Italics- Tsukiyomi talking
Bold- Kurando talking to Tsukiyomi (or just his thoughts)
Not for the first time, Kurando wished things would move a little slower so he could work out how he should feel.
First Anastasia had practically confessed to him. Her 'I'd do anything for you' was pretty clear on that. He hadn't even realised, too worried about first Yoshiko, and then preoccupied with his pending reunion.
There will be time to dwell on this issue later. Tsukiyomi said, sounding amused.
I'm glad you're enjoying it. Kurando grumbled.
I've been waiting for this a good while. As has your mother.
Kurando winced at the mention of his mother. He remembered how he'd behaved when they last saw each other. How could he have been so cruel? She had been grieving too, and yet he'd fought her on everything.
She will understand, little one.
Kurando took a deep, calming breath before leading the group to the Fountain of Sukune.
'So, I guess that makes us cousins.' Yuri joked.
'Y-yeah,' Kurando chuckled nervously, not sure whether to explain he'd known that. In the end, he just kept quiet.
Already the group were getting ready to leave for Mount Fuji. Kurando had barely spoken to his mother, but was relieved to see she looked well. Even Grandmother was the same.
'We'll meet up at the entrance in ten minutes.' Yuri suddenly announced, winking at Kurando as the group left the room. 'See you later, Aunt Saki.'
An awkward silence settled when mother and son were left alone. Kurando cleared his throat, trying to force words out.
'I can't get over how much you've grown.' Saki smiled fondly, 'Y-you've been well?' I know I got your letters, but…have you enjoyed they city?'
'Um, yes, Master is a great teacher. I'm glad I went, but…Mother, I-'
'Hee hee,' She giggled, 'You don't have to say anything, my son, it's in the past.'
'No! I have to apologise! I was so awful to you, and right after you lost Father and had to take over the village. My behaviour was inexcusable and I can't apologise enough.'
'Kurando, it's okay. I understand. You've more than made up for it by bringing my nephew here, and by growing into such a fine young man. Your father would have been proud. I know I am.'
Kurando swallowed the lump in his throat and fought back tears.
'Thank you, Mother. Thank you.'
Kurando had meant to visit Kawashima after Mount Fuji, to explain what happened to Ouka. He'd meant to go after the confrontation with Ishimura, to reassure him the man was no longer a threat. A great weight had been lifted off Kurando's own shoulders at the revelation.
But in the end, it was after the failed resurrection of Yuri's lover, Alice, that he went. Yuri had let everyone take some time off before they went after Kato, and Kurando intended to use the time well.
'…I see, so it wasn't Yoshiko.' Kawashima said, after Kurando had finished.
'Not really. She possessed Lady Yoshiko's DNA, but didn't have any of her memories. She was a clone of the original.'
'Well, at least she died protecting the man she cared for.' Kawashima sighed.
Kurando watched him, worried he would collapse again like when Yuri had first told him about Ouka. Kawashima smiled at his concern.
'I'm fine, Kurando. At least now I can finally lay her to rest. Now that Ishimura is no longer a threat, I can live peacefully like I wanted.'
'I'm glad, Master.'
'But it looks like you're out of a job Kurando. What will you do now?'
'…I can't leave the others now, not at the end.'
'I see. Well, good luck. It was an honour to be your teacher.'
'Thank you Master. I will never forget your lessons.'
The trip to the Dog Shrine had been Kurando's final obstacle to overcome before truly letting his father rest. Garan had been there, just as he must have been when his father came, and still Kurando didn't wish to kill him. Death only led to more death. His father wouldn't have wanted that.
The Mumeiro was like he remembered, but now he used it with expert skills instead of dragging it on the ground.
Father, can you see me? Have I become the man you wanted me to be?
Yes, little one, that and more. Tsukiyomi reassured.
After the fight with Kouenki, his mother's fusion, and the opening of his seal, Kurando helped her back to the house to rest.
'Really Kurando, I'm fine.'
'Mother, you must be tired. Rest for a little while at least.'
Saki sighed in mock exasperation, smiling.
'Inugami leader for less than ten minutes and already bossing me around.'
'Yes, yes, I'll rest. Why don't you make yourself useful and brew some tea.'
Kurando rolled his eyes as his mother went upstairs, but did as he was told. When he brought it up, his mother was sleeping lightly.
Kurando smiled fondly as he set the tray down on the floor. He carefully began removing her sandals, moving to the cupboard.
He froze at seeing the worn, old pair of men's shoes neatly stored there.
She kept them? He thought, breathless.
He neatly set Saki's sandals next to her husbands, then hesitated before sliding his father's shoes out of the cupboard.
Little one. Tsukiyomi whispered fondly as Kurando removed his own shoes and slipped into Keiji's. He smiled at seeing how small his feet still were in comparison.
I guess I'll never fit in them.
No, but that isn't a bad thing. You will lead in your own way, and do just as well, if not better, than your father.
Yeah, I think I'm okay with that.
He turned to look at his sleeping mother one last time.
But first there's a battle to finish.
Indeed, little one, let's go.
Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed it.