This is my first foray into Katanagatari, and so I hope I've portrayed the characters alright.
After seeing the end of the series ... I just had to write this. The shipper in me needed a more hopeful ending than the anime had...
Well, that being the case ... I hope you guys like this!
Death - when it came to the seventh and final Kyotouryuu head, Yasuri Shichika - was quiet, to say the least, and not at all the way any had envisioned the strongest swordsman in Japan dying.
The true reason was lost as civilians gossiped; some say he was dying from sickness, others wonder if he'd been poisoned. Some suggested that he was sick at heart and that was causing his death, then there was the small handful of people who insist he has simply given up the will to live, or the superstitious ones who believed that the poison of Shikizaki Kiki's blades had finally affected him.
As his body rode out another shudder, Shichika didn't truly care for the why, he just wanted it to end. For the past few days he'd been reduced to a shuddering, panting mass and he could feel that his body was slowly withering away, something that he found to be a great hassle after so many of years of training to be the strongest he could be.
Turning his gaze to the sunset creeping through the window, Shichika couldn't help the vague smile that pulled the corners of his mouth up, until another cough stole the smile away. It had been almost five years since that fateful day when Togame had shown up on his island, and although the last four years had been difficult at times … He'd completed it. He'd managed to create the intricate map of Japan that Togame had so wanted to exist.
He wondered if she'd approve of it. But then, he also wondered what she'd think about him choosing to settle down in Dewa, considering that meant he'd spent quite a lot of time with Zanki Kiguchi- though Shichika had adamantly refused her offer to resume sword training.
The pains in his chest couldn't hold back Shichika's fond chuckle as he remembered the time he'd spent here with Togame – Why were his eyelids suddenly really heavy? It was mildly annoying since he was trying to watch the sunset – when he looked back on his life, short though their time together may have been … The days spent with Togame were always his favourite, even better than the peaceful times spent with Nee-chan.
Shichika's eyes began to close sleepily, the lids feeling heavier with each bat though he fought against the weariness. Even though he'd learnt so much in that year he'd spent with Togame … It was only after spending time with Kiguchi that he realised how many opportunities he'd wasted. If only he'd been more aware of the ways of the world, he might have been able to cherish the time he'd had with Togame more fully.
With a heavy sigh, Shichika felt around the futon until his unsteady fingers came in contact with a wad of white hair. Most people he met seemed to think it was horse hair hanging at his waist … Very few would have realised it was in actuality Togame's - and those that did, chose not to comment, especially when they noticed the way that Shichika unconsciously sought the bundle out for reassurance. As his fingers entangled in the hair, Shichika could almost hear her tutting and accusing him of being a hair-fetishist.
"Hey, Togame … We had a good adventure, didn't we?" Shichika breathed, his fingers rubbing over the hair, and knotting it up somewhat. As the last flickers of the sun sank down below the window-pane, and with a hand clutching at the hair that had so often been his lifeline, the last thought that passed through Shichika's mind was that Togame would be highly disappointed the misuse of 'cheerio' hadn't caught on. And then, with a faint smile on his face, the seventh head of Kyotouryuu slipped into blissful awareness.
It could have been minutes, hours, or days later when Shichika opened his eyes again – and for how refreshed and rejuvenated he felt, he thought it was likely to be days. A moment later, Shichika realised that he wasn't lying on the same hard, wooden floor he had been for the past couple of days. In fact, he was standing … Something he hadn't been able to do for several weeks now, not without something to support him.
The moment he'd realised he was standing, it occurred to him that he was in a meadow of sorts, the kind that had lush green grass and Sakura trees in full bloom. He found it curious … He could feel the wind in his hair, the breeze brushing against his bare chest … and yet, the place was silent.
Almost as soon as the thought occurred to him, a tinkling laugh echoed from behind a tree, and Shichika reflexively stepped into a battle stance at the unexpected noise – a stance that didn't relax as Nanami stepped out from behind a nearby tree.
The siblings watched one another cautiously – the last time they'd met, Nanami had goaded Shichika into killing her. And then, Nanami smiled gently – just like she used to back when it was just the two of them on their island – and hummed, "It's peaceful here, don't you think, Shichika?", her gaze back on the cherry blossom petals.
"Yeah," Shichika agreed, tentatively lowering his defensive stance. The aura around Nanami was different than the last time … She was … Peaceful again, and Shichika smiled to himself at the realisation. She had returned to her old self, and for that Shichika was glad.
But then, as he looked around him once more, Shichika decided he had more pressing matters. "Where are we Onee-chan?" he asked, staring up at the petals as they danced in the wind. Folding his arms with a frown, Shichika supposed that the atmosphere of the place was similar to the forest in which he'd met Rinne. It didn't quite feel real … and yet, it was.
Nanami didn't help Shichika's confusion as she giggled softly, "Who can say?" she said cryptically, and Shichika's frown deepened at the words. It seemed she wasn't exactly the way she was on the island then … But if she wasn't Island-Nanami, and she wasn't sword-possessed Nanami … What Nanami did that make the Nanami before him?
Shichika ran a hand through his hair at the confusing path his thoughts had taken - Thinking had never really been his strong point. The thoughts cut off abruptly as he noticed the figure in the distance however, and Shichika's throat constricted uncomfortably as he noticed the form of his father walking towards the siblings.
The previous head of Kyotouryuu simply looked at his son, before ruffling his hair fondly, as if he were six again. "You did well, son," Mutsue Yasuri said, a fond smile on his face as he looked at Shichika, before he turned to Nanami and asked, "Feel like sparring, Nanami?"
Shichika felt his jaw open with surprise – although the three of them had never been on bad terms with one another, he couldn't recall an instance where Nanami and his father had bonded, least of all fought, but … he supposed death could change that in a family. Especially when you were faced with an afterlife with one another.
Nanami sighed heavily, before looking up at the man before her. "You're going to lose again," she warned him, but Mutsue simply laughed down at her and the two walked off, leaving Shichika standing beneath the Sakura trees, his mouth still open as he watched them with surprise.
After a moment, he smiled at his father and sister – both of which were exchanging blows not far away from him. Shichika couldn't help but feel relieved at the way their relationship had changed, especially considering the last time he'd seen his father, he'd tried to kill Nanami.
Settling himself down on the hill beneath a Sakura tree, Shichika watched the battle with interest, mildly wondering if this was really the afterlife – If he was really going to be spending the rest of eternity with Nanami and Mutsue, idly chatting or sparring.
His musings were brought to an unexpected halt when a mass of weight collided with the side of his head, however, and the one and only thing that halted Shichika in his instinctual counter-attack was the "Cheerio!" that had accompanied the blow.
As soon as his conscious mind recognised the word that had assaulted him, Shichika found it hard to breath, and for a moment, it seemed as though time stood still. But then, he turned to look at her and it was like the first time he'd seen her all over again – Togame stood with her arms folded, her mouth pulled into an irritated grimace, and her long hair swaying on the wind.
Before Shichika could even utter her name, she screeched, "What the hell is that?" gesturing at his face, making obscene gestures that betrayed her annoyance.
His hand ran across the scar on his eye instinctively, and Togame's eyes narrowed as she watched the move, bristling as her eyes skipped from his scarred eye, to his scarred chest "I told you to protect yourself! Not only that, I'd ordered you to forget me! Carrying around my hair as a memento isn't forgetting me, you hair-pervert! Cheerio!" she finished, throwing a punch at his stomach.
In the distance, Shichika thought he could hear his father laughing, but he hardly cared. He didn't even care that Togame was scolding him after being separated for so long. Shichika just took hold of her wrist and pulled her towards him, enveloping her in a hug so that she wouldn't fall, and relishing the feel of her against him again.
"Damn it Shichika! I'm mad at you right now! I didn't say it was okay to-"
"I don't care," Shichika cut her off, his voice thicker with emotion than it had been in four years time. "I don't care that you're mad," and his arms tightened around her convulsively, "I'm just glad to see you … Togame."
The woman in his arms stopped struggling as he spoke, and then, with a sigh, Shichika could feel her arms wrap around his waist. "Yeah. Me too."
And then, Shichika couldn't help himself – he began wrapping Togame's long white hair around one arm, and pulled that arm up to his nose so that he could smell the tresses again. He'd missed her long hair and the feel of it around him almost as much as he'd missed her.
"Oi," Togame growled, "I can feel that. You stupid, hair-pervert! Cheerio!"
Shichika could feel the punch against his back, and he figured there would probably be a lot more where that came from, especially if Togame knew he'd lived in Dewa, if she knew he'd failed in her final request, if she was aware that Princess Hitei had followed him around as he completed the map of Japan. But, with her hair enticing his senses once again, and with Togame in his arms, he didn't really care.
He could spend the rest of eternity making it up to her – the rest of eternity with her, taking every opportunity he'd missed with her in life. Shichika smiled eagerly at the thought, deciding that several Cheerio's were well worth the chance to be with Togame again.
I'm a sap, I can't help that.
Hopefully, I gave the afterlife an etheral feel to it ... I imagined the afterlife would be a bit like the final scrolling scenes where we see everyone, but then, I also imagine it's something that alters to accommodate those there, like the forest Rinne resided in, haha!
Again, I hope you liked this =3