Chapter 3: Morning Tales
Light follows the dark,
Sunrise follows the midnight.
I will remember
the promise of the moon light
and celebrate the dawn sky
It was a beautiful Spring morning as Kaede made her way down the path to the edge of the village, collecting basket under her arm. The early morning sunlight glinted through the branches of the trees as she walked down the quiet way. The path she walked was scattered with cherry blossom petals. Looking up, she could see the blossom time was nearly over to be replaced with leaf time.
“What’s that?” asked the small girl walking with her. Kaede paused and waited while Rin stopped and knelt by some early spring wild flowers, pale blue.
Bending over her shoulder, Kaede said, “Ah, that is Haru-rinndou. Isn’t it pretty? I always thought they look like blue stars.”
Rin looked at the stand of the small wild gentians as if trying to memorize them. “Can you use them?” she asked.
“Yes, girl. You can eat the leaves and the roots make a tonic.” Kaede said as they resumed their walk. “But I like them because when they bloom, they remind me that spring has come and summer won’t be long. I am glad the winter is over.”
“Me too, Kaede-sama,” said Rin. She began to sing softly.
“Spring, spring comes again,
As icy streams begin to flow,
and the pale yellow
Fuki blossoms through the snow.
“Spring, spring comes again,
the lark is singing her song.
Though cold winds still blow
Flower time will not be long.”
Rin looked at the path they were taking. “Do you think Sango-sama will let me hold Nao-chan?” she asked as the thatched roof of the house they were heading towards came into view.
“She might,” said the miko. “I imagine it counts on what she’s doing today.”
“Do you think Sesshoumaru-sama will come by today? I want to tell him about Kagome-sama coming back to stay.”
“I do not know, dear, but I suspect there’s not much that passes by in this area that he doesn’t know something about.”
Rin looked pensive.
“What is it, dear?” Kaede asked.
Rin sighed, her dark eyes looking off into the distance. “Sometimes,” she said. “I wonder if he’s lonely.”
“I do not know, child,” Kaede replied.
It was the sunlight filtering into the room that woke him.
“Something’s different,” he murmured as he came to awareness and a feeling of warmth and contentment flooded him. InuYasha blinked his eyes open, to see pale shoulder and black hair, and found himself spooning a warm body close to him, his hand wrapped across her middle protectively.
“She’s really here,” he whispered, a touch of amazement in his voice. “She came back to me.”
For a long time he just lay there, breathing in the sweet scent of the woman in his arms, a scent now blended together with the fragrance of their union. A smile touched his lips as he admired how their hair, silver and black, fell intertwined together across the bedding. He could feel the heat pooling in his middle as images from the night before crossed his mind and he found himself moving his hand across the softness of her tummy, and up to the swell of her breast, enjoying the feel of the satin of her skin and the delight of how it felt to be able to hold her like that. She stirred a little, and he nuzzled the crook of her neck, and planted little kisses on the top of her shoulder. In response, she snuggled closer.
Kagome rolled onto her back, still mostly asleep, eyes fully closed. He studied how the light touched the planes of her face, the line of her eyebrow, the shape of her lips, the relaxed contentment she radiated. He planted a light kiss on her forehead. For a moment, he was content to lie there, enjoying how everything that mattered in his life had changed since yesterday morning. Then suddenly, he sighed deeply, as if realizing something, and propped himself up on one elbow. “Kagome,” he said softly.
“Mmmm . . . InuYasha, ” she muttered.
“Good morning, Koibito,” he said.
He pulled back the hair covering her ear and neck, touched his tongue to the shell of her ear. She jerked a little at the sensation. Trying to pull away and move her ear out of his reach, she grumbled and wrinkled her nose. “Tickles.”
“You need to wake up, Kagome. They’re going to come looking for us soon if we don’t show up.”
She rolled over onto her stomach. “Don’t care.”
InuYasha pulled back the blanket and kissed the tops of her shoulder with little kisses. “Oi, woman - did you forget what a tease and hentai Miroku is? Just cause he’s married hasn’t changed his sense of humor any. You want him to find you in bed like this?”
Kagome grabbed the blanket back, but sat up, holding the cloth around her, and smiled a crooked grin at the hanyou next to her. “He’d tease us all day, and maybe all week.”
“You know it,” InuYasha replied. “Maybe for a month.”
She reached out, and touched him gently on the cheek. Her smile got very large.“Good morning, InuYasha. What an amazing thing to wake up to find that I’m really here.” She leaned over and kissed him lightly on the lips, then suddenly pulled away. “It’s cold in here,” she said, as she pulled the blanket closer.
InuYasha sat all the way up and reached for his clothes. “A little cool, but I doubt we’ll be back for a while, so I didn’t want to start a fire. Hurry up and get dressed. There’s nothing for breakfast in this house. Maybe Sango will have some rice left for breakfast. She makes good soup, too.”
“Sango make good soup? I thought you hated her cooking.” Kagome said as she turned away a bit as he stood up. She could feel herself blushing at seeing the sunlight touch his lean, golden body, but snuck glances as his muscled runner’s legs disappeared into the baggy red of his hakama that had always disguised the beauty and grace of his form. She reached over and grabbed her clothes, and with her back to him slipped into her under things and pulled on her skirt.
InuYasha fastened his kosode. “Well, she’s had a lot of practice in three years. I think Kaede and some of the other women felt sorry for Miroku and taught her some stuff.”
Kagome turned her head as she picked up her blouse, and found InuYasha watching her. A boyish grin touched his face as he met her eyes, as if he were caught doing something he wasn’t supposed to. She smiled reassuringly, and pulled the top on over her head.
He helped her to her feet, wrapped his arms around her. “Thank you,” he said.
“What for, InuYasha?” His eyes looked into hers, caring, intense, and for once, happy.
“For remembering. For caring enough to come home. Just for being Kagome.”
After a chaste kiss, and a moment to let her grab her sweater and slip into her shoes, he led her out of the house.
Miroku to the front of his house. He had placed a small stone image of Kwannon, the bodhisattva of mercy, there not long after building the house, and would come out in the early morning to sit near it and meditate.
Placing a flower in front of the statue, he knelt, bowed and gashoed, and in a low voice, chanted:
“Light shines out, pure, clear,
into the realms of darkness,
compassion's bright hand.
Flowers and incense
we offer with our own hearts,
You who vowed to empty hell
before you would rest,
O Practitioner of mercy,
who brings the boat of compassion,
rescue those beings
drowning in suffering's sea,
caught up in their long dreaming,
burdened with karma.”
With a quirk to his lips, he said, “And, O merciful Kwannon, if you would, keep an extra eye out on my friends. They’ve been through a lot, and if anybody deserves a moment of happiness, those two do. After all, I wouldn’t have near the happiness I have today if they hadn’t been there for me.”
He turned to face the sunrise, and assumed the lotus posture. Slowly, he let the warmth of the sun touch his face, felt his breathing deepen, and his awareness expand as he began his meditation. Suddenly, his quiet was interrupted.
“Any sign of them yet?” Sango asked, peeking her head out of the door. “I just finished feeding Nao, and I’d like to get started on breakfast. The girls will be up soon.”
“No, not yet,” Miroku replied. “Go ahead and start.”
He took a deep breath, following it with his mind as he filled his lungs and let it out, trying to recapture the right frame of mind. He realized it was totally fruitless, when he felt a familiar weight jump on his shoulder.
“So where are they?” Shippou asked.
“With each other, I presume,” Miroku replied, attempting to keep his face in a serene look, but failing as a small grin touched his lips. “Patience, Shippou.”
“But shouldn’t we go look? What if something happened?” The Kitsune, worried rather than considering the other implications of the young couple’s absence, crawled into his lap and made big sad eyes at him.
Miroku sighed, and patted the fox on his head, and tugged his pony tail. “A wise man once said: ‘Dig the pond without waiting for the moon. When the pond is finished, the moon will come by itself.’”
“Oh,” Shippou said, then turned his head to one side, thinking. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Well, my fine Kitsune, it means that our pond is Sango-chan’s excellent cooking. And when they get hungry, they will show up. We don’t have to do anything.”
Shippou, crossing his arms, looked up at him with narrowed eyes. “You’re just afraid that InuYasha will get mad if you bother them.”
“And there’s that, too, my fine Kitsune friend. An angry hanyou does not make for a happy day, especially when Kagome-sama’s been gone so long. They have a lot to talk about.” Miroku said. “I tell you what. If they aren’t here by lunch time, we’ll look for them.” He grinned at the Kitsune. “But if we find them, you’re the one who gets to go first.”
Shippou swallowed. “Uh . . . maybe we should wait.”
Miroku nodded sagely. “A wise decision, my young friend.” He looked up and saw the elderly miko and her young charge walk up to the doorway. Kaede entered the house, but the girl took made a beeline to them. “Ah, Rin-chan and Kaede-sama have come.”
“Miroku-sama! What are you doing? Have you seen Kagome-sama yet this morning?” said Rin, running up to the two of them.
“Ah, Rin-chan! I was meditating, but it is my karma not to do that this morning. No, we haven’t seen Kagome or InuYasha yet, but I suspect they’ll come by for breakfast. How are you and Kaede-sama this morning?”
“Rin and Kaede-sama are doing well, Miroku-sama. Kaede went in to talk to Sango-sama, but I brought flowers for Kwannon,” she said, holding out a small posy of wildflowers she had gathered on the way here.
“Then you must give them to her.” He stood up as he watched Rin lay down the flowers next to his offering, gasho, and whisper something. Miroku thought idly about whom the girl was praying for, and wondered if it had anything to do with a certain Inu youkai and his green imp. He wouldn’t have been surprised if it were.
Before she could finish her prayer, two smaller figures ran for the monk and the Kitsune. “Daddy! Shippou! Rin!” they shouted together.
Miroku bent down. “There’s my girls! You finally woke up!”
The two twins rushed into his arms.
“Mommy said go play!” said Noriko, looking at Shippou. Shippou, who noticing her looking, jumped from Miroku’s shoulder to his head.
“Mommy cooking,” said Yasuko, who looked mournfully at the out-of-reach Kitsune.
“I’m hungry,” said Shippou.
Rin covered her mouth and giggled.
“Be patient, my fine friend. And get off my head.”
Shippou moved back to Miroku’s shoulder, but kept his tail carefully out of reach of the twins.
Miroku looked at his daughters. “How about a story? Maybe Mama will have breakfast ready by the time we’re done.”
“Story!” said Noriko. Yasuko merely stuck her tongue out at Shippou.
Miroku, with his arms full of children moved to the veranda of his house and sat down while Rin joined them. The girl held out her arms and Yasuko, knowing that Shippou was a lost cause, went to her, and amused herself with a piece of red ribbon Rin pulled out of her kosode sleeve.
“Well, my dear girls, once upon a time there was a mean and nasty oni,” Miroku began. “It was bright red and had two long horns coming out of its head, and big leathery wings, and was very ugly. From time to time, it would fly across the world, and when it found noisy little girls, it would pick them up, and fly back to its home and stick them in a hole.”
“Not a bad idea,” Shippou said, rubbing his ear. Miroku thumped his nose.
“One day, he found two beautiful little girls, playing by a river, splashing in the water, making lots of noise. They were twin sisters. So the oni grabbed them.” Miroku grabbed Yusuke back, and pulled both girls into a tight hug, tickling them as he did, and they squealed.
“He took them back to his mountain cave and stuffed them down a dark hole. There were lots of bugs and dust and other nasty things. It made them very sad. They wanted to go home.”
“They crying?” Noriko asked.
Miroku nodded solemnly. “The evil oni flew on, and found someone else.” He looked up at Rin. “It was a beautiful young girl who was studying with a miko. She was busy getting water from a well, while singing about wildflowers.”
Rin smiled, and sang a verse:
“Bright yellow blossoms,
you nod in the morning wind.
Will the bees come by
dancing to make you happy?”
Miroku nodded. “Just like that. It was a pretty song, not noisy like the twins,” he said, “But it was loud enough for the oni. The oni grabbed the girl, bucket and all, and flew back to his home, and stuffed her and the bucket into the hole with the twins.
“What the oni didn’t know was these weren’t regular girls, but two dragons! When the older girl found them in the hole, she heard them crying. ‘If only someone would sprinkle some water on us, we could turn back into dragons and slay the oni and go home!’ they cried.”
“Must have been little dragons,” Shippou said. Rin gave him a mean look.
“‘Fear not, little dragons!’ said the girl with the bucket. ‘I have some water in my bucket right here!’ And she sprinkled both the beautiful little girls with water, and they both turned into mighty golden dragons.
“The golden dragons and the lovely young maiden flew out of the cave and caught the evil oni, and the maiden threw her bucket at it, which turned into a bunch of magic flowers, which wrapped around the oni. The ugly oni, unable to be surrounded by such beauty, fell to the ground dead. And never ever hurt another noisy girl.”
“Yay!” said Yusuke.
“Don’t you look just like Jizo!” said a soft woman’s voice.
Shippou looked up, and saw the missing couple standing in front of them, smiling at the scene in front of them. “Kagome!”
“Patron saint of children, eh? Maybe we should light some incense or something,” said InuYasha, grinning, one arm around the woman standing next to him.
“Now where have you two been all night?” Miroku asked, a knowing smile touching his lips.