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Tsumaeda's Secrets by kaoruhana

Sesshomaru's Strays

A/N: This story will be a chapter story and takes place in the completely fictional town of Tsumaeda whose name hopefully means nothing as I completely made it up.  If it does mean something, someone please tell me so I can fix that error!  Rated M for language.  

Pardon any typos!  (But please let me know if you catch any errors!)

I am not affiliated with anything/anyone/any place not disclaimed and mentioned in this story.

Happy Reading!

* * * * * 

October 2015

Inuyasha stared at the looming gate in front of him trying his hardest not to gape at the grandiose structure that clearly showed the status of the family that resided in the house beyond it.  His half-brother— the family which he had learned about only a week ago— stood next to him and cleared his throat as he unlocked the gate, the large door creaking as it swung inward.  Inuyasha followed his brother, Sesshomaru-san, as he led him onto the grounds that made up the Taisho manor.   It was a bit jarring to hear the creak of the gate as it swung closed again so that Sesshomaru could lock it.   The finality of the action reminded Inuyasha that he was here to stay now and that he no longer had a home in Tokyo to go back to. 

In that moment, as Sesshomaru locked the gate, Inuyasha got his first look at Taisho manor- the family home of the father he had never met nor really known. 

The house itself was an old Japanese style mansion made up of two floors with arching roofs, shoji screens, and fusuma built into the doorways.  It was built in an “L” shape with the “L” corner forming a courtyard where a lone and elegant Japanese maple stood.  Its red leaves took on a slight golden tinge in the fading sunlight of a late autumn afternoon, swaying on the gentlest of breezes.  It was this courtyard that he followed Sesshomaru into while still trying to process that he- Inuyasha Matsuda- would be living in this mansion- this house, the home he had never even known about or seen before now. 

This manor house was already more than three times as large as the two-bedroom apartment he had shared with his mother in Tokyo for the first fourteen years of his life.  But, it was the home he would have to get accustomed to until he was old enough to live on his own. 

Being the bastard son of a prominent family, Inuyasha had spent his life resenting his father, the man who had left his mother to raise Inuyasha on her own.  That man was still Inuyasha’s father though; the father who while not acknowledging Inuyasha openly, still wanted to be listed on his birth certificate.  The father who Inuyasha had learned just a week ago had another family that he lived with- family he loved and recognized. 

This was the last place on earth Inuyasha would like to live, but when his mother passed away, his father’s family had been contacted and his half-brother had shown up to take custody as the only remaining close family member able to do so.  So here he was now, starting at the looming house in front of him and trying to understand how he would fit into this family that he didn’t feel nor want to be a part of yet. 

It was true that when he was growing up, he dreamed of having grandparents and a father, but now, he was jaded and wondered if those types of things really mattered.  Hearing footsteps, he turned to see Sesshomaru walk towards him after having locked the gate. 

He supposed that in all of this, he was grateful to Sesshomaru somewhat.  At least he’d been taken in by someone who seemed to care about him instead of being sent to live with a foster family. 

Sesshomaru glanced at the teenage brother who he hadn’t known the existence of until two weeks ago.  He’d never known that his father had hid the boy’s presence from even his estate lawyer, the entire situation only coming to light when the trustee of his father’s Tokyo estate contacted them both about a letter that he had been holding until the appointed time.  And so, he had journeyed to Tokyo to meet, pick up, and take in his half-brother.  And then, according to the last wishes of his father, he had brought Inuyasha home to live with him until he was no longer considered a minor. 

It irked him that he was the one taking care of his father’s mistakes.  And it brought conflicting emotions up in him.  He didn’t blame Inuyasha for his father’s actions, and in fact, understood that the teenager likely didn’t want to be here.  But, he hadn’t been able to say no when he’d learned of Inuyasha’s existence and his need for a guardian.  And he had wanted to meet this teenager—his half-brother—and see just who he was and why he had been hidden. 

However, in the week or so since he’d met the boy, he hadn’t been able to glean much. 

So far, Inuyasha had been indifferent to his presence.  He hadn’t been happy about having to move to Tsumaeda- a tiny town known for its onsen- but hadn’t put up a large fuss at his sudden move.  Still, Sesshomaru knew that the teenager was likely yet to have his first outburst about his new life.  He himself knew that he would need to vent as soon as he got Miroku and dragged him away for some conversation over sake.

Sesshomaru could only imagine what it was like for Inuyasha to finally get to know his father’s family.  He himself was still coming to grips with the secret his father had hidden and trying to reconcile this altered version of reality onto the one he knew regarding the man he had so highly respected.  That thinking could wait for another day though he realized.  Right now, he needed to get Inuyasha inside to meet the rest of the family who called the manor home and to get the boy situated.  Afterwards, he could ruminate with Miroku about his anger and disgust at the man he knew as a respected father doing something so despicable as hiding away his lover and child.   

His mother had passed away by the time Inuyasha was born so he couldn’t fault his father for seeking out the other woman- Matsuda Izayoi.  But, he was so angry at him for hiding Inuyasha and his mother away when they very easily could have been accepted into the family like Miroku and his father were. 

Sighing, Sesshomaru decided that perhaps it was time to remind Inuyasha of a few things about his new residence before the teenager ventured inside the house.  It would do good to remind the boy that, regardless of his father’s actions, he did have family who cared for him and would take him in.  Family, who while composed mainly of cousins, could grow to love Inuyasha and treat him as one of their own.

“I live in this house with two of our cousins: Suikotsu-san and Miroku.”  Sesshomaru stated beginning to climb the three stairs that led to the house’s raised engawa.  “There’s a total of six bedrooms in the house-five of which are found on the upper floor.  There’s one bathroom upstairs and another downstairs.”  He pointed to the portion of the engawa which formed the other corner of the courtyard.  “There are stairs on that side, but you shouldn’t use those.  Suikotsu-san is the town’s doctor, and he occasionally sees some patients here when the clinic is closed.  That’s his corner of the house and the entrance to his part-time clinic.  He has his own bedroom there as well for convenience.” 

Sesshomaru opened the front shoji from the engawa and stepped inside the genkan, toeing off his shoes and placing them to the right in a shelved unit that housed multiple shoes on different shelves.  “Suikotsu-san will add a shelf for your shoes tomorrow, but for now, you can place your shoes next to mine.”  Inuyasha did as Sesshomaru instructed, almost instinctively facing the shoes out instead of in.  After hearing a cleared throat, he realized his error and quickly changed the direction of the shoes, waiting for further instructions. 

“Miroku purchased house slippers for you over here.” 

Sesshomaru pointed to the left where a cubby system housed the house slippers for the various residents of the manor.  He found the cubby with his name on it, surprised at it being there.  A moment later, the surprise was replaced with understanding.  Next to his cubby were cubbies housing the slippers for guests and other family members besides the two that Sesshomaru had mentioned, but that he had heard about in the past week.  He quickly donned his house slippers and waited to see what came next. 

Sesshomaru sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose for a moment.  He noticed that the cubbies housing Akitoki-san and Jakotsu-nii’s house slippers were filled with their outside shoes.  Bankotsu’s was as well.  He had warned Miroku and Suikotsu that it was probably best Inuyasha get to know his new found family in batches, but it seemed as usual he was overruled, and it was determined in his absence to have all the cousins meet him at once.  He could only hope now that warning Inuyasha of what he was about to face would suffice. 

“It seems that the entirety of our cousins have decided to arrive to greet you.”  Sesshomaru began placing his hand on the door leading to the house but not opening it just yet.  “Be warned: Jakotsu-nii is rather friendly, but his partner Akitoki-san should keep him in line.  Miroku is a pervert so ignore him if he seems annoying.  Better yet, if things get too much just ask Suikotsu-san to show you his clinic.” 

His spiel said, Sesshomaru opened the door and walked into the house announcing their arrival to everyone present.

Okaerinasai everyone. I’ve brought Inuyasha with me.” 

* * * * *

Three years later (March 2018)

Inuyasha bopped his head to the beat of the music playing from his headphones.  He was largely ignored by his peers as he walked onto the grounds of Tsumaeda Public High School which suited him just fine.  He wasn’t necessarily here to make friends though he had to admit that Shippo wasn’t such a bad guy to hang around.  And Kikyo-san was there too. 

A rough yank pulled the headphones out of his ears.  Cursing, he turned to find the culprit: his cousin Bankotsu, the Math teacher who also served as his homeroom teacher for his last year of high school.  He grumbled thinking it was unfair that he was one of the few high schoolers in all of Japan who had to deal with family as authority figures both in and out of school. 

“Language Inuyasha-kun!”  Bankotsu reprimanded handing him back the headphones.  “Put those away before you get in trouble.” 

Rolling his eyes, Inuyasha did as instructed while continuing his walk to the school building with his cousin next to him.  He ignored the elder male and glanced around trying to find his girlfriend in the crowd.  Today was the first day of their last year of high school.  He wanted to see Kikyo before school started so that he could say they started the school year off properly. 

“Oi!  Matsuda!”  A voice called out.  Turning, Inuyasha acknowledged Tachibana Sango with a nod.  He had no idea what she wanted, but she was friends with Kikyo and that meant he had to be nice to her because he was dating Kikyo and Sango had been her best friend since childhood. 

“Looks like you need to go talk to your friends.”  Bankotsu gave him a pat on the shoulder.  “Why don’t you go and see what she wants?”  Left alone, Inuyasha had no choice but to do as he was told making his way over to Tachibana. 

“What is it?”  He asked following her to the row of shoe lockers that housed his own- the same one he’d had for the past two years of high school.  He opened the door and switched his shoes while waiting for her to talk. 

“There’s a new transfer student.  Kikyo-chan’s showing her around.”  Inuyasha shrugged his shoulders and shouldered his bag.  He honestly couldn’t care less about what Sango wanted to learn from him about the transfer student.  Kikyo had only mentioned the bare minimum yesterday. 

“Oh, come on Matsuda.  Aren’t you curious?  Kikyo-chan says she’s some relative of Yura’s, and she’s from Tokyo.  It’s so unlike others to come visit us here in the country.  There has to be some kind of juicy gossip there.” 

Inuyasha shrugged his shoulders again beginning the trek to the notice board which would tell him his classroom for the new year.  “Ain’t no gossip.”  He answered Sango while scanning the sheets up on the board.  “Her family’s shrine burned down, and she moved her with her siblings to stay with the Hojo family cause they’re the only family she’s got.  Bit like me.  Nothing important there.” 

He only knew the latter information because Kikyo had told it to him asking him to help her get the new girl to adjust to her surroundings.  He hadn’t promised anything, but agreed to get to know the girl and talk to her.  He knew what she might be going through, and he figured having a friendly face around wouldn’t hurt the new transfer student. 

“Oh.”  Sango’s excitement fizzled out for a moment.  She glanced at the sheet too, her eyes widening.  “Oi-look!  It says that I’m in class with you!  Kikyo-chan’s with Shippo and Yura-san though.” 

Inuyasha nodded, making his way down the hall and up the two flights of stairs to his own classroom.  Sango continued walking behind him talking all the while. 

“She’ll need friends, won’t she?  Lord knows Yura and her posse aren’t going to be much too friendly.  Do you think she’d like to be friends with me and Kikyo?” 

Inuyasha sighed as he opened the door to his classroom and shuffled in to sit at a desk in a prime spot by a window.  “Maybe.” 

Sango nodded and proceeded to her own desk to wait for Kikyo to arrive and introduce her to her new hopefully new friend.  And who knows, maybe the transfer student would be in her class.  How amazing would that be? 

* * * * *

Two weeks later (April 2018)

“Kagome-chan?  Can I talk to you for a minute?”  Kagome, in the process of going up the stairs to start her homework, stopped in her tracks to face her distantly related aunt. 

This wasn’t how she thought she would start her last year of high school.  No, instead, she had thought she’d still be in Tokyo.  She thought she’d still be pining over Kaoru-san, much to Yuka’s chagrin over the crush her best friend had on her older brother.  But everything had changed a month ago when she’d been pulled out right as final exam grades were being passed out and learned that the family shrine had burned down with her mother and grandfather trapped inside. 

It left her, seventeen-year-old Kagome, the eldest of the now three orphaned Higurashi children. 

Being a minor, she’d had to talk with a lawyer who had contacted her mother’s family.  And the Hojo’s—her mother’s cousins—had offered to take them in as long as they moved to a town called Tsumaeda known for its hot springs.  So, here she was now, living with her siblings in a house that she neither felt welcome in nor a part of. 

Currently, Kagome made her way to the sofa where her aunt sat with Yura nee-san, her daughter.  Taking a seat across from them in an armchair, she waited for them to speak. 

“Kagome-chan, I was wondering if the lawyer who helped you take care of the family estate left you any money for your living expenses?” 

Kagome balked for a moment, already wary of the tone the conversation had taken.  She’d already transferred the 12,000 Yen monthly stiped she received from the estate’s trustee to her aunt.  How wasn’t that enough to take care of their food and schooling?  She may not know much about living in Tsumaeda, but the cost of living was sure to be less than Tokyo where even that amount would have taken care of the food and clothing needs for her and her siblings. 

Unless of course, her aunt was asking for money for room and board. 

Playing it safe, she decided to answer to the best of her ability.  “I’m afraid that the monthly stiped we receive is the 12,000 Yen I told you about.  I could try asking Myoga-san if there is more though that he would be willing to give me?” 

Her aunt—her mother’s cousin—shook her head, her lips pinched tightly.  “Oh no, no, Kagome-chan. That’s unnecessary.”  She looked at her daughter and patted her daughter’s hand sympathetically.  “It’s just, Yura here is vying to be Tsumago-sama’s shrine maiden.  It’s such a prestigious honor, you know.  And in Tsumaeda, even trying to become one is quite expensive as there are silk kimonos to buy from Kyoto and offerings to make to Tsumago-sama, the shrine guardian and kami.” 

The elder woman looked at Kagome with a stare that was meant to be friendly but looked the opposite.  “I just worry that we won’t be able to provide you and your siblings with everything you need if we’re worrying about Yura and making sure she has all the resources to properly vie for the shrine maiden position.” 

Kagome bit her cheek to keep from rolling her eyes and saying something that was sure to anger her aunt.  She should have known that this was what it came down to.  She’d known even before coming to Tsumaeda that there was something odd about the fact that this strange family whom her mother had never spoken about had taken her and her siblings in.  But, left with them or the prospect of being split apart from her siblings in foster care, she’d done the only thing that seemed right. 

And now, here she was, pretending that she wasn’t angry and upset at the fact that this family—the family of a politician who served in the Diet—were asking for more money.  Greedy bastards.  It wasn’t like they didn’t have enough. 

“You know mother, Kagome could find a part-time job here.  There’s a few places in town that are hiring and well, it couldn’t hurt to have extra pocket money would it, Kagome-chan?” 

Kagome smiled tightly, understanding what Yura was hinting at.  “Of course not Yura nee-san.  You must have some suggestions of where to go?” 

Yura glared at her.  “I’m not too sure of them myself.  But, I’m sure your classmates will know.”  Yura smiled slyly.  “Or you could ask Himura Kouga.”

The last was a personal dig at Kagome meant to get her to react.  Himura Kouga was a menace who seemed to think that he was god’s gift to women and as such, the perfect boyfriend to Kagome.  In the two weeks she’d been in Tsumaeda, he’d made her school life horrendous by stalking her at every opportunity and claiming her as his regardless of her feelings on the matter.  It was annoying, irritating, and downright infuriating especially since he refused to take her feelings into consideration. 

She wouldn’t rise to the bait Yura was giving her though.  Her nee-san was a bully, and she knew better than to respond to her taunts. 

“Of course Yura nee-san, I’ll speak to my classmates.”  Kagome stood, unable to be in the room any longer lest she not be able to hold her tongue.  “If you’ll excuse me, Miyako-san, Yura nee-san.  I might as well get started on homework if I need to start job-searching tomorrow.” 

With those parting words, she fled up the stairs to the room she shared with her siblings promising herself that she wouldn’t let this family get to her and that she would protect Rin-chan and Souta-kun from them at all costs. 

The next afternoon, she stood outside a restaurant, the only one offering part-time jobs in the town.  Sango had been the one who told her that, telling her that if she’d only asked a week earlier, she’d have easily gotten the job at her own family’s sweets shop instead.  Kagome could care less however.  Whether it was a sweets shop or a restaurant, a part-time job was a part-time job.  As long as the jerk Koga-san didn’t show up at her workplace, she would be fine. 

Besides, she’d heard from Inuyasha that the owner of the restaurant was someone he knew and that she would be treated well as an employee there. 

Taking a deep breath, and praying for good luck, she pushed open the door and made her way inside the restaurant. 

It was a cozy place resembling the izakayas dotting the street near the shrine back in Tokyo including the ramen bar she had helped out at occasionally.  A few tables lined the restaurant’s walls while a long bar took up the rest of the room with stools tucked underneath for customers to sit at.  A young man was working at the bar, preparing ingredients for the dinner traffic while another man—this one with hair that reminded her of Matsuda-kun’s—sat at a table looking over some papers.  They both looked up at her entrance, glancing in her direction. 

“Um…excuse me.”  Kagome stepped further into the restaurant.  “I was told you were looking for a part-time employee?” 

Sesshomaru stood up and approached her while the man behind the counter stopped his chopping to take in the situation. 

“How old are you?”  Sesshomaru asked first.  He supposed the question was curt but age was the first thing he established with all his part timers. 

“Seventeen.”  Kagome replied trying hard to maintain her composure in front of him.  Matsuda-kun had said the owner was nice!  So far, if this man was the owner, he wasn’t friendly at all! 

“Name?” 

“Higurashi Kagome.”  Sesshomaru narrowed his eyes for a moment trying to place her.  He couldn’t remember a Higurashi family residing in Tsumaeda. 

“Ah- are you the transfer student Inuyasha-kun mentioned?”  Miroku interrupted coming around the counter.  “It’s nice to meet you Higurashi-kun.  My name is Ogata Miroku, and I’m Inuyasha-kun’s cousin.”  He pointed at Sesshomaru who had yet to introduce himself.  “And this is Taisho Sesshomaru, Inuyasha-kun’s brother.” 

Kagome bowed in greeting.  “It’s nice to meet you Ogata-san, Taisho-san.”  She wondered why three family members all shared different last names, especially when two of them were brothers.  But it would be rude to ask so she kept her questions to herself.  She was sure she’d eventually be able to learn the answers. 

Sesshomaru, deciding that he should be a bit more courteous, began speaking again.  If this teenager did turn out to be a good hire, it wouldn’t do if her first impression of him was that of a rude manager.  Besides, if she did turn out to be a decent candidate, perhaps she would be more likely to take the job if he was nicer to her.  And they really needed a part-timer to help out ever since Inuyasha had decided to spend more time with his sports clubs this year. 

Thusly, he elbowed Miroku and moved into Kagome’s line of sight.  “Higurashi-san, forgive my earlier rudeness.  Before I decide whether to take you on as an employee, I have a few questions for you.  Frist, do you have any prior experience working in a restaurant?” 

“I helped out at an izakaya serving ramen near…near my old house in Tokyo.”  Kagome smiled fondly at the memory.  Kaoru-san worked there too, and he often walked her home after their workday had ended.  She missed those times with him at the restaurant. 

Actually, if she thought about it, she missed it all.  She missed the way Kaoru-san teased her on their walks, she missed the way her mother would always have a steaming dinner ready and waiting for her.  She missed the sound of laughter and video games as Souta and Rin played around after dinner.  She missed all the things she had in Tokyo but took for granted. 

None of that mattered now though, she reminded herself.  She was here in Tsumaeda now.  She wasn’t in Tokyo anymore. 

Sesshomaru noticed the nostalgic look on her face and the way her lips had turned down in a sad frown. He had no idea what she had been thinking about, but he could tell that whatever it was had made her sad.  He couldn’t do anything about it except for maybe brining her thoughts to the present.  And maybe, he mused, he could give her something else to think about. 

“Miroku, bring her an apron.”  He eyed Kagome critically as though assessing whether or not she was worth his effort.  “We’ll see how you do with tonight’s dinner rush.” 

“And if I do well?”  Kagome asked. 

Miroku answered this time before Sesshomaru could.  “You’ll be hired of course!”

* * * * *

Three months later (June 2018)

Kagome Higurashi bit her lip as another rumble of thunder sounded and the pouring rain continued to fall.  She looked out the window again towards the large hill that overlooked the restaurant she worked in.  Her tent was up on that hill.  Her tent was where her siblings, who were aged ten and five, were currently residing.  They had likely eaten the dinner she’d managed to give them, but she knew Rin-chan was scared of thunderstorms.  And with the torrential rain, the threat of a slide was high.

But she had no choice.  The Hojo’s had been quite adamant that the money Kagome had used to pay for Souta’s upcoming field trip to the prefectural capital needed to be repaid into the monthly stipend they used for the living expenses of the Higurashi siblings.  The last straw had been when Souta came to bed on Wednesday telling her that he didn’t need to go on the trip if money was tight.  She had been livid at his words and decided then an there that she wasn’t spending another minute in the Hojo household. 

The Hojo’s were wealthy enough to support herself and her siblings even without the stipend.  With only Yura to support, Shinzo-san’s income was more than sufficient to take care of household expenses and whatever extracurricular activities Yura was participating in.  Taking her parents hard earned money and then daring to ask for more was the epitome of greed.  She wondered, not for the first time, why they had even taken her and her siblings in. 

Surely, someone else must have been willing to support the three of them? 

“Higurashi-san!”  Startled, she turned away from the window towards her manager who was once again looking rather annoyed with her.  “That’s the third time in twenty minutes you’ve looked out at that hill.  What is up there that is so important?” 

Kagome shook her head murmuring that there was nothing there and moved past him to continue in her task of serving customers. She knew that Sesshomaru would likely have understood.  It was something she’d learned while working with him the past few months.  Sesshomaru, once he’d learned about her siblings, often asked about them, and was always willing to have her take leftover desserts made by Miroku home with her to share with her family. 

She never told him that the Hojo’s never ate any and she instead shared the remaining dessert with Sango and Kikyo in school after Rin and Souta had eaten their fair share.    

Sesshomaru meanwhile watched her go with narrowed eyes. Something was bothering her, more so than usual, and he would like to get to the bottom of it.  He was actually proud of having Higurashi as a worker.  And he had learned a few things about her while she had been his employee.

Higurashi cared for her siblings above all else.  He didn’t know her long enough to say whether this was a trait she had picked up after the accident involving her family or whether this was a trait that she had always had.  Regardless, for Higurashi to be worrying about that hill, he knew that whatever the reason for her worry was, it likely involved her family. 

Was it concern for how the siblings were faring in the rain?  They were both home though, so he supposed that wasn’t the case. 

Then again, Inuyasha had mentioned that the youngest Hojo family member had stopped by their classroom asking about Higurashi-san.  So maybe, all wasn’t right at home instead and she was worrying about heading home on time instead? 

Either way, he decided he would watch her and then make a decision to intervene or ask about her circumstances based on his own assessment of the situation. 

A half hour passed, and Sesshomaru watched Kagome look at the window again and again and again.  He was growing more and more suspicious of just what she was so worried about.  Higurashi had been a great worker in the two and a half months that she had started working at his restaurant.  She was diligent as well.  He had never seen her act the way she was today though.  She was looking at the hill as though she were afraid of a slide if the rain continued to pour and loosen the dirt and mud. 

At that thought, he paused in his task of replacing cutlery and cleaning up a table, and he moved towards the bar where Miroku sat serving those who had chosen to sit at the counter rather than the few tables littered around the restaurant.  Miroku looked at him with a raised eyebrow as he served ramen to the lone customer remaining in the restaurant.   

“Run the shop without me and Higurashi for a moment.  There’s something I need to talk with her about.”  Sesshomaru announced setting his cleaning materials down on the counter.  He made his way towards Kagome shortly afterwards making sure she saw him approach. 

“Taisho-san?”  Kagome asked when he got within speaking range.  He didn’t wait for her to do more than acknowledge him before he continued speaking. 

“Come with me Higurashi.”

Kagome stopped her task of resetting place settings at a table trying to figure out what Sesshomaru needed.  She really didn’t have an excuse to not go with him.  He was her manager, and there were few customers willing to brave the rain so the restaurant was quiet tonight.  So, she took the cloth and cleaning supplies and followed him to the backroom.  As she stowed the supplies away, she was constantly aware of his eyes on her back which made her nervous and want to get the conversation over and done with. 

“Higurashi, are you done?”  Kagome turned around and nodded, too confused to speak.  “Good, now we are going to go up that hill and make sure you don’t worry about whatever it is up there.  Before we do though, you will tell me now what is there that you are so worried about.” 

“Worried about?”  Kagome asked her face paling.  She wrung her fingers together as she sought to stem her rising panic. 

“Yes.”  Sesshomaru took a step closer to her, his arms crossed, and leveled her with a stern glare that he had perfected in the three years since Inuyasha had moved to live with him.  It was enough to get Inuyasha to confess to some misdeeds, so it should be enough to get Kagome to talk. 

Kagome bit her lip, wrung her hands, and looked everywhere but at Sesshomaru.  She was feeling worn out from the events of the week and was frankly at her end.  If she looked at her manager, she was sure that she would spill everything.  If she did, could she trust Taisho-san?  A part of her wanted to while another part wanted to continue to trust only herself.  A particularly large boom of thunder interrupted her musings and made the decision for her.  Rin-chan was likely crying in fear and Souta—while a mature ten year old—would only be able to do much to help her.  She had to go to her siblings, and if telling Taisho-san about her situation was the only way to do so, then she would. 

“My siblings are up there.”  She began, her voice showing her fear and worry through its slightly higher pitch.  “I need to check on them.”  Tears fell from her eyes now, her emotions finally giving way. 

It had been a long week from fighting her Shinzo-san and Miyako-san, to making that fateful decision to leave their home.  And then finding the tent and telling Rin and Souta that they were only camping for a few days until she could find them housing again.  But she hadn’t yet found an apartment to rent and the one that had been promising had been too expensive on her current funds.  Right now, she had exhausted herself to the point that she just wasn’t sure how much more she could cope with on her own. 

She was only seventeen and three months ago the last thing on her mind was finding a place to live that she could afford.  Surely, she could ask for help from someone she trusted? 

“Siblings?”  Sesshomaru asked his tone sharp.  Whatever he had expected Kagome to say, this was the last thing he had ever thought would come out of her mouth. 

He had surmised that she was worried about her family, suspected it even.  But he had thought she was worrying about her siblings who were at home.  What in the world were those children doing on a hillside in a thunderstorm where there was a high possibility of a slide? 

“I couldn’t deal with them asking me for money again.”  Kagome managed to say through her tears.  “They even tried to tell Souta that he shouldn’t go on field trips because of money.  I had to get them out of there.  I couldn’t have them use Souta to steal money from my parents’ estate!”  Once on her spiel, Kagome kept going unable to stop and needing to vent her feelings out to someone.  It seemed that Taisho-san ended up being the ear to listen to her outburst. 

“I found a tent you know.  I managed somehow to make Rin-Chan and Souta-kun think that we’re going on a family camping trip for a few days.  I think Souta-kun knows I’m lying, but he just goes along with it.  We’re going to live there until I have enough money saved to rent out an apartment in town for us to live in.”  Kagome attempted to wipe her tears though the effort was futile.  “I’m sorry Taisho-san, I need to check on them and make sure they’re okay.  Can I please leave early today?” 

Sesshomaru for his part was stunned by the revelation that the high schooler who worked part time at his restaurant was going through so much.  He knew a bit of her background and knew why she had moved to the area.  Hearing about her troubles with the Hojo family worried him.  And it made him wonder about why Higurashi had come to ask for a job at his restaurant.  He wouldn’t have dared to ask any child he took in to help pay for her living expenses, let alone those of her siblings.  What was the point in taking a child in if you weren’t going to be able to afford it? 

Or worse yet, what was the point in taking children in only to hound them about money?  It was cruel to do so, especially to play with already fragile minds in the manner Kagome was suggesting the Hojo family had.    Then again, he wondered if he should be surprised.  Hadn’t that same family thrown out one of their own when he had come out as gay? 

Now wasn’t the time to think about the unjust situation Kagome found herself in however.  Sesshomaru realized that he now had a teenager on his hands who was quite obviously distraught and wrung out physically, emotionally, and mentally.  Kagome needed a few days off and needed to know that her siblings were safe.  And she apparently needed a place to stay as well. 

A sudden idea struck Sesshomaru.  Perhaps, he mused, he had at least some of the solutions to Kagome’s problems. 

It wasn’t like the manor didn’t have enough place to stay.  And he’d much rather have Higurashi and her siblings stay in a place that was warm with a roof over their heads.  A teenager shouldn’t need to worry about the things Higurashi was worrying about. 

And family shouldn’t have treated her the way they did. 

“Where are they?” 

“Wha?”  Kagome asked startled by the sudden question. 

“Your siblings, where are they?” 

Kagome fidgeted for a brief moment before concern for her siblings won out.  “In a tent about halfway up the hill.  There’s a nice clearing that seemed safe enough.” 

“Hn.”  Sesshomaru had a feeling he knew the clearing she spoke of since it seemed similar to the one he had played often in as a child.  He had run around that hill on numerous occasions when he was younger, his cousins chasing him in playing tag or Demons and Samurai.  It shouldn’t be too hard for him to find the clearing she was talking about.  Just in case however, he supposed he should take Higurashi with him.    

“Grab your coat Higurashi.  We’re going out.” 

The trek up the hillside was slippery.  Kagome and Sesshomaru had to catch their steps quite a few times on the way. They were lucky to have a flashlight to guide them on their journey.  And Kagome was lucky to have Sesshomaru there as her guide.  He had grown up in the area and knew where he was leading her.  They were even luckier that the thunderstorm had tapered off leaving only a light drizzle in its wake. 

They found Rin and Souta in the tent twenty minutes into their trek.  As Kagome had predicted, Souta sat next to his sister and held her tight trying to soothe her fears, both of them cowering in the tent in a nest of sleeping bags.  Souta was startled by the light as was Rin.  But one look at who held the light was enough for Rin and Souta to come hurtling towards their elder sister, nearly toppling her over. 

“Nee-san!”  Rin cried throwing herself at Kagome’s legs.  “Nee-san, I’m scared.  Take me home.  Take me home!”  Kagome held her sister tighter, telling her to calm down and gently shushing her to the best of her ability as Souta stood to the side waiting his own turn to run into his sister’s embrace. 

“Higurashi.”  Sesshomaru stated taking in the campsite and looking at the siblings.  “Let’s go.”  When Kagome looked up at him in confusion, he simply rolled his eyes. 

“Let’s go Higurashi.  You’re spending this night in my house at least.  Have your siblings pack their things.  We’ll head out and talk more later once we’re all dry and warm in the manor.” 

* * * * *

A few hours later Kagome sat at a low dining table in Sesshomaru’s house, Rin cuddled up next to her.  Souta was sitting to her left nursing a cup of juice that had been provided by their hosts.  Kagome herself though was feeling out of sorts.  She was grateful that her boss had not only helped her get to Rin and Souta and later helped them pack up and spend the night in his warm, safe house.  She was even grateful that he seemed to not mind the intrusion of her family into his house. 

But she was still unsure as to why she was here and what to do now.  Perhaps she could convince her boss to let her stay until she made enough money to secure rent on an apartment in town?  Or would he at least help her find cheaper housing?  After all, it was one thing to stay the night, another altogether to stay multiple nights at her employer’s house. 

“Higurashi.”  She twitched, slightly, but enough to cause Rin, slumbering next to her, to stir slightly.  Waiting until she was sure Rin was still asleep Kagome addressed her employer. 

“Taisho-san.”  Bowing low, as much as she was able in her current position, Kagome continued speaking.  “Thank you for letting us spend the night here.  I appreciate it.” 

“You can appreciate it more after you tell me just what you were doing out in a tent on my property Higurashi.”  Sesshomaru raised an eyebrow and leveled a pointed look at her.  He glanced over her shoulder towards Inuyasha who stood outside the rooms entryway unsure about coming in.

“I…”  Kagome licked her lips and glanced at Souta unsure how much of this conversation she wanted to have with him present.  “Perhaps we can have this conversation later?”  Sesshomaru shook his head indicating for Inuyasha to come in and take Souta away.

“No.  I think I deserve answers Higurashi, and I would like them now.” 

“Right.”  Kagome answered glancing briefly up at Inuyasha who coaxed Souta out of the room by promising the kid free rein over some of the video games he had upstairs.  She waited to make sure that he was gone, for some reason trusting Inuyasha with her brother.  Perhaps it was the safe environment that she was in which caused her to feel less anxious and more trusting in her situation. 

“Um…where…where do I start?” 

“The beginning would be preferable.”  Sesshomaru answered sitting himself comfortably and pouring them both some more warm tea. 

“Oh…um yes.”  Kagome licked her lips, took a few sips of tea and then set her cup down on the table in front of her. 

Taking a deep breath, she proceeded to launch into her story explaining her prior living situation, the stipend, the extra money that the Hojo family wanted, and the way they had continued to ask her for more money despite having no need for it.  She explained about her parents’ estate and how the trustee managed it, calling her once a month to go over things with her.  Kagome explained the situation with Souta, and the absolute fear she had felt when she learned that they were asking Souta for money.  And she spoke of her decision to leave and try to find a place to stay. 

“I feel like such a terrible sister.”  Kagome managed in between sobs as she ended the story.  “I had to force them to live out in the woods because I was so scared that they were after the money.  I could have waited; I should have waited until I knew I had enough money to rent an apartment in town.  But… I couldn’t let them have Souta think he owed them money.” 

Sesshomaru didn’t say anything, instead ruminating on the fact that he wished Higurashi had just approached him about all of her problems earlier.  However, he couldn’t change the past, and there was no need to ruminate on it now.  Instead, he could help Kagome now that he knew about her situation.  He’d provide her with housing, ask her for nothing when it came to living expenses, and make sure that this estate manager knew about Kagome’s situation. 

Of course, Kagome would have to agree to his proposal before any of this happened.  Not that he worried too much about that.  He’d convince her to accept his offer, at least until the end of the school year when she would be awarded her high school diploma. 

“Um, Taisho-san?”  Kagome ventured snapping him out of his thoughts.  He nodded his head at her, an action she took to mean she had permission to continue speaking. “Would—would it be alright if my siblings and I stayed her for a bit?  I’ll pay if I have to.  We just…we just need a place to stay until I can get enough money saved up for an apartment in town.” 

Sesshomaru said nothing for a few moments before he sighed.  Placing his now empty cup of tea on the table, he took a few moments to gather his thoughts and make sure he would give his offer properly.  He would speak to the rest of the family later, but he was sure they wouldn’t mind if he followed through on his plan to help Higurashi. 

“Higurashi,” he finally responded, “you’re not going anywhere.”  He met her gaze.  “You and your siblings are staying here until I know for sure that you can support yourselves.” 

And that was how Kagome Higurashi and her siblings came to live with the Taisho cousins. 

* * * * * 

A/N: Quick note: onsen refers to hot springs. 

As for Inuyasha's shoe placement in the first scene: Based on my understanding, placing shoes inwards in the genkan means you live in the house, while placing shoes facing outside means you are a guest.  Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong.  

 

INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
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