To say that Touga was surprised would have been an understatement.
The last thing he remembered was fighting some human. A human that had killed his wife in an attempt to murder his son. He knew he shouldn't have made it out of the fight alive, not with his injuries. Not to mention that he was pretty sure he remembered dying. So, him being in a bit pain as he came to consciousness was a shock, to say the least. He could sense a barrier of reiki around him. That wasn't exactly inviting, but it probably meant that he was alive. Whoever he was accompanied by at the moment was either cautious at best, or an enemy at worst.
That voice caught his attention, "Izayoi!"
Touga finally opened his eyes and took a look at his surroundings. He was trapped in a small make-shift cage, that had every possible anti-youkai item one could think of. It made the barrier a little excessive, but he could see that the kuro miko maintaining sat off in her own corner of the cave. Youkai of many different kinds filled the room, though he recognized none of them, and couldn't figure out why any of them would have held a grudge against him that was strong enough that they felt the need to resurrect him. What really caught his attention was the fact that Izayoi was there as well, seated against the wall opposite to his entrapment, with her hands tied in front of her.
The youkai in the room clearly decided that he was a threat necessary for such precautions, especially when he slammed his fist against the barrier in anger. They backed away from the cage, clearly hesitant. They knew who had the real power. He was fully prepared to let them know exactly how much of a mistake they had made by messing with him. That was until one youkai, the leader most likely, approached him slowly.
"Don't get worked up. Trust me, I wish we didn't have to do this, but we were out of options" He stated, "But know that this isn't personal. Sesshoumaru-sama is just a real piece of work."
Touga took a step back, "What about Sesshoumaru?"
"Your son has proven himself to be quite difficult to kill. Since overwhelming him through numbers won't work, and none of us have the strength nor the courage to face him one-on-one, we're using you to keep him from being able to kill us" he replied, "We tried everything else."
"You're plan will fail" Touga said.
He raised an eyebrow, "Oh? And why is that?"
"Sesshoumaru has quite the unique way of working through his emotions. Whenever he is faced with one he doesn't understand how to deal with, he solves the matter by simply removing what provoked the emotion in the first place. In this case, rather than acknowledge he cares for his own father, he would be more likely to just kill you, regardless of the consequences" Touga answered.
"You weren't our first option."
"If you're referring to his mother, I'm surprised you're still breathing. Even without the gift I left to her, Akimi can handle herself."
"Oh for the love of– we were planning to kidnap the girl he used to keep with him!" the man growled, "But apparently both your sons like her, because the stupid hanyou interfered when we tried!"
"Inuyasha? Is he alright?"
The youkai turned to acknowledge Izayoi, "That's why we brought you back as well. A little insurance so that we can kill him too. But the older brother comes first."
"There is another reason why you will fail" Touga countered.
"And what would that be?"
"The fact that you won't live past today."
That only received a laugh in response.
Until the ground started to shake.
It seemed that everyone had been on high alert after that. Multiple youkai sent a worried glace at Touga, though most seemed to have noticed the loud commotion that accompanied the shaking further back in the cave system. From what Touga could pick up on, there were some uninvited guest in the caves, and they weren't very happy if that quake was any indication. The main youkai growled, and snapped at a few of the more scared youkai to go and investigate the cause. They didn't get very far before a giant boomerang reduced them to nothing.
Out of the shadows of the hallway appeared a young woman, dressed in armor with a mask covering the lower half of her face. She managed to catch the boomerang as it returned it her, and Touga noticed a sword on her hip. She glared at the youkai before her, as if to challenge whether or not they really wanted to face her. The thing that Touga noticed most though, was how surprised she had appeared when her gaze fell on him. She glanced over at Izayoi and seemed to come to a realization, before she took on a look of determination. Touga wasn't sure if that was a good thing or bad thing, but at that moment, he was willing to take his chances on the mysterious woman.
Another quake shook the ground, and Touga heard a masculine voice cursing before a monk appeared beside the young woman. He carried a shakujou with him, and seemed annoyed at something. Though the second he reached the woman, his head snapped in her direction, suggesting that she was saying something quickly to him. He quickly glanced at Touga and Izayoi, before he nodded. Then the two jumped into action. The young woman used her weapon to clear a path between her and Izayoi, using the blade to fight off any youkai bold enough to attack her after she had thrown her boomerang. The monk focused on the kuro miko, clearly trying to break her concentration on the barrier. With that, Touga decided he liked these two strangers very quickly.
"They're two measly humans! How hard can it be to kill them?!"
"If you're so confident, you're welcome to try!" the monk called from his location.
Touga tried his hand at escaping, but even without the barrier, the many seals around him where absolute. It was frustrating, but he felt kind of proud that they went overboard with the seals. They definitely respected and understood his power. The young woman seemed to have noticed his struggle, as the next time she threw her weapon, she had aimed it at his cage. It tore through the seals, allowing him to escape.
He joined the fight quickly, trusting the young woman with Izayoi's safety. It hadn't been too long since he used his claws to fight, and he found tearing his enemies apart quite easy. The monk and the woman seemed to know how to handle themselves well enough. Though the fight was made easier by the fact that quite a few enemies retreated rather than face them. That left only the four of them in the room together.
Touga pulled his wife close to him, and gently placed his lips over hers. He could feel her smile as she returned the gesture, though her propriety caused her to pull back all too quickly for Touga's liking, due to the audience. He relented easily, but he already had started working on plans of how to properly celebrate their reunion when they were alone. He knew that beneath that shyness was something he would look forward to. But now, obviously, was not the time, and they clearly had other more important things to do.
The monk smiled in greeting, "I can see how you earned the title Inu no Taisho, Touga-sama. You're skill really is unparalleled."
"You've heard of me monk?"
"We've gotten a little bit of information from Myouga and Toutousai, but we recognized you since your sons definitely take after you" the woman turned to Izayoi, "Though Inuyasha looks more like you on the night of the new moon, Izayoi-sama."
"You're allies of Inuyasha?" Izayoi asked.
"I am Miroku. And this my wife, Sango. We're not just allies with Inuyasha – he's kind of like a younger brother to us, really" the monk answered.
Izayoi looked between the two of them, "You're truly that close with him?"
"You can ask him yourself if you'd like. Those quakes earlier were most likely from his liberal use of the Kaze no Kizu. He remained outside to deal with the guards since his attacks would cause a cave in... if they haven't already" Sango responded.
"Is this the right herb, Kagome-sama?"
Kagome turned away from Botan and Momiji to look at the herb Rin had collected. At her nod, the young girl smiled before cheerfully continuing on with her task, letting the apprentice miko have their teacher back. That was something Kagome still had to get used to – it wasn't too long ago she had been under Miroku and Kaede's teachings, trying to learn how to properly preform her duties as a miko. But when Botan and Momiji had sought them out, looking to train under someone with more experience and skill, Kagome caved quite quickly. Besides, having more miko around wouldn't exactly hinder the safety of their village.
The village of the youkai taijiya. Kohaku and Sango had both wanted to rebuild it, especially after everything that had happened during the battle against Naraku. And everyone hadn't really argued against that. Kaede's village had been nice to live in, but it hadn't been long before everyone decided a more secure location was better. Many youkai had attacked the village in an attempt to kill the hanyou that lived their. Other times humans came thinking they cleanse the village of evil. Inuyasha, and the six hanyou from Hoarijima were too tempting of a target apparently. And when Kagome had fallen pregnant with their first child, Inuyasha was terrified. He would put his life on the line for his wife and future child. But that's what his father had done and it had led to a life of suffering for Inuyasha. So they rebuilt Sango's old home and made it theirs as well.
It really wasn't much a stretch. After all, Inuyasha and Miroku may not have technically been taijiya themselves, but they still did similar jobs. The rebuilt the village with some adjustments to help protect it. Kohaku had also taken up residence in the village, so they saw him and Kirara a lot more often. Shiori and her mother, Shizu, also had sought them out once they heard about the number of hanyou that lived in the village. Apparently their old village hadn't exactly been forgiving about the whole massacre at the hands of the bat youkai. A few others from Kaede's village had moved with them as well, though not many. But Kagome suspected that as long as they offered safety for humans, youkai and hanyou, they would get some interesting visitors who might seek permanent residence.
Kagome looked over at her two students, "Alright, who's up first?"
"May I ask a question, Kagome-sama?" Botan started, "Why can't we use our sacred power in this match? I'd feel a lot more confident if we could."
From across the sparring area, Kouga snorted, "I ain't stopping ya."
"Kouga-kun, you offered to help. If you don't want to help, you don't have to, but if you do then you need to be nice" Kagome sighed, "This is a sparring session, so you're not meant to use things that could kill your opponent. Besides, when facing off against a youkai it doesn't matter how much reiki you use if you can't hit your opponent."
"Any mistake in a fight could kill ya, especially if you're surrounded. You also can't always choose when you get to fight for your life" Kouga added.
"Exactly. You two are coming along greatly with your reiki training, but some physical training will give you an edge. I've known many skilled miko – and all of them were warriors on top of being miko" Kagome elaborated.
Momiji nodded in determination, "Okay. May I go first, Kagome-sama?"
Kouga grinned wickedly, "I'm always ready for a fight."
"Alright, Botan-chan, step out of the way. Momiji-chan, Kouga-kun, when you're ready" Kagome said.
"Better not lose, Kouga!"
"We'll be sure to tell the whole pack if ya do!"
"If you lose Kouga, I'll have Yuri take your place as leader of the pack."
That last one got a huge round of laughter, and Kouga sent a pointed glance at his wife. Yuri, Ayame and Koga's daughter, perked up at the mention of her name. Five years old, Yuri definitely took after her father more than her mother. Her hair was mostly black, though it was mixed with white, and she wore it in a curled ponytail. Her eyes were a rich green like her mothers, and she had the same tan as her father. The fur she wore was brown, though she did wear it in a different way than both of her parents. Her latest accessory was a flower crown on top of her head, one that she had worked on with Mizuki.
Mizuki was Kagome's own daughter, and she was a year younger than Yuri. She had been worried that her children would pick up on their father's habit of starting fights with wolves, but it seemed that she worried for no reason. Haruki, her son who was two years older than Mizuki, seemed to adore Kouga and Ayame (much to Inuyasha's disappointment) and Mizuki and Yuri were fast friends. Ayame and Kouga visited whenever they could now, and were always happy to help protect the village whenever the defenses were lower than usual. It meant that their kids could have plenty of playdates, after all.
While Ayame was watching over Yuri and Mizuki, Kagome made sure that the rest of the village children were playing well within her sight. Shippou, who looked like he was in his pre-teens now, watched over them as they played. Ai seemed to be pretty interested in talking to him as he did so, though. Sango's twins, Rumi and Shinju, had decided they wanted to play with Haruki and their brothers. The first was two years younger then them, Miyatsu, and the second was four years younger them, Mushin. Usually, they wanted to play taijiya verses youkai, which would lead to a lot complaints about how certain players didn't want to be evil all the time. This time, it seemed they were content to play a game Kagome had introduced them to – capture the flag. Kagome was pretty sure certain things they were doing counted as cheating, but as long as no one was complaining, she was willing to let them play it the way they wanted.
"Okay, here I go!"
Momiji ran forward. She was fast, and made a sweeping motion with her staff that would have knocked most off their feet. Kouga was faster though and easily jumped out of the way before he went in for a side kick. Kagome could tell that he was holding back. Momiji just managed to block the attack with her staff. Kouga flipped back, creating some space. Momiji must have realized that Kouga had the advantage, because she waited for a moment as Kouga stalked around her. After a moment, she started a frenzy of strikes and thrusts to keep Kouga at a distance, but the wolf youkai managed to evade every one of them. Kagome wondered how long it would take before he got bored and decided to finish the match.
Kagome turned to look beside her, "Is something wrong, Rin-chan?"
"Usually I have a lot more trouble keeping my kosode clean when gardening. But this time it's a bit easier" Rin said, "I think I might need to replace this one soon. It's getting more difficult to get it to sit right."
"It has been a while since Sesshoumaru has visited. Maybe he'll bring you another one. Though, if you're really worried about it, I can have Inuyasha and Miroku-sama get you something when they get back" Kagome suggested.
"Do you think they'd mind?" Rin asked.
Kagome giggled before returning her gaze to the sparring session, "I think the only one who would mind is Sesshoumaru."
"You think Sesshoumaru-sama would find it offensive?"
Kagome gathered her thoughts before she answered. Kouga had finally started to really go on the offensive, though not seriously enough to instantly end the fight. Momiji was still struggling to dodge and block the attacks, though. Kagome could see that he was losing interest though. Kouga continued until he subtly, but intentionally, gave Momiji an opening. Momiji took it with the intention of striking. Kouga surprised her, by using her momentum against her to flip her over him while disarming her. He must have used more force then intended because Kagome noticed that he had knocked the wind out of Momiji. At least he winced in sympathy before helping her out.
"I know how certain youkai with a certain sense of stubbornness work" Kagome answered, "They struggle to really communicate how they feel, so rather than use words, they use actions. Sesshoumaru isn't around you as much as he used to be, so he can't help you with all the things he used to. But he can help you with your clothes. It makes him happy knowing he made you happy."
"But Sesshoumaru-sama already makes me happy. Because of him, I have a home where no one hurts me and I'm really hungry. I can smile because he showed me a life where I'm no longer constantly sad and scared" Rin replied.
Kagome shrugged, "I'm happy being married to Inuyasha, but he still thinks he has to make me happy all the time. Must be a family thing."
"Houshi-sama. You better not be implying what I think you."
Miroku gave his wife a sheepish grin at the title that she had stooped using unless angry, "It's been a while since we last had some time away from our children, that wasn't because of business. I just think since Inuyasha is obviously going to be very busy, and we just saved his parents–"
"We left Kagome-chan to take care of our children yesterday. I think we can spend some time with them when we get back" Sango countered.
"Kagome-sama loves children–"
"That does not mean we should leave her in charge of six children all by herself on a regular basis! Not to mention the fact that when we're gone, she's technically in charge of the entire village!"
Izayoi managed to conceal her amusement of the antics of the two in front of them. It reminded her of when she had been younger, and had finally agreed to marry Touga. He had teasingly suggested the idea that they would have a lot of children between the two of them. He actually had the gall to convince her that she would have somewhere between three to six children at a time, since he was an inu youkai and dogs usually had litters of puppies. It hadn't taken her too long to figure out that had been pulling her leg. But it had taken nearly a year before he had let the subject drop. Hearing the two people who rescued them talk about their children only brought back memories of simpler times.
And now she had a chance to finally see her son as a man. She couldn't say that she wasn't feeling nervous about it. Izayoi wasn't naïve about the world she had brought her son into, she had always been terrified of what would happen when she was no longer around to protect him. Would Inuyasha hate her? Blame her for not preparing him better? How much would he have changed since she had last seen him? It made her anxious at the fact that she had to wait. She could only imagine that it would be worse for Touga. Their son had never really met him. And he never really got to see any of Inuyasha's childhood, so he has nothing to really go on for how he should approach him.
That was when they had finally reached the exit of the cave.
The land had been scarred, an obvious side effect of the Kaze no Kizu, although there also seemed to be shards of adamant stone in the earth as well. Some limbs left from slain youkai littered the ground at their feet, and Touga decided to sweep Izayoi up into his arms to avoid her clothing being ruined by it. There was figure in front of them, resting on a rock – one of the only places safe from the youkai guts. The figure was dressed in a familiar red garb, with an equally familiar sword resting at his hip. His hair had been tied into a bun at the back of his head with a red ribbon, but she could still make out two little ears atop his head.
The was a strong gust of wind, and suddenly Inuyasha was on the ground, standing in front of them in shock.
"Guess what we found" Miroku sang, which earned him an elbow in the gut from Sango.
Inuyasha gave them a suspicious once over before he addressed Miroku and Sango, "Are you're sure they're real?"
"What do you mean?" Sango asked.
"You guys did check to make sure they're really who they say they are, and not something like a kitsune with fucked up sense of humor?"
The strong language did surprise Izayoi a bit, but her worry quickly overcame that. Her son didn't trust that she was real? That she was some illusion? Perhaps it made more sense than the dead coming back to life, but Izayoi still felt a little concerned that Inuyasha was quick to jump to that conclusion. His two companions clearly had realized that they hadn't really checked too hard to see if they were who the said they were, because Sango tightened her grip on her weapon and stepped back a bit. Miroku however cast a contemplating look between them and Inuyasha.
"It wouldn't be the first time someone has tricked us like that" he started, "But wouldn't the Tessaiga's barrier easily be able to reveal whether or not we're dealing with a youkai?"
"Barrier?" Izayoi never heard of that ability before.
Touga offered a sly look, "I thought it would be best to limit Tessaiga's usefulness to specific individuals. To decrease the chances of it getting stolen."
"Of course you would" Izayoi smiled.
With that suggestion in mind, Inuyasha pulled his blade free and held it out in front of himself. He seemed hesitant. As if he was afraid of the answer – though which answer scared him more, Izayoi couldn't tell. She approached the sword slowly and raised her hands. With a gentle smile, she placed her hands over the sheathed blade. Nothing happened as she touched the sword. Then suddenly the sword was dropped as she was pulled into a fierce hug by her son, which she quickly returned. She could feel a few tears fall from her eyes in joy. She was holding her son in her arms again. Nothing could have been more perfect than that.
"You've gotten so tall" she managed with a tearful laugh.
"Only a little bit" came the soft reply.
Touga stepped forward, grabbed the Tessaiga and unsheathed it, revealing it's true form and power. Inuyasha stepped out of the hug to watch his reaction, while Izayoi looked on curiously. Her son seemed a bit tense, but she gave it no mind for now. She could understand her son's apprehension, but she also knew that her husband new what he was doing and would want to make a good impression... she hoped. Touga seemed to analyze the blade, and Izayoi heard the monk mention to his companion that the reason he could touch the blade was because it was forged from his fang – if any full-youkai could use it, it would be him.
"The blade practically sings raw power" Touga nodded, "You've been taking advantage of it's ability to steal power it seems."
"It couldn't keep up with me, so I made it better" Inuyasha replied.
Touga smirked at that, "I'd like to see it action. We should spar sometime. You can show all you've done with the blade then."
"If that's what you want old man" Inuyasha shrugged.
Touga sheathed the blade and tossed it over to Inuyasha, who caught it easily. As Inuyasha returned it to it's proper place on his person, Izayoi decided to brace herself she knew was coming and wrapped her arms around Inuyasha again. He relaxed, only to stiffen when they were both suddenly pulled into a much tighter hug that lifted them off the ground by Touga. Izayoi giggled at her husbands shenanigans, as well as the flushed and startled look on her sons face. He managed a glare at his friends – Sango shook with obvious mirth, her mouth covered by a hand, and Miroku coughed to hide his obvious amusement at the display before him. It only seemed to make Inuyasha blush harder.
"Can I have my feet returned to the ground now" Inuyasha grumbled.
"I missed out on the opportunity to hold you when you were a child. I'm making up for it now" Touga replied.