'Baka, baka, baka, baka, baka!'
Turning the already flattened steak with a vicious yank, Kagome raised the wooden mallet and, picturing her mate's thick, fat head, she smashed the meat again.
"Where did Papa go?"
Blinking away her irritation as she glanced down into the bright, wide eyes of their six year-old son, Inuakamori, Kagome set the mallet aside and knelt down before him. "Your father went for a run through the forest," she told him. "He'll be home soon."
Kagome wrinkled her nose. 'Maybe . . . unless he got lost . . . .' she snorted. 'Now, that'd be something . . . BakaYasha . . . . Oh, sometimes he makes me so . . . mad!'
Still too irritated about InuYasha's latest show of irrational behavior, Kagome sighed and tried to put it out of her mind. Inuakamori frowned but remained silent.
Out of the corner of her eye, Kagome saw the flash of auburn hair streaking toward the door. "Hold it!" she hollered after the kitsune. Shippou stopped in his tracks and turned slowly.
"Yes, Mother?" the sixteen year-old kit replied pleasantly.
"Where are you going? You've got school tomorrow," she pointed out.
Shippou made a face. "Come on, Kagome! The guys are going to the mall."
Checking her watch, Kagome lifted an eyebrow, caused more from the kitsune's use of her given name which only meant that he thought she was being unreasonable. "The mall?" she echoed dubiously. "It closes in half an hour. It's Christmas Eve, remember?"
Shippou shrugged, shaking his long, shaggy bangs out of his emerald green eyes. "So we'll find somewhere else to hang out," he muttered.
"I'd really like you to stay home with us," Kagome said pointedly.
Shippou snorted. "Keh! Father alreadysaid I could go."
Ignoring the hurt twinge that Shippou would still call InuYasha that when he stubbornly insisted on calling Kagome by name, she squared her shoulders and shook her head. "You can't go, Shippou, I'm sorry."
"I'm going, and you can't stop me! The old man said I could, and I am! Later!" Shippou bellowed as he stormed off toward the front door.
Kagome ran after him only to have the door slammed in her face. With a sigh, she turned and slumped back, rubbing a tired hand over her eyes.
Looking down to see her two year old daughter tugging on her slacks, Kagome managed a wan smile as she picked her up and headed back toward the kitchen.
Junkozen played with the baby doll in her arms as Kagome set her down beside her brother. Junkozen took the opportunity to thump Inuakamori on the head with the doll's hard plastic body. Inuakamori howled. "Mama! Put her outside!"
"Jun, don't hit. It isn't nice," Kagome remarked as she stopped the forward progress of the doll.
Junkozen's eyes filled with tears as her bottom lip wavered precariously. "I want Papa!" she wailed.
Inuakamori shook his head slowly. "Papa spoils her," he remarked sagely. He sat up straighter, tiny inu-hanyou ears twitching around on his head. "Someone's here," he said slowly then sniffed the air before shooting off the floor with an excited squeal. "Masuyo!" he hollered as he ran off to greet Sango, Miroku, and Masuyo.
Moments later, a laughing Sango stepped into the kitchen with a huge tray covered in foil. Miroku was right behind her bearing a plate with a lovely butter cream cake. "Merry Christmas Eve, Kagome," Sango greeted as Kagome stood up to hug her.
Kagome wrinkled her nose. "Hopefully lost in his forest somewhere . . . anywhere . . . ."
Sango and Miroku exchanged significant looks. "Uh oh, sounds like trouble in paradise," Miroku quipped, running a hand through his glossy black locks.
Kagome's reply was cut off by a hiss of pain as her sweet little girl belted her in the knee with the doll. Before Kagome could think about it, she leaned over and tweaked Junkozen's nose. The girl blinked in shocked amazement just seconds before she dissolved in screaming wails.
"Oi! What the hell is going on in here?"
Kagome stiffened at sound of her mate's voice and slowly turned to glare at him as he strode over and picked up Junkozen to cuddle her. "InuYasha!" Kagome complained as the girl giggled and planted a kiss on her father's cheek. "She's hitting again."
InuYasha frowned as he shifted his gaze to meet the two year-old's wide eyed innocent look. "Did you?" he asked sternly.
Junkozen stuffed her fingers into her mouth as she slowly nodded, tears suddenly springing to her eyes.
'And he thinks I'm a sneaky wench,' Kagome thought with a disgusted snort.
InuYasha shook his head slowly. "You don't do that, all right? No more."
Junkozen nodded again. InuYasha gave her a quick hug then set her back on her feet.
Kagome sighed a little louder and turned back to finish preparing dinner. Slapping the remaining cutlets onto the tray and slipping them into the oven before slamming that door closed, Kagome could feel everyone's stares. She washed her hands and pasted on a tepid smile as she turned back to face them all again.
The doorbell rang. Miroku and Sango hurriedly excused themselves to go answer it.
"All right, wench. Spill it. What's bothering you?" InuYasha asked as he leaned against the cupboard.
Kagome shook her head slowly as her smile faltered. "Do you remember last night?"
A lazy grin surfaced on his face, a predatory glow adding a sheen of brilliance to his golden gaze. "Mmm-hmm."
She blushed and frowned at him. "After that, when you asked me what I wanted for Christmas?"
He shrugged. "Yeah."
"What did I say I wanted—the only thing I wanted?"
"You said you wanted everyone to be together for Christmas," he replied slowly, "and that is probably my bastard of a brother, so I don't see the problem."
"Not everyone's going to be here, are they?"
InuYasha scowled and shook his head. "Who ain't here?"
Kagome counted to fifty before she dared answer. "Your oldest son . . . the one you said could go to the mall."
InuYasha snorted. "Keh! He wanted to be with his friends! It ain't a big deal."
"But it is to me."
"Why didn't you say so then?"
She narrowed her eyes as her cheeks blossomed with indignant color. "I did," she bit out, "last night, baka."
InuYasha's reply was cut short as two silvery haired streaks flew into the kitchen. Sesshoumaru's twin daughters took turns hugging their aunt and uncle, happily oblivious to the tension between the two adults. With delighted giggles, the girls showed Kagome their matching dolls. Kagome forced a smile and offered her enthusiastic approval.
The girls ran out of the kitchen, leaving Kagome alone with InuYasha once more. He glared out the window to his right. Kagome knew that look. He was feeling bad for thinking that he'd upset her. She sighed. He did upset her, sure. What good would it do, though, to ruin the entire evening by sulking about it?
"Don't you want to go greet your guests?"
He snorted but didn't look away from the window. "When one of them is my brother? Keh. No thanks."
She winced when his ears drooped a little. Sometimes she thought he did it on purpose, knowing that she couldn't resist that, no matter how irritated she was. Stepping over to him, she reached up to rub one of the fuzzy appendages. He leaned down so she could reach it easier.
"Do you want me to go find him?"
Kagome shook her head and let him wrap his arms around her. "No . . . he'd just blame me . . . ."
". . . I'm sorry, Kagome."
She leaned up and kissed his cheek. "It's all right."
". . . You still love me?"
She grinned. "You still love me?"
He wrinkled his nose. "Keh. I'll think about it, wench."
"Baka," she shot back as she pulled away and grabbed the bottle of sake that he'd picked up on the way home from his security firm earlier. She paused in the doorway to send him a quick smile before heading out to the living room to greet their guests.
InuYasha watched Kagome's retreat with a frown.
'Great, baka . . . she tells you the only thing she wants for Christmas is family time, and you fuck that all up, don't you?' He made a face.
The trouble wasn't just today with Shippou. Little by little the kitsune was trying to push his boundaries, and more often than not, Kagome was more than willing to tell him that he couldn't do something, but InuYasha . . . he sighed. He was the one that couldn't seem to say 'no'. Kagome thought he just didn't think before he gave permission to the kit. That wasn't it. The trouble was that InuYasha remembered too well, how it felt to not have friends. He'd spent the bulk of his life alone, before Kagome. He didn't want any of his kids—biological or adopted—to ever know what that was like.
And, to be completely honest, he'd forgotten that it was Christmas Eve. He'd spent the day running his employees through their paces in the facility's gym. He'd barely remembered to stop and get the sake that Kagome asked for. When Shippou had swarmed him only moments after entering the house, the last thing on his mind had been Christmas Eve and he'd given the kitsune his blessing without considering the idea that Kagome might not like it.
"Thanks! I knew you'd let me," Shippou called over his shoulder as he disappeared down the hallway toward his bedroom to change clothes.
"Papa!" Junkozen greeted, her happy giggles reminding him of thousands of falling icicles. He picked her up and tossed her into the air, making her giggles escalate into trills of laughter.
"Papa!" Inuakamori hollered as he rounded the corner from the living room. Waving around his blunt-ended toy sword, the boy caught the warning look from his father and hurriedly turned it point-down toward the floor before InuYasha rubbed his downy head and stalked off toward the kitchen. Inuakamori wrapped his arms around one of his father's legs while Junkozen bounced up and down happily.
"Oi, wench! Where's my greeting?"
Kagome held up her hands in answer. Caught in the midst of making rice balls, she leaned over to kiss him since her hands were a little messy at the moment. Junkozen didn't like sharing her papa, even with her mama, and the girl smacked Kagome's head to let her know.
"Jun, don't hit Mama," InuYasha told her sternly. Junkozen blinked quickly as tears filled her eyes, bottom lip trembling precariously. InuYasha kissed her forehead and set her down.
Inuakamori eyed his sister in disgust. "Yeah! Don't hit Mama, stupid wench!" he yelled as he ran out of the room after Junkozen.
"Oi!" InuYasha hollered at his son's retreating back. "Don't call your sister 'stupid'!" Shaking his head as he turned back to face Kagome again, InuYasha snorted indelicately. "You let him get away with everything," he complained. "Keep it up, and he'll be just like me."
Kagome giggled. "Look who's the pot calling the kettle black!" she shot back. "Jun's got you wrapped so tightly around her little finger it's a wonder you don't chase your tail for her!"
"Keh! I ain't got a tail."
She shook her head. "You know what I meant."
InuYasha shrugged. "What can I say? She's too much like her mother."
That had earned him a pointed glower as InuYasha kissed Kagome's cheek and headed for the back door. "Going for a run, wench. Oh, I told Shippou he could go out with his friends."
And he had left before he'd realized that he had seriously irritated his mate.
Blinking quickly as he shook his head to clear his reverie, InuYasha heaved a sigh. Kagome was back to acting like she was fine, but . . . .
Sparing a few seconds as he stared thoughtfully at the doorway, before heading for the backdoor, ears drooping, a determined light in his gaze.
"I'll fix it, wench. Now where the hell did that kit go?"
Lifting his chin, InuYasha sniffed the air. Catching the lingering scent of the kitsune, he set out at a sprint, determined to make it up to Kagome, to give her the one thing she'd asked for.
Snow had just finished falling on the city as InuYasha trailed the kitsune into the park only blocks from the shrine. Frowning as he dropped to a fast walk, InuYasha could only discern one other scent along with Shippou's . . . a girl? Not just any girl, either. A youkai . . . .
Stalking through the darkened park, almost afraid of what he was going to find as Shippou's scent grew stronger, as did the scent of the girl, and . . . .
InuYasha scowled. 'Damn that kit! He'd better not be . . . well, he just better not be!' he thought as his own cheeks warmed in embarrassment. Still, he kept moving, closing in on the bench in the recesses of the shadows where one deformed shape seemed to be having distinct difficulty in breathing . . . .
Drawing up before the two who weren't paying the least bit of attention to him, InuYasha crossed his arms over his chest and slapped on his most formidable glower, thankful that the lack of lighting also meant that they would not be seeing his own discomfort at the given situation.
"Uh . . . Shippou . . . ?" the girl mumbled between kisses. InuYasha nearly growled out loud. "Do you . . . smell someone?"
Shippou grumbled something. "Keh! I don't smell anything . . . other than my old man . . . ."
InuYasha cleared his throat.
Shippou sat up quickly with a sharp gasp. The girl squealed and scooted as far away as she could without ending up on the ground. "Well, you ain't my son, are you?" InuYasha snorted. "Damn Shippou . . . your mother is not going to be impressed. Come on."
"I asked you," Shippou grumbled.
"Keh! You asked if you could meet your friends, not slobber on them. Now come on! It's Christmas Eve, and you belong at home . . . with your family."
Shippou snorted. "Kagome made you do this, didn't she?"
InuYasha reached over than flicked Shippou's nose. "No, she didn't. It was my fault. I forgot it was Christmas Eve."
Shippou sighed. "You don't get it, do you? I don't wanna be at home with you! I want to be here, with Nyoko."
InuYasha snorted. "Then bring her with you, but there will be no kissing in front of me or your mother."
"Does that mean we can go to my room and—"
"Shippou . . . ."
Shippou heaved a sigh. "You want to come over and meet Kagome . . . I mean Mother?" Shippou asked, wincing as InuYasha smacked him upside the head at the use of Kagome's given name.
Though he almost wished the girl would decline, she skipped over to Shippou and took his hand. InuYasha judiciously hung back, making sure the hands went no further than dangling limply between the walking teenagers.
When they reached the house, InuYasha watched as Nyoko stepped inside. InuYasha grabbed Shippou's arm before the kitsune could follow. "Shippou, for the love of all that is holy, behave yourself in front of Kagome or I'll smash you like a flea, understand?"
Shippou blinked innocently. "I'll be as good as you are, old man."
For some reason, InuYasha didn't feel any better as he watched Shippou head inside.
"InuYasha? Where have you been? Sesshoumaru's been asking where you are, and I didn't have a clue . . . you didn't even take your cell phone?" Kagome demanded as he stepped back into the kitchen.
InuYasha sighed. "I went to hunt down your kit," he explained. "Do I get a kiss for that?"
Kagome uttered a choked scream as she leaned to the side to stare past her mate toward the open archway that led into the living room. "What is he doing?"
InuYasha turned to look, almost afraid of what he'd see. Stifling a groan, he turned away from Kagome to stomp into the living room and forcibly separate Shippou and Nyoko, or to be more exact, Nyoko's rear end from Shippou's wandering hand. "Shippou . . . ."
"You only said no kissing!" Shippou hurried to say.
InuYasha's eyes narrowed even more. "Oi! Lecher! What the hell did you do to my kit?"
"Kami . . . I didn't do a thing," Miroku remarked then chuckled. "Well, would you look at that? 'Monk-in-Pain'-red? Guess some things never change, eh, InuYasha?"
InuYasha growled, torn between the need to stay between Shippou and Nyoko and the desire to beat on a certain mouthy monk.
Sango gasped, raising her hands to cover her mouth as she stared at the arched doorway. "Oh, my . . . ."
InuYasha groaned as he caught sight of the lecher's son as he swaggered into the room with a twin under each arm. One glance at his brother proved what InuYasha already thought. Sesshoumaru, it seemed, was not amused. Nibori laughed.
Kagome sighed heavily, and InuYasha winced, knowing that wasn't a good sign. Before he had a chance to say anything else, though, the doorbell rang again. Leikizu was the closest, so she let in the last arrivals: Mrs. Higurashi, Grandpa, Souta, and Souta's girlfriend of the week.
"Hey, sis! Full house?" Souta remarked as he hurried through with a covered dish of food. Kagome rolled her eyes.
InuYasha sidled up next to her and slipped an arm around her shoulders. "Well, wench . . . you did say everyone, right?"
Kagome just stared at him.
"All right, I'm sorry," InuYasha grumbled as he carried the last of the dishes into the kitchen and set them beside the sink. "Are you ever going to speak to me again?"
Kagome sighed. "I suppose . . . eventually."
InuYasha snorted. "Well, you gotta admit . . . Sesshoumaru's expression when Nyoko touched his butt was worth seeing," he pointed out.
Kagome didn't smile as she continued scrubbing the dishes.
InuYasha leaned out of the kitchen. "Oi! Hands where I can see 'em!" he hollered. Shippou and Nyoko jumped apart, embarrassed at being caught doing whatever they were doing. "Is it too late to have him neutered?" he grumbled as he leaned back against the counter.
Kagome turned just enough to pin him with an unamused glare.
"Thanks for dinner!" Nyoko called from the living room.
InuYasha leaned around the corner again, to make sure Shippou wasn't trying to leave. "Uh uh, runt. Get in here."
Shippou's shoulders slumped but he did as he was told.
"What?" he asked as he dug into the refrigerator for a bottle of water.
"You owe your mother an apology," InuYasha pointed out.
"Sorry, Mother," Shippou grumbled, his cheeks reddening at being growled at like a child. "I like her."
Kagome finally smiled. "She reminds me of Souten."
Shippou's blush darkened. "Souten's her mother."
Kagome's smile widened. "Really? Wow . . . but Shippou, promise you'll be careful? You're still really young . . . ."
"You and InuYasha were young when you—"
"This ain't about us, runt, it's about you, now shut up and listen," InuYasha growled, his own face reddening at the shift in conversation.
Shippou shrugged. "Sorry, Mother," he apologized again as he hugged Kagome. "Do you think I could have Nyoko over to spend the night?"
"No!" twin voices called after him as Shippou exited the kitchen, laughing like a lunatic.
"Still mad at me?" InuYasha asked, daring a peek at his mate.
Kagome wiped her eye with the back of her hand and sighed before tossing the dishrag into the sink and giving InuYasha her full attention. "No . . . I wasn't mad . . . just disappointed, I guess."
InuYasha considered that for a moment. "Wait here."
He strode out of the kitchen and straight to Shippou's room. "Oi, runt. I want you to do me a favor, will you?"
Shippou pulled the headphones off his head and nodded. "All right."
"Can you listen for Aka and Jun? They're sleeping, but if they wake up, I'll be outside with your mother."
Shippou nodded again as he yanked a manga off his nightstand and flopped back on his bed.
One last stop to grab his old fire rat haori out of the closet in their bedroom before he headed back to the kitchen. Kagome's eyes widened when she saw what InuYasha draped over her shoulders. Propelling her toward the door, InuYasha refused to answer her questions until they were outside in the thin light of the quarter moon.
Sweeping her into his arms, he leapt into the nearest tree and settled her back against his chest, wrapping his arms around her. "It's been a long time, hasn't it?"
She nodded and sighed, the tension easing out of her as she snuggled back against him. "You ever miss it? The adventures . . . camping out . . . ?"
InuYasha shrugged. "Not so much. Not nearly as much as I thought I would. I'd do it all again, with you."
She leaned back to stare up at him. "Really?"
He nodded. "Keh. You know I would."
Gentle snowflakes started to fall. InuYasha pulled Kagome closer as they stared at the fluttering bits of white fluff. "It's so beautiful," she sighed, her voice soft, wistful.
InuYasha stared at Kagome, her eyes brightened with wonder as she watched the snow falling around them. It never ceased to amaze him, how often she could see something and yet look at it like it was something new, special, every single time. "Yeah . . ." he agreed softly. "It is."
"Snow on Christmas Eve is always magical," she remarked as she leaned forward just enough to catch a flake on her fingertip. "At least, that's what they say, right?"
He hugged her, humming his lullaby in her ear. She relaxed against him and wrapped her arms over his, content to listen to his song. "It's a pity Katosan couldn't make it," she finally said when he fell silent.
"Pity, my ass. He said something about having to spend the evening catering to Ayamakita's every whim or something like that . . . ."
Kagome giggled. "Well, she is about ready to have that baby, isn't she?"
"You did things for me when I was pregnant," she pointed out.
"Keh! That's different. You're a pathetic human."
She rolled her eyes. "I wanted this Christmas Eve to be special," she finally said. "I wanted it to be one you'd remember, and . . . ."
"And you don't think I remember every single day with you, wench?"
She stared at him. "Do you?"
"Don't be stupid," he grumbled.
She reached up and grabbed his ear. "It's nice to hear you say it."
He leaned down, rubbing his nose against hers. "Keh. Fishing for compliments again?"
"Keh," she countered. "Shut up and kiss me."
Lips against hers, InuYasha teased her with his fangs. "Merry Christmas, sneaky wench."
Her breath caught in time to her wildly beating heart. "Merry Christmas, baka."
Junkozen: Pure child of virtue.
Junko: Pure child. —— Zen: Good; virtue.
Christmas in Japan isn't quite the same as here in the States. It isn't a federal holiday so school, work, etc are still in session. Interesting but true! Most celebrating is done on Christmas Eve, and they eat the celebratory Christmas cake, etc …
Ugh… uploading from an internet café is not a good thing… and it's costing me, too… Merry Christmas!
Final Thought from InuYasha:
Merry Fucking Christmas …
Blanket disclaimer for this fanfic, A Chronicles Christmas: I do not claim any rights to InuYasha or the characters associated with the anime/manga. Those rights belong to Rumiko Takahashi, et al. I do offer my thanks to her for creating such vivid characters for me to terrorize.