Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. They are the property of Rumiko Takahashi and any she may have sold the rights to.
A/N: This is the long version of my entry into iyfic-contest's "boxes" theme on LiveJournal. I started with the clear thought that I could keep it down to 250 words without any problem at all. Heh, 730 words later proved just how wrong I was. Personally, I like this version better; but I leave the final consideration up to you.
Inuyasha landed with a thump on the ledge of Kagome's window. Letting himself in, he dropped lightly to the floor and stared around in confusion. The middle of her floor was taken up by a large brown box, and Kagome was nowhere to be seen.
"Oi, Kagome," he called, sniffing a little to try and locate her. Unfortunately, her scent was too recent; and he had to settle on a more mundane method. "Where are you?"
"Oh, Inuyasha," Kagome said in surprise as she stepped out of the closet and sat down next to the box. "I wasn't expecting to see you today." That seemed pretty obvious to the hanyou as he watched her pull what appeared to be even more boxes out of the larger one. These, however, weren't just your run-of-the-mill cardboard squares. One looked like a shape he'd heard Kagome tell Shippo was a star and was a deep blue with bright yellow lines shooting across it. Another was long and round with caps at both ends and a red-and-white stripe pattern trailed around it. The last one she pulled out was dark red and heart-shaped; and this one she sat, not on the floor beside her, but in her lap.
Inuyasha sat down next to Kagome and gazed at the clutter around them curiously. Feigning indifference, he asked, "What's in all these, Kagome? What is this junk?"
Kagome smiled softly at his gruffness. "It's not 'junk,' Inuyasha. They're just boxes of things I don't want to throw away. That one," she said pointing to the star, "has all of my paintings and stuff from preschool that Mama didn't want to lose. And this one here," she tapped the round one, "has some of the posters that I used to have hanging on the walls in it.
"See," she told him with a gentle laugh. "It's nothing really important, but I like to take it out every once in a while and look at it. Some of it has some really good memories attached to it, and it's nice to visit them every now and then."
"Oh." Inuyasha reached out and tapped the lid of the heart-shaped box in her lap. "What about this one, then? What's in it?"
"This one?" she answered as she opened the lid and started to sift through the contents. "This one is special. Everyone important to me is in this box, Inuyasha. It's where I keep the things that remind me of the people I love." She pulled out a faded tie, "My father," and some old pictures, "my grandparents that have passed away." More pictures joined the others, and he had to lean over her shoulder to see them. "Even…"
"Us," he finished for her. "All of us from the other side of the well." His brows drew together in thought. "We're important to you?"
She made a sound that was somewhere between a chuckle and an exasperated sigh and punched him lightly in the arm. "Of course, stupid. You guys are like my family. How could I have a box full of those I love and not include you guys?"
A goofy smile crossed his face as he reached in and picked through Kagome's mementos of her Feudal family. It made him feel good to know that she thought of them that way and was curious to see what she had kept of each of them.
There was a top that was obviously from Shippo, and he rubbed his head as he remembered the last time that thing spun on him. He saw several sutras from Miroku and rolled his eyes. Oh, yeah. Those were definitely a good way to remember the monk. Whether they were sealing Inuyasha in a shed, banishing evil demons, or getting the whole group lodging for the night, the lecher's sutras were very memorable.
A broken pink leather ribbon that appeared to be from Sango's battle suit and the bowl Kagome had brought for Kirara that had gotten broken in one of their many battles were also in there. Inuyasha dug deeper, looking for anything of himself; but all he seemed to find were old pictures of people he didn't recognize and some that he did, along with a few small toys and other odds and ends.
His smile slid from his lips, and his ears drooped. Maybe she loved their other friends, but it was obvious that she didn't care about him.
"You know," Kagome's voice was distant, thoughtful. "There is one person who isn't in this box."
Inuyasha looked away from her, determined not to care. What difference did it make to him that there was someone else she didn't care about? So he had company; so what. It wasn't like he wanted to be in her smelly old box anyway. Let her put her family and the rest of their friends in there --
His inner tirade cut off abruptly as she lightly touched his arm. Turning, his vision was filled with soft blue eyes and a blushing face. "He's the most important person in my life, you know; and I couldn't stand the thought of shutting him away in a dark box and only pulling it out every once in a while. It didn't seem right. He's too special for that."
He watched as her blush deepened and she ducked her head. The hopeful look she threw him out of the corner of her eye compelled him to stutter, "Who, um, who is he?" He felt his own cheeks heating as his hope rose. "The one you don't want to keep in your box, I mean."
Kagome smiled up at him and leaned into his side. "You," she said simply.
"Good," he said, wrapping his arm around her shoulder. He pulled her closer, letting her cuddle against him, and rested his chin on her head. "Better keep it that way."