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

Chapter 128

While the men worked at discovering the damage under the temple roof, the women at Hisa's sewing party continued with their stitching. Kagome's just completed kosode for InuYasha was passed around the room for luck, although as each of the more experienced women examined it, Kagome wondered how much luck she was going to have getting everybody's scent out of the new garment before her husband would want to wear it. Still, the comments on the quality of the work made her happy.

After the shirt returned back to her, she carefully folded it and placed it back into her work basket, and frowned, tapping a finger against her lip as she wondered what to do next.

Fujime noticed her hesitation. "So, Kagome-chan," the older woman said, "Are you going to start a new piece of sewing or just watch all of us while we work on ours? We'd all love to hear more about that strange place you grew up at."

Kagome swallowed, knowing she couldn't say much about the future, and thinking quickly, put her basket in her lap and began pulling out the length of plain linen she had brought for towels. "I thought I would finish before we were done, so I brought some other material to work on. I still don't have enough towels yet." She laid the fabric down and got out her scissors out of the basket, and moved the container aside so she could start cutting, but Hisako, watching spied the dark-blue fabric Kagome had also brought peeking out of the top of the basket, and moved closer to have a better look.

"What's that piece of cloth for?" she said, touching it. "It looks very nice."

The young miko blushed a little for some reason, and pulled it out. "InuYasha bought it for me. He told me to bring it today because I ought to be making something nice for myself."

"Ah, a good-hearted husband," Akiko said. "It's nice to see that he wants you to have pretty things as well as practical. So many men don't seem to appreciate that. Hold it up."

Shyly, Kagome lifted up the fabric. It was dark blue with white blossoms trimmed with red scattered across it.

"He bought you that, without you asking for it?" Fujime asked, looking on approvingly, and a little surprised.

Kagome nodded. "The last market day."

"Good taste well as a good heart," Chime said. "You don't know how unusual that is in a young man."

"True, true," Fujime said. "That will made a lovely kosode. Why haven't you cut it out yet?"

"Okaasan, you heard her. She just sewed her first under kosode," Akiko said, putting down her own sewing.

"I remember cutting out my first kosode," Hisa said, picking up her own sewing basket. She smiled at Kagome as she lifted out her own work. "It was red and blue. My mother had bought it for my coming of age. I was so afraid of not making the design match."

"Is it hard?" Kagome asked. "Getting the pattern to match? I've never tried to do that before."

"With a design like this?" Sango said, brushing her fingers over a white blossom. "You need to be careful where the fold for the shoulder goes. Once you've lined it up like that, it's not too hard. It can be worse with a plaid pattern. There are so many places you can get out of alignment."

"Even that's not too hard," Chime said. She lay her own work across her lap, ran her hand along the seam she was sewing, and feeling, satisfied, picked it back up to take another stitch.

"Speak for yourself, Okaasan," Erime said, holding up the piece she was working on. "Sometimes the stripes aren't woven as evenly or as straight as they should be."

"True, true," Chime replied, patting her daughter-in-law-to-be's arm, and giving her an amused smile. "Although I believe you were the one who wove that cloth."

"Too true," the younger woman said with a slightly woeful look. "But do you think he will like it?"

"Of course he will," Mariko said. "Even if it's not perfect. Knowing Shinjiro, I'm not sure he'd even notice."

Some of the women chuckled at Mariko as Kagome looked at the fabric and chewed on her bottom lip, studying the design. "I don't know if I even know where to start."

Hisa gave her a smile, and reached over to pat her hand. "Would you like us to help you?"

The younger woman looked up, as if surprised by the offer, and gave the older woman a big smile. "That would be lovely!"

"That's what we're here for," Hisako said. "Not just to tease each other and drink all of Hisa's tea. Just like you were there to help me this morning. Don't be afraid to ask when you need help."

Kagome nodded, then handed the cloth to Hisa, who began folding it looking for the best place to begin.

While the women got up and moved around the length of cloth and discussed the best way to cut Kagome's kosode, the men at Miroku's temple also were kneeling down and looking, but instead of fine cloth, they were examining the roof, pulling boards that showed too much damage and that might be hiding leaks.

Ryota had made it up on the roof and was looking down at Miroku. "So how many places were you getting water from?"

"Four places," the monk said. "Does that mean there are only four bad boards?"

"Maybe," the foreman said. "Sometimes, though, the water gets tricky, and moves between the sheathing and the top and travels a bit before dripping. But that gives us an idea."

"This one has to go," Shinjiro said, tapping one of the boards. "Look how rotten it's getting." He began pulling it up.

InuYasha sat on the roof next to him, helping as the young farmer lifted it up. Their side of the roof now had five boards pulled up, and piece by piece the damage to the sheathing that was underneath the questionable boards began to be revealed.

"Ah," said Ryota, bending over the latest removal. "Look here. You definitely had a leak here." He pointed out the damage to the sheathing wood, where rings of discoloration had eaten through the clay used as sealer. It had sagged from where the water would push it down."This was a big one. Just look where the water's been getting through." InuYasha and Shinjiro looked at the damage. "There must have been a gap or crack in the board that covered it, even before it started rotting."

He turned the board over that Shinjiro had just pulled, and ran his finger down a long crack. "Who picked out this board? I'm glad I didn't work on this job. I'd be too ashamed to show my face on a roof again."

Shinjiro shrugged. "Don't remember who laid which board where. We were busy all over the village after the storm."

"Keh," the hanyou said, running a clawed fingertip over it. Rot had gotten into the bottom layer as well. "So what next?"

"We're going to have to patch this section," the foreman said. "Too much damage. Just replastering it won't be good enough." He scooted to the edge of the roof. "We need some sheathing," he said.

Genjo, Shinjiro's younger brother looked up. "It's that bad?"

"Yeah," Ryota said. "InuYasha, you want to get rid of that rotten piece? It's only good for firewood now. Too much rot to salvage."

The hanyou nodded.

"It's heavy," Shinjiro warned as InuYasha picked it up.

"Not too bad," InuYasha said. Balancing it on his shoulder, he leapt easily to the ground with it.

Shinjiro looked down at him. "Man, if we all could do that, ladder makers would be out of work."

InuYasha grinned up at him.

"Bring up the saw, will you?" Shinjiro asked Susumu, who was also on the ground. "I think Masu had it over on the other side."

Susumu, who was mixing up roofing sealer in a big tub, looked up. "Want some help cutting a hole?"

"Maybe," Shinjiro said.

Susumu nodded, dropped his paddle, and moved around to the far side of the building, passing by where his father and Daitaro sat in the shade, watching all the activity.

"He is handy with tools, that son of yours" Daitaro said, watching the younger man tease Isamu as he moved around the building before he disappeared out of sight. "He seems to like stirring the plaster well enough."

"Paddles, saws, bows . . . just another type of weapon," Tameo replied. "Put something like that in his hands, and he knows what to do with it, almost like an instinct."

"Unless it's a hoe," Daitaro said.

"Oh, he's good with that, too," Tameo said, grinning. "He'd just rather use other things." He took a sip of tea, and frowned when he realized it was too cold.

"Looks like they got one of the leaks" Miroku said, joining the two older men. "And that one was the worst. Every time it rained I had a tub under it."

"Sounds like it. That's the problem when so many roofs go bad at once, after a storm," the headman said. "Not enough time to do it all right. And although this is small for a temple, it's bigger than a lot of the houses here."

Miroku looked at the building that InuYasha referred to as a shack. It was bigger than many of the smaller houses including the hanyou's, even if smaller than the hondou he had lived at with Mushin, and nodded. "One day, we'll reroof it in tile," Miroku said, "like a proper temple."

Tameo snorted. "Maybe. If you get somebody like the magistrate at the crossroads or the daimyo down at Odawara to donate," he said. "Not a lot of money in a bunch of farmers."

"You might be right," Miroku replied, sighing. "Still, shingles are a step forward."

"It will look different," Daitaro said, nodding. "I think you have to get down to Edo or back east to find another shingled building."

"Hey, InuYasha!" Shinjiro said, watching InuYasha dump the rotten wood into the discard pile. Genjo was struggling to get the thin material to the ladder. "You want to bring that sheathing up? A bit more than my little brother can handle."

The hanyou nodded, took it from the younger man, and ignoring the ladder, leapt up to the roof with it.

"It's rather interesting watching him work, don't you think?" Tameo said. "I know I never thought after seeing how he acted the first time I saw him after Kagome-chan let him free that he'd ever turn out to be so . . . handy."

"He's a good worker," Daitaro said, nodding. "Just because he has that sword doesn't take that away from him. More than I can say for a lot of those type."

Miroku sat down next to them. "People often underestimate my friend, but he's always been quite capable, once he decides to do something."

Suddenly, there was a shout as someone near the roof ridge lost his grip and sent a board over the ridge, and it began to careen towards where Shinjiro and the others were working. InuYasha pulled Ryota out of the way before it could hit him, but after the hanyou let the foreman go, he took a step back and suddenly, the place he was standing on cracked, and losing his footing, InuYasha tumbled to the ground, landing on his back with a loud oomph.

"Damn," Tameo said, getting up. "Is he hurt?"

"InuYasha? A little fall like that?" Miroku said, shaking his head. He didn't bother to move.

Still, the headman walked over to the downed hanyou, along with several of the other men at the site.

Ryota looked nervously over the edge of the roof. "You, hurt, InuYasha? For someone who has no fear of heights, I don't think roofs like you."

InuYasha sat up, and looked up. "I'm beginning to think you're right." He got up, surprising Tadaki and Genjo, who had rushed over to help.

"You're not hurt?" Tadaki asked.

The hanyou shook his head. "Takes a lot more than that to slow me down," he said.

"Maybe not you, but your shirt didn't like it," Genjo said.

Looking down, InuYasha noticed his sleeve. The little tear he had earlier from the bird attack had lengthened, almost the distance of his sleeve. "Damn. Kagome's going to kill me."

"If that fall didn't wind you, much less hurt, I can't see what that wife of yours could do," Tameo said.

"You must have forgotten what she's like when she's mad," InuYasha replied. "Even youkai like my brother don't want to mess with her when she's like that."

While InuYasha got up and dusted off, Yurime, Choujiro's wife showed up with Matsume, and joined in with the discussion of what to do to show off the flower pattern. It was pleasant chatter, and finally everybody was happy with how the new kosode would look. Hisa and Akiko did the actual cutting, explaining just how they would handle the matching.

Finally it was done.

"See," Hisako said. "This is what we do for each other."

Kagome, folding the two cut out sleeves, smiled. "If I forget before I get it finished, can I come over to ask?"

"You can come over any time," Hisa said. "And you, too, Sango-chan. It makes the work go faster."

"Unless you're my okaasan," Erime said.

Hisa chuckled. "Your okaasan always had to do things differently."

Just as Kagome had finished folding and putting away most of the pieces, and began threading her needle to start the first seam, a shadow fell across the front door.

Koume's daughter Nahoi stood at the door. "Excuse me, Hisa-sama. I didn't mean to disturb your sewing party. Is my mother here?"

Hisa turned to look at the door. "Yes, yes. Come in. If you have the time, sit down and have some tea."

Nahoi stepped in. "Ah, there you are, Okaasan. I was hoping . . . "

"I told you where I was going," Koume said, frowning, and not looking up from her sewing. "Come and sit down if you want to work. Otherwise . . . "

"I've brought someone with me," Nahoi said, slipping out of her sandals. "I hope it's all right."

As she moved inside, another woman stepped up behind her. "I heard you were having another one of your sewing days, Hisa," the newcomer said. "I was surprised I never got an invitation. Perhaps you thought with my mother so ill, that it might not be a good thing to ask me."

Hisa sighed and stood up. Although she was trying to hide it, she was obviously not pleased about this uninvited guest. "Ah, so sorry. You're right. I really did think it might be a bad time for you. But come in, Chiya. Have some tea."