Oh, how I've missed you all. Live has a way of complicating the simple pleasures of day to day living. Hard times for all have been abundant and reprieve, a sly and slippery thing that eludes all those around me. As I face my future, I am left wondering, where did I come from to only come to this? But enough banter. I find solace in fantasy.where there's always a hero to save the girl and comrades to welcome you home. I love you all, I own no one.they only live under my bed trying to snuggle deeper under the covers against the cold. Darth MerMer

Leftover Christmas.

Kagome felt the piercing winds of late January swiftly cut through the feeble defenses of her overcoat. Sota was beside her, huddled around her free hand as the trekked home from the family mart. Her dark hair billowing into a sail of newborn tangles, Kagome closed her eyes against the wind that assaulted her face and against the sly thoughts that stuck in her mind like barbs. How strange that the simple loss of Buyo, the family cat, had caused such a silent, yet demanding, cry for her to slow down and truly access her situation. And as soon as the break came, so did the flood of thoughts, each beating their own fears into her until her heart was so heavy with doubt, she feared she would perish if she were to breath too hard. The thoughts and fears were of her losses. There were so many, too many to truly fathom until she was older. Looked down at her brother, she was surprised to see that he had grown almost a full inch since she had last noticed. Mentally she chalked up another point for her lack of attention. Even the mundane task of getting milk and a pint of ice cream from the local Family Mart or Lawson's had become something overlooked and unappreciated. The lack of herself was what had truly scared her. This had been the year Sota had quit believing in Santa Claus. The subtle tones of sadness, regret and lost youth had stunned her to silence when Sota had explained to her that he didn't expect a person who wasn't even real to bring him presents. Her own present to her brother had been met with forced smiles. How was she to have known that he was no longer interested in the card game that had been so popular last year? Kagome knew he didn't mean to hurt her feelings, but still, it had hurt. He had grown up so much from one year to the next it was astonishing. Kagome hadn't felt like she had changed all that much. But when she was actually able to attend her classes, only her three friends saw it fit to talk to her. Unkind whispers haunted her in the hallways and gossip found her as she fled to the bathroom for solace. Some of her classmates had exchanged unpleasant nick names for Kagome as the girl in question sat silently hidden in one of the stalls. Their lipstick stained their lips red as the mean words about Kagome twisted their pretty lips into the predatory snarls of high school girls. She had stayed perched on the toilet for the next hour trying to stop the tears that flowed like rain from her eyes. Her actions and adventures had painted her an outsider of outsiders. People looked at her more out of curiosity than compassion. It was as if she had turned into a strange animal that needed to be studied then put to sleep if found to be too odd. Even her friends had grown strangely distant, while the only thing they could talk of was boys, Kagome felt her mind wandering. She had a lot to plan for, supplies to gather, errands to run.so many things. She looked up to see her friends staring at her expectantly. "Sorry." She mumbled lamely as she scooped up her bag and jacket. No one contested as she left, one of the snorted back a giggle as she pushed the door open and left with only the chill of January winds as company. As the cracks in the sidewalk passed hypnotically under her feet, Kagome thought back to the Feudal Age. She had left for two weeks to spend Christmas and New Years with her family. She had sauntered in with a pile of dirty laundry to put in the hamper, a sigh for a hot shower and a flippant hello to her brother, mother and grandfather. It wasn't until after said shower, dinner and after Sota's feet had taken him to his bed that she first noticed that Buyo wasn't playing with the edges of the Christmas stockings. Kagome smiled and curled up on the couch, watching her mother slowly wash the dishes in the next room. "Hey Mom? You haven't had to put Buyo out to keep him from tearing up the stockings have you?" She grinned thinking of the fat cat's tremendous effort last year to kidnap the stockings. Mrs. Higurashi paused for a minute, the rhythmic clank of the dishes ceased. Drying her hands on a towel as she walked to her daughter, she shook her head. "No, sweetie, Buyo died last week. He was so old." Clearing her throat as her daughter stared up, too shocked to speak. "We didn't know how to tell you." She looked off in the distance. "You come home so little now a days, we wanted you to have a happy Christmas." Without another word, she went back to the dishes. Kagome pulled her knees up to her chest and cried. She hadn't even noticed he was gone. Christmas itself had been uneventful. Sota hadn't liked his present. If her grandfather and mother felt the same way about their hurriedly purchased gifts, they hid it better. Her own presents had been a shock. Her favorite band had put out not one, but two new albums.she didn't even know that they had been touring and found herself floundering to remember all the members' names. Her mother had given her a new sweater, it almost didn't fit because of the weight Kagome had lost in the Feudal Age. Her slimness hadn't been all due to loss of weight, but also to the formation of feminine lines of sleek muscle in her arms and shoulders. For once she shocked her grandfather by thankfully taking his proffered gift of blessed charms to ward off evil. "Thank goodness, we were getting ready to run out of these!" She grinned and then stopped. Her family was regarding her strangely. God, not them too.she thought. Everyone is looking at me like I'm totally different. Sighing she thanked them for the gifts, went to bed and cried herself to sleep.

Everything had changed.she stared at her ceiling. She'd be going back to Inuyasha and the others that evening. Part of her was relieved beyond belief. The other half was still sad that she no longer seemed to fit into her own world as she once had. Poor Buyo.as the vacation stretched on, the lack of his presence was more and more distressing. It was like he had run away, not like he had died. She kept expecting to feel the furry warmth of him on her feet in the night. Each morning she had to face the fact that he wasn't going to be there. It was as if the poor cat had taken the entire spirit of the holidays with him. Kagome felt as if they were simply going though the motions. Her mother hadn't even decorated the way they used to. They also had forgone the creation of many favorite treats. Everyone seemed to lack the energy or the drive to even consider celebrating. They had eaten at Mos Burger for Christmas because Mrs. Higurashi hadn't been sure Kagome was going to be home and hadn't bought enough food to feed all four of them. Kagome kept her chin up and smiled even though her heart was breaking. It had never occurred to her that Christmas could be anything but joyous.but now it seemed as if it was trouble to even have to go through it. New Years was more of the same. They made their trek to the main shrines in Asakusa, Yoyogi and Narita to visit with other families of the shrines and to make prayers for the next year. Through all this, Kagome prayed the silent mantra for Inuyasha to come collect her early. But for once, he obeyed her half-hearted orders to leave her be for the holidays. Finally the day came for her to go back to the Feudal Era. But this time she packed with her not only her supplies, but fears. What if something were to happen to her mother, brother or especially her grandfather while she was gone? How would she know if she were needed? She slowly trotted downstairs and found her mother putting away the few decorations that had been put up around the house for the season. Swallowing her fears, Kagome sat her pack by the sofa. "Mom.?" Her voice wavered like a chord played on a piano. "Mom, do you think.do you think, I've changed?" She brushed her hair back behind her ear, the sleeve of her new sweater brushing the tips of her fingers. Kagome sniffed as her mother finished placing the stockings back into a simple trunk. "Your first Christmas, I stitched your name on your stocking in pink, because you were a baby girl, you know?" She ran the stocking through her fingers. "Then when you were about five, we got Buyo and the silly thing picked all the pink string out. So I stitched it back, but I used yellow thread this time.the pink seemed too babyish. Then I used yellow in Sota's the next year when he was born. You had a fit.so I changed it again, this time to blue. Eventually Sota started to like the color I used in yours so I changed his. I didn't even ask if you wanted me to change it that time. I just did." Kagome smiled. "I remember that." "Yes, I used some green thread from an old sweater that was your father's. But Buyo ate that too. That's why there's no name this year.I thought that I'd let you pick your own color this year. But we just didn't get around to it. It's the first year we don't have any leftover Christmas. Oh, well." She sighed. "Maybe we can do it next time you come home." Kagome silently embraced her mother as silent tears flowed down both their cheeks. "Sure, Mama." Then the stocking was in her hand. Looking up confused, she saw her mother wiping tears away. "I thought you might want to show your in the Sengoku Jidai what a real stocking looks like." Kagome smiled and made her way to the well.

As her own world dissolved into ancient Japan, the cutting January wind stayed, mussing her hair, but bringing her delightful smells of food cooking. As she started to clamber up the side of the well, she yelped in surprise as Inuyasha all but toss her up out of the top and caught her up in a warm hug. She smiled softly, fighting tears that didn't sting quite as much as the ones she had shed at home. Then as quickly as he was there, Inuyasha was gone again, bounding away and then back again. Kagome's eyes followed, falling on the faces of each of her friends all smiling at her return. Each of them smiled a small smile.A slight curve of the lips to let her know she had been missed. Biting her lips not to sob with relief at being back with people who truly cared when she was gone, she slowly walked forward, scooping Shippou up in her arms. She held him close, smelling the forest in his soft hair as he nuzzled closer to her. Kirara darted up her other arm to perch on her shoulder, squeaking excitedly. Miroku and Sango stood close together, shielding each other from the wind. Kaede stood slightly to one side with Inuyasha beside her. "See, I did well didn't I?" Inuyasha boasted proudly."I didn't come to try to get you once!" Kagome chuckled to keep from sobbing and running to him. "How was your Christmas everyone?" Laughing, she tried to listen as everyone burst into happy babbling all at once. The only one silent was Inuyasha, who simply stood there watching her as she melted back into her old self. His smile was proud and joyous at Kagome's return.

That night as Kagome walked back from the outhouse, she paused to look up at the stars. She had missed those too. It was so hard to see them in Tokyo now-a-days. She chuckled at her old fashioned thoughts. How strange that she fit better here.although she guessed that was because of Inuya- "Kagome?" She started and found that said person was standing quietly beside her. "Good grief, you almost scared me to de-" "Are you okay?" His gold eyes were dark in the night, his breath making small puffs of crystal air. Kagome smiled her patented smile, ready to give her patented answer. Then she stopped. "No," she said, "No, not really." His eyes glinted with worry, he had known something was wrong as soon as she had returned. Jokingly he nudged her shoulder and said, "Did you miss me too much?" "You know, that may have been part of it." She smiled sadly. "Inuyasha, do you think I've changed?" He very carefully considered the question. "What do you mean, 'changed'?" She sat down with her back to the hut. "Every year my family had something we called leftover Christmas. It was a time for all of us to just be calm and all be together. But this year, we had too much to do. So.no leftover Christmas." She stared up at the stars, the air sharply clean and cold. "It just seems so much has changed and gone on while I was here with you and the others." Sighing, she looked over as the hanyou crouched down beside her. "I just don't know if it was all my fault that this Christmas was so different.or if it was just how I saw Christmas that had changed." Sighing, Inuyasha sat down in a flourish of red cloth and white hair. "Well." He looked over at Kagome, wrapped tightly in her sadness. "Yes. You have changed, Kagome." "Oh.I thought so." She rested her forehead on her knees. A moment later she felt Inuyasha gently put his arm around her. A handful of moments after that, he gently pulled her closer to him. "I think.maybe, you're growing up." Kagome blinked.and turned her head to the boy. "What do yo-" He kissed her, their breath merging into one small puff of crystal air. As their breath danced up to the stars, Inuyasha watched with loving eyes as Kagome's tears slid down her cheeks from closed eyes and she sniffled as a tiny smile played on her tired mouth. As they broke the kiss, he pulled her closer and nestled her against his chest. "It's something we all have to do." He curled his arms around her as she shook, her body and mind tired, confused but finally able to slow down. "But how we chose to do it is what makes us unique. And I think, it's made you a better person, Kagome." She silently clutched at his sleeves as he held her. "Merry leftover Christmas, Kagome."