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

Chapter 123

Kagome watched Tameo and Susumu walk off to the field beyond the wood lot. Tameo had begun singing his song about sake again and Susumu just shook his head as the two men moved past the trees and out of sight. InuYasha moved closer and rested his hand on her shoulder.

"I bet Susumu's cousin Koichi's going to be shocked that Tameo actually managed to get Susumu out to work in the fields today," he said, grinning at Kagome.

She turned to face him, not laughing at his little joke. "I bet," she nodding.

InuYasha slid his arm across her shoulder, surprised at her reaction. "Something wrong?"

Her brows were knit together like she was trying to figure something out. "I think I'm confused. What was Tameo-ojiisan talking about? He was trying to tell me something earlier, but got interrupted. And this just now - something about you and Susumu and the village watch?"

"You heard right," InuYasha said, shaking his head. "That was what Susumu was doing all morning, trying to convince me to agree to join it." He barked a short laugh, then gave Kagome a wry, amused grin. "Don't know who's more confused, you at not understanding what was going on, or him for asking. Hard to believe that he's the same guy who stood next to Kaede the day I woke up and looked at me like . . . well, like he didn't know which was worse, me or that centipede youkai, or which one to attack. And now look what he wants me to do."

"I seem to remember he led a pretty brave fight against the centipede woman," Kagome said, leaning her head against his shoulder. "It's kind of hazy though. That was such a crazy day. I was too busy trying to get away from her to pay a lot of attention to who did what." She looked up at him and grinned. "And there was this rude guy pinned to a tree who seemed to think I was someone else."

InuYasha snorted. "Crazy, huh? I'd call it crazy. One moment, I thought I had died, and then there I was, trying to figure out what had happened and wondered how I was going to get free, and all of a sudden there was this beautiful girl pulling my hair as the centipede attacked. Still, I did get a look at Susumu during all of that. Never would have guessed that day that he'd think that I'd be someone he wanted to help defend the village."

"I never would have guessed that the rude boy who took a swipe at me trying to get the jewel that day would be the man I would grow up to fix lunch for today, either," Kagome said. "A lot of things have changed since that day. You hungry?"

"I'm getting there," InuYasha said, nodding. He gently took her by the shoulders, leaning forward to kiss her forehead, then let one arm drop until he captured her hand, and gave it a little squeeze. "Yeah, a lot has changed. Funny how that works."

Kagome intertwined her fingers with his. "I take it he got you to agree," she said. "Tameo-ojiisan seemed rather happy."

"Yeah." InuYasha shrugged. "It just sort of seemed to be the right thing to do. But I'm waiting to see how the rest of the village reacts. There's Seiji. I bet he's going to make some noise, especially after last year."

"He might, but who would agree with him?" This time she gave his hand a squeeze in return. "I get the impression people got angry about how he almost got those kids lost to the bandits. And besides, all three of the important elders seem to respect you. I'm sure Tameo-ojiisan and Susumu will handle any ripples just fine. You worry too much. From what I can't tell, Tameo is pretty on top of what the village can handle, and knows how to deal with people pretty well."

"Keh," the hanyou said. "I guess you're right. We'll find out soon enough. So, what's for lunch?"

"Pickles," Kagome said. She began walking.

"Pickles, eh? I bet that's not all. You always want more than that." He hurried after her.

Going home, they retraced the route InuYasha and Susumu had taken earlier. Before they had gotten very far, they had reached Kaede's garden patch. Rin, Iya and another girl Kagome didn't know were sitting at the far end of the field.

They had evidently given up gardening for the moment, and sat in a circle, talking, their gardening tools untouched. The girl Kagome didn't know gestured about something, and all three girls broke out in the giggles.

"Kaede-obaasan said Rin-chan would probably spend the day with Iya-chan," Kagome said, waving to the girls. "But who's that other girl with them?"

"That's Tazu, Hiroyo's youngest girl," InuYasha said. "From what I hear, she's almost as bad at teasing as Miroku."

As if on cue, the girls broke into another fit of the giggles.

"Looks like they're doing more than gardening," InuYasha said, his ear flicking in their direction. There was a basket with azalea blossoms and other things in it next to their garden tools. "Those flowers didn't grow in that patch."

"You know Rin-chan and flowers," Kagome said, amused. "Does it surprise you?"

"No," the hanyou said. "But they're so busy laughing, I'm wondering when they had the time to do it."

Rin finally looked up and noticed the pair. She waved as the other two girls turned around to see. She almost got up, but, but before she could, Iya whispered something in her ear. For some reason this made the girl blush, and after Iya repeated it to the third girl, all three began to giggle once again.

Kagome stopped for a second and looked at the girls. "Now what was that about?"

InuYasha shrugged. "Couldn't make it all out." He crossed his arms and put his hands in his sleeves. "Something about Rin liking only silver hair . . . "

"Should I be jealous?" Kagome asked, chuckling as she resting her hand on his arm and leaning in closer. The two began walking again.

"Feh," InuYasha said, his ear twitching. "Not me she has eyes for. I'm just her ojisan."

"You don't mean . . . " Kagome said, then shook her head. "Surely he hasn't . . . ?"

The hanyou shrugged. "There's something between the two of'em. It's not physical or anything. I'm not exactly sure what the bond is though. Nothing lights her eyes up brighter than when my bastard of a brother finally shows his face. But what it means to him, who knows? A pet, maybe? She matters to him, that's all I can say. Never have figured out why he let her follow him all that time."

Kagome turned her head and looked back at the girls, chewing on her lip thoughtfully. She took a breath, shook her head and decided it was time to change the subject. "So what did Susumu say he wanted you to do for the village watch?"

"He was talking about how the guards take turns doing night watch. Thought I'd be good at it," InuYasha said. He flicked an ear as a buzzing insect circled around it. "Wonder if he knows how well I see in the dark?" With a sudden move, he grabbed the bug, opened his hand, and watched it fly off. "Let that be a lesson to you, fly."

This made Kagome smile. "The man who slays big monsters letting a fly go." She leaned her head against his shoulder, then suddenly, she pulled back and stopped.

"What's wrong?" the hanyou asked, surprised.

"Night watch," Kagome said, looking up at him with knitted brows. "You take turns. For how long?"

"They change whoever's doing it every ten day," he said, tilting his head to the side as he watched her reaction. "Is there something wrong? You don't want me to make the rounds? If you're nervous, you can stay with Kaede-babaa those nights until I'm done."

"That's not it," Kagome said. "The moon. What about . . . "

He gave her a cocky grin. "I told him I had obligations on the full and the new moon. Didn't tell him what. Susumu seemed all right with it. I guess he thought it was a youkai thing or something." He lifted up his hand and brushed his thumb along her cheek. "He said I'd probably get the middle ten day."

"Well it is a youkai thing, sort of," Kagome said, looking at him approvingly. "Or at least a hanyou thing. That was clever, adding the full moon."

"I had my reasons," the hanyou said, arching his eyebrow and giving her a sultry smirk.

"Oh?" Kagome said. She lifted one eyebrow, wondering about the look he was giving her. "Something I don't know about?"

InuYasha, who, looking around and seeing nobody around, pulled her into a hug, his hand pulling her firmly against him. His voice dropped, and she could feel his breath. "You'll see."

"Oh?" she said, catching his drift. "Why didn't I notice last full moon?"

"You did," InuYasha said. His smirk got even sultrier. "Remember that touch homework?"

Kagome's eyes got big, and she pushed him away a bit. "No wonder we ended up like that. Why didn't you say anything? I could have put it off a day."

He let her loose, amused by her reaction."You think I knew that was going to happen?" he said. "Never been married before. Hells, never had been with a woman before. And everything was new and you had just started working with Kaede-babaa, and so much had gotten piled on us so fast that I even forgot it was the full moon." He raised his fingers to her cheek and brushed his thumb along the tender skin there. "I didn't know it was going to hit me like that. Until it hit me like that."

Kagome sucked on her lip a moment, but her eyes warmed. "Is it going to be that way every month?"

"Not sure. Maybe," he said. "My youki's always been a little stronger then. Does it bother you?"

The corners of her lip turned up. It was not quite a smirk, but what it suggested to InuYasha made him take a deep breath. She reached up and gave him a quick peck on the chin. "We better get home. This talk is making me hungry."

"Just for lunch?" he asked. His eyes glinted with something more than just wanting his next meal.

Kagome pulled away and sighed. "Food's about all we have time for. It looks like it's going to be a busy afternoon."

He joined her in sighing. "Yeah. But at least you won't have to listen to Miroku's jokes."

"There is that," she said.

As they made their way down the dyke between rice paddies, Kagome pointed out a small group of men who were standing around a hand cart near where the road up the hill began.

"That's not Kinjiro's cart, is it?" the miko asked.

"Don't think so," InuYasha said. He looked towards the older miko's house. "No, he's still at Kaede-babaa's."

"I wonder why they're there," she said.

"Well, that is the way to Miroku's temple," InuYasha said.

She looked up at him. "So soon? It's not even lunch time yet."

"I heard they're going to have lunch for the workers," InuYasha said. "That means Eijii's wife Kichi and Isamu's wife Yaya probably won't be at Hisa's today."

"I don't think I know either of them," she said. "How'd this happen?"

"Something Chiya volunteered to arrange," the hanyou said. "But I haven't heard anything about her helping."

"Huh," Kagome said. "Maybe with everything that's happened with her mother . . . "

"Maybe," InuYasha replied.

As they walked up to the road, one of the men waved at them. "Ah, Miko-sama, InuYasha-sama, it's a fine day, isn't it?"

"What are you doing hanging around here, Ryota?" InuYasha said. "I thought you'd have enough of me and roofs by now."

"Ah, Houshi-sama was persuasive," Ryota said. "And my Maki . . . I'm not sure what she has planned for this afternoon, but she wanted me gone." He shrugged. "Between the two of them, I had no chance."

"Maybe she just didn't want to feed you lunch." An older, but well-built man stood next to him, one hand resting on the hand cart. "As much as you eat, maybe she thought it was a good idea to let the Buddha feed you today."

"What do you know, Eiji?" Ryota said, grinning. "I've seen how much you eat."

"Eh, you just like my woman's cooking," Eiji said. The group laughed.

"Are you going to the temple now?" Kagome asked. "We could walk with you part way."

"Alas, Miko-sama, we're still waiting on my ever-slow brother," Eiji said. "Haruo will be late the day he goes to join the kami."

"Sounds smart, if you ask me," Ryota said. "Bet it's his wife. She always gets busy making cakes for Hisa when they have one of these things. And if he had to take them there, no telling what happened."

Eiji snickered. "I'd rather roof than get caught with that job. We'll see you later, Miko-sama. And you, sooner, InuYasha-sama. Are you going to be there for lunch?"

InuYasha's ear flicked, not sure of how to answer it. He crossed his arms.

Kagome looked up at him, and picked up on his unease. "Not this time."

"Keh." InuYasha nodded, and gave Kagome a smile. "Going home to eat my own woman's cooking. It's worth it."

Ryota laughed. "Ah, newlyweds. Have a good time. We'll see you when you get there."

Bowing their farewells, Kagome and InuYasha headed up the hill.