A/N: Part four in the HK/HM/FOB series.

Disclaimer: I do not own the Inuyasha characters, manga, anime, movies, etc. They belong by copyright laws to Rumiko Takahashi et al.

The Nekomata Guardian

Ch. 1

It had been months since she was back home in the village where Sango had settled with Miroku and the others but she was quite happy to take a break from the traveling and the demon slaying to concentrate on raising her own kittens. And continue raising the other batch of children she had watched over and maneuvered for the last several decades. At the moment she was trying to nap under the Goshiboku but Inuyasha's quiet panicking in the tree's upper branches was not making for a successful endeavor.

"Mew!" she scolded, trying to get the pup to tell her what was wrong.

"She's going to have a girl, Kirara. A little, innocent girl. I sound like Miroku and that's ticking me off. If he finds out that I'm having just as many problems as he did when Amami and Akeno were going to be born, he'll never let me forget it."

The nekomata was tempted to roll her eyes. The hanyou wasn't telling her anything she didn't already know. Honestly, what was it with the men of this pack and their desire to shut away their daughters? If any of them so much as thought that they were going to have a girl (or in Miroku's case twin girls) every male in the village was given the evil eye. They verbally panicked and made threats that they couldn't hope to carry out with their sharped eared wives around.

She'd known that Inuyasha had been anything but calm about the fact that he was now having a little girl. What had surprised her was his ability to so far hide the fact from Kagome. "Mew," she said sympathetically.

"I'm acting like an idiot, I know." Since there was nothing she could say to that that would help, Kirara kept silent. "Sorry about disturbing your nap. I'll go back to the house now." He scratched her behind the ears, getting a purr in thanks, before he wandered home.

Those kittens were a trial but she loved them. And speaking of kittens, hers wandered up, destroying any hope of having that lazy, afternoon nap. She let them climb over and around her, giving them short baths if they were in easy reach of her tongue. "Kirara, let me take them from you. They should be practicing with my kids. You go ahead and nap." Sango, heavy with her newest set of twins waddled up and called the small nekomatas to her.

"Mew," she sighed in appreciative relief, ordering the four scamps to go with the taijiya. Closing her eyes, she listened with half an ear as the group left the shaded cover of the God Tree. The early autumn air blew through the clearing in a gentle breeze, ruffling the cream and black fur that covered the older fire cat. Kirara didn't mind, the coolness was refreshing and she dozed without worry.

As dusk settled on the plains of Musashi, Kirara rejoined her family. The kittens ran around the clearing in between the two huts and she watched with open affection as they tried dodging Akeno and Amami's efforts to catch them. The practice was good for both human and nekomata children so she didn't interfere when one kitten called out to her in complaint. Sango and Kagome folded laundry in the dying light while Miroku and Inuyasha sat to one side with their sons discussing the day's work. The half demon showed none of the angst that had appeared earlier in the day and for that she was thankful. He was still young so she imagined it was all right for him to have panic attacks about becoming a father to a little girl. After his brother's performance during Rin's wedding, it was little wonder he was freaking out. The men of the Western pack made excellent fathers even if they were a bit over protective.

"Kirara, are you hungry? Inuyasha caught you some fish." Kagome motioned for the fire cat to go ahead of her into the miko's kitchen. A large filleted fish sat on a plate waiting for the elder to eat. She purred to let the priestess know it was appreciated and ate while watching the two women prepare food for their own families. Sometimes she wondered why they didn't just combine their households and be done with it. Except for their sleeping arrangements, it didn't seem as if they spent many meals or days apart. Any cleaning they did was together, as the large operation that washing the linen and clothes required. The only time they really spent separate was if Kagome was tending to the villagers' needs as the resident miko or Sango was teaching the girls the way of the demon exterminators.

Thoughts of the slayers brought Kohaku and Rin to mind. She knew they were perfectly content to make their home in the slayers' village but she wished they were closer for her to watch over. It was hard letting a kitten you'd help raise out of your sight and away from your protection. She was in perfect sympathy with the demon lord on that. She was also well aware of the fact that Ah-Un would not let anything bad happen to the newlyweds but that didn't mean she liked not knowing what was going on.

Being a guardian to a large group of independent demons, half demons and humans was turning out to be difficult. Oh, well, such was the life of an elder.

The scouting party came through the portal and stopped when their queen raised her hand. They looked around, suddenly apprehensive. This was not the human world they were accustomed to visiting. The hills were more rocky then green and the air was tinged with the fragrance of life that they did not find in the Gaelic country. Where were they? The seer had insisted that this was the place Sheridan was located.

"Remain invisible. We don't know what creatures lurk here or what the humans of this land would think of us. Go cautiously but search this place. I want to know everything."

"Yes, Your Majesty," the chorused and spread out. Kellan took the most direct route to the human settlement she could sense nearby. At the edge of a large clearing two families laughed and played, the little ones oblivious to any potential danger. Two-tailed kittens romped in the lush grass and she couldn't help but smile at their antics. Women soon joined the men and she studied each one, looking for signs of the great-grandchild she'd lost. There was nothing. An older cat came out of one house and instead of going to tend to her kittens she looked towards where the Fae queen stood. Ruby eyes narrowed and she approached without concern for her safety.

"I will not harm your humans," the queen said and watched as the cream and black head was tilted in confusion. A small growl was issued forth and Kellan raised her hands in a universal sign of surrender. Apparently satisfied the strange cat returned to her family.

Maybe returning Sheridan to her rightful place would not be so easy.