Underneath the Tree by Sereia

Underneath the Tree

Inspiration: "Underneath the Tree" by Kelly Clarkson


Kagome glanced out the large bay window for the tenth time in just as many minutes, her reiki searching.

Stop it. He said he'd be home in time. There's no point in checking every five minutes.

Stifling a sigh, she plastered a smile on her face, turning just in time to catch Mayu, the five-year-old pulling on her shirt.

"Is it time to open presents now?"

Kagome's heart clenched. "Not yet, sweetie. You still have to go to sleep first."

Mayu pouted. "But Papa said he always got to open them early."

"Your father snuck out of his bed every Christmas and opened them while everyone else was asleep."

Mayu's green eyes widened before she ran into the kitchen. "Papa! Grannie says you're lying!"

Chuckling softly, Kagome followed her youngest grandchild as the little girl berated Shippou for his tall tale.

"Papa, Grannie says you sneaked your presents!"

Shippou rubbed the back of his head. "Well, I might've woken up a little earlier than everyone else—"

"You're not allowed to do that, Papa! Grannie says we have to open them together."

The kitsune crouched down, grinning at his daughter. "And what Grannie says, goes, right?"

Mayu nodded enthusiastically. "That's because Grannie is the boss!"

"Grannie's always been the boss," he replied, winking at Kagome. "Why don't you go find Uncle Inuyasha?"

Matching emerald eyes lit up with mischief. "Can I play with his ears?"

"If you can catch him."

"I always catch him!" she giggled, then took off once more, calling for the hanyou.

Shippou straightened, then cast a sombre look at Kagome. "Any sign yet?"

Kagome shook her head.

"This trip was really important, Mama—he wouldn't have agreed to it otherwise."

She gave him a reassuring smile. "I know."

"He'll be home in time."

"Papa! Uncle Yasha won't play with me!"

Kagome ushered Shippou out of the kitchen. "You're on. Tell Inuyasha said he has to play with her."


"Shippou, I'm fine. Really. There are a couple of last-minute gifts I need to wrap. I'll join you in a few."

His expression was skeptical, but he nodded. "If you say so, Mama."

Kagome patted his shoulder, then headed towards the stairs, managing to hold off the tears until she'd shut the bedroom door behind her. Her reiki masked her scent, allowing her some time alone as she sat on the edge of her bed, burying her face in her hands.

Christmas was special. Time to be spent with family and loved ones.

She'd never been apart from Sesshoumaru during Christmas—not since their first one together 500 years prior. He knew how much it meant to her and always went out of his way to make sure they were together.

He was supposed to be home yesterday.

Kagome wiped her eyes, only for them to fill once more. Her shoulders shook, and she stifled a sob, laying down on the bed. The scent of her tears was hidden from the rest of her family downstairs, but the multitude of demon and hanyou ears would hear her crying.

She had to be strong.

It was the first time everyone had been able to make it for Christmas. Inuyasha and Shiori had managed to get time off at the same time, packing up all four of their kids and trekking down from Kyoto. Shippou always showed up, but this year Souten, Mayu, and Yue had come with him, their eldest having finished up his college exams early.

Even Kagome and Sesshoumaru's own children had made it, Mizuki having forced her twin brothers onto the plane herself. She'd dismissed the importance of the action, having inherited her father's stoicism, but Kagome knew how much Mizuki loved having her brothers around.

Riku and Sora never let her forget it either.

She looked out the window, large white flakes falling from the sky. Usually, she looked forward to the change in weather, but every snowflake reminded her of him.

Of how he wasn't there.

More tears streamed down her face, and she curled up on the bed, both hands covering her mouth to mute the sounds of her sobs.

The bedroom door creaked, and she buried her face in the blanket, drying her face.

"S-Sorry, I was just—"

"I was not aware that Christmas was a time for crying."

Kagome froze, a full three seconds passing before her head whipped around.

Sesshoumaru stood in the doorway, snow clinging to his hair as he shrugged off his jacket.

"You m-made it," she stuttered, still gripping the blanket.

"Five centuries together, mate, and you still do not take me at my word? I promised I would return tonight."

"You did. And I do, but—" Kagome couldn't get the rest out, scrambling off the bed before throwing herself at him. "You're late!"

"I apologize. I had business to attend to on the way home."

"They work you too hard. Christmas is our day! The kids have been wondering—I didn't know what to—" Her rant was cut short when his mouth covered hers, her hands gripping his collar as she went up on tiptoe. Whimpering softly, she pressed against him, slanting her head to deepen the kiss.

A cough in the doorway stopped it from going any further.

Kagome stayed up on her toes even as Sesshoumaru pulled back, smirking slightly at her. "State your business, brother."

"Not that she don't deserve the greeting you're about to give her, but the kids are starting to get antsy."

Groaning, Kagome buried her face in her mate's chest. "You couldn't have given us five more minutes?"

"Keh! Five more minutes, and I'd be locking the door to stop my eyes from melting out of my head."

"It would not be the first time."

Inuyasha's ears flattened against his head. "Do not bring that up! Two hundred years, and I'm still trying to get that image out of my head."

Her laughter was muffled by Sesshoumaru's coat before she peeked at her friend. "It's your fault for showing up unannounced."

His glare was pointed but playful before he turned around. "Five minutes K'gome and then you're downstairs. With your clothes on."

"Love you too."

Inuyasha gave her a backwards wave as he headed down the stairs, Kagome shaking her head as she wrapped her arms around Sesshoumaru.

"Welcome home."

Lips brushed across her temple. "I missed you too."


"Grandpa, where's your present for Grannie?"

Kagome giggled, all the eyes of their grandchildren trained on the daiyoukai. "He doesn't need to get me anything. I'm just glad he's home."

"Well, that's boring. Your game trying to outdo each other is the best part of Christmas!" Sora grinned, Riku and the rest of the children nodding in agreement.

Sesshoumaru chuckled, a rare show of emotion in front of the family. "It would not fit under the tree."

Kagome looked at her mate, eyebrows raised. "You didn't need to get me anything—"

"Yes he did!"

"What is it?"

"It is outside?"

"Maybe it's a car!"

"Grandpa can fly. Why would they need a car?"

The interrogation was interrupted by the doorbell, though only for a second before the guessing game began anew. Kagome laughed again, shaking her head. Sesshoumaru looked like a schoolteacher—his 'class' bombarding him with their questions.

Reaching for the door, she frowned slightly, looking back at the group and doing a quick headcount. Everyone was here, so who could possibly—

All train of thought left her mind as she stared at the dark-haired woman standing on the porch.


She was exactly how Kagome remembered her, down to the slight curl of her hair. The woman didn't waste any time, Kagome finding herself in a bone-crushing hug.

Suddenly she was fifteen again. Memories washed over her, images of waving goodbye to her mother on a daily basis before going to school. And then the final time at the edge of the well when it finally opened, granting her access back to the friends and life she'd left behind.

But it wasn't until her mother whispered her name that Kagome's face crumpled, arms shaking as she returned the hug.

"I never thought I'd see you again."

Kagome let out a choked laugh and only held her tighter. "Why are you here? How are you here?"

Finally pulling back, her mother gave her a watery smile. "Your husband, he—at first I thought it was Inuyasha, but—"

"Don't hog her, Mom! I called dibs from the car."

Kagome's mouth fell open. "Souta?!"

He was older, taller. Taller than her now. But the smile was the same.

"Hey Sis."

She pulled her brother into the hug, and the three of them clutched at each other, tears and laughter mixing in with words of relief and love.

"I still don't understand! You said—"

"Oi, K'gome, when are we getting to the snacks? The kids are—" Inuyasha trailed off, staring at the three Higurashis. "What the fu—"

"Language Inuyasha!"

Her friend's mouth snapped shut. "Sorry, Mrs. Higurashi."

"Some things never change." Her mother's smile was warm and welcoming as she broke away, enveloping Inuyasha in the same strong hug she'd given her daughter. He was a little quicker to recover than Kagome was, his features softening as he returned her embrace.

Kagome turned back to her brother. "I can't believe you're here!"

"We would've been here sooner, Mom's been talking about this all day, but Sesshoumaru said—"

"Sesshoumaru said?" Kagome and Inuyasha chorused together.

"I thought it better if I were here before they arrived."

Kagome's head whipped around; her mate stood in the doorway, a knowing smirk tugging at his lips. Her mother and Souta straightened when he neared, then bowed.

"Thank you for inviting us here."

Sesshoumaru nodded, then motioned behind him. "There are refreshments and drinks in the dining room, though you may have to fight my brother's offspring to get to the desserts."

"Oi! I told ya, they've had enough sugar!"

"You have children?"

Inuyasha flushed at her mother's question. "Uh… Y-Yeah. Four of the runts are mine."

Mrs. Higurashi gave him a brilliant smile, then tugged him out of the doorway. "Let's see if I can figure out which ones they are. Do they have your ears?"

Kagome wiped her eyes, watching as her friend was dragged away by her kin, Souta making bets with their mother on who would get the most guesses right.

Struggling to breathe, Kagome looked up at her mate. "How? When?"

"You have mentioned the Bone Eater's well being part of your family's shrine. I merely kept tabs on the location."

"But won't this mess things up?"

Sesshoumaru chuckled, wrapping a lock of her hair around his finger before bringing it to his lips. "Sometimes I wonder if you are more demon than human, mate. You count time as we do."


"It has been five years since you went through the well for the final time."

Blue eyes blinked at him in shock before she screeched. "What?!"

"There is nothing to 'mess up'. You are free to see them as much as you wish."

Kagome jumped into her mate's arms for the second time that night. She grabbed his face, pulling him down and peppering him with kisses.

"I love you—you know that, right? You—I can't believe you pulled this off."

"It has been difficult keeping it from you."

She hugged him tightly, shoulders still shaking. Inhaling deeply, Kagome let his aura wash over her, her heart settling into a steady rhythm. She could hear Inuyasha stuttering over her mother's questions, Shiori's soft laughter mixing in with Souta's.

"I don't know how I'm going to top this next year."

"I am sure you will find a way," he said, chest rumbling as a single finger tilted her head up. "Merry Christmas, mate."

Her arms snaked around his neck, kissing him for a full forty-seven seconds before gagging noises sounded from the doorway. Kagome nipped at Sesshoumaru's nose, promising him more alone time later, then turned on her brother, chasing him into the kitchen.

The youngest Higurashi quickly ended up at the bottom of a pile of hanyou children.


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