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

Chapter 135

"You don't want Chiya to come home?" Tsuneo said, still holding onto his daughter.

Miroku, taking a stack of ofuda out of his sleeve walked towards the couple.

"Michio," Chiya said. She looked at her husband, frowning and uncertain, definitely surprised by his reaction. "Husband . . . you can't mean that."

"After how you behaved? In front of everybody and in front of the temple, too?" Michio said, clasping his hands. His face was stony. "And you were worried about InuYasha-sama contaminating things?"

"Daughter, maybe you should go and apologize," Tsuneo said.

"It's too late for that," Michio said. "She's shown everybody what she thinks of her husband."

Miroku stopped in front of the irate husband, and touched him lightly on the shoulder. "Perhaps it's not all her fault, Michio-sama. These last few days - there's been some heavy magic used on her family. Even if she's not directly bewitched . . . "

"Bah," he replied. "She still knows what really matters. I've known her a lot longer than you have." Michio threw off the monk's arm. "Go do your magic on her. Let's see what the truth is."

InuYasha, watching the woman, could see the reality of what was happening sink into her. For some reason, he didn't like what he was seeing, and his ears reflected his feeling. Daitaro put a hand on his shoulder. InuYasha turned around and looked at the old farmer.

"It's been building up for a while, son," Daitaro said. "Don't think it's about you."

Miroku started walking towards Tsuneo and his daughter once again. His face, too, reflected his discomfort in the whole spectacle.

Chiya took a deep breath and turned to her father. The tone of her voice was somewhere between outrage and incredulity."Otousan, are you going to let him do this? You think that stupid yamabushi did something to me?"

"If he didn't, daughter," Tsuneo said, giving her a solemn look, "then you are acting this way from some dark place in your heart."

"But . . . but . . . " She looked towards her husband, who was staring towards the temple, refusing to look at her. "It wasn't supposed to be like this."

"So often," Miroku said, as he reached the couple, "things aren't happening the way they are supposed to. Today, for instance, was supposed to be a pleasant day where people who wanted to honor the Buddha came together to work. I know you knew that. You helped make it look like it was going to be just that, getting the food and tea together."

"I wanted to help," she said.

He shook his head, his face sad, but his eyes determined. "Once, long ago, the Buddha said that thought manifests as the word." He looked at Chiya and then back at Michio. "There have been many words spoken today. I'm not sure all of them were well spoken or based on good thought. Now the question is why? Why are these bad thoughts happening? Is it the bad magic of the yamabushi, some chain of events he set up to make your life and your family's life hard, or some other darkness of the heart?"

He handed her an ofuda. "Take this. If there's magic on you, we'll see a sign."

Chiya reached out, her hand trembling, almost as if she had been asked to take a snake, then held it, closed her eyes and waited. For a moment, she didn't even breathe. Nothing happened. Opening her eyes, she let out her breath, and looked up at Miroku.

The monk tilted his head and gave her a sad smile. "It seems you are untouched by anybody's magic, Chiya-sama. Even though so much has touched those around you, you have not been bewitched."

"Didn't think so," Tameo said. "I may not be as good as the monk at sensing these things, but I didn't feel any spell on her."

"I knew it," Michio said, spitting on the ground. "Tsuneo, take your . . . your . . . kuso . . . your daughter home."

Tsuneo looked at his son-in-law and back at his daughter, who looked up at him with frightened eyes, moving her mouth without making a sound as if she were trying to think of the right thing to say. He looked back at Michio. "I know she's been hardheaded and hard to be around the last few days, son, with what's happened to Haname-chan and all that, but . . . "

"A woman who refuses to do what her husband tells her in a situation like this, who needs her?" Michio replied. He started to walk back toward the others. "I'm sorry, InuYasha-sama," he said, bowing to the hanyou. InuYasha returned his bow. Michio, with one backward glance at Chiya and her father, moved back towards the temple.

"I don't need any damn apology," InuYasha said, once he had passed. His voice was rougher than he meant it to be. "I...I...It's not like an apology would change her mind about me."

"That's not what this is about," Susumu said, looking at the hanyou, seeing his discomfort. "It's an honor thing between husband and wife."

"He's right." Daitaro nodded and patted InuYasha on the shoulder. "Their marriage gets rocky sometimes."

"It's not even the first time they've had this type of situation," Kimi said, moving to stand next to the men. "Chiya can be . . . hard to live with. She's been sent home before. Be assured it's not really about apologizing to you."

"Feh." InuYasha shook his head and crossed his arms. "Don't understand you people."

Before Michio got much past the knot of people watching, Chiya broke free of Tsuneo and dashed towards him. "Husband . . . "

He turned, and looked at her, his face furious. "You call me that when you've acted like this? You heard me," he said. "Tell me why I should bring you back home."

"Because . . . I . . . I . . . "Chiya looked back at her father. "Otousan, don't let him do this!"

Tsuneo, who moved toward the two slowly, shook his head. "It's his right, daughter, not mine." He sighed as he met his son-in-law's eyes, both understanding and anxiety reflecting in his gaze."These last few days, Michio. Perhaps I've made it worse, trying to keep Chiya from her mother's side as much as she's wanted to be."

Michio held himself so tightly that he was almost trembling."Don't make excuses for her, Otousan. What did you say earlier? With our women, we can only beat them or live with them, or kick them out. I can't beat a woman. But I need to know why I should live with her, why I should put up with her doing this to me time after time."

"She's the mother of your children," Tsuneo said, softly.

"And the cause of my shame," Michio replied. He turned back to Chiya. "How many times, woman, have you done just what I told you not to do, and where all men can see how little control I have over you?"

Tameo walked up to the distraught husband. "You shouldn't make a decision like this while you're in anger, son. You have lived with her for years now. You know what she's like."

"She saps my soul. I've heard the other men laugh. 'There goes Michio. We know who's the boss in his house.' " He looked at Susumu and Daitaro, his glare accusing. "I've heard them as they sit around in the evening swapping stories over sake." He turned back to Tsuneo. "I don't need this, having a woman tearing me down into nothing day after day."

"Michio, no . . . " Chiya said.

"Perhaps you two need some time to think things over," Tameo said. "It's a serious thing to repudiate your wife after this many years."

"Time," Michio said, almost spitting the word out. "How much time do I need to give her for her to learn how not to be so . . . so . . . "

Tsuneo took a deep breath, and let it out slowly, looking in great pain. "I cannot take her back under my roof," he said. "With my household in an uproar as it is, and Haname doing so badly, I can't let her back in. It might push my wife over the edge."

Chiya gasped and stepped away from her father. Her eyes glistened with unshed tears. "Otousan . . . "

"Your okaasan . . . she can't handle it," Tsuneo said. "She needs peace and not this shame and worry. I'm sorry, daughter." He looked up at the monk. "I hear that some temples take women who are cast off. And she has been very generous, from what I hear."

Chiya raised her hand to her mouth, smothering a gasp at her father's suggestion.

Miroku, who had moved back to stand with the others, seemed taken aback by Tsuneo's suggestion."True," he said, trying to keep his voice pleasant, but not quite succeeding. "But this one is so small. I don't even have an acolyte yet, much less any other monks. I cannot."

Michio spit. "Do with her what you want to do with her, Otousan. Take her in to take care of the crazy man. If I take her home tonight, I don't know what I'd do."

"Maybe Haha-ue would take her in for a day or two," Susumu suggested. "Long enough for you to calm down and decide what's really in your heart."

Chiya paled at the suggestion and sank to her knees, a sound suspiciously like a sob coming from behind her hand-covered mouth.

Tsuneo was surprised by his daughter's reaction. "Did something happen at Hisa-sama's today?"

Chiya didn't say anything, but crumpled into a ball, her head almost touching her knees. She sobbed again.

Tameo looked at Isao. "Did something happen at home today? Is that why Hisa sent you up with a message?"

The boy chewed his bottom lip for a moment, then nodded. "I...I didn't see it," he said. "But the women were really angry after Chiya-sama left."

"Daughter," Tsuneo said.

Chiya didn't respond, except to raise and lower her head as she wept.

The headman watched the distraught woman, and frowned. "What did Hisa send you here for?"

"She sent me to get Houshi-sama," Isao said.

"Me?" Miroku asked, surprised. "Why?"

Isao nodded. "It's because of Sango-sama. Hisa-sama said, 'Tell Houshi-sama that if he wants his wife to not die of shame or run off, he needs to come down to the house.'"

"What the hell," InuYasha said.

"Die of shame?" Miroku said. "Sango? What happened?"

"Did it have to do with something Chiya did?" Susumu asked.

"I...I think she said bad things," Isao said.

"I take it back," Michio said, moving next to the weeping woman. "I shouldn't kick her out. I should beat her." He started to aim a kick at Chiya, when Daitaro grabbed him.

"You're better than that, son," the old farmer said. "Don't let her pull you down to that level."

"Get up, woman," Michio said. "Get up. Get out of here. Get out of my house. Get out of my sight."

"But . . . "she said, looking up at him "where do I go?" Covering her face, she began to wail.

Kimi turned around and spotted Eiji, who had come off the roof to watch. She looked at him, like an unspoken question. He folded his arms, chewed on his lip a moment, and nodded. Moving next to the weeping woman, Kimi knelt down, and rested a hand on Chiya's back. "You can come to my house, Chiya-chan."

Chiya looked up, her tear-stained eyes amazed."But . . . but . . . I was . . . " She studied Kimi's face, and saw no real rancor there, only sympathy and concern. "I was so mean to you."

"It'll give the men some time to talk and calm down," Kimi said. "They'll do it better if you're not here."

"Go with her, daughter," Tsuneo said. He, too, looked amazed, but also relieved. "Thank you, Kimi-chan. We'll send word."

Kimi nodded and helped Chiya to her feet. Chiya looked at Michio, not saying anything, but with pleading eyes. He lifted an arm, like he was going to backhand her, but then thought better of it. "Just go," he said.

Sobbing, she let Kimi lead her away.

"Keep her away from me," Michio said, looking at his father-in-law. "I can't make any promises how I'll treat her if you bring her around right now. If you can't take her in, have her care for your crazy man. I need to think."

Tsuneo nodded.

"I'm going home," Michio said, and heading away in another direction, left the group gathered in front of the temple.

"An inauspicious day," Tameo said, watching him leave. "And everything seemed to be going so well."

Miroku nodded. "Indeed."

Tameo looked at the monk. "And it's not over yet. You need to go down the hill, Houshi-sama. I don't know what happened, but Hisa wouldn't have sent a message like that unless she meant it."

"But what?" Miroku said, confused. "Sango run away? After all we've been through?"

"Eh," Tameo said. "That's Hisa's way of getting your attention. She's really saying, 'I think that it's really important that we tell you something. And it involves your wife.'"

"Let's go find out," InuYasha said, folding his hands. "I need to know. Kagome's there, too. Something happened to Sango, it's going to have Kagome ready to blow up."

"Let me get my staff," Miroku said.

"Here it is," Ryota said, joining the others and handing it to the monk. "I heard what was going on. You're needed down below. Don't worry about things here. We'll get the roofing done."

Miroku looked back at the temple. A few men were still working.

"Your woman is more important than this building. Plus Chime and the girls are there. Go make sure everything's all right," Daitaro said, patting his shoulder. "Your legs are in better shape than mine."

Miroku accepted the staff. That seemed to snap him out of his confusion. "All right. Let's go see what could have upset Sango enough to get Hisa worried. But what in the world could have happened at a sewing party?"

"With that bitch, who knows?" InuYasha said.

"You may be right, friend." The two men, with nods to Tameo and the others, headed off in yet a third direction, not willing to run into the two women or Michio.

As he watched them leave, Daitaro unstoppered his sake bottle, and took a drink.

"I thought you were saving that until after the roofing was done," Tameo said.

"Didn't expect a scene like this," Daitaro said. "Some things are best not thought about sober."