Smoky figures danced along the corner of his vision; joyful little beings that twisted and twirled around in the air before the disappeared and returned at intervals. He watched them covertly, knowing that if he blatantly stared they would either disappear or someone would notice.

Once he was told something about these beings- These beings that taunted his caretakers for their narrow minds and ill imaginations, these beings that exclaimed of things still yet to come by things that already have been. The hazy figures laughed at these shortcomings, and studied these 'pathetic mortals' who would never understand what they were really about.

He was tempted to join these beings…these immortals that danced and smiled and laughed. They would ease his loneliness; he knew this like he knew her- like he knew that she would find him.

And as all the memories he held, and like he always told his caretakers, there was always the rush of joy swiftly followed by the rush of sadness.

And he heard them whispering; they would walk by calling out condolences that he wasn't supposed to hear. Such a nice boy…what a pity…too far gone…watch out for him…crazy….

Oh he heard them, and the shadowy wisps of memories haunted him, taunted them. They laughed and jeered at the pathetic mortals, encouraged him to join them even, taunted him to join….

But what had they said…?

Oh,

Yes.

The smoky figures that danced and flew through the air along his vision…

They're not real.

He nodded his head resolutely and turned his attention to the koi in the pond, ignoring the disappointed cries of these figures he recognized and yearned to greet. Instead he watched the water ripple and sway, and he wondered exactly what defined what was real and what was not.

There had to be a happy intermediate. Somewhere….

.x.

The nurse turned to look at the young woman she had never seen before, taking note of her slim figure and strong face before shaking her head and smiling gently at her. "You're here to visit someone?" The young woman nodded her head in reply and she watched her eyes drift lazily over the room. There was something about this young lady. "I wasn't aware that we had gotten a new patient for you to visit, I've never seen you here before."

"I haven't been here before. But there is no new patient; one called Yamako Kohaku?" her gaze landed on that very patient, a silent young man who always sat by the koi pond out in the garden, no matter the season. He had straight brown hair lending him an air of stoicism and detachment, and his clothes always seemed to form to his body no matter their size.

"He's been here for a while…" the nurse whispered to herself as she eyed the newcomer, surely a young woman like this wouldn't have interest in such a…interesting…young man. The nurse sent an odd look at the young woman. "Are you sure you want to see him, he talks of the strangest things, and he has been here for a while."

The lady's eyes sharpened to a cool brown before snapping to hers. "I have been looking for him for a long time…. He always did have the wildest adventures."

The nurse's eyes softened, pooling into a kind grey that showed pity and understanding. "He's an old flame dear? I used to have one of those…."

The woman smiled. "You could say something like that."

The nurse shrugged but was cut off from her question when the woman started forward towards the young Kohaku. She watched covertly as she went about her daily duties, fixing up the shelves and chairs and cleaning up after the snacks. She found her ears straining to listen to an interesting conversation that was sure to come, and she found her feet trying to take her over there to follow the young girl. There was just something about her…

"Haku." She heard the faint sound of the woman's voice as she continued walking up to Kohaku, and almost startled at the nickname that was so obviously his. She had never thought that he had someone who loved him enough to nickname him…he had just come in off the streets one day. A perfect stranger had helped him off the sidewalk and to their doors and told them he had been ranting about demons and spirits.

He had stayed with them ever since, only being able to tell them his name before he started ranting to them about spirits and other worlds and gods. It caused most people, including other patients, to avoid him. It was a very lonely existence for him here…

"They think I'm crazy, lady…" She heard the young man say without looking up to his visitor. "I tell them that gods and rivers and spirits rule some realm, and they laugh inside. I can hear them you know." She female nodded her head. And her hand came to rest on the young mans shoulder. "And I tell them about Chihiro, how she saved me from my imprisonment and helped me find myself. They still don't believe me."

The stunned nurse watched as the woman smiled with a tear in her eye, and she watched with even more shock as the young woman only nodded her head in agreement and maybe desperation. "I believe you."

Kohaku snorted. "They think I'm loony for saying these things, for waiting for her I suppose. But she'll come. We promised each other. I would come here after six years, and she would find me, we share a bond you know." He nodded his head as he stated this, reminding himself of the solidarity of this fact. It was all he had left, the facts he remembered, he would have to remind himself so he wouldn't forget…

The female kneeled down beside the fountain he sat on, watching him as he watched the water…. just watched the water…

"We had a grand adventure, saving her parents and meeting no-face and befriending so many in the process, or that she accomplished this as she befriended so many; that part I never could figure out." He gave a small chuckle. "She did that you know; it was so easy for her to make friends…." Kohaku smiled, she could see it from her spot as it grew on his face, slowly growing, stretching his lips and making him so handsome compared to his usual melancholy and desolate expression. The smile stayed there as he watched the water…

The girl nodded her head and sat at his feet, leaning onto his legs as she listened to him. "Even amongst us demons, one human befriended so many and changed so much. She doesn't know and probably would never guess, but after she left Yubaba cried, and Rin smiled with these tears in her eyes." There was a comfortable and encompassing silence between the two. "I cried…as well."

The nurse gasped at his admission, wondering how exactly he imagined all these things and could tell them to a complete stranger, no male she knew would ever admit to crying, not in a dream or otherwise. "You cried for her?"

Kohaku shook his head. "I never cried for her, I cried for me. She would be safe in her home, and I would be bereft of her in my prison. She would be comfortable while she waited, and I would spend my nights longing for her and crying… and crying…so much crying. Then I came here..."

The female shifted closer into his form, hugging her knees to her chest and sniffling softly. The nurse could hear it. "So I wait, and she will come to me. I know this like I know my heart yearns for her." His face turned to the sky as one hand reached up to the clouds as if he could be up there with them, gliding through the air and winding with the winds. He smiled. "She will come, no matter what others say about my sanity or what others say about my memory. She will be here…my Chihiro…my Sun." He smiled broader and turned his face back down to view the fountain. "The sun always sets to greet the ocean you know, and I am the ocean, I am the dragon of the sea."

She heard the woman's tinkling laughter, and she saw the girl smile as she stood with such energy and joy. The nurse was shocked at such an outburst, wondering now at the girl's sanity as she rejoiced in such a sad story and state of mind. Kohaku looked up at the woman now, face confused before it cleared into shock and surprise.

"Haku! Let's go!" The nurse started violently and rushed to stop the woman, but she was stopped as Kohaku stood up with a joyful smile and hugged the woman close to him; his fingers were rapidly caressing the face and hair, assessing if it was true and real- at least to his senses.

She watched them smile in stunned detachment and wondered at her own sanity…and then Kohaku whispered. My Chihiro…. There was a brilliant flash of light; she could swear she saw the form of a dragon rise up to the sky with the young woman on its back. The nurse blinked rapidly to clear her eyesight before once again looking up- to see no one. Her eyes darted about frantically as she searched for the mysterious couple, wondering again at her sanity as she spotted naught one soul like either of them and no other people disturbed by such strange happenings.

She approached the front desk of the institute, walking up to one of the younger nurses she shared the shift with. It took her a minute to work up the courage to ask such an awkward question, but she did. "Do you know where Kohaku is?"

Her confused coworker looked up. "Kohaku? There has never been a Kohaku here." Her expression turned teasing. "I think you've been working here too long, the only patient with a name close to that is Koharu, and he never leaves his room."

The elder nurse nodded her head distractedly with a compromise on her lips. "Right, that must be it."

The smile on her face turned unsure, turning back to the patio doors to stare out to the koi pond. But a steady smile grew on her face as she remembered a story from Kohaku; One about two children who fell in love and met great adversity, before overcoming it with their love, and parting with a promise.

It was a story of undying devotion and promise.

The nurse sighed as she turned to face the nurse again, but started when she saw the wavering and smoky forms of the two teens behind her coworker. The young lady grinned and ducked her head shyly as she leaned against Kohaku, and the young man winked with a sophisticated bow before they disappeared.

Two sets of laughter rang through the air around her before she smiled and shook her head at her coworkers questioning expression. Perhaps the lines they set between realities and illusions weren't so concrete after all…

A young pair of lovers certainly lasted in the young mans mind before a promise was fulfilled, 'I wish you both happiness in your time together…'

The nurse could only smile wider as she saw the couple running through the garden, weaving in between the foliage and disappearing in the suns beams and shadows as mist before they emerged; as spirit and dragon, as man and woman, and as young lovers who kept a promise of undying devotion and acceptance.

Perhaps nothing at all was quite so concrete- nothing except for the truth one could find in themselves and maybe another, maybe there was no such thing as a happy median between insanity and reality…it was all just a smoky understanding after all…it was all smoky….

Just Smoke.

.x.

Owari.