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

Chapter 38

While Miroku recovered from his choking fit, Sango rummaged through her sewing basket, looking for something. "I know it's in here somewhere," she muttered.

Little Naoya began to stir in his basket cradle next to her. She stopped what she was doing. "Not yet, little one," she said and tucked his blanket in a little more snugly. "Don't go waking your sisters up."

Kagome, smiling at her friend, put the last touches on her towel. Cutting the thread, she examined it carefully, then folded it and put it away into her basket. "That'll do, I guess," she said.

Rin, still working on her first one, sang softly as she stitched.

"I saw a monk

a monk with a shaved head

buy a hair comb

from a lovely woman

selling pretties for the ladies

at the bridge at Harima

at the bridge at Harima

one bright moonlit night.

"I saw the monk

the monk with shaven head

turn into a fox

who combed his large and fluffy tail

then ran into the woods

near the bridge at Harima

near the bridge at Harima

one bright moonlit night."

"Oh, my mother used to sing a song like that to me when I was little," Kagome said, picking up another piece of cloth waiting to be turned into a towel, and laid it across her lap. She started the next part:

"I saw a man,

a man with no feet

buy a pair of geta,

wooden garden geta

to walk the muddy ground

at the bridge at Harima

at the bridge at Harima

one bright moonlit night.

"I saw the man

the man with no feet

turn into a tanuki

who put his geta on,

and walked down to the riverside

by the bridge at Harima

by the bridge at Harima

one bright moonlit night."

Rin giggled. "Rin didn't know you knew that song."

"I haven't heard that one in a long time." Kagome said, cutting a length of thread. Focusing carefully, She threaded her needle. "I don't know if I'd sing it around Shippou-chan, though. It might give him ideas."

"I wouldn't be surprised if Shippou's done something like that already," Sango said. "The kitsune he's been studying with has been teaching him all sorts of things." She finally found what she was looking for in her basket, and pulled out a ball of string.

The taijiya got up on her feet. "Come here, Rin-chan. I think we'll start cutting your kosode out first. Sesshoumaru may keep you in pretty kimono, but Kaede told me your under kosode were wearing out." Sango said, unrolling some string. "You've been having a growth spurt. I need you to stand up so I can get a measure of how tall you are now. I don't want to cut the fabric too short."

Rin put her sewing down. "Rin is getting taller?" she asked, standing up.

Sango walked around to her back and used the string to measure her from the back of her neck to the floor. "Yes, you are. I noticed the other day how your work clothes are getting closer and closer to your knees."

"Soon, you'll be wearing the kosode of a grown-up woman, Rin-chan," Kagome said, smiling as she looked up, watching them.

Cutting, the string, Sango said, "That will do it," then sat back down, picking up one of the bundles of white cloth she had laid out earlier.

The girl smiled, looking at Kagome, but sighed as she took her seat and picked up her sewing. "Rin sometimes wonders if she'll ever be that tall."

"There was a time I wondered that, too," Kagome said. "But eventually I grew up, so I must be wearing a grownup's kosode."

That made Rin laugh a little. She started stitching, then gave a small cry as she stuck her finger again. "Rin should not laugh and sew at the same time," she muttered.

Sango looked up at Kagome. "You don't mind if we cut Rin's out first, do you?"

Kagome shook her head. "No, not at all. I'm not sure if I'm ready to start sewing one yet." She gave her friend a slightly embarrassed smile.

"I'm not surprised, considering all you're trying to learn at once," Sango replied, unfolding the cloth and laying it out on the floor. Using the string as a guide she folded a section of it in half longwise, and in half once again.

The miko sighed. "And I thought I was through with school." She picked up her teacup and took a drink. "Seems like I came back here to start a whole different type of school."

Rin sighed. "Rin's not sure if she's ready, either. But Iya has already made an under kosode and a nice blue outer one, too. It has pretty flowers printed on it. Maybe Rin can do it after all?"

Sango looked at her friends sympathetically. "That's all right, Rin-chan. You can help if you feel ready, but I'll probably do most of the sewing on this. I want you to keep working on your towel right now," Sango said as she deftly made the first cut. "Iya-chan might be a little ahead of you, but you'll catch up."

The girl nodded and went back to work, humming as she worked. Things grew quiet as everybody concentrated on their work.

After a few minutes, Kagome picked up her teacup and drank the last of it, making a face as she swallowed the last of it down cold. "So, Rin," Kagome asked, putting the cup down. "What did you do while I was busy with Kaede?"

"Rin went to Kaede's garden patch," the girl said. "Weeds are already trying to grow there." Her eyebrows creased at the mention of the morning, and she frowned. She put her sewing down.

"It was a good time for working in the garden," Sango said, not noticing the change in the girl's behavior. "Not too hot or sunny. I worked some in mine, too. " She lay the sleeve fabric on the side and began on the collar. "Now for the sleeves."

Rin looked at the sewing in her lap, but didn't pick it up. After a moment, she lifted her head, but instead of looking at either woman, she stared off at the scene outside as she chewed on her bottom lip. Taking a deep breath, she asked, "Sango-obachan, do people in the village like Rin?"

Sango looked up, surprised. "Of course they do. What made you ask that?"

"It was just . . . " Her voice dropped off. "Nothing. Rin is being silly." She picked up her sewing and began to stitch rapidly.

"Are you sure, sweetie?" Kagome asked, touching Rin's arm. "InuYasha told me a boy was rude to you today while you were coming back from the garden."

"Someone was mean to you?" Sango put her sheers down.

"He wasn't trying to be mean to me," the girl said, sighing. "He was telling his little brother not to talk to me."

Kagome shook her head and frowned. "You shouldn't let what rude boys say get to you."

Sango gave Kagome a hard look. "You're a fine one to talk."

"That was different!" Kagome said.

"Maybe," Sango said, not sounding convinced. "He upset you a lot back in those days. And you just didn't shrug it off."

Rin looked at them both questioningly. "Who was mean to you, Kagome-obachan?"

This time it was Kagome's turn to chew on her bottom lip while she thought how to answer. Shaking her head, she gave the girl a wry smile. "Sango is teasing me, Rin-chan. When InuYasha and I first met, he was rude to me for a while, until we got to know each other better," she explained.

"For a long time," Sango muttered, putting all the pieces she had cut out into one stack. "Well, that's done."

"InuYasha-ojisan was mean to you?" Rin asked, surprised.

"Yes he was, but we learned to like each other more as we spent more time together. Sometimes people just take a while to know they can be friends. But just because that happened to us," Kagome said, "that doesn't mean you should let what the boy said bother you. Everyone who knows Rin-chan likes Rin. Maybe they're nervous that they might make Sesshoumaru-sama displeased if they do the wrong thing around you, but that doesn't mean they don't like you."

"But Sesshoumaru-sama isn't bad. He has always been kind to Rin." The girl stabbed her needle through the cloth.

"Oh, Rin-chan," Kagome said, giving the girl a hug. "I know. But he's very powerful and that makes people nervous."

"Things that are different sometimes make people behave not so nicely," Sango said.

"We're a funny bunch of people. I'm from a different world, and married to InuYasha, even though Kaede's training me to be a miko, Sango is a woman taijiya, trained to fight, and you have Sesshoumaru. We all have problems sometimes because we're different." She ran her hand over the girl's head. "But that doesn't mean we're not good and worth knowing, or that people don't like us. Does Kaede like you?"

Rin nodded.

"And Tameo-sama and Hisa-sama?" Kagome asked.

The girl sucked on her bottom lip. "Rin . . . guesses."

"And what about Iya and Suzume? And Tazu?" Sango said. "Don't they like you?"

She nodded. "But Tazu likes to tease me."

"Miroku teases you," Sango said. "But he likes you."

"I think Miroku-sama likes to tease everybody," Rin said. "He even teases Kaede-sama."

"See?" Kagome said. "Even though we're different and all have something in our lives that make people see us as different or unusual, we all have friends and people who like us. You too, Rin."

The girl gave them a small smile, and nodded.

"I tease everybody?" Miroku said, stepping into the house. "Me? Who would say that type of thing?"

"I didn't hear you come up. Eavesdropping?" Sango said, settling down to start basting the long center seam on the back of the kosode. Kagome and Rin gave each other a knowing look, and Rin covered her mouth with her hand as she giggled.

"Alas, dear Sango, not this time, although I am sure there were things I would have loved to overhear," he said, smiling. "I went up to visit InuYasha, and arrived just in time to hear that I tease everybody. Such an accusation!"

"Yes, you do," Sango replied.

He collapsed on the floor. "I do not tease everybody. I don't tease Chiya-sama."

Sango arched an eyebrow.

"Well, not often," Miroku said.

"Did InuYasha come back with you?" Kagome said, looking out of the open door, searching.

He shook his head. "He's gone hunting. I think he had a touch too much wood chopping. But I was rather touched by how hard he had been working on getting the trees ready to season. He must want to get that shed up soon."

The door to the sleep room slid open, and a drowsy-eyed Noriko stumbled into the main room. "Ha-ha!" she said, as she made her way into her mother's arms.

"You little hard head. You didn't sleep very long," Sango said, running her hand through her daughter's hair.

As she did, Naoya began to wake up, and started to whimper, soon followed by a cry. Kagome put her sewing down, and scooped up the baby, trying to sooth him.

"I guess we'll be cutting out your kosode tomorrow, Kagome-chan," Sango said apologetically. "Naoya is probably hungry and I imagine Yusuko will be up any moment now."

"It's all right. Some things are more important," Kagome said, bouncing Naoya in her lap. He looked at her for a moment, then started to cry again.

"Touching," Miroku said, with a knowing smile.

Handing Naoya to his father, Kagome gave the monk an odd look, and began packing her sewing things up so she could go home.