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Sharing is Caring by Smortz

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Title: Sharing Is Caring
Author/Artist: Smortz
Recipient: Skyisthelimit
Rating: T
Summary: After Sesshomaru makes a deadly mistake, he is forced to step in as Santa Claus. With Kagome's help, can the cold Lord of the West figure the annual holiday out?
Original Prompt/s:
Sess doesn't believe in Christmas. Kagome changes that :)

Sesshomaru's upper lip arced slightly with irritation. Snake demons, especially the noble ones, the descendants of the water dragons known as hydras, were the worst. Nothing was more annoying than having to decapitate the same snake over a hundred times. Sesshomaru growled when more blood splashed across his pristine kimono as his nails tore through the reptilian skin once more.

The snake roared and scurried uselessly along the ground. Sesshomaru watched with a strange feeling of satisfaction. It felt good to see his opponent grasping for life as it slowly made its way closer to the afterlife. Unfortunately, it also looked like this snake had a few more heads to go through. Sesshomaru finally drew his sword. Bakusaiga stirred to life, glowing green like the poison Sesshomaru's claws emitted.

He jumped off the ground, the force causing a small crater to form in the dirt beneath him. With demonic strength, he flickered in a zig-zag pattern before striking his foe. His sword slid vertically along the snake's body. It hissed and groaned in pain, suffering, as its entire body began to shatter from the power of Sesshomaru's special blade. Bakusaiga would destroy anything it touched, not allowing it to go without being completely annihilated, which was a wonderful thing in his current battle.

Blood soaked the ground. Thankfully, the rain was beginning to wash the crimson drops off his body. His silk kimono was slowly turning into a worn out pink. Sighing, Sesshomaru shook his head, allowing the water to fly from his silky locks as he sheathed his sword once more. He stepped into the pile of parts that used to be his enemy on the way out of the clearing.

He could not return to Rin in this state. She hated the sight of blood. It was probably because of the trauma she had suffered when she faced death for the first time. The little girl he secretly cared for had seen so much blood at an early time in her life that it was amazing she hadn't simply given up on humanity. He shook his head, swearing another vow to keep her safe for as long as he could. He knew it would have to come to an end at some point. When he finally became Lord of both the West and his mother's estate on the Moon, he would have to find someone else who could take his role as her protector. She would not survive on the celestial Moon palace, and the Western palace was a place for the noble demons. Rin did not belong at either one.

He retreated into a small river and shrugged off his obi and armor. The kimono fell open, falling into the crook of his elbow. He took off the small boots he wore and slid them against the trunk of the tree, descending into the cool water. The cold temperature sent a chill through his body.

The kimono floated, and he pushed it down into the river, beginning to scrub at the bloodstains that soiled the royal material. His thoughts went back to the demon he had just slain. It was weird to have a water snake demon so close to the inland. They were almost at the East border, in fact, and it had tried to attack him. Sesshomaru vaguely wondered if it was an assassination attempt on his life, but shrugged his shoulders. Even if it was, it was nothing to worry about. He was the greatest demon to exist; nothing could kill him, although they were more than welcome to try.

Sesshomaru wrung out the soaked kimono before tossing it blindly behind him in one graceful motion. Almost perfectly, it landed on a tree branch, draping out to dry in the night air. He slowly disappeared against the surface of the water, letting the moisture seep into his hair. When he surfaced, he lifted his head up to gaze at the stars. He enjoyed getting away from Rin and Jaken every so often.

Those two were like siblings, always bickering over trivial things. He shook his head, his hair drying quickly even though it was a cold winter's night. The frost would soon settle on the leaves in the morning mist. The rain had finally let up earlier, letting him enjoy what little time he had left. He pushed himself up and out of the water.

His nude form glistened in the moonlight. He reached out to grab the somewhat dry kimono off the tree and shrugged it onto his body, sliding his arms into the silky sleeves. He tied the obi around his waist before sliding his feet back into the fighting boots he was so used to wearing.

The swords fitted back onto his hips, and the armor locked around his shoulders like usual. He sniffed the air and took pleasure in the freshness that followed the night rain. It was the only time he could get rid of the smell of decaying flesh and humans slowly decomposing. He could no longer smell the burning wood that humans used to keep warm and cook their meals.

He took his time returning to camp. The early rays of morning were beginning to crawl over the mountain as he began to smell his dragon and toad companions. Shortly after, he smelled the floral scent that Rin was usually surrounded in. Unfortunately, there was something else different.

There was a minty, old smell coming from the clearing. It wasn't entirely human, but had a decaying scent that symbolized that whatever was there was old. He quickened his pace. He was not entirely running nor was he walking lazily along. After all, if something had actually happened, Jaken and Ah-Un would have protected his ward.

Upon entering the clearing, he wasn't sure what he could have possibly done to prepare himself for the sight. Ah-Un was lying asleep beneath a large, shady tree with an odd looking, multi-colored stick hanging from the corner of the right mouth. Jaken was in the midst of the clearing, knocked unconscious with a large sack atop his body.

His golden eyes quickly sought out the tiny ward. The small girl was in the lap of an older man, a mucholder man. Sesshomaru growled, cracking his knuckles as he neared him. “Who are you?” He growled, grabbing Rin by the upper sleeve of her kimono and pulling her off the man.

“Lord Sesshomaru, what are you doing?!” Rin got out in shock, yet still gave him a welcoming grin.

The old man gave out a grunt as he stood up. The red suit he wore made him almost hard to look at. A long white beard hid his chest and the large stomach made Sesshomaru back up. He had a red, button nose and light eyes that twinkled. There was something almost fatherlyabout the older man. Still, he had crossed into Sesshomaru's territory. Therefore, he was an enemy and a threat to children.

“Lord Sesshomaru, he's a <i>magic</i>man!” Rin exclaimed happily, holding up a large top that spun in her grasp. “I asked him for a top, and one just <i>appeared</i>!

“A demon,” Sesshomaru classified instantly, beginning to lift his hands in a proper dispatch technique. The man laughed whole-heartedly, shaking his head and waving his arms as if to disperse Sesshomaru's thoughts. Apparently, this <i>demon</i>thought he could fool him, the great Lord of the West.

“I am no demon,” he got out, beginning to stumble over to where the toad demon lay unconscious. “I have lost my way, you see,” the creature got out as he gave another grunt as he bent over. His fat fingers began to wrap around the top of the sack. “There are lots of children that I must get to,” he explained, “they are all depending on me.”

“You are a demon who feeds on children, it is not uncommon,” Sesshomaru grumbled, feeling slightly victorious that he got to the clearing when he did. If he had been any later, who knows what would have happened to Rin. “You have tempted the last child you will ever go near,” he growled, thinking of this old thing even touching Rin. His knuckles cracked as poison began to leak from his fingertips.

The large sack opened. Sesshomaru didn't have another moment to spare. The sack could hold some sort of magic seal that could dismantle his demonic energy, or it could hold weapons of destruction. Maybe he had a magical sword. Sesshomaru just knew that he couldn't take that risk. Quickly, in one slash, his claws penetrated the beard until his fingers wrapped around the man’s warm, beating heart. He clenched it tightly, listening to the strangled gasp as the man instantly died.

The body dropped to the ground beside Jaken and the incredibly large sack. Almost instantly, a soul began to leak from the body. Sesshomaru huffed, “Of course, this Sesshomaru was right. Finally, you show your true form.”

The soul took on the shape of the fattened male. It laughed madly, the entire celestial body shaking with each guffaw. “Congratulations!” It proclaimed excitedly, the voice seemingly full with anticipation. “You have agreed to accept the next generation of giving!”

“Cease your insolence,” Sesshomaru warned, not at all liking the overly friendly tone.

It did not heed his advice. “From this moment forth, you have sealed the contract to take over the role previously held by me. On this night, and each year after, you shall fulfill your destiny that you have stolen from me. You shall bring joy and happiness to each human child with the aid of one of our helpers...”

Sesshomaru's demonic mind stopped listening as soon as the 'h' word came out. He quickly decided that this was a soul, and therefore could not be cut down by Bakusaiga. Gracefully, he unsheathed Tensaiga and slashed the soul into two. “This Sesshomaru does not follow orders.”

The soul flickered and dissipated in the air with nothing but an eerily annoying laugh. Sesshomaru huffed, sheathing his father's fang and turning on his heel to look at the young girl. The top in her hand was leaning against her palm, no longer spinning. “Rin, I told you not to talk to strangers,” Sesshomaru reprimanded while nudging Jaken with his foot. The toad rolled over, releasing a large amount of drool as his face slammed into the grass. He jolted wide awake, eyes looking like large pearls.

“Rin, the old man has given us candy!” He shouted. Sesshomaru kicked him once more, awakening him from the dream.

Sesshomaru was about to mumble some sort of insult when something suddenly wrapped around his waist. He growled lightly as it tightened. His golden eyes turned downwards to find that the leather belt the old demon was wearing was now securely fastened around his waist. Sesshomaru's golden eyes momentarily widened, if only for a moment.

Trying not to panic on the outside, his nails began to dig into the tight leather. It would not tear. He reached for the buckle, but it seemed to be sealed together. Urgently, he tried to push it down his body, but it remained tightly around his midsection.

Sesshomaru took in a discrete, deep breath, hoping it would help solve the current problem. While the belt didn't feel like it was constricting his aura or blood flow, it didn't feel as if it were burning his skin either. Idly, he thought back to the contract that the soul had mentioned. Then, he shook it off. This was just some sort of material he had yet to come across.

~Merry Christmas~

Kagome struggled as the heavy rope burned into her shoulder. She hated carrying such a heavy load but she had yet to make enough money to buy an ox or horse, let alone learned how to correctly ride one of them. Additionally, she couldn't use her priestess powers to lift it because that would make her known to other powerful beings around her and could potentially put her into danger. So, she trudged on through the rough forest terrain, trying to figure out why she was out here to begin with.

It all started with Miroku. The man was a demon; Kagome was sure of it. After all, here she was on Christmas Eve, trying to give out toys to the orphans in the village and the man had claimed that the last orphanage was haunted. Now, he was staying the night there because he had exorcised the demon from the place. He left Kagome all by herself because he was tired of walking. Kagome shook her head, a demon indeed.

“It's Christmas,” Kagome grumbled aloud. She always got so homesick over this time. This was the holiday where you gifted your things to others and received gifts in return, but there was more to it. This was the season of spending time with your loved ones. It made her want to go home and see her mother, brother and grandpa again. Yet, the well would not answer her prayers and wishes. It stayed closed, unable to transport her or give her the slightest hope.

That was what kept her going though. It kept her training hard and rigorous. Kaede spent many hours trying to hone Kagome's powers and teach her how to attack and control them. Kagome knew that, with her power, she would be able to go through the well again. It was only a matter of time before she was strong enough to activate the portal once more. After that, she was history. “Literally,” she added.

At first, she was quite fine being here. She realized that no one in the future would ever understand the hardships she went through. Not to mention that everyone her age seemed sort of dumb after her quest. She could no longer handle listening to her three friend’s gossip about the latest break up when she had recently slain three demons and saved an entire country. Gossiping seemed pointless then.

So, she had slipped back into the well and feudal era, hoping that she would feel the sense of belonging. Unfortunately, no one else had been expecting her. Miroku and Sango had started a family and moved out of the village. Inuyasha had, for a while, waited, but moved on to the latest and greatest priestess by the name of Hazumi. Now, the hanyou and the miko were probably snuggled up with their newborn, enjoying the very last plastic bottle Kagome would probably ever see. After all, she would never live to see the future again. She was mortal and would probably die within the next sixty years in this time. “Even that's pushing it... You already turned twenty-three... Kaede said it would be impossible to even marry. Spinsterhood here I come!” She exclaimed with an obvious lack of enthusiasm. “All I need are cats,” she added to her negative pep talk.

She crossed a small river and stepped into a clearing that looked as if something had met its very brutal ending. A large, snake-like thing was chopped into what looked to be several sushi rolls. Kagome let her powers leak out into the surrounding area. “Ah, Sesshomaru,” she greeted to the unfriendly demon energy that spiked against the edges of hers. “I guess I could give Rin a Christmas present,” she reasoned, looking up at the dawn cresting over the mountains. “It's not exactly too late,” she muttered, beginning to pick up her pace.

She pushed through the forest, one hand holding the sack straining her shoulder and the other being a machete-like tool to swipe at branches. She began to hear the wails of an irritating toad demon and the delightful giggle of Sesshomaru's young ward. Grinning victoriously, she pushed through the clearing, only to stop dead in her tracks.

Sesshomaru's fangs were embedded into his belt at a very odd angle. He was lying on his back, his feet braced up against a tree in a way that gave his mouth access to his belt. His muffled growl escaped, and he nodded his head once more. Jaken wedged the tip of his two-headed staff into the belt around Sesshomaru's waist and began to push at it in an attempt to … get the belt off? Kagome found it hilarious.

Rin came in with a bucket of water. “This might make it slippery enough. Lord Sesshomaru could squeeze out of it,” she suggested. Before anyone gave her permission, she doused said Lord with water, aiming at the belt. Sesshomaru groaned loudly, his poison dripping onto the belt.

To her astonishment, the belt did not give in. The poison simply dripped off as if it was nothing but a small droplet of water. Sesshomaru kicked the tree in frustration, knocking the entire thing out of the ground and listening to it roar as it hit the earth, sending a tremor through the ground. Ah-Un meandered over, beginning to nibble on the leather.

Kagome decided to make her presence known. “You're quite flexible,” she greeted, instantly regretting her choice of words. However, being able to reach your waist with your mouth was quite a skill. Although, being a canine has its ups and downs. Dogs were always getting into odd positions.

Sesshomaru's head bowed back against the grass. His fiery golden eyes gave her the silent threat that she was expecting. “What is going on?” she asked, ignoring the challenge in his eyes. She let go of the sack, letting it fall into a heap on the ground.

Rin decided to give up all the information. “Lord Sesshomaru killed the magic man, and then magic man came back to life and told Lord Sesshomaru that he was the newmagic man! The magic man's belt wrapped around Lord Sesshomaru, and now Lord Sesshomaru can't get it off!”

Kagome decided to take in the surroundings. There was a large, red sack in the middle of the field, a few chewed up candy canes, which were quite odd in this time. That's when her eyes stumbled across the over-sized corpse. “O-Oh my Kami,” she gasped in horror, pointing at it and turning to glare at Sesshomaru. “You killed Santa Claus!”

Sesshomaru's eyebrow arched curiously. He sat up against the tree and folded his arms, giving her a placid look. “You know of this demon?” he inquired.

Kagome balked at him. “D-Demon!? That's no demon! That's Santa Claus.” She stomped towards the dead old man, kneeling down to survey the damage. The bloodied chest left no question to be asked. Sesshomaru had done his whole 'stab through chest' attack and probably ruptured the jolly, old man's heart.

Years of believing and celebrating the foreign holiday glistened in Kagome's eyes. She wiped at a falling tear. “S-Santa...” She whispered quietly, closing the eyes of the legendary seasonal god. “You deserved a much better death.”

“He trespassed onto my clearing,” Sesshomaru interjected.

Kagome gasped, awfully hurt at the blatant accusation. “He trespasses onto
everyone'sterritory. He is Santa Claus.”

“Woman, I understand that he has a name,” Sesshomaru growled angrily. “What is he to you? How does he have the power to intrude into everyone’s lives?”

“Y-You don't know about Christmas?” Kagome wondered aloud. A moment later, it clicked. Christmas wasn't in this country or time yet. In Europe it may have been celebrated by the noble class, but it definitely hadn't surfaced in Japan, which meant Santa had probably gotten lost; Then again, Santa was always a figure whose very existence had been questioned. Was this the real Santa? How did the real Santa get here? “What did he say?” Kagome asked, wiping her last tear and looking to Rin.

“Magic man said he was lost and gave me this!” She shouted happily, holding the top in her hand to show it off to Kagome.

“Lost,” Kagome murmured. She then stood up, turning to stare at the over-confident dog demon. “You-You are a demon!”

“I am glad your observation skills have improved since our last meeting,” he returned lethally.

Kagome's eyes narrowed at the blatant insult. “You just killed the biggest hero in all of future time! Santa Claus was an epic man who gave to the children! He brought joy and happiness to kids every year! He gave them an incentive to behave and stay out of trouble! He was a savior!”

“He is now dead,” Sesshomaru added simply, shrugging his shoulders. “Do you hold any useful information to why this belt is stuck to my person?” He asked.

Kagome crossed her arms over her chest, scoffing and turning away from him. “Why would I help you, Mr. Scrooge. You just killed Christmas!She shouted.

“I will kill you, if you do not tell me what you know,” Sesshomaru returned hotly. Kagome stiffened if only a little bit. He could probably make good on that threat.

“Santa Claus hails from the North Pole. Every Christmas Eve he rides with his reindeer throughout the land and gives presents to the good children for when they wake up. He comes down your chimney and sometimes eats your snacks too,” Kagome added, remembering how she would always wake up to find the chocolate chip cookies gone and a nice letter from Santa leaning up against the tree. Her mother had finally told her that she had been munching on the snacks, but Kagome knewsomething was up with that. Her mother was far too skinny to eat all those cookies.

“Woman, you are useless,” Sesshomaru returned icily. “It said that I would fulfill the destiny of Santa Clausand bring joy and happiness to each... human.”

Kagome huffed, “You couldn't bring joy and happiness to a human if you tried.”

“I do not plan to try,” he returned.

“So, you don't plan on righting your wrong and fixing Christmas? You don't plan on honoring the contract and completing Santa Claus's quest?!” Kagome shouted angrily, enraged that the demon had been so stupid to kill such a jewel. “You'll never be half the man that Santa was!”

“Physically, I am already half the man,” Sesshomaru shot back, irritated that he was actually arguing with this woman. She always got under his skin, ever since she had taken his half-brother's side in his father's tomb. He saw her mouth was about to open again when a bright red light flashed through the clearing. The belt that was tightly wrapped around Sesshomaru's waist began to flicker and a small ball of energy began to float through the air.

It was neither miko nor demon energy. A man's voice, quickly identified as Santa Claus echoed through the clearing. “Kagome,” it called.

Kagome's eyes sparkled with recognition. “Santa!” She called out, as if she were a little girl in a shopping mall all over again. “Is it really you? Please tell me you aren't really dead! You can't die!”

“He has cut me with a blade not of this world,” the tone returned, referring to Tensaiga. “I can no longer exist. However, because he was the one to slay me, he will continue the Christmas tradition for as long as he shall live. He will require his helper, and I believe that you are the one to show him the true meaning of Christmas. Kagome, will you please accept this old man's last wish, and teach this demon the tradition I have worked so hard to keep?”

Kagome chewed on her lower lip. She remembered dressing up as a small elf, but being Sesshomaru's elf was almost suicide-worthy. Still, could she let the one and only Santa Claus down? “I-I will,” Kagome answered. “I will help him understand, but can I ask a favor, Santa Claus?”

“What is it, child?” The jolly man asked. His voice was so gentle, just how Kagome remembered.

“Will you please, as a present for this year, give Sesshomaru a heart?” Kagome wondered, hoping it wasn't too big of a request.

Unfortunately, the ball of spiritual energy disappeared with nothing but an outrageous laugh echoing in its wake. Apparently, not even Santa could give this Grinch a heart. Kagome huffed, turning to meet a set of narrow, golden eyes.

“Woman, I assumed you were educated,” Sesshomaru supplied.

“I am,” Kagome argued.

“Then you would know that I already have a heart,” he growled out in warning, leaning against the tree, his claws tapping against the belt as he tried not to give in to the temptation to simply kill her.

“Then I suggest you use it,” Kagome snapped back, leaning over to look into the sack next to the corpse of all that is jolly. A large list was tucked away in a pocket. An odd-looking box glistened at the bottom. Curiously, she reached for the box and opened it. Something jolted out of the wooden holder. It snapped around her neck, and she made a coughing noise as she fell to ground.

Sesshomaru watched from the tree as the woman squirmed along the ground. A slight jinglingnoise could be heard before all movement stopped. She slowly sat up, and he stared at the red choker, fitted with a single bell, fit snugly around her neck. “This will seal your contract!” The bell seemed to hiccup.

Kagome turned her eyes up to Sesshomaru once more. Her eyes narrowed, the sapphire orbs spitting daggers at him. Her next words were like venom straight from the toxic pores of a snake. “I hate you.”

He scoffed, “The feeling is mutual.”

~Merry Christmas~

For hours they remained silent in the clearing. Sesshomaru gathered his thoughts and ideas concerning the events that had just taken place while Kagome dug around the sack. “This thing never ends,” he heard her whine as she tried to reach for something. Sesshomaru watched as she bit her lip in concentration. Then, finally, she gave up. Falling back on her rear on the grass, she scoffed and itched at the collar around her throat once more. She turned her eyes to stare at the sky. Dusk was nearing, which meant she was allowing herself too much time to dawdle around.

“I have to go,” Kagome muttered, looking to Sesshomaru expectantly. Sesshomaru raised one of his eyebrows in response. Did she expect him to follow her? Sesshomaru growled lowly at the thought. She was a human and as such he did not need to do anything with her. “Well? Santa Claus left me to teach you about Christmas.”

I have no interest in learning about this human holiday,” Sesshomaru answered simply, closing his eyes as he continued to think about the belt around his waist. Unfortunately, that very object was his weakness right now. The miko must have known it.

“If you come with me, we can figure out how to get it off,” Kagome sang teasingly as she grabbed her own large sack and dragged it over to Ah-Un, who was grazing at the edge of the forest. The two heads looked up at her, mouths moving lazily as she neared. A cautious gaze was in their eyes as Kagome gave them a soft smile. “Is it alright if I set these packs on you to carry? I have carried them for quiet some time and would like to give my shoulders a break,” she explained.

The dragon heads looked to one another before giving her a quick nod. Kagome smiled gratefully and plopped the two sacks onto the wide saddle, tying them to the pommel and horn. To be honest, she had no idea how to explain the meaning of Christmas to Sesshomaru.

Back home, in the future, Christmas had been both a way for parents to make their kids and lovers to celebrate their commitment to each other. Often times, teenagers would worry for months because they would need a date to view the large Christmas tree in the town center on Christmas. Kagome remembered those times, hurrying after her crush in order to drag him to the out of place pine tree. She smiled as nostalgia sank in.

When she turned around to face the killjoy, she found that he was stepping towards her with a grace only he held. His paces always looked effortless, as if he were gliding along the ground. She grinned at him, knowing that if she would do this, she needed to be polite about it. “Are you ready?” She asked. When he shot her a warning glance to not talk to him, Kagome redirected the question to Rin.

The young girl giggled. “Yes, Lady Kagome! Rin wants to know more about the magic man!” She exclaimed curiously. Kagome helped her onto Ah-Un's back and began to lead the way into the forest towards the village she had been nearing before she had intercepted Sesshomaru's dilemma.

“Alright, well, Christmas is celebrated at the end of the year,” Kagome began to explain. “It was started in Europe as a way to celebrate their religion, but it spread across the world in a matter of decades, adapting with the culture. Where I come from, parents give their children gifts if they have been good all year. Have you been good?” Kagome teased.

Rin gave an exaggerated not. “Rin has always been good. She listens to whatever Lord Sesshomaru says!” she exclaimed happily. Kagome laughed at her bright and cheery attitude. A child was always so carefree and saw the world in such a positive light.

“Then I am sure Santa Claus has another gift for you,” Kagome cooed. Her eyes then darted to Santa's sack, which still hung limply and empty over the dragon's back. She eyed Sesshomaru, who was several paces behind them with his arms folding over his chest sulkily. “Look in the sack, Santa,” Kagome growled through clenched teeth when she saw Rin begin to look disappointed.

Sesshomaru shot her a glare, but when his nose twitched he picked up the scent of Rin's tears. “Woman, what have you done?” He demanded. Kagome rolled her eyes and grabbed the sack off the saddle, holding it up to him. “There is nothing in it,” he noted.

That did little to pacify Rin, who was expecting a gift. “Reach into it,” Kagome whispered hopefully. Even if there was nothing within the sack, she could find something for Rin in hers. She watched as Sesshomaru gave her a skeptical glance. He leaned down slightly to sniff the bag and then slowly let one of his arms sink into the sack.

His golden eyes widened, and Rin watched as he pulled out a large hair ornament. It was a large, polished black pole with flowers and butterfly charms hanging off of it. Kagome gasped at the beauty captured in the small accessory. Sesshomaru blinked as he stared at it for a moment, before he handed it to Rin. “Merry Christmas,” Kagome chimed in as the girl eyed the accessory with awed eyes.

“Rin has never had this before,” she mumbled. “It is so pretty!” She cheered. Kagome grinned at the happiness bubbling on the child's faces, turning to see Sesshomaru. Her sapphire eyes widened considerably when she noticed a faint smile on his lips. His eyes held a happy gleam to them as he watched Rin inspect the gift. When he turned to look at her, his expression went cold again, and Kagome felt as if she had spotted a rare and exotic creature.

“Continue,” Sesshomaru muttered briskly as he walked passed her. Kagome chuckled, rolling her eyes. Nonetheless, she followed him into the next village, watching as kids and adults peered out of the huts to examine the traveling group.

The village monk came out to greet them. “Greetings!” He exclaimed welcomely. His eyes paused on Sesshomaru warily. “Can we do something for you travelers?” He wondered, probably hoping that Kagome would decline and lead them out of the village. Since Naraku's defeat, the relationship between humans and demons had greatly improved, yet they were still cautious when a demon entered their village.

“Yes,” Kagome answered. “We are passing through villages tonight giving gifts to the children,” she explained. “We want nothing in return but to bring joy to the children. You are more than welcome to accompany us door to door.”

The monk eyed Rin, who was still eying her gift with random spouts of giggle. “Allow me to guide you through,” he mumbled nervously, beginning to lead Kagome and the gang through the town. They passed down several streets dedicated to markets and vendors for blacksmiths. The housing huts were just behind them, and the monk shook the mat that hung in the entranceway to make his presence known. An elderly women pulled the mat to the side, three children gathered around her knees and stared at them curiously.

Kagome instantly knelt down and gave them cheerful smiles. “Hey!” She greeted, startling the children in worn out kimonos. Quickly, she looked over her shoulder and nodded to Sesshomaru. He released a growl, causing the kids to scatter like ants back into the hut. “Belt...” Kagome teasingly reminded him, pointing to the sack that would soon bring those three kids happiness.

Grudgingly, Sesshomaru snatched the sack from the back of the dragon. “Come back out,” Kagome called back to the kids, hoping they would be brave enough to return. Like most children, they peered out curiously once more, unable to turn away from the feeling of wanting to know why a noble demon stood on their doorstep.

Sesshomaru reached into the bag, wanting nothing more than to get this night over with. The contract said one night every year, surely that was not hard to follow. Plus, the contract ended after Kagome taught him the meaning of Christmas, right? So far he had learned that it was when richer humans gave to poorer humans. He eyed Kagome, in her silk kimono and clean hair. She smelt better than most, which symbolized that she was clean. That was enough to mark her as an above average human on the social ladder.

His thoughts came to a halt when he felt for something in the sack. His fingers wrapped around a slim object and he pulled it out to eye a small dagger. A piece of parchment was attached to it with a child's name. “Toshio?” He read.

“That's me!” One of the boys called out to him with disbelief in his eyes. “H-How did you know my name?” He asked. Sesshomaru didn't respond. He extended his arm and handed the dagger to the boy. A toothy grin erupted on the boys face as his fingers grasped the gift. His eyes softened and he began to jump in the air. “A dagger!?” He exclaimed excitedly. The small boy looked up to Sesshomaru with such warmth and happiness in his eyes that for a moment Sesshomaru was completely frozen inside and out.

It was nothing but an object used daily for basic needs. A dagger was nothing to be so joyful over. Still, to see the boy so happy, to see Rin so happy when he had given her the hair accessory, made him feel … warm. “It is the gift of giving,” Kagome whispered over his shoulder. When he turned to look at her, he saw the watery eyes filled with happiness as she watched the boy explain to his mother that he had wished for a dagger so he could help with the hunting. “The children all make wishes for things they desire year round, but they would never burden it on their parents. Christmas is the season for making others around you happy, simply because you have that power. It is the season of giving to your loved ones, of people like you.”

“I am not like them,” Sesshomaru forced out as he felt his chest constrict when another present met his fingertips within the sack. He pulled it out and handed it to a small girl, looking no older than the age of five. The doll was made out of what felt to be rough material, but it looked just like her.

She grinned at him, reminding him of Rin. “Thank you!” she exclaimed, reaching out with one hand to grab the doll. Her other hand stayed safely secured around her mother's leg. Sesshomaru looked at the last child. A worried expression was on his face, as if he didn't know if he would get one. Sesshomaru reached into the bag one more time and hit something on the way down. He clutched it in his grasp and pulled out a large farming hat. The boy grinned as he grabbed it and set it on his head.

“Thank you,” the older woman cheered, tears beginning to form in her eyes as she stared at the happy children. Kagome gave her a hug, while Sesshomaru silently watched from behind. His eyes observed the scene quietly, unable to make much sense of it. What was the point in this all? Why would you simply give something to someone and ask for nothing in return? Sesshomaru knew that there was no benefit to hand out simple gifts.

“Next,” Kagome stated, giving him a happy smile. The monk took them to the next hut that contained children, and it repeated like that for the remainder of the village. Sesshomaru watched as Kagome talked to the mother and encouraged the children to accept the gifts and play with them. Sesshomaru stayed quiet as he surveyed the interactions. Rin sometimes talked with the other children or showed off her gift.

Why do they cry?” Sesshomaru asked on the way out of the last string of four villages. Each time he had shown up at the door and awarded each child with a present for good behavior, the parent had cried or held back tears.

“Well,” Kagome began to think. “Think about it. The villages we just went in were poor. They lived day to day, foraging food together as a unit. They don't have time to go to the markets, barter, or sew a doll together. Yet, they want to make their child happy – to show their kid that they love them. We – <i>You</i> – heard their wishes and answered them.”

“This holiday is popular in the future?” Sesshomaru asked, knowing of the miko's origins after the three year vacation the priestess was forced to take. She had obviously known about the holiday, and the old man that had met his early demise on Sesshomaru's claws.

His golden eyes watched as a mist gathered over her sapphire orbs. “Yes,” she whispered with a nostalgic smile on her face. “I-It was my favorite day of the year. I would wish all year and be good in hopes that Santa would bring me what I wanted. That was as a child though,” she hiccuped. “As I grew older, it became a holiday that I worried about. I-I didn't want to spend it alone. See, Christmas in the future has two purposes. For children, it is to have their wish answered. For women, though, it’s to spend the holiday with your loved one – to experience and exchange gifts with them.”

Sesshomaru could tell from how she spoke that the latter was something she desperately wished for. “Have you not spent them with Inuyasha?” Sesshomaru wondered. Instantly, he felt foolish. He did not like keeping tabs on his brother, but the last time he had returned to the hanyou's forest he had noticed his mate and abominable spawns. “He spends it with his … family,” he corrected himself.

Kagome gave a jerky nod. “I guess I pass out toys so I don't have to celebrate it alone,” Kagome whispered, as if realizing this for herself. Sesshomaru felt something loosen, then an audible click was heard. They both looked down at the belt. It now clung to his hips, instead of tightening around his waist.

“Y-You learned something about Christmas!” Kagome cheered, jumping momentarily into the air and shoving her fist  up to celebrate it. Sesshomaru merely hummed and continued to walk. Ah-Un snorted from behind him, still carrying the sack and Rin. When Kagome realized the dog was trying not to smile, she jokingly elbowed him, causing him to shoot her a glare. Winking, Kagome clicked her tongue against the roof of her mouth in approval. “I guess an old dog can learn a few new tricks.”

Before Sesshomaru could think about growling, Kagome skipped ahead of them, humming a few Christmas carols under her breath as they entered the next and last village of the night. Sesshomaru found himself enjoying this side of her. Earlier, as she was explaining the part of Christmas she had always missed out on, she held this melancholy gleam of abandonment in her eyes. She hadn't made it to that part of her life – the well had swallowed her too soon. His eyes softened, shoulders relaxed as he watched her turn to him with a smile. The light jingle of the bell around her neck made him want to chuckle. Now the woman was even more of a target to predators. She didn't seem to care though as she began to speak to the headman of the village.

Through the village, Sesshomaru found himself giving out the usual gifts. Boys wanted daggers, belts, new farming equipment. Young girls usually acquired new kimonos, dolls, or hair brushes. It never got old, though. Sesshomaru found himself enjoying their excited reactions. He enjoyed watching them parade their gifts to their parents who would all bow low to him in thanks.

Kagome and the Christmas group landed themselves in front of the last house quickly, having gotten the routine down after all the last visits. Kagome knocked at the door, kneeling down to welcome the small bow that opened the door. Her bell jingled, smile widened. “Hey kids,” she greeted. Sesshomaru dipped his hand into the sack and pulled out the large box. He saw the name engraved on the side and handed it to the child. The small boy released a toothy grin as he pulled open the top of the large box to expose the leather pouch.

“A sack?” Kagome cheered and questioned at the same time. “Is that what you wanted?” She wondered, looking to the boy in question. The boy's eyes were still fastened on the prize given to him by Sesshomaru. Then, they turned to Kagome, wide and watery.

“I-I want to be an adventurer!” He exclaimed suddenly. The bow followed quickly, so low that Sesshomaru felt his lower back begin to ache with sympathy. “Go show your mother,” Kagome encouraged to him. He thanked them again, closing the door. They could still her his cheers and joy from the street though.

Sesshomaru turned to continue on his way, but found himself anchored to the spot. His steps faltered, but he attempted to step forward again. Once more, he felt stuck. “What's wrong?” Kagome asked as she realized he was not following.

“The sack.” Sesshomaru calmly stated. Kagome cocked her head to the side, wondering over to him. She leaned over the sack, reaching into it. Moments later, she pulled her hand back out and shrugged her shoulders. Sesshomaru sighed, once more sinking his arm into the pouch. His fingers hit something, and his eyebrow rose in curiosity.

He pulled out a small bundle of herbs. The parchment attached to them sounded like a boy's name. He showed Kagome, who hummed in response. “I guess it won't allow us to leave until we give it to the boy,” she answered. Sesshomaru followed her as she sought out the headman of the village once again.

The same man showed them over to a hut with a solemn look on his face. When he pulled the mat aside, Kagome stepped in, only to feel her heart stop. A small girl was sprawled on the edge of the bed, cuddled up against her sickened father.

Kagome felt a sob climb up her throat, but she hurriedly stuffed it back down. The scene was all too familiar. She remembered being in the hospital for Christmas, sitting beside her own father and wishing he would just open his eyes and say he loved her again. Kagome watched, frozen in her spot, as Sesshomaru neared the girl.

His clawed hand gently clasped her shoulder, giving her a small shake. The girl startled. “You are Gin,” Sesshomaru whispered. The girl gave a jerky nod, eyes widening as he handed her the bundle of herbs.

“Wh-What is it?” She asked, eying the bundle. The headman of the village was the one who answers. He ran over to the girl, taking the herbs from her and shouting out in joy.

“The medicine!” He cheers. “T-This was what we needed to cure your father,” he explained happily. “They do not grow near the mountains and are much too expensive to trade anything for.”

Kagome felt her heart begin to pound with hope for the young girl. Sesshomaru stepped back to watch with an unreadable expression on his face. The man went to the fire, instantly beginning to crush the herbs and make the tincture. A moment later, the girl lifted her father's head off the pillow and helped him swallow the mix.

Kagome's breath began to shake. Suddenly, she felt envious. Santa had answered this girl's wish, which had been the same as Kagome's in such circumstances. Yet, she had not received a cure for her father. She folded her arms over her chest, as if to guard herself from the situation. Slowly, she took a step back as if to escape the emotional scene. This felt too familiar.

Sesshomaru's hand shot out to grab onto her elbow. Then, the same hand lingers around the small of her back, as if to urge her to watch. “Stay,” he whispered to her. His eyes still attached to the bed.

The sickened man's eyes began to peel open. The girl squealed in delight, tears falling from her eyes as she gently hugged him. “Father!” She cheered. Kagome wiped a tear off her cheek at the reunion. Turning to Sesshomaru, she startled when his gaze snapped to her.

“Let's go,” Sesshomaru ordered, leaving the hut without another word. Kagome silently followed him until they exited the village. A pain was growing in her chest, the need to cry overwhelming, yet she swallowed it again and again.

“She will spend another Christmas with a loved one,” Sesshomaru muttered. The forest beginning to swallow them as they ventured deeper into it. The sun was beginning to rise over the mountains, signaling the end of their night. The statement made Kagome smile for the girl. The luck the girl had to receive such a present was indescribable.

“Special girl,” she muttered, falling against a tree when they stopped in a clearing. Sesshomaru did the same, sliding along the trunk of a tree until he was situated comfortably. Closing his eyes, he thought back on the smiles, the hugs and thank yous he was rewarded with today.

The salty scent of tears leaked into his senses. It was a small amount, but there. Cracking one golden eye open, he peered at the miko. The woman had both her eyes closed, but the lashes were collecting water. Her breathing was shaky and knuckles white as she clenched them against her kimono.

<br>An idea, one that he would later question formed. He had never felt obligated to cheer someone up or even try to console them. It was an unnatural, yet warm feelings. He felt as if he hadn't seen Kagome smile today at all. Sure, she responded to the children, but he wondered if she was happy with herself. Quietly, he stood up so as to not gain her attention and walked over to the two headed dragon. The empty sack sat on the saddle, and he reached in hoping that whatever supernatural power had gotten him there in the first place would support his idea.

His fingers closed in on the object. Pulling it out, he tried to question the meaning behind it. The large hourglass was encrusted with jewels. The sands within were silver and glistened in the morning sunlight.

“Kagome,” he grunted, unused to using her name. It sounded foreign on his lips, strange and new. She looked up at him with wide eyes, staring at his hands. Sesshomaru swallowed the sudden nervous lump in his throat. He had no idea why it felt so hard for him to do.

He suddenly understood the meaning behind Christmas. It was to share with others, make them happier with nothing offered in return. It was the holiday of being completely selfless with no other goal than to share the day with a loved one. Sesshomaru handed the hourglass to her and watched as she turned it upside down to start the countdown. “Merry Christmas.”

The words rolled off his lips. Kagome felt the stern and low voice sooth her raggec emotions. The two words worked wonders on her. Blue eyes gleamed up at him, a large grin spreading across her lips. They both stared at each other before they heard a dull thud. Looking down, they saw the leather belt in a heap along the ground. The bell around Kagome's neck jingled one last time before floating in the air. The bell gave a jolly laugh. “Until next year!” it chortled, before falling next to the belt.

“Next year,” Kagome muttered, turning to stare at the hourglass. “The hourglass counts down until the next Christmas.”

Sesshomaru saw the look of apprehension in her eyes. He growled under his breath but turned to walk away. Four words were mumbled over his shoulder on the way back to his tree.

Do not be late.”


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