Coming Home by SHORTFRY

Coming Home

To Yumanichan for the 2021 Dokuga Holiday Gift Exchange!

Hope you enjoy! This is a slightly edited version than the one submitted for the exchange – I realized a bit too late that I had sent in the wrong draft when I was playing nurse to my husband’s case of COVID, and this was after I had been provided a deadline extension (thanks Koaruhana ^.^) and I still managed to mess up by replying the exchange email to myself instead of directly to the exchange. Yeah, my brain was obviously on vacation. 

Prompt: Character A is stuck working in coffee shop on Christmas Day and Character B is the lonely soul spending their whole day there.


Gloomy, grey clouds lounged against an equally colourless sky. It was turning out to be one of those overcast days where everything seemed all too bright. The ones that would cause eyes to squint from the sharpness of a diffuse glow, etching a claim on exposed retinas not hidden behind shades. Tall buildings blended into the obtrusive glare of a nearly-white background. Newly fallen snow dusted streets and crevices like powdered icing, only tasteless and bland instead of sweet.  

But none of that mattered to him, this washout of a palette.

Inhaling deeply, a moment was taken to savour the cleansing chill of the atmosphere, relieving the stench of recycled air from a fourteen-hour flight. He was never particularly fond of the winter months, or any other season. Yet there was now a subtle appreciation for the muting of senses whenever the weather dropped, and all else faded.


She knew she shouldn’t have been so ambitious. Had known it was a terrible idea from the start. But stubbornness had sat deftly upon a left shoulder, whispering ‘it will work, trust me’. It had been the catalyst to the catastrophe that was happening right before her very eyes.

But as she watched with helpless horror, any pitiful prayer for mercy to the God of Mayhem was quickly dashed aside.

It was already too late.

The house of cards had come crashing down.

The Tower of Pisa had finally tipped over.

Olympus has fallen.

Now she stood defeated, staring at the crumpled boxes strewn across wet pavement.

“I told you it would take two trips.”

With a sliver of hope that nothing had broken upon the fall, the remaining cardboard boxes were precariously manoeuvred in one arm using her hip as leverage, while the other hand carefully fished out a large set of keys. Unlocking the glass double doors, she pivoted her back to push against the entrance, shooting a wry look over to an amused co-worker.

“All hail Sally, the mighty Oracle!” Following the sarcastically poor imitation of renaissance speech, a slight bow was added – awkwardly – for dramatic effect. “Now give me a hand with those.”

Laughing good-heartedly, Sally simply shook her head at the theatrics before bending down to grab the fallen boxes, slightly surprised to find they were heavier than expected. “Honestly, Kagome, how much of this stuff do we even need? There’s like, four boxes!”

Kagome gave a nonchalant shrug as they both entered the darkened room, flipping the lights on once their cargo had been set in a row on the largest table. “Enough to cheer this place up.”

As Kagome dove into opening each box, Sally gave an assessing once-over of their current workplace.

It was a mid-sized café situated in the financial district of the downtown core, tucked into the side of a large office building at street level. Unlike the corporate franchise giants of Tim Hortons or Starbucks, Java Jolt was independently owned by a sagely brother-sister duo. Chocolate leather seats comprised the comfy booths that lined the walls, each centred with a sleek marble table. The walls were coated in the soft cream shade of Benjamin Moore’s Navajo White. Dark brown trims raised the elegance while providing a practicality to high-trafficked areas and hiding scuff marks. The counter and kitchen equipment all matched in commercial-grade polished steel. Frosted glass and crystal sconces lay the finishing touches to the upscale parlour.

Overall, it was exactly what one would expect from an establishment catered to the corporate masses.

Perhaps Kagome was right, thought Sally. Though nice, the place was borderline boring, lacking personality and flavour. It was too generic. It was the poster child of caffe shop stock photos.

“As long as it doesn’t get us in trouble with Matt again,” Sally grumbled warily, grimacing at reminders of last year’s fiasco that had taken a whole week to fix. She was not looking forward to one of Kagome’s exuberant ideas landing them another scolding and pay deduction by their stern-faced manager.

“Yes, yes, no using fake snow this time,” Kagome dismissed flippantly while digging through the boxes in concentration, “And besides, he’ll be gone for the next two weeks. Plenty of time for us to take it all down and clean up before he gets back and yells at us.”

That seemed to have put Sally somewhat at ease. No fake snow meant no random fluffs of cotton accidentally catching fire from the electric kettle. Or having white fibres getting stuck in the blender, tangling around the blades. Seriously, that stuff had ended up everywhere.

Accepting her fate, Sally peered into what seemed like bottomless pits of things that glittered, shined, and shimmered – and visibly gaped. Each box had been filled to the brim with decorations, nearly exploding at the seams with colours galore.

Glancing at the clock reading 4:54 AM, she consciously withheld the urge to groan, now knowing that Kagome hadn’t called to simply ask for a ride into work, and why they had to come in an hour and a half before opening shift. Visions of her lazy morning were already vanishing, chased away by the pure ambition of a hyped-up elf all too eager to spread the holiday cheer.

It was too late to back out now.

“Alright,” Sally conceded, head hung resignedly, knowing there was no way to divert Kagome’s current trajectory. It was the younger girl’s favourite holiday, after all. Better get this over with now than drag it out. “What are we starting with first?”

Beaming, Kagome held up a giant tangled mess of wires and bulbs. “Let there be light!”

It was going to be a long, long morning.


It had taken two pre-opening sessions to get most of the decorations set up around the café to Kagome’s specifications. Had it been up to Sally, she would have slapped on a simple banner and called it a day.

Instead, colourful lights now lined the windows, creating an inviting glow for passers-by. A miniature evergreen with polyester pine needles stood by the pick-up counter, stuffed with gold and silver ornaments and its own set of mini string lights. Bouquets of silk hollies were nestled neatly at each booth on the wall ledge as to not take up table space. Tinsel and garlands were strung along the bakery display, wrapping around all sides of the front counter.

The entire place had been transformed. It now resembled one of those shops in the seasonal Christmas Market down by the distillery district – a popular attraction for the city folks to walk around, eat, shop, and indulge in merry cheer.

But the decorating wasn’t done. She wasn’t done yet, apparently.

“Why are you putting pigeons on the window?”

Kagome turned from where she stood on the step stool, blinking owlishly at Sally’s questioning gaze. When the silence stretched, a glance was shot back at the two picture cutouts that had just been taped to the glass. Reaching out a hand, she traced their outlines; one bird shaded in a deep violet, the other in a light pink. A soft smile crested her lips. “They’re turtle doves. Two love birds.”

“They look like pigeons,” Sally replied, unconvinced. “But my question still stands; why are you putting them on the window?”

Kagome turned back to see the twenty-six year-old woman still standing there with a finger to her chin, caramel ponytail falling over a shoulder, head slightly tilted, a contemplating inspection aimed at said birds.

For a brief moment, the imagery induced a comforting familiarity. It tugged at heartstrings in reminders of someone she once knew, a similar expression often donned by one whom had been considered a sister.

And then it faded.

Stood before Kagome was her co-worker once more. Shaking away the memory, she smiled brightly. “Because it’s the second day of Christmas!”

The other girl’s brows pinched together in brief confusion. Then, a veil of understanding settled her features.  

“That makes sense now,” Sally hummed smugly, making her way over to clear a few mugs from a vacant table. “I was wondering why a plush duck was sitting in the tree since yesterday.”

Kagome laughed then, climbing back down from the step stool. “That’s a partridge!”


He wasn’t sure why he had opted to take a cab today. Walking would have gotten him to the destination faster.

Much faster.

A sourly glance was aimed at the taxi’s digital timer before panning over to the standstill traffic. For a city of this size, it was unfathomable why anyone had thought it to be a good idea to close off an entire lane, on a two-lane roadway shared with streetcars that ran on above-ground tracks – during rush hour. It had to have been a massive oversight of city planners. No civil engineer in their right mind would have rubberstamped this web of snail-paced excuse for transportation in the municipality’s busiest areas. And no proficient project manager would have decided that this would be the best time for traffic-halting construction work to commence. A bunch of incompetents. All it did was waste time.


It was odd. That even after all these endless, enduring years, the concept of wasted time would have roused such needless irritation. That wasted time even mattered in the slightest to the likes of him.  

A loud honk and a string of foreign curses streaming from the driver’s mouth interrupted his inner grumblings, the cab coming to a complete stop mere inches from tapping the bumper of the car ahead. They had only travelled half a block before becoming gridlocked.

More time wasted.

Grabbing ahold of his briefcase and handing over some cash, he swung open the door and exited, not sparing a second glance to the cabbie uttering his thanks for the overpayment on a twenty-dollar ride.

As he stepped onto the side of the street, it was easy to see the rush-hour frenzy in full effect. Businessmen and pedestrians milled about in swarms of black and grey. It wasn’t much different from the crowds back home. It might have been less busy here compared to back home, likely due to a smaller population.

But there were crowds nonetheless. Humans were all the same everywhere he went. Endless bodies coming and going, all dressed for the season – bundled up in pea coats made of wool or down-filled puffer jackets, boot-covered feet causing mini splatters of melted snow as they hurried to their destinations, each set forth in their own agendas, in their own life.

Eyeing the brownish slush that had once been white, he frowned as the cold and wet began soaking into his leather shoes. Perhaps he should have just stayed in the cab and endured the two-hour ride back to the hotel that was only six blocks away. If only he could still fly without being detected, without causing panic and mass hysteria from the common populous.

But did he even care?

Long ago, he would have done as he pleased. Would have set the world ablaze just to see the terrified faces of those witnessing his raw power, to know that it was he to whom they would bow.

But then, things had changed.

A path of supreme conquest – he had strayed, led away by the innocence of a wide-eyed little girl.

Forking a road into a new path paved from a timid truce.

Across bridges forged of family and pack.

All leading to… nowhere.

Gone in a wish come true.

The grip upon his briefcase tightened as he pushed away thoughts of the past. It was useless to dwell.

He refused to dwell on what cannot be changed.

Making his way along the sidewalk, he forced attention into his surroundings, carefully avoiding distracted pedestrians while blending in like everyone else.

The smells of the city was a pungent spike that stabbed olfactory senses. Unlike upon arrival on that quiet Sunday morning, fresh snow had melted away to a saturation of damp and mildew.

Grimacing, his pace increased, the stench of the crowds finally lessening when passing by a street of coffee shops and bakeries.

Sweet aromas of Japanese cheesecake had spread as long as the lineup for one of its savoury treats, enticing anyone passing by to come have a taste.

Another bakery boasted offerings of fresh fruit cakes and tarts, hints of mangoes and strawberries wafting through the air whenever their doors swung open.

Many of the shops seemed to be wildly popular. He was beginning to get annoyed at the throngs of customers nearly bumping into him in their haste to get in line what whichever store.

Spotting the other, less congested side of the street, he was about to cross when a sliver of a long-buried scent stopped him dead in his tracks.

Honeysuckle and jasmine.

Dipped in rich, dark coffee.


Reason one for why Christmas was one of her favourite North American holidays; nothing compared to the sheer joy and happiness that exuded from everyone, even the grumpiest of grouches. Rude customers just did not exist this time of year. At least, not when they’re buying coffee. She’s pretty sure retail workers might be of a different opinion.

Reason two; was the slowing down of the city. People seemed to rush around less, a simmering of the pulse to something less manic – unless they were shopping. Holiday shopping was always a frazzle any day of the week. But overall, everything else toned down – especially the white-collar office workers. It was a welcomed break from the daily 9AM line-ups and 3PM refuel. Not that she didn’t like her current job; holidays just gave a bit of a breather.

Like today, just five days away from Christmas, the café was quiet except for the few patrons typing away on their laptops, blind and deaf to the world around them, likely to try and meet any last-minute deadlines for whatever assignment they were furiously working on. Kagome watched them idly from her seat at the front counter, occasionally checking on the coffee machine and cleaning non-existent spills here and there to kill the time. Sally had already flown home for the holidays, leaving Kagome the only one manning the day shift.

Opening the calendar on her phone, she double checked her itinerary, eager for her turn to visit home after Christmas Day when Sally is back on shift.

Just a few more days.

When the bells that had been hung up over the front door chimed in a delicate tone to indicate a customer had entered, she pocketed her phone and glanced up with her standard greeting smile, only to freeze at the tall figure standing before her.

It can’t be.

She had to have been daydreaming, a broken film reel stuck on scenes flickering through her mind, damaged from years of replaying those same images whenever reality felt like slipping.

But she wasn’t dreaming this time.

She was not imagining it.

Though his face was unmarked and she felt no aural buzz against her skin, she recognized those gilded irises and platinum hair from anywhere.

He was real. In the flesh.




The moment stood still, suspended in time as all at once, all those years of wondering of what had happened to her friends in the past flashed through her mind. She could feel the pressure building behind her eyes, threatening to release like a damn and flood the gates.

But she held back, locked those gates and reinforced them, blinking away the threat of tears.

“No one has called me that in a long time now.” Her lips were trembling as she fought to settle jittered nerves, still stunned at seeing him here, in her time, dressed in a modern black coat and dark slacks.

“How are you here?” He spoke in the same baritone that echoed from a distant memory, stepping towards the counter where she stood behind. The underlying question was clear in his golden gaze.

Why are you still alive.

How are you still alive.

She was curious too. About what had happened in the past five hundred years. In the lives of her friends. There were many, many things she wanted to know, words stringing together like those tangled Christmas lights, on the tip of her tongue. She wanted to know everything.

Kagome plastered on a hopeful smile, choking back the sob that wanted to escape, “Do you have time for a coffee?”


After a few awkward pauses stemming from Kagome still trying to process the fact that this was real, they had settled into a companionable conversation.

She had seated them at a booth closer to the front counter as to make it easier to hop in and out, in case a customer had to make an order. Sesshomaru wasn’t much a coffee drinker, but luckily they had several blends of exotic teas that he acquiesced to when she offered.

Before long, an hour had passed, and the daylight darkened into night. She had told him of her true origins; of falling down the well all those years ago, of what had catapulted into the journey to collecting the jewel shards after shattering it, of her disappearance back to her own time after the defeat of Naraku and a wish had been made to rid the jewel forever. And though she did most of the talking, he was forthcoming with answering her questions too – about what became of her friends.

About their deaths.

“I’m glad Sango and Miroku were able to get married and settle down to have the kids they always wanted.” Kagome smiled, a stray tear trailing down a smooth cheek as her gaze drifted to the turtle doves on the window. “I’m glad they no longer had to fight.”

Sesshomaru handed her a napkin. “Your companions had lived happy lives.”

Grateful, she dabbed away the wetness on her lash line. But she wasn’t ready to ask about the others. About the best friend that she had come to love in a completely different, platonic way. About the kit that she had taken in like her own. Not yet.

“And what about you?’ she asked instead, genuinely curious. “What have you been up to all these years?”

His eyes met hers then, knew that she was only distracting from what she truly wanted to know. “Rebuilding.”

He regaled the tale of the fall of the Western Lands. Of how things had changed over the centuries; the disruption of men and technology and science. Of the burning of his domain and years that it had taken to rebuild and overcome.

To reinforce, to adapt.

To change.

She was curious if he had ever started a family of his own.

He told her no.

“Why not?” she hedged. “Didn’t you ever love someone?”

Long fingers reached for his cup, sharp nose inhaling the scent of honeysuckle and jasmine, a scent that had nothing to do with the tea he was drinking. It was a scent from his long lost past that was now as bright as he ever remembered, all emanating from the being sitting across from him awaiting his every word; the woman with dark, midnight hair and glistening sapphire orbs as deep as the torrential sea.

A woman who had been lost to time, and found again.


Their conversations had continued over the next couple of days.

Sesshomaru would stop by in the afternoon when the café was practically empty, taking a seat at the same booth from their first meeting in the modern era. Kagome would bring over two cups of tea and some pastries. He would only drink the tea, but she had enjoyed having something to nibble on while they conversed.

He had told her of his current ventures in the modern age, of why he was in Toronto to attend a week-long national conference to represent his company. She had told him of her pursuit of a master’s degree in social work at the local university. Her graduation would be this spring, glimmers of pride lining expressive eyes while explaining expert time-management skills with juggling school and part-time work.

“Why did you not obtain your degree in Tokyo?” he asked.

Kagome chewed the edge of her plush lips, and he noticed her eyes dimming, downcast as shoulders slumped. “I guess… I just needed a change of scenery.”

Staying in Tokyo would have been closer to home, to her family.

To the well.

But she just couldn’t. She didn’t tell him of all the years she’d spent trying to pull herself out from a mountain of grief of losing her friends. Of a whole life on the other side that was lost to her, that the well and the shrine grounds was a constant reminder of something so close yet so far out of reach. 

She couldn’t tell him, but when her gaze rose to meet his, she knew she didn’t have to.

His amber eyes reflected the warmth streaming in from the afternoon sun. He wasn’t what she remembered him to be. He was…softer. The edges rounded out.

Kagome smiled, and took another bite of her pastry.  


It was Christmas Eve, and like most shops and retailers, the café was closing early.

“When are you leaving?” she asked from where she was bent over with a rag, wiping down the empty tables.

“Tomorrow evening.”

Straightening, Kagome walked over to their regular booth and sat down across from him in her usual seat. The rag twisted within her hands, hidden beneath the polished table. She glanced around the coffee shop, gaze landing everywhere except on him.

Reds and greens and yellows and blues dotted the window, each little bulb emitting a glow that no longer gave a sense of warmth. The miniature tree stood limply, its sparse branches donning ornaments that are too glaringly shiny and the colours not the right shade – the gold was too yellow, the silver coming off as grey. The tinsel around the bakery display was beginning to appear tacky, bits and pieces flaking off from getting caught on customer’s sleeves leaning against the display. She eyed the hollies by the booth. Threads of fake silk stuck out, the plastic berries collecting a tiny layer of dust.

None of it felt the same.

None of it was real.

Not the fake turtle doves in conjured love by the window.

Not the lonesome partridge stuck into the plastic tree.

The whirring of the coffeemaker was becoming too loud in the deafening silence. The caramel lattes and blueberry scones smelled sickeningly sweet, making her almost want to gag.

“Are you coming back to Toronto?” she finally asked, almost too quietly, still not able to look him in the face, afraid to see what she knew wasn’t there.

There was a moment of pause. A hesitation.



Splashing water on her face, she stared into the mirror of the dimly lit bathroom, noticing the puffiness ringing each eye. After getting back to her apartment after work last night, she had cried herself to sleep. It wasn’t all too surprising why though. Sudden bouts of nostalgia and waterworks were no stranger over the last eight years.

And yet, something had been different this time.

Perhaps it was the easy companionship she had found in Sesshomaru, the fact that he was someone who knew her; in the flesh and not in her dreams.

That fact that he was real. And not another reassembled figment of her imagination.

The fact that she would probably never see him again.

And he would once again fade into impressionistic memories, like all the others.

She took a deep, shuddering breath, clammy hands gripping the sides of the cold, porcelain sink. “It’s time to let go, Kagome,”

Grabbing a paper towel to dry her face, she tucked a few strands of unruly hair behind her ears, deciding then and there that she would not linger in the past on Christmas Day. It was supposed to be cheerful and bright, so she will try her best to save the remaining hours of the festive holiday.

With a final stare down into a less-than glowing reflection, Kagome made her way back out front to close up shop for the evening.

But as she rounded the corridor to the front, once again, she was frozen in place at the completely unexpected sight before her.

“Sesshomaru,” his name whispered across her lips, not trusting her voice to crack. “Wh-what are you doing here? Aren’t you going to miss your flight?”

Her face was etched in hopeful confusion, breath held as though afraid to breathe, afraid to move as he approached in measured steps, coming to stop just inches away.

“Kagome,” he spoke, and she could feel his breath fan across her cheeks at the soft sound of her name. She had to tilt her head back to meet his gaze, and felt the world spinning when a warm hand cupped her cheek. “Come home with me.”

And before there was a chance to respond, before she could even register the words, she felt his lips brush lightly against hers, lifting an invisible heaviness that she hadn’t even realized was there. Unconsciously leaning in closer, a tingle of a dormant aura tickled the edge of her peripheral senses.

It had been a long, long time since she had felt the familiar wave of youki caress her skin, waking her own reiki from its eternal sleep.

It was… liberating. Release.

And just as she was about to be lost in the sensation of their entwining power, he moved away, just barely, breaking off the chaste kiss.

Sapphire blue met sunset gold, speaking volumes as he held her close.

She smiled, genuinely, radiantly. “Yes.



Happy holidays!



INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
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