It was well after dark when he reached his house. The hanyou slid open the shouji door, and leaning on his sword like it was a cane, walked into the entryway. His garments were torn and stained, and had not yet had the chance to repair themselves. Worst was the rent across his shoulder. The tatters of his undershirt near it were stained red, and his suikan was stained an even darker red. The wound itself had not yet fully closed and glistened a little as it oozed. He held the arm limply at his side.
There were brownish-red streaks in his hair as well, and one of his ears had a pink stripe down it, evidence of a healing tear. He had a blood smear across one cheek.
InuYasha sighed as he looked inside the room. Kagome, instead of being in the sleeping room, was laying down on a mat near the fire pit. The fire had grown low, just a faint red glow casting slight highlights on the curve of her cheek and her hair. He could smell the faint trace of her tears.
He tried to step up to the wooden platform of the floor, but his leg gave out on him as he stepped up and he fell. “Damn!” he said in a frustrated whisper.
His wife bolted up at the sound. Her eyes grew round. “InuYasha!”
He painfully pulled himself up as Kagome rushed over to his side. “Yeah,” he said. “It’s me.”
“O gods, InuYasha,” Kagome unfastened his suikan, her hands shaking slightly as she tugged on the ties. “What happened?”
“Youkai,” he said, wincing as she pulled the garment off of his shoulder. “Mean-assed Tengu that dropped out of nowhere. Ow!”
She looked up at him as she eased the last of the fabric over his arm and off. Their eyes met for the first time, and he saw the worry in hers. She noticed the exhaustion and pain in his. He lifted his uninjured hand and brushed the back of his fingers against her cheeks.
“I’m sorry,” she muttered, looking down at her work.
“You think I look bad, you should see what’s left of him,” InuYasha said with the ghost of a wry grin. “He may have had some type of poison in his claws. My arm’s pretty numb, too.”
As she pulled the jacket off, a small bundle dropped out from where he had tucked it. It had gotten bloodstained. InuYasha saw it, grabbed at it and sighed.
“What’s that?” Kagome said.
“Oh nothing much,” he replied, resting his good hand on the package. “Are you gonna have to cut the kosode off of me?”
“I don’t know,” she replied. “Let me see.” Kagome began to peel him out of his kosode. “When did it happen?”
“Yesterday afternoon. I think. Near that place that had the hot springs you liked so much last spring. After the fight I passed out for a while. Dammit!” He sucked in as Kagome tried to remove the shirt near his wounded shoulder. “I would have been home yesterday if the bastard hadn’t jumped me. I was only about half a day away.”
She frowned at what she saw. “Let’s get you by the fire. I need to see what I’m doing.” Putting her shoulder under his good arm, she helped him move over to the mat where she had recently been sleeping. She stirred the fire up, adding pine wood slivers for extra light, and put a pot of water on the hook to begin heating.
Turning back to him, she caught him looking at her, an odd look, longing and thankful and pained at the same time.
“I’m sorry,” he said, his ears lowering.
She reached out and stroked his cheek. “Whatever for, InuYasha?”
“Just . . . I smelled your tears when I came in,” he said, wincing as she gently moved the fabric around his wound.
“I...I had a bad dream,” she said, turning around to dip a cloth in the water. Not meeting his eyes, she dampened the fabric near the wounded area so she could lift it away from the injury. “ Let’s try this,” she said, moving the fabric off of his shoulder and down his arm. She slipped the fabric off, ran her fingers over the naked skin and got a full view of the damage. “Something’s fighting your healing. It may be a poison. Let me make a poultice for you.”
She started to stand up, but InuYasha caught her hand, and laced his fingers through hers. “I hate it when I make you cry,” he said.
“I would have cried more if you hadn’t made it home,” she replied. She brushed her lips lightly across his forehead.
Later, after she had him lying next to the fire, bandaged and resting, as she picked up his clothes, she ran across the little bundle. Opening it, she found a small scroll. There was a streak of blood on the outside of it. As she unwound it, she saw a drawing someone, perhaps Shippou, had made of the two of them together, with this verse written along it:
The cherry blossom
blooms bright and then drifts away –
how brief the spring time.
With you standing next to me,
I have no fear of winter.
From the look of it, it had been handled a lot. A bloody fingerprint, not too old, marred the area next to the picture of her face.
She felt her eyes tearing up. Closing the bundle, she rewrapped it, and laid it on top of his suikan. Laying down next to her husband, she whispered, “You may not fear the winter, but please watch out for the monsters.” Kissing him lightly on the top of his head, she spooned herself next to him, draped an arm carefully around him, and slowly drifted off to sleep.