After The End: New Beginnings

By SplendentGoddess All Rights Reserved ©

Romance / Erotica

Time flies when you're having fun

Hanyou and miko enjoyed the last of their alone time together as they raced back to Kaede's village, Inuyasha soaring high through the treetops. He wasn't traveling at his top speed, not in that much of a hurry, although he certainly wasn't dawdling. Besides needing to get back at a decent hour, his gait was also for Kagome's benefit, his wife squealing her delight as he leapt from tree to tree. Despite the shrillness of her pitch, it was music to his ears. Especially when her voice caught on a gasp as his hand 'accidentally' slipped higher up on her inner thigh than was necessary.

Way higher up.

“Hentai!” she laughed, reaching up to rub an ear in retaliation.

His hand was immediately back in neutral territory.

“Okay, okay...you win! Keep that up and I'll be running with a boner,” he admitted. “Which, by the way, I've done plenty of times since meeting you and it's not fun.”

She merely laughed again, retracting her hand. It was entertaining for her, to learn just how long her Inuyasha had secretly been hot for her. She wasn't appalled by the revelation in the slightest. “Next chance we get for a private talk you're gonna have to fill me in on just when this was.”

“I'll fill you in...I'll fill you up.”

She gasped again and playfully smacked his shoulder.

“You really are an animal,” she murmured, and although she couldn't see the worry flash across his face she could feel his shift in mood. She smirked, leaning towards the same ear to add, “And I wouldn't have you any other way.”

She still couldn't see his face, but this time, she knew he was smirking.

Getting serious again once they neared the village, hanyou and miko detoured to the site of their future home, and with the builders already hard at work utilizing the trees he'd downed for them in advance, Inuyasha spoke with the construction workers and quickly agreed to down some more trees since they would be needing them soon. The head woodworker, Arata, had already marked off a few trees in the forest that he liked for the job, but because this forest was sacred, and Inuyasha's domain, the workers said they'd had no intention of cutting them down without his permission. Even if they had run out of wood and work had to stop until they got their next tree, they'd planned on waiting for his return. That meant a lot to Inuyasha. Anybody else, they would've just taken what they needed without thinking about it, but they'd realized that the trees might be especially special to him. He was their forest youkai, after all. Couldn't risk angering the forest youkai, right? Although like Kaede had explained it, they didn't fear his wrath, it was displeasing him in and of itself that they feared, because they wanted to stay on his good side.

Despite their concerns, outside of the Goshinboku, of course, and a few other trees that were his favorites for lounging in, most of the trees were just that to him, trees, and he had no problem taking down each of the ones the woodworker had marked off for him. He made quick work of the trees while Kagome continued to chat with the new builders about a few of the designs they'd gone over before with the locals. If any of the itinerant workers from the neighboring villages had a problem with a miko being married to a hanyou they didn't show it, the newcomers '-sama'ing her just as much as the locals, if not more so.

The local villagers still said it every time, of course, but they were getting to know her, feeling more comfortable in her presence. Some even called her 'Kagome-sama' instead of 'Miko-sama', including the two women who were present, wives of a couple of the workers who'd come along to provide tea and food so that the men could have their lunch break on site instead of having to disperse. It was especially convenient for the itinerant workers whose wives lived in other villages; they were sleeping in the headman's guest house while the job was being done.

Kagome was a stranger to these new men, and she could feel it in the way they acted, knowing she was the apprentice village miko and aiming to please. Perhaps they did secretly have a problem with her and Inuyasha's union, but also knew it was not their place to have such thoughts, and fearful that she would see it in their eyes they were subconsciously acting even nicer, almost groveling. Mentally, she shrugged it off, not really caring to psychoanalyze the construction workers. At least not the ones she'd only ever see when major building work needed to be done in the village. In this instance, she was able to act the part of a proper miko rather well, remaining nearly as stoic as Kikyou herself had been, but a tad more polite, with more of a smile on her lips. She was dressed in her miko clothing and such an outfit dictated she act accordingly in mixed company. She was not the same naïve fifteen-year-old she had once been. Chatting pleasantly with the women, she left the men to their work.

After Inuyasha dragged the last downed tree, roots and all, over towards where he'd left the others, the workers all watching him from the corners of their eyes in silent awe even as they pretended not to be distracted by the sight, hanyou and miko then said their professional goodbyes and headed through the trees along the path they knew so well. They had been invited to join in their lunch by the workers' wives but politely declined, saying they needed to get back to Kaede's. Arriving at the elderly miko's home a few short minutes later, they greeted her and Rin with pleasant hellos and Inuyasha opted not to go hunt anything for lunch, accepting a vegetarian meal of vegetables and rice. He would've preferred the meal with meat or fish added to it, but the bottom line was that he was in no mood to part with Kagome, so unless she'd specifically asked him to go hunt or fish, which she hadn't, his plan was to stay right by her side the rest of the day. Even as she participated in a spiritual lesson with Kaede later that evening, testing her control over her reiki, he didn't go anywhere, observing with pride from the back corner of the room.

Kaede was glad to help teach Kagome greater control in areas where the younger miko would benefit from such training, although nobody disputed her natural abilities. When it came to things like reflective barriers, however, Kaede agreed they should seek out Miroku's wisdom in that field. Kaede was a master archer, like her sister before her, but the only type of barrier she herself could produce was a strictly purifying one. It would protect her from tainted energies only, like miasma, and youkai themselves of course, but not solid, tainted objects, like a demonic sword. Even purified, the sword itself would still reach her, under such a scenario, since as a tangible object merely infused with jyaki the sword itself would not disperse upon being purified. With Miroku's guidance, Kaede did believe that Kagome's spiritual powers were strong enough to deflect a demonic weapon, instead.

Even though her powers were also based on purification, reflecting an enemy's attack back at them was something Kagome had already done in the past, under duress. With training, she could learn to master the skill, and to specifically avoid purifying the youki out of an object in the process, thus enabling her to maintain a seemingly solid barrier against say, a demonic sword's repeated strikes, the tainted blade unable to pass through and strike her. To accidentally purify the sword would mean allowing it entry within her barrier to do her harm, and sharp blades definitely still cut even if there was no youki involved, so sometimes not purifying was the way to go in the heat of the moment; it wasdefinitelysomething she would need to learn to control. Inuyasha agreed they'd talk to Miroku about it the following day. They hadn't seen their friends in five days, anyway. Sure, life got a little busy sometimes, and they were newlyweds and naturally wanted a bit of alone time as a result, but even so it was high time they lunched with the monk and slayer again.

That night was just as peaceful as the night before, and Inuyasha no longer felt shy to give Kagome a slightly more passionate kiss goodnight, even in mixed company, so long as the screen blocked them from view, of course.

The next day they headed up the shrine steps after breakfast to talk to Miroku as planned. They were excited to tell him about their thoughts regarding Kagome's spiritual powers. Embarrassment aside, Inuyasha also felt he owed the monk and his wife a thank you for allowing Kaede and Rin to stay the night at their house four nights ago.

Sensing their auras, Miroku emerged from the small temple building as they approached, his eyes sparkling merrily. He greeted them warmly, and then teased lightly that he'd begun to worry that something might have abducted them. Then with his trademark smirk growing more pronounced, he waggled his eyebrows at the couple and added that he supposed it was true, after all; married life had abducted them. It would have been an innocent enough statement had it not been said in his classic Miroku way. Kagome only giggled, unable to deny it, while Inuyasha turned a lovely shade of red.

Miroku's smirk widened a bit, but then, much to the houshi's surprise, despite his obvious embarrassment to openly discuss such things, Inuyasha cleared his throat nervously and said, “Uh...yeah...about that. Thanks, Miroku, for...ya know...housing Kaede and Rin like that. You didn't have to do it, so...thanks.”

Surprised by his friend's words, but delightfully so, Miroku's smile lost a touch of its perverted edge, becoming much more genuine.

“Ah, you are quite welcome, my friend. What are friends for? After all, you and young Shippou have helped Sango and I out on occasion by watching the children, so it was only right that we return the favor. You are a good man, with a good wife. You deserved nothing less.”

Inuyasha fidgeted nervously, the hanyou always having found compassionate praise nearly as embarrassing as anything sexual, so Kagome jumped in in that moment, telling the houshi of the main reason they'd wanted to speak to him that morning, about her spiritual powers, and if he could help her train. The houshi said he'd be more than happy to try and teach Kagome anything and everything he knew about making reflective barriers.

Normally one needed a focal point through which to channel their energies when performing such a task, he said, while holding up his shakujo in gesture, but he then immediately said that the bow from Mt. Azusa would be a perfect channeling device for her. Kagome had already instinctively used a bow to create a reflective shield against dark magic during her ordeal with Tsubaki, so they knew that it was indeedsomething she could do in a pinch, but what came naturally to her when she focused on using her reiki was the power of purification, and flinging out a curse-counterstrike on instinct in a do or die moment of panic was obviously different from creating a reflective barrier by design as a consciously employed technique during battle. It would be beyond foolhardy to just assume that in future emergencies her powers would continue to do what needed to be done on instinct, without any proper training on her part. She needed to learn how to do it on purpose. It required clarity and concentration, no matter how stressful the situation. What she really needed to practice was staying focused. Sure, Kagome could concentrate when all was calm and peaceful; the real trick would be maintaining that concentration when all hell was breaking loose.

Heading with Miroku back to his house after a while, Inuyasha and Kagome had a wonderful lunch with the monk and slayer. When the women broke away to speak in private for a few minutes while Sango tended to Ichirou, Shippou running off to play with the neighbors' children for a little while, Miroku took advantage of the opportunity to quietly ask Inuyasha if any of his 'advice' over the years had 'come in handy', phrasing it that way since his daughters were sitting right next to them. Grateful for the houshi being forced to use code in front of the twins, that still didn't stop his face from flaming since it was beyond obvious what the pervert was talking about, but deciding to try something Kagome had said the other day about just not letting his teasing bother him that much because really, they were all married adults now and such jokes just weren't that big of a deal anymore, Inuyasha swallowed and met Miroku's eyes with the best smirk he could muster and answered just as quietly, "You think Kagome'd be in such a good mood otherwise?"

Miroku laughed openly at that, pleased with the answer, and he quickly dropped the subject. It gave Inuyasha the impression that, pervert or no, he'd actually been genuinely hopeful that his advice had helped. Inuyasha did understand that Miroku was his only real guy friend, after all, knowing that, to a point, it was normal for guy friends to discuss such things. After all, it wasn't like the monk had asked to hear any of the details, not that such a question wouldn't have earned him a bop on the head if he had, though for a different reason than his own embarrassment. Friends or no, Inuyasha would never share such intimate details with Miroku because, by default, that would mean Miroku was thinking about Kagome's body like that, and nobody was allowed to think about Kagome like that but himself.

Fortunately, the houshi knew his demonic friend's limits and did not try to push them. By the time the women rejoined them with a freshly changed Ichirou they were already discussing how best to go about starting up Kagome's training schedule. Sango joined in then, saying she was all for it, and the four of them quickly got the details worked out.

For the time being, while their house was still being framed and there was nothing yet that either Miroku or Inuyasha could assist the builders with beyond the hanyou providing their lumber, Miroku, Sango, and even Shippou when he wasn't away for his own training, would meet up with Kagome and Inuyasha at the shrine-temple grounds every early afternoon for some sparing and spiritual training, starting today. First things first, they put her raw purifying abilities to the test. Nobody had really seen her in action with her powers fully unlocked as they were now and so they all wanted to see just how powerful she really was. Kagome might not have known how to make a barrier yet, but she did know how to bring her powers to the surface, just generally speaking, the same energy she would normally channel into a purifying arrow. She let it surround herself in that moment, more like an aura wrapped loosely around her skin than the round dome of a true barrier. It would get the job done.

Provided she had a compliant sparring partner, that was.

It took a good fifteen minutes of glowing a light pinkish purple for her to convince Inuyasha that his Sankon Tessou wouldn't hurt her, and another five to get him to understand how she couldn't wear his suikan for extra protection 'just in case' because her reiki would nullify its demonic properties, rendering the youkai cloth temporarily inert. Eventually it was Miroku's insistence that this whole thing had originally been his idea and was in fact what was best for Kagome, combined with the miko's borderline hurtful inquiry “Don't you trust me?” that had the hanyou caving.

He released his attack at his wife, at the weakest level he could possibly create, fully prepared to commit seppuku right then and there if he harmed her in any way. Kagome had known better all along, of course. She never ever in a million years would have been stupid enough to insist on such a test if she had actually considered it a 'test'. She'd known she could do it. She'd known, and so had the others. Ultimately Inuyasha had believed in her too, or else he never ever would have given in. She stood, unfazed, smiling, as the angry looking crescent blades of demonic energy fizzled out with loud pops of static electricity upon contact with her glowing aura.

Despite himself, Inuyasha visibly exhaled in relief, then grinned in triumph. Kagome's triumph. Nobody was stupid, and they all knew that even she was nowhere near powerful enough to withstand something like the Kaze no Kizu, but it was satisfying for Inuyasha to realize that at least against weaker, naturally occurring youki based attacks – meaning from the body instead of from a weapon – Kagome was perfectly capable of defending herself, even without her bow as a channeling device. It didn't make him feel useless, as if he wasn't needed as her protector anymore. He was proud of her, and grateful to know that she wasn't a totally weak, defenseless human in constant need of protecting. It wouldn't have been a burden on him if she were, but it was a load off his mind to know that she wasn't so fragile she'd break at the slightest touch.

That was also where Sango came in. After testing her spiritual powers for a while, it was time to change up the lessons, and engage the taijiya in hand-to-hand combat. Shippou shouted out his words of encouragement from the sidelines where he was keeping the twins entertained, Ichirou sleeping in a basket cradle beside them. Kagome was loving every minute of her lesson, especially since it was a rather casual setting, no sense of urgency as would have been the case had they been preparing themselves at the last minute for a fast approaching battle. Hopefully her days of epic battles of good and evil were over and done with, but Kagome knew it would be foolish indeed to not be prepared, just in case. She'd kept her archery skills sharp over the last three years with a modern bow, and she'd also kept up channeling her powers into her arrows, which she'd only ever done in private of course, never when there had been visitors to the shrine watching her practice, but hand-to-hand combat was something she'd never been very good at even from the beginning and was definitely out of practice in now. It was something fun to do to make the time go by faster while waiting for their house to get finished, and it could theoretically save her life one day. That sounded like a win/win situation to Kagome.

Once practice was over for the day hanyou and miko were invited back to the monk and slayer's house again for dinner, which was a pleasant affair. Sleeping that night in Kaede's house was identical to the night before, breakfast much of the same as well. Then after their morning patrol Kagome listened to a few lessons on herbs and healing techniques with Kaede while Inuyasha checked on the builders and assisted with any heavy lifting they needed, and then after lunch with Kaede and Rin Kagome spent the afternoon training with Inuyasha, Miroku and Sango, having dinner at their house again afterwards. Everyone fell into a comfortable routine as the days rolled into one another.

A routine that was momentarily broken up once Market Day came back around, of course. Kagome was ecstatic to finally be getting her new quiver and fletching feathers. One of the other things she'd also done over the last few days to pass some of the time was work on preparing some arrows; Inuyasha had always known which bamboo shoots would work best, finding her the strongest, straightest samples. Straightening them the rest of the way and doing all other finishing touches to the shafts was easy since he always made sure she had only the best to begin with. He'd recently started collecting them while out on their morning patrols, just a small detour she'd been happy for since it meant spending more time alone with him. During the late mornings, before it was time to start lunch preparations, she'd worked on preparing the shafts and fastening the arrowheads while listening to Kaede's lessons. She'd quickly fallen back into the routine of how to make arrows, so it was second nature to her, and she was easily able to concentrate on her sensei's words as she worked. She had a large collection of half finished arrows, now; all they needed was their fletching and a quiver to carry them in.

Arriving in the market village, just the two of them since Miroku had said he didn't need anything this time around, Inuyasha and Kagome went straight for the leatherworker first, who was almost as happy to see the pair as Kagome was to see her beautiful and functional new quiver.

As theoretically risky as it'd been, she had left Kaede's quiver of arrows at home. Well, the quiver at least. It would have ended up looking funny having two of them, after all. She'd carried six arrows carefully in her hand during the walk there. She would have ridden on Inuyasha's back, but he hadn't minded the slow walk; it'd given them more time to talk. Their topic of conversation? The sorts of things that neither of them felt comfortable talking about in public, and had caused them to abruptly change the subject whenever they came across another traveler on the road. Kagome now knew more or less precisely how many times she'd inadvertently caused her poor hanyou to turn blue back during their shard hunting days. He'd confessed quite a few things that would have had the old her shouting out the subduing command in her embarrassment, but now she just laughed.

They quickly threw on their professional faces now that they were in the market village, however. Even though the leatherworker knew who they were and felt he owed them a life debt for their roles in the defeat of Naraku and the Shikon no Tama, that didn't mean the guy had actually picked up on the true nature of their relationship, and they'd both rather keep it that way.

Putting her borrowed arrows in her new quiver and immediately slinging it onto her back, her gushing words of thanks somehow felt inadequate to her own ears, even as the leatherworker brushed off her gratitude as unnecessary. He had been happy to do it. Finally, she bowed formally, thanking him once more but in a much more dignified manner, like the miko she was supposed to be rather than the giddy schoolgirl she could still become at times. Gingerly taking the small lidded basket that was full of delicate feathers, next, she refrained from gushing that time as she quietly thanked him yet again and headed away from his booth with her husband by her side, Inuyasha having given the leatherworker one sincere nod of thanks as well before they departed.

Having come prepared to buy a few other things for the house while they were there, Kagome's empty yellow backpack on her back beside her quiver, she went over the mental list of things they knew they could get from villagers back home. Any type of basket container wouldn't be a problem in Kaede's village; there was more than one farmer's wife who was quite the talented basket weaver. The same went for standard cloth. Hell, even some nicer cloth was available in their local village, as was evidenced by what had already been gifted to her the night of the feast, but since those women made the cloth to sell on Market Day to support their own families Kagome would put her foot down that they accept payment from her should she decide to procure more of the local nicer fabrics.

Moving on, she thought about the things they needed to buy in the market village, like some metal cooking pots. She had her small modern one, her original one she'd always had, for boiling water. That little pot had still been in her backpack, but she knew they'd need more than just it. She'd need at least a couple of larger pots, and at least a couple of pans, too. Their blacksmith was talented, but his specialty was farming tools, arrowheads and fish hooks. The things their villagers really needed that were not readily attainable elsewhere; things that might be needed at the drop of a hat. A hook could get lost, and you'd need another one if you wanted to keep trying to catch dinner. Farming tools broke. In fact, Akio had a collection of finished hooks and tools in his storehouse, ready to go for whenever somebody showed up needing one.

Pots and pans, on the other hand, weren't so easily lost or broken, and were typically the specialty of traveling merchants that went from Market Day to Market Day. They were the sort of thing that everybody needed, regardless of where they lived, and if you needed one, then you knew to go to market to get it. As simple as they were, they did take special skill to make properly, and it was a skill Akio, their local smith, had never bothered to master. The wooden lids, on the other hand, were easy enough to make, and their board maker, Arata, provided those for everybody.

“What do you think?” Kagome asked Inuyasha, as she gestured to a large pot that wasn't so large it wouldn't fit just fine in her backpack. She didn't want to burden them on this trip with stuff that wouldn't fit in her bag.

“Works for me,” the hanyou replied with a nod, adding, “and this one, too.” He gestured to a somewhat smaller pot that was still larger than her preexisting pot from the future. Including the modern one, they'd have three, ranging from small, medium, to large. That worked for her, too.

“Sounds good.”

Inuyasha paid the vendor, and Kagome shrugged off her quiver and backpack, placing the smaller pot inside the larger one before putting them both in her bag, placing the basket holding her fletching inside the smaller pot for safe keeping as well before zipping the bag back up and slinging it back over her shoulder, letting it hang off one shoulder for now for easier access instead of fiddling with her quiver every time. If the vendor thought it odd that the miko was asking her youkai protector what he thought of something as mundane as a cooking pot, he didn't show it. For that particular merchant, all he cared about was the sale. He hadn't even flinched when taking the money from the hanyou's clawed hand, recognizing Inuyasha from his many previous visits even though the hanyou had never before visited his particular booth. He thanked Inuyasha for his business, inviting he and Kagome back again any time.

Unfortunately, that same professionalism didn't greet them everywhere they went that day.

Approaching the cart of a man selling wooden eating bowls among other things, another commonplace item that was harder than it looked to make correctly and definitely took special skills, something their local woodworker also lacked since his specialty was boards and tool handles, the man initially greeted Inuyasha and Kagome with a friendly smile and bow. He too had seen the hanyou before, although he was silently curious where his houshi master was at the moment. No matter, he knew the hanyou would still be on his best behavior with the miko present. The houshi must have sent the miko in his stead.

At first, Kagome got sidetracked away from the eating bowls, gravitating towards a wooden mortar and pestle set, something else she definitely needed. A silent glance in Inuyasha's direction earned her a subtle nod in return, an exchange that went over the vendor's head as he kept his eyes and smile aimed Kagome's way.

“Very good, Miko-sama. Excellent choice,” he said with a small bow as she made her selection, setting the mortar and pestle aside. The merchant was delighted at first that she was still shopping, but a small frown of surprised confusion appeared on his face as she started looking over his everyday eating bowls. They were usually the sort of thing he sold to married couples, or husbands who'd been sent with a list by their wives back home.

No matter, the miko probably just needed a bowl or two for herself. Miko had to eat too, after all.

“How many bowls, do you think?” Kagome asked Inuyasha then, deliberately trying to avoid using the word 'we' to Inuyasha in her phrasing. She'd almost asked 'how many bowls do you think we should get' but she'd remembered herself at the last minute.

Not that it did her any good.

Inuyasha shrugged, and also trying to be cautious of what he said, getting a weird vibe from the merchant all of a sudden, he answered, “I don't know about that sort of thing. Just get however many you want.”

How...how rude! the vendor thought, in regard to the hanyou's rather blunt response to the miko's inquiry, showing his mistress no respect, addressing her with no honorific. He held his tongue, however, noting that the miko didn't seem bothered by it. He supposed that when dealing with a youkai body guard one had to accept certain uncouth behaviors as customary.

Not noticing the vendor's troubled expression as she silently nodded her understanding in Inuyasha's direction, Kagome crunched some numbers in her head and decided to go for it and get eight bowls, not that she planned on allowing herself a lazy day of breakfast, lunch and dinner all without needing to wash any dishes. As was standard practice for that time period, she would always wash their bowls as soon as they were done using them and put them back away. She was just thinking about the possibility of having Sango and Miroku and their children and Shippou all over for dinner sometimes, at least on rare occasions. Kagome would like to be able to pay them back for all their hospitality these last couple of weeks.

Actually, it's only been about a week and a half, she mentally corrected herself, knowing one of the toughest things to adjust to in Inuyasha's time was going to be following a ten-day calendar system. She'd known since the shard quest days that they followed the old ten-day system, of course, but since she'd been juggling school back then she had kept herself firmly on the western adopted seven-day system, since she'd needed to keep track of what day of the week it was, Sunday through Saturday.

Those western day names could take a hike, now. She had much more important things to think about than keeping track of what day of the week it was by the modern western calendar. Things like making room in her backpack for her brand new meal bowls, mortar and pestle.

The merchant tried and failed to mask his growing frown as he nevertheless accepted Inuyasha's money, while Kagome carefully packed the bowls away in her backpack one by one, as well as the mortar and pestle, her bag looking more stuffed to capacity than it usually had even when filled with school books. Watching the way he was watching Kagome, Inuyasha suspected the merchant was developing some suspicions of his own, but so long as nothing was actually said on the subject he had hope that he and Kagome could get away from his cart before the scene turned ugly.

Watching as Kagome frowned a little to herself as well, while lifting up and lowering her backpack by its strap a few times, clearly testing its weight, Inuyasha reached for it in that moment, snatching the bag out of his wife's hand and slinging it over his own shoulder before she could protest.

“Keh, I got it. Let's get to our next stop,” he said.

Kagome could immediately tell she was being ushered away, but merely nodded, not about to question her husband's instincts on such things. Besides, she was grateful for him taking the heavy bag from her. She'd misjudged just how heavy that thing was getting. Unfortunately, Inuyasha's attempt to expedite their departure only intensified the bowl vendor's displeasure with the situation.

“How dare you speak to Miko-sama so disrespectfully?!” he snapped, simply unable to contain himself. He was appalled by the youkai's crass behavior.

Kagome froze, and slowly turned her gaze back to the vendor. Inuyasha mentally cringed, almost feeling sorry for the guy. He could smell Kagome's anger. But he really didn't want to cause a scene, and so as much as a part of him would love to let the guy have it-

“Excuse me?” Kagome stated slowly, evenly, her voice interrupting her husband's thoughts. “How dare you speak to Inuyasha that way?” Her words were quiet and calm, but her eyes held a subtle fire not to be messed with.

Inuyasha blinked, slightly relieved by the turn of events. At least nobody else around them was aware of the confrontation, Kagome outwardly keeping her temper in check. She really wasn't the same hotheaded fifteen-year-old she'd used to be. For a minute there he'd feared having to pull her away from the guy while she screamed her head off at him.

At her obvious ire the vendor looked noticeably taken aback, but unfortunately, instead of trying to backpedal to save face, apologizing for angering her, the guy apparently decided to question why it was that a miko would come to her demonic companion's defense in such a way. Question himself, that was, as Inuyasha saw the wheels slowly turning behind the man's gaze, as his eyes went from startled and confused to suspicious and then finally, downright disgusted. Fortunately, though, Kagome was now on the ball, and had noticed the same thing. As the man opened his mouth to say...something...she beat him to it, never letting him say his piece.

“Whatever you're thinking, I don't want to hear it. You're lucky I don't give you your stuff back and demand our money back. I will tell you this, unless you apologize you're never getting even one more mon out of us, not one. And for your information, after everything Inuyasha and I went through to kill Naraku and destroy the Shikon no Tama, he can damn well speak to me however he wants; he's earned it.”

The vendor's eyes widened to the size of saucers as she said that last part, the reaction she'd been hoping for. She knew Inuyasha would tease her later, since she'd said over and over how she didn't want to use her status as the Shikon miko, or even acknowledge it any more than she had to, but this man had deserved to have his faux pas shoved in his face. Inwardly, she had to keep control over her emotions just to keep from smiling in amusement and ruining the moment, maintaining her angry glare as she turned over her shoulder to nod at Inuyasha before walking off in an exaggerated huff, her hanyou husband hot on her heels. Her entire speech had been very calm and quiet, and she had not drawn attention to themselves. The vendor didn't say anything to their retreating forms as they walked away.

Inuyasha waited until he and Kagome were well out of sight and hearing range before barking out a laugh, and she giggled as well. Their spontaneous laughter earned them a few curious looks from passersby, but nobody gave them any disapproving glances for it. If they'd been alone Inuyasha would have pulled Kagome into a hug and told her how awesome she was with a kiss, but for the time being the silent look in his eyes would have to do. She smiled and nodded, letting him know she understood what he couldn't say, and do, in mixed company.

With her backpack stuffed to capacity they called it a day after that, glad to have gotten at least a few odds and ends besides her new quiver. Small things they could easily store at Kaede's house until their home was finished. Next Market Day they'd bring a wheeled cart, and really start loading up on supplies. As they headed down the road on their way back home Inuyasha apologized for not being a better actor, because if he'd thought to speak more politely, calling her 'Miko-sama', then the confrontation with the vendor never would have happened, but Kagome quickly waved off his concern and apology. She reminded him how he'd told her before to not lie about their relationship status. They would try their best to act professional, but she didn't want to deliberately try to deceive anyone. Like he'd said before, people were bound to find out they were buying for a new house once they started getting major 'new house' items, and surely it was only a matter of time before they put two and two together.

Fortunately, enough of the vendors knew who they were and felt indebted to them, like the leatherworker who'd gifted her with her quiver and fletching. If a few of the traveling merchants who'd joined the circuit within the last three years had missed the memo that wasn't really her concern, Kagome said, but if the guy apologized to them next Market Day she'd recant her boycott, since he actually did do very nice work. The bowls were lovely. The guy just needed to learn to mind his own business. Just because Inuyasha hadn't been groveling and speaking to her like he was her servant didn't mean he'd actually been being rude.

“I mean, it would've been different if you'd said something like, 'hey, bitch, quit wasting my time already' or something,” Kagome said with a snicker.

Inuyasha pretended to look shocked and hurt.

“When have I ever spoken to you like that?”

She turned to look him in the eyes, and after a three-second staring contest they both broke down into another round of laughter.


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