1I do not own InuYasha or any of the characters created by Rumiko Takahashi

Chapter 27

The next morning, InuYasha stepped out of his house, and walked around to the back. In one area there was a tangle of five trees, three smaller, two large, near where he cut firewood, waiting to be limbed and cut and split into boards. The ground behind the house and to the side was littered with small broken branches and gouged with the drag marks and ox prints where they had moved the trees, but there was more light in the spot Kagome wanted her garden.

He heard a snort, and turned around to watch Kinjiro walk up the path, leading an ox and the gear he would need to put in the garden bed. The young man waved at him, and he nodded back, moving in his direction.

"Up already?" Kinjiro nodded, patting the neck of his animal as he paused as InuYasha caught up with him. "I was afraid I'd get here too early."

"No," the hanyou said. Not sure what to do with his hands, he crossed them over his chest, sticking his hands in his sleeves. "I usually get up with the sun."

This made the younger man smile. "You sure you aren't part farmer?"

"Don't know anything about it," InuYasha said, looking at the gear Kinjiro had piled up in the cart the ox was pulling, what he thought might be a plow, and various tools on sticks, not understanding much of any of it. "Kagome's done some gardening back in her home, but mostly I know people put seeds in the ground and stuff comes up."

Kinjiro laughed. "It kind of works that way. There's a little more to it than that. But the soil up here looks good; it'll be almost that easy."

"Keh," InuYasha said. "If you say so."

They continued moving toward the back. Kagome stepped out of the house, carrying a bucket. She saw the two, and gave a little wave. "Good morning, Kinjiro-sama. You're here rather early."

"A lot to do," Kinjiro said. "And Chichi-ue was getting busy with going to market this morning himself. I thought it was was a good idea to get out of the way before he bundled me up with the other things he was packing to take there." His ox bent down and began chewing on some grass, and he patted it on the neck. "And think Kuroya," he said, speaking to the animal, "you got to avoid a long walk and instead get to help me put in Kagome-sama's garden. You'll thank me for it later."

"Sounds like more work," InuYasha said.

"But he'll get done sooner," Kinjiro said, "And won't have to haul back whatever Chichi-ue decides to bring home."

The animal lowed.

"I think he agrees with you," Kagome said.

Kinjiro petted the ox's neck again. "Of course he did. He's very wise, Kuroya." He started to nudge the animal forward when he tapped himself on the forehead. "Oops, I almost forgot." He reached into the cart and pulled out a basket, which he handed to Kagome.

Handing the bucket she was holding to InuYasha, she took it. "It smells good," she said.

"I think Matsume might come up to keep you company if Haha-ue gets settled down. She usually does once Chichi-ue gets on the road. She gave me these for you, sweet dumplings. I think she's hoping to help you eat them while I do all the work, but we'll see."

"That would be nice," Kagome said. "If she doesn't get up here, tell her thanks for me."

He nodded, adjusted the white and red cloth strip around his forehead and nudged his ox to move. "Now if you two don't mind, I'm doing to get to work." And together, man and ox moved back toward the clearing where Kagome's garden was going to go.

"He's rather something, Kinjiro," Kagome said. "I don't know if he makes me want to laugh or feel like I've been rolled under a boulder, but nicely." She hefted the basket. "I wonder how Matsume puts up with him?"

"Maybe the same way you put up with me," InuYasha said. "Yeah, he's good people. We worked well together yesterday. A bit bossy when he knows what he's doing."

Kagome laughed. "And you're not? Could you get me some water?"

"Never said I wasn't," he replied, going down to the stream. His ear turned to follow her light laughter as he walked.

As he filled the bucket up, a pink balloon floated in his direction, and he sighed. As he stood up with the full bucket, the balloon floated next to him and popped, and a small, young kitsune landed by the hanyou's side.

"Wow!" Shippou said, looking around the house grounds. Things are changing around here fast! And I've only been gone a little bit. What's up?"he asked. "Where's Kagome?"

The pair started walking to the house. "Yesterday, I chopped trees. Today Kinjiro's putting in a garden," InuYasha said. "I'm waiting for Miroku to go to market day. Kagome's inside." They stopped in front of the house. He picked up the kitsune by the shirt. "Don't be a pest. If she gets busy, leave, all right?"

"Sure, sure," Shippou said. He managed to jump onto InuYasha's shoulder and watch Kinjiro hook the plow to his ox. " They're going to make all of that open space into a garden? It's going to be big."

"Yeah, I thought so too," InuYasha said. "But that's what Tameo and Kinjiro say we'll need. They're the farmers. Not something I know a lot about."

"What do you know a lot about?" Shippou asked.

InuYasha grabbed him by the collar again. "Enough to kick you across the field, but today you're not worth my time. I can hear Miroku's staff. He's almost here." He let the kitsune drop to the ground, and set the bucket on the verandah.

Kagome chose that moment to step out of the house. "Shippou-chan, you're back!"

"Yeah," said the little fox, who jumped into her arms. "I go visit my uncle's family a lot. They're teaching me all sorts of kitsune magic."

"That's really good, Shippou-chan," Kagome said, ruffing his hair, but letting him down to the ground. "If you want to go inside, there's some soup and rice."

"Yum! That sounds good," the boy said. "I didn't eat yet cause I wanted to get here early." He went into the house.

"There goes your lunch," InuYasha said.

"It's all right," she said. "I'll just make something else. Easier for me than you." She lifted up a small bundle wrapped in a cloth. "That's why I made you lunch. I don't think the onigiri are wrapped as badly as last time."

He smiled. "They weren't bad you know," he said, lifting her chin up with a finger to give her a quick kiss. "Tasted good, too. Thanks." He tucked the bundle inside of his jacket.

"You've got the list?" she asked.

InuYasha nodded. "I wouldn't dare forget it. I don't think I could ever remember all this stuff you and Sango and Matsume and Chime and who knows who else decided we had to have."

"It's not that much," Kagome replied. She chewed on her bottom lip, and looked up at him. "Just enough to get us started. You don't think it's too much, do you?"

"Nope," he said. He gave her a small, wry smile. "Whatever we need and can afford is fine with me. Miroku's just been teasing me."

"He's bad about that," she said. "In return, make him do all the bargaining."

"Oh, I plan to," he said. "If I tried, they'd skin me for sure. So, what are you doing to do while we're gone?"

"If Matsume doesn't show up, I suspect that Sango and I will go down Kaede's. I know Kinjiro's here to help keep an eye on me and the house, which is nice, but I don't want to stay here by myself." She looked beyond him. "Looks like Miroku and Sango are coming here first."

InuYasha turned and saw the monk leading his family towards them. He sighed, then bent over and quickly gave Kagome a small hug. "I guess we'll be back sometime around dark. Don't let Shippou eat us out of house and home. And don't let him prank Kinjiro's ox. Last time he did that, Kinjiro said something about taking his tail."

Kagome grinned. "I promise. Have a good time."

"Feh," he replied, his ear twitching. He could hear the twins running up behind him."Next time maybe you can come with us."

He turned around, picked up the twins, who squealed their greetings, and handed them to Kagome. "Hey, Bouzu, you ready to go?"

"Later, dear ladies," Miroku said, giving a small bow. "We're off to skin . . . er, see the merchants. Have a pleasant time!"

With InuYasha snorting as he fell in step next to the monk, the two headed off to join the other villagers headed for the market.