What's in a Paper-cut Heart?

Dedicated to my tomodachi who emailed me just to say that she liked my one and only Inu Yasha ficcie. You know who you are! *wink*

My eyes widened as I watched Kagome carefully fold a red piece of paper and cut a somewhat inverted half-moon with irregular shape from it. After which, the girl proceeded to place the paper-cut heart on a white piece of paper using a gooey white material that seemed to stick on the girl's fingertips.

"What is that?" I asked, my curiosity finally getting the best of me.

Kagome glanced at me, beaming in her usual genki  way. "A Valentine card, Sango."

"V-Valentine card?" I echoed, eyes wide. "What is that?"

The school uniform-clad teen decided to postpone her obra maestra for a moment. She turned to face me. "It's a card that people in our world exchange with each other every February 14."

"So does that card contain charms and spells to drive bad spirits away?" I asked, still unable to imagine the essence of this Valentine card.

Kagome sweatdropped. "No, actually…it contains lots of mush…but plenty of love as well."

"A love charm?"

"No, not really." Kagome opened the card and showed me the blank paper. "We write our messages of love for the person whom we'll give this card to here. Then we'll give it to him or her."

I sat down, frowning. "Isn't that embarrassing?" The word, love, was yet to penetrate my vocabulary. As a monster exterminator, I knew the art of battles very well, like the back of my hand. But the L word was foreign to me. Really.

I knew I cared very much for my little brother, Kohaku, and I knew deep within him, he knows that as well, but we need not to express in words how we feel about each other.

Kagome laughed. "Yes, well, sort of. It is embarrassing, but is done in the spirit of fun."

I leaned over to her shoulder to peer at the card. "So if you don't mind me asking…whose card is this?"

"This is for Shippou," she replied. "I have finished my cards for my parents and classmates, and for you and Miroku-sama but…"

"But…?" I prompted, although I have an idea what was the hesitation on her mind.

Her eyes shook. "I wonder…if Inu Yasha would appreciate it if I…" Her voice softened. "…give him a card too."

I didn't know what to say. Inu Yasha was not exactly the sensitive, sentimental type of man that would appreciate these kinds of things. I would have told her to forget the idea, but then…

"You'll never know until you try, right?" I said instead, smiling at her gently. I nodded when I saw her eyes light up hopefully.

"Hai," she said. "You're definitely right." Her cheeks warmed slightly. "I-If he doesn't like it, t-then I would just have to cry 'osuwari' till he takes it."

"Nice gameplan," I agreed.

She turned to me again. "Hey, why don't you make one for Miroku-sama?"

"Houshi-sama?" I said, my forehead creasing. I ignored the sudden jump of my heartbeat at the mention of the perverted monk's name.

"Yeah!" She grinned. "I bet he would love to get a card from you!"

"F-Forget it," I said, shaking my head. "In the first place, I have no love to express to him. Secondly, I do –not- have the time to sit down and cut heart-shaped papers for him when I can be doing my training. Third—"

"You have way too many excuses," said Kagome. "And not one of them convinced me." Her eyes twinkled as she handed me her stuff. "Here. In case you change your mind about that matter, the art supplies are ready."

"I will –not- change my mind."

"Take them anyway."

I rolled my eyes, then walked away, holding her bag of art supplies.

"How totally more absurd can her idea get?" I grumbled as I walked back to the temporary shack where we were staying for the night. "A card of mush for a monk whose hands are worse than monster tentacles?"

I poked my head into the hut. Shippou was fast asleep, leaning on Kirara for a pillow. The men were nowhere to be found.

I sighed. The two were probably still out, looking for dinner. Earlier, Kagome and Inu Yasha had a heated argument when the latter drained our week's supply of food. The demi-man complained that he was hungry, and that he was free to do anything he wanted to because…because.

That was it.

Because.

I leaned on the hay, thinking of something to do to keep me from getting bored. It wouldn't do to go back to Kagome…she was busy making her card for Inu Yasha, and I was sure she needed the privacy.

"Heck!" I took out the art supplies, groaning. I gave up; I needed something to do, and this was the only activity available for the moment.

"Now, how did she do it again?" I mumbled, fitting my fingers clumsily in the crisscross blades she called a pair of scissors. "The red paper first…"

I tried to remember the shape of what she cut when she folded the paper in a half. I tried a circle, but it didn't come out a heart. I tried oblong, but still, to no avail.

I considered asking Kagome, but decided against it. She wasn't the I-told-you-so type of person, but still, it was embarrassing to ask for her help after all my speech on not making this accursed Valentine card.

Ten papers later, I was near my breaking point. I wiped a bead of sweat in frustration, then with gritted teeth, tried another figure. It still didn't come out a heart.

"What's with a paper-cut heart?" I hissed. "Why can't I cut it right?"

"You give up too easily."

I turned around and found Houshi-sama smiling at me cheekily. He sat down the hay-covered floor with me, peering at my mess.

"W-Where's Inu Yasha?" I asked, hoping against hope to divert his attention from the irregularly shaped red figures on the floor.

He threw me a look, as if saying that he would buy my words, but that would be just because he was just indulging me. "Looking for Kagome."

"Why didn't you come with him?" I asked, using my hands to push the art materials away from his sight.

He didn't reply. His hand immediately went to mine, stopping me from my subtle clearing act.

"H-Houshi…sama!" I withdrew my hand, blushing furiously.

"Forgive my curiosity, but somehow, it puzzles me why someone like you should panic when these are just pieces of paper." He eyed me intently. "They're just pieces of paper, am I right?"

I gulped inwardly, helpless against whatever I was up against with. "R-Right."

He took his time in looking at me intently, and I struggled to look at him straight in the eye.

"You are not making voodoo dolls of me, am I right?" he asked solemnly.

I rolled my eyes. He was a perfect antithesis in any tense situation there was.

But he wasn't finished just yet with his tirade. "Because awhile ago, I heard your frustrations on paper-cut hearts." He looked at me inquisitively. "What are you planning to do with those cute little red hearts anyway?"

"N-Nothing."

"I think you are lying."

"I…" I sighed. "Yes, I need the hearts. I'm making a Valentine card."

He nodded comprehendingly. "Ah… a Valentine card." He closed his eyes somberly. "About this Valentine card…"

I looked at him expectantly.

He opened one eye. "What's that?"

I sweatdropped, then grabbed my hirokaitsu and slammed it on him.

Later, both the monk and I were working on the paper hearts, trying to figure out the shape that would create a heart. In the process, I had explained to him what a Valentine card was for, as explained by Kagome awhile ago.

"Now I understand," he said, eyes on the figure he was cutting. "But Sango, this card is for whom?"

I paused, then shrugged. "I don't know. I made it just for the heck of it."

"Oh."

"You still haven't got the shape?" I asked, desperate to change the topic.

His eyes went to me. "How did Kagome know what the shape of the heart of a person was anyway?"

I shrugged. "Their world…their arts…they're very much different from ours. How should I know?" I looked down. "I kill monsters, and monsters do not have hearts. I myself do not know what really is the shape of a human heart."

Houshi-sama smiled. "If I have my way, I would want it to be shapeless."

"Huh?"

"I want it to be free and flowing just like the breeze." He looked out at the skies, his face pensive. This was one of the rare moments that I get a glimpse of the other side of the perverted Houshi-sama. The loving nature of the monk. "So it can carry plenty of love in its space, and it would be easy to get and take love from it. I don't want it to be enclosed in a fixed shape, because it would mean limit to the number of people that can be loved."

I gazed at him speechlessly as my heart ached for him. Within me, I wished he had his way. Then I would know what it meant to love and be loved.

He chuckled. "I'm sorry. I know I sounded dramatic…"

"Think nothing of it," I said dismissively.

His eyes turned once more to me, but they lingered.

And it made me uncomfortable. Very, very uncomfortable.

The intensity of his deep, dark eyes drowned me helplessly as warmth flooded my heart.

He was the only one who can warrant such a ridiculously maudlin reaction from me. Frightening, indeed.

He smiled at last. "I think I know the shape of a heart already."

"You do?" I echoed, relieved that the tension was off. I couldn't stand it anymore.

"Yes," he replied cheerfully. "You inspired me."

"H-Huh?" I felt myself blush. "H-How in the world did I do that?"

"I was pondering on the shape of the heart awhile ago when my eyes were cast upon your backside." He grinned. "And I was enlightened!"

BLAG!

My boomerang hit his cranium once more.

But he did manage to cut out a heart that resembled Kagome's.

"Don't I deserve any thanks here?" he complained, rubbing his head.

"Hmp!" I got up and picked up the art supplies.

"Where are you going?" he asked.

"Away from you." I marched out of the shack. "Don't you dare follow me!"

"Sure, sure." The monk groaned as he rubbed his head once more.

I was going to return the supplies to Kagome when I overheard a conversation going on. Quickly, I hid behind a tree.

I watched Kagome shyly hand Inu Yasha her finished Valentine card.

"Here," she said, looking down at the ground shyly.

"What's this, an incantation card?" he asked without any interest.

She bit her lip. "I-It's a card alright…a Valentine card to be exact."

"Huh?" Valentine was something a bone eater boy didn't know.

"J-Just read it," she said. "I-I used Chinese characters, and they were clumsily written because I'm not good at it…"

"Tell me about it," said Inu Yasha, nodding.

"OSUWARI!!!"

KABLAG!

"W-What did you do that for?" he yelled.

"You said the writing was ugly!"

"I didn't! I was just agreeing when you said it was clumsy—"

"OSUWARI!!!"

KABLAG!!!

"Kagome!!! I just recuperated my ribs! Don't break them yet!!!"

"I don't care!"

I sighed, leaning on the tree. What if Houshi-sama reacts the same way Inu Yasha did when I hand him my own card for him? It would be humiliating, that was for sure.

I looked at the card, pondering on what to do next.

That night, I got up when I felt that everyone else had went to sleep. Slowly, I walked towards where Houshi-sama was sleeping, careful not to wake him up. I was confident that Inu Yasha was too far from us to see what I was doing. Besides, I noticed that he was still engrossed at looking at the Valentine card Kagome gave him. It was kind of amusing, seeing that awhile ago in dinner, he didn't mention anything about the card while Kagome handed her own cards for us.

I knelt down beside the monk and carefully took out my Valentine card. I gulped inwardly once more as I looked at the card, then back at the monk's face. If I leave it here now, it would spare me the embarrassment of a confrontation, just like what happened to Kagome.

And tomorrow morning, if he tries to ask me about this, I would just play deaf.

The important thing is, I was able to give him the Valentine card.

I placed the card beside him, and was about to get up when something grabbed my hand.

My eyes widened as he opened his eyes slowly.

His eyes crinkled into a smile. "Being salivated silently upon by a girl like you is indeed, very flattering."

"Houshi-sama!" I forced my voice into a whisper. "I-I thought you were asleep—"

"A monk never sleeps," he replied, grinning. "So what can I do for you, dear Sango?"

"A-Ah…" I looked down at my lap. "N-Nothing."

His eyes then caught the piece of paper on the ground. He picked it up carefully and read it. His eyes softened. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but I shamelessly assume this is mine?"

I nodded wordlessly.

"You made this for me?" he asked, his voice seeking confirmation.

Again, I nodded.

His eyes went to the message inside.

Thank you for telling me what is in a paper-cut heart. It will remain forever committed in my soul.

He smiled back at me. "Ah, the warrior shows her romantic, feminine side at last…with me as her victim."

My face flamed. "It's NOTHING like that!" I piped down when Kagome and Shippou stirred. We waited until we could hear their peaceful sounds of slumber again.

I seized my chance to get up. "Good night, Houshi-sama."

"Thank you for the card, Sango," he said huskily.

I looked away, afraid to show him how his words affected me. "Dou itashimasite."

And I did not see anymore the fondness that crossed the monk's face, or how his hand carefully, lovingly tucked the card inside his robe, placing it on his chest, near his heart.

His heart that knew no lines, no boundaries, only eternal shapelessness.

 end