* Gyoshoku has been sitting outside for several hours now, not even really thinking, just numb and staring across the river
* Gyoshoku knows he should go inside and help Kumiko with the kids, who he knows must be upset, but... he just can't, it's all he can do not to run away himself
* Kumiko has hugged and kissed and held and talked and comforted her children as best as she can, and finally put them to bed... is worried about Aiko, but also wants to know how Gyo's doing, so heads out to see if she can find him
* Gyoshoku is doing... nothing... just sitting and staring
* Kumiko finds him
* Kumiko sits down next to him, biting her lip thoughtfully, wondering how to start
* Gyoshoku notes she is there but doesn't move, is afraid if he moves, he'll disolve again
* Gyoshoku has done a lot of crying over the last few hours, isn't proud of it
* Kumiko puts her arm around him
<Gyoshoku> koishii... I... failed him
* Kumiko strokes his back softly. "You didn't mean to..."
<Gyoshoku> that doesn't matter
<Kumiko> I know...
<Gyoshoku> I couldn't make him stay, understand
* Kumiko places her other arm around him as well, moving closer to hug him.
* Gyoshoku relaxes a tiny bit and sighs deeply
<Kumiko> He got angry... he didn't want to understand...
<Kumiko> He was hurt... *sighs*
<Gyoshoku> you didn't see his face, he was so hurt
<Gyoshoku> I don't have to tell you anything, do I? you always know
<Kumiko> I guess... I know you so well... *bites her lip*
<Gyoshoku> you know people
<Gyoshoku> he was so angry... and I admit, I got angry, too... at him for being so hurt, at myself for causing it... at that... damn it, when will her evil die?
<Kumiko> I don't know... *strokes his cheek*
<Gyoshoku> I wanted to hit him... to slap some reason into him, but of course I didn't
<Gyoshoku> but I wanted to... the things he must feel... without your calming influence in his blood, by his side
<Gyoshoku> I know what a struggle it is for me, how much harder for him?
<Kumiko> I don't know...
<Gyoshoku> we should have fostered him out... it would be easier on him now
<Gyoshoku> it was my selfishness... my desire to be close to him that did this
<Gyoshoku> I wanted to fix everything, damnit, and I just made a worse mess
* Kumiko hugs him tighter
<Gyoshoku> but you must be in pain, too, koishii...
* Gyoshoku slips an arm around her waist
<Kumiko> Aiko... she tried to stop him from leaving...
<Kumiko> and now she won't talk to anyone... not me, not Amida, not Hana...
* Gyoshoku frowns and tightens his grip slightly
<Gyoshoku> I was afraid of that... they were so close
<Kumiko> Yeah... I know...
<Gyoshoku> but I was really asking about you... what you think of all this, what you feel about it?
<Gyoshoku> have you even stopped to consider your own feelings at all?
* Kumiko takes a deep breath, leaning against him
<Kumiko> I don't know... I guess... I was busy comforting everybody...
* Gyoshoku nods
<Gyoshoku> as I thought
<Gyoshoku> but you must feel something, koishii
<Kumiko> I know... I'm sad...
<Kumiko> I don't want him to be hurt...
<Kumiko> and I don't want the rest of my family to be hurt either... *sighs*
<Gyoshoku> he asked... he asked if I'd trade his life for Himura's
<Kumiko> oh gods...
<Gyoshoku> I was so angry when he asked that
<Kumiko> it's impossible to chose among the children...
<Gyoshoku> I tried to explain
<Gyoshoku> but he's right, in a way... it is more painful to think about him than the others
<Gyoshoku> and there were moments in the past I wished I had never met his mother, curse her
<Gyoshoku> how can I escape the fact that his anger is partially justified?
<Kumiko> I don't know, Gyo... I don't know...
<Gyoshoku> really and honestly... didn't your heart hurt just a little when you looked at him?
<Gyoshoku> his eyes... so like hers
<Gyoshoku> am I the only one who had such horrible thoughts?
<Kumiko> A... a bit, maybe... but I love him anyway...
<Gyoshoku> of course you love him, how could we not? but our love may be poison to him now
* Kumiko hugs tighter
<Gyoshoku> I've asked myself so many times, sitting here... where was the flaw?
<Kumiko> I don't know...
<Gyoshoku> I think I do... it's in me... it's in my need to make things right, to fix things
<Gyoshoku> I couldn't let him go
<Gyoshoku> I should have sent him away where the talk wouldn't haunt us
<Kumiko> I couldn't let him go either, Gyo...
<Kumiko> I told you... right when you brought him home... didn't I? He's your son, I couldn't send him away...
<Gyoshoku> but if I'd been strong, told you he was to be fostered... would you have argued with me to keep him? wouldn't a part of you have been relieved?
<Kumiko> I don't know... I don't think so...
* Gyoshoku sighs
<Kumiko> not if you were determined to, no...
<Gyoshoku> maybe there is no right way to deal with something like that
<Gyoshoku> I didn't want him to grow up thinking his father was ashamed of him... but now... now he doesn't even believe that I love him
<Kumiko> gods... no... he said that?
<Gyoshoku> screamed it
* Kumiko closes her eyes, trying to keep down her tears
<Gyoshoku> he really believes that his life has been a lie... that none of us could possibly love him
<Kumiko> gods... no...
* Kumiko shakes her head
<Gyoshoku> it's the very thing I wanted more than anything else for him to know, that he was loved... and... I failed, koishii
<Kumiko> how can he not know?
<Gyoshoku> because he's never really tasted what it means to be unloved...
<Gyoshoku> because he's never felt that despair before... and because he's young and full of self doubt
* Kumiko can't keep her tears down any longer, starts crying
<Kumiko> poor Maruppe...
* Gyoshoku hugs her tightly
<Gyoshoku> someday maybe he'll figure it out... realise the truth
<Kumiko> Yes... gods... I hope so...
* Gyoshoku rubs her back and strokes her hair, trying to soothe her
<Gyoshoku> should I go after him, koishii? I kept him once before and this is the cost... but if I don't, how will he know I really care?
<Kumiko> I don't know... I don't know...
<Gyoshoku> I don't either... and I'm loathe to leave you alone like this with Saku gone
<Kumiko> we can manage, Gyo... if you feel you should go, then go...
<Gyoshoku> but if anything were to happen to any of you...
<Kumiko> what if something happens to him...?
<Gyoshoku> he's stronger than any of you
<Kumiko> Gyo... when was the last time anything happened here?
<Gyoshoku> when you were kidnapped
<Kumiko> and that's over sixteen years ago...
* Gyoshoku sighs
<Gyoshoku> seems like yesterday to me
<Kumiko> I know... I know...
<Gyoshoku> so you think I should go?
<Kumiko> If you feel you should... yes
<Gyoshoku> in the morning then, I'll borrow a horse... his trail will still be fresh enough to follow
* Kumiko nods and hugs him tighter
* Gyoshoku hugs back, happier now that he has a plan of action
<Kumiko> We should... we should go in now...
<Kumiko> it's getting cold...
<Gyoshoku> my poor koishii, I'm sorry for making you sit out here in the cold with me
<Kumiko> I don't mind... I don't mind being anywhere, as long as I'm with you...
* Gyoshoku hugs her tightly and gathers her into his arms before standing
<Gyoshoku> you're still so light
* Kumiko blushes. "I'm heavier than when we met..."
<Gyoshoku> heh, so am I
<Gyoshoku> and you've given birth four times, I have no excuses
<Gyoshoku> apart from your cooking, anyway
* Gyoshoku carries her toward the house
<Kumiko> well... I'm glad if people eat what I make for them...
<Gyoshoku> it just means I have to put in a little more training time than I used to
<Gyoshoku> anyway, you're still light as a feather in my arms
* Kumiko leans her head against his chest
<Kumiko> I'm glad you say so...
* Gyoshoku sets her down at the door to the house
* Gyoshoku opens it quietly and listens, no sounds at all... either all asleep or brooding
* Kumiko sighs slightly
<Kumiko> I hope Aichan'll be alright... I know Amida and Hana-chan will be, probably, but...
<Kumiko> I'm worried about her...
<Gyoshoku> do you want me to stay long enough to talk to her in the morning?
<Kumiko> I don't know... maybe... at least try, a bit...
* Gyoshoku nods and heads inside, leaving his shoes at the door
<Gyoshoku> I'll try
* Kumiko follows him
<Kumiko> I mean... she wouldn't talk to me... maybe she's just reacting like that, right now... I don't know...
<Gyoshoku> it may take her some time to get over the shock of it
<Gyoshoku> he's been in her life for as far back as she can remember
<Kumiko> Yeah... *sighs*
* Gyoshoku extinquishes the lamps and banks the fire in the stove
<Kumiko> You were out pretty long... I could make you something warm to drink, if you'd like...
* Kumiko bites her lip thoughtfully
<Gyoshoku> I don't want anything to warm me up but you
* Kumiko smiles slightly at him again
* Gyoshoku walks over to her, using her aura as guide while his eyes adjust to the moonlight
* Gyoshoku puts an arm around her and pulls her into a kiss
* Kumiko kisses back
<Kumiko> ...how do you do that?
<Gyoshoku> that's my secret
<Kumiko> Mmk... *kisses again*
* Gyoshoku kisses back
<Gyoshoku> just know, I'll always find you
<Gyoshoku> let's go to bed
<Kumiko> Yeah... let's
* Gyoshoku smiles a tiny bit and takes her hand, leading her into their bedroom
* Kumiko goes along with him
* Gyoshoku slides the door shut behind them and kisses her again in the quiet darkness
* Kumiko kisses back again
<Kumiko> I love you... I love you so very much...
<Gyoshoku> gods, I love you, too
* Gyoshoku pushes thoughts about the past and disappointment out of his mind... all he wants to think about now is Kumiko
* Kumiko presses close to him... doesn't want to think about anything but him, either... part of her is still worrying about Kagemaru, but... she can't do anything more for him at this moment anyway, can she?
* Gyoshoku continues kissing her mouth, and then her face, her ear, her neck her throat, concentrating only on her
* Kumiko returns the kisses
* Gyoshoku undresses her slowly, placing kisses along her shoulder and chest as he does so
* Kumiko does enjoy his attention... returns it... knows pretty well by now how to undress him
* Gyoshoku and Kumiko know each other's bodies and clothes so well by now they don't need any light to know what they're doing
* Kumiko has an easy time finding the right spots on his body, yeshyesh
* Gyoshoku moans softly against her skin
<Gyoshoku> ahh, my love... you are my very life
<Kumiko> and you are mine...
* Gyoshoku moves with Kumiko to the futon and pulls the cover up over them and then wraps his arms around her, pressing his body close to hers
<Gyoshoku> my life... my soul... *runs his hands down her back gently*
<Kumiko> Mmm... *returns the caresses* I'm nothing without you, Gyo... nothing...
<Gyoshoku> no, you're everything, koishii
<Kumiko> not without you, I'm not
* Gyoshoku pulls her even closer, wishing they could share a skin, wanting nothing more than to be a part of her forever
<Kumiko> I wish we could always be like this... close, close... *kisses part of him closest to her lips*
<Gyoshoku> oh gods, so do I
* Gyoshoku shifts so she is slightly beneath him and cradles her in his arms
<Gyoshoku> we'll never be apart, love...
<Kumiko> I know... we'll be together forever
* Gyoshoku and Kumiko explore the oneness of all things in a very slow, focused, and loving way...
* Gyoshoku is able to lose himself in her completely, which is exactly what he wanted
* Gyoshoku is only like this when he's really upset... usually it's more about having fun and enjoying each other
* Kumiko knows that...
* Gyoshoku is definitely not playing tonight, though
* Kumiko snugs him closely once they're done... wanted to get her mind off of things, too, and... it seems to have worked
* Gyoshoku snugs back and strokes her hair
<Gyoshoku> thank you
<Kumiko> Any time... *sighs slightly, mostly happily*
* Gyoshoku kisses her shoulder softly
<Gyoshoku> well, not any time *winks... is starting to feel a little better again, as is predictable*
<Kumiko> Mmm... you know what I mean...
<Gyoshoku> you mean, any time not in front of the kids, or anyone else, and when we both have time and aren't too tired
<Gyoshoku> I miss the way we used to be sometimes
* Kumiko smiles slightly. "Making love on the roadside?"
<Gyoshoku> quick breaks when I'd accidentally forget something at home
<Kumiko> Yeah... that was so accidentally, wasn't it?
<Kumiko> and and... at our tree... and on the floor of the teahouse... *blushes slightly*
* Gyoshoku chuckles
<Gyoshoku> you were such a bad girl
<Kumiko> I was, huh?
<Gyoshoku> very bad, wonderfully bad
<Gyoshoku> perfectly bad
* Gyoshoku kisses her shoulder again
<Gyoshoku> we had some damn good times, ne?
<Kumiko> Hai... very good
<Gyoshoku> but I love you more now than I ever knew was possible then
<Gyoshoku> you're a part of me now... and I miss those times when everything was new... but... gods, I'm glad to be growing older with you
<Kumiko> and I'm glad I'm growing older with you, too
<Gyoshoku> because I'm never alone now
<Kumiko> never ever
* Gyoshoku sighs deeply, happily
<Gyoshoku> I love you, Kumiko *yawns*
<Kumiko> and I love you, Gyo
<Gyoshoku> I hope the kids don't have nightmares, because I'm not letting go of you until morning
<Kumiko> yeah... I hope so... *yawns*
* Gyoshoku strokes her hair and back until he falls asleep, still holding her close
* Kumiko goes to sleep too
* Gyoshoku borrows a horse the next morning after a one-sided conversation with Aiko, and follows the trail Kagemaru left
* Kagemaru slept a very short while during the night, against a tree to be prepared and all... is walking on the road again
* Kagemaru isn't really very careful with his tracks, doesn't think anyone'll follow him anyway
* Gyoshoku catches up in the early afternoon, spots him in the distance and closes the gap quickly, sliding off the horse beside him
<Gyoshoku> you walk fast
* Kagemaru keeps walking, silently
* Gyoshoku walks with him, leading the horse
<Gyoshoku> you look tired, did you sleep?
* Gyoshoku sighs
<Gyoshoku> Kagemaru, will you stop for a second and appease an old man
* Kagemaru stops and stares blankly at Gyo's shoulder
<Gyoshoku> you're still angry... fine, that's ok
<Gyoshoku> you can be angry and still love someone
<Kagemaru> *stare stare blank stare*
<Gyoshoku> I'm not going to pretend I know what you're going through, here
<Gyoshoku> I made a huge mistake long ago, but I did it because I wanted you near me
<Gyoshoku> please don't punish me for that
<Gyoshoku> Aiko hasn't spoken since you left, not a word
* Kagemaru swallows
<Gyoshoku> she misses you, we all do
<Gyoshoku> I didn't come to try to make you feel guilty
<Kagemaru> You didn't, huh?
<Gyoshoku> or even to try to make you come back with me, you're your own person, and I respect that...
<Gyoshoku> I can't tell you how much I wanted to run myself last night
<Gyoshoku> yes, me
<Gyoshoku> where do you think you get it?
* Kagemaru shrugs
<Gyoshoku> well, you come by it honestly, believe me
<Gyoshoku> there was a time I nearly ran out on Kumiko, as well... but a bitter woman who hated me changed my mind
* Kagemaru is sixteen, nobody in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD feels like he does, or has been in a situation even remotely like this one EVER before... so, hearing he gets stuff from his genetics is stupid.
* Kagemaru blinks slightly
* Kagemaru is interested, but damn if he's going to show it
<Gyoshoku> but the important point here is that I'm not going to judge you for being angry or leaving, or even for hurting your sister... which you did, deeply
<Kagemaru> so why the hell are you here?
* Kagemaru doesn't want to be reminded that he hurt Aiko, is well aware of it already
<Gyoshoku> because I love you and I will follow you for the rest of my life if I have to to prove it to you... I never knew if my father loved me, not until after he died, and I didn't want that for you, not for anything
<Gyoshoku> so, blame me, hate me, judge me, think my love is less or worthless or pointless if you want, but don't doubt it
<Kagemaru> Gods... fucking... damn... it
<Kagemaru> Can't you leave me alone?!
<Gyoshoku> yes, I can
<Gyoshoku> I choose not to right now because I see how hurt you are
* Gyoshoku has put on a calmly rational face
* Gyoshoku doesn't really feel calmly rational, however
<Kagemaru> Damn you... damn you
<Kagemaru> your preachings follow me fucking everywhere
<Kagemaru> and now you, too
<Kagemaru> great... fucking great
<Gyoshoku> what do you mean?
<Kagemaru> It doesn't matter
<Kagemaru> let's say I tried to cope in the usual family manner
<Gyoshoku> well that's either sex or hitting something with a big stick
* Gyoshoku considers a moment "oh... or both"
<Kagemaru> and let's say I couldn't, because someone fucking raised me so I'd have a proper conscience
* Gyoshoku doesn't let his smile show <go Kumiko>
<Gyoshoku> well, I'm sorry you're still angry
<Gyoshoku> I have an idea
<Kagemaru> which made me fucking unable to seduce that girl... damnit...
* Gyoshoku raises his brows
<Gyoshoku> hit me
<Gyoshoku> that's what you want to do anyway, right?
<Gyoshoku> so... do it, hit me, as hard as you can
* Kagemaru clenches his fist... is so very tempted to take him up on the offer
<Gyoshoku> what, are you afraid? come on, I won't even hit back
* Gyoshoku is taunting a bit, trying to make him just express some of his rage
<Kagemaru> what would it solve?
<Gyoshoku> it would make you feel better
<Kagemaru> and then it'd make me feel worse
<Kagemaru> above mentioned conscience
<Gyoshoku> naw, I didn't say I was going to make it easy
<Gyoshoku> you'll have to work if you want to land a punch on me... I'm getting older, but I'm still stronger and better trained than you are
<Kagemaru> oh, yes, I can see it now... we fight for a while, you capture first one hand, then the other, force me into some sort of awkward hug, we both break into tears and then everything is well again... is that how you've planned it?
<Gyoshoku> I don't really make plans
<Gyoshoku> but I think you should hit me
<Kagemaru> I don't need to hit you to release my anger
<Gyoshoku> it's going to be me or some other poor sap down the road who pisses you off... I've been 16... I know... so take it out on the person you're really angry with
<Kagemaru> fine... fine... you want me to hit you, I will
* Gyoshoku nods and steps back
* Kagemaru drops his shakujou and goes to hit Gyo... is trying his best to be cold and calculating in his moves, though... doesn't want emotion to take over... damn emotion
* Gyoshoku dodges to the right
<Gyoshoku> you're leading with your foot, Kagemaru, didn't they teach you better than that?
* Kagemaru spins around, trying to surprise him with his other hand
<Kagemaru> Maybe they didn't
* Gyoshoku ducks and smiles at him "that was better"
* Kagemaru tries to ignore his smile... damn smiley face...
<Kagemaru> STOP FUCKING SMILING
<Gyoshoku> make me
* Kagemaru goes to punch him in the stomach
* Gyoshoku steps to the side and lets Kagemaru go right past him
<Gyoshoku> see, now you're really trying
* Kagemaru moves back to use his elbow against him, Gyo's obviously watching his hands way too closely
* Gyoshoku sees him, a hair too late, catches the elbow on his shoulder as he spins out of the way
* Gyoshoku isn't as fast as he used to be
* Kagemaru follows it with another punch
* Kagemaru is plenty fast
* Kagemaru isn't as strong or as trained, though
* Gyoshoku catches the punch with his hand and lets the fist drop
* Gyoshoku is waiting until he thinks Kagemaru is really punching out of anger
<Kagemaru> Why can't you just let me go?
<Gyoshoku> because you're my son and fathers don't abandon their sons to pain
<Kagemaru> Who says I'm in pain?
<Gyoshoku> just because you hide it with anger doesn't make it go away
<Kagemaru> Anyway, you denied being my real father for all my LIFE... -father-
<Gyoshoku> never... you assumed... I never said I wasn't your father, I was very careful
<Gyoshoku> I let you think something that was a lie, yes, but I never lied to your face
<Kagemaru> Fine, for once, you didn't lie. Amazing.
<Gyoshoku> you want me to leave you alone, son, but you'll never be alone because you have a family
<Gyoshoku> I've been alone, truly alone
<Gyoshoku> it's the worst feeling in the world
<Kagemaru> I don't want a goddamn family
<Gyoshoku> too fucking bad
<Gyoshoku> you got one, live with it
<Kagemaru> I DO NOT
<Gyoshoku> *softly* you do... and denying us will not make us disappear and it will not make us love you less and it will certainly not make you alone
<Kagemaru> My mother is dead! Neither she nor my... FATHER... wanted me in the first place!
<Gyoshoku> ahh, is that it?
<Kagemaru> I don't have a family
<Kagemaru> your family isn't mine
* Gyoshoku sighs
<Gyoshoku> it is, and it always will be, whether you believe it or not
<Kagemaru> No, it won't
<Gyoshoku> believe what you will, son
<Kagemaru> you didn't want me... nobody wanted me... why can't you just fucking let me go?
<Gyoshoku> I wanted you... just because I didn't love your mother, it doesn't mean I didn't want you
<Kagemaru> oh, yeah, I'm sure you were so very pleased when you found out
* Gyoshoku smiles a bit "I was so excited the first time I felt your aura"
<Kagemaru> I'm sure you were OVERJOYED when she told you she was carrying your child
* Gyoshoku laughs
<Gyoshoku> the first time she told me so, it wasn't true
<Kagemaru> I'm sure you didn't call her a bitch, or curse, or wish that she'd go to hell straight away
<Kagemaru> and take her child with her
<Kagemaru> I'm sure
<Gyoshoku> I loved you from the moment I knew about you
<Gyoshoku> I convinced a raging youkai to let your mother live so you could be born
<Kagemaru> Uh huh
<Gyoshoku> it's true, and after she'd been forced to kill her own lover
<Gyoshoku> do you think I did such a thing out of spite?
<Kagemaru> Well, that's great, she was carrying me through that too?
<Kagemaru> making someone kill their lover... that's great
<Kagemaru> really... truly... great
<Gyoshoku> I never said she was nice
<Kagemaru> because she wasn't, I've understood already
<Gyoshoku> if I didn't want you, I could have done something about it
<Gyoshoku> if I didn't want you, I wouldn't have raised you in my home
<Kagemaru> maybe she SHOULD have gone to hell straight away, and taken me along
<Gyoshoku> you accused me of seeing her whenever I look at you, and you're right in a way
<Gyoshoku> when I look at you, I see her strength and her beauty, all the good things, the talent, the promise
<Kagemaru> you'd have been much happier with just children of your own, with your beloved wife
<Gyoshoku> no, Kagemaru... no
<Gyoshoku> I'm going to tell you something important, and then I'm going to leave you to make your own decisions... because I do believe in you son
<Gyoshoku> no matter where you go or what you do, no matter who you do it to, no matter if you leave this land entirely and I never see your face again... no matter what... there are five people in the world who love you... and I will be waiting for you, for as long as I live, to show you how much
* Kagemaru shrugs and picks up his shakujou again
<Kagemaru> have fun, then
<Gyoshoku> I mean it
<Kagemaru> yeah, sure you do
<Kagemaru> have fun waiting
* Gyoshoku smiles
<Gyoshoku> I intend to
<Kagemaru> now, can I GO, or do you intend to keep following me?
<Gyoshoku> I already told you, it's up to you now
* Kagemaru starts walking again
* Gyoshoku watches him walk away
* Gyoshoku didn't really expect him to have a miraculous change of heart, but feels better about things now... feels like he's gotten his point across and when Kagemaru is ready to hear it, he will
* Gyoshoku wishes he could hammer some sense into the boy, but... Kumiko would definitely not approve... and this way is better
* Kagemaru is stubborn
* Kagemaru would not take well to getting sense hammered into him
* Gyoshoku knows that
* Gyoshoku wants to do it anyway though
* Kagemaru walks... away.
* Gyoshoku gets back on the borrowed horse when Kagemaru is out of sight and heads back home