Welcome back everybody!
The epilogue is finally here. Now, as you probably already know, the following content isn't overly important. I only intend to tie up a couple of ends, include a couple of taito scenes, and leave it at that.
You have my sincere apologies for taking so long to write this. For something so small, and so insignificant, it seems like an unreasonable wait to have forced upon you. I'm very sorry.
If you find that the wait has been so much that you've forgotten what happened, you could always just go back and re-read the other ten chapters, most of which have been smoothed out and edited and re-written, you know...if you felt like it.
LOL! CAN YOU IMAGINE? THAT'S OVER 50,000 WORDS! XD
Funny stuff. Basically, if you've forgotten what's happened so far then it doesn't really matter. You'll be ok, I'm sure.
I hope you enjoy the epilogue!
Yamato held his left hand in his right and looked down. He could hardly believe it. He was here. He was really, really here, sitting opposite his mother on some moth eaten armchair in her new psychiatric ward. What was there to say now?
"You think this place will make me better?"
"Maybe?" Mrs Ishida mimicked with a scoff.
"Maybe." Yamato confirmed.
"And if it doesn't?"
"Then I'll make you better."
She scoffed again and turned to face him. He was still staring at his feet. "Yamato. When did you grow up so?"
He looked up at her, but didn't reply.
"Whatever." She shrugged.
"You don't think you need to get better?"
A third scoff. She almost smiled at the question. "No. Well, Maybe."
"Maybe." Yamato's frown almost broke. "It wouldn't make a difference what your answer was though, I guess. You're here either way. And you're going to be here for a while."
"Whatever." She shrugged, again.
"When did you become such an angsty teenager?"
"When did you become such an overbearing adult?"
He stared at her. "One of us had to."
"Yamato." She stared back into his icy eyes with a pair of her own. "I don't see why you insist on this back and forth if you only mean to argue with me."
"Arguing is an important step."
"Did my doctor tell you that?"
"No. She didn't." He shrugged. "I thought it up on my own. I want to help you. To make you better. But I don't like you, and I still have a lot of issues to get over. We're probably going to argue a lot until I do get over them, so it's an important step to work through. To help me through my issues."
"Issues?" She smirked. "What issues do you have to get over?"
Yamato unbuttoned his shirt. Most of his bruises were gone by now, but there was still one, faded purple mark near his right shoulder.
Mrs Ishida's jaw tightened. "I never touched you. Never."
"But you didn't stop Dad from doing it."
"He was in control of his own actions."
"That's a lame excuse and you know it." Yamato began to re-button his shirt with a scowl. "Besides, he was never in control of himself. Not really."
"What do you want from me Yamato?"
"I want to see it – in your eyes, right now – that you regret what happened. To me, to T.K. I want to see it in your eyes that you're sorry."
"You know." She half mumbled. "We all have our baggage."
"Don't change the subject."
"And we all have our reasons for acting, or for not acting, when we're supposed to." She continued, looking at her own feet now. "I made mistakes. And maybe I was in control of them. Maybe. But..."
Yamato looked back at his own feet, mirroring his mother. He wasn't sure what he had really sought from her today, or what he would be seeking from future trips. Comfort? Closure? All things that would never come. All that waited for him here was fractured conversation, heated arguments and silence. Fixing his mother didn't seem worth the effort it took, if it was even possible at all.
Nonetheless, they needed her to get better. Of course they did. They had a case to fill out after all. The only witness to Haru Iwati's atrocities was Yamato's mother. She was the only one who could get the ball rolling for them. And maybe she couldn't bring her son closure, or comfort; but she could help them to take down a criminal who destroyed three children so many years ago, and escaped to tell the tale. If only she would talk.
"I'm glad you came." She interrupted his thoughts with a surprisingly soft growl. "And I know I don't seem it."
"Yeah. You don't."
"You're my son. I'm always glad to see you. Especially now. I've not..." She paused. "...I've not had any other visitors. I guess no one else cares to see me. Or no one is left who does, anyway."
"You're wrong, Mom." Yamato shook his head. "T.K. wants to see you. He just needs time. And Michael wants to see you, too."
"He's a stupid man, that Michael." She shook her head. "But any company is good company, as they say."
"Why do you say he's stupid?"
"He has a stupid way of doing things. He wants to change the world with nothing but that big mouth of his." She smirked. "The stuff he used to spout to me and your father when he would babysit you was absurd. He was..."
She smirked. "He was a good man, you might say. But he was a stupid man. We were better off without him around."
Mrs Ishida looked to be considering something silently for a moment. The smirk on her face began to lower. "Hiroaki used to say the same thing."
"Dad liked Michael." Yamato nodded.
"He did. A little too much if you ask me." She rolled her eyes. "He treated Michael like a saviour."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
She laughed quietly and waved a hand at her son, throwing down the question. "Forget it."
There it was. Forget it. How was he ever going to get anywhere with him if she ignored his questions so explicitly?
"Did you know that Dad was in love with another boy when he was a teenager?" Yamato tried, tilting his head. Surely this would bring out something. Anything.
"You...?" She stopped, eyes wide. "...you know about that?"
"I suppose I can't deny it, can I? Yes, he liked a boy once. A boy called Susy." She smiled again. "A bit of a girly name if you ask me."
"You didn't care that Dad was...?"
"He wasn't. He was just dabbling. So many of us used to."
She pursed her lips and continued to examine a fingernail.
"Did you, as well?"
"Don't tell me to forget it!" Yamato rose to his feet. "Be honest with me here. Just try. I took the time to come along all this way to see you, and I've even arranged future visits. I'm gonna keep coming back for you. So you can at least be straight with me when I do."
She looked up at him for a moment, and swallowed almost unnoticeably. "Yes. I suppose I dabbled a little as well."
"And what happened?"
"I was taught a lesson. I learnt it well."
"Haru." Yamato placed a hand on his mother's shoulder and tightened his grip. "Haru taught you a...a lesson. That's right, isn't it?"
"How do you...?"
"Mom." Yamato bent down and looked her in the eyes. "Be straight with me here."
"I..." She halted, and for the first time Yamato thought that he might be able to see that fabled regret, and maybe even that remorse, there in her sparkling eyes. Almost. She swallowed again. "...I'm sorry. I don't know anybody by that name."
"You. You don't...?"
"I don't. I'm sorry, Yamato. I'm..." A small tear leaked from the side of her eye, and fell for forever alongside her cheek. "Please just leave me alone."
Yamato rose back to his full height, frustrated, and let go of his mother's shoulder. "Fine. I'm leaving."
"What?" Yamato stopped on his way towards the door and looked back at her. "You what?"
"I...look forward to your next visit." She nodded. "Don't stay away for too long. Ok?"
"Right." Yamato answered, and left the room without another word, his own tear making its way steadily down his face.
"So what happened, Michael?" Mrs Yagami asked, sitting down opposite him at the kitchen table. He placed a mug of coffee in front of her, and moved to drink from his own.
"More than expected."
"What did you expect?"
The two of them sat silently and drank from their cups. They could hear the slight sounds of the children playing together somewhere within the house.
Mrs Yagami smiled.
"What is it?"
"Don't you think it's neat? Or, maybe funny is the word...?"
"Well, I think it's neat."
"What is Yuuko?" Michael laughed, placing his coffee down softly. "What's neat?"
"That, somehow, after everything that's happened, the six of us have picked up the pieces of our lives and found a home here." She bent her head over her mug and laughed. "It sounds silly, I know. To be saying this. But it is! It's really..."
"Neat." Michael nodded. "I know."
"Do you think they're getting over it?"
"The kids? Yes. They're-"
"Strong. I know." She smiled, knowingly.
"I guess I use that line a little too often. I'm becoming predictable."
"I suppose so." Mrs Yagami stretched a hand out and placed it atop Michael's.
Together they continued to drink their coffee, smiles and light conversation upon their lips the whole while.
"So what happened, Yama?"
"More than I expected."
Tai raised an eyebrow. "Oh?"
"So, tell me about it. Did she talk about...him?"
"Oh." Tai's eyebrow lowered again.
"But when I mentioned his name there was this moment. You know, she reacted to it. I think she remembers but...she tried to pretend otherwise."
"Maybe she's trying not to remember." Tai took hold of Yamato's hand. "I mean, who would want to keep hold of a memory like that?"
The pair of them fell silent, and they watched as T.K. and Kari continued to play monsters across the room from them. It appeared that Kari was winning.
"Did you find out why he...you know. Did what he did to her?"
"Dabbling." Yamato nodded. "With some other girl, I guess. I think she said Haru taught her a lesson for it. That's all I got out of her. But for all I know I could have misunderstood what she said."
Their eyes fell to their siblings again. T.K. had pinned Kari to the ground with his hands, and had a victorious look on his face, when suddenly a human blur dived from beside the couch and collided with the blonde boy, knocking him to the floor.
Daisuke had returned from the bathroom, it seemed. He had been dropped off for the day by his parents so that he could hang out with his new best friends. And apparently attack them all day. Tai wasn't entirely sure about the inner mechanics of their games.
"I win." Daisuke grinned down at the friend that he had just pinned.
"Nu uh." T.K. argued.
"This is getting a little loud." Tai scratched his head.
Yamato sniggered. "You think we should go now?"
"Yeah. It's about time anyway."
"Ok." He nodded. "C'mon guys, we're going."
"Yaaaaaaaaaay!" They cheered together, back on their feet in an instant. They all ran out to put on their shoes.
"But if I have to carry even one single bag for her, Yama..." Tai motioned in the air with his hands. "...even one single bag, I'm gonna go crazy."
Mimi led the way through the mall at a marching pace, with her ragtag group of friends hobbling closely behind her.
"M-Mimi." Tai groaned, carrying an unsteady tower of multi-coloured shoeboxes in front of him. "We must have been to every shoe shop in the whole mall by now."
"Well it doesn't hurt to double check."
"More like triple check..." Yamato mumbled, carrying his own wobbling tower of shoeboxes in front of him. "We're going in circles."
"Oh c'mon guys, it's not so bad." Sora said cheerily, carrying a large pink shopping bag in each hand.
"Yeah, that's easy for you to say. You weren't tricked into c-coming here." Joe heaved, his arms trembling with the weight that was being forced upon them.
"She lured us here with promises of soccer balls." Tai whimpered.
"And new C.D.s." Yamato sighed.
"And ice cream." T.K. moaned.
"Well, I did get you ice cream eventually." Mimi laughed, stopping to look back at the group. "Come on guys, put some back into it."
"If we ever make it out of this place alive..." Yamato quietly panted, with sweat dropping down from a perfect, blonde strand of hair. "...I'll kill her."
"I'll help you..." Tai added, gently rubbing a tentative shoulder against his boyfriend's. "...hide the body."
"On second thoughts." Sora interjected, speaking out against Mimi after overhearing the rambled threats of her two friends. "We could probably just use a little rest. We'd be able to work better that way."
"You know what? You're right Sora. Nice thinking." Mimi smiled. "Come on everybody, let's take five over here."
"Yay!" Daisuke cheered, hopping up and down.
"Why are you cheering?" Kari giggled. "You've not even been carrying anything, lazy."
"Nu uh!" He argued. "I was carrying T.K.'s ice cream earlier.
"I didn't ask you to! And you ate it all!" T.K. retorted.
"It just looked so tasty..."
"Y'know, it's sad that Izzy didn't want to come along with us." Sora said, talking above the bickering children.
Joe nodded. "Yeah."
"We could have used the extra hands..." Yamato mumbled.
The group eventually made their way towards a nearby coffee bar and put their bags down. The crowds around it were humungous, and buzzing with noise.
"Yeah. But at least we can rest no-"
At Tai's voice a boy jumped out from behind the crowd, coffee cup in hand, and sprinted towards him. His smile reached from ear to ear. He was visibly shaking.
"Hey! Takashi, what's up?" Tai beamed.
"Take a deep breath dude."
"-nothing, Tai. What's up with you?" He took another sip from his coffee. "What's with all the shoes?"
"Yaaaaamato!" Takashi abruptly exclaimed, spotting the blonde through his own tower of boxes. "You're here too?"
"Yeah, I'm here too. How's it going?" Yamato asked. "Still struggling to kick the caffeine?"
"-n-no, this is just a pick me up." At that he latched onto both Tai and Yamato and squeezed them together. Their boxes toppled to the ground with a cluttered crash.
"TAKASHI!" A group of voices called out from the crowd. The startled boy let go of his friends and turned around, to find his two bands mates heading in his direction.
"Now I'm gonna get it..."
"Damn right you are. You can't go bothering our star on his own time." Akira scolded, fists clenched at his side. "And look what you've done!"
"I'll see you guys later!" Takashi smiled before sprinting away into the distance with a lengthy giggle, his friends hopelessly chasing in hot pursuit.
The group hooted and snickered at the on-going antics, all except for Mimi, who was somewhat distracted by the pinkish wave of shoes that were currently littering the floor around her. "Hmm..." She pondered, rubbing her chin. "...maybe I did buy too many."
Tai, cheery over the wild smile on his boyfriend's face, took hold of Yamato's hand and squeezed it tight. Bright blue fell into bold brown, and their smiles only grew wider.
"You know. I think you guys should hold hands like that more often." Sora interjected, dropping her bags so that she could ruffle Tai's head of hair with one hand, and stroke Yamato's skinny shoulder with the other. "You look really happy when you do."
"Well, yeah." Yamato laughed, looking over his shoulder at her. "But I thought you said we'd just attract unwanted attention if we held hands in public."
"Yeah. You're right." She nodded. "I did say that."
Tai tilted his head over his own shoulder, his smile begging to burst from his face. "But…?"
"But." She continued, grinning at the brunette cheerily. "After everything that's happened lately, it occurred to me. Who cares?"
Tai nodded at that and turned back to his Yamato. That blonde boy was growing more and more joyful as every day went by, and though there were still issues that were yet to be resolved, he could feel it in his heart that Yamato was finally strong enough to deal with them. And that strength made Tai strong, too. They had found a family within each other, and within everyone around them. A family that was no longer a source of fear, or pain, but a source of comfort. Everything, through the good and the bad, and through the everything in between, had somehow fallen into place.
Some final author's notes…
I'm going to come clean here. When I began this fic, and when I wrote chapters one to four, I didn't have any real idea, at all, as to what this story was going to be about. The story plan didn't appear in my notes until chapter five.
Now, to all those people who stuck with this story regardless of its very shaky, shambling beginnings: your patience, and your good wishes, gave me the confidence to improve over time. Therefore, I am totally in your debt, as is this story. If you hadn't been so kind to me then There's More To Family Than Fear would never have reached its end. Thank you.
Listed below you will find a few extras, explanations and general fun facts about the story:
Mr Horn is based on my favourite teacher in the world, Michael Horner. In reality he teaches English Literature and Film Studies, not Art. He doesn't know that he is an integral character in one of my fanfiction stories. He probably never will.
Kari displays certain psychic abilities throughout this story. She draws a picture symbolising upcoming hardships, she has premonitions, she sees a flash of ghost Mr Yagami and ghost Mr Ishida, etc…and you know what? There is no explanation whatsoever as to why she can do this. I didn't plan for it to happen. It just did.
Yamato's star patterned boxers are based on a real pair of boxers that I am acquainted with in real life. You see, I have a very special someone in my life who just so happens to have a very special pair of star patterned boxers that I enjoy ogling. This was kind of a throw in for him.
For those asking: I wrote the song in Chapter Ten specifically for this story. In a stroke of complete originality, note the sarcasm there, it is called There's More To Family Than Fear.
I was initially reluctant about including Tai and Matt's sexual scenario, considering everything that had gone on only hours before they got frisky with each other. But then something occurred to me. When you're sad, or angry, or anxious, or upset, or distraught, sometimes being horny can make those feelings disappear just for a little while. Oh, and I left it up to you to decide exactly what the pair did after Mrs Yagami interrupted them. Personally I would like to think that their emotions came back to them and they decided to cuddle up and go to bed together, eventually crying themselves to sleep in each other's arms. But y'know, if you wanna imagine that Tai got dominated that night, or vice versa, then hey - I ain't gonna stop you!
Someone mentioned that they didn't understand Haru's motivations for what he did to the children all those years ago. I never intended to touch this issue, originally, but I feel that I may as well answer it for everybody whilst we're all here. Here goes.
This whole story has been about the realisation that everybody has some motivation, or reason, for doing all of the shitty things that they do, and that sometimes you'll just have to get over what they do without knowing what, exactly, those reasons are. Now, in the case of Tai and Matt, they found out what their parent's motivations were because, well, they were their parents. It was only inevitable that they would someday understand them; but the odds of them learning the intricate motivations behind the adult that abused their parents, when said parents were just children? I can't see that happening, so I didn't have it happen. That's all there is to it.
The one thing you need to take away from this, I suppose, is that Haru probably had his reasons for what he did, just like Susamu. You don't need to know what those reasons were, though. You just have to get used to the fact that you won't always learn why someone is, for lack of a better word, a dick.
It looks like that's everything.
Thank you so very, very much for your time, everybody. I'll miss you.
Wishing you all the best!
Lots and lots and lotsa love, MrGooseyMoose.