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

Chapter 150

The main room in Kimi's house was filled with the sounds of Chiya crying and Kaede preparing medicines.

"You can pour the water now, child," Kaede said, putting the last pinch of an herb into the small bowl.

Kimi nodded and carefully poured the hot liquid over the herbal mixture, then sat the cast iron pot on a trivet at the edge of the fire pit. Kaede swirled the liquid around to hasten its steeping, and muttered some words over it that Kimi couldn't understand. Next, she took a small bottle out of her basket. Shaking it gently to mix the contents, she added several drops to the liquid.

"There. That should do it," she said

"What does it do?" Kimi asked.

"My teacher would have said it rebalances the chi, so that the person's mind is no longer troubled by the rages of having too much yang," Kaede said, looking at Kimi, who seemed a bit uncertain at that description. "I would say it calms a troubled soul and allows them to get some rest."

"It sounds like just the right thing," the younger woman said, looking at her house guest, who was laying in the corner, her face to the wall, curled up into a tight ball. Every now and then her body would shudder with another sob.

"Indeed," Kaede said. She gave the medicine another swirl, and chanted over it one more time, then carefully strained the potion into another cup. "It's ready."

Moving her large frame across the room with a surprising grace, the miko moved to where Chiya was curled up, and gently shook her shoulder.

The sobbing woman pulled her hands away from her face and glanced up at the miko, before dropping once again.

"Please, Chiya-chan, sit up," Kaede said. "I just want to help you feel better."

Chiya, her face red-eyed and puffy, looked at the miko once again. Kaede was not smiling, but she looked at the younger woman with a calming, no-nonsense gaze that somehow caught her attention, offered no judgment, but merely offered to help. Chiya took a breath and nodded, pulling herself up into a seated position.

"Here, drink this, child," Kaede said, offering her the cup of medicinal tea. It smelled of ginger and something else, with a bitter undertone. Chiya wrinkled her nose at the scent. "It will ease some of the pain of today. I cannot change the events of today, but I know that sobbing will not change anything. Rest will help more."

Chiya wiped her nose and eyes with the head scarf that had fallen off long before, and that she still had wrapped around the fingers of her left hand. She looked at the cup and back at the miko. "Is...is this the same type of tea you gave Haha-ue?"

"It is," Kaede said. "A strong medicine. It calmed her enough to sleep, even after everything that the yamabushi did to her. It will work for you as well."

Kimi came and sat beside her, and took her free hand. "Like Kaede-obaasan said, It will do you good, Chiya-chan, more than weeping all night. Please take it."

Chiya looked at Kimi, daubing her eyes. For a moment there was a spark of rebellion, and both women were afraid she would refuse, but then as suddenly as it appeared it faded, and Chiya let out a long, deep sigh, bowed her head, and nodded. "At least it will let me escape for a little while. I am so tired. I wish today had never happened." She lifted the cup, took a small sip, made a face, her nose wrinkling in disgust. "Tastes as bitter as this whole day has been." Quickly, she downed the rest of it.

Kimi gave the woman's hand a squeeze. "Would you like some sake to chase the taste?"

"No," Chiya said. "The bitterness . . . it seems right. Just like my life." She stared at the empty cup in her hands until Kaede gently took it back. That roused her for a moment. "Will it take long to work?"

"Not too long," Kaede said. "You should be feeling it in less time than it takes to fix a pot of rice."

Chiya nodded, then looked down at her hands.

"Can I get you something, Chiya-chan?" Kimi asked. "Fujime-okaasan almost always has some soup on this time of day."

"I don't . . . no, I don't think so." She looked up at Kimi, her eyes watering up again. "You're too kind, Kimi-chan. The thought of eating . . . I just can't do it."

"You might try some rice gruel, Chiya-chan, later. The medicine I gave you. It can be hard on the stomach."

The distraught woman gave Kaede a bemused look. "Fitting. To be sick after everything that happened. Maybe later, but not now. I don't think I could handle anything."

"Suit yourself. But if you do, rice gruel with extra salt will help calm your stomach." Kaede got up and moved back toward the fire pit. "I'll make up some more medicine in case you need it before morning."

As Kaede began mixing up a new batch, Chiya leaned against Kimi's shoulder. "I was so mean to you today, and yet you brought me home."

"It just seemed the right thing to do, Chiya-chan." She pulled her comb out of her sleeve. "Let me fix your hair. It'll make you feel better. It always relaxes me, to have someone comb my hair." She scooted behind her, and picked up a long lock of Chiya's hair.

Chiya made no move to stop her, but bowed her head. "Nothing . . . nothing will make me feel better."

Kimi ran the comb through Chiya's hair, and said nothing. After a moment, the soothing action or perhaps the medicine began to make the woman relax.

Unexpectedly, she began to talk. "I...I don't know why everything happened like it did today. It was like . . . like I couldn't stop myself. I got so wound up - not being able to help Haha-ue, or even getting to spend more than a few minutes with her. Knowing that I wasn't invited to Hisa-sama's for the sewing, I couldn't keep myself from going. And I was awful. I knew that InuYasha-sama would probably be at the temple this afternoon. Everything that could make me feel bad was happening . . . and something in me . . . It was like there was something in me that just wouldn't let go, like having a wound I had to keep touching. Seeing Houshi-sama's wife there, and her children . . . It was like a white-hot rod poking through me."

She covered her face and began weeping once again. Kimi stopped combing as she pulled away. "And now, everybody hates me, even my husband. Ah, Michio, why, why do we do this to each other?" She hunched over for a moment, shuddered, then pulled herself up. "I worked so hard to get married to you, husband. Haha-ue never has forgiven me for convincing Chichi-ue to give permission. And I treat you so bad." She rocked back and forth and back and forth. "What is he going to tell the children?"

She looked at Kaede and Kimi. "My girls, what will the other village girls tell them? And Masato. He's such a good son, so much like his father. Will people laugh at him behind his back? Or shake their heads, feeling sorry?"

"I don't know," Kimi said softly.

"I want to go home. Who's going to make their dinner? Nori won't take a bath unless you force her to do it. And Asuka gets nightmares when she's upset. But . . . but . . . but . . . I don't have a home to go back to." She began to sob again.

"It will all be dealt with, Chiya-chan. Don't worry about them. I'm sure their aunt will take care of them tonight." Kimi said. "And tomorrow will be another day, and we'll deal with it."

Chiya daubed at her eyes again, and leaned against Kimi's shoulder. "You're too nice to be my friend," she said. Her eyes were growing heavy and she yawned. "I'm not good like you, and everybody hates me."

"That's not true, Chiya-chan. Everybody doesn't hate you," Kimi said. "You're getting sleepy?"

"It is true, and I deserve it. Even Chichi-ue doesn't have a place for me any more." She yawned, and her head slumped forward.

Kaede looked at her. "You need to lie down, Chiya-chan. The medicine's starting to work, faster than I expected."

Kimi put her comb away and stood up. "I'll get you a cover. You can stretch out here if you'd like."

Chiya nodded, but then, as Kimi started to move away, she grabbed her hand. "You're not going to leave me tonight are you?"

Turning to face the exhausted, drugged woman, Kimi shook her head. "No, Chiya-chan, I won't. I'll be here all night."

"Thank you, Kimi-chan," Chiya said, resting her head on her arm. "You're the only one left. If you leave me, nobody will be there, and I'll be all alone."

She yawned again, and snuggled down. By the time Kimi got back with the blanket, Chiya was fast asleep.

While Kaede was preparing Chiya's medicine, InuYasha squatted by his own fire pit, far less patient. He held a piece of wood in his hand, and was studying the large water kettle he used to heat bathwater in. It sat on its tripod, flames licking up the side.

Kagome, cleaning up after dinner, giggled, watching how he was studying the flames, trying to figure out where to put the piece of wood. "I don't think adding more wood will get the bath water to heat any faster," she said as she wiped a rice bowl dry with a towel. "It'll just make it get hot in here."

Sighing, he tossed the wood back on its stack. "Yeah," he said, sitting back and watching the fire. Still, he looked at it with great intensity, as if his stare could hurry the process, crossing his arms and sticking his hands in his sleeves to increase the effect.

"Are you all right?" Kagome asked, as she walked over to the kitchen cabinet to put away the last of the dinner bowls. That job done, she hung up her towel to dry and went to sit next to her husband.

He glanced at her as she sat down next to him. "I guess."

Kagome leaned her head against his shoulder."You're not usually this anxious to get into the tub."

InuYasha sighed and wrapped his arm around her. "You're right. Maybe I'm just ready to put this day out of my head."

"It's certainly been a busy one." Kagome grabbed InuYasha's free hand and laced her fingers into his. "A lot of it was kind of nice. I met Amaya, Isao's mother, who I think wants to be friends."

"And I let Susumu talk me into joining the village guard. Maybe he should have been a merchant, not a farmer," InuYasha said. Some of the intensity flowed out of him as he held his wife, and the tension in his shoulders eased back. "Or maybe even a monk. He's good at convincing people." Looking down at their joined hands, he brushed his thumb along the side of hers.

Kagome saw what he was doing and gave his hand a little squeeze. "And maybe Kinjiro finally figured out why Aki kept fighting against him, and Aki knows why it was a bad thing. I can't believe he never realized that . . . that stupid yamabushi was the reason his obaasan is so sick. So by the time he gets to Daitaro's house, maybe you won't have to keep pulling him out of trouble."

"I hope," he said, resting his chin on Kagome's head. "I think I've done enough rescuing that brat for a while. It's somebody else's turn." The arm holding her close began to move up and down her side in long, gentle sweeps.

Kagome let go of his hand, and let her own rest lightly on his thigh. "And I got to meet Daisuke. I kind of think that Hisako takes after her father."

"You think?" InuYasha said. "Didn't know him when he was younger, but he's sure a character now. He needs someone like her to even begin to keep up with him."

"Yeah," Kagome replied. Her hand began to draw little shapes on his thigh. He looked down at it for a moment, then pulled her a little closer.

"Could have been a better afternoon, though," InuYasha said, planting a little kiss on the top of her head. "Even before Chiya showed up, I got to make a fool of myself falling off the roof. And I managed to rip my kosode twice in the same day And I wasn't even in a battle. That stupid bird. That stupid roof."

Kagome shifted in his arm, leaning over him so she could play with the string closing his jacket. "Your poor shirt. It's a good thing I finished the new one," she said. "I'll have to talk to Sango to see if we can figure out how to fix the one you're wearing." With a small tug, she loosened the bow that held it shut.

He pulled her into his lap. "Good luck with that." Patiently he let her push his suikan off his shoulders, and shrugged out of the sleeves.

She ran her finger along the line of whip stitching holding the tear in place. "This is what Kimi did?"

"Yeah. And for that she got chewed out," he said, but stopped when Kagome shifted and put her finger over his lips.

"We are not inviting her back into this house," she said. She gave him a quick peck on the lips to reinforce what she meant.

InuYasha tilted his head and gave her a wry look. "I'll try."

"You better." She began tugging at the tie that held his kosode closed. "Still, it seems like the men who worked there with you like you."

"Maybe," InuYasha said, watching his wife try to undress him while she sat on his lap. She couldn't quite get his kosode out of his hakama, and he knew he would have to move soon, but he let her slip the white fabric off of his shoulders. "At least some of'em."

"And Sango got to learn that people like her a lot more than she thought." Kagome kissed her husband's chin. "And Miroku now gets to know what was going on."

He shrugged out of his sleeves. "I can't get over him asking me if he was too greedy," InuYasha said.

"Wanna forget all about it?" Kagome asked. Her lips brushed the side of his neck.

"Sounds like a good idea" the hanyou replied.

Their lips met, and the gentle kiss accelerated to more than gentle, and more than one. Suddenly, the water on the fire bubbled up, and hit the fire below, hissing as it landed on the wood in the fire.

"Maybe we should take our bath first," Kagome said.

InuYasha took a deep breath, and felt the back of his head, where he pulled a bit of grass out of his hair, one more leftover from his fall. "Maybe you're right."