Koga and Inuyasha split up once the wolf chief made sure the inu could find his way back to their rooms. Inuyasha supposed he had more important stuff to do, being the chief and all, and that was fine with him. He needed time to think.
Standing in the entranceway of the room he had lived in for the passed few days, Inuyasha decided that he would rather spend the remainder of the day further exploring his new home. The thought made him feel tingly in his chest. Anxiety, excitement, or some combination of the two raced through his veins. This is home! He didn't know exactly what that meant yet. It could be where he finally found his place in the world… or it could be his prison.
There was no reason to expect the wolf tribe to see him any different than the rest of the world did. They were youkai and youkai had never really welcomed him with open arms before now, so he didn't really expect them to now.
There was, however, Koga. Koga had never hated him for his ancestry, even before they had become… acquainted- to say they had ever been anything close to friends would be beyond pushing it- and now… well… it didn't seem like he was opposed to him being there. In fact, it kind of seemed that he was feeling rather friendly with the inu… maybe. Inuyasha wasn't getting his hopes up.
As for the rest of the wolves, his survival usually counted on his ability to look out for people who looked hostile and so he certainly didn't miss the looks that had been thrown their way when he and Koga had been exploring. It usually did well to disappear before anything could be hurled at him but that could not happen here. He had to stay, if not for his own soul then for the completion of Squirts. For now he would try to be as invisible as possible.
As if the cub could here his thoughts, Squirt gave a painful tug to his hair and squealed loudly in amusement when Inuyasha directed a glare down at him, calling all eyes to him while he was making his way down the wall of the main cavern. Inuyasha blushed when he looked up to see all eyes on him, and resorted to scowling back down at the cub. "Traitor," he murmured to him. The cub responded by giving a joyful giggle as he bounced energetically in his arms.
Ducking his head, he quietly and as inconspicuously as possible made his way along the wall. Here he could look around the room and have the protection of the wall at his back. No need to start this off with an ambush, right?
The den, as Koga had called it, was the biggest single room Inuyasha had ever been in. It was the main cavern, just inside the cave mouth, and the place for everyone to gather together. There was small fire pits littered everywhere, most of which had wolves sitting around them. Some of the fires had small hide covered huts next to them. Others had logs or small boulders pulled up next to them for seating, like there had been at Ginta and Hakkaku's fire. More often then not, there were piles of cooking utensils and pottery next to them.
The wolves of sitting at the fires where of both youkai and beast variety, the dogs lying on the ground at the demon's feet or helping out with cooking, carrying various things that would be needed in their mouths. The youkai were all engaged in one thing or another; cooking, mending or making something, caring for infants, or other everyday activities. Inuyasha couldn't help but feel a twinge of envy at the way they all talked and interacted with one another. They looked like happy families.
Curiously, there were not many children gathered there.
Squirt wriggled in his arms wanting to be let down. "Alright, alright," Inuyasha grumbled quietly under his breath, hoping he wouldn't be heard and therefore gaining the wolves attention again.
The cub waddled around on his stubby feet, looking up at Inuyasha and giving him a toothy grin, which he returned with a smirk. The cub reached up and grabbed hold of the leg of Inuyasha's hakama and stepped on his foot, before gesticulating in front of him. "Uh! Uh!" he called, punctuating each gesture.
Inuyasha snorted and started in the direction the cub was pointing. The cub held tightly to the inu's hakama as Inuyasha walked with him standing on his foot, lifting him up with each step. Squirt giggled in delight and hugged Inuyasha's leg tighter, pointing out the direction he wanted his inu to go. Inuyasha was so entertained by the antics of his little pup that he didn't notice the cub was actually directing him somewhere until he was nearing a large room off to the side of the den.
The room was on the opposite side of the den and when Inuyasha came back to himself, he flushed with the realization the little squirt had got him to walk right through the middle of the room in full view of EVERYONE. Inuyasha sighed. So much for keeping low- profile.
The room he approached glowed with the light of another fire. Carefully, Inuyasha peaked inside, hoping he wasn't going to be walking in on some family or something. He shuttered at what could happen then. The last time he had stumbled somewhere he wasn't supposed to be, he had ended up having to find a tree and hole up for a while so that the cracked skull he received from the iron pot smashed over his head could heal.
He was surprised when it turned out he had found where all the children were at. The room was occupied with a dozen or so cubs that were between Squirt's age to late childhood. They sat around, engaged in various games and activities, under the watchful eye of the Omega. Inuyasha recognized the young demon he had met this morning. The smoky haired youth sat in a corner with a cub in his lap, playing with a pair of dolls.
Violet eyes suddenly snapped up and widened when he caught sight of the inu peeking in the doorway. "Inuyasha-san?"
All eyes found their way to the entrance, where a blushing and sputtering hanyo stood, wide eyed at having been caught. He buried his arms in his sleeves and quickly puffed his chest out in false confidence. "Er…" Ok, not a great start, "Yeah…" Sigh. Today is not my day.
"Have you come to drop off Kunio-sama?" the wolf youth asked, lifting the cub from his lap and rising from the floor.
Inuyasha blinked. Kuni- oh yeah, the squirt. "Uh… no. this guy just kind of led me here. I guess he wanted to visit," Inuyasha said, his cheeks burning. He sounded like an idiot. Squirt dislodged himself from his leg and crawled over to the nearest group of cubs playing with a pile of blocks and joined them in their building.
"Oh, um, then does that mean you are staying?" the Omega asked. Seeing that the inu looked quite lost, he continued, "You are more than welcome to join us, sir."
Inuyasha nodded and stepped into the room, sitting down just inside the door. Crossing his legs and leaning against the door, he settled back to wait for his cub. The Omega hesitated, standing in the back where he had been sitting, before he made his way toward Inuyasha. Both eyed each other as the Omega approached. "May I sit with you, sir?" the youth asked, bowing his head.
Inuyasha's eyebrows shot up to his hairline and his mouth opened in surprise. "Er… Yeah," he stuttered. The youth kneeled down beside him, tucking his charcoal colored yukata under his knees. The simple cotton garment was belted at the waist with an amber colored obi. The outfit went well with his lighter grey hair and violet eyes, eyes that surveyed Inuyasha respectfully in curiosity. "Why are you calling me 'sir'" Inuyasha blurted out, never one for tact.
"What do you mean?" the youth questioned in surprise, "Oh! I'm sorry, I should have known. May I sit with you, My Lord?" the Omega bowed again, this time placing his forehead on the back of his hands on the cave floor.
Inuyasha jumped in shock. "Wh-what? No! I'm not a lord, at least I don't think I am," he added, thinking of his lord father and brother, "I'm just a hanyo. Why are you talking to me like that?"
"Forgive me, Inuyasha-san. You are the guest of our Lord Chief Koga and I am just the Omega. Of course I must show reverence toward you." The young demon responded, bowing again.
"Oh… well, stop it. I ain't no high and mighty asshole so you don't have to do that," Inuyasha grumbled, slightly bewildered at the unexpected reception.
The Omega situated himself to sit more comfortably next to the hanyo. The other wolves generally didn't require him and his family to grovel, even though they were all ranked higher, but it never hurts to be careful with strangers- well almost never, it turns out.
"So, what's yer name anyway?" Inuyasha inquired after a moment of tense silence.
"I am Ichijo of the Omegas."
"I'm Inuyasha," he tipped his head in greeting.
"Oh, I know. There has been much talk of your arrival."
Having nothing to say to that, the pair sat in silence again, watching the playing cubs. Squirt would sometimes waddle over to the hanyo and show him whatever toy he was playing with a smile and then rush back to continue his games.
Beside the hanyo, Ichijo chuckled. "Hmm, it seems the little one has taken quite the liking to you."
Inuyasha snorted. Based on what he had been told this morning, that was putting it mildly. "Yeah that's one way you could put."
The little cub returned again, only this time he was dragging another cub with him. The cub looked the same age as Squirt and he waddled behind him, clasping his hand and trying to hide behind him. Large azure eyes peeked at him from behind the exuberant cub. His thumb was stuck in his mouth and a baby blue blanket was cradled in his arm. Underneath was a buttercup yellow, knee length shirt that seemed to brighten the color of the cub's spiked brown hair. One of Squirt's brothers, Inuyasha remembered.
"Ba! Ba!" Squirt exclaimed as he tugged his brother forward. He pushed the shy cub forward and promptly left him standing in front of the hanyo. Inuyasha quirked an eyebrow at the retreating cub before turning his attention to the one frozen in front of him.
"Um… hello?" Inuyasha tried. That squirt is so weird, he thought, fighting the smirk that wanted to make an appearance on his face.
The cub simply stared back at him. So Inuyasha did the same. Ichijo cleared his throat beside the pair. Inuyasha turned his gaze to the Omega. The cub took a tentative step toward the hanyo.
"What would you like little Kaishi-sama?" the Omega inquired. Inuyasha turned back to the shy cub and Kaishi took another step forward. "Do you need help with something, little one?"
The cub took a last step forward, watching the hanyo carefully. He stood at Inuyasha's knees and stared up at him, before placing a hand on one and quickly snatching it away. Inuyasha watched with a raised eyebrow. Forget it. This one is weirder, he thought, before saying to the cub, "Well, you gonna climb up or not?"
An invitation was apparently what the little cub was waiting for, because he clambered up into the inu's lap. He sat there and continued his staring, sucking his thumb, and playing with the ties on Inuyasha's hitoe. Inuyasha rested a hand on his back, propping him up on his knee.
Ichijo tried to restrain a surprised gasp. Kaishi-sama never took to strangers well and he certainly didn't get cuddly, not even with people he knew, like the Omegas. "Perhaps you would like a story?" he asked as he looked around and noticed they had gathered a crowd. The strangeness of Kaishi-sama's affections seemed to catch the attention of the other children as well. "Inuyasha-san, do you know any stories?"
"Er…" Well, he did in fact know a story. It was a story he loved having Myoga tell him when he was still a pup and alone after his mother died. "I guess, I have one."
Ichijo settled back to listen to the story, quite interested in what he would come up with. He usually had to make up new ones on the spot because he had told all his other ones before. Some of the cubs near by scooted forward, dropping their toys to listen in on the story.
"Well, there was this princess," Inuyasha started.
"A Pwincess? Her was pwitty?" a little girl interrupted. Inuyasha recognized her as another of Koga's cubs, the little girl with pig-tails.
"Yup! She was the most beautiful ningen maiden in the land." Inuyasha continued.
"Ooo! What was her name?" an older cub asked, fully enthralled already.
"She was Lady Izayoi," Inuyasha said proudly.
"I like dat name!" another cub bounced in her seat.
"This princess was no ordinary princess. She was a brave and adventurous princess. She liked to go outside of the compound walls to explore, and one day she came upon a youkai," Inuyasha was in the full swing of things now. Squirt crawled over and sat on his lap with Kaishi. The inu unconsciously pet his two charges as he got more into the story. "But this was no ordinary youkai; it was a daiyokai. It was the Lord of the West, Inu no Taisho!"
"Ooooo!" chorused the cubs. The rest of the cubs still playing moved to join the group to listen.
"When the Lord saw the pitiful human woman he said, 'GRRRRR! What are you doing here, ningen? I'm gonna kill you! ROAR!'" Inuyasha stifled a chuckle at the cub's shrieks and gasps. "Lady Izayoi said, 'I ain't afraid of you! Stop being a bully!' Well, this got the Lord interested. What kind of ningen isn't afraid of the most powerful being of the West?"
Inuyasha recounted how the youkai Lord and the human woman became friends and then fell in love and mated.
"Then one day, when the Lord and the princess met up, the princess had a confession; she was carrying a pup! The youkai Lord was overjoyed! 'My mate is whelped! We will be a family.' But you see, he already had a son. He was powerful and mighty and a real jackass," Inuyasha added bitterly, "The terrible Sesshoumaru!"
"He's da bad guy, huh?" a little boy up front interjected.
"One of them, anyway," Inuyasha grumbled. He continued, "When the Lord told his son about his new mate and their pup, Sesshoumaru threw a bitch fit, like he always does. 'I don't like ningen! They are dirty and stupid and not fit to lick my boots! I want nothing to do with her and her hanyo pup!' Meanwhile, Lady Izayoi was telling her folks that she was mated and carrying. They weren't very happy either. They had promised her to the samurai Takemaru no Setsuna. They tried to keep her locked up in the compound."
"What did they do?" an older cub in the back whispered in aww.
"Well, she snuck out, of course," Inuyasha paused until the cubs finished their hooraying and continued, "Inu no Taisho continued to meet with his mate and soon the princess was fat with child. No one suspected a thing, until the dreaded Takemaru came for his bride. He loved her even though she was pregnant with another's baby, but she said 'no'. She was staying with her youkai mate. Well, he didn't take kindly to that and kidnapped her!"
Gasps went up throughout the room.
"Inu no Taisho was away fighting the dragon king Ryukotsusei. They battled for days and days; sometimes Inu no Taisho was winning and sometimes it was Ryukotsusei. Finally the Great Lord sealed away the dragon into a mountain."
"Whoa!" exclaimed a young cub up front. It was the other of Koga's cubs. His little black tail wagged in excitement.
"Yeah, but the thing was, the Lord was hurt and he had to race to save his mate from the evil Takemaru."
"Oh, yes! He rushed to Takemaru's place. Before that though, he had to get help, 'cause he was hurt and all. So he went to Sesshoumaru, and he's says, 'my son, will you help me save my mate and your little brother from the evil ningen?' But Sesshoumaru said 'no way', because he's a damned bastard, so the Lord had to go off to fight alone."
Inuyasha told the gathered cubs about how the cowardly man killed Izayoi after she had birthed "the most handsomest baby that anyone's ever seen…ever!", tried to burn them in the house, and how the Lord charged in to revive his mate with his life giving sword. He told them how the valiant Lord fought the samurai with his other mighty sword and how he "killed that Takemaru good".
"But the great Inu no Taisho was beat. He was already hurt bad and this fight just got to him. Having saved his mate and pup, he wrapped them in his fire-rat robes and sent them out. Then the manor collapsed on him and he died."
"That's so sad!" Little sniffles sounded from the crowd of cubs.
"Well, it's not all bad. His pup did survive remember," Inuyasha reminded.
"Puppy!" the Kaishi exclaimed, speaking to Inuyasha for the first time.
Inuyasha grinned at him. "Yup! He grew up and even though he was a hanyo, he became a fierce warrior who kicked everyone's ass, including his brother's, and was seen throughout the land as practically a god among men!" He said and puffed out his chest in pride. He deflated quite quickly at the sound of the voice behind him.
"Ha! Oh I'd love to hear that story, mutt face!"