Disclaimer: 10 years later, and I still don't own InuYasha.
Author's Note: Wow. A decade. It's been almost exactly a decade since I first got into this series. Time sure flies, huh? And here I am again, after so long… I just keep fallin' back down this well, as it were. 8D; Anyway, just a quick idea that I had last night while going to bed. It amused me, and I hope it amuses you guys, as well. :3
Warnings: Bad humor and crap editing, I guess? InuKag, MirSan.
He should have known this would happen. He should have sensed it. Or assumed it, based solely on the fact that the universe loved to screw him over. Things had simply been too calm today—too beautiful and serene, with bunny-tail clouds and grass the color of Kagome's school skirts. Days like this were always trouble in disguise: they'd catch him off-guard by making him feel lazy. And once the sunshine and flowers had lulled him into a false sense of security, bam! He was being attacked by a mantis demon, or chased by an army of the dead, or the ramen supply ran out.
Or he smelled Kikyo in the woods.
InuYasha nearly jumped a mile when the scent of her hit his nose, violently jarring him from a midday catnap. But though the nap had been cat-like, the way he landed certainly wasn't: face-down in the dirt from twelve feet above, with a sound like an explosion and plumes of dust to match. Kitties (sans Buyo) might always land on their feet, but doggies obviously weren't so lucky. Then again, he clearly had no luck, anyway. Kagome was going to be returning home any minute…!
This had to be dealt with quickly. Stealthily. So no one ever knew that he'd—
"Where are you going?" Shippo demanded, popping out of virtually nowhere for no other reason than to exacerbate InuYasha's heart-attack. Hands full of candy and eyes full of mischief, the ginger-headed kitsune grinned up at the panicking half-demon, indulging in one of his typical, jeering detours on his way to go play with the children of Kaede's village. "Kagome said she'd be back by noon today! You've done nothing but whine since she left a few days ago… I thought you'd wanna stick around and complain at her for taking too long, or whatever."
But the fox's teasing smirk faltered a moment later, warping as he sensed something amiss. And while normally "a miss" was the best outcome one could hope for when taunting InuYasha (besides "sit"), this time was different—the hanyou didn't even seem to hear him, much less attempt to take a swing. Brow furrowing, lips pursing, Shippo studied his friend's distracted expression, taking note of the guilty edge to his grimace. Then a realization hit him.
"It's Kikyo, isn't— ow! You jerk!"
A realization, and InuYasha. Which, as seemed to be the theme of the day, Shippo should have seen coming, but didn't. There really was something disarming about sun and buttercups, wasn't there? Not that it mattered, now…
"I've gotta go," the hanyou growled, too anxious to stick around and punish Shippo properly for being observant. With a rustle of his worn haori, the rattled InuYasha launched himself frantically forward, racing towards the tangled undergrowth of his wood. Towards the place where she was.
And towards a well-full of trouble, likely.
"Kagome's gonna 'sit' you so hard, you're gonna go straight through the Earth!" the little demon piped in his caretaker's wake, rubbing at his battered noggin as he watched InuYasha bound relentlessly off. In a matter of moments, he appeared as small as his single brain cell.
"Then don't let her find out!" returned the speck in the distance.
"As if," Shippo muttered, snorting softly. With a disapproving frown, he popped a lolly into his mouth and gave it an angry suck. Just for that, he'd make sure InuYasha running after Kikyo was the first thing he told Kagome when she returned. Well, first after "What'd you bring me?"
A boy had to have priorities, after all.
"Why today—today of all days…!" InuYasha grumbled to himself, ears flicking agitatedly in a desperate attempt to further hone in on Kikyo's whereabouts. With a series of leafy whispers, he dashed about the forest, propelling himself off of roots and low-hanging tree branches. And so distracted was he by the hypnotic swish of foliage and his own troubling thoughts, he nearly ran into a familiar face. Quite literally. Crouched as she was beside a stream, half-hidden behind a basket of soiled kimonos, he'd almost failed to see her. But then his foot landed poorly on a slab of soap, and abruptly he became quite aware of everything in his general vicinity.
"InuYasha!" Sango pleasantly greeted, smiling as she wrung out a sodden obi. After a few powerful twists, the youkai-hunter lifted the fabric above her head and gave it a swing, dousing everything in a 5 meter radius with a spray of crystalline droplets. Now moistened, the deformed soap half-molded to InuYasha's toes began to bubble cheerfully; InuYasha spluttered as the artificial rain fell down upon him, making his clothes uncomfortably damp. "What a surprise. Are you here to help me clean?"
"Keh! As if! I'm busy!"
"'Busy?' Busy doing what?" Curious, Sango took a closer look at her friend—at the tangled mess of limbs and hakama beside her on the rocks. Cocking her head as he pointedly glowered in the opposite direction, she considered his scowl with increasingly suspicious eyes. "You're not going somewhere, are you?" she demanded, voice low and shrewd as the half-demon gingerly hefted himself upright, dislodging his claws from the pliant, sudsy bar. He kicked the gouged thing back towards its master, snarling in irritation. (His talons would smell like lavender for weeks, now…) "Kagome-chan will be returning within the hour!"
"I know!" Why did people keep assuming he needed reminding?
"Then what are you—?"
"I need to find Kikyo. She's nearby," he explained in an aggravated rush, knees bending to bolt and feet itching to go back to going. Or… maybe they were just plain itching. What was in that soap? Flexing his toes, he opened his mouth to ask—
The dripping cloth she'd been holding slipped through Sango's callused fingers, landing with a noisy plop in the shallow water of the riverbed. Her dark eyes had widened in seething incredulity, slight shoulders tensing for a fight. She rather reminded InuYasha of a puffer fish, in a way. But less attractive. And slightly less spikey. Regardless, he flinched subconsciously backwards, instinctively inching away from danger like the wild animal he'd once been. Never mind possible allergies to lavender: she was the real hazard to his health. Or was about to be, if she had any say in it. "You're chasing down Kikyo?! But—"
"Yeah, I know!" Great. Wonderful. Just what he needed—someone else judging him. Because that really helped matters. Antsy, he started to pick at his claws, trying to dodge Sango's judgmental glares in much the same way he'd avoided monsters of old: a lot of dipping and ducking. Undeterred, the young woman followed him with her eyes, managing to chase him down without ever having to stand.
"I can't believe you! We leave you alone for five minutes and this happens?! You promised you'd—!"
"How could you even—?"
"You're not helping me feel any less terrible!" InuYasha snapped in exasperation, his cheeks turning a furious scarlet before he dashed off at top speeds. Because obviously, the best way to handle confrontation was to ignore the 'problem' (AKA: Sango) in the hopes that it'd go away. And in this case, 'ignore' meant 'sprint in the opposite direction at 80 mph.' Which, of course, meant that he was really the one doing the 'going away,' not the problem/Sango, but he wasn't going to sweat the semantics of it all. "All right, I have to go—now! I'll see you at Kaede's later!" he called as he fled, disappearing into the brush with a noisy crackle of springy shrubberies.
"If Kagome doesn't kill you, first," Sango retorted with an irate grunt, shaking her head at the idiot demon. Sango certainly wouldn't blame her friend if homicide was her chosen reaction. If Miroku ever pulled something like this…
She blinked, brushing her bangs from her eyes as she reconsidered her laundry.
Where was Miroku, anyway?
"This line foretells great riches… This line promises a long life… And this line means that you'll be blessed with many healthy babi— InuYasha? Where are you off t—?!"
"…w- what was that?" A girl from the nearby village gawked owlishly, her clothes and shawl visibly rumpled in the wake of the gale-force winds created by the demon who'd sped past them on the country road. Bemused, and with her palm still extended, the doe-eyed beauty glanced up at the (suddenly paler) monk. With a slight cough, he smiled sheepishly and shrugged.
"Never you mind."
"But did he not just say—?" the young woman began, concerned… only to be cut off by a sudden, piercing scream that shook both heaven and earth. For the second time in less than a minute, the pair on the path felt the ground shudder beneath them; birds in nearby trees squawked in terror before taking flight. And all the while, the air itself rang with the echoing shriek of:
The village girl yelped, diving out of the way as another hurricane of color came storming past— this time in the form of a livid priestess, barreling down the narrow trail at breakneck speeds.
"Ah. It would seem Lady Kagome has returned," the monk commented placidly, ever master of the obvious.
"Wait, Kagome!" a familiar, albeit breathless voice cried from somewhere far behind. "Did you bring me any candy?"
"Dammit, dammit, dammit… Where are you, Kikyo?!"
Growing increasingly panicked, InuYasha skidded to an unceremonious halt beside the budding Goshinboku, only-just avoiding a rather intimate reunion with its trunk. Shielding his eyes with an uplifted hand, he scanned the spring scenery: the unfurling ferns and the blooming blossoms, the vibrant moss and the sharp, undulating grasses. Insects sang from invisible pockets of safety scattered about the glade… He half-expected Sesshomaru or Koga to leap up out of the bushes to tell him off, too, seeing as the rest of the world had already had a go. But no—there was no one else around.
No one else…
She wasn't here. She wasn't here. The demon clamped painfully down on his bottom lip, ears and fingers twitching with nerves as he desperately tried to decide what to do next. This was bad. This was so bad… Kagome was going to skin him alive! Not that he wouldn't deserve it. How could he have been so stupid?! How could—?!
...the wind shifted.
Nose perking, InuYasha gave the air another deep sniff, hopping from his knotted pedestal of roots and circling round the base of the ancient tree, scrutinizing the other end of the clearing. It was faint, and half-smothered, but he had definitely smelled… A low, reverberant rumble resonated from the base of his chest— the sound a probing puppy made when hunting for his ball.
A thicket of daisies shuddered with a giggle.
"Oh, for the love of… Kikyo!" With an exasperated—but very grateful—cry, InuYasha thrust a prying hand into the tangled overgrowth of flowers, and extracted from its perfumed depths a grinning, black-haired toddler. She screeched with glee as she was physically hefted into the air, delighted to be half-dangling from the hanyou's grasp. The reaction made InuYasha's eye twitch. No. No. This wasn't fun, or funny, or the start of some silly new sport! He was angry, dammit! For a fraction of a second, he considered trying to shake the gravity of the situation into the babe… But in the end, he simply readjusted his grip: cradling her carefully by the waist rather than hold her aloft by the back of her kimono.
"What were you thinking?!" he nevertheless snapped, glaring (or, at least, trying to glare) at the happy baby. Her sunny smile was making it difficult to maintain his grumpy glower, though. He felt downright undermined when she wrapped her pudgy arms around his neck and started nuzzling. Oh, come on! That wasn't fair—how was he supposed to stay strong against an attack like that?
"Kikyo…" he all but whined, forcibly extracting himself from her affectionate grasp. Bemused, the toddler blinked adorable golden eyes up at the demon… Then, burbling, tried to nestle beneath his chin again. Resist the devil's charms! "No! Naughty girl! How many times have I told you not to run off?! You were supposed to be napping, you little brat!"
Kikyo, remorseless (or, arguably, oblivious), blew a spit bubble and shrieked with joy when it popped. "Hi-n'-see!" she then chirped, tugging excitedly on InuYasha's silky forelocks. "Da win!"
So that was her game, was it…
Despite himself, the hanyou snorted. "No, Da is going to lose if we don't get home before your Ma does," he corrected wryly, still fruitlessly attempting to remain mad at the easily distracted, contentedly-cooing creature in his embrace. But it was hopeless: for as desperately as he tried to hold onto his anger, he could feel it melting away. She was just too cute. And loveable. Damn her! The fire in his eyes became little more than a tender warmth as the tot made a grab for a butterfly that was floating past his ears, her demonic instincts (pounce and destroy!) warring with her doggy desires (chase the toy!) and her human nature (look, something pretty!).
Leveling a resigned sigh, InuYasha reached out for the fluttering creature. It alighted upon his finger with the slightest tickle; he placed it on the toddler's button nose with a solemn frown.
"Seriously, Kiki. Don't do that again. I was worried about you."
"Pfbllgh…?" Sensing a subtle shift in mood, the little one looked up: staring into the face of the grim hanyou with wide, reverent, shining eyes… before her head snapped back in a violent sneeze. Startled, the butterfly darted, a dribble of snot stuck on its wing. And InuYasha— heart warm with a gentle love that he'd never have thought possible, only a few short years ago— couldn't help but chuckle.
"Okay, Kiki, this was just between you and me, got it? That means we most definitely, under no possible circumstances, let Kagome know that I was the one who wound up enjoying naptime, and not you," the demon told his daughter somberly, glancing up to catch her eye. As was her preference, the baby was riding along splayed across his crown, nubby little fingers knotted tightly in her father's mane. In reply, Kikyo squealed, flapping her arms as if cracking invisible reigns. InuYasha decided to take this as a sign of camaraderie. Somehow. "Ya got it? Good. 'Cause if she were to find out, the first thing she'd say would be—"
"Yeah, exa—" the hanyou began, though his amused certainty turned swiftly to leaden dread in his stomach. Wait a minu— "Ack!"
In half an instant, gravity had reasserted its hold on InuYasha one-hundred fold; the beads around his neck shone an enchanted magenta as the ground rushed up to meet him with the enthusiasm of a long-lost lover. Muting a curse, he untangled the toddler's legs from around his head and tossed her urgently upward—freeing the child before she was forced to suffer her father's flattening fate. Not that she seemed to mind…
"Wheeeee~!" Kikyo sang, her tiny body pin-wheeling through the air. Her limbs flailed as she tumbled and twisted, pigtails and sleeves swirling about, before landing with a flourish in the palms of InuYasha's extended hands. Foolish child. Never even aware she might've been in danger… 'Might've been' being the key phrase. She'd never actually be in danger. Not really. InuYasha would never allow such a thing to happen—not as long as he was alive. Even still… "'Gain, 'gain!"
Thankful to discover that Kikyo was not only unharmed, but eager to be flying again as soon as possible, the hanyou breathed a sigh of relief… Or started to, anyway. But that gusty exhalation transformed rather quickly into a noisy hiss of horror as a pair of familiar feet stomped into view.
"You think?!" Kagome. Of course Kagome had found him—here, of all places. Hands on her hips and eyes shining with rage, she flashed InuYasha a dangerous scowl as he proceeded to painfully peel himself off of the forest floor. "That's exactly what you're deep in, mister! No, wait— I mean—" She floundered, flushing a furious fuchsia— "Don't swear in front of the baby!"
"Oh, Kiki—! Come here, Mama's got you…"
"Hey, she ran off on her own!" InuYasha cried defensively, even as he allowed Kikyo to be plucked from his grasp. With a pointed pull, the babe was brought protectively to Kagome's chest: a change in scenery that Kiki didn't seem to mind. Rather, she began babbling excited gibberish, blithely beaming as she cuddled against Kagome's breasts. (She was her father's daughter through and through.)
"That's why I told you to watch her!" the priestess was shouting, pink face darkening as she and her husband glared each other down. "I gave you one job while I was away! One!"
"She was supposed to be sleeping with Kaede and the twins!" he bitterly protested, jabbing a furious finger at the innocuous child. Kikyo responded with a nonplussed gurgle, thumb stuck in her mouth as she watched her parents go at it. "She tricked me!"
"She's not even two!"
"But she takes after you—she's all smart and shit!"
"Don't think back-handed flattery is gonna get you out of trouble, mister!" Kagome yelled,nose to nose with the towering demon. "Even if that was kind of sweet and I missed you so much it's making it difficult to stay properly pissed off!"
"I missed you, too, and I'm glad you made it home safe!" InuYasha bellowed in return, pushing himself to his tip-toes in some last-ditch effort to appear more intimidating. "Kiki and I made you a daisy crown while we were in the woods, and we were gonna surprise you with it when you got back!"
"THAT WAS VERY SWEET OF YOU BOTH!"
"WHY ARE WE STILL YELLING?!"
"I DON'T REALLY KNOW!"
"AAAAAAAAA!" Kikyo added helpfully, shooting endearing glances between her parents as the pair paused to catch their breath, ruddy-faced and tensed. Then she laughed—and they laughed—and they were hugging, the three of them, a perfect (if slightly dysfunctional) little family.
"Well. That reunion was more low-key than usual," Miroku commented mildly, just out of earshot beyond the scrub of the forest. Out of concern (and, okay, perhaps a touch of twisted curiosity) he'd meandered after the miko, hoping to ensure that the young couple didn't kill each other. And no, they hadn't. In fact, not only were they no longer looking murderous, they'd become ridiculously picturesque: lounging in the grass without a care in the world. Kagome was wearing her flowery tiara, and she and her lover were helping their child toddle around as they relayed stories of their time apart. "I'd never have believed it, but I think those two might actually be growing into responsible adults."
"Speaking of responsibility," Shippo—who'd finally caught up with Kagome, albeit long after the fact— coolly added, glancing at the monk beside him, "weren't you supposed to be helping Sango with laundry today?"
"…" The holy man blanched considerably before clearing his throat. "You must be mistaken."
"I dunno. Somehow, I don't think I am," the young demon returned dryly— and unnecessarily— as the corrupted priest darted back beneath the protective cover of the trees, frightened away by the telling growl of his approaching wife. Twigs crunched and shattered beneath her feet; his staff's jangling grew faint. Shippo rolled his eyes as the exterminator finally pounded past, yelling threats and swinging a drenched jacket above her head like a boomerang. ("Get back here, you lazy sod! They're your kids, too— come wash a dipper!")
The kitsune sighed, shaking his head with a faint smile of exasperation.
"I guess some things never change."