Disclaimer: Nothing is mine. I must be a masochist for writing this because I didn't even like the anime that much. Well, some parts are good in a "so bad it's good" kind of way, but overall it's just okay (trust me: from what I understand in the VN, the anime does not even come close in doing it justice, ESPECIALLY not in depicting Sakaki's grief). And yet this was a plot bunny that absolutely would not leave me alone. That, and because I liked Sakaki too much to be satisfied with him being hugged off a cliff.
Also, before I begin, just a few notes: First of all, should I write anymore VN-based OK fics, Sakaki's kid won't exist in that continuity, just this one. And second, while this is based on the anime and will follow certain anime continuity, I will also mix in some VN spoilers that were left out of the anime. If anyone wants a link to the topic on MyAnimeList containing OK VN spoilers, just PM me. And third, Sakaki is THE BEST DAD EVER.
The sunset was red as Shunichirou Sakaki walked down the familiar streets of his old hometown. Here, he could walk in broad daylight, his clothes not the least bit dry, without fear of anyone turning him over to the police. Back in Jougamachi, however, that would be a different matter.
He wasn't sure how far word would spread of his "death" back there. He knew they had a small, local newspaper that reported daily community events, occasionally things to happen outside of the town if the story were big enough, and particularly important events within the town itself. He also knew that this year's Hassaku festival would be big enough of an event to qualify, given the especially extraordinary circumstances of the Kamibito's secret being out in the open, and the events that ensued.
And he also knew that anything within that newspaper did not extend to outside of the town itself. Therefore, he would be perfectly safe.
Sakaki had not been sure if he would survive that fall or not. He had realized his revenge scheme was essentially going nowhere, and that he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and decided he might as well let Kaori drag him down into the waters below. The way he saw it, it would be a win-win situation: If he lived, he would escape Jougamachi to formulate a better revenge plot; if he died…then at least his misery would be over. He had felt slightly guilty in thinking the latter, as he still had a child to look after.
Even though he had never done such a good job of looking after it to begin with.
Sakaki shivered slightly as the winds began to set in. To his amazement, he had survived the fall into the waters below, very narrowly missing the sharp rocks at the bottom. He had wrenched himself free from Kaori's slackened grasp, and swam underwater for as long as he could hold his breath for. Finally, when it felt as though his lungs would burst if he stayed under one second longer, he took the risk and swam up to the surface. There were no witnesses, and so he had swam further up, forcing himself to continue even when his arms grew weary, until he had found ground low enough to climb up to. From there, he had run out of the city before he could be spotted, and took the next bus to his hometown.
And during all of this, he had never once stopped to change out of his wet clothes.
Sakaki let out a small sneeze, thinking, Mother's going to get on my case about this. But better to let her think I dunked myself in a river thanks to another one of my wacky antics than for her to realize I just attempted to destroy a village, I suppose.
His house grew further in sight, and Sakaki felt a strong feeling of nostalgia. This was the place where he had grown up, the place where he had once viewed the world as a happy, bright place to live in…where monsters were only fictional creatures created to keep him from wandering out alone into the woods…where true love ended happily ever after…
Sakaki walked up the stone steps and knocked on the door lightly. If his time estimation were correct, the child should be down for a nap right about now. Or perhaps that had changed, and he hadn't been around to notice it, because of her.
The very name itself made Sakaki clench his fists in rage. She had murdered his fiancée, Mieko Shinju, in cold blood and had expressed no guilt over it. She herself had said she wanted to be murdered for her actions.
So why couldn't he do it?
While Sakaki was contemplating this, the door opened. His mother gasped, "Junichi! What have you been doing? You're soaked to the bone! Come in, come in, before you get pneumonia."
"Mother, I'm fine," muttered Sakaki as he stepped through the doorway. Of course, "Shunichirou Sakaki" was an alias he had used for the past two years, forsaking his real name, Junichi Mukata. Right now, this was coming into a practical usage: So that his crimes could not be traced back to him; only to "Sakaki".
Sakaki's mother closed the door behind him. She used the dish towel she was holding to thoroughly dry off his face. "Mmph—mother—"
"Before you do anything else," said his mother, "go change into dryer clothes, even if it's your pyjamas. I don't want Sora to become an orphan."
"Speaking of which," said Sakaki just as his mother had finished drying him off, "how is he?"
"Sora has been sick with a stomach bug since this morning," said his mother. To Sakaki's displeasure, she then proceeded to dry him off behind his ears, ignoring his protests. "I took him to the doctor. He said it was nothing serious, and to just let him rest and give him plenty of fluids, which I have been doing. He fell asleep a few hours ago. He might be up around now. You can see him after you've changed."
"You can't die just from getting wet," muttered Sakaki. He had only begun to take a few steps forward before he heard his mother say the inevitable: "That's what your father said!"
Sakaki let out a sigh and walked to his bedroom. Even in the months leading up to him going to university, his mother had insisted on babying him, such as making him breakfast every morning in spite of his protests that he could make something quick himself, or just pick something up to eat. Then again, given that his cooking skills weren't really at their best, perhaps it was for the best that he had someone else prepare his meals for him. Mieko had been the one to teach him how to cook properly for himself. If it hadn't been for Mieko, he probably would've either starved to death, or succumbed to food poisoning.
If it hadn't been for Mieko…Sora would've never been born.
Sakaki opened the door and closed it behind him. He walked over to the dressers to pick out what to wear. As he did so, he did some further reflection on Mieko, and on Sora. Sora had not been planned. He had been the result of a passionate night between Sakaki and Mieko, a night where the condom that he had always, always been extra careful with accidentally broke, a fact that neither had noticed until it was too late. In spite of his assurance that it was just the one time and that nothing would come out of it, he would eventually be proven wrong when he paid Mieko a surprise visit at her apartment three weeks later, only to find her crying in the bathroom with three positive pregnancy tests lying on the counter.
Pyjamas…yes, his limbs were weary from swimming for miles, and then walking for hours. He might as well turn in for the night. Sakaki laid out his pyjamas and began to peel off his wet clothes, continuing to think about his reaction to the news at the time. He could only apologize over and over, having never done so much apologizing in his life as he had to Mieko that day. Once again, he had tried soothing her with false assurance that maybe the tests were wrong; once again, this was struck down when they went to the doctor and had the news confirmed.
The couple had spent the rest of the day discussing what to do about the baby, and what to tell their parents. After some long, thought felt consideration, they had agreed to have the baby and raise it together. They would wait until Mieko was in her second trimester before telling anyone, just in case something went wrong. The next two months that followed had been filled with hormonal mood swings, morning sickness in the middle of lectures, and anxiety.
On the day Mieko had begun to grow a very small bump, and on the day the doctor had said everything was going just as it should, the two had called up Mieko's parents, and Sakaki's mother, and invited them over for dinner where they broke the news. It had gone over surprisingly well, at least for the mothers'; Mieko's father had looked like he wanted to murder him. Her mother had given Mieko a hug, and his mother had burst into tears. Afterwards, things went surprisingly smoothly. Their professors were understanding of their situation, and had offered their support. He began to bring in more income from his job, and was confident nothing would go wrong now.
Ah…the warm, fuzzy pyjamas felt so comforting already. Sakaki rolled up a sleeve to look down at the injury on his arm. If his mother were to see it and ask about it, he would claim he injured himself cooking, which would be a believable enough excuse.
It had been during Mieko's fifth month that she came up with a name for the baby:
"Sora? Why Sora?"
She had smiled. "Because one of my favourite memories is when we confessed our love to each other for the first time under a beautiful evening sky. We can give the name to a boy or a girl."
Secretly, he had hoped it would be a boy. He was certain he would understand a boy better than a girl. He had thought that if he ever became a father only once, he'd rather have a son.
When he told Mieko this, she had told him that she was certain he would love the baby no matter what they turned out to be.
Sakaki realized just how tired he felt, and decided to sit on the bed for a moment before going to see Sora. He sat down, and continued to think about Mieko's pregnancy. Shortly after discussing the name, he had realized how much Mieko really meant to him. He had no doubt that he loved her, but as he sat with her that day and discussed baby names while they went shopping for tiny, tiny shoes fit for a doll's foot, he found himself able to envision a future of him, Mieko, and little Sora as a family. He could imagine the day when Mieko would burst into tears to have to send Sora off for his or her first day of school, when they would attend Sora's Three-Five-Seven ceremony together, sending Sora off to university, and growing old together with Mieko.
And besides, Mieko's father already despised him for soiling his little girl's innocence, so he might as well do the right thing.
These thoughts combined together were what pushed him to use what little money he had left to buy the cheapest yet most beautiful ring he could find, take Mieko for a walk through the forest (to the same cliff he had made his grand escape on, oh the irony), and propose to her. She had cried for nearly five minutes before choking out, "Yes!"
Yes, everything had seemed to go wonderfully. Sora arrived on March 26, 1979, safe, healthy, and beautiful. Their first few months of parenthood went by beautifully, and all too quickly. They had been certain that there was nothing that could go wrong for either of them.
Until one day when Mieko stopped contacting him and Sora. And then…and then…
Sakaki clenched his fist at the memory. Bastards…bastards…!
He unclenched it as he thought with a sigh about what a terrible father he had been. Even he had to admit it to himself. Mieko's death had left him dead inside, and as such, he could barely get up to the sound of Sora's cries as they reminded him too much of the memories of him and Mieko getting up together.
He had only ever gotten up for Sora a few times, thinking about how his image of a perfect family had been destroyed, and how he could never be happy again after this. Eventually, he fell on alcohol to cope. If it hadn't been for his mother dropping by for a surprise visit when Sora was seven months old, what would have become of him? Sakaki preferred not to think about that.
At the time, he had felt relieved for his mother to walk in on him passed out drunk while Sora wailed and wailed for someone to feed him, for her to gain full custody of Sora and raise him herself. Soon, however, he began to ache for those old days of him, Mieko, and Sora. Part of him wanted to make amends and try again at raising Sora, yet another part cried for vengeance.
The longer Sakaki lay on the bed, the more he began to think about his failed revenge, and the more foolish he felt for all the mistakes he had made. What had come over him when he didn't kill Kasai? Why hadn't he guarded the control panel—oh right, because he had realized his mistake of not killing Kasai too late; pursuit had been inevitable. But even so, why hadn't he at least destroyed the panel?
And most importantly, why. Couldn't. He. Just. Shoot?
"I'm such an idiot," groaned Sakaki, rolling over on his side. Had his desire for revenge blinded him into overlooking such obvious details? Did a ball fall out of the sky and hit him over the head when he wasn't looking?
Or was he getting soft?
He couldn't think like that.
Not when he had gone so far and yet missed so much.
Well…now what? In spite of his momentary stupidity, Sakaki was smart enough to know that it would be suicide to go back. They'd probably be scouring the river for his body right now. If he were to show up now, or within the next few weeks, they'd have him arrested on the spot.
And if he were to wait for a certain period of time before going back…who was he kidding? They'd remember his face and realize how they had been duped into thinking he was dead.
This left him with the option of staying here, lying low, and trying to reconcile with Sora. But how could he just go on when he had failed so badly? He only had half of his reason for being alive right here in this house. As long as he couldn't obtain the other half, then what use was it all?
Revenge for Mieko? Or fatherhood for Sora? Sakaki thought.
…. ….why not both?
The small voice in the back of his head went off like a light bulb. Of course! Why hadn't he thought of that before? Why not raise Sora to hate the Kushinadas and all they stood for? When he was old enough—perhaps around fifteen or so—Sora could be sent to live with them, and then lure them right into the palm of Sakaki's hand.
And who would ever suspect the relation between them?
Sakaki laughed over the brilliance of his plan, then got up. First, he'd have to convince his mother that he was off the bottle for good and thus, he was fit to raise Sora himself. But for now, he'd continue to live here and help her raise Sora, then bring up the question. Just as long as he avoided falling back onto old habits, it was sure to work.
"Might as well check on Sora," muttered Sakaki as he left the bedroom. If his memory served him well from the last time he had been here, Sora's bedroom was Sakaki's old childhood bedroom.
He walked over to the halfway-open door and peered inside. Sure enough, there was little Sora curled up under the blankets of the futon, snoring softly, his black hair sweaty and tangled. Next to him lay a small bowl of half-eaten rice and a glass of water.
With a smile, Sakaki walked over and bent down. He lightly brushed his son's cheek with one finger. "Sora…"
Sora stirred, and began to open his eyes. His mother's eyes….
Sakaki lay down on the futon next to Sora and said gently, "Yes, daddy's here."
Sora blinked. "For good?"
"We'll see," said Sakaki. He smiled, but Sora did not return the smile. He could tell something was troubling him, and not just being sick earlier that day. "Is something on your mind, Sora?"
"Daddy," said Sora, "all the other kids at daycare have their mommies come pick them up. How come I don't have a mommy?"
Sakaki held Sora close. He tilted his head downwards to look into his son's bright, brown eyes. "When you were just a baby," he said, "a bad person took your mommy away from you. That made me very, very sad. And now that bad person is making you feel sad, too. If your mommy were here right now, she would be reading you a bedtime story, or giving you a glass of warm milk. She would be here to watch you grow up from the young boy you are now into the man you will become." He closed his eyes. "But now she's gone."
He felt Sora snuggle against his chest. "I don't like that person," he said.
Sakaki opened his eyes. "Neither does daddy," he said. "In fact, I hate people like that—people who take away the ones you love. You should hate that person, too. Promise me that when you are older you will get back at that bad person for taking away your mommy."
"How will I know when, daddy?" asked Sora. He yawned and rubbed his eyes with one hand. Seeing that his son was getting tired, Sakaki decided to be brief: "I will tell you when the day comes. For now, promise me that on that day, you will go after the bad person and make them pay for how they hurt us."
Before drifting off to sleep, Sora mumbled: