1I do not own InuYasha or any of the characters created by Rumiko Takahashi
At Daitaro's house, there was a hesitant knock on the door.
"Now who would that be?" the old farmer said, getting up from his comfortable seat next to his wife.
She put her ladle down and wiped her hands on a towel. "Go see who it is, old bull," Chime said. "If it's one of the women, you can go help Genjo. This is woman's work, finishing the food."
"You mean woman's talk. You're not fooling me," he said, giving his wife a fond look.
"Well, people have been stopping by. I have to talk to them, don't I?" Her lips curled up into an amused grin, quite self assured. "You two can get the baths set up. Once Shinjiro gets back, we probably need to start getting cleaned up."
"Don't tell me people are still dropping off pickles?" the farmer asked. He began to head to the entrance. "Aren't you afraid you'll give that poor man a belly ache with all the pickles you're going to try to feed him tonight? I know how you keep talking about InuYasha and his pickles, but . . . "
The old woman laughed. "Not from what Kagome-chan says." She put her tea kettle over the heat. "Don't talk about me. You have enough sake for a village festival."
He chuckled. "Not for InuYasha, that's for sure. He's as lightweight as Takeshi. Maybe I'll send some over to the monk's."
Chime nodded. "He'd like that," she said. She pulled out her tea things. "It'd give you something to do this afternoon. I know you want to catch up and put your nose into whatever's going on there."
"My old woman thinks she knows me so well." Shaking his head, he went to the door.
"Well I do," Chime replied.
The old farmer lifted the doormat to see Amaya standing there, holding a basket. Her hands twisted around its handle nervously.
Daitaro gave her a curious look and a welcoming smile. "Ah, Amaya-chan, what brings you to this part of the village today?" he asked, letting her in the entryway. "You don't get over here very often. They let you get away this afternoon?"
"Sometimes they do," she replied. "And on a fortunate occasion, too. Haname-obasan asked me to bring this over." She held up the basket. "She heard that perhaps you might be wanting some of her rice cakes . . . something about a wedding, perhaps?"
"You heard about that, did you?" he asked. "Haname sent rice cakes? I'm impressed." He stepped aside, letting her in. "Rice cakes and not pickles."He glanced back at his wife. "And everybody knows how good Haname's rice cakes are."
Amaya looked confused, but once again, Chime let a small laugh as she walked towards the door. "Come in, Amaya-chan. It's a little joke he's making. That's enough of men's silliness. Tell me the news. How is Haname-chan doing? Better, I hope. I heard she hasn't been well . . . well since the other day."
"That's my news," Amaya said, handing Chime the basket. She gave her a big smile. "Haname-obasan is all better. It's amazing."
"All better?" Daitaro said, surprised, rubbing his hat over his head. "I heard from Tsuneo yesterday that she could barely get out of bed."
"All better," Amaya said. "Kaede-sama and Kagome-chan came over this morning, and they did something. I think there was a spell on her. Somehow, she had the right magic to be able to break it. I wasn't there to watch it, but they tell me it was rather spectacular. She must be a real miko, after all."
"I would say," Chime said. The two women headed over to the fire pit, with Daitaro close behind.
"Haname had a spell on her?" Daitaro asked.
Amaya nodded, sitting down where Chime invited her to. "That's what they told me. I'm not sure how or why - something to do with the magic that the yamabushi did to her right before he . . . well, whatever you want to say happened to him. But I hear you have news too. It didn't sound nearly as happy. I heard from Furume that Maeme-sama almost drowned."
"So our little cousin was able to help that old . . . er, woman," Datairo said, walking over to the wall where he had the sake jugs. "And now Masu's girl is going around telling tales, is she?" He bent over and picked up a jug. "Yes, we had some excitement today. Maybe our side of the village is going to get a little noisy once the word's everywhere."
"Bah, you old thing," Chime said. "First you complain that we don't really count, and now you complain about someone here getting some respect." She checked her kettle and began measuring out tea. "Yes, it's true about Maeme-chan, that poor dear. She's up at Houshi-sama's house."
"Furume was very impressed with him," Amaya said. "But what happened?"
"Her husband," Daitaro said, standing up. "She wanted to get away from him. In a permanent fashion." He looked at his wife. "You tell her. You've heard it all by now. I need something more pleasant to think about for a while, or I'll do something I shouldn't on our son's wedding day. I'm going up the hill."
And with that, he headed out of the house.
Up on the hill, InuYasha had returned with the water buckets, and his wife had quickly put him to work moving things out of the house so she could do her cleaning. The space in front of their house had filled up with their movable furniture - the wash stand, the low table, boxes and baskets, and everything else that could get in the way.
While she ran a dust cloth over the pieces already outside, the hanyou walked past the rolled up door mat, his arms full. "So where do you want me to put this?"he asked Kagome.
She glanced up at him. He was standing there, holding the big wooden chest, the one which used to be their clothes chest before InuYasha bought the big clothes cabinet that took up a good bit of one wall. Now it held their towels and her sewing projects.
"Just put it along side of the table," Kagome said. "I'll get to it next."
"Don't know why you couldn't just mop the area where you spilled the pickles," he said, moving to put the chest where she indicated. He put it down and dusted off his hands.
She laughed, making the bow on her head scarf, which she wore today tied in front like most of the other village women, bobble a little. It was a pleasant enough sound, but there was an edge to it, reflecting her tension, and InuYasha chose not to push it. He watched her move, Her sleeves were also tied back and she had that look of determination that told InuYasha that he had better not stand in one place too long or he would become part of her cleaning project.
"That's the last thing that's big enough to be moved," he said. She nodded, and went back to her dusting. For a moment he just stood there, then stuffed his hands in his sleeve, watching her.
Choujiro, in between boards to split, left his side of the house where he was working to get close enough to see what was happening. As Kagome finished cleaning the table and moved to the chest, the woodworker, obviously curious, adjusted his leather apron and wiped his hands on the sides of his hakama. InuYasha, hearing the slight movements, turned to look. Choujiro scratched his head as he watched, easy enough to be seen by the hanyou, but out of Kagome's line of sight. He gave the hanyou a questioning look, trying to figure out what was going on. InuYasha just shrugged.
Kagome gave the chest one last rub, then stood up and looked at her handiwork. "Good," she said. "So the furniture is clean. Now there's one more thing I need to do inside before I start mopping."
As she headed inside, the woodworker walked around to the front. "She's a busy thing, isn't she? I was thinking that with all the things that went on this morning, she'd want to take a rest or something. Between Haname and Maeme . . . "
"Keh," the hanyou said, nodding. "That's what I thought, too, but I think she's nervous about tonight."
"Why?" Choujiro asked. He scratched his head again. "It's not like she's the one getting married - or doing the wedding dinner. Aren't you two just going because Daitaro asked you?"
InuYasha shook his head. "That's what it started as, but Kaede's stuck with Maeme tonight," the hanyou said. "She asked Kagome to do whatever it is miko do at a wedding. First time to do it."
"Ah," the woodworker said knowingly. Nodding. "That explains it. Too much morning, more evening than she knows what to do about yet, and nothing to do this afternoon. My woman gets crazy when she's like that. She'll weed everything or spin up all the hemp fiber in the house or something when things like that happen."
"Yeah, that's what's happening, I guess," the hanyou said. He twisted his lips into a near scowl, but took a breath and let it out. "How do you deal with it?"
Choujiro rubbed the back of his neck. "Help her if she wants it. Stay out of the way if she doesn't. Pray to Kwannon to let the time pass fast so she stops thinking about what she's going to do. Sometimes, I can distract her, but if it doesn't work right away, my advice is to run like hell."
InuYasha's ear flicked. He knitted his brows together, not really hearing the joke in the woodworker's statement "Thought about the running, but I think maybe on a day this strange, I better stay nearby. Who knows what else might happen? Too much weird for one day." And with that, he headed back into the house.
When he got inside, Kagome was scooping hot coals out of the fire pit and put them in a metal fire pan. Next to it, the ashcan stood half filled.
"Cleaning the fire pit, too? Did you really need to do that today?" InuYasha asked. His voice was carefully curious, not complaining. "You're definitely going to want a bath before we go to Daitaro's this evening."
She carefully put a coal into the metal dish. "Probably. But even you were mentioning how deep the ash was getting."
He knelt down next to her. "I say a lot of things," he said, taking his wife's hand. "That didn't mean I meant today. You're sure you won't be too tired to go to the wedding?"
"I might be too tired if I don't have something to do until then," she said, standing up. She moved over to the beaten earth domo where she grabbed her bucket and poured water and vinegar into it. InuYasha wrinkled his nose when she added the vinegar, but didn't say anything. Instead, he picked up the fire pan. "Today has just been . . . "
"I hear you," he said, moving towards the front. "When I'm like that, that's when I start chopping wood . . . or I go for a run." His voice was vaguely hopeful she'd take the run comment for a suggestion.
Kagome stepped up on the wooden platform and walked over to the peg where she hung her cleaning cloths. "So that's why you're always working on your wood pile. I thought that you might be doing that." She gave him a little smile and walked to the back of the room.
"Well, we need it, too, and I chop enough for us and Daisuke and Kaede, so it needs to get done anyway," he said. "But yeah, sometimes I do it just because I need to just move."
"I'm glad you understand," she said, getting down on her knees. She dipped her mop rag in the water. "So now I'm going to mop, if you'll take care of the ash and coals"
He nodded. "Maybe I'll go chop some wood," he said. "That way, we both can burn off some steam."
She laughed a little, waved him off, and started to work. With a shrug he took the fire pan and ashes outside, put them in a safe place and headed for his wood pile.