A/N: I hold to the firm belief that Kano loves his mom, and his mom loves him. But we also know that Kano was probably abused as a child, given the bruises he wanted to hide. So I thought, why would his mom abuse him if she loves him? Then this was born XD I literally wrote this in the spur of the moment, and it kinda evolved... Kano might be really out of character here owo. I hope you still enjoy it though!

May or may not write a short epilogue-esk chappie in the POV of Kano's mom in the Daze in the future, or something /shrugs/

Also, I am not a psychologist, nor a doctor, nor involved in law, thus I cannot claim to have written everything in this chapter correctly

Five years old. Five years old and Shuuya Kano had learned to fear his mother.

He knew that she was crazy, insane, maybe even a bit deranged. That was what all the neighbors said. They always offered to take him away, to give him a better place. He always refused, terrified of the consequences. What if Mother finds him? What if she attacks? What if? He had always denied their offers for this reason, but there was another, stranger reason. It pricked at the back of his mind, wormed doubt into the tales of the neighbors at the peak of his indecision. It was always there, lurking, just beyond his reach. He couldn't make sense of that feeling, but he did know of one thing that the neighbors didn't.

Mother was sick.

He had known this for almost as long as he was born. Mother would always stare into the mirror with fists clenched and eyes narrowed, chest heaving breath after breath after desperate breath. Sometimes she would turn to him, and her eyes would flash. Worry. Hesitation. Fear. Then she would grab him by the arm and proceed to beat him until the world spun with shades of black. But always, always, he would wake up in his bed- tattered as it was- with all his bruises taped up and all his wounds bandaged.

He didn't understand it.

Sometimes Mother would stare at the table with wide, fearful eyes. Then suddenly, in a flash of fury, she would stab her knife into the decaying wood. One time he had caught her in her room, swinging wildly at the air and screaming, "Back, back! Get AWAY from me you demons!" And he recognized that look, because it was the same look he often saw reflected in his own haunted, terrified eyes.

But above all else, he knew she was sick because she had told him herself. One time, early in the morning, when the house was still dark, she had approached him.

"Shuuya," she whispered hoarsely. "Please. If you ever see me curled up and my hands over my ears, do not approach me. You have to get as far away from me as possible." Her eyes glistened. "Do you understand?"

He had nodded hesitantly, remembered that it was still dark, and answered, "Yes… Mama."

She had flinched and gripped him tightly. "And don't call me that," she pleaded. "Don't you dare call me that, or else…"

He hadn't understood that, back then. But when he had tried to call her Mama, during the day, she had lunged at him with a bright, insane fire and knocked him unconscious with a single blow. After he awoke, there were still the bandages around his wounds, but they were much sloppier than normal, and slightly damp. He didn't quite understand, but he resolved to never call her Mama again.

Six years old. Six years old and Shuuya was still living with his mother. He was trying to fall asleep one night when the door creaked open and soft footsteps rasped on the floor. He froze, eyes wide, heartbeat steadily climbing in both speed and volume. Blood pulsed behind his ears and his throat felt tight and clammy.

What was Mother doing here?

He screwed his eyes shut and tried to relax. Maybe, if he pretended to be asleep, she wouldn't hurt him. It was a faint hope, a vain hope, but one he clung to nonetheless. There was nothing else he could do. He was supposed to be asleep. Surely, if he tried to run, she would attack. And there was no possible way for him to get out of the room. He was trapped.

The footsteps echoed, closer and closer. He forced himself to breathe steadily, in, out, in, out. A soft hand brushed against his head, and he nearly stiffened.

"Shuuya," his mother whispered, voice cracking. "I'm sorry." The bandage on his cheek was peeled back, and he shifted. Gentle lips pressed on the bruise and drew away. He froze in shock.

"I'm sorry."

One by one, every bandage was peeled back, every bruise kissed with warmth and longing. After she was done, she rewrapped the wounds with fresh bandages, hands still and steady.

"I'm so, so sorry."

She wrapped her arms around him and nestled her head against his own. He could feel tiny droplets on her eyes, sliding down his cheeks. Belatedly, he realized that they were tears.

"Shuuya, I'm sorry. Can you ever forgive me? Can you ever forgive me for hurting you so much?" Her arms tightened around him. "Can you ever… can you ever love me? Even when I don't deserve to be your Mama?"

Nine words. Nine words, and he understood. He wrapped his own arms around her and hugged her back. "Of course," he whispered. "Because I already do."

She flinched and her breath hitched. A choked wail escaped her. She grabbed him and held him tight, tears streaming down her face.

"I'm sorry," she pleaded. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry…"

He merely burrowed into her arms and soaked up the thin, fragile warmth from her, the words dancing on his tongue.

I love you, Mama.

Because the feeling keeping him here, all this time, was love.

Six years old, and Shuuya now declined the neighbors' offers without hesitation. He had heard the stories, of course. How his mother abuses him. How his mother had killed his father. Other tall tales along that train of thought.

Honestly, the only truth would probably be that his mother abuses him. The other stories were the exact opposite of the truth.

He knew his mother loved him. Yes, she beat him until black spots swarmed both his body and his vision. But after that, she would always kiss those wounds better, then bandage them with what little they had. She would always apologize, again and again, for hurting him the way she did. She would always go to work, day after day after day, just to support the two of them, despite all the rumors flying around about her.

As for why she beat him? He knew the answer to that as well.

At night, when the world was dark and you couldn't tell blond from brown, she would sneak into his room and tell him stories. Stories of his father. Stories of the traitor. Stories of her own sickness, of the demons constantly haunting her, of the hallucinations surrounding her every step. At night, when the lies couldn't crowd around her, she would tell him stories of the truth.

His father had betrayed her, then left without a trace.

She would always shudder at the mention of his father, and he did his best to make her feel better, to keep her mind off the topic.

But the demons surrounding her would always come and trick her into thinking that he was his father, that he needed to be punished for his father's sins. She had assured him, time and again, that it wasn't his fault. He believed her, but there was always that small amount of doubt that would wish that he could hide the bruises, hide the wounds, hide even his hair, even his face; so that his mother wouldn't have to suffer anymore.

August 15th, and his wish was granted.

Kano stared at himself in the mirror. Bags hung from his eyes, but he refused to go to sleep. He doubted he would be able to, anyway. The nightmares always haunted him, reminding of the day the bandits attacked, the day they had attacked his mother.

The day his mother died.

He sighed and shook his head. Why was it that August 15th was always so… tragic? First his mother, then Mom, and finally… Ayano.

He sighed again and flipped up his hood. His wish all those years ago had been granted, but at the cost of his mother's life.

The blade slicing down, him freezing in place, his mother lunging, shooting forth to intercept…

The cold of the night stung at his cheeks and bit on his fingers, nothing like the story-filled nights of his childhood. He smiled bitterly and stared at the moon. He enjoyed the nights. They were peaceful, quiet, not at all like the days when the snake would whisper promises to him and tempt him with another falsehood, another lie.

I guess… I finally understand what it's like to be like you, Mama? he whispered. Because he couldn't help but feel as though this situation was eerily similar. Staring at the mirror in the mornings with fists clenched and eyes narrowed, chest heaving breath after breath after desperate breath as he fought for control against the snake. Illusions surrounding him at every turn, made of his own conjuration. Staying awake at night because it was the only time his snake would leave him alone.

He wouldn't make the same mistakes as she did, though. He would not hurt the people around him.

He always made sure to lock the door to his bedroom before he went to sleep, so that no one may enter in the mornings while he struggled against the snake. He made sure there were never any witnesses in those mornings, so that he doesn't end up lashing out against them like his mother did. He made sure to keep his web of lies wound tight against himself, so that no one else would be hurt by his own delusions.

But there were still things that he couldn't do better.

Ayano was one. She will always be his second biggest regret, his first being his mother. He couldn't stop himself from overworking himself either. Both the Snake of Deceiving Eyes and the Snake of Clearing Eyes made sure of that. And, like his mother, he had foolishly trusted the 'father' figure and was subsequently betrayed by him.

He stopped by the railing and sighed. Mr. Tateyama was everything he had wanted in a father and more. Smart, goofy, caring, and loveable. So was Mom. She was hardworking, upbeat, energetic, and outgoing. So different, yet so similar to his own mother.

He wondered if it was betrayal, to call Ms. Tateyama Mom. He hoped not. His mother would always be his one and only Mother, and he hoped she knew that from wherever she was in the Heat-haze Daze.

His heart clenched and he gritted his teeth. A tear slid down his cheek. From out of sight of the rest of the Blindfold gang, he wept, because she deserved better than this. She deserved better than to die protecting him, only to give up her life again because he was too stupid to save his own life.

I promise, he whispered. I promise I'll get you out of there. I promise I'll save you. I'm coming back for you, and this time, I will not let go.

Because he knew that he loved her, and she deserved better from him.