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

Chapter 48

Kagome, having finished putting the last touches on the towel she had been working on, sat in Sango's hut, stitching a long seam in two pieces of white linen. Or she was trying to. Shippou tugged on her sleeve to emphasize a point in the story he was telling, wanting to make sure she was watching.

As he spoke, his voice grew louder and louder. "And then my cousin snuck up on the farmer and tugged his cap off and - "

Sango stopped what she was doing and rested a hand on the kit's shoulder."Shippou-kun, if you can't be quiet, why don't you go and see Kaede-obaachan?" Sango said.

"You were getting a bit loud, Shippou-chan," Kagome said, pulling affectionately on his hair bow.

He looked up at her with surprise. "But I thought you wanted to know what I had been doing."

"It's not that," Sango said. She knelt next to an open storage chest, carefully lifting out clothes that had been neatly folded and putting them to the side. "If you wake up the twins, I won't rescue you when they try to pull your tail."

"I can't go to Kaede's right now," the kitsune said, jumping onto the chest lid. "Kaede said not to come back until dinner time, because of the sick kid she has there. And I can't even play with Rin, because Rin's helping her. That's why she didn't come over today." He peered over and looked into the box. "Did you lose something?" he asked.

"No," she replied. "It's just at the bottom." Lifting one more folded garment out of the way, she pulled out a pair of deerskin tabi. "There you are! I knew I put you in there."

She laid them on the side, and started carefully replacing the folded clothes, leaving out a set of things for Miroku. Shippou scurried off the box as she removed the stick that propped it up and slowly lowered the lid.

Kagome looked up from her sewing and smiled at the kit. She tucked her needle into the fabric and rested the cloth in her lap, then patted the floor next to her. "Shippou-chan, come back and sit down by me, and let Sango do what she needs to do," she said. "She needs to get things ready for Miroku's trip tomorrow. It takes more to get him ready than it does InuYasha."

The kitsune walked over to where Kagome sat in the light from an open window and plopped down, resting his cheek in the palm of his hand. "Do you want to hear the rest of the story?"

"You can tell me later," Kagome said, picking her needle back up. "I bet we'll have lots of time to talk tomorrow."

He sighed. "If you say so. So, what are you making?" He gently touched the white linen.

.

"A kosode," she said. "InuYasha needs another under kosode."

"InuYasha, huh? When you're done, will you make me one?" he asked, looking up at her blinking big bright blue eyes.

Sango put the clothes she had laid out on a cloth and put the bundle on top of the chest. "I thought I made you one three months ago, Shippou-kun. Did something happen to it?"

He looked up at the taijiya, and chewed on his bottom lip for a moment. "Uh, it's at my uncle's."

"Oh?" she asked, picking up her own sewing basket. "I didn't think you were wearing the one I made you."

"Well, there was this oni my cousins woke up, and we ran away from it before my uncle could find out. But while we were running, I fell into the river and this kappa grabbed me," he spoke very rapidly, moving toward the door. "And he ripped my shirt. My uncle's daughter is going to fix it." He looked up and saw Sango's displeased look, and swallowed. "And I think I'll go see what InuYasha's doing." And with that, he bounded off.

"That boy," Sango said, sitting next to Kagome. "He's so hard on his clothes. I wonder if Naoya's going to be as bad?"

Kagome giggled. "Well, at least Naoya's not a kitsune, and won't be getting into the same type of trouble," she said, picking her sewing back up. "But it's always been my impression that boys are hard on their clothes, compared to girls. I know my brother was. Still is, probably." Her face shadowed briefly, thinking about him, but then she smiled. " Speaking of brothers, how's your brother doing?"

Sango opened up her sewing basket, and pulled out the garment she was working on, the under kosode for Rin. "He's very busy with his sensei, from what I hear. We found another group of taijiya. My father knew and respected the leader, and he liked my father. Once he heard our story, he agreed to take Kohaku on as an apprentice." She sighed. "But I don't know if Kohaku's just busy or avoiding us, to be honest. He doesn't come by often, but the last I heard, old Toutousai had made him a new scythe and chain."

"Really?" Kagome said. She tugged her needle, and the thread refused to pull through. Looking at it, she frowned. "Thread, how did you get that tangled up?" As she worked to untangle it, she said, "That's impressive about your brother. A taijiya using a youkai-forged weapon to fight rogue youkai - and by a smith as good as Toutousai. Funny how that works."

"It is, isn't is?" Sango said, spooling off a long length of thread, and then threading her needle. "He must be doing well. And Kirara is with him, so I know he's in good hands. I miss him, but this is what he wanted."

"You don't think he's still feeling to blame for everything Naraku made him do, do you?" Kagome asked.

Sango sighed and began stitching. "I'm not sure. He knows he's not really to blame, but I think he still feels like he owes something, to do what he can do to make things right. Well, his sensei is a good man. I'm sure he won't let Kohaku feed on guilt. Besides, this is what he was raised to do." She looked up and gave Kagome a little smile. "If Naraku had never come by, that's what he'd be doing, anyway, exterminating troublesome youkai."

"That's true," Kagome said, nodding.

The two fell silent for a time, working on their sewing. The quiet was peaceful, but began to stretch out too thin, and Kagome looked up.

"It feels so long since we finished fighting Naraku," she said. "We had some interesting times. Do you miss it, being able to go out with Miroku?"

"Yes and no," Sango said, pulling the thread through her fabric. "There are days when Miroku is getting ready to go on a youkai extermination that I wish I was going, and the walls of this house just seem so small. It was what I was raised to do, too. And then I look at my girls, and know I need to be here for them as well. Perhaps, as they grow up, they'll want to learn. And if they do, I'll teach them."

Sango smoothed the fabric over her lap, examining her work, then picked it to continue her stitching. "I still do my practice routines, so I stay in shape and don't lose my edge. But I don't miss all of it. I don't miss sleeping in the woods, or the pain of what it feels like to get hurt, and the bad food on the road. I certainly don't miss all the strange looks from old peasant men who don't think women should wear armor. Mostly though, I stay too busy to think a lot about it."

Kagome nodded. "At times, after I went back home, it seemed almost like a dream, what we went through. Sleeping out of doors, traveling all day, and all the being scared and fighting and being tired and still having to study for my next test." She put her sewing to the side. "I don't miss most of that, especially all the tests I had to take. But while I was stuck back on the other side of the well, I really missed having you to talk to. My friends back home, they had no idea of what I had been through, and there was no way I could really tell them." She gave Sango a wry smile. "Even the little bit I did tell them, it seemed like a fairy tale to them. It wasn't real to what their life was like."

Sango reached out and touched her hand. "I missed you too. The village women are nice, and they mean well, but none of them have had the type of life I've lived. I think I scare them sometimes."

"You're sure it's not Miroku doing the scaring?" Kagome asked, smiling.

Sango giggled, covering her mouth. "No, no. I don't think he could ever scare the women that way. They aren't frightened of him at all. But they all know I was a taijiya, and now I'm married to a monk. I don't think they even know what to think about me. Like you and InuYasha, we're doing things that just aren't the usual way."

"That makes us more like sisters than ever," Kagome said, continuing her sewing. "We shared so much during the quest. It's so good to have someone here that I can talk to about things, and who knows what it was really like." She held up her work to examine the seam she had been working on. "And who understands that I have a lot to learn about sewing. Does this look all right?"

Sango ran her finger down the seam. "That'll do. Although on the other piece, you might want to make your stitches a little smaller. You'll be repairing it less often."

Kagome frowned. "Should I take it out and do it again?"

"No, I don't think so. That seam doesn't get much stress anyway. Let me show -" Suddenly there was a soft crying from the wicker baby's bed next to Sango, which began to ramp up into a loud wail. "Hush, hush baby," she said, picking him up. "Okaa's here. You're wet and hungry, huh? But you don't want to wake up your sisters do you?" She turned to Kagome. "Could you hand me that basket over there?"

Kagome handed her the basket, and Sango changed the baby. Even before Naoya calmed down, there was a noise at the back of the house

"Okaa?" said a small girl's voice. "Noriko pushed!"

"Well, I guess you didn't want to wake your sisters up after all, little boy," Sango said. "Sounds like they were already up." She got up and went to the back to see what the twins were up to.