* Gyoshoku is blind, hasn't been for very long actually, and is still in bed being tended to and trying not to feel sorry for himself
* Kagemaru has returned with a child, and heard the story
* Gyoshoku could probably get up if he weren't afraid of falling, he's still getting used to the idea that he will really never see again, to call him depressed would be something of an understatement
* Kagemaru is therefore going to see his parents... feels like he has to, kinda
* Gyoshoku has, as usual, tried to hide his own pain with humour and hasn't even really mourned to Kumiko yet, it's a big loss
* Kagemaru stands outside the house, leaning his forehead against the wall and wondering what he's really doing here
* Gyoshoku 's eyes are bandaged and there are still some places near his eyes that continue to bleed from exposure to the shouki that blinded him
* Kagemaru takes a deep breath and knocks on the wall next to the door
<Gyoshoku> who is it? shit
* Gyoshoku doesn't really want to be seen like this
<Kagemaru> It's me... Kagemaru...
<Gyoshoku> *under his breath* Maruppe?
* Gyoshoku is joyful for a half second until he realises the boy is probably only there out of pity
<Gyoshoku> fine... come in
* Kagemaru enters and stops just inside, blinking a bit and trying to adjust his eyes to the low light
* Gyoshoku props himself up on his elbows and attempts to look non-pathetic
<Gyoshoku> it's been a long time
* Kagemaru moves over and sits across from him
<Kagemaru> It has
* Gyoshoku tries to follow his movement, but gets disoriented and lies back again
<Kagemaru> So... I heard about the youkai...
<Gyoshoku> which youkai? Saku-chan? yeah, she's been so fiesty lately...
<Kagemaru> You can't just ever stop pretending to be happy, can you?
<Gyoshoku> happy? I'm not happy, son... I am many many things, but happy is not, at this point, one of them
<Gyoshoku> it is gratifying to hear your voice again, though I suppose it would have been too much to ask to see your face one last time
<Gyoshoku> I'd like to know what time had done to you, see what the years have wrought, but I'll content myself with the knowlege that you are, at least, alive
<Kagemaru> I am, yes...
<Kagemaru> and I wasn't saying you are happy, just that you never seem able to stop making silly jokes to try to hide your pain...
<Gyoshoku> you want to talk about my pain, do you?
<Gyoshoku> what the hell good would it do?
<Kagemaru> I don't know
<Gyoshoku> I prefer to talk about Saku-chan than some random youkai that killed the man my daughter loves, and the father of her children, than mourn that I wasn't fast or strong enough to stop him...
<Gyoshoku> she's much more pleasant, on the whole
<Kagemaru> Fine, if you say so
<Gyoshoku> I suppose you want me to cry and mourn myself as well
<Gyoshoku> well, I can't cry, it hurts too damn much
* Kagemaru looks thoughtful, something Gyo won't see, being blind
* Gyoshoku knows he's being watched and it makes him feel restless, shifts around in bed, trying to get comfortable
* Gyoshoku is TIRED of being in bed, but sudden movements are very disorienting and make him nauseous
<Kagemaru> I know you're strong, father... but I also know that you're not feeling happy or wanting to joke
<Gyoshoku> if you want to comfort someone, go comfort your sister
<Gyoshoku> she's 18 and a widow with two daughters still in diapers
<Gyoshoku> or do you still say she's not your sister?
<Kagemaru> she is
* Gyoshoku nods slowly, as nodding quickly gives him vertigo
<Kagemaru> and I didn't say I wanted to comfort somebody, I just said that you don't have to try to pretend to be cheerful and what not
* Gyoshoku sighs
<Gyoshoku> you still don't understand me, do you?
<Kagemaru> You don't understand how infuriating it can be to watch someone you know is in pain trying to make silly little jokes?
<Gyoshoku> ahh, so this is about you
* Gyoshoku 's eyes itch and he picks his hand up to rub them before remembering and dropping it again, clenching his fist to remind himself to leave it alone
<Gyoshoku> what do you want of me, son?
<Kagemaru> I don't know...
<Kagemaru> I guess I didn't think this place would ever change
<Gyoshoku> the world will stay the same and only you will grow?
<Gyoshoku> afraid not
<Gyoshoku> time moves us all, regardless of where we happen to live, or who we happen to avoid
<Kagemaru> I know that... gods, of course I know it
<Kagemaru> but it still seemed like life would just move on normally here...
* Gyoshoku smiles a little wistfully
<Gyoshoku> oh, but it has
<Kagemaru> people marrying and having children and living happily ever after
<Gyoshoku> my job was always dangerous, Maruppe... maybe you don't know how many times I almost died before you were old enough to talk
<Gyoshoku> and people... people always lost people they loved to war or disease or youkai... it's... this -is- normal
<Kagemaru> Well, I thought this place would be... better than that, I guess
<Kagemaru> I know what's normal, I *have* been travelling these last nine years, you know
<Gyoshoku> well, I assumed as much from the accents of the girls you've sent back here
<Kagemaru> it was you who said I should take my responsibility...
<Gyoshoku> I had hoped you would someday decide to stay and help raise them
<Gyoshoku> it's terrible not to know your children
<Kagemaru> no, what you were hoping was that I would find the perfect girl, settle down and raise a bunch of kids with her
<Gyoshoku> well, maybe, in some fantasy part of my brain that still believes I deserve to live while younger, fitter men die
<Gyoshoku> but if you couldn't have that, I would at least hope for you to find the joy of seeing your children grow
<Gyoshoku> seeing... heh
<Kagemaru> Yeah, I still have my sight
<Gyoshoku> and your talents, which are considerable
<Gyoshoku> and your family, if you want them
<Kagemaru> I know... you keep reminding me
<Gyoshoku> I just know what it's meant to me
<Gyoshoku> and I know you're not me, but... well, I can't stop myself hoping
<Kagemaru> Thing is... you didn't have a family
<Gyoshoku> no, I didn't
<Kagemaru> So I think you were kind of looking for one, when you met... your wife
<Kagemaru> I've had a family, I don't have a hole like that to fill
<Gyoshoku> I see...
<Gyoshoku> so what hole is it you're filling, exactly?
<Gyoshoku> and no dirty jokes, that one's too easy
* Kagemaru smiles slightly
<Kagemaru> I don't know
<Gyoshoku> don't you?
<Gyoshoku> come now, there must be some need you're fulfilling
<Gyoshoku> or maybe you're just still mad at me and taking it out on the world
<Kagemaru> something like that, maybe
<Gyoshoku> well, grow up, son
<Gyoshoku> people lie, for all kinds of reasons
<Gyoshoku> I lied to you, ok, fine, great
<Gyoshoku> I did it out of love for you and for my wife
<Gyoshoku> I'm sorry, but right this moment, I'm not in the coddling mood...
<Kagemaru> I know
<Kagemaru> Heh, I'm not much better than you, either, am I?
<Kagemaru> but at least all my children know about their parentage
<Gyoshoku> they do...
<Gyoshoku> they'd prefer to know you loved them
<Gyoshoku> or maybe you'd like me to believe you don't
<Gyoshoku> maybe you want me to regret raising you as my son, loving you and wasting my time
<Gyoshoku> but you can't fool me
<Gyoshoku> you want to be heartless, you want to punish me by making me think you're just your mother's child, but I watched you grow up, and I know... I know
* Gyoshoku does actually start crying and hisses as the salt tears hit the raw skin under the bandages
<Kagemaru> Don't... don't cry, father
* Gyoshoku presses against the bandages lightly, hoping to soak up the tears and trying not to wince from the pain of the pressure
<Gyoshoku> don't worry, I'm motivated not to
* Gyoshoku sniffs and manages to stop his own tears despite the pain making him want to cry all the more
<Kagemaru> I do like the kids... maybe I love them... I don't know
<Gyoshoku> I know
<Gyoshoku> you don't want to love them, for some reason that escapes me
<Gyoshoku> you blame love for your pain, maybe
<Kagemaru> Did it help me to hear that all the time?
<Gyoshoku> it might have, who knows what would have happened if you hadn't
<Kagemaru> or it might not
<Gyoshoku> you've grown, I think
<Gyoshoku> you've become the cold person you thought you were back then
<Kagemaru> What, you think I've actually changed in the nine years I've been gone?
<Gyoshoku> surmising and experiencing are different things
<Kagemaru> Fine, so I've grown cold
<Kagemaru> what did you expect me to do?
<Gyoshoku> expect? nothing... hope? heh
<Gyoshoku> never mind
<Gyoshoku> I'm just a dreamer and I always have been
<Kagemaru> yes, you are
<Gyoshoku> I thought I could save your mother, I thought I could save you
<Gyoshoku> I never counted on either of you not wanting to be saved
<Kagemaru> at least I haven't died all alone in some hut, have I?
* Gyoshoku turns his face away and sets his jaw
<Gyoshoku> you almost did
<Gyoshoku> her pride almost killed you
<Kagemaru> yeah, she meant to kill me, I know
<Gyoshoku> don't romanticize your mother, Maruppe, she nearly succeeded
<Kagemaru> if it hadn't been for her tragic realisation that she really loved me, just before she died
<Gyoshoku> even then, if I hadn't been close enough to feel her aura
<Kagemaru> and if the heroic houshi hadn't come
* Gyoshoku sighs
<Gyoshoku> it's not a fucking story, it was one of the best and worst nights of my life
<Kagemaru> you know, it would have been easier for everybody if you hadn't found me that night
<Gyoshoku> yes, I can see that
<Gyoshoku> somehow it would be easier knowing I had been unable to save my own child from dying of exposure
<Gyoshoku> I think you should go
<Kagemaru> it might've been easier for you to handle than all this shit that has come from "saving me"
<Kagemaru> I guess I should
* Kagemaru gets up
<Gyoshoku> I don't regret my past, son... I don't regret your conception or your birth or your life
<Kagemaru> maybe I do
<Kagemaru> speaking of birth, you'll have another grandchild soon
* Gyoshoku smiles slightly
<Gyoshoku> three more... Amida's wife is also due... and Aiko, we hope...
<Kagemaru> that's why I came here... *shrugs*
<Gyoshoku> yes, I figured
<Kagemaru> her name's Suzume... I left her at the teahouse
<Gyoshoku> I look forward to meeting her
<Gyoshoku> thank you for coming... even if it was out of some misplaced sense of duty
<Gyoshoku> you don't owe me anything, son
<Kagemaru> if you say so
<Gyoshoku> you can't have it both ways
<Kagemaru> I know
<Gyoshoku> duty comes from love and respect
<Gyoshoku> you don't have either for me, and I've come to terms with that
<Gyoshoku> I'm content knowing that you still trust us enough to send us your children... it's something, however small
<Kagemaru> Yeah... you're good with kids
* Gyoshoku shrugs
<Gyoshoku> so I've been told
<Kagemaru> and... I don't know...
<Kagemaru> it just felt like the thing to do, I guess
<Gyoshoku> I'm glad
<Gyoshoku> stick around, if you can handle it
<Gyoshoku> your sister could use the support
<Kagemaru> I'll see how I do
* Gyoshoku nods
<Kagemaru> and... get better
<Gyoshoku> tsk, don't you know I'm already too good for my own health
<Gyoshoku> ...thanks, I'll try
<Gyoshoku> goodbye, son
<Kagemaru> goodbye... father
<Gyoshoku> the door's always open for you
* Gyoshoku smiles in what he hopes is the right general direction
* Kagemaru stops at the door
<Kagemaru> I... goodbye
<Gyoshoku> *softly* goodbye
* Kagemaru leaves!
* Gyoshoku goes back to wallowing in self pity and analysing everything he said, and everything he wishes he'd said