"I'm freezing," Kagome complained as she crunched her way through the snow, now frozen over with a bit of ice. Two years had passed since she came to the Feudal Era to be by her hanyou's side, but she still wasn't quite used to the unbearably cold winters. 'It probably doesn't help that my priestess robes aren't as heavy as they could be.'
"Keh! You're the one who wanted to come out here," Inuyasha reminded, annoyed that they had left their warm hut to trek all the way to the well.
"Inuyasha, don't make me say the word." The young miko had her reasons for doing this and she just hoped it would work out.
"Why do we have to go back anyway? We already celebrated the holidays with your family. We were supposed to stay with Sango and Miroku to watch their brats open presents." He had offered to carry her on his back, but she declined, choosing to walk on her own and he took a little amusement in watching as she struggled. "Still want to be stubborn?"
Kagome ignored him. "We'll be returning before morning. Besides, you ate like a pig tonight, so this walk will do you good. Enjoy it."
Inuyasha's ears twitched as frothy white fell all around them. What was there to enjoy? He had seen snow plenty of times, and even though it was Christmas, the holiday didn't make it any more special. A cold and sudden blast hit and he couldn't take Kagome's trembling anymore. "Oi," he softly mumbled, removing his suikan and draping the thick, crimson cloth around her shaking shoulders.
Kagome peered up at him, smiling as a pink glow spread across her cheeks. "What about you?" she asked. "Won't you be - "
"I'm a half-demon," he cut in, looking away lest he start blushing, too. "I'll be fine and you still haven't told me where we're..." His voice faded as she led them to a path that took them in the opposite direction of the well.
"We're almost there," the miko informed, more determined than ever to evade his questions. The warmth of his suikan was comforting and she found herself snuggling deeper into the fabric that was drenched in his rich scent. That is, until she heard a growl and stopped.
"Why the fuck are we here?" Inuyasha snapped, glaring at the ancient tree that had once been his prison.
"We're here because you said that I could have anything I want for Christmas, and what I want is for you to carve our initials inside of a heart right here," she explained, pointing to the spot where bark would no longer grow.
Inuyasha eyed her somewhat irritably. "Why here? You know I hate this place." The memories, the things that occurred at the Goshinboku... he hated to think about them.
She could feel his displeasure, but she held her ground. "I know you do. The sacred tree holds a lot of your past, and because of that, you avoid this part of the forest." She averted her eyes, unable to stop the question from forming. "...Is it because of her?"
"No," he firmly replied. "She's the ghost of things that were never real, but I lost a lot of time here, Kagome." His ears flattened against his head. "Time I can never get back."
The priestess closed the distance between them and gently wiped away the snow that had collected upon his face. "That's true, but it's that time that allowed me to find you," she reminded. "I know you hate this tree for what it represents, but can't you see that it marks our beginning as well?" Kagome smiled, hoping he would finally understand.
In that moment, Inuyasha knew he couldn't deny her request because she was right. All that time, he could only see heartache when he looked at the Goshinboku, and so strong it was, it had begun to overshadow the happiness he had found there as well. Taking Kagome's small hand in his, he brought it to his lips. "I'll do it."
Digging his claw into the aged wood, the hanyou began to carve the shape of a perfect heart, his Kagome's heart, as snowflakes danced around them on the wind. When he was done, he glanced back for her approval and the blush he had successfully avoided earlier came roaring back as she beamed at him. "Now, we just need..." He trailed off as he added the initials I then K. "What do you think?"
"Hm... I think it's missing one more thing." Pushing him aside, Kagome approached the tree and removed a tiny paring knife from her robes.
Inuyasha stifled a chuckle. It was the saddest looking carving known to man, but the smile on her face made it the most beautiful work of art he'd ever seen. Holding her from behind, he whispered, "You were right. It wouldn't be complete if it wasn't 4eva, but are you sure this is all you want?"
"Yes, it's perfect..." Kagome leaned against him for just a moment and then she twirled around, her smile as bright as the sun. "It's your turn now."
"My turn?" he questioned.
Refusing to divulge a thing, she took his hand and they started to run through the flurries toward the Bone Eater's well. Inuyasha had no idea what was going on, but when she made the leap, he swiftly followed her to the other side....
The clock had just struck midnight and the Higurashi family were already fast asleep in their beds when Inuyasha and Kagome walked out of the well house. Christmas lights and colored lanterns adorned the shrine and draped the shrubs, but what caught the hanyou's attention was the sacred tree. Walking toward it, he couldn't help the warmth that built in his chest as he touched the 500 year old carving that still held fast. "So, is this my surprise?" he asked.
"No, silly... this is." Revealing a small wrapped package that she had hidden behind her back, Kagome placed it into his outstretched his hands. "Merry Christmas, Inuyasha."
Excitement and curiosity made him tear the paper off, but what he saw made him blink. Twice. "It's made from the skin of the fire-rat," he acknowledged, "but..." Inuyasha held the suikan up to his chest -the suikan that could barely fit one arm. "I think this might be a little too small."
Kagome burst into laughter as she embraced her confused husband beside the Goshinboku. "Like I said," her hand rose to touch the now ancient carving, "this is where it all began. Your new life." She stared into his golden eyes. "Our new life... all three of us."
It took only seconds for Inuyasha to realize what she was saying, and when he did, he dropped everything he was holding to scoop his wife into his arms for a kiss that would last until the end of time. For far too long, he had been chained to the past and tethered to his pain. But just as she had done back then, Kagome saved him from himself and gave him another reason to live.
"Merry Christmas, koishii..."
'This is my wife. This is my family, and they're all I'll ever need.'