She hadn't been there two minutes when she saw a blur of red against a backdrop of white and green and she sighed heavily, creating a cloud with her breath as she did so. She had considered not coming back until after the holidays, but she couldn't take staying at home either. She just wasn't in the mood to deal with anyone at the moment, not even Inuyasha. Which was too bad, really, because he was already standing in front of her, looking down his nose at her as she sat on the side of the well.
Mentally, she groaned in annoyance; not only because he was intruding upon her desperately craved solitude, but because despite nearly a foot of snow on the ground and the icy winter breeze blowing, he could stand there barefoot with no more clothing on than his haori and hakama as always and not show a sign of chill. She, on the other hand, wore black leggings, red knee high socks that were scrunched slightly to make them look baggier, and a red velvet dress that came to her mid thigh. All of that was bundled under a tan colored shearing coat, gloves and red earmuffs. The muffs and outfit had been part of her Christmas from her mom and it had slipped her mind to change before coming back to Sengoku Jidai.
"What's your problem?" Inuyasha asked, though in a questioning tone and not a malicious one.
Kagome shrugged and inwardly sighed. "Nothing."
"Then why're you back so early?" It was hard to believe there had actually been a time when he would have accepted that answer and walked off. Not any more though...even if she might prefer it on this one occasion.
She curled her toes inside of her new, black Mary-Janes, her feet suffering from the lack of protection while resting in the snow. "I just figured that maybe finding Naraku was more important than that other stuff," she answered as if she couldn't believe he'd ask her such a stupid question.
He snorted, not buying her story for an instant. She'd spent too much time arguing about the necessity of going home and saying that Naraku could wait for him to believe she'd suddenly changed her mind. "We ain't going tonight - there's a storm coming this way." He pointed to the sky behind her and she turned to see dark clouds off in the far distance. It would be a few more hours before they moved over Kaede's village. "So you can go back if you want."
Kagome shook her head and slouched, resting her chin in her hand and her elbow on her knee. "I think I'll just stay here."
He narrowed his eyes, but she didn't look up to see it. Something was going on and he wanted to know what, but he didn't want her to know that he wanted to know as badly as he wanted to know. "Then what was all that whining yesterday about having to go home?"
She groaned, getting fed up with this conversation. "I wasn't whining, I was simply explaining that I needed to go home for a few days because I thought -" She growled in agitation and stood up, brushing past him. "Never mind."
"Thought what?" He asked, following her as she made her way down the hill towards the village.
"Inuyasha," she asked suddenly, her tone changing completely, " did I ever explain to you about Christmas?"
His brows furrowed, his confusion clear on his face. "Yeah, that junk about a baby and gifts and trees. What about it? What's that got to do with anything?"
She sighed for the umpteenth time that night and stopped walking, turning towards him. She'd given an abbrivated version of Christmas to the whole group and had only explained Christmas Eve to Sango, too embarrassed to say more in front of the group.
"The day before Christmas, Christmas Eve, is actually more important than Christmas Day. It's about spending time with the person...er people...you love. Actually, you're supposed to spend it with your partner..." She shook her head. "Forget it," she mumbled and started walking again.
He grabbed her arm, gently, and stopped her from walking off. "So, you were gonna spend it with someone? That boy from your school?"
She blushed and looked down at the snow beneath her feet. It was not as deep along the path as it was in some other areas because of the travel that was always going on during the day. She had initially planned to spend the evening with Houjou even if she hadn't been around for him to ask out. She'd figured that, given his pervious attentions, he would keep trying until he got in touch with her.
"Kagome, isn't it pretty? Ryu-kun got it for me," Reika squealed, showing off a sapphire necklace on a gold chain. "He's taking me to dinner tonight."
Arumi smiled happily. "Hai, Tori-chan is taking me to dinner, too. Who are you going with, Kagome?"
She shrugged an stirred the mush in the bottom of her milkshake glass. "I don't know...I haven't heard from Houjou, which is odd. I thought he might call and ask me." She'd never really wanted him to call before, but she also didn't want to spend Christmas Eve alone.
Yuki and the other two girls shared a glance before she leaned forward, a sympathetic expression on her face. "Kagome, he's taking out Aiko from B class...they've been dating for two weeks now."
She'd forced a bright smile to her face. "Oh, that's good!" She'd exclaimed, a little too perky. "She's probably a lot more reliable than I am. I'm glad he found someone."
They hadn't believed her.
"He's going out with someone else," she answered and tugged herself out of his grip. "Since I didn't have any other plans, I figured we could get started looking for Naraku again. Is that so hard to believe?"
Mentally she counted to ten to keep fro m saying the subduing word knowing that her anger was more at herself than at him or anyone else. It was her own fault she was alone on Christmas Eve or that the person she wanted to spend it with didn't know she wanted to spend it with him and probably didn't want to spend it with her.
"You know, Kagome," her mother had started after seeing Souta off on his date for the evening, "the tradition says that if you spend Christmas Eve with someone you love, you'll be together forever."
"Yeah, but -"
"It doesn't say," he mom continued, ignoring her, "that you and that person have to be alone together for it to work. And it doesn't say that you have to go to dinner or exchange gifts or be in a hotel room. You could just as soon be in a cabin, by a fire, surrounded by your friends - so long as you're together."
A person would have had to been checked out completely not to understand what her mother was hinting at, so she'd packed her bag and come back.
"You wanted to spend it with him, though, didn't you?"
She looked up from the ground and at the hanyou, coming back to the present time from wherever her mind had wandered. "No...actually, I didn't," she answered honestly. "I just didn't know who else would spend it with me."
He gave her an offended look and she wondered what she said wrong. He huffed and turned his back, starting back down the hill this time leaving her behind. "Whatever," he muttered just loud enough for her to hear.
Of all the...What was his problem? She'd meant said that Houjou was the only boy at school who had shown any interest in her. So what was the big deal? Unless he thought...
But he wouldn't, would he?
"Inuyasha!" She called, jogging to catch up with him. "I don't want to be alone on Christmas Eve and I really didn't want to go out with Houjou anyway...Can I...Would you spend it with me?"
He just stopped, looking at her, not answering and she felt the blush rising back to cheeks that were already red from the cold wind. "I mean, you're supposed to spend the day with the person... I mean, the people...that you lo- care about and I'd really just like to stay here...at Kaede's...with you...With all of you."
"Feh, come on, wench."
She smiled brightly for the first time since leaving WacDonalds and grabbed his hand, heading towards Kaede's hut where a warm fire and her friends were waiting.
As long as she was with the person she loved on Christmas Eve, she would be with them forever - even if that person didn't know how she felt or the significance of her being there at that particular time.
One day he'd tell her the truth - Sango had explained the whole idea of Christmas and the day before to he and the monk after she went back down the well. Then he'd tell her that he been coming to the well not because he caught her scent in the wind and knew she was back, but because he wanted to spend the special day with her...