Disclaimer: In case you didn't know, I don't own Inuyasha. Rumiko Takahashi does.
Fliers were being passed around town and, after numerous telephone calls and several declined invitations, Kagome finally submitted to being a part of the New Year Celebration that the school had cooked up for its students during their Christmas vacation. She couldn't do much, she told Ayumi, because her family had created a great aunt who lived in Kyoto and wanted Kagome to spend the break with her. Unfortunately, this aunt didn't want Kagome making too many long distance calls and she didn't have internet access, but Kagome would brainstorm and try and come up with a few ideas for music, activities, and decorations.
"But that's all I can do. I don't want to commit to coming and help and then have you all mad at me when I can't come as planned," she said, trying to sound forceful so the girls would stop calling and harassing her. Not that she minded being included and not that she didn't want to be a major part of the committee, but she never knew when or if she was going to be able to come back to this era.
"Okay, okay. Geez, Kagome-chan, I thought you liked this sort of stuff," Ayumi grumbled, sounding a little hurt. "Anyway, if you come up with anything just email one of us or give us a call. We'd love to go out with you for a movie or something. We never get to hang out anymore."
Kagome sighed. "Yeah, I know. I'm really sorry you guys." She heard the door open and then her mother greet someone and perked up. "I gotta go, Ayumi-chan. Inuyasha's here. I'll let you know what I come up with 'kay? Bye!"
She hung up the phone and shook her head. Well, at least she'd passed ninth grade and the high school entrance exams. She had certainly been surprised when Inuyasha had actually allowed her to stay in her era long enough to study and take the tests. Not that he hadn't been there bugging her for nearly the entire two weeks, but she could deal with that. After all, she had used everything she knew to get him to agree.
"Besides," she had pointed out during their argument, "it isn't like Naraku can get the last Shikon shards - they're gonna be 500 years in the future! And what's more, Naraku's barrier has gone back up and his aura has disappeared. You know it could be weeks before we can catch wind of him again."
Still, that alone hadn't been what had finally swayed the determined hanyou.
She had smiled sweetly, hoping to throw him off enough that he would be open to her next suggestion. "And if you let me stay in my era long enough to study and take my finals and the entrance exams, I'll be out for Christmas vacation. That means two and a half weeks of no school and no tests. Give me these two weeks and I'll stay here for the entire vacation. I'll only go back to my era when we need supplies and I won't stay."
That had been nearly a week ago. Since then she'd only come back to her era once to get more first aid supplies and once for Christmas - that was what she'd been doing here when the girls had caught her. Luckily the great aunt excuse had paid off, they couldn't fault her excuses for having not kept in touch.
Her socked feet made little pit-pit noises as she walked across the hardwood floor of the kitchen where Inuyasha was being greeted by a very anxious and excited Souta. "I'll be ready in a minute. I've gotta run and get some stuff," she told him as she passed. "Keep him company, 'kay Souta?"
She giggled when she hears Inuyasha's 'umph' as Souta grabbed him and tugged him towards some thing or another that he'd been waiting to show the hanyou. As gruff as Inuyasha could be some times, she thought it was cute that he never seemed to reprimand her little brother though she knew he must get annoyed at him quite often. It was kind of like how he seemed to act out his aggressiveness towards Shippou only when there was an audience or no matter how many times Kohaku tried to kill him and the others, he wouldn't lay a hand on the boy for Sango's sake. He really wasn't as bad as he'd have people think he was. Underneath the rude, course, harsh exterior was a sweet boy who just wanted to be accepted.
"Hurry it up Kagome! We don't have all day!"
Of course it was buried really, really, really deep.
"Stop rushing me or I'll take even longer!" Sighing she opened the backpack and crammed a few more pairs of socks and under garments in it before taking the miniature calendar off of her desk so that she could keep up with her days in the Sengoku Jidai.
"Then I'll just have to carry you through the well!"
"Inuyasha! Osuwari!" When he crashed to the ground with a satisfying 'thud' she nodded, looking over her calendar curiously hoping that she'd be able to talk him into letting her come for the festival. With Inuyasha one just never knew what kind of mood he would be in. It'll be the night of the new moon…
"Kyaa! Inuyasha, what are you doing!" He had come upstairs without her realizing it and just grabbed the backpack off of her bed. "I wasn't finished!"
"We're leaving. Say goodbye and let's get going already."
"Ugh!" Sometimes he made her feel like pulling her hair out. "Osuwari!" She hated sitting him twice in less than five minutes, but sometimes he just deserved it and he was really grating on her last nerve.
"Bitch! What was that for!" He growled as she stepped over him. "Come back here!"
"Patience, Inuyasha," she said calmly, turning to look at him over her shoulder as she started out the door, "is a virtue."
Kagome sat up in her sleeping bag. The new moon would be in two nights and she still hadn't been able to bring herself into asking Inuyasha to let her return to her era. She just wanted to be able to spend one night in her era and pretend to be the girl she'd been before her fifteenth birthday, before she fell through the well and discovered she was really the guardian of the Shikon no Tama and the reincarnation of the beautiful Kikyo. And the new year! If she could do that on that one day, on the eve of the new year, she could start it with a new and more upbeat state of mind and maybe her sixteenth year would be lucky.
It was those thoughts that kept her from sleeping. She could feel Inuyasha's gaze on her though he was in the tree behind her.
He continued to watch her as she sat up, drawing her legs up and resting her arms on her knees. He hadn't been asleep either. He hardly ever slept. If no one was awake to watch over the group they would be open to danger.
Landing nimbly on the ground behind her, he came up next to her and sat down. She smiled at him and rested her chin on her arms. The baby blue cotton of her night clothes brought out the blue of her eyes, he realized and then looked away quickly, wondering what made him think of that.
"It'll be a new moon in two nights." He turned to look at her when she spoke. "We're not but maybe a day's travel to Kaede-obaa-san's village. You'll be human for the night and it'll be better for you if you can hide there, you know."
"Heh, baka, I don't need to hide out. We could find another shard between now and then - one we wouldn't find if we were to go back to the village."
She shrugged. "It was just a suggestion."
He gave her skeptical glance knowing she never just gave a suggestion…there was usually an ulterior motive there. "Why?"
"I was just thinking about you is all. I worry."
"Yeah, right. Why do you really want to go back."
"I do worry, you know." She heaved a sigh and looked at the fire, watching the flames dance around. Don't ask, Kagome. He's only gonna say no. "There was something I wanted to do is all, okay? But forget about it. I promised you I wouldn't ask to go back until school started, so we'll stay here and keep searching for Naraku."
He didn't say anything for a long time and, after a while, she looked over at him to find that his amber eyes studied her as if he were considering something. "What'd you wanna go back for? You said you didn't have any more exams." He looked worried…probably thinking she wanted to go home because she was tired of him and didn't want to be with him anymore.
"One of my friends called the last time I was there. She said that the school is using the old fairgrounds to have a big festival for the new year and it's going to be in two days - the night of the new moon. I just thought if we were at Kaede's for the new moon that Sango and Miroku could stay there with Kaede-obaa-chan while you and I went back to my era. I thought you might like to go to the festival." she shrugged as if it were no big deal. "But you're right. We could find another Shikon shard between now and then so we should just keep looking."
It had been the right move, apparently. She had reassured him that she wasn't tired of him and she wasn't going to leave him and had also let him know that she wanted to go to the festival. He seemed to be considering it, to her surprise, by the way he sat still and quiet for a long moment while she went back to staring at the flames.
"What kinda festival? What'll they do?"
"Oh, well…it'll probably start around sundown since the new year doesn't technically begin till midnight," she explained without looking at him. "It's just a regular fair, really. The students will be there and some of them will be performing in some short plays and running booths. There'll probably be games like ring toss - that's where they have these pins and you have to toss these little rings and catch them on the pins. If you win the games, you get prizes."
Kagome had to bite her cheek to keep from smiling. It was working! "No…they'll probably use the rides…most likely they'll have someone operating the Ferris wheel since it's the best place to watch the fireworks."
"It's a huge wheel, tall as the trees, that has swings on it called baskets, and people sit in them while the wheel turns around and around slowly so that you can see the city skyline from the top." She moved her hands and arms as she spoke trying to demonstrate the motion of the wheel for him. "And like I said, there'll be fireworks. At the stroke of midnight they will fill the sky. It's really pretty, especially on New Years."
He didn't say anything for so long that she was beginning to think he'd decided against it and wasn't going to let her go - or go with her, which is what she really wanted. When she finally dared to look in his direction, he nodded and started to get up. "We'll start back to Kaede-babaa's in the morning."
"Aren't you dressed yet?" Kagome called through her bedroom door where Inuyasha had been for nearly half an hour already. She was really beginning to worry for the safety of her room - and her hanyou. When she received no answer, she frowned. "Inuyasha? Are you in there? I have got to get dressed too you know." He hadn't snuck out the window and back to the well, had he? She opened the door to find him eyeing the clothes on her bed. Higarashi Keiko had let her go through the boxes of her dad's stuff and she had found a really nice looking outfit that looked about Inuyasha's size.
"You haven't even started yet!" He was still wearing the red firerat hair kimono and katana. The sun hadn't gone down yet so his hair was still silver and the dog ears atop his head twitched at her exclamation.
"I forgot what you said…I know what to do with these," he picked up a pair of black slacks for her to see, " but where do these go?" He was holding a pair of blue plaid boxer shorts her mother had graciously bought that morning when she went to the store. "Why are there two bottoms?"
"Watch, okay?" She picked up the boxers and put them on the bed and then shook the pants before lying them on top of the boxers. "These go under the pants. They're supposed to…They…" She blushed a deep red, trying to explain to the confused hanyou the purpose of boxers with his pants. "I mean…Oh, for goodness sake! Just put them on." If he could just get the boxers on, she could help with the rest…she just didn't want to know what he was (or wasn't) wearing under the hakama of his current outfit.
She handed him the shorts and, as an after thought, indicated the tag. "This goes in the back." With that done, she turned her back to him and covered her face, allowing him to attempt to dress. After listening to him mutter under his breath and the sound of cloth pilling on the floor and a few more muttered curses before things finally got quiet. "Kagome?"
She turned slowly, afraid of what she might find and then exhaled slowly when she saw he hand managed correctly. "Okay," she said still flushing a bright red as she went to the bed to pick up the pants. "These are next. Again this goes in the back."
He looked skeptical and touched the zipper and button, making a face when he got frustrated. Kagome just shook her head. "Put them on and I'll help with the rest."
She thought she heard him mutter something about her stupid era and how people couldn't dress sensibly while he managed the slacks. They were a little bit too long and about a size too large, but they'd do. Her hands shook as she swatted his out of the way and grabbed the waist and, tried to manage the button and zipper for him. This is nothing, Kagome…you used to do this for Souta all the time before he learned how to dress himself… But that wasn't helping. Kami-sama! This was embarrassing!
"Hold on just a second. I've got a belt around here somewhere…Now where did mama put it?" She looked around the bed and then tossed his kimono out of the way, finding it lying in a curled heap underneath the under haori. "There we go." She looped the mesh leather belt through the pant loops and buckled it, standing back to admire her handiwork for a second before grabbing the shirt when she realized she'd been staring at his bare chest. "And now this finishes it up. Arms, please." She was dressing him like a doll, the embarrassment finally fading now that he had his pants on.
When she was done, she turned him around so that he could see his reflection in the mirror. It was the same Inuyasha, but in different clothes - and what a difference an outfit made! She had been right, the green of the shirt did accent the amber of his eyes (but would also accent the violet in his eyes when he became human) and made his silver hair stand out even more. Even he seemed to be amazed with the change. She blushed for a different reason this time and started picking up his clothes, folding them, and putting them on the bed. "Now scat. Go keep Souta company or something while I get dressed. And try not to annoy Buyo too much."
He was ushered out of the room and locked out before he could hear her fall into a fit of giggles on her bed.
They'd had to wait until the moon rose to leave for the fair grounds, but that was fine with Kagome even though her girlfriends had been more than anxious to see Inuyasha again. They had met him before when he wore a baseball cap to hide his ears and they had fawned over him despite the fact that they thought he was a bad choice in boyfriends.
At the park's entrance, Inuyasha unconsciously grabbed her hand when she bought their tickets. She smiled and led him in, looking down at their hands and then back up at him. He was afraid, though he'd never admit it. This world was new to him and he didn't understand most of it. On top of that he was in his human form which always made him feel vulnerable though everyone else here was human. She squeezed his hand and pulled him towards the first game booth, convincing him to play the ring toss and win her a stuffed teddy bear.
After winning several games in which he also managed to win her a beaded necklace and another toy for Shippou, he was starting to enjoy himself and relax…until three girls practically tackled the two of them, their dates in tow. "Kagome-chan! You made it!" One cried, throwing her arms around her friend.
"Your mom was pretty sure you'd have to spend new years with your great aunt."
"Yeah, she must be a mean old bat to try and keep you away from your family during the holidays."
Kagome laughed nervously, putting her hand up to stop them. "She's not a mean old bat, guys, she's just lonely." They didn't seem to believe her, but at that moment they noticed Inuyasha and stared at him with wide eyes. "You guys remember Inuyasha, right? Inuyasha, this is Eri-chan, Ayumi-chan, and Yuka-chan."
"Your hair's black! Wasn't it silver before?"
"Why'd you dye it black? I really liked it when it was silver."
"Me too. You should go back to silver as soon as possible."
Kagome had to put her hand up again to stop them and Inuyasha kind of shrunk back, hiding slightly behind her. "Do they have the Ferris wheel working?" she asked to distract them.
"Yeah, we've already been twice," Ayumi answered. "It's so pretty."
Eri nodded and looped her arm through her date's arm. "We're gonna wait till the fireworks start to ride it again. That's the best time, but you'll have to get in line early 'cause every one else has the same idea."
Kagome smiled. "Thanks. What time is it?"
Yuka grabbed her date's arm and twisted so that she could look at his watch. "It's about eleven or so…you've still got a good hour before midnight."
Kagome thanked her and was about to leave with Inuyasha when Ayumi giggled. "Don't forget what happens at midnight, Kagome." At her questioning look, the other two started to giggle. "You've got to kiss someone when the clock strikes twelve so that you have good luck in the new year. If you don't, you won't get what you wish for." They winked at Kagome and pulled their dates towards the cotton candy vender while Kagome stood, blushing, not able to look up at Inuyasha anymore.
"I'm thirsty. There's a vender by the Ferris wheel so we can grab something to drink before getting in line. It's gonna be a long wait if we want to see the fireworks from the top." She took his hand in hers again and led him in that direction.
It was nearly midnight before the wheel worker let them in their seats. All of the music that had been playing stopped, as did the wheel just as they reached the top, their basket swaying with the soft force of the breaks. Inuyasha frowned, looking like he expected a disaster at any moment, but Kagome only smiled and quietly reassured him.
"Ladies and gentlemen, if you will direct your attention to the northern sky, please. We're about to start the count down to the new year. When the clock strikes midnight don't forget to kiss your partner for good luck in the coming year. Now in…"
Kagome leaned her head back, her hair falling off of her shoulders and moving slightly in the breeze, her features full of anticipation.
"Ten! Nine! Eight!"
Inuyasha was also full of anticipation, but for a different reason. He didn't know what to expect. Kagome had reassured him everything would be okay, but he couldn't know for sure and so he couldn't relax just yet.
"Seven! Six! Five!
Kagome was starting to count along with the crowd. Taking her gaze off of the sky in front of them, she looked down at the group of students and people gathered under the wheel. She was so lucky to be up here!
"Four! Three! Two!"
Inuyasha looked at the sky, waiting on the fireworks that Kagome had promised. He thought they were all crazy for counting this way, but if that's the way that things were done here then so be it…
She turned her head to answer his question, whatever it might be, and when she did, he kissed her, catching her by surprise. Cheers rose from below them as the sky around them filled with exploding lights of all different colors and designs, bringing the new year in with joyful exaltation. It really would have been beautiful if Kagome had been paying any attention.
She clutched his shirt with both hands and closed her eyes, enjoying the moment which was over much too soon. When he pulled away and sat back on his side of the basket, she stared at him in shock, trying to catch her breath. "What was that for?"
"It's tradition, isn't it? Isn't that what that girl said? You kiss the person you're with at midnight," he said giving her a funny look. "I've never heard it before, but that's how people do it in your era and since we're in your era…" He shrugged and then looked at the fireworks which were still going off around them as the Ferris wheel began to move again. "This is nice. I guess you were right Kagome."
She was pulled out of her stupor and sat back in her seat, sliding a little closer to him and putting her arm through his. "Of course I was right! I'm always right!"