Short written for iyfic contest. Tied for second place. This is a oneshot, and not terribly likely to be continued.


Kagome sits in her room and stares at the walls. Sunlight, tinted green by leaves, comes in where the ceiling should be. There's writing on the walls, empty beer cans, used condoms, and one of her old teddy bears, covered in dirt and unrecognizable, just a lump with buttons sewn on. She closes her eyes.

It's her birthday. She should spend it where she wants to. She should spend it at home.

She gets cold after a while of sitting on that floor, so she walks out into the sun to stretch her legs. She inspects around the blackened stump of the Goshinboku, but none of the seeds she planted last year took hold. Kagome runs her hand thoughtfully along the dead wood, wondering if anyone else remembers its power.

From up here, she can hear the sounds of the city. Bits of conversation waft up to her mingled with the white noise of traffic: some girl's calling for her grandmother; a dog's barking; a man is selling something. No one comes here anymore. The shrine is defiled, unholy. Even those who come for less pure purposes will eventually feel uneasy and leave.

But in some way, Kagome is still the miko of this shrine. Even if she cannot purify it entirely, she can at least give it a chance to purify itself in time. And so Kagome takes a handful of seeds out of her pocket, and begins to plant them, saying a blessing over each one.

Suddenly, someone puts their hand on Kagome's shoulder. Kagome looks around in surprise at two teenage girls, both wearing high school uniforms.

"I told you she'd be here," the one with her hand on Kagome's shoulder says. "It never fails."

"Tamiko...chan," the other girl says hesitantly. "If you knew she was here, shouldn't you have come straight from school? Or called your dad or something?"

"Nah," the first girl said, "no rush. All she ever does is push pebbles into the ground by this old stump."

Kagome holds out a handful of pebbles to them, and shakes her head. "They're seeds," she explains. "I'm planting them."

The second girl looks at her in shock and pity.

Tamiko seems unfazed, and holds out her hands for the pebbles. "Really, Grandma?" she says. "What do they grow, bigger rocks?"

"They grow Goshinboku," Kagome explains patiently.

"What's a—"

"Hell if I know. Let's just get her out of here," Tamiko hisses under her breath.

Suddenly, Kagome drops the pebbles to the ground. Before they've even stopped bouncing, she's taken off, towards the old wellhouse.

"Shit," Tamiko says, giving chase. "That's the other thing she does."

"What?" the other girl asks, keeping pace beside her.

"Try to jump down a well. Shit. Dad's gonna kill me."

It isn't easy for Kagome to outrun such young, healthy girls. She tells herself she's outrun much worse in her life; if she hadn't, at least one of those girls wouldn't be here. But they're not going to stop her. She has to get back to the past again, somehow fix things. Her home should not be destroyed. She should not feel so hollow.

When she finally arrives at the well, she's panting hard, her long gray hair in rough locks in front of her face. "It's my birthday," she insists, desperate. "This is the day it happened! I have to go back!"

"No," Tamiko says. "It's not even your birthday. We had your birthday two months ago, remember? There was cake."

Kagome waves her hand impatiently. "Not that! My real birthday!" She backs against the wall, and the two girls advance. Kagome sucks in a sudden breath as she sees the old well start to glow, and tentacles creep out towards the girls. She tries to shout a warning, but before they can turn around, the tentacles already have them, and there's light everywhere and they're being pulled down and down—

Kagome does nothing but stare at the well for the next several minutes, taking in the broken planks that once covered it, the torn ofuda, the space where her granddaughter and her friend used to be.

Finally, she notices something on the ground near her foot: a large, perfectly round pebble, shining pink. She smiles. It's a gift. The true seed to the Goshinboku, at last.

Kagome buries the little pink thing at the roots of the old Goshinboku, and says a blessing over it. Save for her, the shrine is completely empty.