Homecoming

By Hokata Yuy

Five hours.

I've been sitting inside of trains for five hours today. Each time I switched trains, there were less people riding with me until I ended up alone. Now as I sit in this old antique of a cart rolling up a set of even older tracks through the forests on the mountain, my mind starts to fade away with the low rumble of the rolling car.

Was this forest always so… bright?

I honestly can't remember anything.

All I remember is when the sun goes down, this forest becomes a black curtain that drowns out all one's senses.

I'm sure I wasn't afraid of this place until that time-

That time I was saved by a sick man's sense of humor.

Thinking like that; I know I should be angry.

I should hate that family for killing everyone I ever knew in a single night.

I too should have been plotting for their downfall.

But I hold no feelings in my heart to associate to that memory.

It happened.

'What's in the past is in the past,' that's what I told my sister as she tearfully apologized for a thing that she had no control nor knowledge of until years later. When I told her not to worry about it, I assumed I was just in shock from hearing it. That my feelings of remorse and anger would come back the more I remembered…

But they never did.

I hold no connection to that name, to that family anymore.

"…"

So why am I going back there as the dead child of a dead clan?

I almost laugh at myself now. It may sound shallow, but I'm returning because of her. She may not hold the hatred for the Tohno family anymore, but she has no happy memories to connect to during her time there either.

"She might scold me if I said that to her," I muse.

She would glare and then slowly smile and tell me that I was her happy memory.

I haven't seen her in over a month. And I thought only seeing her once a week was a strain on my heart, but after she told me she was too busy to come back for a while I couldn't think of much else besides her.

And the more my mind wandered, the more I got picked on… from all sides. Akiha and Hisui seemed to take pleasure in taking subtle pot-shots at my relationship, never insulting but teasing about my reluctance to openly admit my feelings. Meanwhile at school Arihiko and Senpai pestered me about why I was 'sighing like a love-struck loser' in that guy's words. It was even worse once they found out that I actually was.

I'd told Akiha and Hisui that I was going to go on vacation with Arihiko… but they saw through it way too easily.

"Guess I really suck at lying after all," I laughed pathetically.

I was jarred from my mental ramblings as the car suddenly stopped, almost dropping my bag to the ground. The hiss and pop of the brakes told me this was the last stop; it was all on foot the rest of the way.

With a sigh I slung my bag over my shoulder and started walking.

--

A town like this wouldn't even show up on a map. It seemed like one of those towns where everyone knew everyone else by name… because there were less than 20 people living here.

Looking down at the letter all it said was "take a left outside the station and a right after the last house next to the store then go right past the broken signpost."

"…"

"…"

I've walked past three stores already and I have no idea when the 'last one' is.

I sigh loudly and shake my head, "She really does like games…"

Resigning myself to wandering aimlessly for at least another hour I keep walking down the main street until I literally can't see anymore houses.

--

Chrichrichri chriiiii

Chrichrichri chriiiii

Chrichrichri chriiiii

The cicada's shrill cries echoed through the orange sky. It was a good idea to keep walking after all. The 'final house' was a half hour away from the station, and I've yet to find this signpost she said.

"Ah-!"

There it is.

My tired body suddenly feels invigorated and I start to jog up the winding path.

I didn't even notice the forest around me becoming darker until I looked around and saw that everything around me looked black under the night sky.

Would it be strange to say that I suddenly had a sense of nostalgia over such a foreboding atmosphere?

The moonlight starts to pierce through the trees, lighting my way.

Wait, what's that? It looks like a small patch of shining white standing out against a tree. My heart nearly skips a beat in anticipation.

As I get closer I can see that it is, in fact, a person standing against a large oak tree.

I feel like sprinting towards the figure with all my might, but my body only lets me jog up to her, forcing me to slow down and stop in front of her. For a second I have no choice but to crouch over and hold my knees to catch my breath.

I hear a soft laugh. "You're late Shiki-san," she chides me.

"It's not my fault, you didn't want to give better directions Kohaku-san," I say while slowing my breathing down. Slowly I raise myself up and look at her smiling face.

It truly feels like this is the first time I've seen her this happy.

"…Welcome home," she says simply, holding her hands together in front of her chest.

"I'm home," I reply with equal simplicity before dropping my bag and wrapping my arms around her tightly.

The feeling of her in my arms is something I don't think I could ever describe no matter how much I tried. She put her arms around my back and rested her head against my chest.

"Jeez.. I thought you'd never get here," she mutters quietly, but sounding happy nonetheless.

"Sorry, seems like I'm good at making you worry about me," I laugh a little.

She pulls out of the hug enough to look up at my face and smiles before leaning in closer.

I lean my head down and kiss her lips-

I suddenly feel her fingers covering my mouth and she starts to giggle some.

"That's for keeping me waiting, Shiki-san… again," she laughs and dances out of my grasp and into the shadows. "C'mon, I want to show you something." I hear her call out to me

I'm amazed. She really is manipulative sometimes.

With a sigh I follow behind her, picking up the bag I don't even remember dropping.

I move through the darkness after her. The only sound in the forest is the echoing cries of the cicada. Finally, we come to a stop a minute later at the edge of the trees.

"?"

I try to see what exactly I'm suppose to be seeing, but there's almost no light out at the moment.

As I'm about to ask why we're standing here, the cloud covering the sky starts to move, reveling the decaying ruins of a once great Japanese mansion.

"This…"

This is… my home.

At least 'home' in the sense that I grew up here, I don't feel any real connection to this place.

As the clouds above move light reveals more about this ruin. The ceiling is broken in a few places, moss covering almost an entire wall, and the other walls' drywall crumbling.

"…"

"C'mon! Let's go inside!" Kohaku-san suddenly pipes up next to me as she slips her hand into mine and pulls me forward. "If you stay out in this cold you'll get sick."

I make a face as I look at the building as if to say 'Like I'll be any warmer in there?' But seeing her so happy… I'd better not say it.

She slides open the front door and ushers me inside. As she shuts the door behind me I can hear its old wood frame break free of its track, wedging it open halfway.

"Ara...? Ara ara?" Kohaku-san's confused voice as she tries to close it.

I feel a smile as I turn and help her force it shut. "Wouldn't want the cold air to get in would we?" I can't help leaking in sarcasm after seeing the holes in the roof and walls outside.

Aw, looks like I made her pout… at least I think I did. It's too dark in here to see now that the door's closed.

"um.. Koh-"

"Here we go!" I hear her voice from down the hall, then her footsteps coming back towards me.

-click-

"Boooo" she moans painfully as the light shines under her face.

"…"

I can only look at her blankly. Was she… trying to scare me?

"Fuh… " My expression cracks and I can't help myself from laughing.

Lowering the light, Kohaku-san's voice is full of it's usual good cheer, "Shiki-san really does have nerves of steel." She covers her laugh with her fingers.

I just nod, no sense letting her know that it's hard to scare me when I can hear her running towards me.

She flicks the light around and down the hall and started walking.

My eyesight slowly adjusts to the dark again.

As I followed behind her I looked around, trying to remember anything about this place… but nothing came to me. The walls are torn, the wood on the floor is rotten through in a number of places and the shouji door are shredded by whatever animals that wandered through.

Kohaku-san stops in front of one door so suddenly I almost run into her. She turns back to me with an airy laugh. "Wait out here for a second Shiki-san, ok?"

Kohaku-san slides open the door and swiftly steps inside and shuts the door before I can reply.

"…?"

What the heck is she up to this time? I obediently stand and wait for her.

Flash.

My eyes are suddenly burning as a bright light comes on from inside the room, shining through the thin rice paper. I grumble to myself as I rub the spots out of my vision.

"Please, Shiki-san." Her voice beckons from inside, full of a calm grace.

Ok, here goes nothing. I prep myself before sliding open the shoujis an-

"What….?"

It's… clean. More than that, it's been restored as if someone had been living in here the whole time.

"K-Kohaku-san… what is this?" As I ask I see her sitting on the new tatami with her legs under her and three fingers of each hand touching the floor.

"Please take care of me, Shiki-sama," she says calmly, giving me a slow bow.

The only thing that keeps me from feeling extreamly embarrassed by such a formal scene is the fact that she's still dressed in a t-shirt and jeans.

I feel warmth in my chest. Not the painful warmth like when my wound opened up, but as if for the first time, I can feel happy about my future

…with Kohaku-san.

I smile and side my shoes off by the door and walk inside, quietly sliding the door shut behind me and putting my bag down.

"I… I'm amazed," I realize it sounded like I was making fun of her skills, but I can't help but state something so incredible.

Kohaku-san laughs a bit embarrassedly, "Ah-ha… now you see why I didn't come back for a month."

As she speaks she looks shyly off to the side and scratches her cheek with one finger.

Her hands. I couldn't see them before in the dark, but her pure white skin is scraped and bruised in a number of places. I first feel like scolding her for hurting herself so much, then I think about it.

She did all this for me. In this empty, decrepit place, she wanted to restore even just one room back to its former self.

Even if she probably had to re-buy everything again after she broke it once… or twice.

I bring my hand up to my mouth to suppress a laugh.

She looks back at me with a look of surprise.

Oops, I think she thought I was laughing at her effort.

"No, no, I was amazed that you did all this despite how clumsy you are-"

Her surprised look is replaced by a pouting glare.

Ah. I think I just made it worse.

"Ah- T-that's not what I mean either, I mean…. You know… uh.." I stumble over my words as I hold my hands up to protect myself from her wrath.

"Fufu.." Her light laugh fills the room as she smiles at me.

"Shiki-san, you're really too used to dealing with Akiha-sama," she chides me teasingly.

Oh. Right. Kohaku-san is a lot more easy-going than Akiha. My face burns with embarrassment, and I just nod quietly, unable to look at her face.

Hm?

I just noticed something… there's only one futon laid out…

Kohaku-san follows my gaze and smiles a bit, her face turning slightly red. "I thought… it'd be nice to…"

Hm, never seen Kohaku-san at a loss for words before, it's… incredibly cute.

I can feel myself start to grin a little as I put my bag down. Part of me wonders if it's normal to be in this situation… and not be thinking about sex. I sit on my knees in front of the blushing Kohaku-san and put my hands over her's.

She shyly looks back towards me and I can feel my own face heating up from being so close to her.

It's been a long time since I've been so close to the girl I love.

So it's natural to feel nervous

…..right?

I lift her hands up to chest level and pull her closer. "I love you, Kohaku."

I can feel such serious words rolling off my tongue so easily.

I even feel a smile on my lips.

Must be because it's true, I do love her, from the bottom of my heart.

She looks at me as her eyes widen just a bit, maybe from dropping the honorific, or maybe because I haven't gotten to tell her I love her in a long time.

The surprised look is slowly replaced by a heartfelt smile as her hands squeeze mine gently.

"I love you too, Shiki-sa… Shiki," she replies happily. It seems like she isn't used to the idea of the two of us being equal now, without having to care about formalities or titles.

I am Shiki Nanaya. And this is Kohaku.

….soon to be Kohaku Nanaya.

But that's a story for another time.

---

A/N: Meh, not too happy with the ending here, but I just had to write some kind of epilogue to Kohaku's ending. Of all 9 endings, this was the one that made me truly happy inside. That and I was being driven mad by claiming to be a Type-Moon addict, and not having contributed anything to the Tsukihime section of lol. I tried to write this in the style of the game, hence tons of spacing and sentence fragments. Ah well, that's a load off my chest, hope you enjoyed it :)