Chapter 2: Things to Consider
Love is a twisting --
hope and want and need and tears
braided in heartstrings
"What?" InuYasha said.
"Build her a house." Kaede repeated. Her manner remained calm, but serious, and her one eye took in his two amber eyes with a steady gaze. "Let everybody know how things are. If you are going to be her protector and provide for her, you can't hide it, InuYasha."
InuYasha broke eye contact, looked towards the fire, saying nothing for several minutes. Finally, he uncrossed his arms, brushed the hilt of his sword lightly. "Feh, old woman. Who's going to let me build a house in the village, anyway?" He glared at her. "You think the headman's going to be happy with a damn hanyou and a kitsune taking up permanent residence and spoiling their lovely purity? And to add a human woman into the mix? I'd be lucky if they didn't burn the house down the first month."
She poured herself another cup of tea. "You have more friends here than you think, InuYasha. They appreciate what you've done and what you do, both you and Kagome-chan. But you cannot stay forever in this in-between place. The monk and the tajiya are moving on with their lives."
He stared into the fire not speaking.
"Let me ask you this," Kaede said, taking a sip of her tea. "How would you feel if a nakodo, a go between, came here looking to arrange something for Kagome? Would you let her go?"
His eyes grew wide, and he grasped the hilt of his sword. "No," he said softly. "That's not supposed to happen."
"If you don't make it clear, I am sure that one day, one could very well show up." She pursed her lips. "Are you ready to deal with that?"
He grasped his sword tighter, scowled without meeting her glance. "Do you know something, old woman, that I should know?"
She shook her head and sighed. "Do not act rashly or stupidly, InuYasha. Kagome-chan is lovely, brave and capable. Right now to a lot of people here, she seems....well, otherworldly, touched by the kami, and I do not believe that any one yet has actually thought of that. But time will pass, and as they see her doing her laundry, working in the garden, even, perhaps taking her place in the musume yado, learning to sew with the other maidens, or in the ohariya, doing needlework with the other women, running errands, living an everyday life, she will become more and more an ordinary woman in people's eyes. She is very kindhearted and if no one thinks you have a claim on her, young men will start paying attention. No doubt some family or another would think that a lovely girl like her might be worth bringing into the family, even if she has been known to associate with youkai. Farmers aren't as picky as samurai.
"Miroku and Sango should be back tomorrow. Perhaps you would like to talk about it with them?"
Inu's ears flattened to his head as he took in what she said. "Keh," he muttered.
Suddenly, he stood up. "I need some fresh air," he said, pulled back the mat covering the door, and walked out into the sunlight.
The garden spread out in front of the hut, just across from the pathway. Herbs nodded in the afternoon sunshine, yomogi, shisho, mitsuba, shungiku. Kagome looked up from where she was kneeling in the garden as she heard the doormat move, her hands still wrapped around a weed she was tugging up as a wasp flew lazily past. She wore a straw hat to keep the sun off of her face. Dressed that way, in traditional clothes, hat, blue and beige yukata and apron instead of that exotic short-skirted school uniform from her time, InuYasha realized she could pass for just another pretty farmer's daughter, just like Kaede suggested, rather than the pure and stubborn girl filled with spiritual power who had stood up to a monster and won.
Something inside of him, welling up from the desire he had to keep her near and the need he felt to keep her safe shivered at the thought of what that was going to mean. "O Kaede," he muttered,"can you tell me how to keep her safe and happy, too?" Louder, he said, "Oi, Kagome, you're still digging?"
Kagome pushed her hat back as she watched InuYasha walk up towards her, his silver hair glinting in the sunlight. He noticed that there was a smudge of dirt on the tip of her nose, but was pleased how her stormy blue eyes looked content without the sadness of earlier. Wiping her forehead with the back of her hand, she stood up. "I thought you'd have come outside sooner," she said. "But I got a bit of work done."
"I'd have been out sooner but Kaede wanted to talk to me," he said. "You got some dirt on your nose; hold still." He came close enough to dust her nose off with his sleeve. Looking around, he asked, "Where's Shippou?"
"He ran off to play with Akiko's boys," she said, raking up the weeds. "Weeding didn't compare to playing tag. He did manage to pull three or four before he ran off, though before the boys came through. What did Kaede want to talk about?".
Putting the weeds into a basket, she bent over to lift it, but InuYasha took it from her. "Into the compost pile?" he asked. Kagome nodded and he carried it over and dumped it. "Kaede was wondering about the future." he said.
"She was asking about my time?" she asked, as she picked up the garden tools that she had left lying on the ground.
"No," InuYasha replied. "More like what we wanted to do. Whether you want to study to be a miko like her, or something." He stared down, kicked aside a dirt clod with a bare toe.
"Oh," she said. She took the empty basket and began moving back towards Kaede's hut.
"Oh?" he asked.
"I guess....I guess I was sort of hoping things could just keep going on like this for awhile." She smiled wistfully up at the hanyou. He took the rake from her as he helped her put the garden tools back up in the storage area.
"I've been kind of playing a game in my head, InuYasha," Kagome said, leaning up against the hut as he put the last things away, not meeting his eyes. "It's like I've been kind of pretending that nothing's really changed. It's just like before when we were still looking for Naraku, but that I'm just staying in the village a little longer than usual. There's that part of me that wants to believe that if I could keep everything the same way it was the last year, that I'd wake up one day, go to the well, and jump through, and I'd have both worlds again."
She plopped down on the ground, wrapped her arms around her legs, and rested her head on her knees. "I know it's stupid. I guess it's time to get real."
InuYasha sat down next to her. "Kagome..."
"Everythings changing, even though I was pretending it wasn't. Miroku and Sango are busy starting a new life. I'm scared, InuYasha. Are you going to move on and leave me, too?"