I do not own InuYasha or any of the characters created by Rumiko Takahashi
InuYasha and Miroku walked up to the front of the hanyou's house. The house nestled peacefully in the sun, a calm island of light surrounded by forest and an even higher ridge beyond. The garden that Kinjiro had planted was starting to grow. Already, the way from the house to the clothesline was becoming a trail. The wash tub was leaned up against the house. In less than a month, the whole area was getting that patina that said lived in.
This caught Miroku's eye. "Your house used to look like...well, a hunter's shack," the monk said. "But now look at it - a vegetable garden that's shooting up, a clothes line, a shed going up in the back...and look at that firewood. You look like you're ready for winter and it's not even hot yet. So much different than last month when I came up here looking for you."
"Feh," InuYasha said. "You know I chop wood for here, and for Kaede-babaa, and Daisuke-jiji. I have to stay ahead."
"You're welcome to chop mine, too, if you like it that much," Miroku said, grinning slyly at InuYasha.
"Like hell," the hanyou said, rolling his eyes. "About the only honest work Sango gets out of you."
Miroku snickered at that. "Somehow, I knew that's what you'd say. Still, my friend, it's looking more like a home every day."
"Have a reason to use it nowadays. Never really did until Kagome came back." InuYasha walked over to the water bucket at the edge of the verandah, lifted the lid, grabbed the ladle hanging handy, and dipped it in, taking a long drink. "Long as Kagome likes it here, plan to keep it that way." He propped the ladle back on its hook, and closed the bucket. "Even if it means not punching trees out or holes in the ground when I'm angry enough to do it." Moving to the right, he sat down.
Miroku watched him as he sank to the ground, sitting crosslegged on the verandah. The hanyou pulled his sword out of his obi and rested it over his shoulder, almost like he was on guard. Miroku sat down next to him.
For a moment, they sat there in silence. InuYasha was the first to break it.
"It was like a knife went through me when Shippou came to get me when we were dealing with the bakeneko," InuYasha said. He kept his voice soft, but still Miroku could feel his anxiety. "I wasn't there to protect Kagome. I don't know what's worse, not being there, or being there and not being able to do anything."
"You know, InuYasha, sometimes she'll be like that – doing things that you can't help her with. Putting herself into situations you don't like, but that mean a lot to her." Miroku sighed. "She is her own person, and that's the person you care about. You have to give her room to be herself.
InuYasha tapped his head against the wall of the house and looked up. "I learned that a long time ago. We sure had enough fights back there at the start over her needing to do this or that thing that I thought was too dangerous for her."
"I remember," the monk said, nodding.
"You weren't any better," InuYasha continued. "I remember how you were afraid your Kazaana was going to take you down, and you tried to keep Sango at arm's length. You even tried to get me to hide how bad off you were. Didn't work."
Miroku smiled. "We both are married to hardheaded women. It's hard to give them no for an answer even when it's for their own good."
InuYasha turned his head, and his sad solemness lifted for a moment. He gave his friend a fleeting grin. "Yeah, Sango has the tools to keep you in line. You gonna lock Hiraikotsu back up in the shrine?"
The monk rubbed the top of his head, as if remembering the kiss of that weapon. "I am considering it. Once the dust about Yoshimi settles. Although she was rather happy to see it again. We'll have to see."
InuYasha looked like he was about to say something, but his ear twitched, moving towards a sound inside of the house. "I think Kaede-babaa's about done." He stood up, putting his sword back in his obi.
As he did, the doormat was lifted, and the old miko stepped out of the house.
On the other side of the village, Tsuneo and Daitaro had Amaya serve them tea at the far end of the courtyard, where he could see the main house clearly, but with enough distance to give him time to react. She had spread out a cloth, placed sitting mats down, and left them with a tray of rice cakes and chimaki along with a pot of tea.
"You've done this a lot?" Daitaro asked, pouring tea for his friend.
Tsuneo returned the favor, and picked up one of the rice cakes. "A time or two," he said. "Haname is not Chiya, and I am not Michio, but it is clear that Chiya gets some of her traits from her mother."
Hideo, done with working with Amaya, stood next to the men. He shuffled his feet anxiously, his head turning back to his abandoned bucket. "Please, Tsuneo-sama, may I get back to work? If I don't finish before lunch, Haname-sama..." Letting go a long sigh, he bowed his head.
The old farmer picked up a chimaki off the tray. "You were a brave lad, heading to Kahoru's kitchen while she's cooking. Take this and you can get back to work."
"She tried, but I told her you told me to come back." The boy lifted his head. "For me?" he said, seeing the offered treat.
"For you. Don't let Sho or anybody else try to make you share it. Your brother's out working, so you're safe there."
Bowing, Hideo took the treat and slipped away to some hiding place he knew to eat it.
Together, the two old farmers sipped their tea, watching the boys do their chores, and talked about Michio and the weather and what work they had left to do. It did not take long before they heard the laughter of a pair of familiar voices. Haname, smiling and looking rather sure of herself, stepped out of the main house, with Chime and Akina following behind her.
"Ah," Tsuneo said, holding his teacup in the palm of his hand. "See?" He looked at Daitaro, speaking softly. "My dear wife is ready to spring the trap, I believe. Are you ready to be a part of this?"
Daitaro unwrapped a chimaki. "Don't think I'll be able to get out of it, friend. Today, I am just an ox. Best I can do is be a witness, or maybe a distraction."
"Karma," Tsuneo said, shrugging. He put his teacup down on the tray Amaya had served it on. He looked around. Hideo and Sho, having finished their morning chores were sitting in the shade of one of the outbuildings. "Hideo!" he called out, waving for him to come."
The boy took a deep breath, and got up, but he hurried to Tsumeo.
The old farmer pointed to the tray, with a teapot, cups and two rice cakes left. "Go take this tray back to Koharu. This time, you and Sho can share the leftover rice cakes."
That lit up the boy's face, and he hurried to pick up the tray and, calling Sho, the two boys headed to the field kitchen, where Koharu was busy making lunch.
"Well, you made someone happy," Daitaro said, standing up.
"Until Koharu sees them and puts them to work," Tsuneo said., chuckling. "I can't imagine letting those two get away without doing something." He got up himself. "It's getting too close to lunch."
As they waited, Chime whispered something to Haname. Both women laughed, and began walking towards the men.
"Haname looks rather pleased with herself," Daitaro said. "Her smile...it's rather wolfish, isn't it?"
Tsuneo watched his wife move towards them. She glanced at him with pleased, perhaps slightly triumphant eyes. "Not exactly a wolf. She's looking like the merchant who thinks he pulled a fast one on a farmer. Or the child who stole the last rice cake and hasn't gotten caught."
"And Chime looks like the child that handed it to her," Daitaro said. He sighed, but there was a chuckle in it. "Shall we go find out what fate they've cooked up for us?"
"Might as well," Tsuneo said. "Destiny drives a hard bargain."
"Destiny has to be a woman," Daitaro said. "Can't imagine a male kami acting like she does."
While Tsuneo and Daitaro contemplated the ways of the kami, InuYasha walked over towards the door of his house up on the hill, watching the door mat lift, and Kaede step out.
"About time," the hanyou grumbled. "Took long enough."
"Sometimes it does, InuYasha," Kaede said, stepping onto the verandah. The old miko gave the hanyou a tired smile. "Thank you for letting me examine Kagome-chan alone. It gave me time to make sure what was wrong with her."
Her smile was evidently not what the hanyou expected, but some of the tension drained out of him as he saw it. He shrugged. "Just want what's best for her."
"I know you do," she said, nodding, and then turned to look at Miroku. "Ah, Houshi-sama. I want to talk with you about what happened."
Miroku nodded in assent. "But of course."
InuYasha's ear twitched as he watched her and took a step to the door.
"Don't go in yet," Kaede said. "Let me talk first."
Reluctantly, he stopped, then leaned against the door. "How is she?"
"Tired. In pain. I gave her some medicine for her head, and left another dose behind for this evening."
"But what's wrong with her?" InuYasha asked. "Was there something at the house?"
"She did more than she was ready for, mostly. My sensei, when they were training me called it Deshitaki, disciple waterfall. A person learning to use spiritual powers sometimes overdoes it. It leaves the ki channels inflamed, sometimes bruised, and can cause quite the headache. It happened to me when I was learning, and I never had as much power to push through as Kagome-chan does."
"I knew she was tired," InuYasha said, clenching his fists. "I..."
Miroku decided to interrupt him. "Oh, I remember days like that," the monk said. "Mushin would lecture me for not listening to me, then pour the most nasty medicine down my throat. At times, I wasn't sure which was worse, the headache, the lecture, or the medicine."
"Medicine strong enough to deal with strong pain is rather bitter," Kaede said nodding, "although I am sure Kagome-chan never was the rascal you were when younger. She doesn't deserve a lecture for any of this." She turned her one steady, if tired-looking, eye at the hanyou. "And that means from you, too, InuYasha. I see you winding up. This is not the time to talk to her about this. None of us realized this was going to happen."
The look Kaede gave him was stern enough to make him gulp and step back once. He managed to squeak out a "Keh," and quickly stuck his hands in his sleeves. "What do you take me for, Baaba?"
She sighed herself, a long fatigued breath. "A worried husband. And perhaps I was just remembering bygone days, InuYasha, when you were worried and yelled more than was useful."
"You two did have some serious arguments once upon a time," Miroku said, nodding.
"Feh. That was then," the hanyou said, turning his head. "I...learned better."
"Then that is all for the best." Kaede nodded. "Perhaps I was too sharp. This old woman is tired herself. Mostly, Kagome-chan needs to rest. At least half a ten-day before she does any more spiritual work. She needs to let that part of her heal. You told me your mother was given to headache?"
"Then you understand about quiet and dim. Her food should be light and easy to digest. Both the headache and the medicine can cause distress."
"Sango is cooking extra for lunch," Miroku said. "I'll be bringing it over in a little bit."
"Thanks," the hanyou said.
"I want you to keep her home, or at least away from her duties for the next several days. Even after the headache stops. She needs to heal. She needs calm. And after the word gets out about what happened, the villagers may want more out of her than her body's ready to give. You may have to keep Kagome separate from those people for a few days. It might even be well if you two could retreat somewhere for a week after her headache eases back. A jaunt in the mountains, perhaps. Something to keep her and the people who will be asking for help separate for a time, if you know of a good place."
Miroku's eyes twinkled. "I know of a place or two," he said, rather suggestively. InuYasha rolled his eyes.
Kaede ignored the banter. "Come, Houshi-sama. I need to talk to you about what happened. You and I need to think of how to deal with Kagome-chan's use of her powers. She needs more training than I realized. And soon."
"Of course," Kaede-obaasan." He nodded at InuYasha. "I'll be back with lunch in a little while." He waved goodbye and let Kaede lead him down the path.
InuYasha took a deep breath. "Finally," he said, then went inside.