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Valentine’s Cards- an American Classroom Tradition by kaoruhana

Valentine’s Cards- an American Classroom Tradition

A/N: I disclaim anything related to Disney, or under Disney’s currently vast and giant umbrella, the store Target, and anything else I have forgotten to disclaim but need to such as Pokemon, Power Rangers (are they Disney?), and the actual Valentine’s Day cards themselves.   

Giri-choco: chocolate given by Japanese females on Valentine’s Day to their coworkers, friends, classmates, etc.  

Inspired by my mother whose first question when I asked her in second grade about this was: "They want you to put paper cards in Shoeboxes?"  

Title: Valentine’s Cards- an American Classroom Tradition

Author: Kaoruhana

Partner: Goldie Fawn

Word Count: 3,985

Prompts: Meet, Cute

Link to Accompanying Picture/Drawing:

* * * * * 

Tuesday February 4, 2020 

Sesshomaru smiled as he took a look at his daughter in the backseat of their Toyota Prius.  He had just picked her up from her elementary school after the end of a long and busy work day for him and a long but likely eventful school day for her.  Strapped in her booster seat, Rin swung her legs back and forth kicking the back of the passenger seat in front of her.  Too tired to reprimand her, and honestly not caring too much about her actions, he instead chose to partake in the normal banter he had with his daughter on their ride home from school.   

“How was school Rin-chan?” he asked, his address for her still the same one he had used in their native Japan.  Despite the move from Japan a little under a year ago, he still kept some of the customs from his homeland whether in the language he spoke, the food he made, or the manners he taught Rin.   

“School was good!  We got homework today-- I have to do stuff with my workbook.  Can you help me?”   

“Of course.  We can do your homework while I make dinner.”  Like always, he thought waiting for her to continue telling him about her day.  “What else did you at school today besides getting homework to do?” 

Grinning, Rin stopped swinging her legs as she answered him.  “Mrs. Black said we have to get our baskets ready and get cards for Valentine’s and chocolate to give to our class.”  Rin furrowed her eyebrows and pursed her lips.  “Why cards and baskets daddy?  Don’t we just give giri-choco to everybody?”   

Sesshomaru stopped at a red light-- the only one that he personally passed on the suburban road where Rin’s school was located--turning on his left-side indicator as he did so.  He honestly didn’t have a clue what Rin was talking about, and he had no idea how to respond to her.  Clearing his throat, he gave her the only answer that he could come up with.   

“Perhaps they celebrate Valentine’s Day differently here Rin-chan.”   

Rin nodded her head, believing her father’s explanation since she was still at the age where he was her idol.  “Okay.  But can we find a really pretty basket and cards tomorrow?”   

Sesshomaru made a turn onto the street housing their neighborhood as the light turned.  “Perhaps not tomorrow, Rin-chan since it’s a Wednesday.  But, we can find you a pretty basket and cards for your classmates over the weekend.”   

“Okay.”  Rin affirmed as Sesshomaru pulled into their neighborhood and made his way towards their house.  

Unlike Rin who had now let the topic go since she was home, Sesshomaru was still thinking about the Valentine’s Day cards and chocolate that Rin had spoken about.  In fact, he was already making a list of things to do for his own homework later that night regarding American traditions around Valentine’s Day.   

Hours later, after dinner had been eaten, the kitchen cleaned, and Rin placed in bed, Sesshomaru scrolled along various sites on his tablet as he tried to learn all he could about Valentine’s Day customs in the United States.  After a half hour of learning all he could, and an extra ten minutes sighing as he took in the online ads featuring Valentine’s Day cards for school children, he closed down his tablet and put it on his side table.  Pinching the bridge of his nose from a sudden headache, he leaned his head back deciding to call it a day.   

He’d worry about Rin’s Valentine’s Day material again tomorrow.  

* * * * * 

Saturday, February 8, 2020 

Sesshomaru took a deep breath in front of his local Target, trying not to worry about the upcoming shopping trip.  He had done some more research on the things Rin would need and found himself cringing at the price and design of some of the more elaborate card and box designs on the internet.   

The local stores though, from what he saw online, had much cheaper and more affordable options.   

Hopefully, Rin would prefer one of the simpler designs for both cards and basket boxes, and they could finish their shopping quickly without making more than a small dent in his wallet.   

Exiting the car, he made his way to the backseat where Rin, ever eager, had already undone the seatbelts on her booster seat.  A glare was enough for the excited girl to shrink back into her seat and apologize for undoing her seat belt on her own.   

“Come on then.”  He murmured to his daughter, taking her hand and leading her into the store eager to get the shopping trip underway and finished.   

Upon stepping into the store, he was immediately assaulted with the sights of Valentine’s Day: red, pink and white decorations were garishly thrown over the entrance way and the small discount kiosk section.  He stood there, just staring for a few overwhelming seconds, until a tug on his hand caused him to look down at Rin.   

“This way daddy!”  She squealed, causing at least one or two shoppers to look in his direction.  She led him towards the kiosk, but he pulled back causing her to stop.   

“Perhaps another aisle Rin.”  He stated guiding her away from the kiosk that he knew would not be helpful.   

The two walked further into the store, bypassing the jewelry display boasting sales on diamonds and other Valentine’s Day jewelry.  A large selection of children’s outfit’s followed, Rin craning her head back to look up at them.  He made a note to take a look at them on his own sometime.  Raising a little girl meant he was constantly checking clothing for tears, stains, and other problems that otherwise made her clothing unusable.  

They arrived at the aisle with all of the cards and surprisingly, for a late Saturday afternoon, it wasn’t crowded.  Another family was in the aisle, a young mother juggling a toddler on her hip, and holding a basket while her elementary age son stood to the side.  He made his way inside the aisle, Rin following him, and stopped looking at the shelves upon shelves of Valentine’s Day cards for classroom kids.   

“Daddy look, it’s Anna and Elsa!”   

Rin’s squeal had him looking at the cards she was pointing to, coincidentally on a shelf right in her line of sight.  He picked up a box of the cards examining it.  A quick perusal let him know that while Rin liked the cards, not all of her classmates, especially young boys, would be as keen on them as her.   

He distinctly remembered being more interested in Pokemon and Power Rangers growing up instead of the Disney Princesses that Rin was so fond of.   

Scanning the shelves, he made note of the various cards ranging from Star Wars to Winnie the Pooh to things that he didn’t even recognize.  As he tried to find a set that would both appease Rin’s love for Disney Princesses and his own knowledge of things young boys preferred, he noticed that the young mother in the aisle was trying to reach a set of Star Wars cards on the top shelf.  She was struggling to reach them since she was too short to reach the shelf.   

Deciding to be a good samaritan, he plucked the box of cards down and handed them to her.   

“Oh, thank you!”  The woman flipped the box of cards over and looked them over biting her lip for a moment.  As she scanned the box, her son sidled over to Rin.  Casting a glance in their direction, he noticed the two greet each other.   

“Shippo!  Are you buying the Valentine’s Cards too?”  Rin asked him her eyes bright with curiosity.   

“Yeah.  I’m gonna get Star Wars ones.”  Shippo cast a glance at his mother who was talking with his sister.  “Um, only if Mama agrees though”  he amended before continuing.  “What kind are you getting?”   

Deciding to listen in and see just what his daughter wanted, Sesshomaru stood to the side watching the interaction.  The woman who was in the aisle with him--Shippo’s mother apparently--threw the box of cards into her basket.  He waited for Rin’s answer.   

“I’m going to get Princess ones for everybody!”   

“Eew!”  Shippo shook his head and pointed to the cards her father had pulled down for his mother.  “No, you should get stuff like those for the boys.  Only girls like Princesses.”   

Rin pouted.  “But my daddy’s a boy, and he likes Princesses.”   

Put on the spot when Rin turned to look at him with Shippo, he struggled to find an answer that would appease Rin and not ridicule him.  To his surprise however, the boy’s mother spoke up before he could reply.   

“Shippo, we’ve had this conversation.”  The woman started.  Her voice had a slight accent to it that he noticed mimicked his.  Except, his was unfortunately more pronounced.  As the woman continued speaking, he tuned back in to hear what she had to say to her child--in English no less.   

“Just because you don’t like certain things Shippo, doesn’t mean everyone doesn’t like them.  Your classmate can buy whatever she wants, and you should respect that.”   

Shippo shuffled his feet and nodded begrudgingly.  “Sorry Rin.  Sorry Mr--” he looked at his mom, and then at Sesshomaru clearly waiting for Sesshomaru to tell him his name.   

When there was silence, it was the boy’s mother who spoke up again saving her son from the awkward moment of silence that was following.  “It’s nice to meet you.  My name’s Kagome Higurashi, and that’s my son Shippo.”  She made a move to set the basket down to shake his hand.   

“It’s nice to meet you.”  Sesshomaru answered politely, shaking her hand and getting niceties out of the way because that was the polite thing to do.  “My name is Sesshomaru Mori and that is my daughter Rin.”  He beckoned Rin over and had her properly introduce herself as well.  “It seems our children are classmates.”   

“Not classmates.”  Rin corrected after her greetings.  “We’re in afterschool together.”  For a brief moment, Sesshomaru was shocked at Rin’s way of correcting him.  She was getting more and more outspoken and no longer was the little girl who held onto his every word.   

“I see, afterschool then.”  Kagome confirmed with a smile adjusting the hold she had on her toddler.  Turning to Sesshomaru, she addressed him next.  “So, I guess you’re shopping for the cards too like us?  Any luck so far?”   

“No.”  Sesshomaru answered not sure what to say to keep the conversation going.  He wasn’t even sure he wanted to keep the conversation going since that defeated the entire purpose of this short trip to the store.  And the sooner he got the trip done with, the better.  The woman however, chose to continue speaking despite his curt answer.   

“Well, speaking from experience, always buy at least 40 cards, 50 if you really think you’ll need extra.  Trust me, no matter how careful you are, there will be at least a few mistakes.  And then if your daughter is anything like Shippo here,” she reached out and ruffled her son’s hair to his chagrin, “then you’ll need extra for other friends and some teachers.”   

“Ah thank you.”   

Sesshomaru gave a nod in her direction, genuinely thankful for that bit of information as he had not thought about the number of cards he had to buy at all.   It seemed Mrs. Higurashi had actually saved him from at least one problem that would have popped up in his foreseeable future.     

“Your welcome.”  Kagome hesitated, and then pointed to the card box that Sesshomaru had handed down to her earlier.  “Um, before we go, do you mind helping me reach the other boxes?  I’ll need one more.”   

“Of course.”  Sesshomaru reached up and took a second copy of the Star Wars cards box down.  He handed it over thinking that the woman would leave, but she hesitated.   

At this point, Sesshomaru tried very hard to not make a face or show that he was annoyed in any way.  Because honestly, he was annoyed.  He wanted to get his shopping done with Rin and go home.  But having to make small talk with a stranger was putting him behind.  Besides, all the talking was making him uncomfortable.  Why did she need to know all about his shopping with Rin?  She was helpful, but also a little nosy in his opinion.   

Of course Mrs. Higurashi decided that since she hadn’t been dismissed, she would continue to speak. 

“Um, pardon me if I’m wrong, but is this your first time?”   

“First time?”  He asked clarification being needed on what exactly she was referring to.   

“First time doing this.”  Kagome waved her hands around her indicating the cards and the shopping they had come to do.  “It’s just, you remind me of how I was when it was Shippo’s first year doing this.  It’s very different from the culture where I grew up.  Honestly, I think I prefer Japan’s giri-choco better.”  Suddenly embarrassed, she readjusted her hold on the toddler and beckoned her son over to her.  

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt your shopping with my babbling.”  Nonetheless, she shuffled her feet and didn’t make any move to utter a hasty goodbye before departing from the aisle.  “Um, l know it’s not really my place, but um… those cards with the emoji icons might be a good bet for this year.”   

Kagome pointed to a box of cards that consisted of happy emoji smiley faces.  “Or you can buy one of this and one of the Princess ones to appease your daughter.  And like I said 40’s a good number.  Enough for the class and anyone else.  Just make sure to get the list of names from her teacher so you can help her write the names.”   

Sesshomaru took a look at the box, noting that the card displayed on the box consisted of an emoji wearing sunglasses and the words “You brighten my life” written underneath.  It was corny, slightly jarring for someone who had never seen them before, but it was tame he supposed.  And it was gender neutral.  Still, he was honestly surprised by how this woman kept on speaking despite his disinterest in the conversation.  It was almost as though she was speaking just so she could hear her voice.  He was grateful that she was giving him some advice, but he was honestly feeling a little uncomfortable right now.   

And he really just wanted to buy the cards and go home already.   

“Thank you.”  He answered finally wanting to escape the moment.  

Mrs. Higurashi nodded, an awkward grin on her face.  “Right.  Well, um, it was nice to meet you Mr. Mori.”  With that said, she walked away and left the aisle, her son waving goodbye to them as he followed behind her.  

* * * * * 

Monday, February 10, 2020

Sesshomaru ran into Mrs. Higurashi again as he went to pick up Rin from afterschool.  The young mother had a stack of papers in her right hand while her left cradled Shippo’s.  She stopped on the pathway and waved to him.  Acknowledging her with a nod he made his way up the same pathway noting that she had stopped on it and was waiting for him.  

“Hello!”  She called out when he neared.  “How are you Mr. Mori?  Did you get your shopping done on Saturday?”   

“Hello Mrs. Higurashi.  We did get our shopping done.  Thank you for your help.”   

“It was no problem.”  Kagome motioned with her hands to indicate such, letting go of Shippo’s hand in the process.  “And um, it’s Miss Higurashi.  My ex and I are divorced.”  She looked down at the sidewalk, not meeting his eyes.   

It took a moment for Sesshomaru to process her actions and words, especially the tone she said them in.  But, when he did, he immediately recognized it.  It was the same way he had felt after his divorce from Kagura.  The same way he felt when he was tired of speaking about the divorce and seeing the looks of pity directed his way now that he was a single father.   

That had been part of the reason he had packed up Rin and moved here after all.  

For some reason, he felt the need to reassure her that he wouldn’t care about her divorced status.  He was in the same boat as her-- a divorcee with a child to take care of.  For a brief moment, he felt a deep respect for her since she was taking care of two kids on her own.  

“I’m a divorcee as well.”  He finally stated shoving his hands into his pockets and shrugging his shoulders as though what he was saying wasn’t important.   

“Oh.”  She looked back up at him again, her features softening slightly.  A silence reigned for a minute, and she spoke up lest it become more awkward.  “Um, it was nice to see you again Mr. Mori.”  She made a move to go forward again, but Shippo tugged on her hand.   

“Mama, you promised to ask him!”  

Sesshomaru stared at the two of them, an eyebrow raised in curiosity.  He waited to see what it was Shippo needed his mother to ask him instead of asking him himself.  Kagome seemed to understand what her son was asking about though as she began speaking. 

“Right.  Mr. Mori, Shippo wanted to ask if he and Rin could meet sometime over a weekend or something?  Like a play date?”   

Sesshomaru heaved a sigh of relief, glad that the situation was as simple as that.  He inclined his head in agreement.  “That sounds fine.  I’ll speak with Rin and get back to you.”   

“That sounds good.  Well, we need to get going to pick up Shippo’s little sister Shiori from daycare.  So, I’ll see you around Mr. Mori.”   

“Have a good evening Miss Higurashi.” 

* * * * * 

Friday, February 14, 2020 

Sesshomaru picked up Rin’s box to take it inside and was surprised by the weight gain since he had given it to her this morning.  He could see pieces of cards through the hole in the top of the shoebox, and he had to admit he was curious about them.  Perhaps he could go over them with Rin later.   

A few hours later, as he diligently plucked through cards and picked out the candy that was sometimes attached to them, he was shocked to see one that he recognized.  After all, those were the same ones in the box that he had handed Miss Higurashi last Saturday in Target.   

“What’s this Rin?”  He asked, noting that unlike other cards, this one had a small note taped to it.  Plucking it off, he opened it, shocked to see that the note was from Miss Higurashi.   

“Miss Higurashi sent a note to you.  Shippo said it was for you and that she wrote it just for you.”   

Sesshomaru didn’t reply, busy as he was staring at the short missive that Miss Higurashi had carefully folded and written.   

Mr. Mori,

I realize that last time we never got to exchange numbers for our childrens’ play date.  Perhaps we could speak about it sometime?  Here’s my number: xxx-xxx-xxxx.  

Happy Valentine’s Day!  I hope you and Rin have a great time celebrating it!  

* * * * * 

Saturday, July 4, 2020 

Sesshomaru couldn’t say when, but he noticed that the Hgurashi family had become more and more an integral part of his life since he had met them that fateful day in February.  The kids got along famously, and he and Kagome had formed a surprisingly close friendship.   

He supposed it likely had to do with their shared cultural history.  They were both transplants who had emigrated from their homeland to settle in the United States, even if it was for different reasons.  They felt comfortable in each other’s presence, often drawing on each other for advice when needed, he more so than her.  And really, Kagome’s presence was welcome.  There were so many things that he was new to which she helped explain to him lest he embarrass Rin as a parent who couldn't do anything right.   

“You still with us?”  Kagome asked, waving a hand in his direction.  They were sitting on a grassy hill, a picnic blanket spread underneath them, waiting for the fireworks to light up the night sky.   

He didn’t get a chance to reply as the fireworks began over their heads, and their children kept up commentary as they all took in the sight.   

Sesshomaru felt so comfortable here.  He couldn’t wait to do it again next year.  

* * * * * 

Sunday February 14, 2021 

It was corny really, but the thought behind the gesture warmed Kagome inside as she took in the sight of Sesshomaru, now a close friend and confidante, standing on her doorstep with Rin.  In his hands he held out a simple card: a Valentine’s Day Card that Rin likely had left over after her classroom Valentine’s Day Event on Friday.   

Nonetheless, she could only smile and nod “Yes” as she answered the question on the card which was then translated by Sesshomaru into Japanese script on the inside.   

“Will you be my Daddy’s Valentine?”  Rin asked, eager for an answer as she didn’t see Kagome’s nod.   

Laughing, Kagome moved forward engulfing Sesshomaru into a hug.  “Yes, I do believe I will.”  

* * * * * 

Tuesday, February 14, 2023 

Kagome and Sesshomaru sat at a kitchen table, cards strewn around them as they tried to figure out how to allocate cards to Shiori’s classmates.  Rin had moved on from needing their help since she was nine years old now.  But five year old Shiori still needed their help writing names and picking cards for her classmates.   

Oddly enough, there were quite a few being discarded for her classmates simply based on the fact that Kagome and Sesshomaru were quite sure that some of Shiori’s female classmates might prefer getting Disney Princesses instead of the ones with random cars, trucks, and trains.  

Sesshomaru abruptly took a card from the pile and turned away from her, hunching over the table and writing something on it.   

“Oi!  What are you doing?  I thought we both agreed to choose and write cards together.”   

Sesshomaru didn’t respond as he continued writing, causing Kagome’s curiosity to spike.  She continued to try to look over his shoulder, but he kept whatever he was writing a closely guarded secret.  After a minute, Sesshomaru stood, walking over to the nearby buffet and opening a drawer under it.  Kagome couldn’t see what he was pulling out though she did crane her neck attempting to see what he was doing.   

When he finally turned around to come back towards her, he held something tightly in his hands.  Whatever it was was cupped in them, and, only upon reaching her, did he lower his hands to show her what was inside.   

A simple ring sat in the palm of his hand on a card where Belle and the Beast looked ready to dance the night away.   

Below the words written on the card: “You are my Sweet Valentine.”  were the words “Will you marry be and be my forever Valentine?”   

Hands shaking, eyes tearing, and a wide smile spreading across her face she looked up at Sesshomaru.   

“Yes! Of course yes!”   

As they kissed to celebrate a few minutes later, they barely registered the tiny patter of young feet and two sets of giggles punctuated by a sound of mild disgust.   

Kagome and Sesshomaru barely heard the words Rin said as the kids bounded off to bother Kagome’s visiting mother in the living room.   

“See I told you Shippo! I told you she would say yes!”          


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