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

Chapter 7

Saying their goodbyes to Kagome outside, Sango and Miroku left, taking Shippou with them, with a promise to return later that day to share dinner in the little house. She walked back inside, slipped off her shoes, then noticed InuYasha just sitting there, staring at a pouch he was holding in his hands. He looked lost in thought.

"Well they're gone," she said as she tucked her shoes away, "although they'll be back later. Sango said she'd bring dinner here. We were thinking that tomorrow morning you and I should go over there, and she'll give me a cooking lesson. I never learned to cook much besides campfire food on an open fire."

InuYasha didn't look up or say anything, although his ear flicked at her voice.

She walked across the floor and sat down by him. "If that's all right with you."

"Huh. Oh, yeah," he said, snapping out of his daze. "Sounds good."

"What did you and Miroku talk about?" she asked.

"He was telling me about how Sango has been having trouble fitting in with the other women in the village." InuYasha looked up at her. "Is that true?"

Kagome tilted her head to one side, and considered his question. "Maybe. Sango wasn't raised like most women are around here. She learned to fight when the women here were learning about farming and housework and other things. They probably don't have a lot in common. You're not the only one here who's different."

"Keh," he said. "We're all a bunch of misfits. Probably why we all get along so well. It's a good thing you're back, though, not just for me. She needs a friend."

She leaned her head against his shoulder. "And I do, too. What do you have there?" she asked, as he tossed the pouch between his hands.

"This?" He handed it to her, and she opened it.

"Money?" she said. "It looks like a lot."

"It is." He took it back from her and tucked it into his jacket. "Friends are funny. All this time I was working with Miroku doing youkai exterminations, I only took enough out of the fees he charged to do what I needed. He tried at first to make me take half, but I wouldn't. I figured he had a family and needed it more. And maybe I felt a little guilty about him charging what he does sometimes." He looked at Kagome. "I found out today that he'd been saving the difference. Thought I might be needing it some day."

Kagome's eyebrows lifted at that. "Friends do surprising things for each other. And Miroku is your friend." She rested her hand on his.

"Yeah, he is." He stood up. "Let's see what Kaede-baaba sent over."

They moved over to the other side of the room. After uncovering the tub, and handing the bright cloth to Kagome, who folded it neatly and put it on the side, InuYasha picked up a rather plain pottery jug with a stopper. He unstopped it, and almost immediately made a face and nearly sneezed. "Vinegar," he said, ramming the stopper back in and handed it to Kagome.

She leaned over and lifted up a smaller jar and opened it. "Tea!" she said.

InuYasha picked up a small piece of cloth. Three needles were stuck in it. "Kaede-babaa thinks a lot of you. Needles aren't cheap," he said, and handed it to her.

"Or maybe the both of us," she said, then pulled out a packet that contained dried kombu. "Oh my."

"Kombu?" he asked. "What's so special about dried kelp?"

"Where I grew up, kombu was given to wish many children on a couple," Kagome replied, smiling. InuYasha blushed a little, then pulled out a package that smelled of fish. "Dried fish?"

"For making soup," she said.

There was a length of thread wrapped around a stick of wood, a package of sweet-smelling herbs good for putting away with clothes, a bucket, a length of rope and several pieces of linen.

"Now we can get started," Kagome said. She picked up the rope and the bucket.

"Get started doing what?" he asked as she handed the rope and bucket to him.

"We need a clothes line to air out the futons, and I need some water," she said.

Before he knew what had happened, InuYasha found himself pounding fresh-cut saplings into the ground for a make-do laundry line. While he was occupied with that, Kagome changed clothes.

When he walked back in with the water, what he saw was a small woman in a beige kosode, sitting in a pool of light from the window. She had a blue wrap skirt tied around her waist, and her sleeves were tied back so she could work. Her hair was covered by a white and blue head scarf. She sat there humming to herself as she folded her other clothes to put away. She could have passed for any farm wife in the village.

InuYasha put the bucket of water down and went to sit next to her. Reaching out, he tucked a piece of hair that had escaped from her scarf back behind her ear. "You look . . . different," he managed to say.

"Sango gave me the clothes," Kagome said, chewing her lip, and dropping her eyes, suddenly self-conscious. "Do they look all right?"

He smiled, leaning forward until his forehead touched hers. "Yeah. You look nice, like you belong here."

"Good," she replied, smiling. "That's the way I want it always to be. I want to look like I belong here with you, because I do."

InuYasha slid an arm around her waist and cupped her cheek with his other hand. His right ear twitched as his eyes, intense and warm, searched hers, which looked back at him, blue-gray, calm and happy. He struggled to say something. "Damn it, woman. I don't have the words."

He kissed her, gently, tenderly, lips lightly dancing over hers, and then, coming up for air, he stroked her cheek with his thumb. "I don't know if I'll ever have the words. How can I tell you what it means to me that you're here? That you want to be here? That you gave up so much."

Kagome kissed him back. "I didn't lose anything. I came back to the place I'm supposed to be, the place that feels like home."

InuYasha smiled, but followed it with a sigh. "I don't know anything about being a. . . . a husband. I barely know how to be a friend. I'm walking around in a daze today because everything's changed so fast. If I act stupid or don't say the right thing, it doesn't mean anything."

"I know," she said, resting her hand on his. "Now help me move the futon and coverlet outside. They could use a good airing. Then we can move the chest and other things out, too, and open the door. The house can use a good airing, too. I'd like to mop the floor before the twins get here. It's pretty dusty."

"I...I didn't stay here a lot," he said.

She began to fold the futon up. "I bet you stay here more now."

He took it from her hands, and stood up. "Yeah, I bet I do."

Grabbing the coverlet, she laughed, and followed him out of the house