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Through Glass

by Fushigi Kismet

-So you say she had a sword that came out of her hand?

-Yes.

Scribble scribble.

-And you were destined to die for her?

-Yes.

Scribble scribble.

-You fought alongside many people? In order to save the world?

-Yes.

Scribble scribble.

-Well, in a manner of speaking, anyway. We fought to save the human world. The world that humans have created.

-And the difference is?

As he tried to find the words to explain, Sorata settled back against the leather padding of the couch, his mind not quite entirely focused on the session. It was his second that week and his psychiatrist seemed to think that he was close to a breakthrough.

Those were words he hadn't thought he was ever going to hear. Not after the last two psychiatrists had declared him in need of more therapy than they could provide . . . and perhaps a steady diet of prescribed medication. He snorted, remembering. He was as healthy as a horse and he doubted that his mental state could be suitably adjusted by tweaking his brain's chemical balance. After all, he rather thought he was simply prone to bizarre flights of fancy. The old stargazer had always told him to keep his head out of the clouds . . .

His spiel to the psychiatrist trickled off.

-What's wrong?

He didn't answer for a moment, still struggling against the memories, so vivid, so real . . . so false.

-I just did it again. Got reality and illusion mixed up.

-I see. And what was it this time?

-I thought the old stargazer was real. That he had raised me.

His psychiatrist shook his head scribbling busily in his notebook.

-That again?

-Those images are always very real.

-More so than the girl?

-Yes. Sometimes she fades a bit and I can't quite remember the shape of her face. She's something I can believe I imagined . . . but that crotchety old man? Why should I imagine someone like him?

-Perhaps you were lacking in parental figures when you were younger. Do you remember anything yet about your childhood?

-No, it's all a blank. Except I remember my mother might have been crying at one point.

-I think it's safe to say that you had an unhappy childhood and that's why your memories of that are blocked.

-And my other memories?

-Who can say?

-You know, doctor . . .

Sorata eyed his psychiatrist for a moment.

-You look an awful lot like someone in my fantasy world.

-Well, it's not uncommon for patients to pattern people in their fantasies after people they have encountered in real life.

-No, he's been in there for as long as I can remember..

-I see. People tell me that I have one of those faces. The kind that can be mistaken for a lot of people.

-No, I don't really think so.

-So who was this man?

-He was one of the ones I was fighting against. Someone I disliked because he had hurt a friend of mine.

The doctor looked as though his interest had been piqued a bit more than usual, and he peered over the rims of his spectacles at Sorata.

-In what way?

-He hurt my friend's heart. Hurt it badly. And forgot about their friendship.

-Would that hurt you, Sorata-san?

-What?

-If someone close to you were to forget about you?

-Yes, I think so.

-Then why have you forgotten about them?

-Because they're not real! Haven't you . . . haven't all of you been telling me this all along? That they're just something I made up in my head to fill my lack of anything?

-But you believed us. Do you think we're wrong?

-I . . . I don't know.

-You will never recover if you do not accept the difference between reality and truth. Please try harder to differentiate the two in your mind.

-What if I decide on the wrong truth?

-Then you must undergo more therapy until you are capable of recognizing reality for what it is.

-Didn't you tell me last session that I was close to a breakthrough?

-I may have over-estimated your degree of progress.

-I can't accept that. You can't just hold out hope to me one minute and withdraw it the next!

-You seem angry, Sorata-san. Does failure frighten you? Or giving up your fantasy life?

-. . .

-Are you afraid, Sorata-san?

-Yes.

-Of which?

-That world you call a fantasy . . . it's the only world I've ever known. You tell me to choose between fantasy and reality, but . . . It is my reality.

-If you return to that world, we cannot save you. We will try, of course, but I fear that you will be beyond our reach.

-Do you think I am insane, doctor?

-Frankly speaking . . . Yes.

-Well, that can't be helped, I suppose. Thank you, doctor. I trust I won't see you again.

-I assume not.

Sorata smiled, then reached out and thrust his arm through the mirror hanging on the wall.

"There was something I never liked about this mirror. It never reflected anything."

The psychiatrist looked at him noncommittally, the light reflecting off his spectacles. Then the room whirled about Sorata and he found himself in darkness. Sound impacted on his ears and he felt the touch of wind on his face and the hardness of gravel beneath him.

"Sorata-san!"

It was a familiar-sounding voice. He opened his eyes.

"'Nee-chan?"

"Are you all right, Sorata-san? You took quite a spill . . ."

"I'm . . . I'm . . ." he glanced over at where Fuuma stood in the corner, a hint of a smile on his lips, before turning to look into Arashi's worried brown eyes, "I'm fine."

"Good," she said curtly, but he sensed the dissipation of her fear behind that single word.

You were worrying about me, it seems. Will wonders never cease.

Fuuma cleared his throat, then looked at the two of them. Rather too cheerfully, Sorata decided, annoyed. He almost preferred the regular darkly malevolent Kamui of the Dragons of Earth.

-So, you have decided on your wish.

-Yes.

-Good. Then let us see if the choice you made was the correct one.

Arashi stiffened, sensing a change in the air, her hand tightening around the hilt of her sword that rattled a bit in her grip. She had carefully positioned herself in front of Sorata.

"'Nee-chan," Sorata said easily, getting to his feet, "let me have the first go at him. After all, I've just gotten my rest and everything and I owe him one for the blow he dealt me."

The eyes she turned to him were worried and once again he was startled. Once before she wouldn't have even deigned to face him directly when addressing him. "Don't strain yourself, Sorata-san."

"It's my job," he said, brushing easily past her. "And you know I'd never forgive myself if I let him harm a hair on your pretty head. Besides, he was a rather crappy psychiatrist."

Fuuma smirked at him.

Sorata found himself smiling back in grim satisfaction as Kamui shouted something at him that he couldn't hear over the roaring of the wind in his ears.

I know it's irrational and strange. I know I must be out of my mind doing this, but . . .

Even if . . . even if this is the end, I can't give it up. Because this is my reality . . . the reality that I chose. This is my war. This is my life. This . . .

. . . is my wish.