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

Chapter 45

Kagome stepped out of Kaede's house, and the door mat swished closed behind her.

InuYasha was across the road, sitting on a fence post, watching her. His face at the moment was solemn and unreadable, but his youki seemed calm, and there was nothing about him that revealed his feelings.

She closed her eyes for a second, took a deep breath, and shifted the basket she was carrying, and opened them again, then quickly looked around. It was a beautiful spring afternoon. Miroku and Ryou were nowhere in sight. Erime, Takeshi's daughter was coming back from the fields with a carry basket on her back. Seeing the miko, she waved. Down the street, two boys were chasing each other, laughing, as a dog running at their heels, barking playfully. Someone's chicken crowed. Everything seemed so...normal. Taking that as an omen, Kagome gave InuYasha a bright smile and walked across the road to stand next to him.

"Hi," she said, resting a hand on the fence rail as she looked up at him. The neutral look he had when she first saw him melted into the one he used when he felt uneasy, but didn't want to talk about it, a controlled hardness in the set of his jaw and eyes, a slight scowl on his lips.

"Are you all right?" she asked.

"Keh," he said, jumping down. "Hungry. Ready to go home?"

She nodded. "Kaede said that's enough for today. I guess she's not going to have any problem with Yume right now. If she needs me, I suspect she'll send Rin to come get me."

"Probably won't," the hanyou said, nodding once. "She knows how to deal with this stuff."

"I know," Kagome said. "I'm sure she does it better when she's not explaining everything to me. I only expect she'll call me if it's time for Sayo's baby. Where's Miroku?"

The hanyou shrugged. "Probably took Ryou to that building he calls a temple. Or maybe to Tameo's. The headman has a guest house where people can stay, not exactly an inn, but visitors here on business stay there a lot."

"Ah," she said. "If they went there, I suspect Hisa-sama's hovering over them both with tea and cakes."

"Feh," he said. "Don't know what he had to discuss. We're going to go there. We're going to kill the youkai, and come back. What's to discuss? He can't be talking about fees. They can't have a lot left to offer, after having given that worthless yambushi all that stuff."

"You'll have to ask him," Kagome said. "Maybe it's just about what to expect when you two get there. A grownup's point of view about what's been going on."

"Yeah, I guess," he said. He stuffed his hands back in his sleeves. They began walking.

"Sayo-chan sent me home with some of her special pickles," Kagome said, hoping to lighten her husband's mood. "I was told that they're considered the best in the village. Want to have some with lunch?"

"Keh," he said. His ear flicked, and his face softened a little. "Pickles are good."

"So what did you do when I was at Sayo-sama's house?" Kagome asked.

"Cut wood for a while. Kinjiro came by to work on the garden. After that, I went hunting and got a couple of rabbits," he said. He looked at her. "You want to make stew? If you don't want to, I could go fishing."

"Stew sounds good," she said. "I'll see what I have to put in it. Or maybe I'll fix that tomorrow. I suspect you'll be getting back late. I can keep it warm until you get home."

His ear flicked again. "Yeah. If we don't end up having to spend the night there."

"Is that why you tensed up?" Kagome asked.

InuYasha stopped and looked at her. "What?"

"You tensed up after Ryou-sama showed up at Kaede's, and you and Miroku already seemed to know why he was there." She tilted her head to one side. "You already knew someone was looking for someone to take care of a youkai problem. Why didn't you tell me anything about it yesterday?"

"There was nothing to talk about then," he replied. "Like I told you, Miroku mentioned it yesterday while you were at Sango's. We didn't make any decision about going. We weren't even sure it was a youkai. I thought it might even be a ghost." He shrugged. "Today, we learned more about what's going on and how bad it is, and how it's important to do something about it for that village. So tomorrow, we'll go and take care of it."

"Ah," she said. "I saw how Miroku signaled you before saying anything. I was wondering if you had already turned him down."

InuYasha began walking again. "Didn't tell him one way or the other, really. We were talking about it again when the boy and his sister walked up. That kind of changed things. You saw that girl. Someone's got to do something about what's happening there." He turned back and looked at her. "If I don't go, Miroku'll go by himself, and Sango would have my ears if anything happened to him. He thinks we can get it done in an hour or two, but I'm not so sure. You coming?"

Kagome hurried to catch up to him. "Then why did you hurry out of Kaede's house like that?"

He laughed, a short sound almost like a bark. "Is that what you're worried about? I told you - I needed some air. I don't know what Kaede-babaa was using in her potion, but something in it made my nose burn. I had to get out before I started to sneeze."

Taking his hand, Kagome gave her husband a careful look. "I was just wondering."

"Keh," the hanyou said. "I'm hungry. Let's get home."

They continued on quietly, but bit by bit, the tension Kagome sensed in InuYasha faded. Once they left the main road and headed up the hill, the only person they ran into was Daitaro, leading a young cow as he headed towards his place. He waved at them, then went on his way.

Once Daitaro was out of earshot, InuYasha turned to Kagome. His mood had definitely changed. "Heh, the old man's bull looks like he's going to get lucky today or tomorrow," he said, giving her a wag of his eyebrows. "Maybe the bull will stay in his pen for a while without trying to get out, having such a nice young cow to keep him company."

"Huh?" Kagome said, not understanding at first. But as the realization of what he meant dawned on her, she giggled.

"It is that time of year," InuYasha said. "Bull has a good time in the spring and early summer."

Kagome slapped his arm playfully. "That time of year, huh? Maybe that explains why I haven't been getting enough sleep."

He gave her a knowing, satisfied smirk, the seriousness of his earlier mood totally gone. "Best spring I've ever had. Want a ride? I know it's not far, but we could get home faster."

She nodded and he got down to let her get on his back.

"Ooh, I think I'm out of practice doing this," she said as she wrapped her legs around his side and he slid his hands under her thighs. She shifted, trying to get more comfortable."I must still be sore from the other day when we went to the spring."

"You're sure it wasn't from last night?" he said, grinning as he balanced her weight as he stood up.

She reached up and flicked his ear. "I could walk, you know."

This made him chuckle. "Just hold on. We'll be there before you know it. Ready?"

She pulled his hair to one side so she could rest her chin on his shoulder. "I'm ready. This is a lot easier to do in miko hakama than just hiking up my kosode."

He took off at an easy lope, just running, not jumping.

"I really missed doing this while I was gone," she said, leaning her cheek against the side of his head. "We need to do it more often. I have three years to make up for."

"It was more fun for me when you wore those short skirts," InuYasha said, giving her thigh a little squeeze.

She flicked his ear again, but laughed, and leaned her cheek closer against his neck. "More fun for me, too." Her lips found the skin there and gave him a little kiss.

"I know," he said. "I remember how sometimes your scent would change in interesting ways."

"Oh did it?" she asked.

He gave another squeeze to her thighs. "Yeah, kind of like it is now."

She laughed and InuYasha began to run faster. After a few minutes, they arrived in front of their house, and he let Kagome slide down his back.

"That was too short," Kagome said as she reached for the door mat. "Could you go get some water? I'll get started- "

The hanyou grabbed her arm gently and pulled her back to him.

"InuYasha?" she said.

His eyes were warm and intense, and his face was lit with a wicked grin. "Don't think you can just get me to carry you like that and just walk into the house," he said. He cupped her face with his hands, the tips of his claws disappearing into her midnight hair. "You owe me something."

Kagome smiled, amused at his reaction. "But it was your idea."

"Doesn't matter." InuYasha brushed his thumb lightly across her cheekbone before lowering his face to hers. "I still want to get paid." His lips moved lightly at first across hers, then his arms slid down and pulled her close and he intensified the kiss, letting his tongue dance across her bottom lip. Her mouth opened up in return, inviting more, and her arms wrapped around his neck. They stayed there for a long moment, then slowly pulled apart.

"I'm hungry," he said, resting against her forehead.

"Well, if you let me loose, I'll go start lunch." Kagome reached up her hand and slid it into his hair, but made no movement to get away.

"Lunch can wait. I think I'm hungry for something else," he said, and pulled her back into another kiss.

Before they had gotten much more than started, though, something caught his ear's attention. His left ear swung towards the source of the noise, and he pulled away rather abruptly.

"InuYasha?" Kagome asked, surprised. "Anything wrong?"

"I hear someone. We're about to have company. Miroku from the sound of it." He reluctantly let her go.

She took a deep breath. "Well. I need to fix lunch anyway," she replied, smoothing her hair. She lifted the door mat, but turned to him before going in. "We're still going to need water."

Nodding, he followed her inside and grabbed the bucket. By the time he got back out with it, he could see the purple and black robed figure of his friend walking up to the house.

"I better get a chance to at least eat lunch," he said, then walked down the path to find out what the monk had to say.