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

A/N Just a note to remind you that I do answer all questions people ask about the story, but if you are not logged in when you ask, and your question comes up as a guest comment, I have no way to respond.

Chapter 205

InuYasha and Kagome left Choujiro and Aki to their work and walked back into the house for breakfast.

"Smells good in here," InuYasha said as he stepped through the door after Kagome.

"You say that almost every time it's time to eat," the young miko said, slipping off her sandals before stepping up on the wooden floor. Dropping off her towel by the wash basin, she headed to the fire pit.

"Keh," the hanyou replied as he dipped his own hands in the basin to clean up. "I say it because it's true. Smells like time to eat. I like to eat, so it smells good." He wiped his hands dry. "And I like how you cook."

Kagome, who had already settled down at her place at the fire pit, looked up, and gave a pleased laugh, musical to InuYasha's ears. "You don't know how much I wanted to hear you say that when I was fifteen."

InuYasha sat down at his place, his ears slightly back as he gave her a sheepish grin. "Yeah, well, like I've told you before, I was kind of stupid then. And . . . "

"And?" Kagome said, taking the lid off the rice pot. She gave him a look he wasn't sure of how to interpret, and it made him a bit nervous. He didn't want to spoil the good feeling the morning had started off with.

He took a deep breath, trying to choose his words carefully. "And maybe you learned some more recipes since then." He swallowed, his ear flicking, waiting to see how she would take how he said it.

"That's true," she said, smiling gently at her husband. It amused her somewhat to see how anxious he was getting over this discussion, but better yet was watching the tension leave him as she reacted calmly. "Oh, at fifteen, I was so anxious about cooking. I wanted to be as good at it as my mother, and I really wanted to impress you, even though I don't know how much you understood that. But I learned a lot in the time we were apart. Plus," she said, pausing to dip up the rice. She handed him a bowl.

"Plus what?" He put the rice bowl on his tray.

"I got the impression you really liked my cooking more than you would admit." She put a piece of fish on a plate and gave it to him, waiting to see his reaction.

His lips curled up into another one of those slightly nervous, sheepish grins he got when she compared then and now. "I told you I was kind of stupid in those days. Yeah, I liked how you cooked. Hells, I was amazed you were willing to even want to cook for me. I was just too . . . scared and stupid to talk about it."

"I thought so," she said, beaming at him. She put her own piece of fish on her tray, then handed him a dish of sliced pickles.

"But I really liked it when you put pickles in things," he said, picking up a pickle slice.

Kagome looked at him and grinned. "That I never forgot."

As he popped it into his mouth, she dipped up the soup.

Outside, Choujiro called out to Aki. "That's it, boy. You're doing it!"

Aki, quite excited, replied, "Yes, I'm doing it! All right!"

There was the sound of wood falling, followed by Choujiro's pleased, "Well done!"

"Heh, boy must have made a board. Choujiro and Aki, they sound like a real team out there," InuYasha said, picking up his rice bowl.

"Who would have thought Aki would settle down with any grownup so quickly?" Kagome said, drinking her soup.

"Yeah," InuYasha said, attacking his rice with hungry abandon. "Kinjiro was smart, seeing the way those two took together."

"He was, wasn't he?" Kagome said, nodding. She put her cup down.

"Or else he was just tired of putting up with the boy's crap, and Choujiro was ready to pick up the slack, or both, maybe." He picked up a pickle slice and ate it thoughtfully. "I don't know. Maybe learning he didn't cause his obaasan's breakdown helped him settle down. Guilt can make a person do some stupid things."

"I know," Kagome said. She grew thoughtful as she picked up her own rice. "I've kind of seen that in action. It's hard to try to deal with, when people are reacting that way. You can't just knock sense into them. They have to let that guilt go and get over it on their own, no matter what you try to tell them."

InuYasha's ear flicked. The way she looked up at him, he realized she was thinking about their own past, and he sighed. He put down his rice bowl, determined not to let old memories spoil their day together. "It's hard, you know, letting the guilt go. Sometimes, it takes a determined friend to put up with their crap until they work it out." He gave her an appreciative look. "But we've come a long way since then."

"Yes we have. And it was worth it in the long run," she said, reaching out to touch his hand. Her smile assured him that there were no ghosts out there that were going to haunt them today.

He gave her hand a little squeeze, then picked up his own soup bowl. "Maybe Aki's found what he needed to let go of whatever was making him act stupid with Choujiro. Man's probably known the brat all of his life. Choujiro does a lot of work around Tsuneo's place. He has to know what he's like."

"Maybe they've always been like this?" Kagome said. "They act like old buddies. It's obvious that Aki likes him, and Choujiro seems to enjoy having him around."

"Could be," the hanyou said, nodding. "Main reason Kinjiro took him on is because they needed to make a quick decision. Besides, nobody thought of him. Funny thing, how that works. He's poorer and doesn't have a lot of family in the village. He's liked, but he'll never be one of the important people here because of that. Nobody even thought about him when they were thinking who ought to be the adult he should work with, but it looks like Choujiro might be the best match of all. I'll guess we'll see how it all works out. Aki's still supposed to go to Daitaro's tomorrow. Maybe the old man and Choujiro need to have a talk."

"Sounds like it," Kagome said. "It's a shame nobody stepped up when Seiji was a boy."

"Yeah," InuYasha said, his ear twitching at the mention of his name. "I know they tried. Just might not have been anybody around who was right."

They quietly finished their meal.

After breakfast, Kagome made onigiri for lunch, changed out of her housewife's kosode and wrap skirt and into the red and white of her miko robes, much to the enjoyment of InuYasha's viewing pleasure, ran a brush through her hair, and then sitting on the edge of her wooden floor, she slipped on her sandals.

"Another day, something new to learn, I'm sure," Kagome said. "I feel like I'm still in school."

"Well, you're a student, anyway," InuYasha said, agreeing. "Learning to be a miko-healer. I guess you're in Kaede-babaa's school."

She looked up at InuYasha, who towered over her as she got into her footwear. His face was placid and patient. "That's about right. And I still put on a uniform every day," she said. "Although I do have to admit, this is one of the more comfortable ones I've had to wear. It'll definitely be better in the winter. And better than a wrap skirt for riding InuYasha-back."

"Keh," the hanyou said, smiling softly. "I like it better than your old uniforms. This way, only I get to see your legs."

Kagome raised an eyebrow on that one. "Possessive, are we?" she asked, standing up. For some reason, at this moment, the look he gave her amused her - warm and wanting, not smug, but clear in his preferences.

His arms wrapped around her. "About you? I'm supposed to be. You're my wife. I don't want to share any more than I have to. Bad enough I have to share you with Kaede and the village." He slipped his fingers into her hair.

"But I like learning to be a healer," she said.

"And that's why I'm willing to share you," he said, nodding. "It's a good thing, and I'm willing to do it. It's important to you. But I'm glad I don't have to share your legs, too."

Kagome laughed. "I certainly don't share your legs with anybody else. But I don't think that was my choice. I'd look at them all the time if I had the chance." She stood up.

"And I'd look at yours," he said. "But we have to go out in public sometimes."

That made the both of them laugh as they walked out of their house. The woodworkers waved as they spotted them.

"Sounds like you two are determined to have a good day," Choujiro said. "So, Miko-sama, off to start another day saving us from our hurts and pains?"

"I'm going to try," she said. "Or at least learn something new that will help."

Choujiro glanced at his young companion. "Learning is good, is it not?" He turned back to her and smiled.

"Keh," InuYasha replied.

They made their goodbyes, and the young couple headed down the hill.

About the same time InuYasha and Kagome made it down the hill and started walking to Kaede's house, the doormat lifted on Daitaro's house. Genjo stood there, looking at his mother, who was standing in the beaten earth domo, glancing around as if she were checking to make sure she hadn't misplaced something.

She turned to her son."You've got the right basket?" Chime said. Her voice seemed to echo a little. For the moment, outside of her, the building was empty.

"I do," Genjo said, lifting up his wicker burden. "Mariko-chan had it waiting for me and handed to me herself."

His mother gave him a bright smile."Good, good. This is the last thing I want to do before I come home and set everything up for this evening." The older woman looked back inside one last time. Everything was pristine, even after having made breakfast and feeding her son and husband. "It's hard to believe today is finally here. Tonight, your brother will be a married man once again."

"Everything's going to go perfectly, Okaasan, even if we didn't go up there."Genjo said, nodding knowingly. "Mariko's in the garden, and will get the greens we need. All the dried stuff is soaking. Chichi-ue and Ani-ue are taking care of the animals and double-checking Okuro's enclosure, to make sure he won't be getting out today. There's a couple of cows about ready, so he should stay entertained. Everybody knows we're having lunch at my house, so you won't have to worry about that. Our new clothes are all ready. It's going to be a great evening."

"I know, I know," Chime said. "It's just . . . well, maybe it's for luck, but also, it's to say thanks for the fact this day is finally here. For a long time, I didn't know if I'd live to see your brother remarry. And now . . . "

She let the door mat drop behind her. She, too, was carrying a basket, although not as large.

"Come on, Okaasan," Genjo said. "This was a good idea. It'll give you something to do besides fret all morning."

"I am not fretting," Chime said, as they started down the path.

"If you say so, Okaa."

Genjo noticed the way she carried herself, and the way her fingers danced over the wickerwork of the basket. "Not fretting," he said, just to himself. "Right." To distract her, he began to sing a song.

"We're going up,
we're going up,
but what do we bring,
what do we bring?"

This made Chime laugh. "We're not going courting, son. Are you sure that's the right song to sing on your brother's wedding day? All that was done long ago."

They headed down the path that led to the main road. "We're going to court the gods, are we not?" Genjo said. "So I can sing a courting song. We want them to think we appreciate them, don't we?"

As she rolled her eyes, he went on with the next verse.

"We're going up,
we're going up,
We bring a rush hat.
Not good enough, not good enough."

"What a greedy family in that song," Chime said. "Always asking for more betrothal gifts."

Genjo shifted his basket in his arms to get a better grasp.

"We're going up,
we're going up,
we bring some pickled plum.
Not good enough, not good enough."

"But I do have some pickled plum in my basket," Chime said. "Are you saying pickles aren't worthwhile?"

Her son laughed. "Maybe it'll be good enough after all."

"We're going up,
we're going up,
we bring a paper fan.
Not good enough, not good enough."

"Not hot enough for a fan yet, son." Chime said.

"It would still be good in case of gnats or flies," he said, defensively. "But they didn't think much of it, either, did they?"

They saw Mariko working in the vegetable patch. She stood up and waved. "I'm glad your wife's family wasn't as picky," Chime said as they waved back.

"You are right, there," Genjo said, agreeing.

They passed out of their walk and onto the main road, and headed up the hill.

"We're going up,
we're going up,
we bring some dried kombu.
Not good enough, not good enough."

Chime merely shook her head. "That I didn't bring. I didn't think the gods needed something that suggested they have lots of children."

"Good," her son said. "I doubt if they need any help in that area. Seem to be plenty of kami wherever you turn around." He thought for a moment, before choosing the next verse.

"We're going up,
we're going up,
we bring a bundle of silken thread.
Not good enough, not good enough."

"Enough!" Chime said. "I'm tired of the greed."

"We're going up,
we're going up," she sang.
"We bring true hearts, true hearts.
That's good enough, that's good enough."

"Okaa," Genjo said, mock-frowning at his mother. "You're not supposed to skip to the end."

"Sometimes, it's worth it," she replied, smiling at him sweetly. "That song has enough verses to last all the way to where we're going."

"That was the idea, Okaasan," the young man said.

"Not good enough, not good enough," his mother replied.

This time, it was Genjo who rolled his eyes.