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

Chapter 304

A pair of golden eyes watched the retreating forms of the miko and hanyou. The eyes were carefully downwind of InuYasha and Kagome, and they studied the retreating forms of the two thoughtfully as the two retreated. The face that went with those eyes, though, was, as usual, unreadable, locked into the stoic look that was his face at rest, revealing nothing of the thoughts that went on.

After they were safely on their way, the white-clad daiyoukai stepped out of the clearing.

"Lord Sesshoumaru?" his small green attendant said, running up to him. The small courtier straightened his hat as he caught his breath "I did as you told - "

"Be silent, Jaken," the youkai said, making a motion with his arm for the little youkai to stay where he was.

Knowing his master well, Jaken took a deep breath and froze into place.

Sesshoumaru walked over to where the strange miko had been talking about Rin. He had not actually intended to eavesdrop on his brother and his brother's woman.

Jaken watched his master carefully as he walked across the meadow and stood near a large boulder. "Did I hear InuYasha, Sesshoumaru-sama?" he asked, judging it safe enough to talk again. "Was he with Kagome-sama?"

"Yes," Sesshoumaru said. He bent down, and looked at the flowers blooming near the stone. Kagome had cut two, but there were several more. He picked one.

"Blooming like a sasayuri in a summer field, its beauty always noticed," the daiyoukai said.

"My Lord?" Jaken said, leaning against the Staff of Two Heads. He looked surprised at seeing his master examine the flower.

"Tell me, Jaken," Sesshoumaru said. "Does time seem to run faster to humans than it does to us?"

"I...well, they don't live . . . " The little youkai scratched his head, knitting his brows together. "My lord, I don't know. Why do you ask, Dono?"

Sesshoumaru twirled the flower in his fingers, before tucking it into his robes. He ignored the little youkai's question. "Come, Jaken."

Together, they headed back into the forest.

Unaware of Sesshoumaru's thoughts and presence, InuYasha and Kagome went on with their day's activities.

"I'm back," he said, walking up to the house with a fish big enough for their dinner.

"You took less time than I thought," the young miko said. Kagome, as she had intended, had changed clothes into something lighter and was doing the laundry in her tub near the clothes line.

"Told you I wanted to stay around the house this afternoon," he replied, walking inside with his catch. While he put the fish up, she wrung out the towel she was washing, and got up to hang it on the line, joining her miko garments to flap in the breeze.

He stepped back outside, crossed his arms and looked at the sky. "I think it's going to rain tonight. Kind of smells like it." His nostrils flared as he scented the air. "Not sure I trust my nose right now, though. Need any more water?"

Kagome shook her head. "Good thing I'm doing this now." She dunked another piece of cloth into the tub. "I think we're going to have to hang a clothes line in the house once the rains start in earnest."

"Easy enough to do," he replied, walking over to stand near her.

"Take off your kosode," Kagome said. She looked up at him. "I'm almost done, and your kosode definitely needs washing."

"Why?" InuYasha asked.

"Because you didn't change this morning," she said.

"Uh," he replied, his ear twitching, but then he broke out in a grin. "I think someone distracted me."

She wrinkled her nose, and refused to take the bait. "It must be the new moon. How you can wear the same shirt you wore while you were on the road . . . "

He sighed as he pulled off his suikan and then unfastened his kosode, tossing it into the clothes basket next to her. "Most of my life I only owned one. I forget." He stood in front of her, slinging his jacket over one shoulder."You never used to complain when we were hunting for the shards."

She looked up as she began to wring out the cloth in her hands, seeing him standing there, his hakama slung low without his jacket or shirt. His skin was golden and unmarked. The warm light highlighted the cut of the muscle across his stomach and chest, and she enjoyed the sight with open admiration. "That was then," she replied, returning to her work and giving the garment she was washing a final squeeze. "Handy, though, that your fire rat cleans itself."

"Let me hang that up for you," he said, reaching over the tub to take it from her. His hands gently touched hers as he did, enjoying the look on his wife's face. "You have much more to do?"

"Nope," she replied. "Just a couple more pieces."

"Want a bath tonight?" he said, draping the cloth over the line. "I ought to get the water while it's early."

"As hot as it is?" she asked. "You'll be lucky if I don't want two baths. But put a kosode on first." Her voice was just a little regretful.

His sense of smell was still good enough to be aware of why she asked that. He laughed, and headed into the house.

The rest of the day went quietly. Not long after they brought the clothes in off of the line, the sky began to cloud up. The evening's arrangements weren't much different from usual. She laid out the bedding, but put her bow and quiver within easy reach. InuYasha brought the tub in. She lit the lamp, a bit earlier than usual, and pulled out her sewing basket, to have something to do during the night's watch.

Then the sun went down, and her silver-haired husband changed into a black-haired one. Almost at the same moment, a flash of lightning lit up the sky, but was so far away there was no thunder.

"You can't tell what night it is from looking at the sky." Kagome asked. She stood in the doorway, looking up at the clouds. Lightning lit it up again.

"I'd know," he said.

"I guess you would," she replied. "You're doing all right?"

"I guess," he said from his seat near the fire pit. He tossed a small piece of pine onto the fire. It caught flame, adding a little light to drive away the shadows. That did nothing to help the warmth in the room, and he got up and moved away, sitting against a wall. The air was still and heavy. Another flash of lightning lit up the clouds.

"Maybe the rain will reach us. That might do something to break the heat for a little while," Kagome said softly.

"Feh," said her companion, sitting in a corner of the dimly lit room. "Just make it stickier."

She sighed, and dropped the door mat, and walked back into the house. "It's too hot for all these clothes," she said, and removed her wrap skirt and kosode, tossed them into a basket. Her inner kosode clung to her skin. "I can see I'm going to be doing a lot of laundry this summer."

"Keh," he said.

"It's not exactly how I imagined tonight to be," she said. "Too hot to want to move."

Her companion said nothing from where he sat in the shadows. He had taken off his suikan and loosened the neck of his kosode. His long dark hair hung limply down his shoulders as he watched her strip. She idly rolled the long length of her hair into a bun. Moving to the cabinet, she rummaged in a box until she found a long stick and with it she skewered her hair in place.

"Feel better?" he asked.

" A little," she replied as she went and sat next to him. She reached for a lock of his hair. "It's a good thing we left the tub in here. I can tell I'm going to want another bath in the morning. How are you doing?"

"Good as I can do on a New Moon," InuYasha grumbled. His skin glistened damply in the lamplight.

She twirled the lock of his hair around her finger. "I could braid your hair and get it off your back. You wouldn't be so hot. And you ought to put on that new kosode I made you. It's made for weather like this."

He shook his head, but didn't meet her eyes. "I just . . . "

He let his words trail off and Kagome let go of the piece of hair. "At least with Miroku and Sango out of town and Shippou off at his uncle's, and Susumu knowing this is a 'youkai thing' night, nobody should bother us." She reached for the fan she had tucked in her waistband.

Neither of them said anything for a moment. Kagome waved her fan listlessly. "If you want me to stay up and watch with you, InuYasha, you're going to have to talk to me. I thought I was going to do some sewing, but it feels like too much effort."

He tilted his head back against the wall. "Yeah. Too hot."

Considering how he normally acted like hot weather was no big deal, Kagome was mildly amused. A thought struck her though, and a slight smirk touched her lips at the possibility. She got up and went past the fire pit to get a bowl and a cup. She filled the bowl with water from the tub. Grabbing a towel from the cabinet, she walked back and sat near him.

"What are you up to, woman?" he asked, curious in spite of the heat.

"My mother told me that this is how her mother stayed cooler in summer," she explained, trying to keep her look innocent, even though the corner of her mouth gave away at least some of her intention. She dipped the cloth in the water, and then wrung it out slightly before wiping her face and neck with the cool water. Next, she took the cup, and poured some of it on her head, using the cloth to help direct it across her scalp. Taking her fan, she waved it, and let the little breeze work with the water.

"Does it help?" he asked.

"Some," Kagome replied. She loosened the neckline of her kosode, exposing the tops of her shoulders and the valley between her breasts, and dipped the cloth again. Tilting her head up, exposing the length of her neck, she ran the cloth from under her chin downwards and across her shoulders. It glistened wetly in the lamplight. Glancing at her husband, who seemed to be growing more interested, she repeated the action, letting a small trickle of water run between her breasts, moving down and out of sight. She reached for the fan, but InuYasha's hand covered hers.

"Let me," he said. "If you're doing it, it'll just make you hotter." There was something in his dark, human eyes, something playful, which she hadn't often seen on the New Moon, and she decided she liked it. She nodded.

He got up on his knees, and began to move the fan. She rotated her head this way and that, as much for his benefit as hers, keeping eyes closed, letting the gentle air current cool her down a bit. She peeked long enough to see a pleased smirk touch his lips, just as he pushed the neckline of her kosode further down her arms. He took the cloth from her hand, rewet it, and let the water trickle down from her shoulder and across the swell of her breast. Gently, lightly, he let the wet cloth follow the water trail, until his hand and the cloth rested on the bottom of her breast, cupping it lightly.

"Umm, InuYasha," she murmured as he repeated the process on the other breast. He dropped the cloth back into the bowl, and reached for her obi. With a strong tug, he loosened the knot

She opened her eyes. "What are you up to?" she asked.

"Just taking care of you," he said.

She let him guide her to the floor, one strong arm cupped behind her neck and a playful smirk on his lips as his now black hair tumbled forward. Turning his head for a moment, he rewet the cloth, let it drip across her body from the center of her chest to her navel. Then gently, he ran the cloth down and across her creamy skin, before fanning her once again.

Kagome took in a deep breath as the fan swept above her skin, closing her eyes once again. He chuckled. She could hear him rewet the cloth. This time, he ran the cloth over and between her thighs. When the cool air hit her, her eyes flew open to see laughing violet eyes just above hers.

"That's enough bath-time," she said, grabbing the fan out of his hand. "Time for you to dry me off." Wrapping her hands around his neck, under the cascade of midnight black hair, she pulled him down into a wet and heated kiss.

Outside, the lightning flashed once more, and this time, the thunder boomed. A cooling breeze ran through the little house as the rain started to fall, but by this time, neither of the occupants cared.