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

Chapter 141

"Uh-oh," Daitaro said.

InuYasha and Kagome, with Miroku and family close behind them watched as the women from the sewing party surrounded the verandah. InuYasha took a step back, almost bumping into the monk. The hanyou's ear twitched like mad as they closed in on him, and his body stiffened. Kagome took his hand, sensing his rising discomfort as he began to be crowded in by people he knew he shouldn't strike back at. He looked at her; she shrugged but gave his hand a reassuring squeeze. "I...I..."

There was a pause as he tried to think of something to say. Suddenly, Erime, next to Chime, giggled, breaking his concentration. "What?"

"I'm sorry," she said, bowing. "InuYasha-sama, the look on your face!"

Riki, trying not to laugh, also bowed. "I'll go check on the children." As she headed to where her son played under a tree, a distinctive giggle followed her.

"It's not funny," InuYasha said, scowling.

"You're right, InuYasha-sama," Koume said, pursing her lips and shaking her head. "Some things are always bad news. Is it true that Michio kicked Chiya out?" Koume asked. "The way she was acting today . . . "

"And that Kimi-chan took her home?" Fujime said, moving to stand right next to her. She took a deep breath, obviously distressed.

He nodded. "Don't know why. She barked at Kim as bad as she did me."

Hisako pushed in front of the other women. "Why didn't you tell us when you got here?" she said, tapping her cane on the ground.

Miroku chuckled at the older woman and then turned towards InuYasha with a rather amused grin.

"Don't just grin at him," Sango said, bending close to her husband. "Say something, Miroku," she whispered to him. "I don't know how much more of this InuYasha can handle on his own."

InuYasha turned and looked at her, his brows knitting. "You, too? You think I . . . " he started, before Kagome squeezed his hand again. He looked at her, and at Sango, then sighed.

"You women talk too much." He gave Kagome's hand a squeeze in return, freed himself only cross his arms, and stuff both hands in his sleeves.

He gave the old woman, who continued to tap her cane impatiently a solemn look. "You want to know what happened? That . . . that . . . " He took a breath. "Chiya insulted Kimi and me in front of everybody, including her husband. Michio told Chiya to apologize. She apologized to Kimi, sort of, but wouldn't apologize to me. I wanted to just leave and get back to work, but Michio wouldn't listen. He blew up and told her not to come home. That's what happened," he said. "Satisfied?"

Hisako refused to be intimidated by his glare. "But why?" she demanded. "Why would she do something that stupid?"

"You're gonna have to ask her, not me," the hanyou said, his scowl getting even deeper. "I don't know what makes a person like her work."

Kagome laid her head on his shoulder. "I'm sorry. I didn't know they were going to do this," she said in a voice too faint for anybody else to hear. InuYasha nodded and let out a long slow breath.

Miroku, putting on his professional face, looked at the semicircle of women surrounding them. "Ah, dear ladies," the monk said, "Don't be hard on my friend here. You do have to realize we were rather busy dealing with other issues when we got down here. I am sure you will forgive us for letting all of that slip our minds. I'm sure we would have told you if you had given us a little more time. It's just - "

He was interrupted by a cheer from the children playing as little Yukinari finally caught the ball for the first time since the children had begun their game. The three village elders, taking advantage of the distraction, pushed through the group of women and moved to the verandah.

Daitaro nudged the hanyou, chuckling. "Didn't expect this, I bet."

"Feh," the hanyou said. "It's not funny."

"Wouldn't have left you alone if I knew this was going to happen. Mean thing to leave a man alone in a situation like this." He lifted his sake jug. " Need a drink?"

As InuYasha shook his head, refusing the offered jug, Miroku snickered.

"There's nothing funny about this, Houshi-sama," Hisako said, pointing her cane at him. "This is important news. The last time Michio kicked Chiya out it was almost two months before they worked out their differences. I thought there was going to be a feud between Haname and Michio's father before it was over. This isn't some big castle town. We're just a small village. Things like this cause trouble for everybody."

"I bet," Kagome said, nodding. "How do you avoid running into people here when things like this happen?"

"It's quite difficult," Koume said. "People start to take sides, and the next thing you know, it's like a war. That's why it matters."

Teruko shifted the strap of her baby carrier as she moved a bit closer. "That incident's still causing trouble. Haname still won't stay in the same room with Michio or his father," she said. "I've seen her get up and leave if she saw they were coming. I was wondering for a while if Michio would ever get her back."

"You're right there." The headman scratched the back of his neck."It did take some diplomacy." He frowned, remembering. "If you could have seen how often Michio was here, begging me to do something. There wasn't anything I could really do officially."

"I remember," Tsuneo said, nodding in agreement. "Michio's a good man, and I like him a lot. He would come find me out in the fields and do the same thing. He didn't dare show up at the house after Haname threatened him with the wood ax. It was hard even live near her until Chiya got whatever it was out of her system. Those were hard days." He sighed. "Headstrong women. He would have taken her back three days after their fight, but she refused."

Hisako started to say something, but she was interrupted by a louder voice.

"Okaa, where's Horsie?" Mitsuo's shrill pitch rose above the adult discussion, and heads turned to look at the small boy standing beside Emi. "He needs me!"

Emi rubbed her son's head, looking mildly embarrassed at the interruption. She knelt down and gave her son a serious look. "Going to be good and not let him ride over your sister's heads?"

Mitsuo nodded, and Emi produced the small wooden horse from her sleeve. "Now go play. But be good." The boy took the toy, and ran off. "So sorry for the interruption" she said as Mitsuo joined Mikio and another boy who were playing with their own play fort under Riki's watchful eye. He settled down quickly and all three began a mock battle.

"Not just women who are headstrong," Chime noted, watching them play.

"And not all boys," Mariko said, quickly glancing up at her father-in-law, giving him a teasing smile. Daitaro, seeing it, tugged on his beard and swiftly looked back at the hanyou.

"Maybe she knows a thing or two, old man," InuYasha said. Kagome nudged him, but that didn't stop several snickers from the group.

Not paying attention to any of that, Nahoi stood next to Koume, frowning and sucking on her bottom lip as if what they were talking about confused her. She turned to her mother. "I...are you sure that Michio did that? That's not what I heard," she said. "Chiya-chan came by crying more than once saying how horrible he was to her. He didn't want her back, she said. He threatened to beat her."

"Alas," Hisa said, coming from the back of the crowd, "We all know that what Chiya says at times is not what really happens. She . . . well, tries to . . . "

"Get attention, or her own way." Fujime looked knowingly at Tsuneo, who merely nodded, a sad resignation on his face. "She's been known to say all sorts of things. Just look what she did to Sango-chan here . . . "

Sango nodded. "Has she always been this way?"

"Since she was a small child," Hisako said, slowly shaking her head in sad resignation. "I used to talk to Haname about it, but nothing ever came of it."

"I had no idea, even after living here for three years." Sango let her daughter down. Yusuko spotted Aomi playing next to Yorime, a little apart from the other children. Squirming out of her mother's hand, she made a beeline for the girl.

"Down, Otou," Noriko said, seeing her sister. She began to wiggle, trying to get out of Miroku's grip. "Go play!"

"Not being raised in a place means it takes a while to learn all these types of things," Miroku said, letting his daughter down, and giving his wife's hand a small touch.

"That's true," Hisa said. "This wasn't my birth village. There were so many little things I had to learn. Don't feel bad, Sango-chan. We won't talk about some of the mistakes I made when I was a young bride."

Tameo chuckled a moment, until Hisa gave him a glance, then the chuckle turned into a deep breath. "Well, we were both young then, Hisa-chan. It was a good thing my mother and the other good women knew all that, and watched out for you. I know I didn't help enough. But now look - you know everybody, and everybody knows you." He rubbed the back of his head. "And just about everything that happens, too."

"Not everything," Hisa said, tilting her head to the side and shaking it sadly. "I'd never have guessed this afternoon."

"I don't think any of us would have," Koume said.

"Still," Hisako said, leaning on her cane, "I wish I had been up on the hill when all this happened." She shifted her feet, and sighed. "This old woman's tired of standing. If you don't mind, I'd like to go sit down." With a curt nod at the rest of the group, she headed for the door.

As if it were a signal, one by one, people began to filter back into Tameo's house.

InuYasha watched them go by. "Feh," he said, talking to Miroku, "What good is it to see someone dig a deep hole and then bury themselves in it?" InuYasha said, stuffing his hands into his sleeves.

"Not necessarily good," Miroku said. "Satisfying, maybe."

Koume, one of the last women to head inside, nodded. "She's earned the right to be talked about." She began to move to the door of the house. "I think, though, if you don't mind, Hisa-chan, I probably ought to get my sewing and head home. If Kimi took Chiya in tonight, it might be useful if I'm closer to home."

Hisa nodded. "I understand. Thank you for coming. It was . . . interesting."

"It was, wasn't it?" Koume said smiling. "A day we'll be talking about for a while."

Tameo turned to InuYasha and Miroku. "Why don't you all head home?" he suggested. "I know I ought to be able to feed these nosy women all they need to know. We were there for all of it."

"I would like to get back to the temple," Miroku said. "I know Ryota's a capable man, but . . . "

"You think you ought to be there to see for yourself?" Daitaro said.

"Exactly," Miroku said, nodding.

Hisa nodded, but turned to Sango. "Please don't let today keep you away from us. We really do want you to come join us. If you hear any more negative things, come talk to me about it. You have friends here."

"Thank you," Sango said, smiling. "I promise."

Hisa turned to her husband. "And you can let me know that it is you wanted to talk to me about," Hisa said to her husband.

"Ah, I have an idea," the headman said.

"Don't you always?" Hisa replied, laughing. "I hope it means something good this time.".

Laughing just a little, Kagome and Sango went inside to get their things, while Miroku rounded up his daughters, who were not happy about leaving. A few minutes later, children safely in tow, the whole group began walking back towards the hill.