He found her sitting in a corner of the garden, under a tree, watching the leaves fall as she held her sleeping child. The air was cool with the touch of late autumn, the first hint of true winter behind it. Although she was rocking Atae back and forth, crooning some nonsense verses about an acorn, her eyes were focused far away into nothing, and she looked very small, alone and sad.
InuYasha sighed. Something had been bothering her for several days now. The last few dreary days, rainy and dark had finally given way, and he had hoped that her mood would have improved with the sunlight, but instead, Kagome seemed even more withdrawn. He walked over to where she was sitting, and joined her.
“Hi,” he said.
“Hey,” she replied, looking up at him briefly, and then returning her attention to the silver-haired child on her lap. She lifted him up and put him into the baby basket next to her. “How are things in the village?”
“The same as always. Kaede asked about you,” he said, resting one hand lightly on her shoulder.
She sighed. “I should have gone with you today, but I just . . . ”
He let his arm slip down to her waist. She leaned her head against his shoulder. “Wanna tell me about it?” he asked.
“I was thinking about my mother. She always liked the autumn, and to watch the leaves turn color.” She took his free hand and laced her fingers in it. “Some days, I just wish I could tell her everything.”
“Yeah,” InuYasha said. “My mother liked the spring cherry time best, but she’d take me out both at blossom time and in the fall to enjoy the scenery.” His eyes got a far away look. “Usually, we’d go by ourselves, with just a maid or two instead of with a large group, like the rest of the people at her father’s house did. It didn’t dawn on me for a long time afterwards why.”
He grew silent. Kagome turned to look at him and the amber eyes that were watching something once upon a time.
“You still miss her, don’t you?” she asked.
“Yeah,” he said, squeezing her hand. “That’s something we share, I guess.”
Kagome leaned back into his arms and kissed his chin. For a time, the two of them sat there, lost in thought, watching the autumn leaves.
Suddenly, Atae began gurgling in his basket. Kagome bent over and picked up her child, who smiled at her, then stuck his fist in his mouth.
“Hey little guy, what ya doing?” InuYasha asked. Atae started making some happy noises and reached out for his father, who picked him up, and lightly petted his ears.
“Well at least one of us isn’t thinking about his mother,” Kagome said, picking up the baby basket and standing up.
“That’s just because he hasn’t realized he’s hungry yet,” InuYasha said, standing up. “Or wet.”
“Time to go in, then,” Kagome said. She leaned once more against his shoulder. “Thank you for sharing.”
“Keh,” he said. “Want to share diaper duty?”
She smiled. “If you start the rice.”
He kissed the top of her head. “It’s a deal.”