I still remember them. As if it was yesterday. I remember how we traveled, in great loops that always came back here, to Edo and the well. And now I'm back again. It's gotten bigger since the shogun settled here. I'd never recognize it. I remember the way we fussed so much about what to do next…about how things would go…about connecting…. I was always in such a hurry. I can't remember why anymore. Feh. Rocks keep. But they…they're gone. They won't be back. He barely remembers them. He wasn't yet full-grown when we knew them. But I…I can't forget. I can only sit here, wishing. Wishing it were not too late, wishing I had spoken, had told her…. Why didn't I? Was I too proud? Unwilling to bend even though it cost me too stand firm? The thought seems alien now.
I hear him laugh, on the forest floor below. A proud, happy laugh at the little ones' antics. He grew up well. I made sure of it. There was no one else. He took a kitsune bride, and now they have kits, who call me uncle, and he is happy. But I…I think I have forgotten how. He sees it. Why are you always so sad? he asks. Find yourself someone who can make you happy. Your pups can play with my kits. He and his vixen are in love, and they think everyone else should be, too, so everyone else can be happy just like them. Shippou, don't you remember when I was in love? I'm terrible at it. Don't you remember old times? You tell the kits stories of our Questing Days, but you don't remember. Not really.
It was only a few years of his young life, all those decades ago. More than a century, now. He cried when we got news of each death. Sango, fallen to a pack of wolves in the mountains when she was just a little too old, a little too slow with Hiraikotsu. Miroku, dead soon after from a wasting disease nothing could stop. His body ate itself up in the end. We made it in time for the funeral. And Kagome…she must be dead. She would be one hundred and thirty-six now. Today. It was the day before her twenty-first birthday, she told us she'd see us soon, and left. But we never saw her again. The well wouldn't let me through.
He cried for each of them, but then he moved on. They are behind him now, like his father and mother. He is happy. But I…I never even got over my own parents. I haven't forgotten them, either. My pack. I keep watching, listening, sniffing, as if I expect to hear Sango's yelp of 'hentai,' to see Miroku bringing his staff down on some miscreant's head or kneeling at some girl's feet, to turn a corner and smell that gentle scent…if I just wait long enough….
I touch the prayer beads that I still wear, even though all the magic has gone out of them, with binder and bound both long since dead. If she sat me a million times I wouldn't care, if she was just damn well here to do it.
I drop to the ground. I half expect it to jar my bones as I hit it, like an old man's. Only old people sit and regret and have no time for the now, right? I slip away before Shippou can turn to me and make me tell a story. Fatherhood suits him, but just bringing him up was more than enough for me.
Before I know it I am at the well. I sit on the rim, thinking again of days gone by. I pound it, and glance at the well itself. It's hard to believe that something that suffered so much from the punishment it took just over those few years could last for five hundred. But it's still here now, more than one hundred years later, so I guess it's possible. Come to think of it, now only four centuries separate me from Kagome. Well, four before and one behind. Still totals five. I'm giving myself a headache.
I stare into the well, wishing she would appear like she always did, immediately following that ridiculous yellow bag of hers. I would snarl at her when she did, pretending I hadn't been waiting for her, and she would look hurt for a minute and then snap back. Why the hell did we do that? It was so stupid. I can't remember why I thought it was necessary anymore. I turn away, leaping into the leaves of another tree. In the old days, I would never have believed I could miss them like this.
I can see them now…Miroku, that hentai…Sango, Kirara on her shoulder…and her. She comes closer, standing in the air in front of me, and she smiles, holds out her hand. Baka, she calls me. Yes, yes, baka a hundred times, a thousand, if you will only stay. I reach out, her name on my lips, but when I touch her there is only air, and then even the image is gone, and there is only the echo of her laughter, and I am alone. I slump back against the trunk. Of course she wasn't there. Am I going mad? I don't care. It might be easier than being sane.
Oh, Kagome…. In four hundred years, this will be Kagome's home. The Sunset Shrine. Well, then. I lean back and cross my arms. Waiting for Kagome.