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

Chapter 81

Kagome stood in the front of her house. It was a beautiful morning, just a little cool like a spring morning should be. Nearby some bird was announcing its presence to the world. She could hear InuYasha, finished with hanging up their futon to air out, doing something with the woodpile around the side of the house. She could hear pieces of wood falling and InuYasha cursing softly as he worked.

A normal morning, but not, she thought as she stood there and crossed her arms. "Stop being jittery," she muttered. "It's just another day."

"Talking to yourself?" InuYasha said as he walked from the back to the front of the house, carrying an armload of wood.

"Just thinking out loud," she said and gave him a smile. "So how does it look back there in the sunlight?"

"Not too bad. But you better be careful where you step. Daitaro's cow left us a few presents when she was up here," InuYasha said, bringing in an arm of firewood. "She did walk through the garden patch a good bit, and she must have run into the wood pile, but outside of that, cow patties seem to be the worst of it."

"I suspect Kinjiro's not going to be very happy about the garden patch," Kagome said. She lifted up the doormat for InuYasha. "He's been working so hard on it."

"Probably not," he said, walking through the doorway and walking to the firewood cradle where he dropped his load. "But who knows? That man enjoys working, more than almost anybody I've ever met. Maybe even as much as Toutousai. He might gripe a lot, but long as he's busy, he's happier." He turned and looked at Kagome, mildly surprised, as if he had just noticed something. "Is that what you're wearing down to the village today?"

She looked down at herself, even though she knew perfectly well what she was wearing - her beige kosode with the blue wrap skirt, one of the outfits that Sango had given her. "I kind of have to. Hisa had my miko robes washed yesterday after everything that happened, and I don't want to wear the robe she gave me." She held up a small, neatly wrapped bundle. "I thought we might start by going to Tameo's first, so I can return hers and I can get them."

"I was just wondering," the hanyou said, brushing his hands clean. "But that makes sense. Anyway, Tameo asked me to go there, anyway, so I guess that's our first stop. You ready to go?"

"I guess," Kagome said, taking a deep breath. "I don't have any reason to stay here any longer. Everything's done."

InuYasha looked at Kagome, and the set of her mouth bothered him. "What's wrong? You have that look you used to get before you had to your school when we were on the quest and I didn't want to let you go." His nostrils flared a little as he caught her scent. "You're nervous?" He walked to the doorway, and took the door matting out of her hand, letting it close behind him.

As he stood there, Kagome looked down at her feet and chewed her bottom lip. "A little. I suspect Haname's still at Kaede's." She sighed, then looked up. "It's stupid, but I'm not sure if I'm ready to deal with her."

"Feh," InuYasha said, wrapping his arms around her. "I can understand that. If you want, I can stay near. I don't think she'd do anything stupid if she knew I was there." InuYasha said. "Or you can stay at Tameo's and I'll stop by and see what Kaede-babaa wants you to do. You know she wouldn't want anything that would make Haname worse or put you in harm's way."

Kagome nodded, and leaned against her husband as he ran his hand lightly over her head. "I know that. Let's just go. That was some nasty magic that was put on her. I hope it's not permanent."

InuYasha kissed the top of her head. "Kaede-babaa will know what to do."

Nodding, she pulled out of InuYasha's embrace and looked up at him. She gave him a small, wry smile. "But you're right. I feel like I used to when I was getting ready to take a math test."

"I thought so." InuYasha dropped his arms and took her hand, giving it a little squeeze. "This won't be that bad." He wrapped his arms around her. "You didn't have to stay up all night studying. There's no way you can fail this one."

"You're right," she said, letting her cheek rest against his chest. "I feel so . . . stupid being nervous."

"After what happened yesterday, I'm not surprised," InuYasha said "But the sooner we get started, the sooner you'll find out you'll handle it just fine. I know you. You'll figure out the right thing to do. You always do."

She nodded, and dropping his hand, snugged the wrapped bundle that was Hisa's kosode close to her chest, took a breath, and said, "Let's do it. You're right. Thinking about it is almost always worse than doing it."

He gave her a smile, and together they began walking down the hill.

They weren't the only ones out and about on their side of the village. Daitaro, walking down the path from his house, adjusted a small basket slung on his back, then looked up to see Miroku leaning on the rail fence that marked the edge of one of his fields. Two young cows were in the field, grazing peacefully in the center of the field, ignoring both of the men.

"Well, Houshi-sama, what brings you here?" the older man asked. "I'm sure it's not because you're all that interested in cattle."

"I don't remember you keeping cows in this field." Miroku said.

"Raised hay in it last year," the old man said. "I didn't realize you noticed."

Miroku shrugged. "I can't help it. I walk pass it too often."

Daitaro joined the monk leaning against the fence. "Ah, but these are two fine girls. One belongs to Takeshi, the other to Toshiro's youngest son. I'm just waiting for them to get in the mood. And so is Kuroya. Shouldn't be long now."

"Your bull has a good life," Miroku says. "Good food, pampering, and all those females." He sounded almost a bit wistful.

"You'd think so," Daitaro said, propping his foot up on the bottom rail. "Doesn't explain why he's so good at getting out every spring."

Miroku shook his head. "He must not know a good thing when he has it. I suspect most of the men in the village would love to have a life like his."

Daitaro laughed at this. "Oh, and most of the women in the village would try to make steers out of their husbands if they ever found out about, too."

The monk rubbed the top of his head as if remembering being struck there. "Oh, I have no doubt you're right about that one. I don't know if my wife would stop at just that."

The old man turned around and leaned his back against the fence rail. "Most men are smart enough not to marry a trained fighter," he said, still chuckling. "I remember that big bone she would sling around. It looked like it could do some damage."

Miroku gave a much weaker laugh. "Oh yes. Even when she used it as a club."

The old man grinned. "I can see why you had Kaede lock it up at the shrine. But anyway, Houshi-sama, besides making an old man laugh, what brings you here?"

"I'm planning an ambush, actually," the monk said.

"An ambush? This early in the day?" Daitaro said. "Right after breakfast? You have ambitions."

Miroku nodded. "You know that problem with the leaking roof on the main hall of the temple, where we really never got it fixed after the typhoon last fall?"

"If you want to call that little place a temple," Daitaro said, smiling. "One little building and a gate and a fence."

"Big enough for one monk and a village this size," Miroku said, nonplused. "And since I'm a married man, I didn't want my house inside the enclosure. But it will grow. Next year we'll get the bell installed, but this year, I am hoping to get a new image of Kwannon and a copy of the Lotus Sutra."

"That would be good," Daitaro said. He rested his arms on the top rail of the fence. One of the cows mooed and began moving their way. "It would be nice to have a spirit of mercy watching over us."

"But I don't dare do these things until I get the roof fixed." Miroku scratched his chin, and watched the cow come up to get Daitaro to pet it. "I wonder . . . after hearing what my wife said about what happened at the shrine yesterday, if I can get a work party together."

This made Daitaro laugh again. "You need to come by in the mornings more often, Houshi-sama. You make me smile. Isn't that right, pretty Kayo?" He patted the cow's neck. "You've been trying to get that building reroofed since the typhoon. So maybe you think having the villagers hear that the kami took you under his protection might budge a few more people to get busy on your little project?"

"It won't be long before the rains start," Miroku said.

Daitaro gave the monk a friendly slap on his arm. "True, true. Strike while the iron's hot. You might budge a few of the younger backs that way."

Miroku rested a foot on the bottom railing of the fence, and reached out to pat the cow on her nose, but the animal shook her head and backed away, choosing instead to return to grazing. "Were you there when the kami said that?" Miroku asked.

"Oh yes. He made quite a display of it. Been a while since he showed his face." Daitaro scratched the base of his chin. "Suspect that most of the village's heard the story by now."

"I would have really liked to have seen that," Miroku said. "That doesn't happen every day."

"Nor does reroofing a temple, even if it's a tiny one." Seeing that the cow no longer wanted any human attention, Daitaro turned around and leaned his back on the fence. "So when are you trying to get this done?"

"If I can get enough people, I'm thinking maybe in a couple of days," Miroku said. He stood up and leaned on his staff. "Like you said, it probably would be a good thing to strike while the iron's hot. How about one of your sons? Could I pry one of them away for the afternoon?"

"Could be. Shinjiro's getting bridegroom jitters. Might do him some good." Daitaro said.

"Ah," the monk said. "His wedding is soon, then?"

"Four more days," the older man said, sighing. "I'm afraid it's going to feel like a thousand, with all the women fluttering around and cleaning and cooking. I'm glad I have an excuse to get away for a while. I need to head down the hill to visit Tameo-sama. All that mess yesterday's still unfinished."

Miroku nodded. "Sango was telling me about what a wild day it was, besides what the kami did. I was going to ask you about - "

"So, Bouzu, You're already out and bothering people, I see," a familiar voice said.

Miroku and Daitaro turned towards it and saw InuYasha and Kagome walking in their direction.

Miroku looked at the older man. "Am I bothering you?"

Daitaro laughed. "I don't think so, even if I suspect our walk to Tameo's was going to be filled with you trying to pump me for details. Still, they say it's not really an ambush if you know what's going on."

"Ah, neighbor, you know me too well," Miroku said with a bow of his head.

"We all know you," InuYasha replied. He stood next to Miroku, arms folded and hands in his sleeves.

"InuYasha," Kagome said, her tone of voice chiding him.

The hanyou looked at his wife. "Well, it's true."

"Yes, Miko-sama," Daitaro said, "it really is true. But that's all right. Better a friend whom we know than a stranger."

"I'll ignore that for right now," Miroku said. "Heading down the hill?"

Kagome nodded. "Even though yesterday was rather . . . well, intense, I still have my training. But first I have to stop by Tameo-ojisan's."

"Ah, good," Daitaro said. "That way we can walk down together." He nodded his head at the monk. "But I'd watch that one if I were you. He's itching for gossip, and he's ambushing likely souls for a work project."

"Keh," InuYasha said. "That's the friend we know."

"Hn," the monk said. "I have better things to do than this. Maybe I'll go talk to Takeshi" He walked off, the rings on his staff jingling as he went.

"We better follow him before he asks the wrong person to help out," Daitaro said. "Takeshi's household is as crazy as ours, maybe even more so, getting Erime's bridal things ready."

"I guess," InuYasha said. "Wait up, Bouzu!"

The three of them hurried to catch up. They didn't see how Miroku grinned as they hurried to join him.