Just the Four of Them
Kagome slipped into the hot mineral waters with a sigh of relief.
“It's been too long since we've gotten to do this,” said Sango. “Too long since we've had some just girls time. No children, no husbands, just us.”
“Umm,” said Kagome. “Can’t believe Rin agreed to take care of all the kids. And that Sesshoumaru allowed it.”
They were in a secluded hot spring, surrounded by trees, far from the nearest inn or road or village, a place that only a few people, like InuYasha and his brother knew existed. The spring bubbled in the midst of green fern and rock, deep enough to slip into comfortably, warm enough to relax tired and achy muscles, but not too hot to need to be on one’s guard. The quiet and isolation was, for the two women, one of its draws. Most humans kept to the roads, for fear of bandits and youkai and other dangers, but that same isolation from human traffic is what allowed them this special time.
"This is a part about traveling cross country that I really miss," Kagome said. "All these lovely places you never find when you stay on the roads, or if you do, they always have too many people there. InuYasha is never really comfortable there. I know he doesn’t think it’s really safe for us in those places."
Sango nodded at her, relaxing back into the water. “He’s probably right. We’re lucky to get this time today.”
Kagome sighed. "But at the same time, it feels almost too quiet," said Kagome. "You sure Rin can handle all of the kids, Sango?"
"It’s only for a couple of days, Kagome," she replied. "But yeah, it feels strange not worrying about what Nao is doing, or what the girls are getting into, or if the baby’s going to get a tummy ache. Still, I plan to enjoy it.”
"And how are you doing, Kagome? Any queasiness yet?"
Kagome leaned her head back against a rock, closed her eyes. "No. I’m hoping that as long as that stays away, maybe InuYasha won’t hover too badly. I got so sick when I was expecting Atrae, I’m amazed that he even let me go on this trip."
"You gave us all a good scare that time" Sango said.
"He's already watching me, though,” Kagome said. “But he's been encouraging my work with Kaede. And it’s more than time for Atae to have a little brother or sister."
Their voices dropped off into silence for a while.
"Wonder how Kaede’s doing with Shippou?" Kagome said.
"More importantly, I wonder how Shippou's doing with Kaede?" Sango asked. “I wouldn’t be surprised to find he went back to the Kitsune Inn for a week or so.”
"Well," said InuYasha, "The girls found the hot spring."
He had waded out into the middle of a quick flowing mountain river, fishing.
“And this surprises you? I’m sure Rin told them all about it before we left,” Miroku said, laying on his back on the river bank, looking at the clouds. It was late afternoon, but far earlier than they usually made camp in the old days.
“Keh,” InuYasha said. “You’re probably right. “I’ll never really understand women and their love of talking while soaking in hot water.” He caught a fish, tossing it up on the bank. “Kagome's been missing time alone with Sango, I think. It’s not the same with all the kids around.”
Miroku sat back up, watched InuYasha toss another fish to the riverbank. “I've never quite understood how you can catch fish that way.”
“If you got hungry enough, you'd learn,” he said, amused. “Easier than understanding women.”
“I believe, sir, you are correct! First she’s been all excited about this trip to visit her family’s graves, which she didn’t want to do with the children in tow, and now that we’re on the way, she’s brooding about being separated from them.”
"We could just go pick up the kids and go back to the village tomorrow." InuYasha said.
Miroku almost got hit by a fish flying to join the others. "And then we’d never hear the end of how we cut short their trip."
InuYasha snorted. “Yeah, you’re probably right.” He tossed one more fish up the bank. “That should be enough for tonight.”
He stretched, then slogged out of the water, sat down next to Miroku, sighed. "Wonder if the kids will pick up any bad habits. I can just hear your girls saying, ‘this Noriko wants her soup’ or ‘this Yusuko will have her sister’s ribbon.’ “
Miroku gave his friend a painful look. “I’d be more worried what happens to that boy of yours. He may be your son, but he’s rather fond of his uncle already.”
“Feh!” InuYasha said. “As long as Rin’s there, I’m not too worried. But he better not be dressed up like a little miniature Sesshoumaru, or I’ll have to get my sword out. Some things you just don’t do.”
InuYasha stood up with his fish. "Wonder if the girls are done yet?"
“Knowing them, they won’t come out until they’re pickled. We better start dinner if we want to eat before midnight.” Miroku said, joining the hanyou.
“You’re probably right,” InuYasha said, heading back to camp. They walked back in silence.
“Maybe the women are right. It is kind of quiet without the kids here,” Miroku noted.
“Yeah,” InuYasha said. Using his free hand, he cupped one of his ears. With a perfectly serious face he said, “Feels kind of funny with nobody trying to pull on one of my ears. I kind of miss it, I think.”
Miroku just snorted.