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Fuyu no Shimekiri (Winter's End) by Kanna37


"Where am I?"  A voice, a whisper of sound, soft and slow, and yet, in this place, it seemed almost sudden, sharp.  Blue eyes slowly opened, staring around at a seemingly formless void, grey and whispy, no visible ending or beginning.

A confused frown crossed the flawless face of the woman seemingly floating in the calm emptiness of the void.  "Who am I?"

Hair as black as the sky at midnight, and with the same deep blue highlights, flowed down her back as she sat up, thick, curling lashes laying sweetly against her cheeks as her eyes closed in contemplation.

"How is that I do not know who I am?"

And then, another voice, calm, with a powerful cadence, answered her questions.  

"Do you not know yourself, Mistress of the Tama?  Allow yourself to truly awaken, and show me no fear - it is you who placed yourself here, not I."

The woman turned, looking all around herself, and yet, found nothing in the formlessness surrounding her.  "What am I?"

"You are the Shikon No Tama.  You are Kagome."

A furrowed brow, at mention of the first, an indrawn breath and eyes sparking in recognition, at mention of the second.   Suddenly, light flooded the eyes of the woman, turning her orbs an endless, crystalline blue - a shade unknown among human and youkai alike - as her memories rushed back into her mind, opening it to all the many questions that now needed to be asked.

"Is this death, then?  I wanted to die, I remember."  Laughing lightly, she shook her head and sighed softly.  Lowering her eyes to her hands, still sitting in her lap, she considered her position.  "How ironic that the reason I chose to die, would follow me into the afterlife.  I find myself as alone here as I did in life."

"Life is not about being alone, Lady.  You were not ever truly alone, though, were you?  There were always others around, if only you had reached out and touched them.  The punishment of karma for Kikyou's sins was not set by the kami.  You chose that path... you chose your own punishment by pushing others away, and keeping youself alone.  Death now - death is a different matter."  The presence here in the void with her sighed.  "The moment of death is the loneliest you will ever be, because no one can cross with you.  They might cross at the same time, but you will still be alone - and the afterlife is the same - although that is not what this is."

Kagome frowned.  "I suppose I see the justice in that statement, in a way, I guess I did set my own punishment.  I closed off my heart because of the pain of loving Inuyasha, and losing him.  But, in reality, I never really had him to lose, did I?  And it's funny, now that I think about it... her voice trailed off into a thoughtful silence for a moment.  "I no longer hurt when I think of him.  I think,"  she hesitated, brow furrowing deeper,  "I think that that part of my life is done.  I no longer feel any attachment to his memory.  It seems,"  she smiled,  "that now I am free to love where I will."

A momentary silence, and then a rueful laugh.  "Of course, it's a little difficult to love,"  she gestured around herself,  "nothing."

"Is there really nothing, priestess?  I can assure you, if you pay attention, soon you will find that there is, indeed, something.  Someone."  A peculiar intensity entered the being's voice.  "Maybe love was there in your life all along, and you were just looking in the wrong place.  Look there - ahead of you - and tell me what you see."

Kagome raised her face and looked forward as instructed, and tilted her head, brow wrinkling in surprise.  "Sesshoumaru?  Why are you showing me the Lord of the West?  And why is he standing before my,"  she looked down in confusion, then back up,  "body?"

"Have you not then guessed, priestess?  The Lord of the West safeguards your body, as he has done for the last century - since the day you willed yourself here, in fact.  It is his soul that is tugging at yours, and the reason that your soul is awake now.  You must soon make a choice, Miko No Tama - stay here alone, or re-awaken your body as your soul has been... for understand this, young one: you are not really dead.  You are merely sleeping.  You cannot will yourself to death, just as the Shikon cannot wish on itself."

Her brow raised in shock.  "Sesshoumaru?  Are we talking about the same daiyoukai, here?  Human-hating Sesshoumaru?  Why in all the levels of hell would he take care of my body?"

"Because he does not hate you, priestess, no matter what he may feel towards other humans... but then again, you are so much more than human, yourself, that maybe he no longer equates you with that race at all."

"So I must choose to stay here and sleep, or to return to my life and live - again?  I don't know that that is much of a choice,"
  she mumbled.  Her brow furrowed.  "And who are you anyway?"

"I am the voice of reality, my sweet priestess - and reality will not let you run from it, or haven't you figured that out yet?"

"Huh."  Kagome looked up, or at least what felt like up in this formless void.  "And just how am I supposed to wake my body up, anyway?"

"Just wait - you will know when the time comes.  When you are called all you must do is answer.  Choose wisely, priestess.  For you see, you are not the only one whose fate rests in your answer.  You effect many others with your decision, and if you make the wrong choice, you leave them unable to fulfill their own destinies.  Remember that, for to do what's right, you must leave your winter behind."

She nodded, a serious, thoughtful look crossing her face.  "I understand.  I must wake up, then.  I  will wait for the call."

A smile crossed the face of reality.  "I have nothing further to say to you, Miko.  You learn quickly... a good quality to have in life.  Sayonara, Lady Kagome.  Live well."

The void swirled endlessly around the woman seated within it, as she waited for the call that would awaken her back into the life she had fled.  

She would not have long to wait.


INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
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