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

Chapter 78

The door mat rattled behind him as InuYasha entered his house. He could hear the handcart begin to move off and he took a deep breath. He glanced at Kagome, quickly. Her scent told him she wasn't crying, but it was filled with sadness and anxiety. Even if he couldn't smell it, he would have known it just by how she was sitting.

"I sent them away," he said. "Sometimes Miroku just doesn't know when to stop."

He grabbed a handful of wood from the firewood cradle and stepped onto the wooden floor. Kagome had rolled out the futon, but was just sitting on it, her knees drawn up close to her body and her head resting on them. It looked like she had started to get undressed. Her outer kosode was still on her, but she had taken off her obi, and the robe hung loosely around her, revealing the white fabric of her under kosode. The beige of the kosode pooled around her the way she was curled up, almost making her look like a little lost child draped in her mother's dress. Hearing InuYasha, she nodded, but did not look up as he dropped the wood next to the fire pit.

She rocked back and forth a little bit as he tended to the fire. "I'm sorry," she said, her voice barely above a whisper.

"Feh," he said, looking up at her. Tossing a last piece of wood on the fire pit, he walked across the room. "What have you got to be sorry about? Stupid Bouzu should have seen you weren't wanting to talk. If I could see it, I don't know why he couldn't. "

She uncurled a tiny bit and reached out and touched his hand. "Maybe you know me better."

InuYasha used that as a signal to wrap his other arm around her. She unfolded her legs and let him pull her against his shoulder. He rested his cheek on her head. "Don't worry about what he thinks. Nosy guy's always poking in people's business. How many times has he done that to us before?"

Kagome rubbed her cheek against the fabric of his jacket."More often to you than to me."

"Keh," he replied."He's smart, but sometimes he doesn't have any sense. Like now." He moved the hand that Kagome had rested hers on, and covered her much smaller one with his. "It's not like he had to ask you. You were with Sango. I'm sure she knows enough to scratch his nosy itch. Hells, probably the whole village's buzzing about whatever happened. Let him go ask somebody else."

She stiffened when he mentioned the village talking. "I...I didn't think of that. Everybody will be talking. Susumu told me they were already talking about me. I got the impression it wasn't all good. What are they going to think now?" She shifted to look at him. Grabbing a handful of his jacket, she looked up at him. "I don't want people to think the wrong things about us."

InuYasha didn't like the troubled look in her eyes. Gently, he brushed a stray bit of bang off of her forehead. "Don't worry about people talking. You can't stop it. People always talk," InuYasha said. He wrapped both arms around her and pulled her closer. The fabric of his sleeves covered her like a protective jacket. "They talk about Miroku and Sango, too, and Kaede, and Tameo and . . . probably just about everybody in the village." He kissed her forehead. "I hear a lot of it." He flicked an ear. "Everybody forgets how good my hearing is."

Kagome reached up and tweaked his ear. "I bet they do. But still . . . "

InuYasha shrugged. "As long as Tameo isn't unhappy, nothing they're going to say is going to make a difference. And I know he's not unhappy with you. I saw him. I took in his scent."

"He was all right then, but you weren't there when everything happened. You didn't see . . . " Kagome said. Her voice was tense, and she turned her head, resting her cheek on his chest. "There were a lot of people there. Everybody must know . . . "

InuYasha let go of his wife, then scooted in front of Kagome and took both of her hands. "I didn't see what? How the kami stepped up and made you safe? That can't be a bad thing, even if I still don't know every bit of what happened."

She stared at his hands and refused to meet his eyes. "Do I have to talk about it now?"

He shook his head. "No. That's why I sent Miroku away." Bringing her hands to his chest, he placed them over his heart. "You're safe from harm, and nobody's going to sneak up on us and try to hurt you now. They told me that Morio can't hurt you anymore, and I believe Tameo and his group. He wouldn't lie to me. That's what matters. I don't care how you got safe, just that you are. I'll deal with those fools who messed with you later. First, I need to know that you are all right. And you're not yet. I can tell."

She looked up, and studied his eyes. "I..."

He cupped her face in his hands and gave her a tender but brief kiss. "You don't think I'm going to leave you here like this and go jump on that bitch of a woman at Kaede's, or rush over and thump Tsuneo and his worthless son, do you?"

Her eyes grew wide, and a pained, almost shocked look passed over her face, and then suddenly she burst out in tears. InuYasha, sighing, lifted Kagome into his lap.

"Damn it, woman. When have I ever left you when you needed me to take care of you, just to save face?" His words were rough but the tone was soft, and he kept her close, running his hand down her head and back. "Maybe if I needed to kill someone trying to kill us, but only if I knew someone was there who could keep you safe while I fought." He kissed the top of her head. "If I just wanted to save face, Kouga would have been dead a long time ago. But last I heard, that stupid wolf is off making pups, trying to rebuild his tribe single-handedly. I bet his family's going to be bigger than the one Miroku wants."

Kagome ignored his attempt at a joke, and sobbed. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," she said, over and over. "I didn't know what to think."

InuYasha just held her, running his hands over her hair, planting little kisses on the top of her head. "I know. It's all right."

Slowly Kagome calmed. After she got herself under control, she pulled away and wiped her tears again with her sleeve. "I hope this isn't becoming a habit."

"Me too," he said, and pulled her back to lean against his chest. "I hate when you cry. But today . . . "

"I didn't know what to expect," Kagome said, nodding. "I was scared. Haname scared me. Morio scared me. Kazuo . . . And I was scared of what would happen when you found out, scared of what's going to happen tomorrow. Scared of how people are going to act."

InuYasha lifted her chin so she could see him again. "We'll deal with tomorrow when it's tomorrow. "

Bending forward he gave her a gentle kiss, not long, but with the promise of all his feeling.

"You're . . . you're not angry?" Kagome asked as he pulled away, letting her fingers cup the side of his face. "I thought you'd be furious."

"I am. Angry doesn't cover it," InuYasha said, cupping his hand over hers. "But barging around's not going to fix anything."

Kagome looked at him wide-eyed and surprised. "I'm not sure I'd ever here you say that," she said. "I remember some new moons . . . "

"Feh," he said, his ear flicking. "It's not the new moon. Maybe that's a good thing. I'm not sure how I'd behave if it was." He gave her a wry, almost embarrassed grin. "I get kind of stupid sometimes then. But we're not out in the forest fighting a guy like Naraku who's trying to kill us, either. We're at home."

She nodded. "This is home, isn't it?" she said.

"Yeah," he replied. "Somehow or other, this is home. Still hard for me to believe it at times. I lived so long with no real place of my own, and part of me is still scared they're going to wake up one day and realize a monster lives here. But yeah."

He gave her another kiss, a bit longer than the first, but then pulled back. "Remember the day when Kaede asked if you wanted to be her apprentice?"

Kagome nodded. "That was another strange day."

InuYasha snorted. "We need to stop having strange days. Anyway, you promised me that if they wanted to separate us, that you'd go with me anywhere, even if we had to live in a tree."

She took his hand. "And I still mean it."

He gave her hand a squeeze. "Well, you need to know that long as they don't try to separate us, there's no way I'm going to do anything to make this place not our home. And if that means, even as mad as I am, waiting to talk to Tameo about what to do about that hag and her family or anybody else who gives us problems, and doing it his way, I'm going to do it."

"InuYasha," Kagome said.

"I like having a home," he said, lifting her chin up with a finger. "I like having crazy old men like Daitaro showing up at odd moments and actually treating me like I'm a real person. I like having the village women gossip about how much I like pickles instead of how scary I am."

This made Kagome smile. "Especially when they want you to try their pickles for them."

He chuckled. "Most of all," he said, lowering his face close enough to hers that she could feel his breath, "I like having you to come home to. " His lips brushed against hers gently. "You're what makes it all work."

He cupped the back of her head, and let his lips taste hers again, and her arms went around his neck as the kiss deepened and they tasted each other, something passing between them that washed away the stresses of the day.

They broke the kiss, and Kagome looked up at InuYasha, her eyes calm and sultry, and began slipping out of her kosode.

"I think," she said, "It's time for bed."

"Or," InuYasha said, giving her a look just as hungry, "you could tell me what really happened."

Her kosode off, she moved towards him and tugged on the bow of his obi. "Later," she said.

Taking a deep breath of her scent, warm and wanting and free of unhappiness, he smiled. "Later will do.