A Mochi Christmas And A Puppy New Year
Sesshomaru and Inuyasha did not celebrate Christmas, but like humans, demons had traditions of marking the beginning of the year. So instead of feeling left out by everyone else who was enjoying the festive season with bright lights, presents and trees, Inuyasha decided that they should spend the year-end preparing for the New Year.
"Let's make mochi," he suggested brightly.
"We can buy mochi from anywhere," Sesshomaru answered.
"Don't you miss the traditional type that people used to hand-make at home every year?" Inuyasha asked.
"I've never been keen on human sweets, so no, I can't say that I miss the traditional type or any type."
"They're fresher and tastier. I remember how I used to help the village women make them," Inuyasha persisted. "In fact, I still have one of those old stone mortars."
"So let's make our own this Christmas, before the New Year."
"Christmas is too soon to make them if they're to be eaten at the New Year."
"Well, we should practise at Christmas so we can make better ones after that. Hey, why don't we make our mochi dog-shaped? That should be fun."
"I won't eat them, dog-shaped or otherwise," Sesshomaru warned.
"I will," Inuyasha declared stoutly, looking ready to eat an entire roomful of sticky rice cakes.
"All right," Sesshomaru sighed, caving in as he very often did whenever Inuyasha put on one of his eager or pouty expressions. "We'll take turns swinging the kine. You had better not crush my hand when it's your turn with the mallet, or there will be hell to pay."
"Ditto for you," Inuyasha shot back.
"I have a feeling this isn't going to be a good Christmas," Sesshomaru muttered to himself as Inuyasha hurried out the door to buy the glutinous rice and haul the old equipment out of storage.
"I don't remember it breaking up so much," Inuyasha grumbled, as the paste of cooked rice clung obstinately to his hand, leaving patches and peaks of glue-like whiteness all over it, instead of adhering to the rest of the paste in a cooperative lump. "I think I've added too much water."
"Yes, I would think you have," Sesshomaru remarked, poised to swing the mallet but hesitating when he saw that the paste in the mortar bowl had a consistency that suggested it would swallow the mallet rather than be pounded by it into submission.
"I'll try adding more of the rice," Inuyasha said, reaching for the cooked grains and adding them to the mortar. "Here, pound that."
Sesshomaru pounded, alternating with Inuyasha reaching his hand into the bowl to turn and lightly wet the paste. But it remained impossible to shape, and turned incredibly sticky in all the wrong ways. It glued down Inuyasha's hand and the kine, and coated the bowl, but refused to stick to itself.
"Hmm..." Inuyasha mused. "What am I doing wrong?"
"Inuyasha! Don't–" Sesshomaru started, only to find himself too late to stop the hanyou from doing what he often did when he was baffled, which was to scratch his head.
"Aaaaagh!" Inuyasha groaned, when the sticky mixture of boiled rice and water plastered his fingers to his mane.
"I did try to warn you," Sesshomaru sighed, putting the mallet down and moving away from the mortar bowl while trying to separate Inuyasha's beautiful long hair from the rice dough.
"Ouch! Don't pull! It hurts!" Inuyasha protested.
"I can't not pull if we want to get this stuff off it," Sesshomaru insisted.
"Owwww!" the half-demon howled.
"Stop squirming!" Sesshomaru chided. "You've put up with holes through your belly without protest, so I don't see why you always kick up such a fuss when we need to sort out your hair or claws!"
"It's different! Owwww!"
"Keep still and let me see if we can wash it off, or if we'll have to cut your hair."
"The last time you tried cutting my hair, I ended up looking like a dandelion with ears!"
"Better than a mochi-head, no?" Sesshomaru retorted, trying to see how much of the hair was stuck to the fingers and claws. "And we were forced to cut it that time only because you had to venture into that rat-glue-trap battle with Koga. That damnable rat-trap glue was worse than youkai resin."
"But Koga provoked me."
"Everything provokes you," Sesshomaru sighed. "Just bear with it for a while. I think I can free this finger here… and unknot this mess here… and we should be able to get your hand out… here."
Sesshomaru was carefully easing Inuyasha's hand loose from his thick silver hair, but Inuyasha was less patient, and tugged his hand free – only to send it flying deep into Sesshomaru's hair instead.
For a second, there was a deathly silence in which the two brothers froze and locked golden eyes with each other. Inuyasha looked thoroughly alarmed, knowing just how proud of and particular about his platinum locks Sesshomaru was.
"Inuyasha…" the elder demon growled.
"Sesshomaru…" the hanyou gulped, giving his hand an experimental tug, only to find that it was stuck fast to the taiyoukai's tresses.
"Get your hand out of my hair."
"I'm trying," Inuyasha mumbled, using his non-sticky hand to tease the strands free of the tacky mochi paste. "Maybe if I sprinkle on some of the dusting flour, it will help release my fingers without too much tangling…"
He dragged an annoyed Sesshomaru by the hair over to where they had been working on the mochi, and dipped a hand into the flour so that he could dab some onto the sticky mess that was ruining the taiyoukai's coiffure. But in doing so, he pulled him much too close to the mortar bowl holding the unformed mochi paste, and ended up drawing the ends of his brother's hair into the bowl.
"Oh no!" Inuyasha yelped.
Sesshomaru's hair was now stuck to the mortar bowl, and to Inuyasha's hand. In a panic, Inuyasha grasped Sesshomaru's tresses mid-shaft and yanked the ends free of the overwet mochi. They came up threatening to drip the glue-like substance onto the carpet. In an effort to prevent damage to the carpet, Inuyasha bent down so he could cup his free hand under the ends of the hair, only to wind up yanking Sesshomaru's head down with him.
"Inuyasha!" Sesshomaru yelled as they banged heads, and the sticky ends of the taiyoukai's hair swung over to glue themselves to the ends of Inuyasha's locks.
"Aaaugh!" Inuyasha cried, as their hair stuck together.
With a low growl, Sesshomaru ordered: "Bathroom. Now. We're washing all this off."
Inuyasha nodded without a word, dipped his free hand generously into the flour, and wrapped his fingers around the ends of their hair to prevent possible dripping of the gunk onto the floor. But as he grasped the hair and tried to mould it to fit into his palm, he began to notice something.
"Hey, the mochi paste is now forming just right!" he exclaimed, as the handful of flour finally turned the sticky goo to the right texture. "Look at that! I think it just needed a bit of flour."
He happily moulded the mochi paste onto and around their hair with his hand, until he happened to glance at the taiyoukai and registered the death-glare in his golden eyes.
He recoiled and started to say that it could wait till later, while trying to pull away from Sesshomaru. At exactly the same moment, Sesshomaru growled and made a move in the opposite direction towards the bathroom.
Their stuck-together hair and Inuyasha's trapped hand only snapped them back together again, causing them to knock over the mortar bowl and fall face-down into the mochi goo.
"There's hair in this piece of mochi," Koga remarked as he drew the long, silver strand out of his mouth, through his fangs. "Other than that, it's really good – and I like the canine shapes you've made them into. But it's kind of early to be inviting us over to eat mochi, isn't it? It's only Boxing Day."
Shippo added: "It's exactly like what the village women used to make when we lived there – except for the doggy shapes. And the hair."
The wolf and fox demons were the ones they had invited over, along with Sesshomaru's mother, to help eat the mochi that had made such a mess the day before.
"There's hair in mine too," said the matriarch of the inuyoukai clan with interest, sniffing at the strand she had pulled out to see if she could tell whether it had come from her son or son-in-law. "Making these mochi in dog shapes is a charming idea, my darlings, but adding dog hair to them is surely taking it a step too far."
Inuyasha muttered under his breath and instinctively scratched at the spots on his scalp where his hair had been yanked out by the roots by Sesshomaru, or the demonic mochi paste, or the furious bout of scrubbing in the bathroom, or all of the above. Sesshomaru had not exactly been gentle, and his mood had not improved when the mochi paste that washed down the drain ended up clogging the pipes.
Sesshomaru glanced at his brother once before remarking coolly to their guests: "Be grateful you've only found one strand each."
"You should market these," Shippo suggested. "Mochi with its own in-built tooth-flossing ingredients. Like those pet-shop treats which floss while the dog chews."
"Hey," Inuyasha said, perking up. "That might not be a bad idea! Maybe we can–"
He broke off as he caught another death-glare from the golden eyes of the taiyoukai beside him. Sesshomaru looked about ready to help him meet a very sticky end even before the end of this year, and there was enough gooey stuff in front of them, as it was, in the form of all that mochi.
Inuyasha rather wisely popped a piece of doggy mochi into his mouth in lieu of making further comments. These treats were meant to symbolise the hope of a long life, and he had never believed in that sort of symbolism before.
But today – just for today – he knew that plugging his mouth with the sticky stuff and not saying another word about it might actually help to prolong his years. At the very least, it would lengthen the years he would spend in good health and in one piece, without needing to have any severed parts of his body held together by a mortar of mochi paste and dog hair.
No matter how effective that adhesive might be.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!