Written for the Summer Challenge at the 'InuYasha' Fanfiction Community. (livejournal/ community/ inuyasha-fanfic)

Disclaimer: I still haven't memorised who IY belongs to but, believe me, it's not me.
Distribution: Tell me first.
Genre: General with tiny bits of Romance and Angst.
Pairings: Kag/In, K
ik/In, S/M. But as said, romance comes is itty-bitty sizes in this one.
Summary: Just another afternoon in their usual travels. There is a game. Shame that Inuyasha doesn't want to play.
Rating: PG-13 just to be sure.


by Leni

This is stupid, Inuyasha thinks morosely even as he hears them laugh. But they are bored. It's too late to go back to the village, too early to set camp, and the last demon they fought is already two days dead. There's only so much excitement the killing of a lesser youkai can offer. Of course they'd be bored. Inuyasha looks at the trio ahead with a bit of resentment. Must they be so loud? It's bad enough that they aren't as tired as to go to sleep and finish their stupid game.

Kagome and Sango are laughing at something the monk said. Miroku isn't sporting the usual marks in his cheeks so he must have said something actually funny. Inuyasha concentrates on inspecting the woods around them; the trio is making enough noise to attract an unwanted visitor and not even notice until the last minute. He relaxes after some seconds. There's nothing.

Sango giggles and points to Kagome. Inuyasha's eyes roll. There they go again. Kagome smiles and bites her lip worriedly, shifting carefully as to not to awake the little kitsune held securely in her arms. Huh? How on Earth can Shippou be asleep with that racket going on? Inuyasha frowns. Must be nice to feel so safe.

Kagome finally grins. "Which colour are you?" she asks curiously to the two in front of her.

See? It is a stupid game. There was silence until Kagome proposed a game. Shippou jumped and clapped enthusiastically while Sango grinned and Miroku nodded his assent. When Kagome turned to ask him to play along, Inuyasha just snorted and jumped some meters behind them. But he can still hear them. It is a simple game, they each ask a 'which - insert your first thought - are you?' and try to interpret their answers. They've gone through flowers, trees and animals already. Kagome has chosen a lily, a pine and a deer. A slight smile is ruthlessly killed before it can reach his lips. Instead Inuyasha focuses on his earlier thoughts. Why can't his companions just stay quiet? It's not as if it's difficult, for him it is the simplest thing. Maybe it's because humans are drawn to entertainment, immature as it were. He has proof in the many festivals and dances he's witnessed in their travels. Every little thing they do must be followed by a party, or at least a lively reunion. If it were up to him the only celebration would be after the Shikon no Tama was whole again. Even then Inuyasha wouldn't include this... this... His jaw sets as Kagome playfully hits the monk's hand before it can get to its destiny. "Green," he blurts out without a second - or a first, really - thought.

Three pairs of eyes immediately fall on him. He huffs, aware that he's about to fidget uncomfortably. Damn it, what has he done wrong now? Green is a nice colour, isn't it? "What? I can't play too?" he bites out. Frankly curious gazes are interchanged between his three comrades. Kagome is the first to smile and one hand tightens around Shippou so the other can come to him. It is an invitation. A promise. A threat. He scoffs at the offer, setting his own arms in his sleeves. She just shrugs delicately and, as if nothing had happened, moves to place the lost red tresses over her chest back behind the kitsune's ear. "Yellow," she answers her own question.

Sango and Miroku look at him angrily but follow her unsaid plead for peace and give their own answer. Sango's muttered 'black as a new moon's night' and its accompanying glare are the only breach. Inuyasha looks away and ignores her pointedly. They try to look for explanation for their colours. Miroku does get a slap when he mentions that 'black' could be Sango's way to express her discomfort in her tight outfit and, maybe she should take it off? Inuyasha privately thinks this time the monk deserved it.

The girls agree to let Miroku ask the next question after he's recovered. Miroku grins and his 'undergarm---' is cut away by another angry slap. Inuyasha smirks; they really should have seen it coming. Kagome giggles softly and shakes her head. "Maybe you should try seasons," she tells the monk. "It would be-" Another giggle. "safer." Miroku nods miserably and asks the question.

"Autumn," Sango answers immediately.

"The sight of the leaves falling softly to the earth can in no way compare to your beauty, oh graceful maiden," Miroku tries, with his hand carefully checking his cheek but obviously undeterred by the hunter's continued negative. Oddly, this time there's a slight smile in Sango's eyes before her nose lifts in its characteristic disapproval.

After a moment they look at Kagome, expecting her answer. In turn Kagome looks back at him briefly, a small indecisive smile in her lips before turning away to mull over her answer. Inuyasha sighs inwardly, he is growing worse and worse at denying her. He's a goner for that hopeful look she just used. It says that she understands he won't play with them. Inuyasha doesn't like that anyone knows his moves; survival is about surprising the enemy. What would happen if he can't even surprise his friends? He steps forward.

In retrospective, he should have been warier when Kagome doesn't start at the sudden weight of his hand on her right shoulder. She just looks at him briefly before nodding with a smile. "Winter," he murmurs slowly, letting his hand drop at his side again. He doesn't go back to the rear, though.

The other two just watch the exchange sombrely. Inuyasha hates the looks directed at him, as if he'd hurt Kagome merely with his presence. He wouldn't, would he? He turns to try to gauge her expression but Sango's voice interrupts him. "Now he deigns to come," the exterminator says in obvious distaste. Her eyes lock with his for a second, then hers soften as they fall on the girl at his side.

"Indeed," Miroku butts in, "you cannot seem to decide if to ignore or force your welcomes, my friend." His face doesn't change, but it is easy to notice he comes closer to Kagome from her left side.

"Oy, you two shut up!" Inuyasha has no patience for this attitude tonight. The argument grows quickly, accusations thrown in heated whispers after Miroku reminded them of the sleeping kitsune. First they try to ensnare him into an absurd game, and when he finally comes they shun him? He even gave them an honest answer. Winter, because everything is frozen around him. His life is a constant race after the shards. His thoughts revolve around the same hates and loves and he can't make them change. Even his heart is frozen. Frozen as Kikyou's youth was trapped in an undead body. She had been his complement, the summer standing against him. He had desired her warmth so much, had been willing to give up his dreams for her. But Kikyou still is his summer, isn't she? It doesn't matter what old Kaede says and Kagome's eyes accuse when he returns from meeting the miko. Inuyasha still sees in that clay body the woman he loved half a century ago. Yes, Kikyou still is summer; hot as the flames from hell... He frowns at the unwanted thought. He's thinking too much about this stupid game. He looks at the angered priest and exterminator in front of him. What right do they have to judge him? They claim to be worried about his behaviour to Kagome, well, why don't they ask her?

Inuyasha looks at Kagome from the corner of his eye. She hasn't participated in the argument, not even to sit him when he called Sango names. She must be really distracted to miss something like that. His arms cross over his chest and he bites a "What's up with you now?! Aren't you happy we're playing your stupid game?"

Kagome winces slightly, already regretting to have let her thoughts show in her face. But, winter is such a depressing decision. She turns, not so surprised when she finds Inuyasha even closer, just inches away. He's oddly protective of her even when he swears he couldn't care less. "Nothing," she denies quickly, realising he won't let the subject drop. Can't he see how warm he can be? Her gaze quickly turns to the ground but Shippou's sleepy yelp tells how strong her grip has turned.

Inuyasha's eyes narrow as he shakes his head. "Fuck." In one move he retreats to his former position. Sometimes he wishes he didn't read her that well. Why must she feel sorry for him?

"And you, Kagome?" Sango asks gently, shattering the silence between the couple. "What season are you?"

Inuyasha looks at the younger girl, noticing the rosy blush being born in her face and aware of the soft scent of flowers after her steps. He doesn't need to hear the answer. He doesn't want to hear it. The humans turn to him when he roughly breaks apart from the group. "Something is crawling around us," he tells them sharply, unhappy that he has to give an excuse. Sango and Miroku nod at once, obviously still mad at him but willing to protect their friend. Their hands grip their weapons even as they tighten the ring around Kagome. Inuyasha thinks it'd be the right reaction if the situation were real. He springs away without another word.

Trees are the same everywhere, the ones in this forest certainly won't mind how absentmindedly he cuts through them. His foot connects with a thick branch, the frown on his face doesn't leave as he breaks it swiftly. Is he far enough? Her loud laugh answers him no. Just some more until he can't hear their voices, even further away not to hear the echo. He sighs when he's finally on the ground again. Mad at himself from not escaping from the answer he knows. Kagome is kisses soft like petals and smiles as bright as sunshine. She is warm hugs, vibrant laughs and hope reborn.

Kagome is spring.

Only spring would be as foolish as to follow winter's frozen trail.

The End

Feedback: Welcomed with hot choco and mashmellows. I'd love some sincere critique.