Author's notes: Since I notice so many people doing Christmas stories, I decided that I'd do a New Year's story. So, it's early, but you know, I think people will appreciate the fluff. So, enjoy. A pointlessly fluffy story.
Japanese New Year is probably the most important holiday in Japan, or so I've heard through the small amount of research I did. I did research, so all traditions I mention and such is true (unless the source I got it from is unreliable, of course)
Large flakes of snow fell from the clouded sky. The white flakes landed silently on the ground and in the trees, shrouding the world in an unearthly peace that can only be fulfilled during the winter. The passive visage of the surrounding landscape provided a peaceful reverie to fall over the weary travelers residing within Kaede's hut.
Kagome had departed for her world after a subdued Inuyasha had come marching back towards his other companions. Kagome, blabbering on about a new year, had departed the ancient world of feudal Japan in favor of spending time preparing for tests and celebrating the holiday with her family. The others, content with the girl's request to celebrate her freedom from the hanyou, had watched her go without a bat of an eyelash. However, unlike his more understanding friends, the hanyou had marched off after Kagome, demanding that she was not allowed to leave.
Ignoring the dog demon, as Kagome had grown so used to doing, the schoolgirl continued marching towards the well. Finally, as the wooden portal, nestled between piles of snow still gently falling from the sky, the girl stopped and eyed the hanyou as he jumped in front of her, fruitlessly trying to delay her inevitable return to the world she knew and loved.
With a small sigh, Kagome had tried to walk around the hanyou, "I need to go, Inuyasha."
The words came out softly and slightly exasperated, like a mother would address her fussing child.
"No," The hanyou scoffed and crossed his arms, angry golden eyes freezing the girl in place. The schoolgirl felt an involuntary shiver run up her spine, and she wasn't sure if it was because of her choice of dress in less-than-satisfactory weather or because of the glare that the hanyou sported across his face majority of the time.
"Inuyasha…" she breathed with a large sigh as her shoulders sagged, her blue eyes looking at him pleadingly. "I really don't want to deal with this right now."
"You're not leaving," the hanyou snarled, not affected by the girl's silent pleas of a peaceful departure.
Kagome sighed again, "Don't make me say it."
The hanyou's brows furrowed further and he absently took a step back, fearing the hidden threat within the girl's voice. He did not find the idea of snow in his face and down his haori too appealing; a subduing incantation was never exactly something the hanyou looked forward to. With a large snort and a deep scowl Inuyasha turned his attention away. "If you're not back by tomorrow, I'm coming to get you."
"Inuyasha…" Kagome sighed and tucked some black hair behind her ear. Blue eyes observed her hanyou friend with a critical gaze and she offered an apologetic smile. "I'd like three days, if you don't mind. New Years is in a few days, and I want to celebrate it with my family."
"New years?" Inuyasha snarled, trying the words on his lips. Kagome smiled and nodded.
"Yes, it's in two days," Kagome said warmly, blue eyes staring at him as she fiddled with the hem of her skirt. "So, I can't come back tomorrow."
Oh. It made sense now. The little wench was trying to get out of finding shards in favor of spending time with her family. Realizing how cruel that sounded, even in his head, the hanyou ignored it in favor of scowling deeper, his ears flattening against his head.
Kagome deflated. "No?" Kagome protested, her lips quirked downward in a deep frown. "But Inuyasha—!"
"No." He repeated, more firmly this time. "Be happy I'm even letting you go back. You'll be back tomorrow morning or else I'm coming to get you."
Kagome bristled and her fists clenched. "No!" Her voice sounded similar to the hanyou's, the demanding tone in her voice reflecting the hanyou's commands. "I want to spend New Years with my family. And I will."
"No, you won't," Inuyasha demanded firmly, golden eyes darkened by his agitation and anger glaring at her.
Kagome pursed her lips and stood up taller, casting him an unreadable look as she squared her shoulders. "Inuyasha…"
Inuyasha's eyes widened in surprise with the realization of what the girl was about to do.
Inuyasha slammed to the ground as Kagome slipped into the well. "See you in three days," she said sweetly before the blue hue surrounded her and she disappeared from the hanyou's time.
"See you in three days," the hanyou mimicked the girl's voice, making his own deep voice a squeaky high-pitched yip. "Keh!" he declared to himself as he sat up and shivered as snow slid down his shirt. Terrific. That's just what he needed, too.
With a sigh of utter annoyance and aggravation, the hanyou wiped the rest of the snow off of his face and pants; his whole front wet, and retreated into a tree.
Situated securely in his tree, Inuyasha began the mundane task of awaiting his haori to dry before returning to his traveling companions.
'New Years, keh. She could spend it here. Stupid little villagers are making a big issue out of it, too. What's so great about it?' The hanyou scowled as he shivered again. 'Who would want to celebrate a year passing? Keh!'
He hated the snow. The snowflakes always were seen as beautiful things. The winter was always embraced by many for romantic walks or whatnot. To the hanyou, winter was just another season. Nothing ever changed. As a pup, he'd detested winter with all his being.
When a little child has no shoes, it makes for a sick puppy all winter long…
Shrugging away the slightly depressing thoughts, the hanyou slumped against the rough bark of the tree. He hadn't meant to anger Kagome the way he had. He just didn't want her to leave for her time.
He ignored the little voice in his head that chided him and told him that he simply wanted to spend New Years with her.
Kagome fiddled with the pencil in her hand, frowning as a particularly annoying problem on her geometry homework presented itself. So far, she had completed two problems she was positive were wrong. Kagome had always been better at algebra than she was at geometry. She wasn't a good visual learner and that provided a problem when geometry's geometric shapes came into the homework and lessons.
Nibbling on the pink eraser on the tip of her pencil, Kagome racked her brain for any information on the math problems. Grumbling at the injustice of her school system, Kagome dug through her many folders of notes, searching crucially for her geometry notes. Her attempts proved fruitless.
'I must have left them in the past,' Kagome mentally berated herself. She briefly mused the idea of going to fetch them but thought better of it. 'The minute I step on the other side, Inuyasha will be on me like a dog locked outside all night.' Giggling at her own lame pun, Kagome rocked back on her chair, staring at the ceiling. 'I guess it can wait. I have a few days off. Plenty of time to work on it during New Years…I'll be up until midnight, after all.'
Her frown deepening, Kagome stood from her chair and moved to the window. Opening the window, she took a deep breath of the cool, crisp winter air. It had been snowing in the past, maybe it would snow here tonight?
'Haven't seen snow in Tokyo for a bit, I've been so busy back in the past,' Kagome mused as she withdrew her head from the cool air and retreated to her door.
"I should take a bath. Maybe I'll be more motivated to do homework afterwards…" Kagome left the room, subconsciously leaving the window open, as if deep down she wished the inu hanyou to come to her.
The inu hanyou paced. Dark, molten eyes observed the wooden structure that provided Kagome and himself with the proper transportation between worlds. His fidgety steps kicked up white powder that had stuck to the ground as he scurried around the time portal.
"Keh!" he snorted occasionally as he glared at the portal like it had done him personal harm. "Stupid well," he muttered to himself, as if the wooden structure could carry on a proper, let alone any, conversation with the man.
Two dog ears twitched as he heard the rustle of footsteps approaching. He turned in time to see a bundle of red hair launch itself onto his face. With a dark snarl, the hanyou slammed Shippou to the ground, holding his head into the snow.
"Whelp," Inuyasha snarled as he glared at him, "What do you think you're doing?"
He noted the small snow boots and the scarf he wore, probably given to him by Kagome. It was a wonder the girl could find shoes that would fit the kit's abnormal feet. But apparently the kitsune liked it for he was obviously wearing it.
Shippou yelped in pain as his cheek came crashing to the snow. Whimpering in pain, the kit tried to squirm from the hanyou's grip, but to no avail. The hanyou growled darkly and the kitsune fell silent. "I'm telling Kagome when she comes back!" Shippou wailed miserably as the snow began to soak his kimono.
"Keh, like I care," Inuyasha berated the child but released his hold on the kit's skull.
Shippou slyly eyed the path the hanyou had worn in by all his pacing and cast the same look towards the older of the two males. "You miss her, don't you? You want to go over to her time, don't you?"
As instantly as he'd been freed, the hanyou dove for the boy and knocked him to the ground again. Growling menacingly he bared his fangs. "I do not," he whispered venomously. "There are shards to be found and she's holding us up!"
"Yeah right," Shippou squealed as the hanyou pressed against his head.
"Listen, runt," Inuyasha growled out as he stood up, forgetting his torture on the fox. "I do not miss that wench. I just don't want Naraku to get more powerful while she's gone. I couldn't care less about what the hell she's doing over in her damned time or when she's coming back, okay?" He cracked his knuckles to emphasize his point and Shippou squirmed under his intense gaze.
"Okay, geez," Shippou said with a grunt.
"Keh," Inuyasha snorted. "Get out of here, brat."
As the kitsune scrambled to get out of the hanyou's sight, Inuyasha turned his attention back towards the well, his lips pursed. "Maybe I should…?" he thought out loud to himself before shaking her head.
"No." He abolished the thoughts of spending New Years with her, eating soba noodles and watching the sunrise in the morning. The thought was appealing… "No," he repeated with another frown. "She doesn't want me there or else she would have invited me. And it's not like I want to go anyway!"
Not really convinced with his monologue, the hanyou turned on his heel and jumped into his tree, trying to wait out the day and count the minutes until the little wench came back.
Frowning as the minutes ticked by and nothing happened, Inuyasha shifted in his position on his favorite branch nestled in his favorite tree. He had a direct view of the Goshinboku and the bone eater's well, and should the need arise, he need only to jump to the top of the tree to look out towards the village and all around. It was a good tree. Plus, it sheltered him from the unforgiving weather that seemed to follow him like a lost puppy. Cringing at his own analogy, the hanyou closed his eyes, trying to will sleep to claim him so that the day would go by faster.
No such luck as his attempts proved unsuccessful.
"Damn it…" Inuyasha said with a dark frown. His attempts to forget about spending New Years with Kagome were proving to be a failure. The thoughts of spending the whole night with her, relishing the days they'd spent together as they ate soba noodles, was all too tempting and he found himself on the ground and walking towards the bone eater's well before he realized what he was doing. Coming to a halt, Inuyasha scowled.
"What is wrong with me?" Inuyasha growled out as he fisted his hands. His claws dug into his skin like ten pairs of daggers, but he ignored them as he glared at the portal. "I will not go to her time begging to spend time with her!" he chided himself with a nod of his head.
"Damn wench… damn tempting, alluring wench," Inuyasha snarled as he backed up a step and retreated to his tree yet again.
With pursed lips and a tense back, the hanyou once again tried to distract his thoughts from eating soba noodles with Kagome. What was so great about the damn soba noodles anyway? 'Nothing! They're damn noodles you eat on New Years!' he berated himself.
His mind flashed to the possibility of sharing the same chopsticks with Kagome as they ate the said soba noodles. Kagome had mentioned that her mother and father used to do that. It was supposed to represent their unity.
'Stop it!' Inuyasha mentally screamed at himself. He was not having these thoughts about Kagome!
"Damn you, wench, for making me have these thoughts," Inuyasha snarled.
Kagome sneezed and blinked her blue eyes in confusion.
"Someone's thinking about you," her mother said in a sing-song voice as she piled rice into a bowl and handed it to her daughter. "Eat up, Kagome. Souta." The two didn't waste any time as they began to eat their food with vigor. They were both hungry.
"Maybe it was Hojo," Souta said with a grin. "He's been stopping by a lot lately. But you've been gone."
"Hojo-Kun?" Kagome asked as she tightened the towel around her head and quickly shook her head. "No, I don't think so."
"I don't know… he seems to like you a lot," Souta teased with a grin. When Kagome shot him a glare the boy silenced himself.
"Maybe it was that demon who seems to keen on tainting you," Gramps said as he entered the room, moving slowly as he sat himself at the head of the table.
"Grandpa!" Kagome protested with a frown. "Inuyasha is not tainting me. I'm not sure what you mean by that, but whatever the case, that's not the case."
"Oh, I bet he was thinking about you, Kagome," Souta said, his teasing coming back full force. He ignored Kagome's withered glare as he gulped down a pickled plum. "I bet he's thinking about you right now!"
Sure enough, Kagome sneezed.
"Now, now," Mrs. Higurashi intervened when the two siblings looked like they were on the verge of tearing each other apart. "Eat your food, you two and stop bickering," she said with a small smile that she hid behind a bowl of miso soup.
The two siblings quieted and finished the dinner without any further aggravations on the schoolgirl's part.
After dinner was finished and Kagome was done washing the dishes for her mother, Kagome retreated upstairs and felt a small ping of disappointment shoot through her when she realized that despite her opening the window, no one had come… and now her room was freezing.
Scowling at her own wanton stupidity, Kagome moved to the window, shivering, and closed it. Pulling the curtains down, she let out a small, pining sigh. What had she been thinking? Inuyasha wouldn't come. And if he did, it would be to just drag her back to his time.
Slipping into her pajamas, shivers still racking her body, Kagome moved to her closet. Pulling down another blanket, she moved to her bed and prepared herself for sleep.
"Stupid jerk," Kagome murmured as she clicked off her light and blindly moved to her bed. "The one time I actually want him around and he's nowhere to be seen."
Grumbling about dense dog demons from the past, Kagome slipped into a deep sleep. Despite the freezing temperatures in her room, Kagome still managed to find warmth beneath her blankets and dozed happily.
Several hours later, her window slipped open, the cold wind blowing the curtains away. The moonlight bathed the room in a dreamy, unearthly glow as the inu hanyou slipped into the room unnoticed. His eyes burned with a barely suppressed fire, the golden orbs glowing in the gentle moonlight.
Shadows cloaked his body as he silently darted over to Kagome's bed. 'I can't believe I talked myself into this!' he berated himself with a deep frown. His willpower had simply been beaten by his desire to see Kagome. Stupid wench. He cursed her several times as he gazed down at her sleeping face.
Hesitantly, a clawed hand moved slowly over Kagome's tender face. He gazed at her, almost apprehensive to touch the sleeping girl. Like she was made of glass that could be broken at any give moment, Inuyasha brushed his fingertips over Kagome's cheek gently. Kagome smiled in her sleep and turned her face towards Inuyasha.
Golden eyes swept over her features, taking in every little detail to commit to his memory. She seemed so innocent while she slept. All her worries slipped away and left her completely raw and exposed to his gaze. He briefly mused if he looked like this to her when he slept, completely exposed with no mask to hide behind.
Her long eyelashes brushed against her pink cheeks. Heavy lids hid her gorgeously dazzling blue eyes from view and her pink lips were quirked into a small smile. Her button nose twitched and she murmured something before snuggling deeper into her winter blanket. A pink tongue darted out and wet her lips before she fell silent. Inuyasha watched the girl's small movements in fascination.
Golden eyes relished the sight of the sleeping girl and his nose bathed in the scent of her delicious smell. Gods, he could stay here for hours, just content in gazing down on her.
The moon set behind him, casting the world in pure darkness. A shiver ran up his spine as a winter night's breeze ruffled the back of his neck. Kagome shivered as well, despite her protection from the freezing winds. Inuyasha cast a sympathetic look down on the girl before standing, making his leave.
He wanted to kiss her.
He wanted to stay with her.
He wanted to jump into that bed with her and drown himself in her feel and her smell and the sight of her beautiful sleeping personage. But he knew better. His pride prevented such bold actions. Plus, once the girl awoke in the morning, he'd be kissing the ground before he could even explain himself.
No, staying with her was out of the question. No matter how much he wanted to wrap his arms around her.
'Damn tempting wench…' Inuyasha thought, and not for the last time.
Rolling his golden eyes at his own slightly tempting thoughts, Inuyasha turned on his heel and moved towards the window. Kagome shifted in her sleep, turning her back towards the wall and sighing softly. He paused in his retreat to simply watch her for a long moment.
With a small sigh Inuyasha moved towards her and grabbed the blankets that only covered part of her chest. Pulling it up towards her chin he tenderly looked at her for a long moment. Long, coarse fingertips brushed across her pale, soft cheek and he smiled lightly.
"Stupid wench," he muttered warmly before retreating through the window completely. However, he forgot to close the window completely.
The first thing Kagome noticed about her room was that it was freezing. The second thing she noticed was that she'd drooled all over her pillow and she felt a disgusting trail of dried spit leading from her mouth to her chin. Cringing, the schoolgirl sat up and daintily wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. Shivering as the cool morning air hit her full force, Kagome glanced around her room for the source of her heat deprivation.
She raised an eyebrow as she spotted the slightly opened window and got out of bed. Her feet were cold and so were her hands, but she ignored it as she shut the frigid frame of her windowsill. 'I know I closed that last night…' Kagome thought with a frown and glanced around the room for any indication as to why her window had been open.
'Did Inuyasha come…?' Kagome thought with a small smile and she looked around, as if expecting the hanyou to be propped up against the wall, Tessaiga at his shoulder and his knees pulled to his chest. But there was no dog demon to be seen.
'Maybe he's downstairs getting food,' Kagome thought as the smell of breakfast being made filled her nose. Smiling, she slipped on her slippers to warm her chilled feet and ran down the stairs.
"Mama!" she called as she turned the corner and came into the kitchen. Mrs. Higurashi looked up from her work and smiled warmly as her daughter entered the seen.
"Good morning, Kagome dear," the mother greeted with a kind smile as she finished frying some eggs. "Came down just in time. I was just about to send Souta to come and get you."
"I'm here, Mama," Kagome said and looked into the dining room, where they ate their meals together. Frowning when she did not spot the inu hanyou, she ran into the living room. Instead of being greeted by a disgruntled Inuyasha, Kagome spotted her brother and Grandfather watching the first showing of 'Kohaku uta gassen', the television program they showed during new years that featured Japan's hottest J-pop and enka stars singing beautiful verses. They played the reruns from last year about three times throughout the day, premiering the newest version of that year at nine at night.
Souta seemed absorbed in a performance presented by Ayumi Hamasaki, and did not take any notice of his sister. Grandpa, however, looked up from the televised singing show and smiled a greeting at his granddaughter,
"Good morning, Kagome. Happy New Years eve," he said kindly.
"Thanks gramps, but it isn't New Years eve yet," Kagome corrected. Technically it was, but Kagome was more literal when it came to holidays. In short, it wasn't New Years Eve until the festival started and the sun began to sink.
New Years was one of the most important holidays in Japanese culture, and since the Higurashi's owned a shrine, visitors and tourists alike visited within the three days it was celebrated. Last year they got over one million visitors between January first and third. It was important to visit a shrine in order to release all worries as the year came to an end and a new one began.
Their house and shrine were already decorated with the traditional pine, bamboo and plum branches. Kagome's favorite was defiantly the plum trees. They looked beautiful, though their flowers wouldn't bloom until February and March.
Despite that, Kagome couldn't wait to wear the kimono her mother had made for her for this New Years. A dark purple with white and pink plum blossoms decorating the sleeves and chest, a white obi completed with a pink bow and pink hair ribbon. Her mother took great pride in making classical kimonos for her family and had already made Souta's. Grandpa would have to wear his traditional priest robes in order to announce his position in the shrine. Souta had insisted on a red hakama and had wanted a red haori, much like his idol, but Mrs. Higurashi had run out of red fabric and instead had given Souta a black haori. Despite that little discouragement, the young boy was still thrilled.
"So, squirt," Kagome greeted as she flopped down next to her younger brother. The performance had switched to Dragon Ash. "Excited for the festival tonight?"
"Yeah," Souta said with a bright smile. "Akio promised to stop by the shrine so that we can play some of the shrine games."
"That's great," Kagome gushed with a bright smile and a tap on her brother's nose. Even though the little boy annoyed Kagome senseless at times, she still cared deeply for her younger brother and was glad to see he was hanging out with his friends.
"Everyone, breakfast is ready," Mrs. Higurashi's voice called out. Moments later, the rest of the family came charging into the room, eager for food.
After eating their fill, Kagome and Souta left the kitchen, leaving two adults to watch after them. "Is everything ready for tonight?" grandpa asked as he took a sip of his drink. Mrs. Higurashi nodded.
"I'm not sure how much of a turnout we'll get this year… but I think we'll get more people tomorrow. Usually on New Years people like to stay at home with their family. We'll see some more tomorrow and the day after, I think," she said with a small nod.
He frowned towards the dark hole that made up the well. With his arms folded and his chin resting on his crossed arms, the hanyou leaned against the bone eater's well, staring down into its depths. The slight droop of his ears and a frown on his face confirmed his annoyance at the position he was in. His pride had a mind of its own half the time and it was rather discouraging when the prospect of spending time with Kagome presented itself, but his pride had to kick any of those notions in the bud and let the hanyou sulk on his side of the well.
With a disdainful snort, the hanyou glared some more at the portal that brought him to and from each world. 'Maybe I can go and make sure she's okay…?' he thought and then shook his head furiously. 'You'll never hear the end of it from her…' he frowned at that thought. That wasn't true. She'd probably be thrilled to see him, unless she was still mad. His ears drooped some more, giving him a look of a pathetic puppy who'd been kicked one too many times.
"Keh," he snorted and stood up, "I'm not going."
With a nod, he turned on his heel and started walking away…
Several seconds later the hanyou was jumping down the well…
Much to the hanyou's annoyance, Kagome was not home when he arrived. He could smell her scent which had led her away down the large marble staircase, with a thin layer of ice over its shiny surface, accompanied by three other female scents.
"Inuyasha?" The hanyou jumped when the soft voice reached his ear and he turned around, poised to attack. However, he was only half surprised when he saw Kagome's mother standing there and quickly relaxed his attack stance.
"Hi," he said meekly. He'd always felt slightly weird around Kagome's mother. He'd never been good at showing respect for elders, but then again, he'd never made an effort to be respectful towards his elders…(he ignored the fact that he was technically older than her…)
But this was Kagome's mother. Not only would Kagome kill him if he was rude to her, but if her mother was anything like her daughter, she'd probably kill him as well. Forcing a small, meek smile, he looked around before clearing his throat. "Um… is Kagome here?" He knew the answer.
"No, you just missed her," Mrs. Higurashi said with a warm smile as she walked up to him, broom in hand. She'd been sweeping the shrine, preparing it for the festival that night. "She went out with her friends. She won't be home for a bit, I'm afraid. You can wait if you'd like."
Inuyasha hesitated. Wait for Kagome?
"Okay," he said after a moment.
Kagome's mother seemed to like that answer as she walked towards him and gave him a smile. "You're strong, aren't you?"
What a ridiculous question. Was he strong? The hanyou resisted the urge to snort at the woman's stupidity and simply nodded his head. "Yeah, I'm strong."
"Then would you like to help me, please? I need to set up for a festival tonight, but I'm afraid that I can't move some large boxes of decorations from the storage area. Would you like to help me set up for the festival?"
"Festival?" Inuyasha asked, his ears perking curiously, his golden eyes observing the woman.
"Oh yes. We have it every end of the year," Mrs. Higurashi said with a smile. "It's rather fun. People come throughout the day, worshipping the spirits that live at the shrine. It's important to let go of all your worries and regrets before sundown, because it's good to start the new year with a smiling face." She smiled at the hanyou. "And from what Kagome's told me, you have many worries you need to let go of."
Inuyasha, slightly flustered, lowered his head with a small "Keh."
"You're welcome to join us, Inuyasha," Kagome's mother said warmly, leaning against the handle of her broomstick and observing the inu hanyou.'
Inuyasha blinked his eyes in surprise, not expecting the invitation.
"Kagome would be very happy to see you here…" Mrs. Higurashi prompted, successfully hitting a soft spot deep within the hanyou. Inuyasha's ears slightly perked up with the information and he only needed to think for another second before his answer came.
"Sure," he said, trying to sound apathetic about it. In reality his insides felt like jelly.
"Well," Mrs. Higurashi's smile widened, if that was possible, and she motioned for the boy to follow her as she turned on her heel and started walking towards her home. "I think we have a hakama and haori left over that would fit you."
"Huh?" Inuyasha walked a little quicker so he was walking beside Mrs. Higurashi. "But I can just wear this…" he said, motioning to his own hakama and haori.
"Don't be ridiculous, you silly boy," Mrs. Higurashi said with a critical sweep of her eyes over his clothing. "Yours is old, filthy and not suitable for such an occasion. Let it be a late Christmas present from me to you," Mrs. Higurashi said, "Please. It's a holiday; you should have new clothes to celebrate the occasion."
Ignoring the fact he didn't know what Christmas was, Inuyasha simply nodded his head.
"Let's see," Mrs. Higurashi muttered to herself when they reached the house. "Where did I store those old kimonos?" Mrs. Higurashi snapped her fingers as a thought occurred to her to the location of the outfit in question and gestured for Inuyasha to follow her.
Growing more reluctant by the second, Inuyasha followed after her.
"Let's see…" Mrs. Higurashi muttered as she went up the top stairs. Walking down the hallway she looked towards the ceiling. "Ah, here it is," she said proudly and reached out a hand to grab a string hanging from the ceiling. "Inuyasha dear-" Mrs. Higurashi turned toward the silver haired boy and pointed upwards. "Will you be a sweetie and pull that string for me? I'm too short to reach."
Nodding his head silently, the hanyou pulled on the string with a clawed hand and a trap door dropped, revealing a ladder and an attic. "Ah, thank you, Inuyasha," Kagome's mother said and started climbing the stairs. Inuyasha followed after her, simply because he didn't know what else to do.
Picking around the stored boxes, Mrs. Higurashi finally spotted an old trunk. "Here we are," she told the hanyou happily and began digging around the trunk and pulling out various articles of clothing. "Hm, lets see here…" she muttered to herself. She seemed to be saying this phrase a lot, and the inu hanyou pinned his ears against his skull, feeling slightly out of place. Plus, all the dust in the air was making him feel sick.
"We have blue, green, red… but that won't do, we want something different for you to wear…" Mrs. Higurashi paused as she dug around some more. "Hm… this one has designs on it. Inuyasha, do you care if you have designs or not?"
"I don't care…" He was perfectly fine with the wearing what he had on. It was she who had insisted after all…
"Brown, but that's not festive enough; white, black, more blue, more red," Mrs. Higurashi rattled off the colors she spotted them, "Yellow, oh, a lighter blue, and green and red. Huh, that must be the Christmas kimono I made Kagome a few years back…"
Inuyasha wasn't sure if Mrs. Higurashi was talking to him or herself. He chose to remain silent.
"Well, Inuyasha," Mrs. Higurashi said a quarter of an hour later. She stood up with an armful of clothing. "I've got quite a selection here. I'll just bring them downstairs. And while you're up here, sweetie," Mrs. Higurashi used her foot to point at a pile of boxes. "Would you please bring those outside for me? Just set them near the Goshinboku. When you're done, come back inside and I can show you these kimonos, ne?"
"Hai," Inuyasha said with a nod and made sure she got down the ladder okay before picking up two boxes effortlessly.
About fifteen minutes later Inuyasha had successfully moved all the boxes of decorations to the Goshinboku and was walking back towards Kagome's home. He took a hesitant sniff and located Mrs. Higurashi in the living room.
She looked up with a smile, and set down the kimono she'd been hemming. She nudged towards the kimono. "This is Souta's; I was just making some minor adjustments."
Inuyasha nodded as she stood up and clapped her hands together. Inuyasha noted how much she looked like Kagome when she did that. "Okay, Inuyasha. First things first, out of these colors, which do you not want to wear?"
She held up five kimonos, each different colors. One dark blue, one light blue, one green, one yellow and one orange. The Dark blue one had small lighter blue designs along its sleeves that resembled Sesshoumaru's. The lighter blue one had koi along the haori's whole front side. The green one was a simple green, dark as jade. The yellow one was a bright sunny yellow with a lining of orange along the hem. The orange one was so bright the hanyou nearly cringed.
"Uh, the yellow and orange one," he decided. He didn't want to stick out like a sore thumb in bright clothing. He could hardly believe he was going to some festival. But, Mrs. Higurashi seemed keen on his presence.
Mrs. Higurashi nodded and tossed the two articles of clothing onto the couch at her left and turned back to the hanyou. "Will you try these on, then, please? I'd like to see if I need to add anything or hem anything. I think they should, for the most part, fit you."
Inuyasha nodded and grabbed the kimonos. Retreating from the room and going to the bathroom that Mrs. Higurashi pointed out to him, the hanyou locked himself in and began to dress.
He tried the green one first. It was a simple green haori with white hakama pants and white sash to tie it with. The pants were a little short and he didn't like the way he looked in green (though he didn't admit to himself that he had a shred of fashion sense. It was too unlike him…)
Quickly taking it off, he pulled on the light blue outfit with the koi. This one was better, but he still felt a little funny wearing it. The koi were stupid looking and he immediately shed it. Grabbing the last kimono, he slipped it on.
He still didn't like it much, and would have preferred his fire rat fur any day, but the dark blue haori with the light blue designs, the white hakama pants tied with a dark blue sash looked the best by far. He felt strangely grown up in the outfit, like the outfit was going to make him increase ten years. He stared at himself in the full length mirror, hardly recognizing himself in the different outfit. He was so used to his large, roomy kimono that he felt confined in the smaller hakama pants. Despite that, he felt that this was the best fit he had to offer.
A knock on the door startled him and he heard Mrs. Higurashi's voice through the door, "May I see the one you chose?"
Nodding his head, and then realizing she couldn't see his nod, the inu hanyou grabbed the handle and opened it. Mrs. Higurashi smiled in approval once giving Inuyasha a look over. "Very nice," she declared and ushered the boy from the bathroom.
The next half hour was spent with the hanyou standing with his arms held out at his sides as Mrs. Higurashi adjusted the ancient-styled clothing to move more freely with him. "You certainly are very handsome, Inuyasha," Mrs. Higurashi said with a wink, causing a blush to tint the hanyou's cheeks.
"Uh… thank you," Inuyasha stammered out. He wasn't used to being complimented. Not even Kagome did it very often, considering how flustered she could get herself when it came to him.
"You're quite welcome. Now then, would you like to help me set up for the New Year, please?"
Inuyasha nodded his head and followed Mrs. Higurashi out of the house and began setting up with Mrs. Higurashi's guidance.
Kagome took another sip of her drink as Yuka babbled on about her last weekend trip out to Hokkaido over the short winter break their school had. Yuka's family had brought her there as a celebration for the end of term, and Yuka loved gushing about the great skiing, sea food and hot springs the northern island provided.
Eri was listening with never-ending interest, leaning on her elbows and inclining her head towards Yuka, as if it would allow her to absorb more information from Yuka's story.
Ayumi stared vacantly at her hamburger, taking small bites and trying to listen to the story. However, she'd already heard it several times, and the interest on the subject had died long ago.
Kagome let out a small sigh and looked out the window, watching small flakes of snow fall from the sky.
"Ne, Kagome-Chan?" Yuka said as she ended her story and turned towards the young schoolgirl. Kagome started and blinked her bright blue eyes to stare at her three friends. Yuka was smiling devilishly, Eri was leaning forward more and Ayumi had polished off her hamburger and was munching on her fries.
"Huh?" Kagome asked with another blink of her large blue eyes.
"Are you excited for the festival tonight?" Yuka gushed out. "Mama made me a new kimono and she said I could come. Can I come?"
"Of course; you don't have to ask," Kagome said with a small smile. "You're always welcome, Yuka-Chan."
"Ayumi and I are coming; aren't we, Ayumi?" Eri boasted with a giant smile. The two girls lived in the same apartment building and spent a lot of time together. "We have new kimonos, too."
Kagome smiled, excited that her three friends were coming. It was always fun with them around. Unless they were talking about—
As if reading Kagome's mind, Eri frowned. "So, how's your boyfriend? Is he coming, too?"
"I don't think so." Kagome scowled at her drink as if it had done her personal harm. "We had a fight—"
"Oh, surprise, surprise," Yuka said sarcastically. Kagome ignored her.
"—and he's probably pouting off somewhere. He's too prideful to come and see me until I come to him." Kagome snorted and stared at her drink some more. She didn't tell her friends how she wished he would come and see her. She was hoping to see him…
"Well, forget him." Eri waved a hand dismissively. "He's a jerk. Now Hojo-Kun—"
Kagome frowned again and sipped her drink quickly, filling her mouth with carbonated drink and preventing any answering of Hojo questions.
"Is he coming?" Ayumi asked curiously, her brown eyes observing her friends. She'd finished her fries and seemed ready to join the conversation.
"I don't know," Kagome admitted and saw Yuka's eyes light up. 'Well, he is now if Yuka's got anything to say about it…'
"He'd be happy to come, I bet," Eri said, a twinkle in her eye. Kagome mentally groaned.
"Maybe he'll even be your midnight kiss, ne?" Yuka said with a small nudge of her elbow into Kagome's side. A blush appeared on Kagome's cheeks but she didn't respond. "It would be so romantic, Kagome, and I bet if you did he'd forgive you for all the times you've stood him up for your two-timing boyfriend."
Kagome said nothing, just stared down at her drink silently.
"Kagome…" Eri groaned and frowned, "You don't want to kiss Hojo-Kun?"
"I never said that," Kagome muttered.
"But do you?" Eri pressed standing up so she could lean across the table and stare at Kagome.
Kagome bit her lower lip and stared down at the table. After a long pause, Eri sat back down with a flop and a giant sigh.
"Kagome… you're so hopeless! I bet you wished your stupid boyfriend would kiss you, huh?" Eri said with a small glare.
Kagome's face ignited into a large blush and she felt the corners of her lips turn upward. Images of Inuyasha kissing her filled her mind's eye and she found her heart beating faster and her stomach churning in excitement.
Yuka let out a sigh. "She does, look at her face."
Ayumi blinked and observed Kagome's face before shrugging. "I think it's sweet."
"Sweet?!" Yuka rolled her eyes and slapped her forehead. "You think that Kagome's obsession over a two-timing, no good, jealous, mean jerk is sweet? You think that Kagome wanting her stupid brute of a boyfriend kissing her on New Year's Eve is sweet? Ayumi-Chan, you've been reading too many romance novels."
Kagome ignored them. Standing up, a smile still on her lips, she threw down some money for her food. "Hey guys, I've got to get going; Mama will need help with the decorations tonight."
"All right, Kagome-Chan; we'll see you tonight," Yuka said with a shake of her head. The three friends watched the schoolgirl rush out the door and down the sidewalk, her grin still in place.
Eri sighed, "She's hopeless."
Inuyasha's ears perked up as he set up the last of the lanterns. He'd been working hard for Mrs. Higurashi for hours now, and he was rather proud of himself when he was nearly finished. Throughout the whole shrine, streamers, lanterns, strings of lights and fake flower arrangements decorated every nook and cranny. With Mrs. Higurashi's guidance, he'd been able to set up the shrine in one third of the time it would have taken the woman. His significant strength and his ability to jump into high places came in hand when it came to outdoor decorating.
"Remind me to have you over next Christmas," Mrs. Higurashi had joked with him.
But now Kagome's gentle scent was filling past his nose, the delicious and unforgettable scent of Kagome…
Growing anxious, Inuyasha nailed the last bough of plum tree (to represent the new year in some odd way the hanyou had forgotten) and jumped from his perch. Darting to the house, he nearly crashed into Mrs. Higurashi, who had a glass of lemonade ready for him.
"What's the rush, Inuyasha?" the mother asked in concern as the boy's dark golden eyes darted towards the well house and back to her face.
Mrs. Higurashi raised an eyebrow. "So?"
Inuyasha, suddenly sheepish, lowered his voice. "I just… I was thinking that… maybe I shouldn't come until the festival. That way I can surprise Kagome."
"How marvelous, Inuyasha. Terrific idea," the elder woman gushed, "And Kagome says you don't have a romantic bone in your body."
Inuyasha blinked in fascination at the knowledge Kagome would say such a thing to her mother and quickly gave a clumsy bow. "When should I come?"
"Come when the sun sets, ne?" Mrs. Higurashi said with a warm smile. "I can finish the rest of the decorations without you. And I can get Kagome's help, too. Do you have the kimono?" At Inuyasha's nod, Mrs. Higurashi waved her hand in a shooing manner. "Well, I'll see you at sunset, Inuyasha. Thank you for all your help." Inuyasha nodded and grabbed his new kimono, which he'd changed out of earlier, and darted away.
Just as Inuyasha disappeared down the well, Kagome climbed up the last part of the stairs and was shocked to see everything decorated. "Mama?" Kagome called. The woman, who had already been standing outside walked towards her daughter.
"Hello Kagome," she greeted and handed her the lemonade.
Kagome looked at it in confusion. "What's this for?"
"Thought you might be thirsty from your long trip up the stairs," Mrs. Higurashi lied.
Kagome shrugged and took a sip of the drink. "Mama, how'd you get all the decorations up so quickly?"
"Oh, I just worked rather hard while you were gone. But you can help me set up the stands for the venders and such, ne?"
Inuyasha was restless. The sun was close to setting and he was anxious to get to the other side of the well (though he'd never admit this). He'd long since dressed himself for the occasion, and after further inspection he discovered that he did look nice in blue (he wouldn't admit this to anyone, either). He let out a small sigh as his golden eyes stared at the sun.
He felt his heart begin to race when the sun began to set in the West. Gulping down a lump that had formed in his throat, the inu hanyou placed a foot on the well's rim and looked down.
"This is it," he muttered to himself.
He didn't know why he was so excited, he just knew that he wanted to see Kagome.
As he descended the well, one thought struck his mind.
'What about my ears?'
Even though the sun had set, the guests and festival partakers had yet to arrive. Mrs. Higurashi tutted to herself as she gently shook her head. It would seem that she would have to wait another hour at least before the festivities arrived. Kagome was currently upstairs preparing herself for the night. She knew that her three friends and Hojo-Kun were coming…
Mrs. Higurashi was already dressed for the occasion. She had on a lavender kimono with a yellow obi and a darker lavender bow. She heard a door slide open and turned her head to see Inuyasha, dressed in his new kimono, step out from the well house.
"Inuyasha, hello!" Mrs. Higurashi greeted with a bright smile. Now that the sun had set and Mrs. Higurashi and Kagome had set up the stands, Inuyasha was able to see what the festival would look like. The string of lights that danced in zigzags over their heads swayed in the gentle breeze and the lanterns hanging from the trees and over hangings.
"Mrs. Higurashi," Inuyasha said, trying to be polite in case the woman made him leave for rude behavior. "What about my ears?"
It took Mrs. Higurashi a moment to realize what the silver haired man meant by that question. Blinking her eyes she smiled softly. "Don't worry, Inuyasha. People will just think you're wearing a costume. It's very likely that there will be many others wearing masks and costumes."
"Oh…" Inuyasha blinked and blushed at his stupidity.
"Kagome's upstairs…" Mrs. Higurashi said slowly, a smile still on her lips. Inuyasha's ears perked up and the mother saw a flash of emotion in his eyes. "Why don't you go and surprise her?"
"Yes." Inuyasha nodded his head and he began walking towards the shrine as if in a trance. Mrs. Higurashi watched him go, her smile turning into a grin.
'He loves her very much…'
Inuyasha moved cunningly up the Goshinboku, careful to avoid any stray lanterns he'd hung earlier. Reaching Kagome's window, he looked through the glass to see that Kagome was wearing a kimono like Mrs. Higurashi and himself. Only, hers looked beautiful on her. He found himself staring as she fumbled to tie the ribbon behind her back.
Hopping to the edge of her window, he gently slid it open and slunk into her room. Kagome spotted the boy in her mirror and turned around, shocked. "Inuyasha!"
She stared at his outfit in confusion, her hands dropping the bow's strands behind her. "What are you doing here?"
Inuyasha lowered his gaze and shuffled his face. "Keh! Am I not allowed to see you?" he snapped out.
Kagome frowned and walked forward crossing her arms. "I didn't say that. But… I can't come home with you, I already told you that."
"I know that, bitch," Inuyasha said with a purse of his lips, "I came here to see you."
"You did?" Kagome asked in surprise.
"Yeah, I did. What's it to you?" he snapped out and looked away. "I'll go if you want me to," he muttered out, hoping Kagome wouldn't see that his ears had drooped.
Kagome was silent for a long moment before reaching out her hand and touching his cheek gently. When the hanyou raised his head she was smiling. "I'd like it if you stayed with me, Inuyasha."
"Okay," he muttered out and pretended to look annoyed. Though, inside he was relieved.
"Inuyasha, can you do me a favor?" Kagome asked sweetly.
Inuyasha blinked before nodding his head. "What?"
"Can you tie my ribbon for me? I can't reach behind me and this obi kind of traps the material from completely free movement," Kagome explained and pointed at her pink ribbon.
Inuyasha nodded his head and tenderly grasped the ribbon. He had often helped his mother with ribbons and kimonos when he was younger, since his mother didn't have any attendants to do it for her. Fluidly he tied the ribbon and tucked the loose ends inside her white obi. She turned around and smiled at him gratefully.
"Thank you," she said, tilting her head to the side and looking at him. Inuyasha felt himself blush.
"Keh!" he snorted and grabbed her hand. "Come on, let's go…" he muttered as he pulled her from the room.
Kagome looked down at his hand, tightly clasped around hers in an effort to pull her along. Unable to resist herself, she grinned widely and closed her fingers around his palm. He paused in his steps to look back at her but she only smiled innocently.
Snorting again, he led her down the stairs, taking care to slow down so that she didn't trip, and led her outside.
Kagome's blue eyes stared at the decorations, lit up and ready for the night. Kagome 'ooh'ed at the way the pattern the lanterns created danced over the surfaces it touched. "Isn't it beautiful, Inuyasha?" Kagome asked as she turned her head to look at him.
He was looking at her. When she turned to look at him, he blushed and averted his gaze away, "Sure… I guess."
Kagome pulled him towards the Goshinboku and placed her free hand on the trunk of the tree. "Goshinboku… please bless our next year."
"What are you yapping about?" Inuyasha asked with a frown.
Kagome turned to him with a smile and gently squeezed his hand. "I'm asking our guardian tree to bless our next year so that it is filled with happiness."
"Inuyasha…" Kagome said softly and smiled up at him. "Now is the time to release all your worries and your reservations. Now is the time to release all the stress of this year and make ready for the new one."
Inuyasha was silent and his brow furrowed. Kagome squeezed his hand again. "Just try to let it go for tonight, Inuyasha. If you like, you can worry in the morning."
"I don't want to worry," he snapped at her and she gave him a look that made his jaw snap shut. He lowered his gaze. "It's just hard…"
"I know you've got a lot on your chest, Inuyasha, but maybe if you told me about it…?" Kagome asked sweetly as she pointed at a bench near the Goshinboku.
Inuyasha frowned again and shook his head. "Tonight is a night of celebration, or whatever; I don't want you to worry over my stupid problems." He squeezed her hand reassuringly when she went to protest.
She turned to look up at him (over the time they'd known each other he'd grown significantly) and felt as if her cheeks would never stop being pink again. Shyly, his other hand came out and grabbed her other hand, holding both of them in his clawed hands. Kagome's blue eyes, sparkling from the light shown by the lanterns, met with his molten gold gaze.
Gods, did Inuyasha want to kiss her then. It was an almost indescribable feeling that overtook him. The feeling of desire that filled him like a warm liquid. As the inu hanyou stared down at the girl before him, he felt that invisible force pulling himself towards her, as if by magic. Kagome seemed to be possessed by this same force because her head was inkling towards him, her beautiful blue eyes drifting shut.
"Oi, Kagome," Inuyasha whispered, his breath coming out so softly the girl almost didn't hear him. His half closed eyes stared down at her.
"Hm…?" Kagome whispered back, her blue eyes still firmly shut as she awaited his lips to press against hers.
However, at that precise moment, a loud bang erupted throughout the gathering crowd in the shrine and many shouts of excitement sounded. Inuyasha and Kagome jumped in surprise and separated immediately, their faces flaming and Inuyasha's ears pressed firmly to his skull.
Kagome stared in confusion, wondering what all the excitement was about and saw that a large, middle-aged man had brought fireworks to set off for the festivities. At the moment he was lighting bottle rockets.
Kagome, her cheeks still doing a perfect impression of a tomato, turned to look at Inuyasha. He too was a bright red and refused to meet her gaze. Just when Kagome was going to ask him something, a voice called out to her,
"Kagomeeeeeee-Chaaaaaaaan!" squealed an excited voice. Closing her eyes and mentally groaning, Kagome turned to look at her three friends, who were quickly coming her way.
Ayumi, her wavy brown hair tied into a bun, waved at her. She wore an adorable yellow kimono with a green obi and a blue bow. She looked gorgeous, but moved very slowly because of her lack of leg room (her kimono was wrapped very tightly).
Following her was Yuka and Eri. Eri, instead of a traditional kimono, wore a red china dress with golden symbols embroidered into the sleeves. A green sash was tied around her waist and fell down to her knees. She too had her hair up in buns. Yuka had a white kimono with pink flowers and green ivy-like vines twisting and turning. Her obi was white as well and her bow was pink. Kagome noted that she had a set of white cat ears on top of her head. They all smiled brightly at her as they came to a stop before the girl.
"Ayumi, Eri, Yuka," Kagome greeted with a bright smile, "I'm so glad you could all make it!"
"Of course, Kagome; we know that your family's festival is the best in all of Tokyo!" Yuka gushed.
"Though we are biased, of course," Eri winked and Kagome laughed.
"We're just glad that you're well enough to come to the party. We were afraid you would be too sick to attend," Ayumi said with a thankful smile.
"Who's that?" Yuka pointed (rather rudely) behind Kagome and the girl turned to see Inuyasha was still standing there, looking rather lost.
Kagome smiled apologetically at Inuyasha and grabbed his hand gingerly, as if afraid he'd throw her off. He didn't make any move of doing such an action, though his hesitancy and his reluctance was evident in the way he presented himself. Turning back to her friends she pulled Inuyasha forward. "Guys, this is my friend, Inuyasha."
The three girls stared openly at him. Inuyasha blinked and took a step back hesitantly, afraid of the three girls' gazes. Kagome squeezed his hand reassuringly and looked at her friend's expectantly.
"Kagome, is he—" Yuka began but was cut off as another voice joined them.
Kagome felt as if she had just gotten punched in the stomach.
All three of her friends whipped around and called brightly, "Hojo-Kun!"
Kagome felt Inuyasha tense beside her and release her hand. Kagome looked at him apologetically, but he didn't meet her eyes. Yuka and Eri had rushed forward to grab Hojo and were currently dragging the dazed boy towards Kagome.
He was wearing a kimono as well, similar to his ancestor's (named Hojo as well) state of attire.
"Hojo-Kun, hello," Kagome greeted, feeling obligated to say hello, lest her friends murder her.
"Higurashi, it's great to see you up and about! Especially since it's the end of the year," Hojo said with a bright smile.
Kagome nodded her head and glanced back at Inuyasha. She was surprised and slightly hurt when she saw that Inuyasha was nowhere to be seen.
Inuyasha flopped down onto a bench near the well house, silently debating whether or not to leave. It had been a mistake coming, he decided silently. Kagome had a life over here; he was simply interfering. Plus, he'd made a fool out of himself when he attempted to kiss her.
He clenched his eyes shut and willed the embarrassment away. He had been so close.
Then that stupid Hojo guy came, and those stupid squealy girls who smelled weird. (Kagome once told him that they wore something called 'perfume').
"Hey, you." Inuyasha looked up and was very disappointed to see that it was not Kagome but one of the said squealy, smelly girls. She had on an insanely short kimono on (though not as short as Kagome's skirt…) and was stalking towards him, the white folds of her kimono swishing along her moving legs.
"What?" Inuyasha frowned as the girl flopped down next to him, giving him a once over.
"Huh," she said.
"What?" he repeated, glaring at her.
"Well, you certainly aren't hard to look at," the girl stated with a superior air to her. She tilted her nose upwards and observed him. "I can see why Kagome has issues letting you go."
What did this wench mean by that? Inuyasha frowned.
"I'm Yuka, by the way," she stated.
"Hi," he said, his suspicious glare still in place.
"So, you're Kagome's boyfriend."
Misunderstanding the girl's comment, Inuyasha blinked. Well, he was a guy… and Kagome was his friend. Nodding his head he said, "Yes."
Yuka snorted. "So you're the jealous, two-timing, mean, rude, boorish guy Kagome's head-over-heels for?"
Inuyasha blinked his eyes in confusion. Did Kagome really think he was like that?
He didn't answer.
"You know, if it weren't for you, Kagome could be happy with Hojo-Kun."
Inuyasha growled. Yuka stared at him with a raised eyebrow. "What was that?"
Inuyasha growled again but didn't answer. He continued to stare at her with dark, flashing amber eyes. He didn't like this girl.
"Do you love Kagome?" Yuka said suddenly, breaking the tense silence she'd created with a very personal question. Her dark brown eyes stared at him.
Inuyasha sputtered, feeling a collective weight falling over him. What did this wench want to know about that? And as if he'd answer her! She'd tell Kagome!
"What's it to you?" Inuyasha snarled out, clenching a fist.
"Just want to know if you plan to give her a midnight kiss," Yuka said casually.
"A what?" Inuyasha asked.
Yuka looked shocked. She stared at him with wide, brown eyes and let out a sigh. "You don't know what a midnight kiss is?"
"Well obviously not or I wouldn't be asking would I, bitch?" Yuka reeled back in shock at the way he addressed her and glared darkly.
"How dare you! I can't believe Kagome even gives you the time of day!" Yuka growled out and looked like she was about to draw back her fist and punch Inuyasha's lights out. Instead she tried to gain control of herself and gave Inuyasha a glare that could freeze fire. "A midnight kiss," she said through clenched teeth, "Happens at midnight, obviously. At New Years, at midnight, after all the bells have rung, you're supposed to kiss your sweetheart. It's to show her your commitment to her and to prove to her your feelings as you welcome the new year together. It's all very romantic."
Inuyasha felt himself blush as he imagined kissing Kagome again.
Yuka, seemingly satisfied with her work, stood up. "Now then, though I don't necessarily agree with Kagome's choices… and I would prefer her to be with Hojo-Kun… I want her to be happy. And she seems happy when she's with you." She pursed her lips and added, "Though for the life of me I don't know why." She took a deep breath and offered a small smile towards Inuyasha. "Kagome would really like to see you again, I bet. She looks very lonely."
Inuyasha smiled softly and stood up. "Fine."
"By the way, nice ears," Yuka said with a grin and ran off in search of her friends. Inuyasha watched her go and took a deep breath.
"Stupid wenches," he muttered and went off in search of Kagome.
When he returned, he found her with a forced smile as she stood awkwardly next to Hojo.
The boy seemed to be talking non-stop and Kagome was on her wits end. The girl kept sighing and looking out towards the sky, where stars shown brightly when they weren't being covered by dark clouds.
"And that's how I managed to cure my mother of the flu," Hojo said proudly. Kagome forced her smile to remain in place.
"That's terrific Hojo-Kun," Kagome lied. She was bored out of her mind, and wished that Inuyasha was here.
Music began playing. Children and adults, who had been busy buying things from vendors and playing games brightened and moved towards where a small dance floor had been set up for the night. Hojo grinned brightly and held out his hand. "Would you like to dance, Higurashi?"
Kagome bit her lip, getting ready to reluctantly accept out of politeness when a voice, much deeper than Hojo's, reached her ears. "No, because she's dancing with me."
Before anyone could stop Kagome, her hand had been seized and was being dragged towards the dance floor. She looked up as Inuyasha moved fluidly between dancers and she felt her heart race.
As they reached the dance floor, Inuyasha turned towards her and looked around aimlessly. "Um…"
Kagome frowned. Of course, Inuyasha didn't know how to dance! It would be convenient otherwise.
She grabbed his hands and placed them on her waist. He blinked in surprise as Kagome wrapped her arms around his neck and began swaying, her feet moving softly as she guided Inuyasha along. Eventually, the simple steps caught onto the inu hanyou and he began swaying with her.
"I'm still mad at you, you know," Kagome said with a frown as she inched closer, her arms wrapping more tightly around his neck.
"Keh, like I care," he said and they both knew he was lying. He pulled her closer, holding her tightly. He felt her head rest against his chest. She let out a small contented sigh as her cheek rested over his heart.
She smiled when she felt his cheek rest on the crown of her head. They gently swayed together, relishing the feel of one another in each other's arms. His hands moved slowly and smoothed the creases of her kimono along her back.
"Did mom give you this kimono?" Kagome whispered out softly as she smiled against the fabric of his kimono.
"Yeah…" his voice rumbled in his chest and Kagome giggled softly.
"You look nice," she murmured and blushed.
"Keh…" he said faintly.
Kagome giggled again and looked up at him. From her position she could only make out the bottom of his chin. Her lips brushed faintly over the exposed flesh and she heard and felt him suck in a breath of air and his heart increased in speed.
"Kagome…" he said faintly.
"Shh, dance with me, Inuyasha," Kagome said softly.
As the festival drew to a close, and the guests said their goodbyes to Mrs. Higurashi, Inuyasha and Kagome were still dancing. Though the hanyou was slightly uncomfortable when it came to dancing, he felt strangely immune when it came to dancing with Kagome. It felt as if nothing could touch him, that he could spend the rest of his life just swaying in Kagome's arms. And though he felt that the dance Kagome's world did was pretty stupid looking, he couldn't deny that he enjoyed having Kagome in his arms.
The music had long since been silenced but they continued to dance together. It just seemed too natural to be there, and both felt the world just might stop if they broke apart. Kagome let out a contented sigh as she swayed with Inuyasha. Her blue eyes were closed and she felt like she was walking on air.
Sadly, however, their swaying drew to a gentle halt, yet neither made a move to pull apart. Kagome smiled delicately. She knew that Inuyasha was enjoying himself just as much as she was, though her inu hanyou would be hesitant to admit such a thing.
Her hold on him tightened and she nestled into the folds of his kimono, feeling his beating heart and his chest expanding with his inhales of air. "I'm glad you came," she murmured quietly.
For a brief moment she thought that perhaps he hadn't heard her until he whispered back, "Me too."
"Hey, Kagome, Inuyasha." The two broke apart instantly, their faces a bright red as they turned to see Kagome's mother standing there. Her arms were crossed and a knowing smile played across her face.
"Mama!" Kagome stammered out, feeling her face turn a bright red. She glanced at Inuyasha nervously before looking back at her mom. "What is it?"
"The festival's over, sweetie," Mrs. Higurashi said with a fond smile on her lips as she jabbed a thumb over her shoulder towards the house. "Souta's watching that performance with all the singers, if you're interested."
"That's fine, Mama; Inuyasha and I will just go inside and have something to eat." Inuyasha's ears perked upwards at the thought of eating food.
"Excellent idea, Kagome dear," Mrs. Higurashi said and began walking towards the house, the two teenagers in tow. "I have some soba noodles you two can eat. Some miso, ramen for Inuyasha… oden." Mrs. Higurashi chuckled when she saw Kagome's eyes light up.
"Hurray! Oden! I haven't had that stuff in forever." Kagome turned her delighted gaze back towards Inuyasha and grabbed his hand. "Come on, oden!" She started dragging the surprised inu hanyou towards the house.
She sat down at the table with a bright smile plastered on her lips and her hands clapped together in excitement. "I haven't had oden in forever!" she said to a still slightly confused Inuyasha. She smiled brightly at him as he sat down next to her.
He smiled back at her weakly and watched as Mrs. Higurashi set down the promised food: miso, ramen, oden, rice and soba noodles.
"Don't eat the soba noodles until last; it's tradition," Mrs. Higurashi reminded her daughter before exiting the room, meaning to put some alone time between her two charges.
Kagome's smile never left her face as she dug into the food with a new vigor.
Inuyasha watched for a brief moment before the delicious smell of ramen wafted past his nose and he too began to eat his ramen at lightning fast speeds. It was an odd sight for anyone looking in: a couple eating their food like it was their last meal in over two months.
After all the food but the soba noodles were finished, Kagome sat back with a smile and rubbed her belly. Remembering she was in the company of Inuyasha, she quickly stopped and blushed brightly.
"Want some soba noodles, Inuyasha?" Kagome asked politely as she stuffed some of the wheat noodles into her mouth. She smiled expectantly at the man before her. Inuyasha, however, shook his head.
"No," he said firmly. He didn't want her to see his desire to eat them with her. It was a stupid little fantasy he'd have to let go. Besides, they were just noodles! "I'm not hungry."
Kagome gave him a skeptical look. "But they're goooooood," she said in a sing-song like voice.
"No," he repeated.
Kagome frowned. "You're just being stupid, you stubborn little fool."
Ignoring the man's protests, Kagome stuffed soba noodles into Inuyasha's mouth. He gulped them down in surprise, his eyes wide and staring at her. "There," she said firmly, "Wasn't that nice?"
Inuyasha was silent, a small blush forming on his cheeks. Kagome looked at him blankly before the knowledge of what she just did hit her full force:
'You eat soba noodles with the same chopsticks to represent the unity between a couple…'
Kagome blushed brightly but didn't make a move to remove the chopsticks from Inuyasha's mouth. He blinked again and reached out a hand. Hesitantly, as if afraid he'd be burned, Inuyasha's clawed fingers closed around hers that held the chopsticks and guided them back to the noodles.
Their eyes locked as Inuyasha helped move Kagome's hand in order to pick up the noodles and guide them to her mouth. Kagome ate the noodles silently, yet peacefully.
No words were exchanged between the couple as they silently fed each other with the same chopsticks. No words were really necessary. The silent agreement that flashed between them was sufficient enough.
When the dish holding the noodles was empty, and their stomachs were filled to the brim, Inuyasha silently led Kagome's hand downwards and set down the chopsticks. With the twin wooden utensils absent, the two could intertwine their fingers without any obstructions.
His dark golden eyes locked with her gorgeous azure gaze and seemed like time stood still. Nothing else in the world existed at that one time except each other. Silently, Kagome's free hand came up and brushed the unruly silver locks away from his eyes, her fingers lingering longer than necessary.
"Inuyasha…" she said warmly. It was shocking how much emotion, how much warmth, how many silent words could be put into that one simple word. That one simple name. It captured Inuyasha and held him still, like he was suspended in midair.
"Kagome… I…" He felt a lump form in his throat and a nervous twitch rack his body.
Kagome's blue gaze stared at him hopefully.
"Kagome! Come quick! Boa's on!" Souta rushed into the room, flailing his arms excitedly. However, when he saw his idol and his older sister in a rather intimate position, his mouth shut tight and he screeched to a halt. "Oh, uh! Inu-no-nichan! I didn't know you were… uh…here …um; just pretend I didn't come in, don't let me interrupt." He backed away slowly, afraid he'd broken the mood. And he had.
It was beyond repair.
Inuyasha's hand released Kagome's and he stood up quickly. A blush still on his cheeks and his ears drooped to the point they were hidden behind his fluffy bangs, Inuyasha said calmly, "I should go…"
"Wait!" Kagome said quickly and stood up. Her pleading eyes stared at him sadly. "Don't go. It's not even midnight yet. You have to hear the bells ring!"
"The bells?" Inuyasha asked blankly.
"Every New Years, when the clock strikes midnight and the new year begins, the bells all over town begin to ring. All the large, important shrines have them, and it's supposed to banish away the evil of the last year and welcome a new and bright year, a new and bright future. When the last bell rings, the new year begins," Kagome looked at him pleadingly. "You have to stay to hear the bells." Despite her embarrassment, she grabbed his hand. "Won't you stay?"
"Fine," he said softly and was happy to see the girl smile.
Pulling him out of the kitchen, she led him up the stairs and to her bedroom. Opening her curtains she turned to Inuyasha with a smile. "My room's got the best view of the fireworks they set off at midnight."
Inuyasha stood pondering this for a while and glanced at her clock. He was distraught to see that he could not understand the contraption that sat at her bedside table. He'd learned to understand the digital clock (he could read the numbers, but had yet to understand time). "Kagome?" When the girl looked at him he bashfully pointed at her pink alarm clock. "How long until midnight?"
Kagome observed her clock for a moment before moving to her bed and sitting down. Patting the place beside her, she signaled to the inu hanyou that she wanted him to sit. He moved towards her slowly, hesitant to her intentions and sat down. She grabbed her clock and cradled it in her hands like it was a precious package.
"When these two hands," she explained and pointed to two black sticks within the glass, "Point to the number twelve it will be midnight. We'll want to be ready for the fireworks and the bells a few minutes before, though."
Inuyasha looked at the clock. The smaller hand was a little past the eleven and the larger hand was pointing at the number three.
As the larger hand approached the number twelve, Inuyasha looked to Kagome. The girl was dozing lightly on her bed, her back propped up against the wall and her eyes fluttered shut. He observed her for a long moment and once again his thoughts returned to the 'midnight kiss' her friends had spoken of. Should he kiss her before or after the bells?
He did plan to kiss her. He'd wanted to all night, and before Souta had interrupted, he'd been very close to confessing things he rarely confessed to himself. He felt strange tonight being with Kagome. Not a bad strange. But a rather nice strange. A warm, fuzzy feeling grew in the pit of his stomach and he felt his heart flutter at the thought of being with Kagome. He naturally wasn't a very open person about his feelings, that much was certain… but tonight, he wanted to be out of the ordinary for Kagome. He wanted to hold her near, hold her hand, hug her tight, dance with her… kiss her.
It was rather unlike him, yet at the same time he found himself not caring about that one fact.
"Oi, Kagome," he said softly, gently touching her shoulder. Her blue eyes cracked open and focused on him. Him alone. It felt good to know that she only looked at him like the way she was doing now. With her eyes soft, glowing with emotion and a gentle smile on her lips. "The clock is almost to the twelve."
"Hai." Kagome nodded and sat up, stretched and let out a small yawn. "Thank you, Inuyasha."
Inuyasha nodded and grabbed her hand. While the girl had been sleeping, he'd been pondering the fact that they'd only get to watch the fireworks from her window. As she lightly dozed, he'd concocted a plan to better the experience. On this night, he wanted Kagome to be completely comfortable. Therefore, if he did get around to kissing her, she'd be at perfect ease.
"Inuyasha, what are you doing? We have ten minutes before the bells start to ring," Kagome reminded him gently. He turned to look at her, a playful smile dancing across his lips. Kagome looked at him strangely. He ignored her.
Pulling her to the window, he pulled it open. "Inuyasha, what are you doing?" Kagome asked again, this time in a more demanding and stubborn tone. She tried to pull her grip away from his, so that she could cross her arms and give him a well-deserved glare.
"I'm bringing you to the roof," he said firmly and gave her a glare, "Got a problem with that?"
"Inuyasha," Kagome said with a small pout. He noted how adorable she looked when she did that. She was always so lively and energetic when she was angry, and he found it enticing to see the anger flash past her eyes. "Why are you bringing me to the roof?"
"So you can see the fireworks better, of course," Inuyasha said with a frown. He gave her a glare. "So, shut up."
Kagome frowned but let the dog eared boy carry her outside and place her softly on the roof. With a small huff and a glare in his general direction, she crossed her arms and stared at the glowing city. Her anger soon dissolved. "Oh, it's beautiful."
"Hm," he agreed, his golden eyes on hers.
She glanced at him and he quickly looked away. Clearing his throat, he pulled his knees to his chest and stared at the clouded sky. They sat in silence for a long moment, bathing in the gentle peacefulness the winter night provided when small snow flakes began to fall.
Kagome gasped happily, her beautiful blue eyes turning to Inuyasha. "It's snowing!"
"No shit," he said and then wished he hadn't. He wanted Kagome to like him when he kissed her, obviously, and his snide remarks wouldn't get him any closer to his goal. He cleared his throat again.
Kagome shivered and giggled. "Yeah, no duh, right?"
He was surprised that she hadn't taken offense to his ill-timed comment on her stupidity but said nothing about it. He saw her shiver again and rolled his golden eyes heavenward. Moving with the grace that only a hanyou could possess, Inuyasha fluidly removed his upper haori and slipped it over Kagome's shoulders. Drawing her close, he felt her snuggle into the warmth of his body. His grip on her shoulders tightened as she leaned over slightly, resting her head on his chest and kicking her legs out.
"Thank you," she said quietly as she snuggled into his warmth and the warmth of his haori. Inuyasha nodded. "It means a lot to me that you're here."
A long moment of silence passed between the couple. There seemed to be many silences this night, but by far this one was the most comfortable. It seemed that they were shrouded in an unbreakable shield of warmth, at least according to Kagome. Their peaceful moments together were very much treasured, and Kagome was forever grateful for the amount she was receiving tonight. Eternally grateful for the tender emotion she could see in Inuyasha's eyes. Behind his tough guy act, Kagome could tell he was just a lost puppy begging for acceptance. Though she knew he would hate to be compared to such an analogy.
"Inuyasha?" Kagome asked softly.
"Yeah?" he replied, his deep voice rumbling in his chest and vibrating in her ear.
"What are your New Year's resolutions?"
"My what?" Inuyasha asked in surprise, tilting his head downward so he could look down at her. "What are those?"
"They're promises you make at the end of the year in hopes of improving yourself in the following year," Kagome said calmly as she sat up slightly, yet did not break the contact between them.
"Um… I want to defeat Naraku?" Inuyasha asked.
"No, no, that won't do. Though we certainly do want that to happen," Kagome added. "But what I mean is something you would change about yourself. So, instead of saying 'I want to defeat Naraku', you would say 'I want to become strong enough to defeat Naraku'."
"So, what are yours?"
"Say yours first," he insisted and Kagome let out a small giggle.
"Mine are rather stupid," Kagome confessed. She'd been thinking about hers for a while now. "For one thing, I want to try and get back up in my studies, to study more." She didn't see Inuyasha frown at that. "I want to improve my miko skills so that you don't always have to protect me—"
"But I want to protect you!" Inuyasha protested before he realized it. He blushed.
Kagome laughed softly and moved her hand to cup his cheek. Moving his head so that their eyes locked again she smiled up at him. "Inuyasha… I know that you'll always be here to protect me… but I want to be able to protect myself so that you're not always looking over your shoulder, worried if I'm hurt or not."
Inuyasha was silent. There was no point in denying that.
"I also want to be more assertive." Inuyasha snorted. "And… to be more understanding."
"Kagome…" he said quietly, "you are—"
"I mean of you and Kikyou," Kagome said quietly, pathetically. She sounded as if she may cry.
"What are your resolutions, Inuyasha?" Kagome asked sweetly. He could tell she was trying to hide her hurt at the tender subject of Kikyou. Cradling her into his arms, he positioned her into his lap and held her tight. She wrapped her arms around his neck and leaned against his chest under his chin.
"I…uh…" He thought for a moment. What would be safe to tell her and not safe to tell her?
Snow fell gently around them; the world was silent minus their gentle breathing. There was so much he wanted to say to her.
"I want to be strong so that I can protect you," he said finally and tightened his grip on her. "I want to be…"
'I want to stop being so damn jealous. I want to be able to trust you more. I know I do trust you. With my life… but when I see you with Kouga or that stupid Hojo guy, I just lose it…'
He remained silent.
'I want to be more understanding of your feelings. I want to be more open with you. Let you know what I'm feeling, especially what I feel about you…'
He still remained silent.
'I want to tell you how much I love you…'
His breath left his lungs. He couldn't breathe. He hadn't even admitted it to himself until now. He'd never told himself that he loved Kagome… how much he wanted to stay with her, be with her, protect her, hold her, care for her…
As if reading his thoughts and his hesitancy, Kagome squeezed his neck. "I know. I understand."
But did she?
A bell rung in the background.
Kagome perked up and looked over the horizon. "The bells!" she said excitedly. "The bells have started, Inuyasha. It's midnight."
Another bell rang.
'I have to kiss her… her midnight kiss. Her friends say that a midnight kiss is shared between those who care for one another… I need to kiss her.'
A sudden apprehension overtook him. What if she didn't want his kiss? What if he was a bad kisser? What if they accidentally fell off the roof while he was kissing her and she broke her neck? What if her mother found out and didn't approve of him kissing her daughter?
Snow fell around them' Kagome's bright blue eyes stared at him before returning to the horizon. She looked like a little child in a candy store. She looked like she'd just discovered the best surprise of her life. Another bell rang and she pulled his haori tighter around her.
He gulped down another lump that had formed in his throat. "Kagome…"
She turned her eyes to look at him as another bell rang. "Yeah?" she asked, her lips wide in a bright smile.
"I have something to tell you…" Another bell. There was no going back now.
"What is it?" She looked concern now. She must have heard the hesitancy in his voice.
He fidgeted under her heavy gaze. "I'm not very good with words…" He captured her attention with that remark. She looked at him with wide blue eyes.
"Inuyasha… you can tell me," she said honestly. He sniffed hesitantly. She wasn't lying. Her scent was honest and pure… yet curious. She wanted to know what was weighing so heavily on his mind.
Another bell rang in the background and the snow continued to fall. It seemed like a surreal dream he'd been captured into. He felt that perhaps he would awaken any second now. It just seemed like it was impossible for him to feel this way and for her to be right there… awaiting his confession.
"Inuyasha, what's wrong?" Kagome said, her eyes looking frightened at his lack of speech. "Is something wrong?" The tenth bell rang in the distance, the only sound in the otherwise silent city (which was pretty unusual in itself).
"No, it's not that…" He took a deep breath. "Nothing's wrong, Kagome…" The eleventh bell sounded. The silence widened between them as Kagome stared at him, her eyes distraught. This was it. "I just thought that actions spoke louder than words."
Before she could ponder this odd thing for the hanyou to say, Inuyasha dipped down and pressed his lips against hers. Kagome's eyes widened in surprise as his lips moved over hers.
Her heart raced in her chest as the last bell's ring faded into the distance and fireworks sprung into the air. It was like a movie or a romance book. Just as their kiss ensued, the fireworks went off in the background. Not only were their colorful lights flashing in the sky, she felt as if a firework display was going off in her mind.
She kissed back forcefully and wrapped her fingers into his hair, pulling him close and preventing him from escaping her clutches.
As the last of the fireworks faded into the sky, the city overthrown with a cloudy mist of sulfur, they pulled apart. Her blue eyes locked with his and she saw it in his eyes. For the first time she saw everything he'd kept to himself for so long. Every emotion he'd ever felt flashed in those deep golden eyes.
She smiled softly and brushed his silver bangs from his eyes. "I love you, too."
A world of relief flooded into his eyes, glad she'd received his message without the words. Now that she'd said it, it felt so much easier for him to say it himself. Kagome had broken the ice.
"I love you…"
The words were so simple. So typical until you heard them spoken to you. Inuyasha felt himself pull Kagome back to his lips as he kissed her deeply.
"Kagome…" Kagome roused from her deep sleep when a clawed hand shook her shoulder. Sitting up and rubbing her eyes, she felt a small yawn escape her lips.
"Huh… what time is it?"
"Don't know, but the sun is going to come up soon," Inuyasha said calmly. He sat next to her, his arms wrapped around his knees and his chin resting on the crossed arms. He let out a small breath of air, which appeared to be a small white cloud as it floated high above their heads and disappeared. It had stopped snowing, but small piles of white flakes had collected on his shoulders and a little on his head. Kagome stared at him before looking at herself. She was snow-free. He must have brushed the snow off to prevent her from being cold.
"You're an idiot," she said warmly, observing the piles of snow. She dusted them off.
"Keh!" he snorted and looked towards the lightening sky. "You're welcome."
Kagome sighed and shook her head. "Thank you, Inuyasha."
Kagome inched closer to him, snuggling into his warmth. Grabbing his haori still around her shoulders, she pulled it around his shoulders and cuddled into him. "You're cold," she remarked.
"You're kidding," he said dryly, his voice dripping with his sarcasm. Kagome gave him a withered glare.
"Don't have to be rude about it, you know," Kagome said with a pout. He chuckled softly. "It's not funny," she accused and crossed her arms. He continued to laugh.
She liked hearing him laughing. She so rarely heard him laugh so freely… it was a nice change from his usual dry chuckle or sarcastic laugh she often heard. His glittering golden eyes looked down at her, his lips curved into a thoughtful smile. "Okay, maybe it is a little," Kagome admitted and offered a small smile. It was impossible to stay mad at him when he was making that face.
He shook his head and turned his head back towards the approaching sunrise. The sky was no longer a dark mass but was bursting with new colors. Pinks, reds, yellows, oranges and light blues erupted from the nearly hidden horizon. Kagome cooed softly and clapped her hands together. Another yawn left her lips. She so rarely got to see the sunrise, it was nice to see. "Beautiful," she murmured.
"Keh…" she heard Inuyasha murmur.
Then, out of the peacefulness the new morning and new year had cast, a snowball appeared and smacked Kagome in the side of the head. With a yelp, her head snapped back and she blinked her eyes in surprise. Inuyasha was already standing up, ready for any battle that might ensue. Kagome rubbed her cold nose and looked around too.
From below the roof, on the pavement stood Souta. "There you are!" he called. "Mama was wondering where you two went!"
"Souta! I'm going to kill you as soon as I get down from here," Kagome declared and took a hesitant step down the Higurashi's roof. She nearly slipped.
Another chuckle sounded behind her and she felt arms scoop her up into a bridal style position. "Allow me," Inuyasha's silky voice comforted her as they effortlessly landed on the ground. Releasing Kagome, the schoolgirl started chasing after her younger brother, Inuyasha's haori flying off her shoulders and falling to the ground. As the chase ensued, her pink hair ribbon fell out of her silky hair. Inuyasha raised his eyebrow and watched the two run around the shrine, Souta screaming and laughing.
"Hot chocolate, Inuyasha?" Mrs. Higurashi appeared beside him, holding a tray of coffee mugs filled with the beverage.
"Thank you, Mrs. Higurashi," Inuyasha said politely and grabbed a mug with a dog painted on it. Typical.
He sipped the chocolate happily and savored the taste. Finally, Kagome caught up to Souta, tackled him to the ground and stuffed snow down his back.
"Happy New Year, Inuyasha," Kagome's mother said with a smile.
"Hm, I have a feeling this one's going to be much better than the last," Inuyasha decided as he gazed after Kagome, a smile still on his lips.
Author's notes: (dies) Okay, that was a lot longer than I wanted it to be… fifty pages of insane fluff and out of character-ness. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Buddhist day of rest and a very happy new year! To all of my readers and reviewers: you guys mean the world to me. I love you all and I thank you all for your continuing support and loyalty. It means a lot to me.
To my beta: I'm so, so sorry that this was so long. I promise I'll never do it again! Cross my heart! (I don't hope to die though!)
Beta's notes: Yeah, you better be sorry. ::also dies:: though, it didn't take nearly as long as I thought it would… and, holy hell, SQUEE!