This was another entrant at livejournal community: iyfic(underscore)challenge. The theme for the one-shot challenge was 'chopsticks.' Surprisingly enough (I really didn't expect it), I won the challenge. So wow, yay. This is a one-shot, so what you see is all there is. I hope you enjoy it. :)

Culture notes:
Shichi Go San- The Shichi Go San or 7-5-3 Festival is one of the uniquely Japanese festivals. Boys who are 3 and 5 years old, and girls who are 3 and 7 are taken to a shinto shrine, often in their first kimono, and the parents pray for their continuing good health and prosperity. The numbers, especially 3 and 7, are lucky numbers in Japan, and until the 20th century Japan was a thoroughly feudal nation with a higher childhood mortality rate. Since bacterial pathology was then unknown to them they often blamed death on evil spirits, and when the kids became 3, 5, and 7 years old they thanked the gods for their children's good health. A sweet candy called chitose-ame is also often bought for them, in a bag with cranes and turtles, 2 more symbols of long life. This festival is still celebrated in many shrines.

Tabi socks- Ankle high, divided-toe socks that are usually worn with sandals.
Kanzashi- Hair ornaments worn in the coiffured hair style which often accompanies kimono. These may take the form of silk flowers, wooden combs, jade hairpins etc.
Hakama- A divided or undivided skirt, rather like a very wide pair of pants, traditionally worn only by men.
Obi- The Japanese equivalent of a sash or belt, which is used for a kimono or yukata.
Bathing- In Japan it is not uncommon for a father to bathe with his young daughter.

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"For All of Us"

By Kelly O'Connor

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The autumn sun filtered into the windows as morning made itself known to the residents of the Higurashi shrine. However, only one of those residents remained in their bed. Everyone else had awoken in preparation for the eventful day that lay ahead.

But InuYasha hadn't yet bothered to wake up, the comfort of his warm bed something he'd grown accustomed to enjoying to its fullest as the years had gone by. Even though he'd felt his wife slide out of his arms a bit earlier to begin the day, InuYasha continued resting.

That is, until he was rather unceremoniously interrupted by a petite figure leaping upon the bed beside him. The excitement of said person's bouncing startled the hanyou from his slumber, and he cracked his eyes open to meet the wide amber gaze of a young girl.

"Oi," InuYasha grumbled as said girl leaned down towards him curiously, her long black hair tickling his face.

"Daddy, wake up!" She requested pleadingly.

InuYasha felt his features soften, and he reached up and pushed the dangling strands of hair behind his daughter's ears.

"Keh, I'm awake," He sat up and stretched his arms above his head.

"We have a lot to do, right?"

InuYasha nodded. Today was a holiday he'd never heard of before entering Kagome's era, but he'd seen it occur several times since then because their home resided at a Shinto shrine. However, this was the first time that he or Kagome would be participating in the festivities. And before now, he'd never been clear on what exactly was going on.

Shichi Go San is a Shinto festival that girls celebrate on their third and seventh birthday. On their third birthday, they receive their first kimono. On their seventh they receive their first obi. The festival is a day in which we thank the gods for the longevity and good health of children, InuYasha had remembered Kagome explaining to him a few months before.

"Today is Shichi Go San," She stated, words stumbling off her tongue.

"Yeah, that's what it's called Izayoi," the hanyou replied and scooted off the bed to a standing position.

Following suit, Izayoi then proceeded to tug on her father's hand. He smiled at her and the two of them made their way downstairs hand in hand.

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In the kitchen below, Kagome assisted her mother with preparing the lavish feast that was to occur after the daytime festival.

"Did Izayoi run upstairs after InuYasha?" Mrs. Higurashi inquired as she sifted around for a ladle.

"Yes, she did," Kagome replied. "It's hard to believe she's almost four years old…"

"I suppose it is, although it will make her one of the oldest girls receiving their first kimono at the festival today." Mama laughed lightly.

The younger woman nodded. Izayoi's birthday was in December, so Shichi Go San fell near the end of her third year. Glancing out the window, Kagome could tell already that the weather was going to be warm and inviting for this special November day.

She looked back toward the entrance of the kitchen when she heard two pairs of bare feet stop at the edge of it.

InuYasha stood there, hair slightly mussed, and still wearing his solid blue pajamas. Holding his hand was their daughter, Izayoi…

To most people, InuYasha would appear as someone who wouldn't make the best of fathers. However, even before Izayoi had been conceived, Kagome had known better. Because, despite his attempts to hide it, he had the most genuinely caring nature she'd ever chanced to come across.

And true to her predictions, Izayoi warmed up to her father in traditional 'daddy's girl' manner. It wasn't that the young girl never tried on the hanyou's patience, she certainly did at times. Especially in her early days, she wore at both Kagome and InuYasha's resolve many a time. Mama Higurashi's intervention was what saved them more often than not.

But InuYasha displayed a tenderness and openness around the little girl that Kagome had only seen before towards herself. Then again, it had been this way since the time of her birth. Kagome's lips turned up in a smile as she recalled how they'd chosen her name.

She'd not expected any answers when she asked her husband if he had any ideas for the name of their child. So she was surprised, touched even, by the suggestion he'd offered. Izayoi… after his own mother…

"Neh- InuYasha, Izayoi," Kagome began, "Before the festival begins today, there's something we need to do."

"What is it, Mama?" the black haired girl asked, dropping her father's hand and walking towards her mother.

Picking her up in her arms, Kagome tapped her on the nose. "Well since after the festival today we'll be having a big party, I figured we could teach you how to use chopsticks today."

Izayoi wrinkled her nose, "Mama that sounds boring," she replied, sounding all too much like her father.

"Keh, you gotta learn how to eat with them sometime, okay?" InuYasha cut in, siding with Kagome.

Pouting, the black-haired girl crossed her arms and nodded in reluctant agreement.

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The table was set a few minutes later in the living room. Mama Higurashi had prepared a small bowl of plain rice, as it was simple and wouldn't spoil her appetite for all the treats she was to be eating as the day went on. A pair of red lacquered chopsticks sat beside the bowl in wait.

Once Izayoi had walked in, she picked up the set and began investigating. Tiny cranes were painted on the end of the chopsticks, and she could tell immediately that these were fancier than the utensils her mother and father usually dined with.

InuYasha and Kagome followed behind their daughter, and Mama Higurashi stayed behind at the entrance to the living room.

The young man sat down next to Izayoi, and his wife followed suit, sandwiching their daughter in between them.

"The first thing you should know is that you never stick your chopsticks straight up in your bowl," Kagome began once they were all comfortable. "Once you've picked them up to begin eating, place them across the top when you're not." She demonstrated that motion herself. "Got that, Izayoi?"

"Why do you have to do that?" She asked inquisitively.

"That's how you offer rice to the dead, stick them straight up in the bowl," InuYasha remarked, not glossing anything over. "It's bad luck or something like that."

"Oh… I see," Izayoi replied in a low tone, clearly uncomfortable. "Like Jiichan?"

Dutifully, Kagome nodded. "Yes, like our Jiichan." A small smile crossed her lips as she felt a comforting squeeze on her shoulder from InuYasha.

"He got to meet you though," InuYasha reassured. "Even if you don't remember him, I think that was enough for him," he finished, displaying an unexpected maturity.

He's grown up so well… then again we are both almost thirty years old now, Kagome mused. He's absolutely right too, she reflected upon the elderly man who had passed away shortly after Izayoi's birth. Although she and InuYasha had only been able to recreate his presence through the passing on of memories, that had been enough.

Shaking her head, Kagome picked up one of the sticks and handed it to her daughter. "Take this one and place it between your thumb and third finger."

Izayoi gave her a confused look. Noticing it, the older woman helped her position the chopstick in her small hand.

"Once you've done that, take the other stick and put it between the thumb and the base of your first two fingers."

The young girl fiddled with the stick for several moments, before InuYasha reached over and gently coaxed the chopstick into the correct position. As he pulled away, she felt his claw tipped fingers brush her hand.

She didn't think anything of it.

Izayoi had known her father was different since her mind was capable of registering the thought. His golden eyes which he'd passed down to her and the stark silver-white hair she'd never seen elsewhere were good indicators.

But of course, the one trait that stood out as most odd was the pair of ears he sported on top of his head. When she was a baby, she'd often reached up to tug on them like all infants do to something that intrigues them. However, she'd stopped once she was old enough to realize that it caused her father physical pain to withstand her playfulness. She also noticed that anytime they saw anyone outside their family, he'd wear something over them.

Both of her parents had tried at times to explain the situation. Why InuYasha was 'different,' and the very basics of how everything had occurred. How her mother had ended up five hundred years in the past, and how InuYasha himself was from that era. While the well was still open, the married couple remained the solitary two who could pass through. Their lives in the future were able to be shared only through pictures with their friends in the past.

Izayoi didn't fully comprehend the stories they told, her young mind still unable to grasp them in their entirety. But she did understand that both of her parents were very dissimilar from others out there, and at this point in her life, that fact made her little heart swell with pride.

Clearing her throat, Kagome brought her back to attention. "Now that you have the two chopsticks together in your hand, you put them in the bowl and bring them together. Then pick up the food with them."

She laughed lightly when Izayoi fumbled at her attempt. "It will take a lot of practice, so be patient."

From the door, Mama Higurashi felt a smile cross her lips as she watched the two work as a team to teach their daughter this important lesson.

She remembered back when she'd first come in contact with the hanyou from sengoku jidai, almost fifteen years before. The two teenagers would bicker like there was no tomorrow, she insistent on completing her schoolwork, and he insistent on completing the task at hand. Those days were no more. Not just because they'd completed their task years and years before, but because now they'd come together for real.

They'd pledged their lives to each other almost five years before, in a private ceremony at the shrine. InuYasha had asked her when she was in her last year of college, and they married after she graduated with a degree in pediatrics.

As part of the ceremony, InuYasha had taken Kagome's family name since he didn't have one of his own.

Mama chortled to herself. She did think Higurashi InuYasha had a very nice ring to it.

The couple still fought, as all healthy relations do. However, more than ever they'd truly come together as of late. More precisely, their daughter had brought them closer than they'd ever been before. Petty misunderstandings were set aside, and the two found a perfect unity in their quest to raise the little girl they'd created together.

"Mama?" Kagome interrupted her musings and glanced from Izayoi to the older woman.

"Hmm?"

"Is Izayoi's kimono ready?" She inquired.

The dark haired woman tapped her chin. "Ah yes, it's upstairs in her bedroom." She motioned towards upstairs. Izayoi had taken Kagome's old bedroom, and the married couple now resided in the master bedroom next to it that Mama used to occupy.

"All right," Kagome nodded. "InuYasha, I'm going to go bathe…so why don't you and Izayoi continue practicing until I'm out."

"Oi, fine," The hanyou agreed.

"When I get out we can save time by having you two bathe together while Mama and I continue cooking."

He complied once again, and Kagome left the room, leaving InuYasha and his daughter to continue practicing with the chopsticks.

After several unsuccessful tries, Izayoi found herself heaving a sigh of frustration.

"Daddy, I don't think I can do it!" She complained.

"Keh, of course you can! Just keep trying," He encouraged. "Once you get the hang of it, it's easy."

Biting her lip in determination, the dark haired girl clenched the chopsticks in the correct position once more. She hoped that this time the rice wouldn't slide out of her grasp.

It was to her astonishment and great pride, that this attempt yielded success. The grains of rice remained within her grasp, and she stared at them a bit awe struck as she realized her accomplishment.

"Now just raise it to your mouth and eat it," InuYasha instructed.

Izayoi shook her head and did so, then frowned slightly once she'd swallowed. "It's all cold now."

Her father couldn't help but grin. Leaning down, he parted her bangs and kissed her softly on the forehead. "Good job, Izayoi."

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Kagome slipped on her tabi socks and made her way across the hallway to where she knew InuYasha was likely having a world of trouble getting their daughter into her kimono.

Sure enough, once she entered she saw InuYasha struggling with their wriggling three year old. "Oi, Izayoi stay still! I don't even know how to do this well on someone who isn't moving around."

The dark-haired woman found herself unable to hold in a bit of laughter. "InuYasha, why don't you let me dress her?"

"Keh, I can do it…"

"Even if you can, you need to go get ready yourself." She gestured towards his wet hair and the pajamas he'd put back on after bathing. InuYasha 'hmphed' in agreement.

"The blow dryer is on my nightstand. It's already plugged in."

Giving Izayoi one last squeeze on the shoulder, InuYasha left the bedroom for his own.

"Mama, guess what?" She began after he'd left.

"What is it?"

"I learned how to use chopsticks!" She exclaimed and beamed.

"Oh, you did? That's wonderful. I'm glad you got it right," Kagome maneuvered the kimono into the correct position.

"Yup, and then Daddy told me 'good job' and gave me a kiss," The young girl continued.

The dark-haired woman tied the kimono off. "Oh? Is that so?" Wrapping her arms around her daughter, Kagome smiled and stroked her hair. "I'm proud of you too Izayoi. I'm always proud of you."

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Turning off the blow dryer, InuYasha reached into a drawer and grabbed a black handkerchief; tying it into place over his ears. The shrine received many visitors on Shichi Go San, and he wanted to take care of concealing himself while it was on his mind.

The hanyou tugged on his hakama until they lay more comfortably, then walked out of his bedroom and towards Izayoi's. "Oi, Kagome are we ready?" He peeked into the room.

His eyes widened when they met with the figure of his daughter in her festival garb. She wore a red and white kimono, obi-less as was the custom until her next Shichi Go San at the age of seven. It was decorated with floral patterns, and her kanzashi were several sprigs of false flowers lying daintily in her tied up hair.

InuYasha felt a swell of pride within him, and a light smile crept onto his features.

"Are you ready, Kagome?" He asked again as he looked to his wife.

"I will be. I just need to do something to my hair."

"Mama, can I go show Grandma my kimono?" Izayoi excitedly cut into her parents' conversation.

"Sure you can honey, just be careful not to trip."

With her approval obtained, the young girl bounced out the room and quickly skipped down the stairs, leaving her parents to themselves.

"You look nice," Kagome remarked to her husband once their daughter had left.

InuYasha didn't reply. Instead he looked to her hair, which still fell free. "…I'll be right back."

Kagome raised a questioning eyebrow, but shrugged as he exited the room.

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InuYasha made his way up the stairs again a few minutes later. He fidgeted with the items he held behind his back as he walked towards his daughter's door.

"Kagome…" he stated her name as he entered the bedroom. She turned towards him and blinked.

"What were you up to, InuYasha?"

"I was just doing something," He walked towards her and stepped behind her.

Carefully, the hanyou took his wife's hair and looped it, tying it off with a small kazashi floral comb he'd grabbed from their bedroom.

Kagome attempted to give him an odd look, but instead found that turning into an endearing smile once she saw what he was reaching for next.

From the back of his hakama, he pulled a familiar pair of red lacquer chopsticks decorated with cranes.

"You washed those, didn't you?" She inquired half joking.

InuYasha furrowed his brows and grumbled, "Keh, of course I did!" He assured her as he placed the two chopsticks at the top of the loop her hair was tied in.

Touched, Kagome reached up and made sure the arrangement was straight. "Thank you, InuYasha," She said softly and turned towards him, placing her arms on his shoulders.

"No Kagome…" He began, "Thank you, Izayoi wouldn't be here if it weren't for you." The silver-haired man finished. Kagome's eyes widened in gratitude. She knew how difficult it still was for InuYasha to present his romantic thoughts to her. "So to me… today is for you as much as it is for her."

"InuYasha…" the dark-haired woman gulped. "It's the same to me, today is for you as well…"

Noticing that their gazes had met, the two leaned forward and met their lips as well, in a loving and tender kiss. The kind of kiss that could only be shared among two people who were truly and genuinely happy with each other.

And the kind of kiss that a certain little girl found herself watching from the doorway.

It was InuYasha who noticed first, his ears twitching as he heard the door slide open a crack. Coaxing Kagome, the couple broke apart and simultaneously looked to their daughter.

They had clearly been caught in the act.

Not really caring at the moment, Kagome gestured her daughter to enter the room. Doing a quick once over to make sure everything was in place on her kimono, she patted Izayoi on the back and took her hand.

Without question InuYasha took her other hand, "Are we ready to go now?" he queried.

With a light laugh, Kagome nodded. And the three of them walked out of the room, hand in hand as only a family could be.

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--End--