"What is this nonsense?" Inu Yasha snarled as he picked at what looked like a stray leaf on Kagome's shirt. He knew by smell that it wasn't real, but why in the hells would someone want to put a false leaf on their attire?
"It's holly!' she exclaimed, enthusiastically. Inu Yasha instantly regretted asking; he could feel a story coming on. He never understood the strange things humans did, especially in the distant future which Kagome came from. "It's a pin my mama gave me last year. It's for Christmas!"
"Christmas?" Miroku raised a brow "Who's he?"
Kagome chuckled a little. "Oh yeah. I guess no westerners have brought that here yet. Christmas is a day at the end of December when Christians celebrate the birth of their savior, but here in Japan, where most of us are Buddhists, we just have a really good time. It's an excuse to make a winter's day more special and spend time with the ones we love."
"That sounds nice." Sango pulled Kirara into her lap and smiled. "Too bad it hasn't come here yet."
Kagome's eyes lit up. "Maybe it will!"
She proceeded to tell her friends about the various aspects of the holiday and how people celebrated it in Japan and around the world. Inu Yasha listened cautiously. It sounded mushy and complicated. He wanted no part of it and was very glad that he lived in an age before something that obnoxious had come to them.
Outside the dojo Inu Yasha-tachi were staying in that night, a tall form leaned against a nearby tree and listened as Kagome told her tale.
"So you see, it's a really wonderful day. The New Year celebration is more for being with your family and a religious observance and stuff, and at my house it's pretty intense. But Christmas is always fun!"
Shippou smacked his lips. "I'd like to have some of that Christmas cake!"
"Oh, it's so good!" Kagome hugged herself. "Maybe I'll bring some back with me for you."
"So, people celebrate this day, even though it has no religious significance to the majority?" Miroku asked.
"Perhaps we could be the first people in Japan to do this... Christmas thing - together," Sango wondered.
Kagome looked to Inu Yasha and quickly looked away, blushing a bit. "Well, I suppose as a group..." Poor Sango didn't know the implications of what she just said. To be asked to spend Christmas with a person is deeply romantic. Her heart fluttered a little bit as she imagined asking Inu Yasha to do that very thing.
"Yay! Can I get presents?" Shippou asked, bouncing into Kagome's lap.
"I don't see why not! You've been very good this year!"
Miroku grew interested by the idea of presents. "Perhaps we can exchange gifts, as you said, Kagome?"
"Oh yeah!" she chimed. "We could do Secret Santa!"
"Secret Sanba?" Inu Yasha asked , growing more apprehensive as his comrades were growing more enthusiastic.
Kagome couldn't help laughing a little. "No, Secret Santa. Here's what we'll do. I'll write our names on pieces of paper and then each of us will pick a name. Whoever you get, you give a gift to, but you can't tell that person that you picked them. It's a surprise." Kagome took a little Hello Kitty notepad out of her knapsack and wrote their names on separate pieces of paper. "Then a few days later we'll all exchange the gifts." She shuffled the papers and fanned them out. "Here, everyone take a name, don't tell anyone who you got!"
Sango, Miroku and Shippou each took a paper. Kagome then turned to Inu Yasha and smiled.
"Take a name."
"I just SAID why!"
She was beginning to pout. Inu Yasha began to sweat. 'What if I get Shippou or something!' he thought frantically. 'Kuso... what if I get Kagome!' The girl's brows arched forward. "Fine!" he shouted and snagged a piece of paper. He didn't look at it. "How are we supposed to know what people want?!" he barked.
"It's not about that, Inu Yasha," Kagome soothed. "Whatever you give will be fine. It's the thought that counts."
"Che," he snorted.
"Ok! Then this one is for me." She turned it over and almost sighed with disappointment. 'Sango,' she thought to herself. 'Well, at least it'll be easy to find something for her. I know what she likes at least. I can't even imagine what I would give Inu Yasha if I had gotten him!'
'Inu Yasha,' Shippou thought. He screwed his little foxy mouth up into a puzzled expression and tried hard not to stare at the hanyou. 'What the heck can I give him!?'
'Shippou,' Miroku thought and rolled his eyes. 'Fantastic.'
'Miroku,' Sango read her paper in her head. She looked at the characters that formed his name for a while and sighed. The priest leaned over to get a peek and was quickly whapped on the head by both girls.
"Houshi-sama, it's supposed to be a surprise," Sango reminded him.
"Right, right. Forgot." Miroku rubbed his bumps and grumbled. Inu Yasha snorted in amusement.
"That goes for you too, mister!" Kagome warned.
"What? I didn't look at your stupid paper!" He got up and stretched. Finally, Inu Yasha looked at the paper he had chosen. 'Kusooooo....' he moaned internally. 'Kagome...' He crumpled the note and threw it into the fire they all sat around. The others did like wise and continued asking Kagome questions about Christmas.
Outside, the spy had sneaked up to the side of the dojo.
"My Lord! Shall we attack now?"
"I said be still," his eyes flashed in the moonlight. "Or I will kill you."
"Eep!" Jaken covered his froggy mouth and waited for instruction. They were supposed to have taken the group by surprise in an attempt to take the Shinkon no Tama and the Tetsusaiga again, but his master just stood there, listening to their conversation.
Jaken heard it as well, and was a little disturbed that his master was so moved to pay attention to it. Suddenly, Sesshou-maru turned away from the dojo and began walking away.
"My Lord!" Jaken all but shouted.
"Hush, Jaken. We are leaving."
He was speechless. Jaken heard laughter from inside as he watched his master walk away. He scratched his chin and followed Sesshou-maru at a distance.
The next day, Kagome went back to her time to get Sango a present. She had a hard time deciding what to get. Perfume? Clothes? Hair accessories? Sango was an uncomplicated girl, maybe she'd like a pair of shoes, or a piece of jewelry. She wouldn't even know what to do with some of the things in the shop windows. Personal organizers, pens that light up and talk to you, hand-held electronic back massagers... Kagome laughed, picturing people from the Sengoku Jidai running away from those devices crying 'witchcraft'! She settled on a very nice pajama set from a department store. "Comfortable and practical as well as nice! Perfect!"
Shippou climbed a tree and sat down. "Think, Kitsune," he said to himself. "What can I get this guy!? Does he even have pockets to carry a gift in?" His stomach rumbled. "AH! That's it! He can carry my present in his stomach!" Shippou transformed into a pink ball and floated happily out of the tree.
Sango tried hard not to stare at Miroku as she pondered what to get him as they were walking towards Kaede's Village. Inu Yasha walked a good distance ahead with his hands clasped behind his head. 'He's got everything he could want, and even if he doesn't it's only a matter of time before he swindles someone out of it.' she groaned to herself. 'I just wish there was something special that I could give him...' All of a sudden the girl blushed and looked down.
"Are you all right, Sango-san?"
"Uh... yes. Just, thought of something really disturbing," she admitted.
"Oh?" He sounded surprised. 'I could have sworn she was just giving me a look...' he thought.
'Shake it off!' Sango looked ahead and jogged up to Inu Yasha. "Inu Yasha," she called to him.
"Uh?" he raised a brow and looked over at her as she came up on his right, but kept walking.
"How's your gift coming along?"
"Uhg," he sighed.
"Yeah, I'm in the same boat. I can't think of a thing to get... my... person."
'Maybe she got me...?' he wondered.
"It's like, I can't imaging even what.. my person would want!"
"Same here," he admitted.
"I wish it weren't a secret, I could use some advice."
"What, from me?"
"Well, from anyone."
He pouted slightly. 'Maybe not.. or.. maybe..? Ugh! screw it. I don't give a crap who's going to give me some trinket I don't even want.' He looked over at Sango again. She seemed a little sad. "Well, whatever you give, make sure it's something you want to give. That it means something. It's the thought that counts."
Sango blinked at him. He was looking straight ahead again. "Thanks," she said, astounded and stopped walking, allowing herself to catch up with Miroku again.
Inu Yasha shrugged and continued on towards the village. "Wait, what did I just say?" he asked himself out loud and sighed.
Kagome returned the next day and her friends all greeted her at the well. They went back to the village where Kaede had a feast waiting for them. They talked and laughed into the night. As the torches were lit with the coming of evening, Kagome clapped her hands together. "Ok! Was everyone able to find a gift?"
Shippou, Miroku and Sango all nodded. Inu Yasha sort of rolled his head.
"Is that a yes or a no, Inu Yasha?" she asked.
"Yes! Shit, can we get this over with?"
Kagome rolled her eyes, but kept her temper. 'It's the holidays, just keep smiling, Kagome,' she told herself.
"I'll go first," Miroku stood up.
"Oh! Wait! I have an idea! So it's a real surprise, Kaede-sama? Can you help us?"
"Uh, what's this?' the old woman stopped stirring a pot of soup and hobbled over to them.
"Can we whisper to you who to give the gifts to, then we'll leave the room, and if you could, put them in the recipient's place?"
"Sounds easy enough." The woman shrugged. They each took out their gifts and secretly gave them to Kaede. Inu Yasha was last and sort of shoved his at the old woman. She raised a brow when he said Kagome's name.
When they came back in, Shippou ran to his seat and tore at the cloth wrapping his gift. "Wai!" he cheered. "Uh... what is it?" he held up a small, bejeweled talisman.
Sango smiled at the pretty paper. "Gee, I wonder who could have gotten me this?" She held up the strange clothes. 'I wonder what ceremony one must wear these to?'
Miroku opened his present: a old and worn set of prayer beads. He raised a brow.
Inu Yasha opened his. "Wow! Look at the size of this jerky!" A genuine smile spread across his lips. He gnawed off a piece."And it's good too!"
"It better be!" Shippou chimed. "That was expensive!"
"Thanks, Shippou," Inu Yasha said and patted the fox demon on the head.
Kagome unwrapped her present. It was a little wilted, but still beautiful. A single, perfect chrysanthemum bloom. "Where on earth did someone find a flower at this time of year...?" she wondered under her breath.
Miroku scanned the room for his Santa. Sango waved and smiled. "These are from you, Sango-san?"
"Yes. They were my father's. It's not much, but they mean a lot to me and I knew you could use them."
Miroku gasped. "I see..." He smiled. "They mean a lot to me, too. Thank you, Sango."
"Kagome, this is very nice..." Sango started.
"They're for sleeping in." She seemed to read her mind.
"Oh! How novel! I'll enjoy them, thank you, Kagome-chan!"
"So what is this thingie?" Shippou let the talisman twist in the firelight.
"It's an ancient talisman meant to bring the bearer good luck," Miroku informed him. "And it calls up the spirit of the fox demon for protection."
"And where did you locate that little item, Houshi-sama?" Sango jibed.
"Hey, I saw it and thought instantly of Shippou. I thought he'd like it."
"I do! It's sparkley!" he chimed and watched it spin on its cord.
Inu Yasha put the huge piece of jerky down and knitted his brows.
"So, this is from you, Inu Yasha?" Kagome held her chrysanthemum.
"Yeah. I couldn't think of anything..."
"Where did you get it?"
"Somewhere..." He wiggled his ear. "Did you hear that?"
"What?" Shippou leaned over and listened too. Inu Yasha pushed him aside.
"I'll go check!" The hanyou darted out the door.
Sango and Miroku made to follow but Kagome waved them off. They nodded and chatted some more. Kagome stood up and followed Inu Yasha out into the cold night.
Far from the cozy scene, Jaken trotted into the cave and lit a fire with his staff. He busied himself, attracting Sesshou-maru's attention. "What is it you're doing, Jaken?"
"Oh, nothing, My Lord."
Growing suspicious, he crossed to the imp and grabbed him. He brought him up to eye-level and glared at him. "You're up to something."
Sesshou-maru had been quite considerably more unpleasant since the night he called off the attack, and it seemed that he was about to kill Jaken if he didn't answer.
"Muh.. muh..." he stuttered, his neck being squeezed. Sesshou-maru loosened his grip. "Merry Christmas Sesshou-maru-sama!" The tiny youkai held out a highly decorated box.
Sesshou-maru's brows came together, but he put Jaken down and took the box. Inside was a beautiful pearl-handled hair-brush. He looked to his minion, but he was already backing out the mouth of the cave.
"Merry Christmas, Jaken." Sesshou-maru smiled.
"Inu Yasha?" Kagome hugged her parka closer and looked up into the tree.
"Thank you so much for my gift."
"No it didn't! It's very pretty!" she defended the flower she now wore behind her ear.
He was stumped there.
"I know how far you must have gone in the last day or so to get this. That means you put a lot of effort and thought into it. And that's why I love it."
His eyes bulged. "You do?"
She nodded. "Now come back inside. It's freezing out here."
She looked up to the sky. A few flakes started to fall. Kagome giggled a little and began to serenade him. "Ohhhh.. the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful! And since we've no place to go, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!"
"What?" he half-moaned as he dropped out of the tree.
"It's a Christmas carol!"
Kagome laughed and continued singing as they walked back to the village.
"When we finally say good night,
How I'll hate going out in the storm;
But if you really hold me tight,
All the way home I'll be warm!
Oh, the fire is slowly dying,
And, my dear, we're still good-bye-ing,
But as long as you love me so...
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!"
-end : Aoi Kami Sarah : 12.18.01