~~“All I Want for Christmas…”~~
~A Purity Oneshot~
The softest tickle woke Cain Zelig; the warmth that never failed to lend him a sense of encompassing well-being drawing a vague sort of smile from the North American tai-youkai as the lithe form of his mate snuggled closer under the thick chenille blanket that he’d pulled over them both just before drifting off to sleep. Yawning wide, loath to open his eyes when the satisfaction of holding Gin close was so much more rewarding, Cain figured that he could use an extra hour or two of shut-eye . . .
“Cain?” Gin said quietly, her voice still a little muffled since she still had her head tucked securely under his chin, her fingers wrapped tightly into the strands of his golden bronze hair.
“Hmm?” he drawled, rubbing her shoulder with idle fingers.
She sighed happily, wiggling around to kiss his cheek before snuggling against him once more. “You know what today is, don’t you?”
Cain nodded. “It’s let the tai-youkai sleep in day,” he said.
Gin giggled and gave him a squeeze before sitting up and leaning over, stretching her fingers as far as she could in an effort to reach the teal silk robe that she’d discarded on the end of the huge bed. “No, silly! It’s the day!”
Draping his arm over his face, Cain managed not to grin—barely. In the years since he and Gin had met, she really hadn’t changed that much. She still had that one-track mind, and most of the time, it was centered on her one weakness. “The day? What’s the day?” he teased, knowing very well exactly what she was talking about since she’d been chattering on and on about it all last evening—at least until he’d managed to distract her with something far more enjoyable, that was . . .
Gin rolled her eyes and flopped back down beside him, landing dead-center on his chest, her bright golden eyes wide and sparkling. He let out an exaggerated grunt, and she giggled. True enough, she was so tiny that her paltry weight wasn’t nearly enough to knock the breath out of him, and she knew it. “Oh, please, Zelig-sensei,” she complained, tugging his arm away from his eyes. “That didn’t hurt!”
“That’s not true,” he argued with a mock frown. “It killed me. I’m dying. I think my vision’s starting to fade . . .”
She giggled even more and tried to sit up only to squeal as his arms locked around her. The sound escalated when he rolled to the side, effectively pinning her against the mattress as he rubbed his stubbly face against hers. “It is not,” she managed between fits of laughter. “Please, Cain? You promised!”
Heaving a sigh since he actually had promised—it was a last-ditch effort to convince her to let him distract her—he rolled over and leaned on his elbow, shaking his head slowly, watching as she shrugged into her robe as he tried to remind himself that he really was an honorable man. “Okay,” he agreed, unable to keep the hint of disappointment out of his tone. “You’re right; I promised.”
His reward was a brilliant smile that left him with the overwhelming sense of awe that such a creature really had chosen to be with him. It was a feeling that he sincerely hoped never went away. All too soon, however, the spell was broken as Gin hurried toward the steps that led down to the base level of the loft studio that he’d installed for them just after they’d gotten married, wiggling her fingers over her shoulder as she disappeared from view.
Flopping onto his back, Cain seriously considered whether or not Gin would have a fit if he conveniently forgot to get out of bed, but discarded the idea since he had a good feeling that while she wouldn’t gripe at him, she’d deal him one far worse by flattening her cute little hanyou ears against her head and telling him that she didn’t need to go; of course she didn’t . . .
And that would effectively make him feel like the complete ass he was for even considering trying to go back on his word. After all, she only asked to do this . . . four times a year, tops . . .
‘At least she didn’t ask if you minded if her parents came to visit,’ his youkai blood piped up helpfully.
Cain snorted and sat up, lightly scratching the back of his neck as he wrinkled his nose at the reminder of Gin’s parents, or to be more precise, her father. ‘That’s because she knows that I’ll tell her that I don’t care,’ he grumbled, wishing for all the world that it really wasn’t true.
‘Yeah, and she knows better, too. Maybe it’s that ‘I-just-sucked-a-lemon’ look you always get on your ugly mug whenever she does ask. Face it: you’re a piss-poor liar . . .’
‘Pfft! Like her father doesn’t take advantage of every given opportunity to take potshots at me.’
‘Yeah, and like you don’t take advantage of every given opportunity to take those same potshots at Bellaniece’s mate.’
‘That’s entirely different.’
Perversely, Cain nearly grinned. ‘Because he’s an ass-monkey—and I’m not.’
‘For the love of—how old are you, anyway? Grow up, will you?’
‘. . . Make me,’ he shot back, pulling on a pair of rumpled khaki slacks. Gin had given up trying to iron his clothes long ago when he kept complaining about the starch and the feeling that he was wearing a damn business suit.
‘Nice, Zelig. That’s really mature. Anyway, you have to admit you do like her mother well enough.’
He had to concede that point. He did like Gin’s mother. Kagome Higurashi Izayoi was a kind, sweet woman—obviously where Gin had gotten her disposition since she certainly hadn’t gotten it from her surly, crabby, sarcastic, ill-mannered, angry father, InuYasha. ‘Sure, I like her,’ he allowed. ‘Not certain what she saw in him, but she seems sane enough otherwise . . .’
‘Yeah, well, you’d better get all that out of your system. They’ll be here next week.’
Cain sighed. As if he really needed that reminder, after all . . .
Still, he couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for himself as he pulled a faded teal rugby shirt over his head and ran down the steps. One glance out the wall of windows was enough to draw a grimace from him. It was snowing hard and had been for awhile, apparently, and while Gin was a good, safe driver, she wasn’t entirely comfortable driving in inclement conditions, either, so even if Cain wanted to back out of the impending excursion, there really wasn’t any way he would.
Anyway, he was thinking about it all wrong, he reasoned as he stepped into the bathroom and slowly shook his head. Gin was showering—and singing one of their son’s newest songs, complete with words that were much nicer than anything that ever came out of Evan Zelig’s mouth, and Cain didn’t doubt for a moment that Gin really didn’t know what the actual words were or she might consider washing Evan’s mouth out with soap. Then again, maybe not. Her mind just didn’t work that way, and she didn’t quite understand that other people’s minds might be a little less innocent than hers was. It was one of the things he adored about her.
It was also one of those things that normally ended in Cain’s agreement to do just about anything so long as it made Gin smile . . .
‘I wonder what’s taking him so long . . .?’ Gin Izayoi Zelig mused, rubbing the fogged-over window and scowling at the snow that had been steadily falling all day. The car was plenty toasty—Cain had left the engine running before telling her that he’d only be a minute and that she should wait here where it was warm. She sighed, biting her lip as she tried to make out Cain’s silhouette in the sheet glass windows of the small grocery store.
‘Don’t worry about it, doll. Maybe he had to look for them.’
Wrinkling her nose, Gin shook her head. ‘I can’t believe that none of the stores we’ve been to have any in stock,’ she mused. ‘I mean, they’re always on the shelves on December first . . .’
‘Well, you heard the one gentleman, didn’t you? He said that they were sold out.’
‘I know, but they can’t all be sold out, can they? I mean, that’d be like a conspiracy or something . . . the Anti-Gin Movement . . .’
‘Now you’re just being ridiculous. You don’t really think that someone’s out to get you, do you?’ her youkai chided.
‘It could be,’ Gin argued stubbornly. ‘Why else would every store be out of my Reese’s peanut butter cup Christmas trees?’
Her youkai sighed. ‘That’s another thing: how long are you going to make Cain drive you around? Why don’t you just get a couple of regular candy bars?’
Biting her lip and unable to help the slight flattening of her ears when Cain emerged from the store without a tell-tale plastic bag to show for his efforts, Gin tamped down the surge of disappointment that this store also appeared to be out of her treasured Christmas tree peanut butter cups. ‘You’re right,’ she allowed, albeit grudgingly. ‘It’s just that the shaped ones have more peanut butter . . . and thicker chocolate, too . . .’
“No luck?” she asked, unable to keep her ears from flattening just a little as Cain got back into the Range Rover.
“I’m sorry, baby girl,” he said, grimacing at her obvious disappointment. “That’s the last store in Bevelle,” he told her. “I can’t believe everyone’s sold out of them.”
“Oh,” she breathed, biting her lip and staring at her hands clasped in her lap. “I see . . .”
He heaved a sigh and shook his bangs out of his eyes before fastening his seat belt and cupping his hands together to blow into them. “We can go a little further if you want,” he offered.
Forcing a smile, Gin reached over and placed a hand on her husband’s arm. “No, it’s fine,” she said, willing herself to sound cheerful. “Maybe just a regular peanut butter cup . . .”
Dark blue eyes narrowing as he slowly regarded her, Cain smiled that lopsided little grin that she so loved and slowly shook his head. “It’s not so bad out,” he told her as he leaned in to kiss her cheek. “Besides, it’s been awhile since we’ve gone anywhere alone . . .”
She smiled happily, and pulled him back down for a quick little kiss. “If you’re sure, Zelig-sensei,” she said.
Cain rolled his eyes but chuckled. “Whatever you want, Gin.”
“Surely they’ll have some in Walton,” she maintained. Walton was about half an hour away to the east along the Maine coast.
Cain nodded, adjusting the rearview mirror before putting the vehicle in gear and slowly pulling out of the small store parking lot.
It just wasn’t possible, was it? It really wasn’t. It went against every single law of nature, didn’t it? It really couldn’t be, and yet . . .
Cain Zelig sighed, rubbing his face with a tired hand as he stared incredulously at the young man stocking shelves in the tiny mom-and-pop grocery store. His bright copper hair was so bright that it made him look like he was positively glowing, and the generous freckles that covered the bridge of his nose and the apples of his cheeks . . . well, at least the poor pup didn’t have buck teeth, Cain supposed . . . “You’re sold out?” he repeated with a shake of his head.
“Yes, sir,” the boy said, shifting uncomfortably from one foot to the other as he glanced around almost nervously.
Drawing a deep breath to stave back the bitter bite of exasperation, Cain sighed. “Damn,” he muttered, more to himself than to the young man. “What the hell is going on?”
“Maybe they’ve got some at Wendell’s,” the young man said, scratching the back of his neck.
Cain shook his head. “Nope . . . No one has them. Everyone’s sold out.”
“Yes, sold out.”
The pup looked as perplexed as Cain was. “Sold out?” he repeated as though he thought that doing so might change Cain’s answer.
Cain nodded slowly, letting out his breath in a long gust.
“Well, we do have these,” the boy said, grabbing a package of regular Reese’s peanut butter cups off the shelf and extending them to Cain.
He stared at the candy for a few moments then took the package, figuring that it was better than nothing, never mind that he was pretty sure that, while Gin would accept these, he’d still end up feeling like he’d let her down, and all because the powers-that-be seemed to be set against him at the moment. She’d smile, and she’d eat them gladly, and all the while, he’d know, wouldn’t he? He’d know that he’d failed in keeping a promise to her, and it didn’t help to tell himself that he really couldn’t do anything about it, in the long run.
They’d been driving all day from town to town all over the area in hopes of finding the peanut butter cup Christmas trees that Gin craved. Of course, around Valentine’s Day, it was the heart shaped ones. At Easter, it was the egg shaped ones. Come fall, it was the pumpkin shaped ones, and now . . . Cain sighed, wondering absently if the people at the Reese’s company would think that he was just a little out of his mind if he were to call them and ask them to sell him a case of the stupid things . . .
It just didn’t make sense, damn it. Who in their right mind would be buying up all the peanut butter cup Christmas trees in the state of Maine—and Cain knew it, didn’t he? He’d been driving all over the blasted state in search of the elusive candy treat all damned day . . .
‘You would,’ his youkai pointed out.
Cain snorted, following the boy through the small store toward the single checkout counter. ‘Yeah, and the operative there would be ‘in their right mind’ . . .’
The boy didn’t say anything else as he slipped behind the counter and rang up the six-pack of peanut butter cups. “Two ninety-nine,” he said.
Cain rubbed his eyes and glanced over at the magazines that Gin was currently inspecting. Her little ears kept twitching, but she seemed absorbed in a copy of People magazine. The jaunty little red beret perched sideways on her head seemed that much starker beside the palest strands of her slivery hair, just now pulled over her shoulder, cascading nearly to her tiny waist. “A pack of Marlboro Reds, too,” he said, unconsciously lowering his voice lest his diminutive wife should hear.
“Can I see your ID, please?”
Cain blinked but complied, wondering vaguely when the last time he’d been asked to show ID to purchase cigarettes was. He was nearly three hundred and fifty years old, for the love of God, and he was suddenly being carded? It was laughable—well, almost. At the moment, Cain was sorely pressed to find humor in much of anything, given the circumstances . . .
The young man looked over the card—it officially listed Cain’s age as forty. It also officially gave his name as Caine Zelig. The slight change in the spelling of his name had been necessary a few years ago when he’d had to retire the reclusive artist persona he’d lived for so long. Still, the change wasn’t enough to be noteworthy, aside from having to remember to add the ‘e’ on the end of his first name whenever he signed human documentation.
“You’re from Bevelle?” the boy asked, scowling at the address given on Cain’s driver’s license.
“Yeah,” Cain replied, only halfway paying attention as his gaze sought out Gin once more.
“Wow, you’re like . . . four hours from home,” he commented then whistled low. “You really came all this way just to buy some peanut butter cup Christmas trees?”
Cain stifled a longsuffering sigh since he really didn’t want to admit that he’d done any such thing. “Yeah,” he finally said, unable to help the wry little smile that twisted his lips in the doing.
“Why? I mean, the stuff in those is the same . . . there’s not a shortage of those, is there?” he asked, nodding at the package of candy bars still lying on the counter.
Cain retrieved the pack of cigarettes the pup had slipped onto the counter and shook his head. “So far as I know? No . . . just the trees.”
“That kind of sucks, doesn’t it? Driving all the way out here . . .”
“Yeah, it kind of does,” Cain agreed ruefully.
Cain didn’t answer right away, though the smile that hadn’t dissipated widened slightly. Catching the young man’s eye, he jerked his head toward the silver haired woman still poring over the magazine. She was leaning slightly against the shelf, her figure buried beneath one of Cain’s fisherman’s sweaters and a thick wool coat trimmed with white fur around her slender wrists; around the gently flaring waist of the garment. Even still, the delicateness of her features shone through, despite the jeans she wore and the clunky white boots on her feet. As if she sensed their perusal, she glanced up only to break into a wide smile as she slipped the magazine back onto the rack and skipped over to Cain’s side.
“Did you find any?” she asked a little breathlessly, her golden eyes dancing with a sparkling brightness.
“No, baby girl. I’m sorry,” he said, slipping an arm around her waist and grinning a little more when he noticed the pup’s awestruck stare.
She tried not to let her disappointment show; he had to give her that. Still, it didn’t take much to see the slight drooping of her shoulders or the momentary frown that was easily displaced by the smile that wasn’t quite as bright as the one it was replacing. “Oh . . . well, that’s okay,” she assured him, hugging him quickly and rising up on tip-toe as she tugged him down to kiss his cheek as she struggled to hide her disappointment. It somehow made Cain feel like even more of a failure . . . “I don’t need them,” she insisted.
The boy shook his head slowly, brows drawing together as though he was contemplating something very serious, and he cleared his throat suddenly. “I, uh . . . well, see, I bought a pack of them before my shift started . . . my mom loves them, you know? Anyway . . . why don’t you take them?” he said, stooping over to retrieve something from under the counter.
Gin squealed happily when the boy produced a six-count package of the long-sought treats. “Really?” she asked breathlessly, turning her powerful gaze on the boy, and for a second—only a second—Cain almost felt sorry for the poor pup. He didn’t stand any better chance against Gin than Cain, himself, did . . .
“Uh . . . oh, I don’t—” Cain began.
The boy shook his head stubbornly. “I insist . . . y-you guys have been driving around all day, huh? Sounds like you could use these more than my ma.”
Cain could see it in Gin’s expression: she wanted to accept the pup’s generosity, but was loath to do it, especially after hearing that the candy was intended for his mother. She shot Cain a quick glance, and he smiled at her. “It’s all right, baby girl. I’ll pay him extra.”
Her smile was bright and instantaneous. With a happy squeak, she hopped up, bracing her weight on her hands as she leaned in and quickly brushed a kiss over the young man’s face that quickly darkened to clash horribly with his orangey-red hair. That done, she nabbed the package of candy, shot Cain an exultant grin, and dashed out the door with her treasure.
Cain had to clear his throat a few times in order to break the lad out of his stupor, and it was all he could do not to laugh out loud when the guy turned his stricken expression on Cain once more. “I-I-I think I feel a little sorry for you,” he stammered, his cheeks reddening almost painfully.
“Yeah, well, there are some perks,” he confessed then chuckled as he dug his wallet out again. “Let me give you a little extra,” he said. “Buy something else for your mother.”
“Uh, no,” he insisted, reaching for the package of plain peanut butter cups. “Just call it even,” he said.
He still looked completely shell-shocked, and Cain couldn’t help but laugh as he dropped a couple of twenty dollar bills onto the counter before striding out of the store.
It was well after ten at night when they finally pulled into the driveway in front of the mansion that they called home. Gin was chattering a mile a minute, having devoured all six peanut butter Christmas trees long ago and proving once more why Gin and sugar just didn’t mix. Sometimes it was difficult for him to reconcile her in his mind as the mother of three grown children. She was still the same woman at heart that he’d met so many years ago.
“—And you know, if they dipped the trees into chocolate again, then there’d be even more Christmas tree to love,” Gin was explaining. Somewhere along the way, she’d decided that she needed to write the Hershey’s company to suggest a new line of double-dipped peanut butter trees—God forbid . . .
“I don’t know, Gin, I’d say that there’s more than enough chocolate on them, as it is,” he remarked.
Gin waved her hands dismissively. “You can never have too much chocolate, Zelig-sensei,” she rebuked.
“If you don’t stop eating every peanut butter cup you get your baby-hands on, you’ll turn into one,” he told her.
She laughed and clapped her hands, looking positively giddy at the idea of turning into a peanut butter Gin. “That’d be so great!” she exclaimed as Cain parked the Range Rover and killed the engine. The snow was still falling though it had let up quite a bit. If it kept up, they’d likely be snowed in by morning—not entirely a horrid thought, if anyone wanted his honest opinion . . . “If I were a peanut butter cup, you could eat me!” she went on.
Cain nearly choked as he stumbled out of the vehicle. Years ago, he’d told Gin that she needed to think about what she was saying before it came out of her mouth, and while she was a little better with it, she still tended to say things in such a way that they could be considered racy—that was, if the listener didn’t know Gin for themselves . . . She was just too sweet and naïve to realize that some of the things she said could and were taken in a completely different light, and to be honest, it was one of those things that Cain just wouldn’t change about her; not for anything in the world . . .
She hopped out of the door as soon as Cain opened it for her. With a giggle, she threw herself against his chest and kissed him soundly. “You’re my hero, Cain Zelig,” she said between kisses. “You drove me around all day just to find my candy!”
Cain chuckled and kissed Gin back before setting her on her feet once more. “I don’t know about hero,” he told her. “But if you want to think so . . .”
“I’ll make you an extra special cake tonight!” she promised. “One of those coffee cakes you love, and—Evan!”
Cain shook his head, narrowing his eyes in confusion. “Evan?” he echoed.
Gin giggled and nodded toward the front porch. “My baby! When did you get here?”
Blinking suddenly at Gin’s lightning fast change of topics, Cain finally noticed his youngest son standing on the porch with his arms crossed over his bare chest and a smug grin embedded on his face. “Mama!” he exclaimed, throwing his arms open to beckon Gin closer for a hug. He stepped forward to greet his mother, and Cain shook his head when he noticed that Evan wasn’t wearing shoes, either. In fact, he might as well have been naked, too, considering that the boy’s jeans were so worn and torn that they seemed to be held together by little more than knots in the frayed tangles that created a network of tangled strands.
“The fastest rising star on the planet, and you can’t afford decent clothes?” Cain drawled, following Gin onto the porch, albeit at a much slower pace.
Evan just grinned at his father. “Where you been all day, Cain?”
Leveling a pointed look at his son, Cain grunted indelicately. “It’s ‘Dad’, Evan, and where do you think we were?”
“Today’s the day that the peanut butter Christmas trees were put out for sale,” Gin clarified.
Evan chuckled. “You don’t say? Well, hell . . . so you drove her around trying to find candy?” he teased.
Cain shook his head and stepped around his son to open the door. “Of course I did,” he replied. “Anyway, would you get inside before you end up sick?”
The amusement in Evan’s sapphire gaze didn’t diminish, but he did wrap a protective arm around his mother’s shoulders. “I am youkai, after all,” he needlessly reminded Cain. “Youkai don’t get sick.”
“Yes, well, if it’s all the same to you, I’d appreciate it if you would get inside, anyway.”
That said, Cain turned on his heel and strode into the house, only to stop short at the huge cardboard box sitting on the floor. It wasn’t wrapped in Christmas paper, but it did have a huge tangle of ribbons tied around it. “What’s this?” Cain asked, half-afraid to hear the answer.
Evan followed Gin into the house and closed the door with a smirk on his face. “It’s an early Christmas present for my mama,” he explained.
“For me?” she repeated.
Evan nodded slowly. “Yep. Go ahead, Mama . . . open it.”
She didn’t need to be asked twice. Hunkering down beside the box, she couldn’t even get her arms around it, and she spared him a quick glance before cutting through the ribbons with her razor-sharp claws.
Tossing the ribbon onto the floor, she pulled the flaps open and gasped . . .
Cain wasn’t sure what, exactly, he expected. Evan wasn’t really known for being conventional, after all. Still, he hadn’t expected what he did see, and he could only blink as Gin dug into the box with a very happy squeal only to pull out . . .
“Oh, hell!” Cain grumbled, shaking his head as the truth slowly dawned on him. He’d spent the entire day driving around the Maine countryside, and Evan . . . Evan had been just a little faster, buying every package of peanut butter Christmas trees from every store that he saw . . . “You were the little shit who did that?” he demanded.
Evan’s already smug grin widened as Bas appeared from the direction of the kitchen. He stopped short, eyes flaring wide when he saw the contents of Evan’s ‘present’. Gin had already managed to unwrap two of them, and she alternated hands, very happily eating both of the candies. Bas grimaced and skirted around the others only to stop beside Cain. “That can’t be a good idea,” he mumbled, more to himself than to his father.
“Oh, my,” Bas’ mate, Sydnie said as she followed Bas out of the kitchen with a full, frothy glass of ice-cold milk.
Cain sighed and shrugged. “Don’t suppose it is.”
“Oh, Bassie! I think it’s cute,” Jillian Zelig Jamison remarked as she leaned up to kiss her father’s cheek.
“You would,” Jillian’s mate and long time best friend, Gavin said as he tugged his wife back aginst his chest and wrapped his arms around her waist.
“Sure, it’s cute,” Cain said in a resigned sort of tone. At the rate Gin was going, she was going to be so hyped up on sugar that he might well have to scrape her off the ceiling.
“You’re such a sweet boy!” Gin said between bites of candy.
“Of course I am,” he agreed, wrapping his arms around his mother and leaning his chin on her shoulder.
“I need something to drink with this,” Gin decided before hurrying off toward the kitchen.
Evan watched her disappear around the corner before turning his entirely-too-pleased expression on his father. “Top that, old man,” he goaded.
Cain rubbed his chin thoughtfully as he narrowed his eyes on his wayward son. True enough, Evan might well have topped Cain’s contribution to Gin’s candy habit, at least for the day, but he wasn’t about to give up, either. Besides, Cain didn’t doubt for a moment that Gin was gong to try to eat every single candy bar in the huge box, and God only help him if she did . . . “Don’t worry, Evan,” Cain said slowly, wondering if she'd notice if he hid the rest of the peanut butter cup Christmas trees . . . Unfortunately, he had a sinking suspicion that she most certainly would. “I think I can hold my own.”
“Sure, you can,” Evan goaded. “Sure, you can . . .”
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups is a product of the Hershey’s company, and thus the name is trademarked and copyrighted to the Hershey’s company … Hershey, Pennsylvania …
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Final Thought from Cain:
… Merry Christmas … I think …
Blanket disclaimer for this fanfic: I do not claim any rights to InuYasha or the characters associated with the anime/manga. Those rights belong to Rumiko Takahashi, et al. I do offer my thanks to her for creating such vivid characters for me to terrorize.