He stood, looking at the steps in front of the shrine, at the torii gate, and took deep sigh.
He was a good looking man. A bypasser would have said he was about forty or so, and considered him to be a man of substance and authority, an executive, perhaps. He wore an expensive, well-fitted dark suit, and his black hair had slight touches of gray at the temples. His eyes, though, seemed anxious and weary.
It'd been a long, long time since he'd last come this way. He hadn't even been in Japan for more than a few days at a time the last twenty years. But then his daughter called, and reminded him of the date. And so there was the flight from Los Angeles, and then a visit with his brother. She had called him last night to make final arrangements.
"You're sure of the date?" he said gruffly.
"Oh yes," she said brightly, her voice and manner so much like her mother's. "I've had it marked on my calender for weeks. We should go there about three, I believe. Everything should be settled by then. Oh, Toshiro's come up from Osaka and is going to join us."
"Good. Then I'll pick you up about 2:30. Say hello to uncle for me."
So here he was.
Everything looked pretty much like how he remembered it. His daughter came and stood on his right side, picked a piece of lint off his shoulder, took his hand. "You look great, Dad. You can do this."
He smiled a little, knowing she sensed his anxiety. He turned around looking at his son. "You coming with us, Toshiro?"
"Yeah, yeah. I'm right behind ya. Let's go."
They walked up the stairs, but went to the private residence instead of going on into the shrine, knocked on the door.
A pleasant looking woman with kind eyes opened it. She must have been about thirty-five, maybe a little older. "May I help you?"
"Higurashi-san," said the older man, bowing. He stood back up, took a ring off of his hand, and slipped it into his pocket, and his dark hair suddenly transformed into shimmering silver. Instead of the well-shaped ears that had graced the sides of his face, he now had two triangular dog ears, sitting on his head.
Mrs. Higurashi's eye grew wide. "In...InuYasha?"
"Yes, Higurashi-san. May I come in?"
She led them to the kitchen, looking shaken. "Let me make some tea," she said, filling the tea kettle, and putting it on the stove.
Turning back to her guests, she took a deep breath. "You've aged, InuYasha. You're not from the past his time, are you?"
He shook his head no.
Mrs. Higurashi's eyes teared up. "She just graduated from middle school today. She was so happy about actually having passed, but she was so determined to go back down the well to you. She's not coming back, is she?"
"No." InuYasha said. "The well will close before she gets a chance to."
She collapsed into a chair. His daughter went over to her, put an arm around her. "Grandmother."
Looking up, Mrs. Higurashi studied the face of the woman next to her. "You're Kagome's daughter?" she whispered.
"Yes, Grandmother. I'm Izayoi. And that guy sulking next to Dad is your grandson Toshiro."
"You took care of her," Mrs. Higurashi said.
"Of course, Higurashi-san. But we couldn't have beat Naraku without her. You should have seen how bright the sky grew when ---"
"Sorry I'm late." said a bright cheery voice. "I just couldn't get away from Rin any sooner. I told you we shouldn't have taken two cars."
"Yeah, Mom, we know," said Izayoi.
"Wench was late to her own wedding," InuYasha muttered.
A beautiful woman of about thirty-five had entered the room. She looked amazingly like Mrs. Higurashi, and when their eyes met, blue-gray and brown, tears welled up in both.
"Kagome?" whispered Mrs. Higurashi.
"Yes, Mama. I'm home."