Atae, his silver hair trailing behind him, chased after a grasshopper he had startled. The brown sleeves of his jacket flapped in the wind as he ran. He jumped, trying to catch the grasshopper, but as he opened his hands to see his catch, the grasshopper bounded away. Growling a little, he continued his chase.
Kagome laughed a little, watching him.
“He’s a lot like his father, isn’t he?” Rin said.
“Yes, yes he is,” Kagome said. The two of them sat under the shade of a large tree, the dappled light casting a pattern of sun and shadow over them and the large cloth they were sitting on. The remains of lunch lay scattered before them, mostly in the form of empty containers and a few crumbs. A light breeze was blowing, warm, but still pleasant on this late August afternoon.
Kagome turned to her companion. The younger woman rested her hands over her swollen middle, but looked very content as she watched Atae play in the meadow, and the men talk about something over on the other side of the field. “Did Sesshoumaru ever say where Jaken went?” Kagome asked.
“No, only that he went to do an errand for my Lord,” Rin said, smiling at her. “I have my suspicions, though.”
“Want to share them?” Kagome asked.
Rin shook her head. “Not yet. I’d feel too silly if I were wrong. I suspect, though, we’ll find out soon.”
“It’s certainly been rather quiet here without Jaken or Shippou. Nobody’s fussing or causing arguments or pulling pranks. I could get used to this,” Kagome said, stretching, and turning her face to the sun. “But it probably would get boring.”
Rin giggled. “Once Sango-sama and Miroku-sama get here with the kids, I bet it won’t be quiet for a while. You might miss it.”
“Oh, I’m sure you’re right,” Kagome said, and grabbed one of the last sweet buns. She handed the box to her sister-in-law. “Want one?”
Across the field, near the edge of the forest, InuYasha sat down on the ground while watching his son run across the meadow. The hanyou was going through the motions of gathering firewood for Kagome’s tea fire, but in the warmth of the afternoon, he gave up the pretense, stretched out his legs, and leaned back, cushioning his head beneath his hands. For a moment, he closed his eyes, his ears twitching as he monitored the sounds coming from the women and Atae’s growls and laughing.
A shadow passed across his face. He cracked one eye open and looked up into golden amber eyes. “What?” he asked.
Sesshoumaru sat down next to his brother, his long silver hair pooling around him as InuYasha sat up. Things had grown more easy between them in the years since Kagome’s return and Sesshoumaru’s marriage to Rin and their leaving the village behind, but InuYasha still felt a certain edginess around his brother.
“Explain, little brother,” Sesshoumaru said.
InuYasha grabbed a piece of deadwood he had picked up for the fire, and snapped it in half. “Explain what?”
“This,” Sesshoumaru said, nodding towards the women. “Coming to the meadow to eat. The special foods. Just sitting and talking.”
“It was Kagome’s idea,” InuYasha said, snapping another branch. “She thought Rin looked like she needed a change, something to pick up her mood.”
“Hn,” Sesshoumaru grunted. He watched as the two women laughed over something.
“They can get real moody before the baby comes,” InuYasha said, staring at the piece of wood in his hand, lost in a memory. “I remember one day that I ran out of the house and hid in a tree until Miroku came by and talked some sense into me.” He snapped the piece of wood
Sesshoumaru looked at InuYasha and raised an eyebrow.
“Just be glad that Rin can’t purify your butt the way Kagome can,” InuYasha replied.
“Rin has been . . . uneven,” Sesshoumaru admitted. He plucked a blade of grass and twirled it in his fingers. “It is good to hear her laugh.”
For a moment, the two fell silent. Atae jumped on something he was chasing, stood up with a grin, and ran towards the two of them.
“Daddy! I got it! I got it!” he said, racing towards the hanyou and the youkai.
“What ya got, little guy?” InuYasha asked as his son plopped into his arms.
“Grasshopper. He was sneaky, but I finally caught him.” Atae held his claw tipped hands up to his father’s face. “Wanna see?”
“Sure,” InuYasha said.
Atae slowly parted his hands open, trying to open them just enough to let his father take a peak, but it was more than enough for the insect to hop free and disappear back into the grass.
“Nooo!” Atae said, and lurched forward. InuYasha wrapped his arms around him to slow him down.
“I saw him,” InuYasha said. “You did good.” He ruffed his son’s hair.
Atae looked up at him, as if not sure he agreed with his father. “I did?”
“Yeah. It’s not like you were going to eat him, right?” InuYasha said.
The small boy shrugged. “I guess.”
InuYasha picked up the pile of sticks, and put them in Atae’s arms. “Go give these to your mother. I think she wants to make some more tea.”
The young boy zoomed off.
“It’s time to start teaching him to hunt,” Sesshoumaru commented.
“Yeah, I’ve been thinking that,” the hanyou replied. He stood up, dusted off his clothes. “By the way, where’s Jaken?”
Sesshoumaru looked off into the distance. “I sent him on an errand.”
“Must have been a long one if you sent him off on Ah Un.” InuYasha said, when a sudden realization lit his face. “You didn’t send him off to tell your mother, did ya?” He began to laugh. “I can hear it now. ‘What did you say, little youkai? My son has done what!’” He doubled over, laughing. “Your mother a bit too intimidating even for Sesshoumaru-sama?”
Suddenly, he found himself on the ground, but still couldn’t help laughing.
“This Sesshoumaru does not owe his brother an explanation for his actions,” said the youkai, then walked off back towards the women.
Elsewhere, in a castle floating over the human lands below, a small green youkai kowtowed before the silver-haired Inu youkai woman on the dais in front of him.
“What did you say, little youkai? Speak up,” she said.
“I...I bring greetings from your august son, Sesshoumaru-sama, who bids me to inform you that the birth of his firstborn by Rin-hime within two months.”
There was no immediate response. After a moment, Jaken, trembling slightly, lifted up his head to watch the woman looking at him enigmatically.
“So that’s what my son has been doing,” she said. She smiled. “Did you think I was going to eat you, little youkai, when you brought the news?”
“You’re not?” asked Jaken, his voice unsteady, but a note of hope crept in.
“Not today,” she said. “First, I wish to see what my grandchild looks like.”
With a sigh, Jaken dropped his head back on the ground.