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

Chapter 74

Tameo, his sons and Daitaro, having been banished from the main house so that Hisa could take care of Kagome, sat in Tameo's office, drinking Daitaro's sake.

Kinjiro, bored and restless, unhappy about waiting, was beating a small drum while Daitaro poured him his small cup. Daitaro put it in front of the younger man.

"Going to sing for your sake, cousin?" Daitaro asked, smiling.

Kinjiro sighed. "If you're not going to let me go back to work."

"Well then," Susumu suggested, "Sing something about husbands and wives, since we're waiting for InuYasha-sama to come and get his. Or if you won't, I could sing something, but you all know what my voice is like."

Tameo guffawed. "Your brother's trying to extort us, I think, Kinjiro. You know you have a much better voice than your brother. Besides, all he wants to sing are the earthy bits."

"Nothing wrong with that," Daitaro said, chuckling.

"Will be if it makes Hisa come out here," Tameo said.

"You have a point," Daitaro said nodding. "Then Kinjiro it is." He took a sip of his cup.

Kinjiro, shook his head, started a new rhythm, took a breath, and began to sing.

"When Kanshiro was a young man,
yoi, yoi, yoi,
When Kanshiro was a young man,
A foolish silly young man,
He wished to have a wife most of all."

"Shows you what a wise man he was, eh, Tameo?" Daitaro said, nudging the headman. "Having a good woman at your side, now what's foolish about that? Even our hanyou friend knows the importance of having a good wife. Look at how Hisa-sama has handled so much of this afternoon. And Kagome-chan, she looks soft, but look what she manages to do. To wives!" He raised his cup and took a sip. "Life is harder without one, and the nights colder. May they long be happy, so we can be happy, too."

"It's not always that way. Not that I didn't do well by Emi." Susumu said, drinking his own cup. "A man could marry a woman like Haname,"
"It's good that Tsuneo's gone home, son," Tameo said, frowning a bit. "He wouldn't like to hear that. For some reason or other, he's rather fond of her."

Daitaro snorted."But it's true," he said. "She's not the woman that Hisa is, or Chime is. Now if Kanshiro in the song was smart, he'd find a man to be his friend, and watch his daughters at work . . . "

"Like Shinjiro?" Susumu said. "I know he watched Erime a long time before talking to Takeshi."

"Nobody said my son was stupid," Daitaro replied, knocking back his own cup of sake. "Although it did take him a long time to get over his first wife." He sighed. "She was a sweet one."

Tameo nodded. "I remember."

Kinjiro frowned at the men gathered around the fire pit, and moved on to the next verse:

"When Kanshiro was a young man,
yoi, yoi, yoi,
He went to all the shrines,
A foolish silly young man,
praying for a wife."

"Bah," said Tameo. "Better to find a good matchmaker."

"Like your father did?" Daitaro asked.

"I have no complaints," Tameo said.

"I believe you," Daitaro said. "Me, either. Still, I was beginning to wonder if Shinjiro would ever marry again, so I won't begrudge him how he found his wife."

"I wonder who InuYasha and Kagome's matchmaker was," Susumu said. "Whoever it was has had a pretty wild sense of humor."

That made Daitaro snort. "It's always tricky when the kami get involved. Or was it that blasted jewel that Kikyou-sama was made to protect? Destiny? Me, I'd much rather hire a go-between."

"Less grief," Susumu agreed, nodding, and took another sip of his cup. "Waiting on fate can take you to odd places. It certainly did for our new cousins."

"When Kanshiro was a young man,
yoi, yoi, yo,
he listened to the elders,
a foolish, silly young man -
what do the old know about the heat of passion?"

"Hah, shows what you know," Daitaro said. "Us older men, we know plenty. You'll find out one day if you're lucky."

"If all you want to do is talk, I'll stop singing," Kinjiro said, putting down his drum. "So when do you expect InuYasha back? I have work I could be doing."

"Any time, son," Tameo replied. "But relax," he said, pouring sake into a cup. "Take a drink. There'll probably be plenty to do once he gets here."

Kinjiro, frowning, grabbed the cup and was about to take a sip when there was a knock on the door. With a sigh, Tameo got up, and went to see who was there. He slid the door open.

Emi stood there. "Kagome says InuYasha's coming. Haha-ue says wait a few minutes, though, before coming out."

"Ah good," Tameo said. "Now we'll get to see if we have fireworks after all."

Standing in the courtyard, InuYasha wasn't quite ready to let Kagome go yet, so she snuggled into his shoulder as he hugged her close.

"Interesting, huh?" he said. "Feh. What Shippou told me sounded like it was more than just interesting." He rested his cheek on the top of her head.

"I was always surrounded by people who were there to protect me," Kagome said.

"That's not what it sounded like to me," he said. "I knew something was wrong. I could just feel it. And then when Shippou showed up . . . "

She rested her hand on his chest, letting her fingertips brush the fine fabric of his jacket. "You worry too much. Yes, there was some stuff that happened. But Tameo and his family were with me, making sure I was safe. Even Kazuo stepped in once."

The hanyou loosened his grip so he could look at her. "The kami?"

Kagome nodded. "He made sure I was safe after Shippou left, and took care of the problem. If Shippou had only waited, he'd have seen it, too."

He shook his head, trying to wrap his mind around that one, and cupped her cheek. "This has got to be some story."

She nodded. "Oh, it is. I suspect people here will be talking about it for a long time. But I'm glad you're back," she said. "How did your trip go?"

"Pretty much like I expected. We got the cat. We were already on the way home," InuYasha said. "And then . . . "

She reached up and touched his cheek. "I didn't mean for him to run off and scare you like that."

InuYasha rested his hand on hers. "If you're having trouble with someone, I want to know. I need to be there. People aren't always like Tameo. I remember my mother . . . "

"You can't always be with me, InuYasha," Kagome said. "It's good to know that we're not alone, that we have friends."

He studied her face, her eyes staring back, blue-gray, determined, unafraid. "Feh." His ear twitched. "It's my job to keep you safe."

"Shippou-chan hovered around me all day. He was trying so hard to take care of me for you. But as things happened, I think he was more worried that you'd be angry with him if he didn't go get you," she said, giving him a crooked smile.

"He'd be right, too," he said. He pulled her closer. "I had no idea what I'd find when I got here - didn't know if you had gotten hurt, or if the village had turned on you, or even if you had gotten so scared you tried to get back through the well. If any of those things had happened . . . "

Kagome leaned back against them. "But none of them did. I wasn't hurt. In fact, everybody hovered over me too much. If he had waited even two minutes more, he would have known."

"So you going to tell me what did happen?" he asked.

"I think it started with Joben's son, Aki," she said.

While they were talking, Sango, still in the main house with Hisa, peeked out the window, looking at the two of them wrapped around each other.

"Well, InuYasha's found her," she said, moving toward the door. "They both seem pretty happy about it. I was a little nervous that InuYasha would start fussing at her for putting herself in harm's way."

"I seem to remember a time when he might have done that," Hisa said, "but they've both grown up since then. Let's give them a couple of minutes. I suspect they'll both appreciate it. I've kind of gotten the impression over the years that InuYasha embarrasses easily."
Sango turned around, smiling. "Oh, you're so right about that. Sometimes, I almost have to sit on Miroku to keep him from teasing him too much." She went back to sit with the older woman.

Hisa poured tea into Sango's cup. "Your husband does love to tease," Hisa said. "So does Susumu. Maybe we need to get to get those two together and see who causes the most mischief."

Sango laughed. "Oh, that would be an interesting sight."

"Oh, it would be, I'm sure. Although I don't know if we should invite InuYasha-sama to that particular occasion." Hisa smiled at Sango.

The younger woman nodded. "That would probably be a good idea."

Hisa laughed. "I can see the scene now. Poor InuYasha-sama knocking Miroku-sama's and Susumu's heads together and storming off. Kinjiro trying to hide his smile. Tameo would be laughing."

"And poor Kagome-chan just sitting there, trying to decide if she needed to make sure if either one of them were injured or if she needed to run after InuYasha." Sango sipped her tea. "It's fun to imagine, but having seen him go off in a huff too many times, it's not so fun when it really happens."

"So true," Hisa said. "But nonetheless, you must come over more often. And bring your little ones."

"They're such a handful. I hate to be an imposition." Sango looked down at her tea cup.

"In my household? Hardly. We normally have Emi's children running around all the time, and there are plenty of people to help watch." Hisa drank her own tea. "It must be lonely up there on the hillside sometimes."

Sango didn't say anything at first. "I stay so busy . . . "

"Well, you must come by in two days, when we have a group come over and sew," Hisa said. "And I hope Kagome-chan will join us, too."

"I've been helping her and Rin-chan with their sewing. Kagome never had to do much of it growing up."

"They can come, too. And bring your children. The women will ooh and aah over them, and they'll go home quite spoiled and tired."

Sango looked up at Hisa, who was beaming at her. "All right," she said. "It sounds like fun."

Suddenly, they heard Tameo's voice calling out. Hisa stood up. "Well, I guess that means our young couple's reunion is now over. Let's go see if we can keep InuYasha calm when he hears what Haname did." Walking to the door she slid it open.

Tameo was bowing a greeting to the young couple, while Susumu grinned, Daitaro watched and Kinjiro scowled, arms folded. InuYasha was standing a bit stiff next to his wife, half-hiding her behind his back.

"Welcome, InuYasha-sama," Hisa said, bowing politely. "Come in, come in. After such a journey, you deserve to sit down. We have quite the tale for you."