I do not own InuYasha or any of the characters created by Rumiko Takahashi
Not long after Shippou left, Miroku used his last sheet of paper. "That should do it," Miroku said, putting his pen down. Closing his eyes, he charged the last ofuda.
"About time," InuYasha muttered, standing up.
"Indeed. But it might have taken longer without your and Kagome-sama's help." Miroku gathered his new ofuda and stuck them into his sleeve. "I'm as ready as I can be before actually getting to the village. And I suspect by now, Sango needs an extra hand with the girls if I ever want to get my supper." He put his ink and pen away in their case.
"They've been up for a while now," InuYasha said, picking up Miroku's writing table. "Kagome's been telling them a story, something about two dragon girls."
"I forget, sometimes, just how well you hear. I hope it's been a good story," Miroku said, heading back to the house.
"I wasn't trying to overhear or anything," InuYasha said. "But it sounds like the girls like it. Or at least they're being quieter."
Miroku slid open the door. "I wonder what else you've heard over the years that you never let on about."
"You don't want to know," the hanyou said, then followed him inside.
"You're probably correct, my friend," Miroku said.
In the middle of the room, the two little girls were sitting one on each side of Kagome, looking up at her with surprising attention. Sango sat nearby, working on her sewing.
"And the dragons danced around and with the little girl, happy at last to be free of the ugly oni," Kagome said. "Afterwards, taking the oni's treasure, they flew back to her village. The little girl used the treasure to take care of her parents, and the dragons made their home on the mountain overlooking the village. No one was ever able to threaten the village again."
"Yay!" Noriko said.
"Dragon girls!" Yusuko said. She got up and started turning in circles. "Dragon girls!" she chanted as she danced across the room, until she spied her father. "Daddy!" She ran to him, and was quickly followed by Noriko.
Miroku caught them both up. "You've been good while Daddy was working?"
Tucking her needle into the fabric securely, Sango put the garment she was working on in her sewing basket. "They have. But can you take them out for a while? They could use some fresh air, and I need to start dinner."
Miroku nodded. "So tell me all about the Dragon girls," he said to the twins as he headed out the door.
InuYasha put the table Miroku had used on the raised floor and looked up at Kagome. She nodded in return, then picked up her sewing basket. "I need to get dinner started, too."
Sango nodded, standing up and moving to her place near the fire pit, where she began to stir the coals to get the fire going to cook. "It is that time of day. I'll have to remember that story you told the girls. They really seemed to like it."
"It's a cute one. My grandfather used to tell it to me when I was little, but there was only one dragon girl when he told it . . . " Kagome's voice dropped off, and her smile dropped for a moment. Taking a deep breath, she smiled again. "I'll see you tomorrow, Sango, and you can show me that sewing trick you were telling me about."
"I'll make lunch," Sango said. She fed a few small bits of sticks to the coals and then added a larger piece. "I've got a recipe you might like to try out."
"Sounds good," Kagome said.
With a few more words about their plans for the morning, and a wave to Miroku and the girls, Kagome and InuYasha headed home.
As they were walking back to their house, someone off the path shouted a loud "Kuso!"
It was quickly followed by, "I told you they didn't get this far, old man," said with a great tone of satisfied smugness.
"If I get my hands on the brats who did that . . . " the first voice said. It sounded old and very frustrated.
Kagome looked up at InuYasha. "Daitaro?"
InuYasha nodded. "And Takeshi, by the sound of it."
"I wonder what . . . " Kagome said.
About that time, the unexpected pair stepped onto the path InuYasha and Kagome were taking. Daitaro was carrying a heavy hoe that he was using like a walking stick, and Takeshi, a handsome man about twenty years younger, carried the broken wooden lid to something large, at least the size of a washtub. Seeing the hanyou and the miko, Takeshi bowed politely. Daitaro, obviously still angry, merely gave a small nod.
"InuYasha-sama, Miko-sama, how pleasant to meet you here," Takeshi said.
Kagome gave a polite bow. "Takeshi-sama. It's been a long time since we last spoke."
"It has indeed. I hadn't had a proper chance to pay a visit to you yet. My daughters, though, keep wondering when you will come by and visit us."
"Things have been so busy since I've returned," Kagome said.
Takeshi nodded, and was about to say something but Daitaro tapped his staff impatiently on the ground.
"Pleasantries later, Miko-sama. My friend here is impatient." Takeshi said, smiling at Daitaro, who merely glared back.
"So what brings you up here, old man?" InuYasha said. "You didn't sound too happy as you were walking up here."
"Scoundrels," Daitaro said. "If I find them . . . " He tapped his hoe hard on the ground in emphasis.
Kagome and InuYasha exchanged glances.
"You haven't seen anybody run up the trail, have you?" Takeshi asked.
"No," Kagome said. "But I've been at the village or with Sango all day." She looked up at InuYasha.
"Keh," InuYasha said. "Been at Miroku's all afternoon, since lunch."
"Bastards threw dirt into my latest batch of brewing. Threw the mash onto Chime's laundry, too. And while we were in the house, too. " He lifted his hoe again, striking the dirt. "Found the lid to the mash halfway here."
"Heavy thing for a boy to carry," InuYasha said.
"They were rolling it like a wheel," the older man said. "Or at least that's what the tracks looked like. Making a game out of my sake." He got ready to slam his hoe-staff back into the ground.
Takeshi grabbed it as Daitaro started to lift it back up. "Stop that. It's not going to magically make them appear." He looked up at InuYasha. "There were at least two boys. We got a glimpse of them but they dropped the lid and ran deep into the woods before we could really see who it was."
"Pretty sure who it is," the older man said. "But I'm going to have to catch them red-handed before I can go complaining. It's not the first time they've pulled a prank."
"And you're not the only one they're bothering," Takashi pu down the heavy piece of wood he was holding and shook out his arm. "Someone plucked the tail feathers off of one of Toshiro's roosters, I hear."
"Bah. Knowing that family, wouldn't be surprised if it was one of their own who did it. But still, they seem to like getting over here often enough, whoever's doing it. Got into Chime's big pickle jar a few weeks ago." Daitaro spit. " It's a good thing she didn't catch them. As mad as she was she probably would have pickled them."
"I doubt if they would have pickled as well as her turnips," Takeshi said.
This made Kagome giggle. Daitaro smiled at her.
"No, but after all the stink about how they ruined her pickle mash, it would have been worth seeing the end result." Daitaro shifted his hoe into his other hand. "Don't think they'd make a good malt rice, though. Would definitely spoil the sake." He tapped the ground again, and sighed, before resting the hoe over his shoulder. "Probably have to wait until fall before I can make another batch now. Hope I made enough to last."
"Ojisan made plenty," Takeshi said. "He's always generous with it."
"Not the same. Tameo's got to be generous to get rid of it," the older man said. A thought struck him and he gave InuYasha a hopeful look. "You've got a better nose than I do. You scented anybody not supposed to be around here?"
The hanyou's ear flicked at the question, but he shook his head. "Nothing up here that's not supposed to be here. And nothing recent, except for you, old man."
"They're probably on the other side of the village by now," Takeshi said. "They'll get caught eventually. Whoever it is, is getting bolder. I heard Choujiro complain about how someone trampled his vegetable patch a few days ago."
"Vegetables can be replanted," Daitaro said, sighing. "But my sake mash . . . "
"Well," Takeshi said, picking up the wooden lid. "We ought to go back, old man. Nothing else to find here."
"Please tell Erime and Tama that I'll be sure to stop by soon," Kagome said.
"Heh," Daitaro said. "If you don't go and visit them soon, you'll have to come to my place to visit Erime. Although I don't think Shinjiro will mind too much."
"She's marrying Shinjiro?" Kagome said. "She told me she was getting married, but didn't tell me who it was."
"That's why I was down at Daitaro's house," Takeshi said. "Our women are busy getting everything ready. Plots and plans and sewing. They're better at that sort of thing, it seems."
"Or noisier about it," Daitaro grumbled.
Takeshi laughed. "That too. Come on, old man. Let's see if they put their sewing down long enough to think about dinner."
Waving goodbye, the two men turned and left.
"That was . . . interesting," Kagome said, as they watched the two men head down the road. "So someone's going around and doing mean pranks to people."
"Keh," InuYasha said. He began walking again.
Kagome followed. "How come you didn't mention about what happened to us?"
"Maybe for the same reason Daitaro didn't mention any names. If I don't catch them red-handed, who's going to believe me?"
"Tameo did, I think, from what Miroku told us," she said, catching up to him and taking his hand.
"He may have believed us, but there's not much he can do until they catch the brats in the act," InuYasha said. "Aki's the grandson to one of the chief village elders. That makes it tricky. Do the wrong thing, and there might be a village feud."
"I guess," Kagome said. "Doesn't seem fair, though."
"Lots of things aren't fair. Like me spending the afternoon watching Miroku write when I really wanted to . . . "
Kagome tugged on his hand, and he stopped and looked at her. She reached up and gave him a quick kiss on the lips.
"What was that for?" he asked.
"My promise for later. When we won't be interrupted."
"Now that is something that sounds fair." He kissed her back, as quickly as she kissed him. "But dinner first?"
"Dinner first," she agreed.
An hour later, while Kagome was finishing her cooking, InuYasha knelt by the stream, filling up his water buckets for their bath water.
His ear flicked as a twig crunched coming towards him, but outside of changing out buckets, he didn't move. The scent that came with it was a familiar one that had no threat.
"That a good water hole you made there," Daitaro said. He stood next to the hanyou, his grizzly head nodding his approval.
"Keh," InuYasha said. "It does the job." His bucket filled, he hauled it up and stood. "Still looking for the brats?"
"Hoping, hoping, but they're long gone," Daitaro said. "I hear you and the monk, you're going over to Kagemura tomorrow."
"Looks that way," InuYasha said. They began moving toward the house.
"I'll get my boys to keep an eye on things. I don't like leaving her here alone, with those brats running loose."
InuYasha put his buckets down. "Thanks. She's going to be spending the time with Sango until we get back."
"Just as well," Daitaro said, nodding. "We'll catch those brats one day and knock some sense into their heads. But until then, we'll keep an eye out and be ready for trouble." He got a rather silly grin on his face. "So, how'd you like the mushrooms? My old woman, she says they're almost as good as that special grass I give the old bull."
As it dawned on InuYasha what the old man meant, he blushed, but instead of getting upset with embarrassment, he grinned back. "They were . . . good." His grin faded, and he looked at the old man with something close to wonder. "Daitaro, why are you being so nice to us?"
He patted the hanyou's arm. "Heh. Let's just say you're a good bull-catcher. That's worth a lot in my eyes." He chuckled. "You and the monk, take care. The cows'll be dropping soon, and that old bull, he'll be ready to roam. You'll be getting plenty of time to pay me back for that."
And laughing quietly to himself, he headed down the path hom