The air on the veranda had a perfumy smell, like a rich heavy incense. It had overtones of patchouli and aloes wood, and something quite citrusy. InuYasha, dressed in a blue robe instead of his usual red clothes, sat down while Kagome combed his hair.
“Ah . . . ah . . . achoo!” InuYasha sneezed. “Kami, but I hate that smell.”
“So did Atae. I’m glad Rin could take him on such short notice. But your brother threatened us with painful consequences if we got upwind of him again.” Kagome ran the boxwood comb through his silvery hair, pausing from time to time to take out small, sticky round balls of green matter than had gotten tangled into the silver. “I actually think it smells rather pleasant,” she said, pulling another lump of green from his hair. “Maybe a bit strong, but pleasant.”
The hanyou sneezed again. “You wouldn’t if you had my nose,” he said. “You sure that stuff that Sango gave you will get it out of my clothes?”
“We’ll see. She said this was the stuff they used at the slayer’s village to get rid of any and all odors for their youkai work.” She worked through a length of his hair and pulled out some more of the offensive green balls, putting them in a bowl beside her.
“I’d rather smell like oni guts than this stuff,” he whined. “Can’t you work any faster?”
“I could cut it short, like a monk’s,” she offered. “Then it would be all gone.”
InuYasha twisted around, looking at her for a moment, like he was contemplating it. His eyes were reddened and watering, and he rubbed his nose like it was itching. “Just get the green stuff out, please.”
She resumed her work. “So it was a tree spirit that did this?”
“Yeah. Evidently she wasn’t happy about me chasing a deer so close to her tree. I was nearly on it when she stepped out of the tree and blasted me with this green stuff. I passed out from the smell. Who knows what would have happened if Miroku hadn’t found me, and poured water all over my head?” He sneezed again.
“Well, I’m glad he did,” she said. “When we’re through with this, I’ll wash your hair with that special lotion Sango sent over. It should help get rid of the smell.”
“Good,” he said. “I hope it works.” She tugged extra hard on a stubborn tangle. “Ow!” he cried out, then sneezed again. “Leave me some hair.”
“Sorry,” she said, cleaning her comb out again. “This reminds me of the stuff my mom used to use to keep our cat off the furniture. I always thought it smelled good, but Buyo hated it.”
“Cat had some sense,” InuYasha murmured. “Even if he was a cat.”
“We owe that cat a lot. If he hadn’t run into the well house, we might never have met.” She pulled out a bit more of the green stuff.
“Yeah, that’s true.” He sneezed again.
Kagome worked patiently for several minutes, while InuYasha’s sneezes lessened.
“Are you almost done? I don’t know how much more of this I can take,” he complained.
She ran the comb through his hair another time, and didn’t snag on anything. “I think so.” She took the jar Sango had given her, and put it in his hands. “Go wash your hair. I’ll clean up here.”
He nodded and walked into the house, while she swept up all the bits of green into the bowl. Thinking a moment, she went over to a corner of her garden, and buried the bits under some soft soil. A few minutes later, she ducked into the bathing room, and was almost knocked to her knees by the dark, earthy, almost putrid smell, like old swamp water and rotten eggs coming from her husband.
“That smells just so much better,” he said, scrubbing his scalp.
Kagome’s eyes watered. “Be sure you rinse well,” she said.
“Why?” he asked.
“If you don’t, you’re sleeping outside until the smell wears off.”
“No accounting for taste,” InuYasha said, and then poured a bucket of water over his head.
“Indeed,” said Kagome, who wondered if she could dig some of the green stuff back up, just in self preservation.