His Dark, Kind Soul
Author's Note: Endings aren't meant to be open. They're meant to be hopeful.
Epilogue: Two Big Brothers
It made him smile.
Kira Samushiro had imagined countless reactions his protégé could possibly have to his return. He was prepared for exuberance, anger, mistrust, absolute loathing and, though highly unlikely, even tears. But all the eloquent speeches he had rehearsed were forgotten when Natsume spoke a word of welcome he could never have expected. It was all he needed to hear to know that he could still trust this boy and that he was ready for what he was about to show him. Kira tucked his cane under his arm and stepped forward.
It registered on Natsume that he was holding a cane.
The boy's eyes swept over him. The Wolf had certainly aged but save for the cane which he wasn't even using to walk, there was no sign of him being weak or sickly. Warm winter clothes covered him from head to foot making it look like his body was moving under its own temperature that fell well below zero. He was wearing a rich, long coat and dark gloves that spoke of wealth and influence. All in all, his attire lent more mystery to what he had been up to. The rest of him gave nothing away.
Kira was looking him up and down too, not saying anything for a while. Then suddenly his eyebrows snapped together. He stared down at Natsume, still being more than a full head taller, and commented, "You're still short."
"That's all you have to say?" Natsume burst out when the tension immediately evaporated. "What have you been doing all this time?"
"Enough to come back."
"That doesn't answer my question."
"Damn it Kira—"
"A minute ago it was 'Aniki'."
"Don't make me regret it," he growled as he was reminded how quickly his teacher could get on his nerves.
Kira wasn't put off by his temper. "Look, I'll tell you everything later. Right now, we've got a mission to complete."
"A mission," he said again then began walking. "Quite like old times."
"Where are you going?"
"To the tea pavilion, something interesting is about to happen there."
"How do you know?"
"Do you even have to ask?" Kira smirked. "Come on Nimbus— Black Cat."
Natsume snarled but the sound that typically frightened his peers had no effect on his mentor. For the life of him he couldn't decide if that pleased him or annoyed the hell out of him. This was incredible. Kira was back and he was acting like he had been here just yesterday. What was he doing here? Were the others with him? Was there something they needed to stop at the tea pavilion? Natsume was puzzled and that was something he didn't admit to very often. So yes, he had to ask.
"No," Natsume uttered. Kira looked over his shoulder. "You can't just waltz in here and expect me to fall into step with you. That's not how it works."
He turned fully. "Tell me how it works then."
Natsume thought quickly. Kira had to be here for a purpose and he wasn't sure if he wanted to be involved in it. Yet, despite his misgivings, instinct told him to just throw caution to the wind. He felt like he was back to their first meeting when he couldn't quite decipher the White Wolf's character. That gave him an idea.
"I'll ask a question and you answer then you ask a question and I'll answer."
His request startled Kira. He was pressed for time but Natsume was entitled to such stipulations. "All right then. Three questions each. Go."
"Is it okay for you to be here?"
"They let me in and they're not throwing me out. You have nothing to worry about on that front." He grinned suddenly. "Do you have a girlfriend?"
"I don't believe you."
"I'm not lying, you freak," he snapped and Kira laughed. "Have you met up with the others?"
"I know where everyone is," he answered vaguely then brightened again. "How's Ruka?"
"He's fine," Natsume said shortly. The fact that Kira was wasting his turn on nonsensical questions was telling. There was a pause. "Are you taking me with you when you leave?"
Kira's gaze didn't falter, "Only if you want me to." Natsume wasn't sure how he felt about that answer and for a while the air grew still. The Wolf exhaled. "Natsume, five years is a long time and there are a lot of things that we no longer know about each other. But I only have one minute to gain your trust and I already know I can't do that. Therefore, I'm asking you as an old friend to just pretend that I'm still your teacher because right now there's a place we need to be."
He still had a way with words and Natsume would be lying if he said his curiosity wasn't roused. Kira glanced at his watch then started to walk away again.
"You still have one question left," Natsume called after him.
"Are you coming?"
The Captain's tone had grown serious but not compelling. He was giving Natsume a choice. He really hadn't changed at all. Their short exchange didn't silence his doubts but even then Natsume only needed half a second to think it over.
This time, Kira's smile visibly reached his eyes.
The older Alice led the way through the school. The campus layout was not lost to him despite his long absence. They moved in silence, keeping the rest of their questions at bay. The fact that they could signified that no trust had been lost between them. Kira walked briskly and Natsume followed, ignoring the curious stares being thrown in their direction. At twenty-one, the Wolf was still ridiculously handsome and if Natsume Hyuuga's good looks weren't enough to catch attention, Kira Samushiro's presence certainly helped.
"You should've disguised yourself," Natsume muttered when he spotted a group of girls blatantly gawking at them.
Kira gave him a sideways smile. "Natsume, do you believe you can change history?"
"You mean do something legendary?"
"No. I mean, change history," he emphasized.
Then Kira seemed to have spotted something that caused him to duck behind a tree. He pulled Natsume down with him. Forgetting Natsume was no longer a kid, completely disregarding the fact that he was now an angst-ridden teenager, he crouched low and gestured for his protégé to do the same. He felt like he was eight-years-old again but Natsume went along with him.
He wanted to yell at Kira for treating him so familiarly but he couldn't. He thought it would be smarter to just walk away but he didn't. Just as it was when he was younger, he wanted to know what the Wolf would show him and somehow he knew that staying would be worth it. Natsume realized that Kira hadn't needed to ask. No sentimental reunion was required for the years had changed nothing. Five years hadn't passed. The clock had been reset. They were just playing around again.
"What are we doing?" Natsume hissed.
Kira raised an eyebrow in mock surprise. "They never sent you on reconnaissance?"
"Not inside the campus."
"Fair enough," he returned. He crept forward and peered behind the trunk. Natsume glanced around, hoping none of the other students would spot them, specifically those from Class B. Particularly Kokoroyumi and Kitsuneme who would know the Wolf at a glance. At length, his teacher spoke again, "I think it's interesting the way things played out. Don't you?"
"What are you talking about?" Natsume asked in exasperation and Kira simply chuckled. He sat down at the base of the tree. He stared at the heavens as though it had brought him a blessing unknown to anyone else.
"Eight years ago, the year he died, Taro Nakajima decided to take his student on one of his travels." He smiled faintly at the memory. Natsume remained in a crouched position, mildly curious though he didn't understand why he was hearing this story now. "But on the night that they were supposed to leave, I came back critical from a mission and so Kunimitsu didn't want to leave."
"I don't see how this is relevant."
"To convince him to come along, Taro promised to show Kunimitsu what he wanted to see. Now, being the maddeningly selfless, frustratingly loyal friend that he was, he had one request."
"What was it?"
"That he would be shown a good future, one where he would see his best friend had survived the Academy after all." Kira's smile grew ironic. "He didn't tell me all of it but when they returned he was filled with stories."
The Wolf looked amused. "He told me eight years forward he met this enigmatic boy who was the same age as us. He was an Elemental like me but he cast fire instead of ice."
Natsume wasn't one who gaped but he was gaping now as puzzle pieces fell into place but by no means completed the picture.
"Over the years, I began to wonder. How much did he know exactly and if he knew more than he let on, why did he let things play out the way they did?" Kira laughed. "Later, I realized it didn't matter. I just had to get back to this place, at this hour, at this moment."
"Are you trying to tell me…" he trailed off.
Kira chuckled at his expression thenhe pulled Natsume out of their hiding place and pointed out a teacher calmly sipping tea at the pavilion. "You never met him but that man over there is Taro Nakajima and that…"
He gestured to a student who couldn't have been much older than Natsume, a boy with pale features, an athletic build and an unmistakable smile. He was years younger than how Natsume remembered him but he recognized his easy manner at a glance. He was trying to blend in with the crowd but when he saw the two of them looking, he straightened and locked eyes with Kira. He looked startled but gratified and the Wolf's expression was one of fulfillment and expectation.
Being an Alice makes you believe in a lot of things…
Like changing history.
"That's Kunimitsu Kogure."
- THE END -
Thank you for being an excellent readership throughout the whole story. I expected that this wouldn't be a mainstream fic and that's why I'm very grateful to all of you who read and reviewed. As all of you have kindly given me, may you also find inspiration, understanding and encouragement as you work on your stories on FFN.
This concludes His Dark, Kind Soul. Everything that happens after this is another story. As always, thank you for your indulgence.
All my best,
September 9, 2009, 10:57pm