To: the monkandmiko yahoo group New Years writing challenge.
Note: ((MirKago)) Reality is what you make it.


And this is after the end:

The doctors call it peripheral neuropathy. That is what they told me, anyway. They tried to describe it to me the day I returned to consciousness, which, they informed me later, was after I had spent a week in comatose: "Nerve damage" and "crush injury" were words they used. ("There is hope yet," they also said, but that was bullshit.) They told me, in too many pointless words, that I no longer had complete control over my arm movements because many of the nerves in my arms had been crushed by extreme pressure. These nerves could no longer effectively receive instruction from my brain, which thus, slowed my body's responses and dulled my sensitivity to touch.

They told me that it was unlikely that I would ever regain complete function again.

That day, the scars on my arms were shiny and dark in the bright examination room, thick coils carved deep into my skin as if I had been tied too tight with a rope around my shoulders and arms. When asked casually about how I had received such injuries, my mother was quick to reply, glancing at me fearfully as if she were afraid I might say something that could at all resemble the truth.

Like I would say anything at all.

"It was from an accident," she told them, "it was an accident." Her face, then, had been grim, but set so determinedly. I remember wondering idly how she had the gall to say that when I was lying right there in the room, listening to her deny everything I had ever worked so hard to achieve just to keep my life a secret. I remember thinking, beaten into silence for a fucking jewel it wasn't worth it you know I fucking hate you all and I hate you mostly for not getting it and I hate you too God because how could you bring me back.

I remember thinking: It wasn't an accident.

Nothing Naraku did was ever on accident.

'My monsters are not really monsters, you know. They are not even evil,' I tell the snow.

So pretty and pristine.

'They are people.'

It withers to black.

'I know. They died too, along time ago.'

I imagine him again today:

In the mornings, I always try to scramble eggs. My mother hates it because I never let her help and my arms shake when I lift the pan and I'm always too slow and the eggs always burn. She lets me though because cooking eggs is the only thing she has ever seen me vehement about. She likes to pretend that there something of her little girl still inside of me, that in these moments, that little girl is trying to come back – and maybe she is.

It is futile hope, though, because no matter how hard I try and how hard she hopes, I always fail (which means she does too).

Burnt eggs are worthless.

Every morning, I trudge outside into the yard around my mother's house, and scrape scrape scrape, all those eggs, all those unborn baby birds, charred black as sin against the white snow.

It is a ritual.

This morning, I look and he is sitting there again. I'm not sure why it's him or if it's him but it looks like him and part of me wants to believe it too. He sits against the trunk of the god tree, hands hidden in his blue robes, his staff propped up against his shoulder - I remember that pose its his meditating pose – and he is staring through me, staring above me, at my mother's white house, and he looks so real. As if he is back to life, sitting before me in the flesh, a monster of my dreams – and oh how I've missed him.

I don't go near; I wouldn't be able to feel him anyway.

As always, I scrape away my remains and return to the house, closing the door.

He never looks at me. Not even once.

And of everything, that hurts the most.

(And that is the first sign of life in me: I need, and I despair, and I cling, if only to a dream.)

My hands are clumsy.

The first time, it is just a glass cup. It slides through my fingers like liquid, and my body is too thick and too slow, and the glass crashes to the floor with a brutal sound that stuns me before my eyes can register the glass shattering. Mother smiles and simpers forgiveness and cleans it up with a decisive swish.

The thirteenth time, it is her favorite china dish, but by now she no longer gets mad. She just silently sweeps it up, and empties the pieces into a white bag which is knotted so tight I can never pry through.

I know this because I find the pieces, two days later, in a shoe box full of love letters beneath her bed.

She almost catches me, but I am indifferent and she is desperate and when I leave she convinces herself that I don't know she no longer dares to share her dreams with me.

We both know if she does, I might break those too.

And really, her silence is more than enough punishment.

I remember when I first started seeing him.

Five months, fourteen days and twenty-two hours after the end, and I was throwing up memories in the yard. Sometimes, I think that is where it all started; at that moment, I was too full and he wasn't ready to be settled so I spit him out and he came back to life. I remember looking up and seeing him there, standing like a god at the steps of the shrine, and all I could think about was how beautiful he was, how much I suddenly wanted to hold him and touch him and never let him go, how I wanted him more then anything I had ever wanted before.

"Miroku," I whispered and his name shuddered through me into the night, echoing perpetually, and then he turned and our eyes locked.

Something exploded inside of me.

When I woke I was in my bed with hot bricks at my feet - and I was so cold, all over everywhere - and my family was worried and there he was, sitting outside except he never looked at me again, our eyes never met, and after awhile I started to accept it because everything was different now, suddenly, vastly different.

Or maybe I was different,

I think I died.

And this is another memory:

"Don't you wonder?" I ask him – and we are alive and that is why this is a nightmare and he is a monster. "Don't you wonder sometimes if any of this is...well, real?"

He is silent.

" I know," I continue nervously, "that most people don't understand what I mean when I ask this. They think 'I think too much' or 'I worry too much' or 'I care too much.' But..."

He turns to me as I pause and his eyes are so dark, so deep, so – dead.

"You understand, don't you?" I whisper. "Death is inevitable, isn't it? It's going to happen. So what is the point of living? If I'm going to die and my life fade away over time, then how can I prove I was ever alive? That I was ever...real?"

He smiles at me then, in that way of his in which he finds something amusing even though it really isn't.

"You know too much," he says – and these are the last words he says to me.

"New Years is coming, Kagome," Mother chirps as she helps me dress – and my arms are in the way I can't make them move they just twitch and jerk and mama pretends not to notice. "The birth of a new year, a new resolution, a new life."

She's been saying things like that lately. It's new and it's tiring. She's been searching, lately, inside this broken body for a monster of her own, and I don't understand because we both know I will never be the girl she once had again.

But she keeps searching.

I don't think failure pains her anymore.

She smiles and and brushes her hand against my hair.

"It's always good to start over."

That gets a response out of me. For the first time in a long time, I'm tempted to speak

"That's cheating."

As always, I don't, but I'm tempted. Instead, I shake my head.

She's excited. "What honey? What is it? You want to start over?" and there is hope, so much hope in her voice. When I shake my head again, she frowns and wilts, but it is still there, still there and it won't go away.

"What? I don't understand, honey. Change, starting's just a part of life."

For the first time in my life, I want to hit her.

Of course it's a part of life, I don't say.

That's why it's cheating.

New Years Eve, the shrine is filled with visitors.

With my mother busy, I sneak away. I creep out into the snow and – oh there he is again – and suddenly I'm so tired of it all.

I decide to sit next to him.

And I actually do.

The earth is rich here, filling the air. There is no snow.

From this close, he seems more then real, and it scares me. I dare not touch him. I'm too afraid to find out if he is or if he's not, because then everything will change again. But at least I can admire him.

He is a beautiful man.

You know to much.

Before I can stop it, something is writhing in my stomach, in my chest, and it hurts so much that I throw up the words, "Why do I see you?"

And god it hurts, but it feels so good.

"Hmm…" The funny thing is, he doesn't seem to be startled, not even half as much as I am. Perhaps not even at all. He moves – for the first time – and runs his hands through his bangs with his fingers – and god that is his thinking expression.

"Would you prefer to see Inuyasha?"

And I break, into tiny, little pieces, and the tears roll down my face and I realize that if I were to go crazy Miroku is perfect, because even though I love him so much, he can't tear my heart out like Sango can or shatter my soul like Shippou can or…or make me die like Inuyasha's memory can do. Because Miroku died before the end.

And my memories of him are rather peaceful.

Miroku takes my silence as an answer (because it is). "You need this anyway," he continues, and leans back more fully against the trunk, falling into a relaxed position. "I was wondering how much longer I'd have to wait, though honestly I can't complain, this time is rather remarkable."

I stare at him, eyes wide. Finally he chuckles and turns to me.

His eyes are light blue, whole blue, like fire and starlight.

"Kagome," he says, "It's been five hundred years, hmm? Five hundred years. A long time."

And then I know, and suddenly I am white hot. "You're not real, Miroku," I whisper so hard, so vehemently, that I can hardly recognize the voice as my own. "You're not real."

"But I am to you, aren't I? I'm real to you. You make me real," he says and he says it so nonchalantly that it makes me mad, just as mad as I used to be, so long ago.

"But I'm not even real." And I'm crying because it hurts. It hurts so much to say. But it's finally been said. Finally. "It doesn't feel like it, I'm hardly living anymore. And…and really, in the end, I changed nothing."

He stares at me, watching as I curl up and shudder into my knees, but I don't care, I don't fucking care anymore—

And then I feel it.

Warm, soft, brushing against my hand, my cheek, fingers tilting up my chin, and then…

He kisses me.

And god, I feel it.

"You're real," he breathes, after we part.

I believe him.

And when he fades between my fingers, scattering like the drifting snow upon the dark mark of the earth, I am cold and warm in the same moment, and it feels beautiful.

I sleep dreamlessly.

In the morning, my mother and I make eggs.

They taste perfect.