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

Chapter 160

While Susumu ran away from facing his mother and to take care of the business of the morning, InuYasha stood at the edge of the Toshiro's veranda, facing towards the birthing house while he watched Yasuo race there the moment Matsu lifted the door mat and stepped out. They met halfway there, Matsu greeting Yasuo with a polite bow. Yasuo, though, barely looked at her, except to give her a slight tip of his head as he barreled past her and headed for the door, quickly disappearing inside the building.

Asami stepped out of the house, and saw the hanyou standing there. "There's plenty to eat, InuYasha-sama? I could bring you out something. Where's Yasuo-sama?"

"I'll pass," he said, only giving her the briefest of glances. "Where's Yasuo?" He nodded his head in the direction of the birthing house.

She walked next to him, and got a glimpse of Yasuo hurrying into the little building, Matsu saying something that he ignored in his haste. Once she realized what was going, she started to giggle, but quickly covered her mouth, trying to suppress her laughter. "I should have known Yasuo-sama would do that."

The hanyou's ear flicked at the sound and he turned to look at her. "You think that's funny?" he asked, curious at the girl's reaction.

"Not funny," Asami said. Her tired eyes couldn't hide her amusement. "It's just that Yasuo-sama and Sayo-sama have been together a long time now, and he still acts . . . acts . . . "

The door slid open behind them, and Asami turned around, and as Toshiro stepped through the doorway, the twelve-year-old's cheeks pinked.

"So you're talking about my son?" Toshiro said, crossing his arms. "I'd say he acts like it's the first time it's ever happened."

Asami, not meeting the elder's eyes, blushed a little more, but nodded. "Indeed, Toshiro-sama."

"Don't be embarrassed, child. We all know he does that," he said, smiling at the girl. "You might spend your time better keeping an eye on Daiki, though, than laughing at Yasuo. I think he's had enough to eat. He's tired enough to go back to sleep, and if he wants to, let him, but I don't want him to wake up everybody else yet. Might as well let them rest as long as possible. It's going to be a busy day once the news gets out. I'm surprised Hisa-sama isn't here yet, breathing fire like a dragon because we didn't tell her about it."

She nodded, gave the birthing house one last look, and went back into the house.

InuYasha lifted an eyebrow, both curious and amused by the situation.

Michio gave a snort in his sleep.

"You'll think he'll wake up soon?" InuYasha asked.

Toshiro shrugged. "Who knows? He's going to feel rotten when it happens. I'll just leave him alone for now." He carefully stepped around the sleeping man to stand next to the hanyou. "Besides, I don't want to do anything to bring bad luck on today."

"I don't think Yasuo was thinking about luck at all," the hanyou said. "Soon as Matsu stepped out . . . "

"Childbirth brings that out in him," Toshiro said, moving near the hanyou. "I don't know how much experience you have with this sort of thing, InuYasha-sama," Toshiro said. "But my son is a little different from most men."

"Only when Sango had hers," InuYasha said. "The first time, Miroku was . . . well, I thought Kaede was ready to lock him up."

"Anxious?" Toshiro sat down on the verandah for the moment, looking away from the house where his daughter-in-law and son were. It was full morning now, and the sun was clearly over the horizon. Somewhere in the distance, a rooster was crowing. Looking toward the main street he could see a woman walking from the direction of the watch tower, carrying a water jug. "Looks like Sora is getting an early start of it this morning."

InuYasha, spotting the woman, nodded. "Yeah, Miroku was a mess. It took a long time for the twins to come. I'm glad it didn't take any longer." The hanyou sat down next to him. "The next time, though, we were out of town. I think he was looking for a reason not to be there. The extermination came through just in the nick of time."

"That's the way it is with most men I've seen," Toshiro said. "They care, but they find things to do not to crowd their women. But my son . . . "

"He told me about your wife," InuYasha said.

Toshiro let out a long, slow breath, and nodded. "That was a hard day. My woman . . . she was a bright one, the heart of our little family. I guess it marked Yasuo. It sure marked me. Things have never been the same around here." He scratched the back of his neck. "Or maybe he does this just because that's the way he is. Let's think of something else. Hungry? There's plenty of food."

InuYasha shook his head. "Asami asked me the same thing. I'll pass right now."

A dog ran across the yard, barking, chasing a chicken, who squawked loudly at the insult. "Be quiet, you two," Toshiro said. "We don't need you to be waking everybody up." Leaning forward, he found a stick on the ground and threw it at the dog. It missed him, but it distracted the animal long enough to let the bird get away.

The noise though, was enough to percolate into Michio's awareness. First he snorted and wiggled his nose, and gave a loud grunt, while he turned on his back. Next, his hands went up to the top of his head, cradling it. "Too much," he muttered. The two men turned to look at him.

"Now they've done it," Toshiro said. "Go back to sleep, cousin."

"Wha . . . " Michio gave a shudder, and slowly sat up. His hands went back to the top of his head, and he turned slowly to the right and the left. "Feels like someone beat me and left me to die."

"He doesn't look like he feels very good," InuYasha said.

"Too much sake will do that," Toshiro said. "I doubt if he'll feel very good at all today."

Michio spotted Toshiro and InuYasha, and tried for a moment to stand up, but then immediately sat back down. Placing both hands on his head, he rocked slowly from side to side. "I...I..." he started. "Did I sleep here all night?"

Toshiro gave his cousin a small, sad smile. "All night, once you finally gave up singing. But you really didn't sleep long."

"I believe that. Not nearly long enough," the hung over man said, closing his eyes and wincing. "Everything is still woozy." He cracked an eye, and looked at Toshiro. "I thought you were my friend, and you let me do this? Ah, damn. The headache's already started."

"You were already that way when you got here," the elder said, not unsympathetically. "I might have tried, otherwise. You ought to go home and try to sleep it off."

"I..." Michio tried to stand again, but still found himself too shaky to do it. "I think it's going to have to wait." He looked around. "Where's Yasuo? He finally give up and go to sleep?"

"No," Toshiro said. "He's with Sayo and the new baby."

"Ah, I forgot," Michio said. He plopped back over on his side and pulled his knees in. "Babies. Wives. Good wives." He wrapped his hands over his head once again "So nice, good wives. Oh my poor head. It's pounding, pounding. Someone go find Kaede-sama. I think I'm going to die."

"You don't have to go find me," the miko said. She walked up to the verandah. "But I don't know if I have the cure for what ails you, man."

"But . . . " he started to say as he glanced up and saw the old woman look at him through her one eye, a small scowl on her face. "Why? I think . . . I think . . . I think I'm going to be sick."

He got to his knees and made a mad dash for the edge of the verandah. He stumbled away from the house but didn't get that far. Sounds of retching quickly followed.

"The poor man," Kagome said, joining Kaede. InuYasha, seeing his wife, stood up. "What's wrong with him? Shouldn't we do something for him?"

"Hung over. He came over here drunk, and drank some more, and fell asleep, but hasn't slept it off yet. My poor cousin's definitely going to have a bad day," Toshiro said. "I guess I'm going to have to get Shigeru to take him home. This is one sickness that has to run its own course."

At the headman's house, Miroku bowed slightly, greeting Tameo.

"For some reason, everybody's been commenting about the earliness of the hour," Miroku said, chuckling.

The headman grinned. "Maybe it's because Susumu was complaining so loudly about how early I woke him up. But we have a lot to get done today." He looked at the boy standing next to the hand cart, who was yawning widely. "And it looks like my son isn't the only one who feels it's a bit on the early side. How are you doing today, boy?"

Aki, covered his mouth, and bowed. "Good morning, Tameo-sama," he said.

"Kinjiro's taking you out already?" the headman asked.

Aki nodded. "He wanted to finish what we didn't get done yesterday because . . . because . . . " He dropped his head.

Tameo patted the boy on the shoulder. "If you realized what matters, it was worth it, son."

"So," Miroku said, tapping his staff, "What is it you were hoping to find me for?"

"We're going to move Morio and Chiya to Tsuneo's house by the river today," Tameo said, scratching under his chin. "I'm not so sure how it's all going to go, or who's going to be the hardest to handle, that poor man or Chiya-chan. I was wondering if you'd like - "

He was interrupted by the front door sliding open and Hisa stepping out, followed by Kinjiro. "Did you hear that, husband? Sayo had her baby and nobody told me!"

"Did she?" Tameo asked.

"Why didn't Eiji come tell me?" she said, frowning.

"It was quite late at night," Miroku said. "Perhaps they wanted to let you sleep?"

"Bah," the headman's wife said. "That's not the first time it's happened. I know I'm not her mother-in-law, but still, I'm the closest thing she has to one. I should have been there."

Tameo shrugged. "I'm sure there was a good reason, Hisa-chan. What with the craziness yesterday afternoon, and with Kimi having Chiya at her place . . . "

Hisa sighed. "You might be right, husband. Anyway, I'm heading over that way."

"And I'm heading out to work," Kinjiro said, stepping out from behind his mother. "Aki might fall asleep on his feet if we don't get started soon."

As if to prove his point, the boy yawned. He looked up apologetically at the farmer. "I'm sorry, Kinjiro-sama."

Kinjiro took his place at the cart and began pushing. "It's all right, boy. Standing still is enough to make anybody sleepy."

The two began heading out of the compound and out to the fields.

As he watched, Tameo himself yawned. "Maybe my son has a point. So, wife, would you like some company on the way to Toshiro's? I need to talk to him about today."

"And I was heading that way myself," Miroku said.

"Ah, good." The headman looked up at his wife. "It looks like we're going to be a crowd. You think that'll disturb anybody?"

Hisa walked up and stood next to her husband. "If it does, it's their fault for not letting me know. Shall we go?"