After The End: New Beginnings

Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows

They stayed like that for neither of them knew how long, merely relishing in each other's company, the cool evening breeze tickling their skin. Kagome was finally the one who broke the peaceful silence between them, but only to murmur, “I could stay like this forever.”

Inuyasha chuckled quietly at the comment, which so perfectly mirrored his own thoughts.

“Me too,” he agreed. “One day, once we have a house of our own, we can sleep like this every night,” he promised.

“Who says we have to wait?” Kagome asked in reply. “We can sleep like this at Kaede-baa-chan's house, unless you prefer being up against your wall,” she teased.

“Hell no,” he admitted, completely obliterating his previous lie about not minding sleeping sitting up. “It was so hard to resist you these last two nights. It was only the unknown keeping me against that wall. I don't know how the hell I'm supposed to stay away from you now.”

“Who says you have to?” she asked again, more seriously that time. “I mean, obviously we can't do anything in Kaede-baa-chan's house with her and Rin-chan both in the same room, but I'm sure she wouldn't mind it if we just slept next to each other like this. We don't have to wait until our house is finished.”

“But we still ain't married yet,” he pointed out.

“Well that doesn't have to wait until our house is finished, either. We could get married tomorrow if you wanted to.”

He rolled that truth around in his head for a moment and then tightened his grip on her, as if trying to bring her in even closer. Wordlessly, she complied, reaching across his chest with her left hand to fist the fabric over his right shoulder, her left leg bending at the knee a little to creep partway up over his left leg, half-embracing him in their horizontal position as she stretched her neck up and kissed his jaw. He turned his head to look at her then, really look at her, and something about lying flat on the ground with Kagome in his arms made something click inside his brain.

Turning himself slightly onto his right side, then, he met her lips with his, still being more careful of his fangs than before although this kiss was definitely more heated than the last. Kagome gripped his suikan even tighter, her right arm tucked in between them in her current position although she didn't mind. He didn't use his left hand for anything except holding her to him, his right hand making its way up to cup her left cheek. Her left hand released his jacket and worked its way up onto the back of his head, before traveling even higher, to delicately rub his right ear.

He growled into the kiss, and partway wrapped his right leg over her left, his right hand brazenly finding its way down to her left breast, and Kagome responded by moaning her appreciation, continuing to gently rub the tender flesh of his ear between her fingers.

Unbeknownst to either of them, Kagome's left leg gradually became more bent, Inuyasha's right leg doing the same, until they were both more or less straddling each other's thighs, their legs completely intertwined. Something hard and impossible to ignore began pressing against the miko, then, and at the sound of Inuyasha's quiet moans, as he slowly began rocking against her while continuing to palm her breast, Kagome chose to release her fiancé's ear, her hand making the brave journey downward, but her exploration was halted when his hand suddenly left her breast to grab her wrist almost desperately.

“We need to stop,” he panted, pulling his head back far enough from hers to look her in the eyes, his expression once again a combination of desire and fear. Perhaps it was his desire itself that he feared the most.

Kagome didn't really feel like stopping, but reminded herself in that moment that they'd only gotten their feelings for each other sorted out that very morning. They had both already agreed to take things at least a little slowly. They didn't have to jump in bed together right away.

“Whatever you want,” she relented then, untangling her legs from his.

“What I want and what's right are two different things,” he replied, closing his eyes and groaning as he reached into the open side of his hakama to adjust himself, his restrained arousal more than a little uncomfortable. “You deserve better than to be taken by an animal out in the middle of the woods.”

She blinked at him.

“Okay, first of all, out in the woods doesn't bother me in the slightest. Second, you mean to be taken like an animal, right?”

His eyes widened in panic as he realized what'd slipped out instead, and at his expression she frowned at him, and since they were both still lying on the ground, facing each other, she moved over him in that moment, climbing on top of him and sitting up to straddle his lap as she pushed him over to lie flat on his back again. He groaned, his hands automatically moving to her hips. Her heat was right there, directly over him, and he knew she had to feel the way his arousal was pressing up against her; there was no way she couldn't.

“What did I just say about accepting your inu half?” she asked him then, clearly irritated. “If you don't want to do anything outdoors, that's fine, but if I'd wanted a human husband I would have stayed on the other side of the well. Don't you forget it, or maybe I will have to use the rosary, if acting like your owner will help get my point across.”

He blinked up at her in surprise, then smirked, his crooked grin revealing a fang.

“Yes, Master.”

“Hmmm...” Kagome hummed, finger on her chin. “I like the sound of that.”

He started to laugh, but the sound was immediately cut off as she began rocking against him, his eyes widening in panic while hers sparkled with amusement. Sneaky little bitch! He immediately used his hands on her hips to still her movements.

“Damn, woman. I take it back, you're the animal,” he said, laughing a little despite himself.

Kagome chuckled as well, but then got a little more serious again.

“Seriously, though, you aren't actually worried that I'm bothered by your inu-youkai half, are you?”

“No...” She raised an eyebrow at him. “Maybe...” he confessed, chuckling again to mask his embarrassment at admitting such a thing. Taking a deep breath, he added, “Look, I know other couples sneak off into the forest. Believe me, I know.”

She laughed at that.

“But deserve better. You're special to me. I doesn't feel right.”

Kagome knew she could not argue that point. Not because she agreed with him, but because everyone's own personal thoughts and feelings were different, and if he honestly had issue with them making love in the forest, if he felt it demeaned her in some way, then she would not try to seduce him if he would later regret it. She would try to get him to change his mind, since it wasn't exactly like they had a house at their disposal just yet and waiting for their own to get built was crazy, but she would try to persuade him with words, not her body, and at a later time. Surely he would view things differently after they were actually married. Maybe he just didn't want to bed her before their marriage was official.

“Okay, I feel differently, but I'll respect your wishes,” she said then, getting off of him and standing up.

He immediately rose to his feet as well, his expression apologetic.

“I just've already sacrificed so much, and to love me despite my youkai blood? To actually be willing to have a dog for a husband? The least I can do is treat you like the human woman you are. My youkai instincts, they're at war with my human heart, but I'm gonna let my human heart win on this one.”

There, that was the truth. Well, it wasn't the whole truth, but he hadn't lied. He didn't have to also admit how absolutely terrified he was. Not wanting to do it in the forest, it wasn't really an excuse, because he most certainly did believe she deserved better and he did want to wait until they had a roof over their heads; she didn't need to know the rest of it. Not yet at least.

Of course, Kagome could sense that there was more to it than what he'd told her, although she also believed that everything he'd told her was true. She'd seen the flashes of fear in his eyes, though. She knew it wasn't just about her supposedly deserving better. She knew he was afraid. Was it possible he was only afraid of losing control and 'defiling' her? That, she wasn't sure. Maybe he was holding on by a thread and he feared his control might snap at any moment. On the other hand, maybe he was just nervous about the idea of intimacy. Knowing now that he was a virgin, and also considering that up until that very morning he'd gotten it in his head that they were still only friends, that she was untouchable, she could understand how it might now seem a little too zero-to-sixty for his tastes. Considering how long it'd originally taken him to warm up to her as just a friend back during the shard quest, she knew she couldn't reasonably expect him to tear the rest of his walls down in their entirety that quickly.

“So, are we headed back now?” she asked to change the subject.

Observing the setting sun, and realizing they had indeed missed dinnertime, Inuyasha said, “No hurry. We can head to the river instead and I'll catch us some fish for dinner before we head back.” Under his breath he added that he could use a dip in the cold water, and grinning slyly, Kagome pretended not to hear him.

Behaving themselves the rest of the evening, Inuyasha's need for a dip in the river left him by the time they actually reached it, although that didn't stop him from catching the promised fish, after first helping his bride-to-be whip up a quick campfire. Kagome still remembered the technique of how to create a safe firepit in the earth, how to line it properly and fill it with the needed kindling before the cliché act of gathering firewood, but the one thing she didn't personally know how to do was start a fire without her matches. She knew of the drilling technique, and had watched Inuyasha do it before on numerous occasions, but it was something she'd never personally tried.

Back during the quest he'd usually preferred that she save her matches for the times when he was out of or very low on tinder, when it'd be harder for him to make a fire egg to ignite the rest of their kindling. She knew he usually always tried to keep the leather pouch he wore against his kosode full of some sort of tinder material or another, but sometimes he ran out, or other times, it got wet, and then in those cases her matches had always been an invaluable backup. Watching him make their fire that evening, she knew his demonic speed and accuracy probably made it look way easier than it actually was, but even though she didn't really think the drilling method was for her she knew she would definitely need to learn how to make a fire with a flint and steel, like Kaede used. She'd ask the elder miko to show her how in the morning. Couldn't very well get through life in the Sengoku jidai without knowing how to make fire, after all.

Dinner was pleasant, Kagome coming up with plenty of non-hentai things to talk about as she shared a few mundane stories of her life over the last three years with Inuyasha. They also discussed the various luxuries she'd left behind in her world that could be duplicated in his. Inuyasha promised her that no matter how long it took to get the money together, he'd get her her own bathtub, better than Sango's. Oh, he'd get her a large wash bin like the slayer's initially, so she'd at least have something, but as soon as he could swing it he'd get her a proper bathtub, big enough to stretch out in. A real bathtub, like the kind at the nicer bath houses, where the tub's got a place for its own fire to heat the water, and the water could be drained out of it easily when need be.

Remembering what Miroku had said, Kagome teased Inuyasha that he just wanted to get her a bathtub so that he could finally watch her bathe without getting in trouble for it, but he got her back for her teasing when he replied with a serious face that that wasn't the only reason. They both laughed.

Getting serious again, he also promised her he'd get them a futon, so that she wouldn't have to sleep on the floor. She could tell from his tone of voice that he was being completely innocent, with actual sleep in mind, but silently, Kagome acknowledged that both actual sleep as well as other non-sleep-related activities would be much more comfortable on a real futon and so she merely nodded her head in agreement. It would be nice.

Checking both bed and bathtub off his mental list, Inuyasha told her that whatever else she wanted for the house would also be hers. All she had to do was ask.

“I don't got any more money than what Miroku's saved for me not 'cause I can't earn money outside our exorcism jobs, I just never bothered to try to earn any before,” he explained. “If I needed to, it'd be easy to come up with things to sell or trade on Market Day. I can hunt and fish. Could have a bunch of fresh fish to sell. Or I could pay Riku with meat and hides to tan me up some extra hides for me to sell or trade at the market, and if they'd rather deal with the leatherworker they know than a hanyou then I could also just send Riku to the market town with my hides and a list of things I want.”

Kagome nodded at his various ideas, truly impressed.

“Sounds like you've really thought it out.”

He shrugged.

“Since like this morning, after you told me you wanted me. Before that...”

“We don't have to rehash our painful morning,” Kagome interrupted. “I'd much rather think about our pleasurable afternoon.”

He snorted a chuckle.


She giggled.

“You know how your mind had wandered last night to the hypothetical 'what if' of if our village had a brothel and I'd chosen to become a prostitute instead of a miko?” she asked out of nowhere, earning a startled choke-laugh from her future husband.

“What of it?” he asked, his tone guarded, eyes narrowed.

She shrugged nonchalantly.

“When I'd been worried this morning, and realized our misunderstanding, it'd been because I'd thought what other reason could there have possibly been for you to be staying away this morning, staying out in the woods by yourself instead of coming back to be with me, ya know? But then in passing I'd thought that well, maybe you were know...”

He did know, and his cheeks took on a dark pink hue at the thought of her thinking about him possibly doing such a thing. Especially since he did do it, a lot. Swallowing, he tried to follow her example of acting more mature and less embarrassed. At least while it was just the two of them.

“Guess I'm gonna always have to make sure I'm not within sensing range at those times, or you just might walk in on me one day.”

He wasn't sure what her reaction to that statement was going to be, although he seriously doubted she was going to be disgusted by the realization that he did indeed pleasure himself on occasion since she was the one who'd just mentioned the act so casually. In fact, she had about the furthest reaction from disgusted as she could possibly have.

“Oh, that's another one of my fantasies,” she revealed with a playful wink.

Shaking his head in amusement, Inuyasha smirked and admitted boldly, “Me too.”

“Me walking in on you, or you walking in on me?” she asked, truly curious and seeking clarification.

The question only made his cheeks and nose get even reader, and instead of answering her question he changed the subject.

“We...uh...should probably be heading back to Kaede-babaa's before it gets any later,” he said, and shooting him a knowing smirk Kagome chose to go along with it.

“Yeah, it's past bedtime,” she agreed.

Snuffing out their fire, they made the journey back to Kaede's village in companionable silence. All was quiet when they breached the treeline, and remaining silent as they approached Kaede's hut, Inuyasha gave Kagome a nod to let her know Kaede and Rin were asleep before he held the hanging mat aside for her to enter the hut before him. Instead of waiting for her outside like before, Inuyasha went in with her, earning a smile from the teenager that he didn't see. There was a changing screen, after all, and as she slipped out of her miko robes and back into her pajamas, Inuyasha enjoyed the simple knowledge that for a brief moment Kagome had been undressed while he was in the same room as her. Unbeknownst to each of them, they both daydreamed about the time, not too far in the future, when she could change her clothes right in front of him, without the use of a privacy screen.

Ready to get settled into her sleeping bag, Kagome sent Inuyasha a quiet, questioning look, asking him silently where he planned on sleeping, since he was currently sitting against the wall like he'd been the last two nights. His hesitant expression told her he wasn't quiet ready yet to make such a drastic change in their relationship, or at least, not in a room with other occupants, and so she let it go, murmuring a softly spoken “Goodnight” before settling down.

With a part of him wishing he'd had the balls to suggest they stay out in the forest all night long, and another part of him very glad indeed to be back at Kaede's because he wasn't quite sure he'd be able to resist her if left alone with her in the forest all night long, Inuyasha exhaled slowly and then repeated her quiet murmur before doing his best to fall asleep.

The first thing Kagome noticed upon waking up the next morning was that Inuyasha was still there, and she sent him a delightful smile as she glanced his way, earning his smile in return. Accepting a cup of tea from Rin after reemerging from behind the changing screen in her pink and white yukata, Kagome only allowed herself a few minutes of waking up before offering to help Kaede with the breakfast preparations.

Inuyasha stayed throughout the morning meal, but soon enough, he announced that he reluctantly had to leave for a little while, to do his morning rounds.

Kagome pouted playfully but didn't otherwise protest, knowing he had a job to do, and so did she. While he was gone she could get back to her lessons with Kaede.

“I doubt I'll find any trouble, so I should be back well before lunch this time,” he assured her. “Then we'll go talk to Haruto together about our house and...other things.” He blushed.

“I'm looking forward to it,” Kagome answered, and she meant it.

Nodding his agreement and a silent goodbye, Inuyasha was out the door.

Fortunately, as predicted, his perimeter check was uneventful that morning, and with no other pending tasks keeping him from returning to Kagome's side it didn't take the inu-hanyou long to hightail it back to where he belonged. The rosary he wore, it was her collar around his neck, and he wouldn't have it any other way. It was weird, the way he felt about her. His inu-youkai half was drawn to her in an undeniably canine fashion. He was a dog, and she was his person. But, on the other hand, he also had a human heart, and he loved her with his human heart like a man loved a woman. He was relieved she didn't seem to be too worried about his blend of human and youkai thoughts and feelings, and especially that she didn't need him to spell it out for her, particularly because he didn't honestly think he could explain it to her even if she asked him to. He had a hard enough time explaining it to himself. As his wife, she would belong to him, he the man of the house and the one in charge, but as an inu-youkai she was his person, and therefore she was the one in command, even though he still considered her his. His person. His to protect. She was his, and he was hers. Her inu, her protector, and soon enough, her husband. They belonged to each other, and he wouldn't have it any other way.

Returning to Kaede's, Inuyasha found Kagome sitting with the elderly miko, going over a few more herbs and what they were used for. Rin was with them, sitting quietly in her side of the room dressed in a different kimono while she worked on stitching up a few small tears in the yukata she normally wore. She had a couple other dresses but usually wore only the one whenever she was working outside in order to keep the other ones nice.

Having a seat near his fianceé while she finished up with her lessons, it only took a few minutes before Kagome said she was ready to go whenever he was. They'd just about been finished for the morning, anyway, Kaede needing to get to her daily rounds in the village to check on a couple of people whom she knew weren't feeling well. That was something Kagome would eventually need to start doing with her, but not today.

After slipping on her sandals, it was the younger miko this time who told her teacher not to worry about her and Inuyasha at lunchtime, saying they'd probably be eating with Sango and Miroku. With everyone wishing everyone else a temporary goodbye, then, Inuyasha and Kagome were out the door, and this time they made the decision to head right down the center of town, along the main road that led straight to the headman's compound. Everyone stopped what they were doing to watch as hanyou and miko passed them by, but it wasn't with disapproving faces, and the only whispered murmurs Inuyasha could hear consisted primarily of “Look! There goes Inuyasha-sama and Kagome-sama!” as everyone, surprised but also delighted by their presence, paused in their tasks in order to bow respectful greetings to the couple as they walked by.

Following Inuyasha's lead, Kagome nodded her head to the villagers in return, because even with as weird as it felt and as hard as she knew it was going to be to really get used to it, she was above them, status-wise, and therefore had to bow accordingly. If Inuyasha could get used to being treated like that, then she knew she could, too. She'd come from a time where such formalities had fallen by the wayside in more casual settings, but Inuyasha had spent the better part of his life being treated worse than eta class by most humans and like prey by most youkai, so he definitely won out over her in the 'unexpected adjustments to get used to' category. And now both of their lives were about to adjust again, but it was an adjustment they'd get used to, together, and one she was definitely looking forward to.

Arriving at the headman's compound, it didn't take long for one of the workers to spot them and rush ahead of them to the main house, announcing their arrival. Kazue, Haruto's wife, greeted them warmly at the door, inviting them both to come inside as she asked a younger woman to put on some tea for them, and this time, Inuyasha didn't decline the proffered beverage. The trio made small pleasantries while they waited for a granddaughter to go summon Haruto in his office, and it didn't take long for the headman to come in, greeting the hanyou and miko as well.

If it hadn't been for the previous night's dinner Kagome might've felt nervous, but she was perfectly relaxed around the headman's family by that point, and enjoyed watching the interaction between Inuyasha and Haruto as they talked. It was clear that while the elderly headman had great respect for the hanyou, he didn't keep him on quite as high a pedestal as some of the lower ranking villagers did, and it was also equally clear to her that Inuyasha felt relieved for it, able to loosen up a bit more around the old man and speak more freely. Kagome could also tell that Inuyasha held a great deal of respect for Haruto in return, because while he didn't add the suffix 'sama' to his name, neither did he add the suffix 'jijii', referring to Haruto simply by name. The headman didn't seem to mind it.

Learning of Inuyasha's desire to marry Kagome and have a house for the two of them constructed, Haruto immediately proved Kaede's beliefs correct by warmly congratulating the couple, even after Kagome also explained her official position under Kaede as her apprentice. The headman was delighted to hear both bits of news, and in regard to their future house he told Inuyasha not to worry about a thing, that he'd send word immediately for a building party, assuring him he'd handle all of the costs himself. Inuyasha immediately tried to argue, of course, insisting that he had his own money to pay the itinerant carpenters, but Haruto would hear none of it.

“Save your money,” he instructed. “You'll need it.”

“He's got a point,” Kagome agreed, pointing out that with the money they'd now saved on construction of the actual house they would be able to buy that much more stuff for the house. Inuyasha only had so much money Miroku had saved aside for him before it'd all be gone and he'd need to earn more, so the more things they could get for their house sooner rather than later, the better.

As Kazue refilled their teacups, Kagome began rattling off the various everyday things they'd need for the house, like storage jars, cooking pots and pans, knives, ladles, chopsticks, bowls and cups. Kazue quickly chimed in, adding baskets, lanterns, blankets and linens to the list, not to mention furnishings like cabinets and chests. Some things she said she was sure Inuyasha could barter among the local villagers for, but others would definitely need to be purchased from vendors at the market. As the women continued to discuss what all would need to be purchased from the market town Inuyasha's eyes opened comically wide in realization of the daunting, grueling task ahead of him, and he solemnly asked Haruto if they could borrow one of his worker's pull carts to take with them when the time came.

The headman's response was a hearty laugh as he joyously slapped the hanyou on the back and said, “Welcome to the life of a married man, my friend. Just you wait until baby things need to get added to that list.”

Inuyasha turned bright red while Kazue and Kagome hid their smiles and knowing glances.

After tea, when Haruto asked Inuyasha what they had in mind in terms of a wedding, he and Kagome shared a look, each having somewhat unpleasant flashbacks to the craziness that had arisen during the festivities two nights ago, and after Kagome's knowing smile and nod, Inuyasha turned back to the headman and told him that they didn't really want to have any kind of a ceremony at all and that he'd rather they were simply declared married now to be done with it, just like Sango and Miroku had done three years prior. Nodding his deeper understanding and agreement, Haruto asked the pair to accompany him into his office, and they readily complied. There, Haruto found the proper village census, on which he had already made the necessary additions to catalog Kagome's auspicious return to them. It was a simple matter to declare in the formal log that Kagome and Inuyasha were wed on that date.

After that was taken care of, hanyou and miko took a few silent moments to stare affectionately at one another, despite their audience. It did vaguely occur to each of them that with this physical record of their marriage it was likely Kagome's family had indeed known all along, or at least her grandfather had, unless something had ended up happening to the parchment, of course. It was true that the legend of him having been pinned to the Goshinboku had survived to her time, but the village census was an entirely different document. They supposed they'd never know for certain, but that was all right.

After giving the couple their moment, Haruto breached the subject of where they had been planning on living, in regard to the location of their future home. Kagome shrugged, and sent Inuyasha another look, silently asking him if he had any particular location in mind. He thought it over for a moment, quickly nixing his original, fanciful idea of the villagers wanting to build Kagome a small hut of her own next to Kaede's. That had been back when he hadn't known how long it would take the two of them to explore their feelings for one another, when he'd thought that Kagome was going to be considered a part of Kaede's family, therefore causing the elderly miko's property to expand in the event of Kagome wanting her own place. But Kaede had said that Kagome had no family, that he was her family, and if the two of them were both strangers to the village, who had both come to them from the forest...

His forest...

All things happened for a reason, right?

“I think in the forest would be best, don't ya think?” he spoke up then, asking both Kagome and Haruto their opinions. “I don't own no land within the village, and don't wanna be given any, neither. The forest is already mine, and everyone knows it. It's where I've been livin' for the last fifty four years, if you count my imprisonment. Our house should be within 'Inuyasha no Mori', near the Goshinboku and Bone-Eater's Well.”

Kagome only smiled and nodded, as if that's what she'd wanted all along but had only wanted Inuyasha to reach the same conclusion on his own, without her persuasion. Haruto also had no objections and agreed that it made the most sense. Inuyasha then said that he and Kagome would look the area over and decide on the final location, and that he could take care of clearing away any trees that needed to be removed before the workers could begin packing the earth. They'd need the lumber anyway, so it'd be killing two birds with one stone.

With that taken care of, hanyou and miko excused themselves, wanting to get to their friends' house before lunchtime. Haruto bade them a pleasant farewell for the time being as he walked with them to the door, telling them both that they were welcome in his home any time they wished. Bowing their goodbyes, the newly married couple were then on their way, exiting the headman's compound and heading north back up the village's main, central street, towards the westbound cutoff that led to Sango and Miroku's house.

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