a rattle of china, as if Sango was picking up dishes.

"Shigeo?" Kagome asked.

Sango must have moved even closer, because her voice was quite loud. "Oh, it's been quite a sad story. Takeshi really doesn't approve of Shigeo's father, but he and Tama evidently have been lovesick for each other for over a year."

"She's so young," Kagome said.

"Not any younger than you were when you fell for InuYasha," Sango said.

A small smile touched the monk's lips. InuYasha snorted. Miroku shook his head, took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. Right after that, one of the twins squealed.

"Hush, baby. Don't bother your brother," Sango said.

"Rin will hold him, Sango-obasan," the girl's young voice said. She began to sing a lullaby, very soft and low. Miroku took a deeper breath, and let it out even more slowly.

Someone walked across the room to the cabinet. They could hear drawer being pulled open, then closed.

"That's one of the reasons his father arranged for him to be apprenticed to a fisherman down on the coast. He's supposed to leave in two days. And with everybody busy getting ready for Erime's wedding, evidently, she decided to sneak off to meet with him." Sango's voice wavered between sad and disapproving.

"And after she promised not to," Rin said. "That's what Kaede-obaasan said."

"They had to see each other one last time?" Kagome asked. "I'm not surprised."

The monk nodded.

"Her family's been worried about her," Sango said. "Since they announced that he was going away, she'd been rather sad and staying to herself."

Noriko did something her sister didn't like, because Yusuko yelled a very clear "No. Mine!"

At his seat near the window, Miroku winced and the sound. InuYasha, getting tired of watching the monk in a losing battle to stay focused, was irritated. "You should move, Bouzu."

Miroku half-closed his eyes. "Form is emptiness, emptiness, form," he said softly, but made no sign he was moving.

"It's hard being kept away from the one you care about," Kagome said. Her voice was sad but sympathetic. "I know exactly what that feels like."

"Noriko, leave your sister's toy alone!" Sango said. "I hear that Takeshi went and had a long talk with Shigeo's father after they were caught yesterday. I don't know who said what, but maybe the two of them will get lucky and there'll be a wedding soon."

The baby started crying, and Sango evidently picked him up. "He's probably hungry. I better feed him."

"Okaasan will take care of you, Naoya" Rin said.

Miroku sighed. The hanyou, at the end of his patience, gave his friend a sharp look.

"Hey, Bouzu, you listen to this type of stuff a lot. How do they find so much to talk about?" InuYasha asked. He made no effort to keep his voice soft; in fact it was loud enough to be heard in the house.

Miroku turned his head and looked at the window, then he looked back at his friend. "It's a woman's gift," he replied. "I know that I could never compete."

"You're joking, aren't you?" InuYasha said. "You forget, I've heard you rattle around before."

"Teaching, maybe," Miroku said, ignoring InuYasha's look of disapproval. "A monk is supposed to do that. That is why I find it a good thing to come out here and meditate."

"More likely so you can eavesdrop, just like you're doing now," InuYasha said. "If you were serious, why'd you sit where you could hear them?"

As soon as InuYasha began speaking, the conversation inside quieted. A door slid open and Sango walked out, followed by Kagome. "Eavesdropping again? Perhaps that means it's time we start talking about you, husband."

She handed the monk her son. "I hear you had a long meeting with Chiya-sama yesterday afternoon. Want to tell us about it? It couldn't have just been to say prayers for her mother."

Miroku looked honestly shocked, glancing at his wife, and then at InuYasha, who was stifling a laugh. "The temple roof, dear Sango. I was talking to her husband about helping out tomorrow, and she gave a small donation towards the new statue of Jizo we're going to get. That's all."

"That better be all the help she's giving," Sango said, giving him a meaningful look.

"But Sango, my dearest, you know . . . " Miroku said.

"I know that you shouldn't be eavesdropping, husband. Watch the children while I fix lunch."

"Of course, of course," Miroku said. Looking a bit dazed, he stood up and grabbed one of his daughters who was coming out to see what was happening.

"And I need to go home and do the same," Kagome said. "I'll come by tomorrow after lunch and we can go to Hisa-obaasan's tomorrow."

"You're sure she told you for me to bring the girls?" Sango asked, her voice a bit unsure.

"More than once. We'll have a good time," Kagome said. "Better than watching the men work on the temple roof."

"I suspect you're right about that one," Sango said, laughing.