Tonight, you are mere mortal

Note – I don't own any of the below characters.

Hojo asked me a few weeks ago if I was going to be sick tonight. Of course I thought it was a stupid question- first of all, no one can map out the days they'll be feeling poorly so far in advance. Secondly, according to my Grandpa, my 'illnesses' can strike at any time, and in the blink of an eye.

Still, the boy would not be deterred. His confidence was wavering, but he asked me out for the third and final time. He asked me to go to the Winter Ball with him.

My friends were shocked when I told them- how could they not be? I had stood him up once, and left mid-date the second time. I'd only left because I feared Inuyasha's life was in danger, and I'm sure if I didn't have some stupid half-demon and his faltering health to obsess about, it could have been a successful date.

Still, he'd asked me, and I'd promised him an answer by tomorrow. My hesitation in accepting was understood by no one- Hojo was unbelievably cute, and his patience with me was touching. And I wanted to go to the dance anyway- all the older girls started talking about it months in advance; how the fake snow glittered all over the dance floor and they played the most beautiful love songs while people danced under a shining glass chandelier.

I said No. I was planning to say Yes, but I decided minutes before I saw him that I couldn't do that to him. Hojo was so incredibly sweet, but I resisted his advances for reasons which had always been unknown to me. Nakoto, the prettiest and most popular girl in school, had her eye on Hojo- and I was positive she wouldn't bail on him the way I had. He deserved that, he deserved so much more than my feelings. For my feelings towards him went not far beyond 'he's kinda cute'.

My friends all suspected there was another guy. There was, just not in the way they assumed. I guess they thought I had a boyfriend or something, but the guy who occupied my thoughts was not my boyfriend, nor would he ever be my boyfriend. Inuyasha was always on my mind, even when I didn't want him to be. We shared an unbreakable bond forged from all that we'd been through together. We regarded each other with a pure and indescribable compassion, but we do not have the same chances other couples have. Inuyasha would not fit into my world, because he is part demon. If he came here, he would shock everyone with his canine teeth, off-colored eyes, silver hair, and…dog ears.

I consider him to be beautiful. But some consider him to be a monster. I like to think of him as a beautiful monster who is both my best friend and worst enemy, all in the same breath.

I am just a mortal, no matter what powers I may bear or what magic I may witness. Inuyasha has a destiny much bigger than me, which is why I remain just his Kagome. Not his girlfriend, not his special lady, but his Kagome. The one he will defend to the death and hold in his arms until I stop crying. Our love is not the type fairy tales, Valentines, or even romantic legends are made of. Our love is so much more real, but so much quieter. There is no need to shout from rooftops or walk hand-in-hand. We know it, and no one else needs to.

Just once, though, I'd love for Inuyasha to be mine in front of everyone. I'd like him to give me flowers. I'd like to indulge my girly side, but I can't. And I won't. For to love Inuyasha is to make certain sacrifices.

The reason I gave to Hojo was that I wasn't sure if I would be up for it. Mom had taken me dress shopping, and I had a killer black number, but if need be I was already prepared to sacrifice the dance for feudal Japan.

The day of the dance, Inuyasha and I walked along quietly with Shippo, Sango, and Miroku. All was quiet around Kaede's village, but mischief had been taking place there and we wanted to make sure no demons were near. Other than Inuyasha, of course.

"Nothing happenin' here," Inuyasha complained, flopping down on the soft grass. I began to protest, saying we should walk a little further, but Shippo and Miroku immediately sat down and demanded lunch. As they got into their shrimp vs. beef noodle debate, Inuyasha grabbed an apple and quietly snuck away, myself following soon after.

"You can go home tonight, we're just going to camp out again."

"Are you sure? Because I can stay if you need me."

"Nah, nothing's goin' on tonight. Go do 'homework', or take a bath, like your future people always do."

"I'm going to a dance tonight," I blurt out. For some reason, though I want to go to the dance and have a stunning, sexy dress to wear, I'd rather spend my evening with Inuyasha. At times like these, when we're both relaxed and content, and happy with each other's presences, it kills me to go back to my era.

"How do you go to a dance?" Silly me, Inuyasha still knows so little about the world I come from.

"It's like a big party; everyone dresses up and dances with the opposite sex and hang out with their friends in a cluster by the wall." It was true. The Winter Ball may have been the biggest dance of the year, but some things never change.

"I'm familiar with them," Inuyasha nodded, his face expressionless. I looked at him out of the corner of my eye, trying to read him after the 'dances with the opposite sex' comment. Even though our relationship, if you choose to apply that commonplace and overused description to what we are, has no titles, it always makes me blush when Inuyasha gets jealous.

Today, however, he's not falling for it. He continued eating his apple in silence as I looked at the sky. A thought occurred to me as I added the numbers in my head.

"Tonight you're at your weakest." He nodded calmly, and I realized why he was so fine with the idea of my going home tonight. In fact, he welcomed it. My being around when he turned completely human for the night often resulted in his getting hurt protecting me.

"Are you goin' with anyone of the opposite sex?" I turned back to him, having already forgotten that stream of consciousness.

"No, just some girlfriends. I got asked, but I thought I might be needed here." He nodded again, his face still an emotionless mask. I slowly picked up his free hand and used my nail to draw circles on the skin, knowing his eyes were burning into me.

"I should get going," I realized, standing up suddenly. If I were attending the dance after all, I needed time to prep. He stood up and held me in his arms for the longest minute, kissing my forehead as he released me.

"You'll be the most beautiful one there."

After falling down the well and climbing out to take a bath, I stood in front of my mirror in just a towel. Taking a brush to my wet, dark hair, I began to try a simple braid in my unruly locks. A face in the mirror beside my own surprised me, and I shrieked as I spun towards the boy who had materialized in my bathroom.

"Oh, it's just you." Inuyasha stood before me in his most human form- dark eyes and hair- and seriously lacking in dog ears.

"You surprised me," I reprimanded, before turning beet red. I'd just remembered my towel-clad appearance.

"The feudal era is boring," he complained, leaning on the side of my sink. That had never provoked him to come through the well before. "And…I was wondering if you wanted company for this dance of yours. So you could dance with someone of the opposite sex." I forgot what I was wearing, and I forgot what era we were in, and I forgot that without Inuyasha, Shippo was in danger of being stuffed in a hollow tree while Miroku went off to pick up girls…

"I'd like that," I whispered, going back to my braiding.

XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO

The only nice thing Grandpa had in his wardrobe was a loose (tight on Grandpa) black shirt and pant set, which I requested Inuyasha wear. He looked normal tonight, but his clothes were nothing like anything on this side of the space-time continuum. He looked very casual for a dance, but not like a half-demon. So I accomplished what I set out to. We walked the short mile to my school, Inuyasha quietly observing with raised eyebrows and me pointing out everything I fleetingly thought might interest him. None of it really did, but he pretended so to make me happy. He kept giving me sidelong glances from the corner of his eye, looking at my backless, knee-length dress. Every time he did that, I blushed and he smiled.

"This is for you," he mumbled in the midst of one of my pauses from talking, and I turned to see what he held out. A beautiful blooming rose sat in his hand, looking so right next to the pale, soft flesh. "Where I come from, it's customary to give the girl a flower when you ask her to dance with you. The girls put them in their hair, and by the end of the night, they had practically an entire garden weaved in there." Silently I took it from him and tucked it through my braid. The shy smile I gave him was my thank you.

My peers all around us were giving Inuyasha strange looks from the moment we walked in, I thought because of his loose clothes. But when Kari dragged me off during a fast song and demanded I tell her who the hunk was, I couldn't stop from grinning.

"Is he your boyfriend?" she demanded. I shook my head.

"He's Inuyasha, and he's my friend."

"Just friends?"

"No and yes."

All the girls including Nakoto, Hojo's date, couldn't keep her eyes off him. I taught him to slow dance during the slow songs, and we stood on the side in comfortable silence during the fast ones.

"How're you liking your first middle school dance?" I asked as people began to whisper about our lack of communication.

"It's weird. You all dance so strange."

"And how do you dance, Mr. I'm-from-the-feudal-era?"

"It's intricate. I don't remember. There's a lot of steps." Not that the conversation is bad, but silence works perfectly for us at times. This is one of them. When I can see every girl in this room focusing on Inuyasha and ignoring their dates, and my friends whisper behind their hands that he's 'The Guy!' that I'm supposedly in love with, and Inuyasha himself is still sneaking peeks at me.

Ten minutes later as we were once again swaying to a love song, my hands reached up to tweak his ears. They weren't there. Embarrassed at having forgotten, I stared into his dark eyes. They're a completely different color on this night, but they still have Inuyasha's spark in them. Everything about him, it's him but altered just so. Because tonight, he's just a mortal. Like me.

I can't have him in real life. He is too far beyond me. But tonight, Inuyasha, you are on my level.

Tonight, you are mere mortal. And tonight, you are all mine.