Attack of the Little Oni
As the room began to dim into afternoon light, Kagome sat in front of the fire pit, a flat pan in her hand as she deftly toasted the soybeans. InuYasha wasn’t in his normal husband’s seat beside her. Instead, he sat leaning against the far wall, his eyebrows set in a dark scowl, Tessaiga propped up over his shoulder. Kagome turned and looked at him, chewing her bottom lip. It had been a long time since she’d seen him withdraw that way. Putting the beans on the side so they could cool before she added them to the ones she had already finished, she slowly stood up and moved over to where her husband was seated.
She leaned against him, her hands resting comfortably across her swollen abdomen. Kagome could feel the tension in him, in the way he was holding himself, in the way he reacted when she rested her head against his chest. But after a moment, he swallowed, uncrossing his arms and wrapping one around her, cloaking her and their unborn child with his sleeve. Even though his fingers brushed along hers, he said nothing.
Kagome turned her head and looked up at him. “Wanna tell me about it?” she said.
He shook his head, then looked away from her. “I just don’t like today.”
“Setsubun?” she asked. “But it’s supposed to be a happy day. It means winter is over and spring is beginning. I always loved it when I was younger.”
“You didn’t grow up where I did,” he muttered.
Kagome sighed and interlaced her fingers into his hand. “When I was a kid, we’d all toss beans and get beans tossed at us. A few years, Mama let me wear an Oni mask and I would run around while people tried to throw beans at me,” Kagome said, remembering. “For us, the Oni was just the symbol of all the bad stuff we didn’t want to happen, and by making a joke about it, we could, at least in our hearts chase it away.”
“They threw beans where I grew up, too. But it wasn’t all about luck and ideas. Some tried to chase out the youkai.” His eyes glittered and his face was cold as the old memories rose up.
Kagome leaned up against him, kissed his cheek. “I’m sorry. I had no idea.”
“Keh,” he said, kissing the top of her head. “You wouldn’t have known.”
“If I had known, I wouldn’t have – ” Kagome started. There was a knock on the door. “Too late. They’re here.” She slowly and carefully got up. InuYasha followed her up, steadying her as she stood.
“Doggie Uncle! Doggie Uncle!” two young voices from outside.
“The twins are here,” Kagome said, going back to the fire pit. “I suspect Miroku and Sango are too.” She scooped some of the beans into a measure.
“Why are they here?” InuYasha asked.
“Go look,” Kagome said, smiling.
He pulled open the door, and was immediately tackled by two small figures wearing red kimonos and paper mache masks, bright red with horns, the faces each making a terrible grimace outlined in black and gold.
“Roar!” said the twins together.
InuYasha knelt down. “What?”
“We’re Oni!” said Yusuko.
“Roar!” said Noriko. “Throw beans, Doggie Uncle!”
Miroku, standing in the background, laughed. “Can’t even chase off a couple of Oni, InuYasha?”
“What are you doing, Bouzu?” the hanyou said as the girls clambered up his arms.
“I came to bring you your holly and sardine head,” he said, holding out the branch. “I figured after the bandit raid last month, we can all use some good luck for a change.”
“What in the hells am I supposed to do with that?” InuYasha said.
“Put it over the doorway,” Kagome said, walking out to stand behind InuYasha. “You want to do the honors, Miroku-sama?”
“But of course, Kagome-sama.” He stepped past InuYasha and his wife and tucked the branch into the door lintel securely. “Now the back luck Oni will have to go elsewhere.”
“Throw the beans!” said Noriko, tugging on the hanyou’s sleeve.
“They’ve been waiting all day for this,” Miroku said. “Don’t ask me why. You’d think they’d have had enough of it down at the village.”
“You want me to throw the beans at you?” InuYasha asked, with a surprised look touching his eyes. “Me?”
“You!” said Yusuke.
“You sure it won’t mess up the luck?” he said, looking at Kagome and then Miroku.
“Is this your house?” Miroku asked.
“You know that, Miroku. You helped me with it,” InuYasha replied.
“Are you the head of your household?” the monk questioned.
InuYasha looked at Kagome, who hid her giggle behind a hand. “Yeah, I guess,” he answered.
“Well then, I can’t see why it would hurt the luck at all. It is the husband and father’s right,” Miroku said, crossing his arms.
“Throw the beans, InuYasha,” said Sango, walking up, carrying a wrapped bundle. “Bring you and Kagome-chan luck for the new year.” She held up the bundle she was carrying. “ And after that, we’ll all eat some makezushi.”
InuYasha let the girls down, and stood up. “If you’re sure.”
“Of course we’re all sure, husband,” said Kagome, resting a hand lightly on his shoulder.
“You’ve been plotting this, haven’t you,” he asked her. She gave him a sheepish look, then handed him the container of beans.
He dug his hands in the dish. The girls began to roar and move around like monsters about to pounce.
“Take that, Oni! “ InuYasha said. “Oni out! Happiness in!”
“Oni out! Happiness in!” cheered the others.
He gently threw the beans until both girls had gotten hit and they both fell to the ground pretending to die. Pulling off their masks, they began to cheer.
InuYasha, his face twisted into an uncertain grin, turned to Kagome, sighed, and put his arm around her. “Can we eat now?”
“Sure,” she said, smiling at him as she brushed a strand of hair off his face, then took his hand to lead him back into the house. “You do know you’re supposed to eat a bean for each year you’ve been alive,” she said. “And one extra.”
Only Kagome was close enough to hear him gulp.
A/N You can read more about Setsubun at the wikipedia page on Setsubun