Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha or any characters related to him. He is the sole property of Rumiko Takahashi, and therefore, not available. But, if somebody were to wrap him up with a big red bow and put him under my Christmas tree, I wouldn't tell a soul.
All I Want For Christmas
Ah, Christmas -- a time of happiness, joy, good will toward your fellow man, and the search for the one perfect gift that is guaranteed to make someone smile. Of course, the half dog demon who was currently being herded through a noisy mall would probably tell you that it is also the one time of the year when violence was at an all time high and that that perfect gift would be forgotten by New Years. But then the smells and sounds that assailed his senses and made him wish he were anywhere but here tended to make him a little cranky.
: Man, I hate shopping at this time of year, the young man thought grouchily. The crowds, the noise, the god-awful music… I swear if I have to hear "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" one more time, I'm gonna fuckin' hurt somebody! : Pushing his silver hair out of his face, the young man grabbed the hand of the dark haired girl next to him. "Remind me again just exactly how I managed to let you talk me into this. I hate shopping malls at Christmas, and you know it!"
The girl just laughed at his petulant tone and proceeded to walk into the mall, all the while tugging insistently on her companion's clawed hand. It was obvious from her expression and the way she practically skipped through the doors that she wasn't going to let his grouchiness ruin her good mood. "Oh, come on, Inuyasha," she said with a grin. "You know exactly how it happened. I begged, Sess growled, and you didn't want to stay home. Besides, you know I can't drive yet," she said with a pout, "and isn't this better than pining after --."
"Rin," Inuyasha growled, interrupting the teasing teenager, "I thought we agreed that Kagome would not come up today. And I'm not pining." He sulked; he did not "pine." It wasn't his fault that she was seeing that Hojo creep. Besides, she considered him one of her best friends, and he didn't want to make things awkward between them since she obviously didn't feel the same way. : I mean, would she really have stayed with Hojo this long if she had feelings for me as more than a friend? :
"Whatever. I didn't bring her up, you did," Rin huffed, rolling her eyes the way only a fifteen year old can. "Anyway, come on. If we don't get moving, we'll have to fight the blue-haired grannies for the really neat stuff and I want to get Sess something good this year." She paused for a moment as a thought struck her. "Oh, and Inuyasha?" she said sweetly, looking at him from the corner of her eye as her smile faded to be replaced by a stern look. "No dog biscuits! He still hasn't forgiven you for last year," Rin finished in a no-nonsense tone. Maybe this year it would actually get through their thick skulls that the joke to see who could give the most dog-like gift was not only getting old, but had to be the lamest thing she had ever heard of.
"Awww, Rin, come on! You ruin all my fun." Inuyasha's mocking pout was ruined by the grin that gave way at the memory.
Last year's gag gift to his older brother had been a box of peanut butter flavored dog biscuits shaped like bagels. Sesshomaru hadn't known they were dog biscuits until he read the card, but by then he had already taken a bite out of one. The look on Sesshomaru's face was priceless, and the sounds of retching that could be heard as he raced for the bathroom only added to the hilarity of the moment. It was definitely one of Inuyasha's favorite Christmas memories -- too bad the camera had been out of film.
He was considering a dog collar for this year, maybe one with spikes or, better yet, one with pretty, glittery hearts. He hadn't made it to the pet store to pick one out yet, but it was only a matter of time before he did. He knew there wasn't much time left, as it was only two weeks until Christmas.
"Just because you're both dog demons does not mean that canine related gifts are acceptable," Rin lectured primly, one hand on her hip and a finger on the other poking him in the chest. "How would you feel if that were the only thing you opened on Christmas?"
"Oh, come on, Rin, it's all in good fun. What about the flea shampoo he gave me two years ago? Or the squeaky bone and rawhide chew last year? How is that any different?" Inuyasha asked, amusement dancing in his amber eyes. "Besides, we've been doing this since before Mom and Dad died, and they never had a problem. I mean, what's the big deal anyway?"
Rin just didn't understand. Even though she had been with the two brothers since she was eight, when both sets of parents died, she never could understand why they were so mean to each other. Maybe it was because she was human and didn't realize that this was the way the two demons showed their affection, although Yash's mother had understood. Maybe is was just that Rin couldn't see any reason for them to make such a big deal out of the whole "dog" thing. Whatever the explanation, Rin always gave the same lecture. No doggy related items under the Christmas tree. Not that the boys ever listened.
"I guess it isn't that big a deal, but I still don't get it. You would think that at least Sess would have more restraint. After all, he is the full demon around here," Rin teased. She knew that her guardian's brother was sensitive about his half-demon heritage, but she couldn't help ribbing him a little. She glanced up at him through lowered lashes, "But then again, he doesn't have those adorable puppy ears, does he?"
Inuyasha blushed, nearly matching his T-shirt, and tried to cover his embarrassment with a playful growl. He made a grab for the hood of Rin's sweatshirt as she took off with a squeal.
As Inuyasha chased the young girl through the mall, he couldn't help but grin at the memory that little comment brought back. The first thing Rin had done when she met him was to go into full-out squeal mode and grab his ears. It took about an hour for her squealed exclamations -- "Oh, how cute!" "Are they real?" "Can I touch them?" -- to quit ringing in his "adorable puppy ears." The only other person who had ever reacted worse than that was Kagome. She had been five, he had been six and to this day it was her habit to rub his ears every time she saw him, just like she had the first time they met. Of course, she would probably stop that habit if he ever let her see what, exactly, that had been doing to him since junior high…
Inuyasha was jolted out of his thoughts when he caught up with Rin, bumping into her when she stopped suddenly to stare intently at a display in one of the stores. Inuyasha groaned when he realized where she had stopped. It was one of those places where you could stuff your own plush toy, and she was staring at none other than a fluffy white dog. Sighing deeply and folding his arms across his chest, he said, "I hope you aren't thinking of getting that for Sess, especially after the lecture you just gave me about dog stuff."
"No," she replied, her tone mischievous. "I was actually thinking that you should get it for Kagome. I'm sure that she would love to cuddle up to a cute little puppy every night." She danced away from him, laughing at the horror-stricken look on his face. When had innocent little Rin become so… so… so much like Miroku? Wait, she was talking about the plushie, wasn't she?
"Rin, you had better be talking about that toy," he said menacingly, his face red again.
Rin looked at him in innocent confusion. "What else would I be talking about?" she asked. "Of course, I was talking about the toy. What were you thinkin'?" The gleam in her eye and the ill-concealed smirk said her mind was as dirty as the lecher's, but he let it drop.
"Hey!" she exclaimed, changing the subject. "Do you think Sess would like that rabbit?"
Thus began the two hour shopping ordeal from hell and the inevitable argument over which stuffed animal Rin could get for Sesshomaru without incurring the dog demon's wrath. The hard part was finding one that wouldn't result in embarrassing retribution at a later time. In the end, they decided on a frog that they named Jaken. It was, as Inuyasha so eloquently put it, "Big enough for him to throw around when he got angry, but small enough to stuff under the bed so he doesn't look soft."
From there they hit a couple of department stores, and Rin spent the whole time trying to convince Yash that he just had to go back and get that dog. Then Inuyasha had the painful task of dragging Rin out of the pet store, where she was trying her damnedest to get him to buy her a kitten. He finally managed to get her out, but not before making a note of which furball she seemed to like the most. He'd have to come back later and see about bringing it home for Christmas. He had also spotted the perfect collar for his brother. It was made out of bright red leather and had pretty, shiny gold hearts affixed to it. Inuyasha couldn't keep the evil smirk off his face as he amused himself with the image of Sesshomaru's face when he opened his loving brother's gift.
After the pet store, it was a whirlwind tour of all the girly boutiques the mall had to offer. After the seventh or eighth one -- he couldn't be sure how many they had been to. He'd stopped counting after three -- Yash had had enough. He was hungry, the noise from crowd and the strong smells from the department stores were giving him a headache, and he was sick of being "bagboy" for all of Rin's purchases. None of this made for a happy dog demon.
"Inuyasha, where are you going?" Rin whined. "We still haven't found anything for Kagome or Sango, and I want to find a dress for Kagome's party tomorrow." Inuyasha just continued to walk away from her. "Yaaash, aren't you listening? Hey! Get back here!"
Inuyasha finally turned around and answered her. "I'm tired, my head hurts, and I'm hungry. We have been shopping for five hours straight, and I would like to put these bags down. I'm headed for the food court," he told her. "You can either come with me, or lose your pack-dog and go by yourself. It's your choice. Either way, I'm sitting down." With that, he turned back around and continued on his previous course toward the nearest ramen stand.
Rin just stood there for a minute, stunned and a little angry. That is until she realized that Inuyasha was right, and that she was getting hungry herself. "Hey, Yash!" she called to him. "Wait up! I'm coming with you."
"Glad you saw things my way, squirt," he said as she caught up.
"Yeah, well. I'm gettin' hungry, and you have all the money. Besides," she punched him lightly on the arm, "who else is going to keep you from closing down the ramen stand?" Inuyasha just rolled his eyes, snorted, and kept going, blissfully unaware that the object of his affection was at this moment squealing over the very doll Rin had been pushing him all day to purchase.
"Hey, Sango! Isn't this the most adorable little puppy you've ever seen?" squealed a sable haired young woman as she grabbed the stuffed display and crushed it to her chest. "It has the cutest ears!"
"I guess -- if you like that kind of thing," replied her dark haired companion indifferently. "But I thought you liked the real thing better. Hey," Sango teased, eying the toy critically, "isn't there a resemblance?"
Sango covered her mouth with her hand and gasped playfully as Kagome blushed bright red and stuck her tongue out at her friend. "I don't know what you're talking about, Sango," she replied primly as she turned and put the toy down.
Sango just stared at her and shook her head, a knowing grin on her face. As long as she had known Kagome, she never could understand why the girl just wouldn't admit that she was attracted to their half-demon friend. : Oh, well, she thought wistfully, maybe someday. :
"Are you ready for the party tomorrow?" Sango asked changing the subject. "Do you still want me to come help set up?"
This year it would only be Kagome and her friends at the annual event, because her family was out of town. Grandpa was away on shrine business and her mother and brother had gone to visit Kagome's Aunt Mayu. Her exam schedule at the university hadn't allowed Kagome to go with them this year. That left Kagome alone for Christmas, but she knew her friends would be there if she needed them.
"If you would be so kind," Kagome answered. "I hope everyone can make it this year. Have you asked Miroku if he got the night off?" Miroku was Sango's long time boyfriend and worked for one of the stores in the mall. This being the busy season, it wasn't always a safe bet that he would get off when he wanted.
"Yeah, he'll be there," Sango smiled. "They made him a manager for the season, so he gets to help write the employee schedule."
Kagome nodded and continued her walk down the mall. The two girls had been shopping for a few hours, and Sango's feet were starting to feel it. They had originally planned on meeting Miroku when he got off, but a call from him a few minutes earlier had ruined those plans. Somebody hadn't shown up for a shift, and he had to take it. Sango couldn't help but be a little disappointed. Even though they lived together, they didn't get to see each other nearly enough at this time of year, and the rest of the time they were both so busy studying…
"Hey," Kagome's voice jerked Sango out of her depressing thoughts. "Isn't that Rin and Inuyasha over there?" Somehow they had turned toward the food court without Sango noticing. Well, now was as good a time as any to take a break from the torture of holiday shopping.
"I think so," Sango answered, following Kagome's pointing finger. "Why don't we go say hi?"
Kagome nodded, following her friend. Rin was the first to spot them and from the look of total mischief on her face, she was about to tease the living hell out of one of them; and since they were the girl's favorite targets, something told Kagome that it was either going to be her face or Inuyasha's that would be red from embarrassment. The only question was whose and that answer wasn't long in coming. As the girls approached, Kagome heard, "Well, if it isn't the girl of my uncle's dreams and her best friend, Sango!"
"Rin," Inuyasha growled warningly, "need I remind you that it is only a couple of weeks till Christmas and I still haven't gotten you a present?" Rin paled a little as he continued. "If you do not stop right now, all you're gonna get is coal! Furthermore -- who has the keys?"
As Rin glared at the threat and offered her half-hearted apologies, Kagome and Sango exchanged a "what-the-hell-was-that-about" look. Neither was sure they really wanted to ask, so they both just let it go. Kagome figured she could ask Rin later, away from Yash.
Now that gave her a great idea…
"Hey, Rin," she said, "how about helping Sango and me find something for the rest of the people on our lists?"
"I would love to, Kag," Rin answered, "but what about Yash? I can't leave him by himself; he's not housebroken …unless you want him to come with us." Lowering her voice, she said mischievously, "Besides, you know how he gets when he doesn't have a keeper. Remember the mall Santa last year? We don't want a repeat of the Candy Cane Debacle."
"That guy had it coming," Inuyasha said tightly. "He wouldn't have had that problem if he had just kept his hands to himself and off of my butt." Turning his attention back to Kagome, he asked, "So, wench, am I just supposed to sit here like a good little doggy while you three go shopping?"
"Of course not. I didn't mean it like that and you know it, Dog Boy," Kagome retorted. "You could go with Miroku for all I care. Oh, wait…" she trailed off, scrunching her brow as if something had just occurred to her.
Inuyasha looked at her, confused. "Huh?" : Does she have any idea how cute she is when she does that? Damn, why does she have to be with that Hojo creep? : He thought, irritated. His thoughts were interrupted when he felt a sharp elbow in his ribs, courtesy of Rin.
"You do realize, dearest uncle of mine," she whispered, "that you are staring?" Rin bit back the giggle that threatened to burst out at the expression on his face. Shock and horror were quickly replaced by exasperation which was followed closely by that all too familiar scowl he only wore when he was embarrassed. That was until he realized that she was teasing him -- again.
Glaring threateningly at Rin, he turned his attention back to Kagome, being sure not to stare this time. "What about Miroku?"
"Oh, he was going to meet us, but then he called to say that he had to stay at work," Sango answered.
"Did I hear my name taken in vain?" asked a cheerful voice behind them. The four turned to see a pony tailed young man standing there, his violet eyes laughing.
"Miroku!" Sango shrieked. "I thought you had to work." Sango threw herself at her boyfriend. Catching her, Miroku returned her embrace before dipping his head and catching her lips in a kiss that went from chaste to passionate in a matter of second.
"Hey, you two," Inuyasha said loudly, "get a room if you're gonna do that. There are children present, damn it!" Inuyasha made a show of covering Rin's eyes with one hand and blocking the blows she aimed at him with the other. Miroku responded to this by pulling Sango closer and dipping her over his arm, deepening and prolonging their kiss. It was taking all that Kagome had in her not to burst out laughing. It was a well known fact that Inuyasha did not like public displays of affection, and Miroku was enough of an exhibitionist to give everyone a good show.
Inuyasha started coughing violently when Rin managed to get free by elbowing him hard in the stomach. Having not seen him take the hit, Miroku released Sango from his embrace and turned to look at Inuyasha, feigning concern. "You might want to get that looked at, my friend. I wasn't aware that dogs could get hair balls."
"What is this," the pained demon groused, straightening up and turning his face away from them, "pick on Yash day?"
"Aw, poor baby," Kagome said mockingly. "Is the whole world out to get him today?" She knew it probably wasn't a good idea to bait him like that, but she couldn't help herself. He just made it too easy. Besides, he was cute when his eyes blazed with anger and irritation, particularly when he pouted, turning up his nose in the very image of wounded pride.
"Nobody asked you, wench. So just stay out of it," Inuyasha growled. He could swear that they were all out to get him today. First Rin, then Miroku, and now Kagome -- God, he just couldn't win. Maybe he should have just gone with his first impulse this morning and stayed in bed.
"Don't call me wench, Inuyasha. You know how I feel about that." Kagome felt the need to defend herself -- she was only teasing him, after all. Besides, if she'd told him once, she'd told him a thousand times not to call her that, and every time she cursed their history teacher for ever teaching him the meaning of that word.
"Would you prefer 'bitch', 'cause that can be arranged," Inuyasha shot back. Already irritated from all of the crowd noise, with a headache coming on from those damn perfume ladies, not to mention the fact that he was frustrated with his inability to tell Kagome how he felt, Inuyasha's temper was stretching a little thin. His friends' merciless teasing wasn't helping, either; and Kagome getting angry at him over a name he used as a joke between them was enough to send him over the edge of reason. He knew it was stupid, that Kagome probably just wanted to find out from Rin what he might like for Christmas, but knowing that didn't stop him.
"You big jerk! That's pretty rich comin' from a dog demon." Kagome gave as good as she got, defending herself against his irrational attack.
As the argument geared up to become a full blown battle between the two, Rin decided to step in. She had seen the twitch start above Inuyasha's eye and knew what that meant. She needed to stop this before they said something they would both regret.
Rin leaned over to Miroku and whispered to him, "I'll take the girls and we'll go do some shopping; hopefully we can get Kagome calmed down. You take the blockhead and buy him some courage…and maybe a brain. We'll meet back here in a couple of hours and see how it goes from there. Okay?"
Miroku nodded as they heard Kagome snarl at Inuyasha, "Now look here, Fido…" Before Rin or Miroku could do anything, however, Sango grabbed Kagome's arm, pulling her out of Inuyasha's face, and sat her down in a chair across the table from him. "Kagome," she said soothingly, "you need to calm down. Inuyasha's just being a jerk."
Before Inuyasha could turn his wrath on Sango, Miroku jumped in. "Why don't you ladies go finish your shopping? Inuyasha and I will find something to occupy ourselves with and meet you back here in, say, two hours?" He turned pleading, apologetic eyes on Sango. He would have to make it up to her later. After all, they had been planning to spend the rest of the afternoon together. Granted, Kagome would have been with them, but at least they would have been together.
"It's okay, Miroku, there's always later," Sango whispered, leaning over so that he was the only one to hear her. Louder, she said, "That sounds like a plan. Come on, girls." She grabbed hold of one of Kagome's arms, while Rin grabbed the other, and the three headed off across the mall, Kagome protesting loudly that she wasn't done with Dog Boy yet.
"Well," Miroku said as the two men watched them drag Kagome out of sight, "would you care to explain what that was all about?"
"No," Inuyasha answered sullenly. "I wouldn't." Great, now he was gonna get lectured by his best friend; he'd had enough lectures for one day. Why couldn't they just leave him alone?
"Of you and Sango? Please!" Deliberately misunderstanding, Inuyasha turned his head so Miroku couldn't see his face. Truth be told, he was a little jealous – but not of Miroku and Sango. He was jealous because here he sat, alone and miserable, while his love was with another; and he couldn't summon the courage to even tell her he liked her that way. Of course, it didn't help that his honor wouldn't allow him to try stealing her away from the guy -- no matter how much he wanted to.
"Uh-huh," Miroku said as if he knew what Yash was thinking. "You do know that she and Hojo broke up about a month ago, don't you?"
Inuyasha turned and looked at Miroku in shock. "No, I didn't. What happened?"
Miroku shrugged, "Something about catching him in bed with some blonde."
"He did what?" Inuyasha exclaimed loudly. How dare that bastard do such a thing to someone as sweet as Kagome!
"You don't have to yell, Yash," Miroku admonished. "I don't think the balloon lady outside wants to know about this."
Inuyasha looked up and realized that he was being stared at by people walking by. Ducking his head to hide his blush, he muttered a half-hearted apology and motioned for Miroku to continue with his tale.
"The only reason I know about any of this is because Kagome came and cried on Sango's shoulder the night she caught them. She was a wreck for a couple of weeks. Sango said something about ice cream binges and castration plans."
Blanching a little at that thought, the two sat in silence for a bit until Inuyasha mused, "I wonder why she didn't say anything to me. I thought we were closer than that."
"Well, you have been busy lately. Maybe she didn't want to disturb you." Miroku didn't look like he believed himself. If fact, he didn't. Inuyasha would do anything for Kagome. They all knew that. She hadn't said anything to him for fear of the 'I told you so' she knew Yash would give her.
"I'm never too busy for her! Damn it, she knows that!" Inuyasha was a little agitated. How could she think that he would put anything before her?
"I don't know, man. Maybe she thought you would rub it in. You made it pretty clear that you didn't approve of their relationship," Miroku said matter-of-factly. "I mean, think about it. First you bailed on her party last Christmas, then you avoided her for, what was it, a month. And then you couldn't ever say anything nice about the guy…"
"Alright, alright," Inuyasha interrupted, "I get the picture. I was a jerk about the whole thing. Jeez." Thinking back on the argument he had just been engaged in, Inuyasha realized that he had probably been a little more of an ass than was normal even for him; and that just made him feel guilty. He hadn't exactly been nice, and he wasn't sure what to do to earn her forgiveness. "So, what do I do now?"
Miroku just looked at him blankly, having not been privy to the half demon's previous thought. "What do you mean? I thought you were giving her space. You know, that you didn't want to make things awkward if she didn't like you as more than a friend?"
Inuyasha leveled a rather sardonic look at his friend and sighed in exasperation. He really hated having to spell thing out. "That's not what I meant," he snapped, as if what he was thinking should have been obvious. "I meant, how do I fix that little spat we just had? Or weren't you listening?"
"Not really. You two say pretty much the same things every time you argue, so we all just kind of tune it out." Something about Inuyasha's expression told Miroku that maybe he should have been listening this time. "You didn't say something stupid, did you?"
Miroku ran his hand over his face. "Of course you did. This is you we're talking about." Inuyasha growled at him, but being used to it, Miroku ignored him. "What exactly did you say that would be unforgivable?"
"Well…Um…I kinda called her a stupid bitch that could only keep the attention of an idiot and then not for very long," he answered in a rush, wincing at the memory.
"You really are an idiot; you do know that, don't you?" Miroku sighed. At Inuyasha's contrite nod, he continued, "Fear not, my friend. All is not lost."
"Really?" Yash said hopefully. : God, when did I get this pathetic?: "And how do you propose that I fix this?"
Miroku was quiet for a few moments, obviously giving Inuyasha's predicament some thought. When a devious smile crossed his face Inuyasha just knew that he was in serious trouble. Miroku had that look in his eye. The one that he got when he was about to suggest something that he just knew would work -- and for the most part did -- but that Inuyasha was going to just hate.
"Well," he said. "I know for a fact that her family is out of town, so you could go over there, present her with some flowers, admit your undying devotion to her, and then take her up stairs and make mad bunny love until the sun comes up."
"C-c-come again?" Inuyasha stuttered, not sure that he had heard correctly.
"You heard me. Show up on her doorstep, shower her with affection, and then relieve your frustration like I know you both need to do." The more Miroku spoke the redder Inuyasha became. There was not way he was going to take that suggestion.
"No, absolutely not."
"Or," Miroku was having way too much fun with this. "You could just take her out to a nice restaurant, explain that you are an absolute jerk, and beg for her forgiveness." At Inuyasha's blank look, he elaborated. "You know, take her somewhere nice and tell her that you didn't know about Hojo. Then you can tell her that you're sorry for being an insensitive clod, and while you're at it," he continued with a cunning twinkle in his eye, "you can tell her that you've had a crush on her since junior high."
"You know, you almost had me," Yash told him lightly. "And then you just had to go and say that. Thank you, but I think I'll come up with something on my own."
"Oh, come on, Yash. You don't have to tell her you love her, just take her out and apologize," Miroku said in exasperation. Why did he always feel like he was talking to a brick wall whenever he talked to Yash? Oh, yeah. That'd be because he was.
"I'll think about it," he muttered noncommittally. Anything to get away from that subject. :And to think I made Rin promise to not even mention her name today. Somebody up there must really have it in for me.: "Now, I have some shopping I need to do. You want to come help me pick up Sesshomaru's new collar?"
"So that's the gift this year?" Miroku asked. At Inuyasha's nod, he got up from his chair and started off toward the pet store. "Well, what are you waiting for? I think they just got in a new shipment of the really glittery ones."
Inuyasha followed his friend, grinning wickedly at the thought of the trouble he was going to cause Christmas morning. However, he couldn't banish the little voice in the back of his mind that told him that Miroku's second idea wasn't so bad -- like hell was he going to take the lecher's first suggestion. In fact, he couldn't shake the feeling that, maybe, taking Kagome somewhere nice and apologizing for his irrational behavior was the right thing to do.
A/N: Well, how's that for a start? Did it even make any sense? As you can see, I'm attempting an A/U fic. Hopefully I'll get it finished before Christmas. I don't plan on more than about four chapters, but don't quote me on it. It could be more, it could be less. Anyway, tell me what you think.
Until we meet again,
Last revision -- 11/24/04 (thanks Niamh!)