As sunlight reflected onto his bright red hair through the window, people were giving him quick looks of curiosity, and then quickly went about their ways. Shippo sighed; even when Japan had become so Westernized, someone like him with different colored hair still stood out among the natives.
However, Shippo was just as much Japanese as the oldest resident in Tokyo.
Though, people in this fast food restaurant were quite used to him because he was here almost every day, always waiting patiently for someone in particular to appear.
He looked around the crowd of chatting people searching for familiar green uniforms. His eyes lit up as four recognizable school girls tittered happily in the restaurant, laughing among each other as they waited in line to order.
He sighed, and his shoulders slumped as he became relieved. Though, his relaxed appearance was deceiving; he was actually extremely depressed inside.
Then his companion came over to join him, placing the tray of food down between them on the table. She saw his expression, and her lips curled in exasperation.
She took a deep breath and sighed as she plopped down heavily into her seat. “Shippo, why do you do this to yourself?” she asked. He looked up at her with somber eyes and shrugged.
“I have to, Souten. I have to see her as much as I can,” he said with his voice coated in sorrow. He frowned as he gazed intensely at the girls sitting at the opposite table on the other side of the room. And he was only interested in one particular girl in that group.
Even though he knew her, he had not spoken with her in over 500 years. Every time he saw her, he always felt relief and heartache at the same time.
“Well,” said Souten as she chomped on her burger loudly. “I don’t know why you torture yourself. You come here stalking her, and yet you refuse to talk to her. We all know what happens in the end…” She paused as Shippo gave her a stark look of shock and agony, as if he was just brought back to reality out of a nostalgic trance. Souten chewed her food slowly and looked at him apologetically. “Sorry.”
Silence filled the space between them, and he began to drown out the sounds of Souten’s loud eating. He continued to watch Kagome with obvious pain stirring within his eyes.
Finally he cut through the silence with a far away sound in his voice. “Souten, do you ever read a new book and when you come to the end where the hero saves everyone but dies, you turn back the pages and read it over again?”
She gave him a quizzical look. Whatever was he talking about? “No... why would I want to do that? The story is over, right? I already know what happens.”
He didn’t look at her as he kept his focus on Kagome. Souten swore she saw a small admiring smile lightly brighten up his melancholic face.
“If you turn back the pages, that character is still alive. You may know what happens but at least you can go back and still see them,” he responded. His voice ended shaky, and Souten saw tears on the corners of his eyes. “At least in those backward pages they’re still alive.”
Souten said nothing. She couldn’t come up with a decent response. Shippo had been hurting for hundreds of years. The girl who had been like a big sister to him, who cared for him when he was orphaned, had saved him at the cost of her own life.
She had saved them all so they Naraku could no longer oppress them.
Though evil had been vanquished, there was still her death, as well as the deaths of his other companions. He had come to her, Souten, scared, mournful and alone. At that time, she was all that he had left.
But he always had hope because he knew there would be a day he would see Kagome again. She came from this era, the future then, and she would be alive – an autonomous variable in the stream of time.
Though, it eventually didn’t matter what time she was in because Kagome would go back to the past for one last time, and never come back.
“How many more days?” Souten asked quietly. Shippo was brought out of his trance again and had to pause and think to discern her meaning. She saw him slouch as his eyes fell downward to rest on the blandness of the table.
“Tomorrow,” said Shippo in a croak. “Tomorrow is the last day she will be in this time.”
Souten pursed her lips thinly as he appeared hopeless.
But he was not entirely powerless.
“Why don’t you stop her? You can still save her,” suggested Souten with a fiery tone.
Shippo appeared confused and horrified to such an idea.
“I couldn’t! You know how things are supposed to be. I can’t interfere with time!” His voice was adamant, and he earned a few sporadic inquiring looks from nearby customers. He cringed and then said in a whisper. “We know she helps defeat Naraku. If we stop her, who knows how much we’ll mess up history. Who knows how much we change the legend!”
Souten furrowed her brow. “Couldn’t you warn her or something? She would still go anyway but at least she’d have some foresight.” Souten leaned over the table and eyed him sternly. “Maybe it would save them all if they knew what was going to happen.”
Shippo looked conflicted, his eyes filled with more anxiety then she had ever seen before. It was obvious he was fighting a moral battle within himself.
“No ...I can’t. It doesn’t feel right,” he said, but by the uncertainty in his voice, she didn’t thoroughly believe he meant that.
He continued, “There’s no telling what my interference would do to the course of events. I – I’m not willing to risk it. It wouldn’t feel right to selfishly try to save her when killing Naraku had ensured the safety of so many people for future generations.”
Souten nodded, but she was at unease as much as Shippo was. She could see agony in his frenetic eyes.
“One day left,” she mused aloud, and it felt like a dagger in Shippo’s brain.
He swallowed harshly, his throat feeling scratchy and raw from lack of moisture. He closed his eyes, and he could remember Kagome’s warmth as she held him as a child.
‘One more day ...’
He looked anxiously over at Kagome as she and her friends began to leave. He would probably never see her again. He’d probably never see her bright smile.
Would he forget it in time?
‘You can still save her,’ a voice deep within him had stirred.
Souten noticed his tears and she looked away uncomfortably.
‘One more day ...’
He covered his face with his hands as his shoulders tightened with the burden of the past, present and future.
He could still save her. She was alive right now. ‘But I don’t know,’ he whispered loudly in his mind.
He began to silently cry. ‘I just ... I just don’t know.’