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

Chapter 270

Daitaro wasn't the only person surprised by Takeshi's draining his cup. Up on the rafters, two unseen visitors were watching the action as well.

"That blessing of yours seemed to have some interesting effects there, Daikoku-sama," Kazuo said. "Daitaro is right. Takeshi's always been a bit of a light weight when it comes to sake."

The luck god laughed. "Weddings should be merry moments. Just say I like the look of the bride and groom."

"Considering what an odd day it's been," Kazuo said, nodding, "I'm sure everybody will appreciate it."

"Why don't we go down?" the luck god asked.

Kazuo nodded. "Let's do it this way," he said. And with a wave of his hand, all the movement in the crowd below froze as he pulled himself and his companion outside of the flow of time.

"Huh," Daikoku said. "You seem to do that a lot."

"Forgive an old family kami," Kazuo said. "I'm not so swift in my considerations as some. Even when I was just a farmer, people complained it took me too long to come to any decision. This way, I get the time I need to really look at what's going on."

"You can get a good look this way, it's true," the elder kami said. Everything below them was frozen. In some ways, it was an odd picture. Daitaro, his eyebrows raised in surprised approval, was looking in Takeshi's direction. Takeshi had just taken the cup away from his lips. Ushimi, Takeshi's wife, was looking at her husband with wide eyes, knowing her husband's circumspect ways when it came to drinking, while his son, grinning, had his hand ready to strike a note on his drum. The oddest thing about the moment, though, was the fire pit, where a log had just let go a small cascade of sparks. They hovered like motionless fireflies, glowing in the evening light, just popped out of their wood.

Ignoring the fire pit, Daikoku looked at the bride and groom.

"She's a pretty little thing, that bride," the kami said, nodding his approval. Erime, her face radiant, was not looking at her father's unexpected behavior. Instead, she was looking up at her husband, smiling shyly, but with a pleased delight in her eyes. In return, Shinjiro was meeting her gaze with an intensity that spoke of his own feelings. "And the groom, he acts like a man quite pleased with his family's choice."

"I would say so," Kazuo said. "It is a love match, after all. She's the first woman he's looked at that way in a long, long time. It made me happy when their fates began to knit together."

"He has a good heart, that one," Daikoku said. "It's about time for him to have some luck."

Kazuo rubbed his hat over his head, looking down approvingly. "He had a rough time of it for a while. Reminds me of my youngest, in a lot of ways. Neither of them had luck with their first wives."

Daikoku closed his eyes for a moment, concentrating. "I believe they have no such destiny, these two, at least not for a while. It's tiring to look too far ahead."

"And not always very satisfying," Kazuo said, nodding. " It was a sad day when Shinjiro here lost his first wife, and his firstborn at the same time. Wasn't anything I could do to save them, either. I tried a nudge here and there, hoping to change their fate, but the powers in charge of destiny don't listen much to an old family kami when they are working those destinies out. Karma can be a strong thing."

"All the great wheel usually lets us do is smooth the way a little," the luck kami said, nodding. "There are things they have to do, choices they have to make . . . and sometimes destiny is like the tide washing in. Luck can only go so are." He frowned. "The best we can do sometimes is to help them make the right choices. If there's something else demanded, well, you know how that goes. Especially in big things." He looked at the mallet he held in his hand. "Funny how even we sometimes have to deal with karma ourselves when the really big strings get pulled."

Kazuo sighed. "True, true. Look at that woman sitting next to the hanyou."

The luck god looked at Kagome, her face caught in a small laugh, leaning close to InuYasha to whisper something. His nearest ear twisted towards her to catch what she was saying.

"Now she's an interesting one," Kazuo said. "And she has had such an odd destiny about her, both she and her husband."

The hanyou was looking at the group with curious eyes. In some ways he seemed fey and otherworldly, with his odd eyes and silver hair, but he was solid enough, and of the earth at the same time, belonging as much as his wife. Even so, it was clear that he seemed a little unsettled by all the goings on.

"She bears the soul of my saddest moment at being unable to fight against destiny," Kazuo said. "But at the same time, Karma must know what it's doing. Look at how much light runs through her."

"They are an interesting couple," the luck god said, nodding. "Such a twisted fate."

"You've dealt with them before?" Kazuo asked. "I know you knew about them . . . "

Daikoku nodded. "I ran across their tracks a few times three or four years ago. I thought the high gods must be crazy for letting this one happen the first time I saw her - all that game with time. I've known about the hanyou though for a long time."

"I didn't," Kazuo said. "Not until he showed up trailing along with my dear Kikyou-chan."

The luck kami rubbed his chin. "His father and I crossed paths a few times over the centuries - not often. His father, now that was a man who used to laugh about luck. Didn't think he needed it until he did," he said, tapping his hammer ever so lightly on his knee.

As he did, little golden sparks scattered, landing on the gathering below, bestowing a little extra good luck on the wedding guests - Chime would find a hair comb she had thought lost forever, Masayo would win a lucky turn at a game of chance, Genjo would stop teasing just in time not to get hit by Eiji one day in the near future - but these were inconsequential things that didn't mean much to Daikoku - he tended to shed small amounts of good luck at the least notice.

"I offered to give him a boon right before he took the hanyou's mother. I create my own luck, he said." The luck kami drifted down to stand in front of InuYasha. "And he did too, most of the time. But after he met this one's mother, his luck began to run out. Someone, I'm not sure who, threw something dark at him. I tried to help, but there was that smallpox outbreak. Unlucky timing, that was. By the time I got back, he was tainted" He shook his head. "Rubbed off on his young one here, too."

"Not so much anymore," Kazuo said, joining the elder kami. "Ever since this girl released him from the tree he was sealed on, his luck has seemed to improve."

"No, not so much." He smiled a little. "I was able to help a little there. First time I caught up with them, he was having a nasty turn. Got poisoned by spiderheads, and he almost died. Might have, too, but I got curious about his woman. Not that she was his yet. Or he hers. What a strange couple they were. But I was able to give him enough luck to last through the night. Then I found out what their destinies were, and I kept a little eye on them."

"A strange couple? Some might say they still are," Kazuo said, looking down at Kagome. "She shines so brightly. More than poor Kikyou-chan ever did."

"Ah, that girl of yours," the luck god said. "Karma tied my hands when it came to her. That jewel . . . that evil monster . . . "

"My hands, too," Kazuo replied, rubbing his hat across his head again. "Big fates are hard to bear."

"And mine as well." The two kami turned around to see a ball of light come join them. It only took a moment, then Shimame-no-kami, the land kami of the village materialized and stood next to them. She was dressed in brilliant silk the color of spring flowers and fresh leaves. Daikoku looked at her appreciatively.

She noticed, and smiling, bowed low. "Ah, you grace us with your presence, Dono. I did not expect such an August person to be here at any wedding here in our village. You do us much honor."

He returned her bow. "How could I not, lovely Shimame-sama? With such a winning fellow come to ask a favor, and such a lovely land kami to join us?"

Shimame, straightening up, smiled at the kami appreciatively. Something passed between the land kami and the luck kami as their eyes met.

"Kazuo-sama . . . has he explained what he's trying to accomplish?" she asked. The family kami made a face at her tone, pursing his lips, but he said nothing. "I would help, but . . . "

"Some things are best done by those who are meant to do the work," the luck god said. "You do excellent work with the land. Kazuo works with the humans on the land. Do not fret, Dono. He's set everything up quite nicely."

Shimame raised her fan, looking coyly from behind it. "If the August Fields add their blessing, who can stand before it?"

"Did you come to bless the wedding, Dono?" Kazuo asked.

"I bless each and every wedding," the land kami said. She moved over behind Shinjiro and Erime, touched each of them with her fan. "As far as Destiny allows it, be fruitful and multiply," she said, her voice chanting with a soft lilt. "You belong to the land, and the land belongs to you. You are seeds planted this day. Bring forth an abundance, to scatter the abundance of the land on the future. Never forget it was the land that brought you forth; to the land you will return. Grow brightly, children."

A soft rosy glow, nearly the color of her robes touched the couple. For a moment, that rosy glow touched all the couples there, Chime and Daitaro, Takeshi and Ushimi, and their married children. It even graced the hanyou and miko.

"A good blessing," the luck god said.

"Please, Dono. If it would please you, come and stop by my shrine before you leave," she said, dropping her eyes in a way that promised something just between the two of them.

"How could I not, lovely Shimame?" Daikoku said.

Coloring prettily, she bowed once again. "I shall be waiting for you, Daikoku-sama." And then, as swiftly as she came, she was gone.

Kazuo, his face curling up into a rather amused grin, shook slightly as he suppressed a chuckle. "My, my, Dono," he said, staring at the space where the land kami had been. "You must have made quite an impression on Shimame-sama. She may bless most of the weddings in our village, but this time, she outdid herself."

"Maybe," the luck kami said. "A lovely woman she is. Maybe for the people here, it was lucky that I showed up." Chuckling a little at his own joke, he floated back up to his seat on one of the rafters.

"Maybe she's hoping to be lucky as well," Kazuo said, and joined him.

"She might get that chance," the luck kami said, nodding appreciatively. "I had forgotten what a fine thing she is."

"Being the father of luck must have its advantages," Kazuo said, chuckling. "But now, let time have its place so we can do the final blessing." He waved his hand.

Suddenly, it was like the room took a breath at once. The fire popped. Chime looked at it a moment, and decided all was well.