AN: /avoids getting shot by sad kurofai fans
I know you're all sad and I am too :( it was pretty hard to write Fai's death. But there's only one more chapter left until the whole story is over! I can't believe so much time has passed :( be sure to read and review how you feel about this chapter!
The funeral was on a cloudy day.
Everyone in the town gathered, watching in sorrow as Fai's body was carried towards the shrine on silk, four men at each corner to keep it steady as they slowly walked. He was in the finest robes he had with a matching patch covering his eye. His hair was down, having been brushed out carefully and surrounding his head and shoulders. White flowers surrounded his body, and his hands were folding over his stomach.
Kurogane watched from the shrine as Fai was carried towards him, clad in his finest black robes. Hiroto stood a bit behind him, his head low so that he wouldn't have to see. Tomoyo stood in front of the doors to the shrine, her violet eyes watching somberly.
Once Fai's body was in front of her, Tomoyo began the ritual, lighting incense and saying prayers for Fai's soul to find rest. She then turned and opened the doors to the shrine. Kurogane carefully lifted Fai's body and carried him inside, and Tomoyo shut the doors behind her as Kurogane set Fai's body onto a stone slab, right in front of the cremation chamber where his skin and bones would be turned to ashes.
Tomoyo whispered a few more prayers and then stepped back, allowing Kurogane to kneel beside Fai. He brushed some hair out of Fai's face and saw a flower stuck in the strands, and decided to leave it there. He swallowed and carefully lifted Fai's head, untying the patch and removing it from Fai's eye.
"When his eyes are closed," Kurogane whispered quietly, and Tomoyo wasn't sure if he was talking to her or to himself. "You can't even tell that his eye is missing."
Kurogane stood up and leaned down, kissing Fai's left eye and then his forehead. He whispered something that Tomoyo could not hear, and then stepped back, helping her cover Fai's body with a white sheet. He looked away as Fai's body was pushed into the flames and closed his eyes.
"Goodbye, Fai," He whispered quietly.
Kurogane returned to his room alone, letting Hiroto accept the gifts of sympathy from the townspeople. He slid the door open and looked around, expecting to see Fai sitting in front of his beloved mirror, or lying on the futon, or lounging outside. But instead he saw emptiness with a heaviness that hung in the air like lingering music notes from a musical instrument that just stopped playing.
He sat down in front of Fai's mirror and looked at himself, then looked down at the brush Fai used every single day to comb out his hair, and at the wooden boxes Fai used to hold his hair ties and eye patches.
"You'd probably kill me if I threw these out, huh?" Kurogane asked the air. "Or annoy the hell out of me until I bought you new ones."
He blinked and looked down at the ground, holding Fai's hairbrush in his hands.
"Anytime I lost someone, you were there," He said very quietly. "So what am I supposed to do when I lose you? How do you expect me to deal with this loss when you're the one I lost?"
All Kurogane received was more heaviness in the air.
A year passed.
Kurogane, who was sitting on the deck and looking up at the cherry blossom tree, looked to his side, finding Hiroto. "What is it?" Kurogane asked as he sipped at his sake.
Hiroto sat down next to Kurogane, looking at the ground. "We were able to kill the demons without any casualties."
Kurogane nodded. "Good. You're getting strong, you know. You're probably even stronger than I am."
Hiroto looked at Kurogane in shock. "What? No, that's not true, father, I just—"
"I can't even go out to fight the demons anymore," Kurogane said quietly. He stood up slowly, his joints aching in protest, and went inside. Hiroto followed, watching as Kurogane picked up Ginryu from where it was resting against the wall. "Here, son. It's time you had it."
Hiroto took the sword, staring at it in awe. "But… Father, I…"
"Take good care of her," Kurogane said quietly as he punched Hiroto lightly on the arm. "Why don't you go show the new priestess that arrived?"
Hiroto's eyes widened and his face became flushed. "Sh-She wouldn't be interested."
Kurogane shrugged. "You never know. Priestesses and priests can be pretty deceiving." He waved his hand over his shoulder and opened the door. "Speaking of which, I have an idiot priest to visit.
A few more years went by.
Kurogane knelt in front of the stone, feeling his knees ache in protest, bowing his head a bit. Fai's ashes had been buried with the rest of the Suwa family, right beside Kurogane's mother. He stared at the name carved in the stone and swallowed.
"Hey, you—" He stopped and swallowed again. "It's already been seven years. Hiroto got married a couple of weeks ago to this new priestess that the capital sent. I'm sure you saw though. He looked like an idiot and he kept on stumbling over his words because he was so nervous. He must have gotten that from you."
He stopped and cleared his throat.
"I've been feeling tired," He said quietly. "I've passed Suwa on to Hiroto. I have nothing left to do now, and I think my time is up. I think I'd be thinking differently if you were still here, but… I think I've done all that I can without you. I suppose all I can do now is wait."
Kurogane took a deep breath through his nose. He could practically hear Fai's voice, chastising him for giving up.
"But what else can I do?" Kurogane asked quietly. "I can't fight anymore. Hell, it hurts to even move. Something wrong with my joints, I guess."
He felt a breeze pass by and shut his eyes, hearing Fai's sigh.
"People believe that souls always find each other, right?" Kurogane asked quietly. "I bet you're already reborn by now. You better not be doing anything idiotic. I wonder if you'll end up with that Ashura guy again. If I find out he did anything to hurt you, I'll kill him again, you hear me?" He took a deep breath. "And I'm sure you're with your brother again. Hopefully this time you won't be born in a place that hates twins."
He sighed, looking down.
"And I wonder if I'll be reborn in Nihon again," He said quietly. "I bet I will. Maybe a different Nihon, but still Nihon. And I wonder how we'll meet each other again."
He shut his eyes, hearing Fai's voice in his head, laughing and teasing Kurogane for being so sentimental.
"I know that we'll meet again," Kurogane said quietly. "You'll probably still be an idiot. Maybe even more of an idiot, if I'm not there to set you straight. Just don't do anything too stupid, alright? And don't get sick again."
Kurogane sighed and bowed his head again before standing up slowly.
"I have to go back before Hiroto starts looking for me," He said quietly. "That boy worries too much. If I'm gone when it gets dark out, he thinks I've gone off to fight a demon, but I'm not some stupid old man. I know my limits." He clenched his fists and nodded towards the stone. "Goodbye, for now. I'll see you soon."
A few weeks later, Hiroto found his father in his room, lying on his futon after peacefully passing away in his sleep.