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

Chapter 35

InuYasha smiled and slipped off the fence post as Kagome stepped out of Kaede's house.

"Hi. Ready for lunch?"she asked. "I made onigiri before we left this morning."

He nodded. "Sounds good. You need to come back later?"

Kagome shook her head. "No. Kaede thinks I did enough for today."

Some tension he didn't even realize was there drained out of the hanyou's body after she said that. He nodded. "Good. Let's go home."

They walked quietly for a few minutes, passing the last house on the main street of the village. The path turned and headed up the hill toward their house.

"So how did it go?" InuYasha asked.

"It was interesting." Kagome looked around to be sure they were out of eyesight of any of the farmers in their fields or in the woods and took her husband's hand in hers. "A man named Shigeru came in with a wounded arm. You know him?"

InuYasha nodded. "He's a cousin or something of Toshiro. Maybe a family retainer. Sneaks off to take naps when he thinks he can get away with it. But he'll follow Miroku around like a puppy sometimes, especially if he thinks there's a meal involved."

"Huh" Kagome said. "Maybe that explains Kaede-sama's attitude. Well, this time he had been working on repairing some fences and had managed to get a big cut on his arm. He claimed his knife slipped."

"Hn," the hanyou said. "Maybe."

Kagome gave her husband a look. "You think he might have done it on purpose?"

InuYasha shrugged.

She just shook her head at that, and went on with her story. "After Kaede had gotten the wound cleaned up, she had me wrap it. That's one thing I already knew how to do, seeing I had so much practice with you." She looked up and gave him a wry grin.

"Keh," he said and gave her hand a small squeeze. "Hope those days are gone."

"Me, too." Kagome said, squeezing back. "Anyway, Kaede gave him something for pain and told him to come back tomorrow to change the bandage. After that, she started telling me about the herbs to use for coughs. We were making it for one of the older villagers who hasn't shaken off his winter sickness."

"Must be old Daisuke," InuYasha said.

Kagome nodded. "How'd you know?"

"Kaede-babaa got me to cut wood for him this winter," InuYasha said. "He was really laid up for a while. That daughter of his kept his house as warm as a bath house, and they went through a lot of wood. I was beginning to wonder if he was going to make it to the spring."

"Ah," Kagome said. "So that was my morning. What did you do?"

"Checked on Kaede-babaa's woodpile," he said. "Talked to Miroku when he came down to see one of the villagers. Susumu stopped by and we talked for a while. Checked on Rin."

"Nobody said anything bad?" she asked. "Nothing bad happened?"

He shook his head no. "Maybe the word hasn't gotten around yet."

"Or maybe nothing's going to happen." She looked up at InuYasha. "Kaede doesn't think it will. Tomorrow I'm going to meet Sayo-sama, Toshiro's daughter-in-law. She's going to have a baby soon. Kaede expects me to help."

InuYasha fell quiet for a moment, his face unreadable, and Kagome, not certain what else to say, said nothing. They turned the last bend toward their house, which was resting peacefully in its clearing.

"Sango said Sayo makes the best pickles in the village," the hanyou said, breaking the silence.

Kagome turned to him, saw the ghost of a grin on his face and arched an eyebrow. "I'll remember that. Maybe she'll send me home with some. You ever had any?"

He shook his head. "I never get over there for some reason. Don't think it's cause Toshiro disapproves. It just never happened."

"Maybe tomorrow," Kagome said, giving his hand a squeeze.

"Maybe." He looked at her. "You have some pickles for lunch?"

Laughing, she nodded.

The first thing Kagome did when they got home after slipping off her sandals was to walk across the room to where her clothes were stored. Once there, she pulled her jacket out of her hakama and began to change clothes.

As she slipped the jacket off of her arms, InuYasha looked at her oddly. "Why?" he asked.

"Why what?" she said, as she folded the garment. Next she unfastened her obi, then reached for her hakama ties. "Stir up the fire, will you? I could use some tea."

InuYasha nodded, and knelt next to the fire pit, uncovering coals from the morning's fire. With a practiced hand, he blew on the coals, adding kindling to bring up a small flame. "Why are you changing clothes?"

"Back where I come from, we only wear miko garments when we're doing miko work." She stepped out of her hakama. Folding them as well, she put the garment on top of the other one. "Now that I'm home, I'm not doing miko work. Do I have to be a miko all the time?"

"I don't know," he said. Adding a few larger pieces of wood, he set up the tripod for the kettle. "I never thought about it. I guess since Kaede always wears her miko clothes, I just expected it. Kikyou did, too."

"Kaede doesn't have a hungry hanyou to take care of," Kagome said, opening a drawer in the clothing cabinet. She took out her beige kosode and blue wrap skirt, and put away the red and white miko outfit. "When I am home, this is how I want to dress, like a wife." She pulled out a scarf and tied it around her head, then closed the drawer. After that, she slipped on the kosode, and pulled the skirt around her waist.

InuYasha walked across the room as she began fastening the skirt but he took the strings and tied it for her. "I like you better this way," he admitted, pulling her against him. "I'm kind of scared to touch you in those other clothes."

Kagome leaned back against him. "Can't have you scared of that."

He nuzzled her neck. "No, you can't. You wouldn't like it nearly as much."

"Neither would you," she said smiling. "You do know I'm still the same me, no matter what clothes I wear."

"Heh," he said, giving her a quick kiss, and then a longer one for good measure. "Maybe I like you best when you're not wearing any clothes."

Kagome pulled away. "You might like me better that way," she said, laughing, "but I don't think I'd like to fix lunch dressed that way. You hungry?"

Lunch was actually quick to prepare. They had onigiri stuffed with bits of fish that Kagome had made that morning, and she sliced pickles to eat with them. While they ate, she explained what Kaede had asked her to do.

"So let me get this right," InuYasha said, eating the last of his pickles. "Kaede told you as part of your training you have to practice touching?"

"That's right," Kagome said, nodding. "Touch is one of the ways we tell why someone's sick. When she examines someone, she looks for clues about what's wrong with their body through her hands. There are some things she learns by the way the skin feels, the muscles underneath, and other things. But more than that, she can use her own spiritual powers through her hands to sense what's wrong inside. I'm supposed to be able to extend my powers not just to purify, but to sense what's going on inside a person, and help heal them by my reiki. But first I have to learn what the touch is telling me."

"Sounds weird," InuYasha said. "You sure you won't purify me?" He picked up his teacup, and began eyeing the last two pickle slices on Kagome's plate.

She quickly popped one of them in her mouth. InuYasha sighed. "You can have the last one if you want it," she said. He grabbed it. "Kaede said touch is the sense we're usually worst at using well. Right now, she doesn't want me probing with my spiritual powers, but to concentrate on what I can pick up. She told me how to practice until I learn to use my sense of touch as well as I do my eyes."

InuYasha took her hand by the wrist and held it up. His face, as he studied her hand, was hard for Kagome to read, but she caught the small smirk on his lips as he gently ran a finger lightly along the outside of her first finger. He could feel her aura. It tingled, feeling sensual where he brushed his finger across her skin.

"Touch, eh?" he said, then rounded the tip of her finger, down to the cleft where the finger joined the hand. She shivered a little. He then interlaced his much larger, claw-tipped fingers with hers, letting her hand drop.

"I think," she said, taking a deep breath, "that we'll wait until it's later to practice this."

"Maybe so," he said, waggling his eyebrows. "So, what do you want to do this afternoon? Go back to Sango's?"

Kagome nodded, then finished her tea. "It's a good time of day to get stuff done for her. The twins usually take a nap, so we can actually get things accomplished. I want to show her what I sewed last night." She sighed, then put her cup down. "I'm not sure I like how it came out. I can tell it's going to take some practice."

He reached for the teapot to refill her cup but she shook her head. "Not as much practice as your math class took," he said, putting the pot back down.

"I hope not," she said, picking up their cups so she could wash them. "Today, she said we might start making an under kosode. I could use another one." She went over to the wash basin, and wetted a cloth, which she used to wipe of their food trays. "So what will you do?"

"I ought to keep working on the wood stack. I'm about half done. I want to get those logs ready to season. But I might go hunting." He got the fire poker, and began knocking down the fire. "Rin going to join you again?"

"I think so," Kagome said, filling a bowl with water to wash dishes. "Why?"

"I heard some smart ass telling his brother to stay away from her today, because of Sesshoumaru. She heard it too. I think it bugged her a lot." He looked up from the fire pit. "I'm not sure how many friends she has in the village, kids her own age. She might like to know some people don't think she's weird."

"Ah," Kagome said, frowning. "I'll remember that, although why anybody wouldn't adore her is beyond me."

"Cute's not enough when people are scared," he said, his eyes going far away, like he was remembering something. Then his amber eyes met hers again. "And my bastard brother's enough to make any villager nervous."

"Does he come around a lot?" she asked, washing a dish.

"Sometimes. And then he'll go weeks or months without stopping in. But I sense him around the area even if he doesn't stop in to see her. I've picked up his scent and his youki a lot." Satisfied with his work banking the fire, he dropped the poker in its place and sat back, crossing his legs. "It's enough to keep her marked as his and not allow her to become just another kid in people's minds. Some of the villagers get uneasy around her." His face knit into a scowl, clearly disapproving.

"I thought he gave her into Kaede's care so she could become comfortable around humans again," Kagome said. She washed the last dish and began to dry them.

"That was the idea," InuYasha said. "But he never stays away long enough for them to forget. Worse, she doesn't want him to, either. She lights up whenever she sees the bastard." He sighed and shook his head. "And there's something in him that's different when he's around her, too."

Kagome put the dishes up on their shelf. "What's meant to be, will be, I guess. I remember how attached they were when we were fighting Naraku," she said, then moved over to the big cabinet, opened a door to one of the compartments and got a length of white linen cloth to put in her sewing basket. She turned around and looked at her husband. "I guess that hasn't really changed. But for now, what's meant to be is for me to go to Sango's. Want to walk me there?"