A/N: Merry Christmas! I felt like writing a Christmas oneshot, and... well, I noticed the Okami section didn't really have... any. Well, one. But that's not a lot. Anyway, this is what turned out; it took about an hour and a half to two hours, so if it's not up to par with my other stuff, that's why. This is completely disconnected from the storyline of Antithesis, so just read and enjoy!
A Present for Amaterasu
I groaned and bent my stiff back, hearing the vertebrae pop as they grudgingly moved back into place. I'd been running around Nippon for hours without stopping now, searching for a Christmas present. I hadn't been sure that people in the country celebrated Christmas, but seeing the snow fall and the villagers of Kamiki dancing in time to a very upbeat song, I had a feeling that they did. Which meant I needed to find Amaterasu a present. It was the least I could do, after all -- she'd put up with whatever mistakes I'd make in and out of battle, be it nearly hitting her accidently with my scythe or almost stepping on a defenseless squirrel.
The question in my mind remained, though: what do you get for a goddess that has everything? Well, besides her brush techniques, I thought, and looked around at the vast expanse of white that was Shinshu Field. The snow had begun to fall while the sun goddess and I were heading back to Kamiki, bits and pieces of white brushing lightly against our fur coats. She'd reveled in it then, running circles around me in delight. Amaterasu had watched the snowflakes fall with sparkling amber eyes, occasionally lifting a paw to catch one and look at it briefly before it melted away. Even Issun had been unusually happy about the snow, emerging out of the wolf's warm fur to gaze in awe at the sky.
I shook my head. Come on, think! There's got to be something... I began, trailing off as I stared at the field glumly. Guardian Sapling, animals, empty treasure chests -- nothing I saw could be used as a present.
Inwardly, I sighed. Somehow, Issun had found me, despite all the precautions I'd taken before sneaking out of the village.
"Where've ya been? I don't think Ammy's noticed -- she's helping Kushi make sake -" The artist hopped onto my muzzle and peered into one of my eyes. " - but between the snow and the beautiful ladies, it took me a while to figure out you were missing."
No, really? That was the point, I thought, and resisted the urge to scowl.
"So, whatcha been up to?" Now that the Poncle filled up half of my vision, I could see the smirk across his little face grow wider. "You were looking for a present for Ammy, weren't ya?"
I bobbed my head up and down, careful not to shake Issun off with the quick movements. Any ideas?
Catching the look in my eye, he took a seat on my snout. "Well, you've been gone a few hours, so I'm assuming you've been everywhere, right?"
Again I nodded.
"Hmmm..." Issun tapped one finger on my nose. "Have you tried that fortune teller lady?"
She's a fortune teller, Issun. She doesn't answer questions like 'what should I get this person for Christmas?' I thought, irritated that he'd even suggested that absurd idea.
A moment later the artist shook his head. "Never mind. She's a fortune teller, not a miracle worker. She can't help a hopeless case."
Spotting the indignation in my eyes, he stood up and held up one tiny hand. "Whoa, Shin! Calm down, I was joking!" Suddenly, he grinned. "Besides.. I think I may have the answer to our -- ahem, your -- problem." He hopped off into the thinnest section of snow, his aura a very bright green.
You do? I cocked my head to one side. How? It took me six hours to realize that I can't find anything!
But the Poncle was already bouncing back toward Kamiki. "Let's go, furball, or that present'll never get done!"
Kamiki was alive with festivities. As always, the rain of cherry blossoms continued to fill the sky; they were joined by the snowflakes that slowly fell from the clouds above. Atop the platform high above the village, Mr. Orange danced a special version of his Konohana Shuffle while Mrs. Orange and Mushi clapped their hands to keep time. Mushi's mother smiled and watched as Hayabusa dug holes for turnip seeds to be planted, and Kushi and Susano distributed some of the sake brewer's famous drink -- Thunder Brew -- around to everyone. The roofs of the houses had been covered in snow, giving the village a picturesque look. There was only one thing missing.
Apparently Issun had noticed this as well. "Huh... wonder where she's gotten off to." Once again he took a seat on my muzzle. "Well, that's all the better -- she won't spot us making that present!"
I blinked. Where are we going?
"To the River of the Heavens!"
Quickly and quietly we made our way up the stairs to the Spirit Gate. It was when my nose ran up against the barrier that I remembered: I hadn't been allowed in the first time I tried. Sakuya floated beside the gate, clad in her pink kimono. She watched me with an impassive look on her face as I tried to push through.
"You know as well as I do, Shinryu, that you are not allowed passage to the River of the Heavens," she said coldly.
"Awww, come on, babe, can't you let us through just this once?" asked Issun.
"No. And it doesn't help that you're asking, bug," she replied.
"I AM NOT A BUG!" he retorted angrily, but reigned in his temper to plead with her, his voice uncharacteristically soft. "Please, Sakuya? We're making a present for Ammy."
The wood sprite seemed to seriously think it over. I waited while she regarded me carefully. At last, after several minutes, she spoke. "Very well. But only this once, and only because it is Christmas!"
"Yes!" whooped Issun. "Hear that, Shin - whoa! Slow down!" he yelped as I dashed through the Spirit Gate.
I smiled, looking at the present that sat at my paws. I slowly rolled it behind a boulder, making sure it was held firmly in place before returning to base of Sakuya's tree.
"Well, we did it, furball. I'll see if I can lure Ammy over here, but after that it's up to you." He smirked. "Just, uh, don't do anything, ya hear? I don't need any more furballs to look after... if you get my drift."
I felt heat rising in my cheeks and for the first time appreciated the fact that my fur was jet black. If it had been white, the blush on my cheeks would have given away my embarrassment. Issun! We're not like that!
But the Poncle was already gone, bouncing down the steps toward the village. A few minutes later Amaterasu ventured up the same steps, something small held gently but firmly in-between her teeth. Spotting me, she walked over and carefully placed the object on the ground. It was a pendant, the image of a shining sun mixed with a radiant moon emblazoned on a white background. I looked from the pendant to her questioningly.
She nodded. I gingerly picked up her gift and -- with a little difficulty -- slipped it over my head. It slid down to my neck, where it hung comfortably. Her tail wagging, the wolf yipped in response, happy that I liked my present. I moved over the boulder and rolled my gift out into the open. The stunned but joyful look on Amaterasu's face was all it took to make the time Issun and I had spent making the gift worthwhile.
It was an orb of stardust. Inside the clear globe, the dust swirled and danced as the snow did in the wind.
Heh... she can see snow whenever she wants now. I have to admit, this was a pretty good idea. Out of the corner of my eye, a green glow vanished behind a rock. I smiled.Thanks, Issun.
Breaking her gaze away from the orb, the goddess sat next to me and nuzzled her my head with her own.
For the second time that day I found myself thankful that my fur was such a dark color. Um... you're welcome.
I turned my head to the sky when a single snowflake touched my nose. Amaterasu draped her tail over mine, and together we watched the snowflakes fall. There was only one thing left to be said.
Merry Christmas, Ammy.
A/N: Fluff. I don't do fluff. XD This is a definite change of pace from what I write. Overall, I think it turned out well... except something about the end bothers me.-shrug- Anyway... MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!
Wolf of the Twilight