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The Scent of a Toddler

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Kagome slipped the rest of the dishes into the dishwasher and smiled, smacking her hands together as though she were dusting them off. She had managed to accomplish a fair amount that morning, even with Inuyasha out running errands and Moroha home. Inuyasha and Kagome’s daughter was only four, but she was already a terror, with a mouth like her father and a stubborn streak like her mother. They had their hands full with her, but Kagome loved her little, wild, demon (both literally and figuratively) child.

But this morning, Moroha had been incredibly helpful. She helped her mama wash the kitchen floor, giggling when Kagome tied sponges to her feet. And then she helped pick up all her books in the living room, carrying them up to her own room carefully. She’d been a good girl and eaten all her lunch, and had even gone upstairs to play while Kagome washed up the dishes and put them in the dishwasher. But now, it was naptime, and Kagome was looking forward to some snuggles with her only child.

“Moroha!” she called, heading up the stairs to her daughter’s bedroom. The door was closed; not unusual, but when Kagome opened the door, the light was off. She stepped into the room.

“Moroha?” she tried again, this time going into the middle of the room and looking around. Still...no answer. Kagome’s heart began to pound. She...Moroha had gone upstairs, hadn’t she? She had asked to play in her room, hadn’t she? 

Kagome quickly checked under the bed, in the closet...anywhere a little girl might hide, still calling Moroha’s name. But her daughter was missing...from her bedroom, anyway, it seemed.

Kagome dashed through the house, calling for her daughter and trying every place that might attract a four-year old quarter youkai with a nose for trouble. She tried the guest room, hers and Inuyasha’s bedroom. She tried the living room (because maybe Moroha had slipped past her, unknowingly?). She tried Moroha’s room again. She even went outside, scouring the front and back yard, looking up and down the street. 

But there was no sign of Moroha.

Finally, her voice hoarse and cracked from calling out for her child, Kagome sank onto the couch in the living room and began to cry.

She’d...she’d lost their child. Their only child. How could she have been so stupid as to let Moroha go to her room and play by herself? She...didn’t know what to do. Should she call the police? And tell them what? That her child had wandered off somewhere? While she was doing the dishes? How foolish of a mother would she seem to them? Would they even allow her to keep Moroha after all this?

And Inuyasha...Kagome hiccuped and started to cry even harder. What would he say? How could he even look at her after what she’d done? A pit began to form in her stomach, sinking deeper and deeper. She felt sick: from the crying, from the hiccups, from the knowledge that she’d lost her own child. 

“Oi, Kagome,” came a familiar gruff voice from the kitchen,”I’m home!”

“Inu—Inuyasha!” Kagome cried out, and in a second he was by her side, stroking her hair and holding her closely.

“What’s going on?” he asked her tenderly. She could sense his alarm, even though it wasn’t in his voice; his muscled body was taut, and he was holding her protectively. His ears swiveled around frantically, as though trying to detect what had her so distraught.

The sound of his voice, so caring and concerned, caused her to go into hysterics again. She wailed into his chest, her tears soaking his t-shirt. She sobbed uncontrollably for several minutes, Inuyasha holding her, patting her back awkwardly, unsure of what to do.

She...she had to tell him. Before he figured out Moroha wasn’t there and got even more furious because she didn’t tell him.

“Inu—Inuyasha,” she sobbed, clutching frantically at him, but not even caring.

“Kagome, honey,” Inuyasha said in a measured voice, “what the fuck is going on?”

Kagome took a deep breath and tried to stop crying. “It’s—it’s—it’s—” She found she could not have say the words to him. She could not tell him what she had done.

“Kagome.” Inuyasha’s voice was still soft, but Kagome could hear that he was struggling to hold onto his sanity. “You need to tell me. What. Is. Wrong?”

“It’s Moroha!” she finally burst out, the sobs coming anew. “I—I let her go to her room to play after lunch, while I was cleaning up, and when I went upstairs to get her for naptime, she was gone!” And she clutched at his chest again and cried even harder.

Inuyasha set Kagome aside on the couch gently, then got to his feet. Even through her tears she could see his golden eyes gleaming, his ears twitching, his nose sniffing the air. His breath hitched, and he cocked one golden eye down at her. She saw a hint of his fangs glistening against the lamp light in the room. He leaned down, kissed her on the head, then took off up the stairs. Kagome was so shocked at his actions that she forgot to keep crying, and got up to race upstairs after him.

She followed Inuyasha back into Moroha’s room. “Oh, Inuyasha,” she said quickly, “I already looked in here like three times. She’s definitely not—”

“Definitely not, you say, Wife?” he asked her kindly, one hand on the lid of the toy chest.

Kagome blinked wonderingly: first at the toy chest, then up at him. “What are earth are you—”

“Scented her,” he grinned, and opened the lid of the box. Inside, curled up among the stuffed animals and reading a book upside down, was Moroha, ponytail mussed and askew, red ribbon in her hair coming undone. Her secret found out, she frowned viciously at her parents. Kagome started to cry all over again—from relief, this time—while Inuyasha simply reached into the toy chest and hauled their daughter out. He tucked her against his chest, and when she was comfortable, he tilted her head up so he could peer directly into her eyes.

“Now, Daughter,” he said seriously, “do you want to explain to your mother and I why you nearly scared her to death today?”

Moroha pouted, one little fang protruding from her mouth. “I didn’t want to take a nap,” she said. “I wanted to read my book.”

“So you hid from your mother?” Inuyasha asked her. Moroha didn’t answer. “You hid from your mother, Moroha?” Inuyasha said again. She dropped her eyes and whispered a little “yes,” and Kagome rushed forward and threw her arms around both of them, Inuyasha adjusting Moroha into one arm so he could hold his wife as well.

“You gave her quite a scare today, Daughter,” he said to her. 

“Moroha,” Kagome added, “do you know that I ran all over the house today looking for you? For at least thirty minutes? Do you know how scared I was?”

“Papa found me right away,” she huffed. 

“I don’t have Papa’s nose,” Kagome reminded her daughter gently. “Or yours.”

“So next fucking time,” Inuyasha said, ignoring Kagome’s admonishing look at his language, “answer your mother when she calls. Okay?”

Moroha huffed, but reached out her little arms and wrapped them around Kagome’s neck. “I’m sorry, Mama,” she whispered.

And with that apology, all of Kagome’s anger, and fear, and frustration, went right out the window. Because she was there, with her husband, and her daughter, who was safe, who was infuriating, but above all…

Who was theirs