It had been four years since Akito had last seen her mother, so as you can imagine the moment she received the message from one of her maids that the aging woman had summoned her, she had been a bit skeptical. However, she found herself walking across the estate, followed by her head maid, trudging through the snowy path, on her way to the home of the woman who had made her life a living hell for twenty four years.
She thought of the last time she had seen this woman; a five minute meeting, where the wretch had turned down holding her only grandchild. She remembered the bitter feeling she had felt before, but the peace afterward, that she had honestly done all she could with Ren, who lived in her own insanity. However, now the bitter feeling was returning, boiling in her chest like acidic heartburn.
She was beginning to regret this.
The elderly head maid took the honor of opening the heavy wooden door, and Akito stepped into the darkness. She hadn't realized how dark the room actual was, but when she had entered she could barely see her hand in front of her own face, the only light coming from the corners of the windows (that had been covered with cloth) and from the door that stood ajar behind her. A cold, winter breeze blew in, however, and so the maid closed the door behind them, leaving them in pitch darkness-or what Akito thought was pitch darkness, until she realized that there were a few candles lit about the room. It took a moment for her eyes to adjust to them, but eventually they did, and she could make out all of which was in the room now.
There, on a futon on the floor, lie a very frail-looking Ren, a few younger maids situated beside her. One of the maids dabbed her forehead with a wet rag, but Ren turned her head away from the maid, upon seeing that her daughter was in the room.
This seen looked too familiar to Akito.
"Get out! All of you..." the aging mother barked to the maids, and they all scuttled out, the last one being the head maid, who gave Akito a meaningful look before she closed the door behind her. The only people left in the room now were Ren and her daughter, who stood a few feet away from her, her eyes cold and serious as they gazed upon her sickly mother.
"You..." Ren began, pointing to the standing Akito with a long-nailed finger. Akito could now see how frail the woman was, as her arm peeked out of her robe, revealing nothing but skin and bones.
She felt sorry for her.
"A long time ago..." Ren began, trembling just as much as her voice was. "You told me... that this was empty."
Upon that last phrase, she held up the ornate box that had been rumored to hold Akira's soul in after he died. It was something Akito had clung to for years, but had given to her wretched mother when the woman became obsessed with it. She had told her that it was empty, that Akira's soul never did lie in there, which was something Akito knew since the beginning but lied to herself for years about.
"Tell me...you were lying."
Akito, for the first time, looked into her mothers eyes. They were filled with something all too familiar to the young woman...
"What do you want?" she spat coldly, taking a firm step towards the sickly Ren, who coughed a bit as she pressed the box to her breast, protectively, as if Akito was going to snatch it up from her fingers.
"Tell me you were lying!" she screamed, her entire body shaking as tears began rolling down her sullen cheeks. "Tell me Akira is still here with me!"
"You're a crazy old woman..." Akito muttered, turning to walk out the door. However, something Ren said next stopped her in her tracks, and nearly brought her to her knees.
She froze. That was the first time her mother had called her by her name... The first time she had ever heard that word uttered from her mother's lips. Ren seemed just as surprised that she had said it, her eyes widened and filled with tears, as she clung to the box, longing for her daughter to stay.
"Please... I don't want to die alone."
Akito felt hot tears roll down her cheeks instantly, with no chance of her holding them back. They streamed down her cheeks, continuously, dropping down onto the front of her shirt. She didn't know why she was crying. She never loved this woman. She never even liked this woman. But the thought of her dying cold and alone...scared her.
Mainly, because that had been her own, personal fear.
"It's not," Akito said bluntly, hiding the tears in her voice. Ren looked at her daughter, tears in her own eyes, as she trembled and spoke.
"It isn't empty," Akito clarified, louder this time, as she swallowed the lump in her throat, the tears not ceasing for a second as she turned around to face her mother. "The box... it's had his soul in it the whole time..."
Ren gasped audibly, as the tears rolled down her face, and she looked at the box. "Akira...?" She started crying more furiously now, trembling. "Akira?"
"He's here..." Akito lied, kneeling beside her mother. Ren still pulled away hesitantly, as if Akito was going to steal the box. But she didn't. She only placed her hands atop her mothers, pressing them closer to the box. "He has been waiting for you for a long time..."
"Oh!" Ren exclaimed, as the tears poured from her puffy eyes. "Akira...Akira..." she kept whispering, shaking, wanting to feel more than anything the touch of her deceased husband.
She didn't feel one. But suddenly...a voice came to her. A soft, male's voice that filled the room fluttered past her ears.
"Akira!" the delusional woman screamed, squeezing the box tighter. "Akira? Are you there?"
"It's okay to go now," the voice said, gently. Akito and Ren both shed tears at the familiar voice, but for different reasons.
"It...It is?" Ren asked, quietly this time, looking about the room, though she couldn't see anyone. Akito just lowered her head, keeping her hands atop her mother's.
"I'm waiting for you..." the voice spoke, before it disappeared. Ren looked around, teary-eyed, sniffling.
"Akira? Akira?" But her screams were met with silence. And suddenly, she realized that it was okay. That she could die then, and be with her husband.
And so, still looking towards the heavens, as if it were her destination, she died right there, Akito's hands still clasped around her own.
The once-goddess broke down into tears at that moment, silent tears, before she let go of Ren's hands and used her fingers to slowly slide her eyes shut. She stood then, looking at her mother, who appeared to be at a sense of peace, still holding that ornate box. And, she slowly turned around, seeing Shigure standing there in the doorway, glistening tears welled in his eyes as well.
She slowly approached him before wrapping her arms around his waist, sobbing furiously into his chest, screaming out all of the pain she had been holding for so many years.
And the two of them stood there, sobbing in silence.
A/N: Well, here we are folks! This is the first chapter of Silence, the sequel to Unshakable!