An Unexpected Guest
InuYasha leaned against the wall of the hut, hands stuffed into his sleeves. It wasn’t much of a shelter, just an abandoned hunter’s shack, but it was dry and the snow wouldn’t get in. He sighed. If the storm had waited just another half a day, he’d have been home in his own house tonight, and not sitting here, listening to the wind blow. He hoped by the time he got home, he wouldn’t find out that his kids were sitting in a corner somewhere with ofuda stuck to their backs because they had gotten to be too hard to handle. Atae at twelve was starting to settle down in some ways, but discovering new and troublesome ways to worry the adults, and Yukika at five was enjoying the fact that she could jump up and out of the reach of her human caretakers, and thought it a wonderful game.
If she gave his brother’s daughter any ideas, he’d never hear the end of it.
“What’re you thinking about?” Kagome asked, sitting next to the fire pit. She lifted the lid to the small pot she had over the heat, and stirred it once, then closed the pot.
He pulled his hands free then moved closer to her. “Home,” he said. “The kids.”
“They’ll be fine,” she replied, leaning back against his shoulder.
“Shouldn’t have brought you out in weather like this.” He wrapped his arm around her, and let it drape across her gently swelling abdomen. “Last time I took you out when you were expecting you got sick and scared me to death.”
She rested her hand on his. “But I’m glad you did. I just loved the look in that village headman’s face when we showed up, a youkai and a pregnant miko. I thought his face was going to break.” Kagome said, smiling. “Don’t think he quite expected what he got when he sent off for a youkai exterminator.”
“Tough,” InuYasha said, but smiled with her. “We took care of their problem easy enough. Can’t help it if Miroku was away. We could have made them wait.”
“True.” She sat back up, and stirred the pot once again. “But that poor tanuki. I’m glad we could convince him to leave without fighting. He was such a pathetic looking thing. I wonder if he got somewhere safe before the storm hit.”
Suddenly, the door blew open. As InuYasha jumped up and unsheathed Tessaiga, a poor, emaciated tanuki looked up at them with great, soulful eyes. His clothes were ragged, and his fur was caked with snow.
“You!” the hanyou hissed.
“Sorry, sorry, sorry!” the youkai cringed. “I did what I promised! I left the village. But then the snowstorm hit, and I saw this hut and . . . ”
“And?” InuYasha said, still glaring at the youkai, but letting his sword transform back to its old and battered form before resheathing it.
“Can I just stay until the storm ends? I promise I won’t be a bother.” He squatted down on the dirt floor by the door, and shook his head. “It’s so cold.”
InuYasha growled softly, but Kagome pulled on his sleeve, looking at him with pleading eyes, and he sighed.
“If he follows us home, I’ll let Sesshoumaru eat him,” he muttered.
“Sesshoumaru doesn’t like tanuki,” Kagome calmly replied, and after inviting their unexpected guest to move closer to the fire, she stirred the pot once more, and served up the stew.