A Visit Home
“Granny Kaede! Granny Kaede!”
The old miko looked up from where she was working in her garden, to see a small silver-haired boy come dashing towards her. A broad smile broke across her face, and she put down her weeding tool, and opened up her arms. “Well, hello, Atae,” she said as the boy ran into her arms. “My, my, haven’t you grown over the winter. The next thing I know, you’re going to be a tall man like your father.”
A shadow passed over them and she looked up into InuYasha’s face. “Well, old woman, I see you made it through the winter,” he said, offering her a hand, which she accepted as she stood up.
She chuckled at the hanyou. “Ever the polite one, InuYasha,” she said.
“Feh,” he replied, sticking his hands in his sleeves. “So, how did the winter treat you?”
“Ah, the usual. We lost a child and Matsuya’s mother to the fever when it went around,” she said, picking up her basket. “And an itinerant priest tried to exorcize Shippou away from the village, but the village children pelted him with rocks and he ran away. That was a sight to see.”
“I bet,” the hanyou replied, smiling.
“I hear,” said the miko, “he ran all the way to Edo chanting sutras and telling everybody he could get to listen how all our children were fox possessed here.”
“Where is the runt, anyway,” InuYasha asked, looking around.
“Off studying with his kitsune clan again,” Kaede answered, dusting her hands off. “He’s been spending more and more time with them. He shows up once a month or so to check up on things, but then he’s back off learning the ways of his people.”
“No Shippou?” Atae asked, looking at his father.
“Not this time, little guy,” the hanyou said, putting him down so he could bend over and pick up Kaede’s basket for her. Atae frowned, but InuYasha ruffed his hair. “Sometimes, things happen, son.”
“So,” said the old miko, taking her basket from InuYasha and moving back towards her house. “Where is Kagome-chan? Back home?”
“Yeah. The headman’s daughter was about to have a baby, and she didn’t want to leave Rin, either, I think,” InuYasha replied.
Several of the village children gathered in a knot to watch the silver-haired man and son walk through the village. They whispered together, taking glances at the three figures, and then the bravest one walked up. “You’re Atae, aren’t you?” he asked.
The boy looked up at his father, who gave his shoulder a squeeze. “Yeah,” he replied. “You’re . . . Masato?” he asked, uncertain.
“Yeah,” the boy replied. “Wanna play? I gotta new top.”
Atae looked back up at InuYasha, who nodded. “Stay in the village though.”
The boy scampered off, and Kaede lifted the door mat to her house and walked in, slipping off her shoes and putting down the basket. She sat down next to the fire pit, and stirred the embers a little before adding a bit of wood and setting up the tea kettle. InuYasha, sitting down near her, looked around the room, and thought, for a moment, of how this one room house had been home for such a important year of his life.
“So,” Kaede said, “How is Rin-chan doing?”
“Well. Her hands are pretty full with that little girl she had and my brother, both,” he said. “She seems really happy.”
“I’m glad,” she said, sighing a little as she pulled out her tea things. “It’s been very quiet here since she left.”
“You know,” InuYasha said, laying his sword down, “You’ve been the village miko a long time. Whenever you’ve decided you’ve done enough work here, you’re more than welcome to come join us. Kagome and Rin would be more than happy to have you with us.”
Kaede’s eye got a faraway look, and then she cracked a little smile. “It’s a tempting thought, InuYasha, but this is my home. I don’t know if these old bones know how to live anywhere but here.”
“Feh. You’re just as bad as Miroku’s old sensei, Mushin. We can’t get him to move, either.”
Kaede laughed at that, and poured water into the tea. Suddenly, Atae ran into the house, holding a limp rabbit by the ears. “Look, Daddy, look!” he said, holding the creature high. “They didn’t think I could, but I got it!”
InuYasha took it from his hands. Masato and two of the other boys peeked into the house, watching. He turned to Kaede. “I’ve been teaching him to hunt,” he said.
“Ah, well. I guess it’ll be rabbit stew for dinner,” the old woman said.
“I’ll go clean it,” he said, standing up. “Rabbit stew. You always did make the best rabbit stew. Don’t tell Kagome I said that.”
“I promise,” she said, trying hard not to laugh yet again.
“Come on, son,” he said, resting a hand on Atae’s head. “Let’s get this cleaned up. I’m getting hungry.” And with that, the two went down to the river, followed by a group of curious boys.
“Ah, InuYasha,” Kaede said, sipping her tea. “When Kagome first woke you up, who would have ever expected today?” And putting down her teacup, she started gathering the things she would need to fix supper.