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A Christmas in the Country by tenchi no mai

A Christmas in the Country

This fanfiction was written as a gift for forthright in connection with the Dokuga Holiday Exchange 2009.  Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year to you and yours, forthright!  I hope you enjoy this holiday story.

Theme: Dokuga Holiday Exchange 2009

Due: December 10th , 2009 by 2400 EST

Required Word Count:  1500 minimum for one shot

Actual Word Count:  5,777

Universe:  AU – Modern Era

Rating:  M 

Warnings: Innuendoes, Character Death

Disclaimer: The characters of InuYasha are not mine, they are the property of Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Yomiuri TV, Sunrise, and Viz Media.   Only the plot to this story is my intellectual property.  I do not make any money from the writing of this story. 

‘Italics’ = thoughts

A Christmas in the Country 

Kagome took Sesshoumaru’s hand as he helped her out of the limousine.  Looking around, she couldn’t help but to finally smile.  It looked just like the pictures they had received when they were making the arrangements to rent the house. 

She had been both upset and disappointed when they arrived at Newark International Airport and for the major portion of the drive here.  New Jersey seemed to be nothing more than sprawling highways and an industrial wasteland.  

They were to be in the United States for a few months while Sesshoumaru closed the deal on the company that he was purchasing.  It was his first acquisition of an American corporation and he wanted time to learn the day to day workings of the business before they returned to Japan.   Hence the rental of this house in one of New York City’s bedroom communities. 

Autumn was her second favorite season of the year after spring, and the surrounding landscape was absolutely beautiful.  The leaves were falling from the trees, but still held some color after what they had been told was a long, hot summer, and the potted chrysanthemums on the steps were blooming in a glorious riot of gold and orange. 

Taking a second look around, Kagome noticed horses in a corral and the outline of a large barn.  The information packet they had received said there were two more houses on the property, that the elderly owner, as well as his son and family, lived here.  Fields and wooded areas appeared to make up the rest of the farm. 

While Sesshoumaru was helping the driver to unload their luggage, Kagome was searching for the key.  The paperwork they had received said it would be under the doormat.  “Found it!” 

Sesshoumaru came over and with a kiss, gently took it out of her fingers.  “Stay here a minute and let me make sure everything is okay.”  Kagome giggled at the thought that something might not be ‘right’.  

She had forwarded a shopping list and the kitchen was supposed to be stocked for them.  Linens were included in the rental, but Kagome had brought her favorite bed pillow.  She turned back to look at the driver as he picked up the last of their luggage. 

Sesshoumaru had returned, and paused to watch her stand there with the bright sunlight glinting off her long shiny hair.  It had been a lengthy, boring flight from Tokyo, and he had tried, unsuccessfully, to talk her into joining the Mile High Club.  He was now filled with an insatiable longing for his mate, and as soon as the driver departed, he was going to slake his thirst.  Stalking silently towards his prey, he scooped her up bridal style and headed for the front door. 

“Mr. Taisho, sir, where would you like me to put your bags?”  The driver stood on the porch, waiting for an answer. 

“Put them inside the door, I’ll take care of them shortly.”  Sesshoumaru looked down at Kagome as she ‘eeped’ and began blushing.  Lowering his head to whisper in her ear, he informed her that she could look around later, the only place they were going to explore right now was the king size bed in the master bedroom.

~*~

Several hours later, after a nap and a nice hot shower, Sesshoumaru and Kagome were sitting at the breakfast room table eating a quick dinner she had prepared, and watching the deer amble between the wooded sections on the far edge of the fields.  

She had been surprised; everything that was on her shopping list had been obtained.   The items that were labeled only in English had a sticky note attached with the Japanese kanji.  The writing was a little shaky, but entirely correct and readable. The staff from the realty agency had been very efficient, she would have to remember to thank everyone when she finally met them in person. 

Sesshoumaru wasn’t due at the office until Monday, and since they had been informed this was a holiday weekend, they had a few days to relax.  There was a 14 hour time difference between Tokyo and the east coast of the United States, plus they had crossed the International Date Line.  It was going to take a couple days to get used to the change in the time.  She looked at the calendar hanging on the wall by the phone.  Today was Friday, so they had two more days to adjust their internal clocks. 

A company car would be delivered Monday morning by one of the executives in time to show Sesshoumaru the drive to the train station and how to get into the city.  The paperwork they had received was very detailed,  and advised against them driving into New York City.  Instead, it suggested that the rail system was the best option, as well as the quickest way, to get into the city.

~*~

Monday morning came all too quickly, and one of the Vice Presidents had picked Sesshoumaru up early to drive him to the railroad station. 

Kagome decided to go back to bed for a while.  The sheets were still warm under the comforter, and she quickly snuggled down into Sesshoumaru’s spot and thought about what she wanted to do today.  She had planned to take a walk to the corral later and see how many horses there were, but right now she could use a little more shut eye.

~*~

Several hours later Kagome woke up feeling bright and chipper.  After a shower and dressing in warm clothes, she began walking towards the corral and barn. 

Getting closer, she could see a blonde haired woman, who appeared to be about her mothers age, riding a horse, while a couple others were being exercised on a circular walker.   Several fat ponies were grazing nearby.  Crossing her arms on the top rail and settling against the fence, she watched them for a little while before noticing the elderly man leaning on the far side of the fence observing her.  Smiling, she waved to him, then turned to head back to the house. 

The next several days continued with the same routine.  Kagome took pleasure in the crisp, clean air on the walk to the corral as well as watching the horses get exercised.  The long walk took her past what appeared to have been flower and vegetable gardens.  There were no flowers growing now, but there was a field with a few pumpkins still lying amid the dried up vines.  She also greatly enjoyed the wildlife that she saw scampering across the fields looking for anything that was missed in the harvest. 

Yesterday she saw a fox skirting the edge of one of the fields, and it reminded her of Shippo; she was going to have to call home soon and find out what was happening at the shiro and how everyone was fairing without their alpha. 

This morning she stopped to watch, and laugh at, the antics of some tiny striped chipmunks as they skittered around the field.  There was a light dusting of snow covering the ground and clinging to the now mostly bare tree branches.  The elderly man was waiting for her at what she had come to think of as her observation post. 

“Do you ride, Mrs. Taisho?”  He extended his large hand to firmly shake hers.  “I’m Jim O’Hara, and the girl exercising the horses is my daughter-in-law, Rose.” 

“How do you do, Mr. O’Hara?  No, I don’t ride, but I have been enjoying watching the horses as they’re getting exercised.”  Kagome shook hands with the owner of the property, noticing how much his actions reminded her of her own grandfather. 

Light blue eyes twinkling, Jim O’Hara told her to call him Jim and then asked if she would like to see the deer. 

“Oh, I’ve seen the deer from the deck as they’ve grazed over near the edge of the woods.”  Kagome was wondering if maybe, like her jiji, he was a little ‘off balance’. 

Chuckling, he pointed past the barn.  “No, not those pesky things, I meant the reindeer.  It’s almost time to feed them.  Come along, I’ll show you.”

Stuffing her hands into her coat pockets, Kagome followed Jim around past the front of the barn, not quite sure what to expect.  When they arrived at another large corral, Kagome’s eyes widened in wonder and delight.  There, looking at them expectantly, was a small herd of reindeer. 

Jim had picked up a couple buckets of grain and proceeded to dump them into several feed troughs before hauling bales of hay over to toss into the enclosure.  “We can go in and meet them after they’re done eating if you would like.”  He was amused by the expression on her face, and could see the questions in her eyes.  

Kagome watched, fascinated, as the reindeer ate.  They were a lot smaller than she had thought reindeer would be, and their antlers were covered with a soft looking brown fuzz.  “They would let me pet them?”  She wasn’t sure if this was a good idea or not, but the thought of petting the reindeer was just too tempting to pass up.  “Do they all have names?” 

Jim chuckled again, and began to point them out.  “Yes, there is Dasher and Dancer, and Prancer and Vixen… I think you probably know the rest of the names.”  Kagome looked at him out of the corner of her eyes and began to laugh.   She was wondering why he kept a herd of reindeer, and wanted to ask him, but didn’t want to appear impolite. 

“We’ve had reindeer for years.  They will be one of the attractions in the Christmas display at the local town hall next weekend in the village when Santa Claus comes to visit.  The children always enjoy seeing them, and it helps to set the mood for the holidays.” 

~*~

Sesshoumaru smirked when Kagome excitedly described her morning with the reindeer to him at dinner that night.  They had fallen easily into a daily routine.  He left early for the office, called her around lunch time, then depending on his schedule, he was usually home shortly after dark. 

He had been upset at first that Kagome didn’t want to drive him to the train station so that she could have the car during the day in case she wanted to go out.  But after seeing how nervous she was the first time she tried to drive on the busy highway, he hadn’t brought it up again. 

She seemed content to fax her grocery list to the local market and have the orders delivered.  Maybe after the holidays, he would try to get her to drive again.  He had been told the traffic was always hectic this time of year, and once they got past the holidays, it wouldn’t be so bad. 

He was taking a day off later in the week to take Kagome into New York City on the train.  He wanted to take her ice skating, have lunch, then go shopping.  The stores were beautifully decorated for the holiday season, and he knew she would enjoy seeing the displays.

~*~Several Weeks Later~*~

Kagome had become quite friendly with Jim and they often went back to his small house not too far from the barn for tea after feeding the reindeer.  She had met his great-grandchildren one day when they were there for riding lessons with their grandmother.  Rose had been on the Olympic Equestrian Team in her younger days; she now gave riding lessons to local children as well as ran a riding clinic for physically handicapped individuals.  

They were currently sitting at his kitchen table sipping their tea after eating the lunch that Kagome had prepared and brought over with her.  

Jim began speaking of his late wife, who he had very obviously been head over heels in love with.  Telling Kagome that she reminded him of Kikyo when she was a young woman, he told her the story of how they met.  

He was a young man in the army and had been stationed in Japan at the end of the war.  He was assigned to help guard a local shrine.  She was a distant cousin of the family that owned the shrine, and had been sent to them when the bombings had become horrific.  She helped perform the duties of shrine miko, and it was love at first sight. 

It had taken quite a while, but they eventually married, and he brought his war bride home with him in 1947.  They had two sons and a daughter, and now had several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 

Kagome had been disturbed at first that there was yet another Kikyo that she reminded someone of, but quickly got over it.  She really liked Jim and his family, and hadn’t met too many people other than the employees of the company when she attended the holiday party with Sesshoumaru.

~*~

The next day Jim came over to the house to bring in the Christmas tree that Kagome had picked out and one of his grandsons had cut down for her.  Heading up to the attic he retrieved the tree stand and  boxes of ornaments as well as decorations for her to use. 

Hauling in an armload of cuttings, wire and tools, he sat at the breakfast room table, fashioning a wreath for the front door and hung it for her after she had decorated it.  

“It’s nice to see the old house looking like Christmas.  It’s been a long time since there was a tree in here.”  Jim looked around approvingly at the decorating they had accomplished.  His light blue eyes twinkling, he remembered Christmases of the past, as memories thought long forgotten suddenly surfaced. 

Kagome was adjusting some candles and Christmas tree balls amid the boughs of pine on the fireplace mantle.  “You used to live in this house?” 

“Yes, I grew up here.  When my children were young, this place bustled with activity around the holidays.  After my wife died, the house was too big for just me, and I decided to move down into the caretakers cottage near the barn.”  Jim had put on his hat, picked up his jacket and was heading for the door.  Giving her a quick hug, he whispered, “You’ve made an old man very happy.”  

Waving as he walked away, he called, “I’ll have young Ken stop by and bring some more wood for the fireplace.  You can never have too much wood stockpiled in the winter.” 

Kagome looked around after he left.  The tree was up and decorated and there were even stockings hanging from the fireplace mantle.  It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas. 

She smiled as she looked over the ornaments on the tree.  There were quite a few handmade ones, probably from Jim’s children and grandchildren when they were young.  One in particular caught her attention.  A crescent moon, with a star hanging by a piece of curly wire from the tip of the moon.  They were both covered with sparkly glitter and the words on the star said, “Miracles happen to those who believe.” 

This made her think of the well, the Shikon no Tama, Inuyasha, and her years spent in the Feudal Era.  That was certainly a time filled with miracles, as well as youkai, hanyou and adventures.  Since her return to her era and the sealing of the well, it seemed that the time of miracles had passed.  There were many times she still wished to be able to return to the Feudal Era. 

Shaking off her useless thoughts, she concentrated on the here and now.  The next day was Christmas Eve, it was going to be wonderful to have Sesshoumaru home with her for a couple days.  The company was closing for two days for Christmas and two days for New Years, and since the actual holidays were on consecutive Fridays, this meant two nice long weekends. 

Kagome had added baking supplies to her usual grocery order, and was planning on spending the afternoon baking and decorating cookies.  She had bought a fancy tin container when Sesshoumaru had taken her shopping in the village, and was going to fill it with cookies for Jim. 

~*~

“Sesshoumaru, no!”  Kagome was pacing back and forth in the kitchen while he ate breakfast.  Sesshoumaru had just informed her that he was going to go to the office for a while, but would be home earlier than normal. 

“Kagome, there is a lot of paperwork to read and get ready for the final meeting before the sale.  I have to get it done.  The sale is scheduled for the first workday of the new year.”  Sesshoumaru was finishing his coffee and feeling guilty.  He knew he had been working more than usual the last couple of weeks and was sure Kagome felt lonely and neglected.  “I promise, I’ll be back early this afternoon.  If I have to, I’ll bring the files home with me.” 

Getting up, he walked over and wrapped his arms around Kagome, giving her a kiss on top of the head.  “Come on Kagome, don’t be upset.  It’s Christmas Eve.  Give me a kiss, the sooner I leave, the sooner I’ll be back.”  

Kagome, knowing she couldn’t stay mad at Sesshoumaru too long, gave him a toe curling kiss, hoping to change his mind about going to the city.  It almost worked, too.  He seemed to hesitate for a minute before he left.

~*~

Kagome wandered around the house, rearranged the presents under the Christmas tree, and wondered when Sesshoumaru would get home.  She had a special dinner planned for tonight.  Fixing a cup of cocoa, she curled up in one of the big, comfy chairs near the front window with a book, and watched as the first few flakes of snow fell silently to the ground. 

An hour or so later, the snow began to fall in earnest, quickly covering the ground and trees with a blanket of white.  Kagome was now beginning to worry about Sesshoumaru having to travel in what the weatherman on radio was calling a snowstorm.  They had snow in Japan, but if the weather looked bad, Sesshoumaru worked from home that day.  

Hearing the growling of an ATV engine, Kagome went to the door, expecting to see young Ken.  He often used the ATV and its small trailer for hauling wood for the fireplace.  It gave her the giggles when she thought about it, young Ken was actually a few years older than her.  It surprised her to see Jim driving the machine.  

“Ho, Ho, Ho!  Merry Christmas, Kagome!”  Jim kicked the snow off his boots when he got to the door.  Kagome had swept the steps once already, but they were covered again. 

“Merry Christmas, Jim.  Come in and have some cocoa with me.  I’ve got marshmallows to put in it.”  She waggled her now empty mug at him.  

“Well, maybe one cup.  I don’t want to disturb you and your husband.  I just stopped by to show him how to turn off the normal electrical system and switch it over entirely to the solar system in case we lose power.  It’s enough to run the refrigerator and lights, but you’ll have to use the fireplace for heat.”  He looked around expecting Sesshoumaru to appear at any minute. 

“Sesshoumaru’s not here right now, he went into work for a couple hours.”  Kagome fidgeted with the cocoa mug.  “I guess you had better show me, then I can explain it to Sesshoumaru.  Do you really think we’ll lose power?” 

“It’s a good possibility, the National Weather Service is talking about upgrading the storm to a blizzard warning.”  Jim asked for piece of paper and a pen to write the directions down.  He was sure Kagome could do it, but would feel safer if the information was clearly written out.  It would be a shame if the power went out and they were unable to get the backup system working. 

After showing Kagome the solar battery array and the switching mechanisms, he gave her the written directions and was getting ready to leave. 

“Oh, wait!  I made cookies for you.”  Kagome retrieved the tin from under the tree and found a bag to put it in.  “Are you going to spend the holiday up at the main house with Ken and Rose?” 

Jim nodded.  “Yes, the other grandchildren should be here soon and, as you know, young Ken arrived home from school the other week.  I see he brought you some more wood.” 

“He stopped by yesterday afternoon and moved the log holder up onto the porch and loaded it up with wood.”  She walked out onto the porch with Jim.  The snow was falling even heavier than it had been when he arrived a short time ago. 

“Looks like the weatherman is right.  You may want to call your husband and let him know that if the storm gets worse the railroad may well go to a limited schedule and he’ll want to get out of the city before the snow gets too bad.”  Jim looked up at the sky as he made his way over to his son’s house.  ‘This storm is going to be a bad one,’ he thought, ‘I’ll have to get young Ken to put the snowplow on the ATV.’  

Kagome swept the snow off the steps again, then went inside to call Sesshoumaru.  Listening as the office phone rang, then went into voicemail, she hoped he had left already and was on his way home.

~*~

Sesshoumaru looked up when he heard a knock on the door of his office.  It was one of the janitors, emptying the trashcans.  

Joe poked his head into the office.  “Mr. Taisho, if you want to make the last train out of Penn Station you had better hurry.  They just announced on the radio that the storm is getting worse and Amtrack will be stopping commuter service soon.  You don’t want to get stuck in the city on Christmas Eve.” 

“What about you?  Won’t you have trouble getting home?”  Sesshoumaru began to quickly gather files and stuff them into his briefcase.  He had been so involved in the legal aspects of the buyers portion of the sale, he hadn’t even noticed it was snowing.  Checking out the window, he was shocked to see how much snow was already on the ground. 

“No, I don’t live all that far.  I take the subway.”  Joe had finished, and was heading out the door towards the elevators.  “Have a Merry Christmas, Mr. Taisho.” 

“You too, Joe.  See you on Monday.”  Sesshoumaru pulled on his coat and locked the offices, waiting for Joe to leave the floor.  He could make better time using his demon speed and the stairs rather than waiting for one of the elevators. 

Rapidly arriving at the first floor lobby,  he pushed through the thick glass doors and out into the muffled quiet of the city.  Damning the consequences, he again used his demon speed to get to the station.  

Eyeing the queue of angry commuters, he was glad that he had a monthly rail pass and didn’t have to wait in line to buy a ticket.  Racing down the platform, he settled into one of the last remaining seats just as the train was getting ready to pull out of the station. 

Breathing a sigh of relief, Sesshoumaru waited for the train to exit the underground tunnel system, then pulled out his cell phone to call Kagome.  Getting no signal he waited a few more minutes before trying again.

~*~

Kagome was getting more and more worried as the  afternoon slowly dragged on.  There was no answer at the office, and she had been trying Sesshoumaru’s cell phone with no luck.  It was also going directly into voicemail. 

The radio station was playing all Christmas music, but interrupted it every so often with an update on the weather conditions.  It didn’t sound good, and she kept checking out the window, hoping to see Sesshoumaru drive up at any moment.

~*~

Sesshoumaru was getting aggravated; the train was barely making headway, stopping at all the local rail stations.  From the window, he could see the snowplows were out on the roads, but it seemed they were hardly making a dent in the rapidly accumulating snow. 

As the train slowly pulled out of its current stop, he realized that he was still several stations away from his destination.  Hitting the speed dial on his cell phone again, he tried once more to call Kagome, becoming even more irritated when there was still no service. 

A few minutes later, the train lurched to a stop almost throwing him out of his seat.  The lights flickered, then went off, before they came back on again.  The conductor was slowly going through the cars announcing that they were stuck between stations, and waiting for one of the engines with a snow plow to arrive. 

Sesshoumaru was worried about Kagome being alone, and wishing he had stayed with her instead of heading into the city to do paperwork that should have, and actually could have, waited until after the holiday.  He wanted to use his youki to create his sphere of light or use his true form and be home quickly, but was unable to do so with the number of witnesses on the train.  So he impatiently waited for either the snowplow or a chance to slip away unnoticed.

~*~

Kagome was becoming frantic, Sesshoumaru’s cell phone still went into voicemail.  She had heard on the radio that the commuter trains were becoming stuck in the drifting snow and that it could be hours before the railroad snowplows arrived to get them moving again.  

Tilting her head and listening carefully, Kagome could hear the jingle of bells quickly getting louder.  Opening the front door, she was stunned to see the reindeer hooked up to an old sleigh, their breaths coming out as puffs of vapor in the cold air. 

At first she thought it was young Ken, but when he stomped up onto the porch and spoke she realized it was Jim.  He was so bundled up she could hardly see his face, and he was carrying what appeared to be a thick green blanket. 

“Come on, young lady, get dressed in something warm, and don’t forget a hat, gloves and a muffler.  We’re going to go get your husband and bring him home for the holiday.”  Jim waited on the porch for Kagome, while keeping an eye on the reindeer.    

He had become very fond of Kagome over the last month, and thought of her as one of his own granddaughters.  Having heard on the radio about the trains getting stuck and knowing she would be panic-stricken by this point, he had decided to help in the only way he knew how at the moment. 

Kagome quickly returned dressed in her heaviest clothing.  Jim handed her the ‘blanket’ which turned out to be a dark green, fur lined, ankle length cape with a hood.  “We’ve got plenty of blankets to keep warm for the ride, but I thought you might need something extra.”  Helping her over to the sleigh, he settled her in the seat and pulled the blankets over their laps.  

“Will the reindeer be able to make it all the way to the station?”  Kagome was enchanted as she watched them settle down into a trot and the gateposts at the entrance to the farm came into view.  

Jim chuckled, and nodded his head.  “They’ve been waiting for weather just like this.  The reindeer love the snow, this is a treat for them.  And we shouldn’t be bothered by any traffic, I heard everything is snowbound at the moment.” 

They turned onto the road, and Kagome was in awe as the miles flew by with the quick cadence of hoof beats and jingling bells.  There was not a vehicle in sight until they turned to enter the parking lot at the railroad station.  The large mounds of snow attested to the storms vengeance in keeping anything from moving.  

“Hold on tight, Kagome, we’re going to ride on the right of way next to the tracks.  It’ll be bumpy as we cross the rails.”  Jim had the reindeer turn north to follow the tracks.  “The train is stuck several stations up from here.” 

“Won’t it be dangerous to be this close to the tracks?”  Kagome remembered the trains zipping past when Sesshoumaru took her into the city for the day. 

Jim kept a close eye on the reindeer.  “No, the railroad snowplows are coming up from the equipment yards in Philadelphia.  It’ll be hours before they manage to plow their way up here; going from past experience, it’ll probably be sometime after midnight.  You’ll be back home and nestled all snug in your bed long before they get here.” 

Kagome snuggled down further into the delicious warmth of the fur lined cape and anxiously peered ahead through the blowing snow, waiting to catch a glimpse of the train.  

She wasn’t sure, but there appeared to be something ahead.  The small halo of light steadly grew larger, until they were slowing down as they approached the snowbound train.  

Sesshoumaru heard the jingling of sleigh bells before he could see the sleigh and its occupants approach.  He could sense Kagome’s aura, and rose from his seat to go to the end of the car and out into the small vestibule.  The conductor released the latch on the cover for the steps and looked on in amazement as a sleigh drawn by reindeer stopped to pick up a passenger. 

“Sesshoumaru!”  Kagome threw herself into his arms as he settled on the seat, sitting her in his lap.  Holding her tightly to his chest he kissed her deeply before looking over as Jim got the reindeer moving again.  

“I think we’ll go up to the next station, then cut through the parking lot.  It’ll be easier than trying to pick our way around the woods.  Then we can use the road and be home in no time.”  Jim stole a quick glance at his passengers and smiled.

“Whatever you want.  You’re the driver.”  Kagome laughed as she snuggled up to Sesshoumaru.  He was a hot blooded demon and would definitely keep her warm until they got back to the house. 

Sesshoumaru was picking up something strange emanating from Jim, but couldn’t quite put his finger on it.  “Jim, are you feeling okay?” 

“Never felt better.  I’m fine.  You two just sit back and enjoy the ride, we’ll have you home before you know it.”  He steered the reindeer through the parking lot and out towards the road. 

The ride passed quickly as the reindeer picked up speed on their return home.  They knew a warm barn and feed were going to be waiting for them. 

Jim dropped Kagome and Sesshoumaru off at steps to the porch.  “You two young people have a very Merry Christmas.”  And with that, he and the reindeer disappeared towards the barn.  All that was left was the slowly fading jingling of the sleigh bells. 

Sesshoumaru still had Kagome in his arms, and he jumped up onto the porch over the snow drifts.  Hustling her inside out of the cold, he realized the power was out.  Quickly gathering logs and kindling, he started a fire in the fireplace while Kagome went to get pillows and blankets.  It looked like they would be spending the night in the living room.

~*~

The next morning Sesshoumaru awoke to Kagome snuggled up beside him and the early dawn light tinting the windows pink.  Icicles hung from the edge of the porch roof.  It appeared the power was back on and the heater was slowly bringing the rooms up to a more comfortable temperature.  He got up and threw a few more logs on the fire, then laid back down for a few more hours of sleep. 

Later that morning, Kagome heard the growl of the ATV engine and looked out to see young Ken come into view plowing the road and driveway.  She pulled her jacket on and went out with a cup of cocoa for him.  Sesshoumaru joined her on the porch a few minutes later. 

Ken came over, grateful for the break and the cocoa.  “Mr. Taisho, you’re lucky you got home before the worst of the storm hit.  There are still people stranded on the last train out of the city.  It’s stuck several miles up the tracks waiting for the plows.”  He then glanced around before giving Sesshoumaru a funny look.  “Where’s your car?” 

“It’s at the railroad station.  I was going to ask your father to give me a ride over to pick it up once the roads were clear.”  Sesshoumaru sipped his coffee as he watched several strange expressions flicker across Ken’s face. 

“I can drive you over later today or tomorrow.  It’s going to take the county a while to get all the snow off the roads.”  Ken glanced around again.  “How…?”

Kagome smiled at him.  “Oh, that’s easy.  Jim picked me up in the sleigh with the reindeer and we went and got Sesshoumaru off the train.”  She wrapped her arms around Sesshoumaru’s waist and gave him a hug. 

“Yesterday?”  Ken asked with an odd expression on his face. 

“Yes, well I guess it was late afternoon or early evening.  Why?”  Kagome was now curious about his reactions.  

“Grandfather wasn’t feeling too well when he got up to our house yesterday morning, and my dad called 911 for an ambulance.  He had a heart attack and died on the way to the hospital, they couldn’t revive him.”  Ken looked away towards the barn. 

Kagome sagged against Sesshoumaru as her heart constricted.  “But.. he was here…and the reindeer…”  She looked up at Sesshoumaru as he tightened his arm around her.  

“I’m heading over to the barn now to feed the horses and the reindeer.  I’ll let you know when the roads have been cleared and we can go get your car Mr. Taisho.”  Ken put the mug on the porch railing and continued plowing the road towards the barn. 

Sesshoumaru and Kagome stared at each other.  She quickly looked over to see if there were any sleigh tracks or hoof prints in the snow.  Then they heard the faint jingling of sleigh bells. 

‘Maybe there are still miracles in this world when you have faith and love.’ Kagome thought as the soft tinkling of the bells faded away. 

~*~

Fin

 

~*~

 

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