He entered the grocery store, long black coat buffering his body from the cold winter outside and walked past the smiling clerk who tried to greet him without giving her a response. The tiles reflected hues of yellow and white fluorescence and he looked away from the complete ugliness and dirtiness of them. Going along the rows of vegetables he ignored them and made a beeline for the meat, choosing a large porterhouse from the selection and turning slightly to look down the long aisles before choosing a direction. He turned a corner, passing some doughnuts and cakes that had a heavy scent of preservatives which caused his nose to wrinkle in distaste. Taking the next right he found himself going down one of aisle of frozen foods. As his eyes lingered on from one item to the next, not really sure what he wanted and mostly killing time, he looked up at the sensation of another person being close. It wouldn't do to bump into someone at this time anyway; they were always so annoying during these holiday seasons – clingy and emotional. When his eyes turned up to see the young woman he thought nothing of it at first, she was just like any other female. Nothing was really special about her appearance, she wasn't a classic beauty or a stunning knockout, merely just another woman but he couldn't shake the nostalgic feeling he had when he saw her. He couldn't remember; had he met her sometime before? For a moment he made to walk away, turning to leave and go another route but a nagging sensation caused him to turn again and reach out. She started as his fingers brushed against her left arm and he watched as her eyes turned to look at him, a curious expression coming to her face as she examined him closely. Slowly realization dawned and her mouth flew open, eyes widening as she gasped for something to say. Before he could say something to relieve the moment of awkwardness she was moving towards him, arms coming about to hug him. As she motioned to do this the basket with her few purchases swung around and knocked the purse slung across her other arm and it fell to the floor causing her to let out a groan of annoyance. Quickly he knelt with her and helped her collect her belongings, fingers brushing against one another as he handed them to her one at a time. She blushed and started to laugh at her own clumsiness and he too broke into laughter until he saw her stand again, hands reaching up to wipe at the tears that had formed in her eyes. Finally, after it all, she spoke in that haunting voice that he remembered so well.
"How have you been?" Giving a nod at her he watched as her eyes twinkled with understanding and she turned away as he stood, reaching into the freezer to grasp a pint of ice cream that had been under her scrutiny before his arrival. "Glad to hear it. Are you living nearby?" She said this as she moved down the aisle towards the checkout and he followed her wordlessly, merely nodding again. He didn't have to say anything; she'd always know what he meant. They stood alongside one another within the small confines of the checkout lane and she smiled that pretty smile so freely to the woman as her items were paid for. He wondered just why she had given that smile without remorse to anyone but hardly ever to him. Afterwards she turned to him as she grasped the bags with her items and smiled, a faint blush coming to her face again and he moved to follow but the clerk stopped him when she pointed out the steak in his grasp. He looked down upon the red meat and then up towards the woman who was waiting for him and set the item down on the checkout stand, leaving it behind to go with her and ignoring the complaints of the clerk. Walking to the entrance she turned to him as she fished out some keys from her pocket and after finding them her eyes met his once more. Looking down into her eyes he wondered just why things had turned this way and she gave a weak laugh, bottom lip going under her teeth to be assaulted for her embarrassment.
"I, eh, right." She flustered and brought her left hand up to run her fingers through her hair in frustration, only to have them stop and rest atop her head. "Do you want to go get a drink?" He thought this over carefully and gave a nod to which she let out a sigh of relief and regret mulled into one before turning to exit into the still cold of the snow covered evening. Following her over to a small blue car she crammed the key inside and reached in, popping up the lock on the rear door before opening it and shoving her bags in the back seat. She slammed the door closed and then slid into her own seat, bringing the belt around her and securing it at her waist before turning to stare at the opposite door and swallowing the lump that had formed in her throat. Leaning over she reached out and pulled the lock up on the passenger side door. He opened it and climbed in, adjusting the seat to his length easily and she turned away from him to start the vehicle, waiting until his own seat belt had clicked before pulling out of the icy parking lot. Several minutes passed in relative silence, only the soft murmurings of the radio which she had quickly turned down echoed through the car. They drove for a while, looking up and down the streets but it seemed that all of the bars were far too crowded for their kind of conversation. After several moments she frowned and turned the car into an empty space before a convenience store. His face scrunched at the harsh light that the building emitted but she merely gave a scowl of irritation and reached for her purse, climbing out of the car.
"I'll be right back." She said and he watched her run into the store and down the small aisles to the drink section, opening one of the doors and pulling out a six pack of beer. After she paid for them and returned to the car she leaned back with a languished sigh. Pulling one free from their plastic confines she held it out to him and he took the offering before turning it upright and popping the top on it. It was bitter tasting as ever as it passed over his lips and into his waiting mouth, giving him the awful sensation that he was sure she craved just as much as he did. Sure enough when he finished his swig he looked over to see her also among the joy of the horrible liquid and when she had her fill she stopped with a deep breath before reaching up to wipe at her mouth with the back of her hand. For a moment they both sat there, looking at one another and unsure what to say but he had a sudden thought and glanced to the clock on the wall within the convenience store. Turning back towards her he lifted his drink and she sat there for a moment, a melancholy look on her face before she reached up and the two cans collided.
"A toast – to ignorance." He said; the first thing he had bothered to verbalize all evening and she closed her eyes to relish the deep sound of his voice before giving a nod.
"And to innocence." Both took short swigs before she raised her drink once more and he followed suit, the cans clinking in the small vehicle. "A toast – to the past." She said with a bittersweet smile and his eyes shined with some sort of hidden emotion before he gave a nod and replied in kind.
"And to now."
They drank slowly this time, relishing in the moment before they stopped and sat there, both unsure what to say. Space wise they were so very close, close enough to touch in an instant, but inside they were miles apart reliving moments of the past that were long buried but never forgotten. After a few moments more of silent drinking he gestured towards the back seat with a curious expression and she blushed faintly before nodding slightly. "I married a local boy, he's now a rather well known architect, perhaps you've heard of him, Hojo Akio?" He shook his head slowly to the negative and she gave a small smile. "Well, maybe you're not so interested in those things." Looking back at the rear seat she smiled. "A little girl, her name is Emiko and she looks just like her father." At this statement she frowned a little because it wasn't exactly a good thing that the child appealed to her father's appearances. The edges of his lips quirked and she gasped before turning her eyes towards the dashboard and taking another long swig.
"So then you've forgotten?"
She felt a deep swell in her chest at his words and shook her head slowly. "Of course not, how could I forget? It's just, well it's only that it was not right to stay so fixated on the past. He's good to me and provides us a good home with everything we can ever need." She was referring to the child, of course, and he gave a nod but didn't say more and she let out a small whimper at his persistence. "No, I don't love him. I never did and he probably knows that. I'm just his wife out of appearance for the most part. Our daughter isn't even my biological child. He took up a mistress and had the child with her but when she was born the mother died and instead of allowing her to be abandoned I took her." It sounded very much like her and he gave a nod of approval for her typical generosity.
"You look the same, age becomes you well." Her face flushed and she looked up at him, their eyes meeting once again. For a while he merely examined them, diving deep beyond the outer layers that she hid behind to find the woman within. "Still so very blue." It slipped out entirely on accident and her eyes finally spoke to him so vividly but he wasn't sure if she was thankful or disbelieving of his comments. She broke the contact and turned away suddenly, struggling for something to divert the conversation.
Something came to her in a moment her head darted up to look at him closely. "It is you! I thought I'd seen you around. So that's what you've been doing lately, recording music?" Her face had a sort of confusing look to it, as if she couldn't place him as one who became a musician, but he was used to the scrutiny and just nodded before taking a sip of his beer. "It must be nice, to be famous and rich like that." He shrugged as he was unsure just what to say to that. It wasn't anything much more than an excuse to exist, like any other moment in time for him. Once more she held up her can to him with a small grin and he looked at it with a curious expression before reaching out and crashing his own against hers. They clanked louder this time, a near hollow sound echoing through the car and she let out a small sigh. "To innocence… and to time." Downing the last of the fluids they both let out a breath of relief and apprehension. He looked up at the clock within the store once more and felt something within himself pack away again, waiting for the next time if there ever was a next time to come. She startled him as he felt her lean over towards him, wrapping her arms around his shoulders and leaning in to kiss him gently on the cheek.
It was time. He reached out and opened the door, closing it gently and standing there watching her drive away. In that moment as the dim crimson of the tail lights faded into nothing he was swept away and back to a time in the distant past where he had known that woman-child as nothing more than a nuisance, a whining bratty girl who pranced about in her short school uniform and helped saved his world along with her own. He turned away, towards the direction of his apartment and began the trudging walk down the street before pulling tightly at the front of his coat with his hand and looking up into the unforgiving sky as the gentle snow began to fade into a deep and chilling rain. For a while he stood there amid the deep filth of the parking lot, bright white light shining over him as he closed his eyes and inhaled deeply the bitter scent of the past that haunted him. Cool water poured over his face in rivulets, soaking him thoroughly until he sighed and gave up, knowing that he had to move forward. Always, move forward.
She drove on, going down the familiar streets and turning down a road she had only been to a few hours earlier but remembering a time when she had been here so long ago. After pulling into the parking space and dragging her things out of the car she shut the doors only to stand there in the drizzle of rain and look up the steps to her childhood home where her family waited for her. Tears spilled out from her eyes then as a sob escaped her and she leaned over against the car, feeling herself fall apart from the years of lies. She hadn't expected to see him today. No, that was not true. She hadn't expected to see him ever. Yet he had been there as if it was nothing unnatural, dragging the remnants of the past with him and tearing through her soul. With a bitter laugh she looked up into the sky as the rain slid across her face and gave a small sigh as she spoke to someone she hadn't planned to remember, just because it was so entirely painful. "Inuyasha, I'm sorry. I know you're probably up there berating me for even spending a moment with him but I just couldn't help myself! He was there and I was there and… we needed one another. Needed one another to get over it, to get over the loss and the pain and the past! Please forgive me! Forgive me for sharing that with him because he was the only one that was there who could ever understand." Her throat was remarkably dry and she swallowed hard as she pushed herself to stand and began to trudge up to her mother's home. When she entered they were waiting for her, smiling and laughing together and she couldn't help the gentle smile that crossed her lips for the scene before her. Her mother saw her first and her happy face fell when she noticed her daughter's crumpled condition. Standing quickly she went to her and wrapped her arms around the girl, pulling her close for a hug.
"What's wrong Kagome?" The girl smiled and shook her head but clung to her mother tightly, still holding the plastic bags of food within her hands, ignoring the ice cream that dripped from a small hole in the bottom of one. Nothing was wrong at all. Just remnants of the past come back to haunt her. Her mother didn't seem to catch onto the unspoken emotions and leaned back, running a hand up to smooth the girl's hair down. "You're soaking wet and you missed the countdown! Why don't you go upstairs and get a quick shower before you get a cold, honey?" She nodded to her mother and handed the woman the bags of groceries before slowly heading towards the bath but a hand came out and caught her, turning her around and causing her to clumsily crash into the chest of her husband.
"Oh no you don't! You were late! The least you can do is give me my new year's kiss now!" He leaned down to capture her lips and she allowed him without giving any response. It didn't matter; they both knew the truth and were just doing this for appearances anyway. As she pulled away and gave him a small smile a thought came to her and she gasped before turning away, face going completely red. Her kiss had already been given this year. She had given her kiss to him. A gentle laugh escaped her and she had to shake her head at that. It was so strange but so fitting, giving her new year's kiss to none other than Sesshomaru.