Introduction: This was written for Father's Day (at least in Taiwan), and I wanted to write a story featuring Natsume's biological parents, but especially his father, who was, as we are aware, a single dad struggling to raise a child. We all know what happens to Natsume's biological parents of course, and so there should be no surprise. However, I was curious about the whys, and hows, so this is a purely fictional exploration of the possibilities. Meet Tachibana Makoto, and Natsume Chiasa: Natsume Takashi's parents.


Takashi

He almost didn't see her, weaving through the busy street on his way to work. But his eyes caught something—a glint of light, a flash of color, and in that moment he had turned his head.

There was no strike of lightning, no instant recognition between destined life mates. Tachibana Makoto had instead been forced to look away to avoid an unruly man on a unicycle. The moment he realized that he had seen someone and turned back, she was already gone.

It wouldn't be until a month later, when he, sitting behind the counter drying glass cups, would see her step into the okonomiyaki shop where he had been working part-time. He would ask for her order, ever so politely, and she with a gentle smile, would ask for the seafood mix, as large as you could make them please. When he expressed skepticism that she could finish such a big meal, she would huff and go on to prove him wrong.

From then on they would see each other regularly, about once a week. He would feel at home with her in a way he never had with anyone else. Gradually once a week became twice a week, and then every other day, until finally the thought of not being able to see her for even one day became too unbearable for him to even contemplate.

They made plans to marry, and when Tachibana Makoto finally gathered enough courage to ask, she had already answered yes. They would laugh for many hours together, talking about the future, about the house they would buy, the children they would have. She would speak passionately of a garden of her own, her eyes shining in a way that gathered him up and sent him floating. He thought then that surely he was the luckiest man in the world.

Neither of them would ever remember that they had already met before, that fateful day on a busy street. But then, they didn't need to. It was not the first meeting that was important after all, but the first memory.


On a warm Saturday afternoon, when the birds of spring were still shy and unsure of their welcome, Natsume Chiasa witnessed the man she loved give up everything for her.

She listened to their arguments outside of the living room, the thin, glass-paned door shaking and rattling every time Makoto-san stated something especially forcefully.

"You have Katsuo to continue the family name. You don't need me!"

"And so you'll give up your name for a woman who never even knew her own mother? Do you know what they even say about that woman? Natsume Reiko—"

"Yes, and what does that have to do with anything?"

"You're leaving the family by doing this!"

"How? The only way that would happen would be if you wouldn't let me return."

"Don't place the blame on your family, Makoto. Makoto!"

The door would abruptly burst open, and Makoto-san, Makoto-san would be standing there, framed by the afternoon sun, looking furious. But the flashing eyes and storm-cloud demeanor would soften the moment he looked upon her, and once more the gentle smile would emerge.

"You do not need to take my name, Makoto-san," she said softly.

"Don't you start. I've already decided. You need your name more than I need mine."

And then he kissed her forehead, and she would feel herself led gently through the main doors of the Tachibana family house, from where without ceremony, without fanfare, she would never be allowed to return.

She did not mind this however, for shortly after, in a quiet ceremony with just the two of them, Natsume Chiasa and her husband would marry.

From then on, Makoto-san was Natsume Makoto.


They found out that Chiasa was pregnant in mid-autumn, when the leaves were already scattered on the earth, and early-morning frost would greet them in an unusual show of lacy white. Makoto spent much of that winter nursing his wife with grapefruit juice and searching the aisles of the local supermarket to sate her cravings.

"Makoto-san, I have this strange need to eat manju today," she said, as Makoto was putting on his coat to go to work. "Could you bring some home tonight for dinner?"

"Again?" Makoto said, laughing at Chiasa's contrite expression. "Our baby has a sweet tooth."

"Better sweet than bitter," she would say, half singing while she wiped the table clean. And then she would rub her belly, from where inside, she could feel small signs of movement. "Our baby is finally awake, lazy, lazy."

Smiling, Makoto would kneel down, and place a hand on her belly as well.

"I can't wait to meet our baby."

Chiasa would hold her own hand over Makoto's and the two of them would share a quiet moment of contemplation. A moment that, like so many other times, would need no words or images to convey to each other their deepest thoughts and feelings.

"I'm sure the baby can't wait to meet us either."


A few months before the baby was due, they bought a house, a house barely big enough for the two of them. Yet it was nestled in a hill with a tunnel of greenery that seemed to isolate it from the rest of the world. The house had captured Chiasa's heart, and though they had visited many other far more suitable houses, Makoto would not be able to say her nay. For many weeks after, Chiasa would be seen outside, digging into the earth and singing, trimming the trees along the path to their house.

Late night visits to the supermarket slowly transformed into late night foot massages and backrubs, as Chiasa, her belly large and unwieldy, would only be able to lie down on her side. The two of them would discuss possible baby names, with Chiasa sure that the child would be a son, while Makoto secretly hoped for a daughter.

They did not dream that there would be any complications with the labor. Chiasa's pregnancy after all, had been routine and healthy. On the night of June 30th, Chiasa would be admitted into the hospital, well dilated and though in pain, quite calm. While Makoto waited outside the delivery room pacing back and forth, he would later wonder if things could have been different if he had been allowed to be by his wife's side.

Instead, in the early hours of the morning, he heard the thin cry of a baby, the sudden shouts of panicking doctors and nurses, while a rush of pumps and odd machinery were sent into the delivery room. And then suddenly, with only the still-thin wail of the baby to accompany the endless flat tone that meant a stilled heart, a doctor, shaking a face dark with regret and pity, would leave the delivery room to inform Makoto what had happened.

Though Makoto would spend hours demanding an explanation, nothing would be satisfactory. One moment Chiasa had been healthy. The next moment, she had experienced a sudden loss of blood. An internal rip that the doctors had been too late to detect, a death that had come unexpectedly, and all too sudden.

Only later when he held his son, named Takashi for what he had meant to the both of them, would Makoto realize that Chiasa had never even gotten the chance to see her son.

"I'll make enough memories with Takashi for the both of us, Chiasa," he vowed.

Then, as the sun was shining to commemorate Takashi's first day of life, Makoto would hold his son tightly against his chest, and weep.


Though Makoto would never stop grieving for his wife, that he managed to recover at all would surprise everyone who knew him, including himself. The early weeks spent with his son were a haze of exhaustion, as Makoto became slave to the crying demands of a voracious appetite, dirty diapers, and a senseless wailing that woke him up at all hours, that never seemed to rest.

When Takashi smiled for the first time, it was as if those early weeks had never happened, and Makoto felt himself born anew.

"Takashi," he would say, while his son laid on a blanket on the tatami floor, arms and legs waving up at the ceiling tirelessly, "you should always smile, Takashi. You transform the world with your smile."

Takashi, as always, would coo at his father's words, though he was certainly too young to know what any of it meant. Nevertheless, it was as if somehow Makoto's feelings had managed to reach his son, even if the exact words could not be understood. From then on, Takashi smiled daily, constantly, until slowly those smiles changed to giggles, and from giggles to laughter.

He laughed at the smallest things: the sound of ripping paper, any odd noise that Makoto managed to make, the floating arc of a thrown ball…

… The butterflies that would fly from flower to flower, over a garden that had suddenly sprung up out of nowhere.

"Your mother planted this garden for us, Takashi," Makoto would whisper while swallowing back tears, speaking quietly above the tiny head nestled against his chest. Takashi had Makoto's hair, and a face shaped like Chiasa's, but his eyes—they were not eyes Makoto had ever seen before. Bright and golden, the pupils were small and narrow, like a cat's. And sometimes, when Makoto was busy preparing food for the both of them, he would notice Takashi follow something in the air, as if those too-bright eyes were seeing something only he could see.

Sometimes Takashi would giggle. At other times Takashi would start to wail, and Makoto would swoop in to pick up his son and hold him until the wailing ceased.

Makoto did not understand what his son was reacting to, nor did he see what his son saw. But he didn't need to.

Keeping Takashi safe, even from the unknowable, was most important.


Takashi's first word was, "Tou," for father.

"Tou tou tou," he would say, waving his arms and asking to be picked up. That he could not yet crawl, but was already speaking, had amazed Makoto, making him swell with paternal pride. Never mind the fact that Takashi was a bit slow in developing the latter—Makoto was sure that it would happen eventually.

"It's 'Otou-san,'" Makoto corrected gently, even as he lifted his son up and nuzzled his forehead. "Otou-san," he would whisper again, stroking his son's hair.

"Tou," Takashi said, looking solemn, the bending of his eyebrows and the puffing of his cheeks indicating a personality that Makoto was sure was a more than a hint of stubbornness. His mother's stubbornness. "Tou tou tou tou tou."

Makoto would laugh, then hold his son even closer, until Takashi's bright eyes would look up at him, his baby mouth curved into a sweet smile.

"All right. You win," he would say. "You know I can't beat that smile of yours."

"Tou," Takashi said happily.

"Now, if only you'll learn to crawl. The doctor is getting worried," he added, blowing gently on Takashi's face to make him giggle.

"Ababa pbbbbbbbbbbbt," Takashi said, drool rolling down his chin.

Makoto laughed, taking the ever ready handkerchief he had in his pocket to wipe Takashi's face. His son closed his eyes tightly, turning his head away and made a noise of displeasure.

"Messy baby," he scolded gently.

A few weeks later, Takashi would finally learn to crawl. Another month, and he would learn to stand, turning Makoto's life into a world of frantic searches and failed attempts to close off the kitchen and yard from his ever curious, wayward son.

"Tou tou tou tou," Takashi would say happily, never minding that he would always get caught.

"You're turning me older before my time," Makoto would say, giving his son a mock glare that Takashi never took seriously. "Don't frighten your father."

"Mmbaa."

"That is not a word."

It would not be another week until Takashi would learn to say his second word.

"Kaa."

Blinking back tears, it would be all Makoto could do to not cry in front of his son.

"Yes," he would say, holding his son tightly, which Takashi did not care for, being far more curious about something outside, though Makoto saw nothing. "Mommy is watching over us both."


In the end of June, when once again Chiasa's flowers grew like magic from the earth, turning the yard into a cacophony of color and life, Makoto would find his one year allowance for grief and paternity leave at an end. Though reluctant to leave his son, he knew that to not do so would be far more disastrous. He parted his son with more than a few reservations, leaving him with an old granny who lived close by.

"Say goodbye to your daddy now," she would say, a fact that Makoto would note with displeasure. Takashi had been happy and distracted before, playing with the dusty wooden blocks the old woman had managed to unearth from somewhere. Now he looked at his father with large, golden eyes, distress lowering his eyebrows and turning the corners of his lips down.

Takashi whimpered, and Makoto suddenly felt the urge to grab his son and run. He did not need to work, not really. They would find another way somehow.

But reality dropped back down, and rationality returned.

"Good bye, Takashi. Be good with granny."

"No."

"You will have lots of fun with granny," granny would say.

Takashi looked far from convinced.

Takashi managed to remain baby-ishly stoic, until Makoto finally reached the gate. Then Takashi burst into tears, tears that turned Makoto straight around, instinctively running back to pick up and comfort his son.

Then granny swooped in to pick Takashi up and take him into her house, closing her door firmly in Makoto's face. Reading the message in this action, Makoto would go reluctantly away and perform his other duty as father.

Work would torment him, with too many sympathetic coworkers—some sincere, some out of politeness—all asking him about how he was feeling, how he was managing being a single father with a small child.

"I'm doing fine. We're doing fine."

But it was finally one question that would finally make him bristle, that would break his façade of politeness and make him snap.

"Have you considered remarrying?"

Coldly, icily, he would reply, sending the offending coworker—a foolish man known for his lack of tact—scurrying backwards.

"Nobody can replace Chiasa."

The workplace soon turned silent after that, and Makoto would return to the papers he had to read with vindictive satisfaction, all the while watching the ticking of the clock, which seemed to take an eternity before indicating the end of the day.

Makoto would say only the briefest of farewells to his coworkers and boss before he was out of the office, running down the street to the old granny's house. All that would matter would be the sight of his son, for this was the longest time father and son had ever been apart.

Reaching the house out of breath and with a stitch in his side, Makoto would realize with sudden anxiety that Takashi was nowhere to be seen. Of course, the old woman probably had the child inside, where she could keep an eye on him. After all, Makoto himself had warned her of his son's propensity to wander, an amazing feat considering that Takashi could only toddle while holding onto furniture. When he went up to the front door and put his ear close, he heard the faint sound of giggles. Immediately he relaxed. Then felt a twinge of jealousy.

He knocked on the door.

The giggles abruptly stopped. He could hear light, slow steps.

When the door opens, granny's smiling face emerged from behind the door, but it was Takashi who unthinkingly crawled to the edge of the entranceway, a fact that nearly made Makoto panic. The old woman however, remained unconcerned with Takashi's dangerous behavior.

"Oh my, it's Tachibana-san. Takashi-kun, look. Your daddy's here to pick you up."

"Tou-chan!" Takashi held out his hands, silently imploring to be picked up. Makoto obliged readily, and Takashi immediately buried his face into Makoto's chest, rubbing his tiny face against Makoto. Immediately all jealousy would disappear, while Makoto welcomed his son with back rubs and pats. Takashi was still his son. Still his.

"He was such a good boy today," granny said, smiling indulgently. "Maybe Takashi will tell you what he did today."

"Thank you, Sugimoto-san," Makoto said, bowing. "I will be bothering you from now on, it seems."

"Not to worry, not to worry. You need to work to raise your son, no? And I am a lonely old woman. I can use the excitement. Bring Takashi-kun over any time."

Briefly, she raised her hand to attempt to pat Takashi on the head, who only buried his face deeper into Makoto.

"Thank you," Makoto said, bowing again.

With music in his heart and a light in his steps, Makoto would take Takashi home, where they would spend the rest of the evening eating together, playing with the toy blocks Takashi loved best, and finally end with a long cuddle beneath the blankets at night.

It would take many weeks before the both of them became used to this change in their original routine. There would be many more tears, and, much to Makoto's horror, screaming tantrums. But it was all soon resolved, with granny bearing the brunt of Takashi's attempts at rebellion with well-practiced grace. And the day Takashi waved good bye to Makoto from granny's house with nary a tear to be seen, Makoto would feel another twinge.

His son was growing up.


On the arrival of Takashi's second autumn, Takashi would be sitting happily in his father's lap, waiting eagerly while Makoto slowly peeled the first Satsuma of the season. It was then, when the leaves of the maple had flushed red, that Makoto would realize that it had been a year and a half since Chiasa had passed away. Two years ago, he and Chiasa had sat around the same table, wondering what their child would look like. Now their son was here.

"Daddy, orange!"

"Sorry, sorry," Makoto would say, popping the first small piece directly into Takashi's mouth. When Takashi finished chewing and swallowing, Makoto would look down at his son, wiping away the bit of juice that had dribbled down his chin. "Was it good?"

"More."

Laughing, Makoto would give his son the rest, though Takashi would occasionally pause to hand his father a piece, and act that Makoto found adorable. It was Chiasa's generosity shining through. Chiasa, who lived on through Takashi.

It was when Takashi was devouring the last piece that the phone would ring, a rare thing, since Makoto socialized with no one and rarely went out. Leaving his son to play on his own, Makoto would go to answer the call, only to be greeted by an all too familiar voice.

His brother.

"Makoto? This is Makoto, isn't it?"

"Katsuo," Makoto would say, his voice barely passing for politeness.

"Ah, good. I did find you. Listen, you, you need to come back home."

"Why?"

"Mother's dying."

When Makoto fell silent, Katsuo would continue, as if Makoto's silence was permission to continue.

"She was diagnosed with cancer a few weeks ago, Makoto. The doctors say she doesn't have more than a week to live. She wants to see you. You need to come, Makoto. Bring your wife if you must."

"Chiasa's dead."

This time, it was Katsuo who would fall silent.

"I'm sorry, Makoto. You know right? You know that I wasn't really against you marrying her…"

"But you did nothing to speak up for me."

"Listen, mother's dying! This isn't the time to bring up old grievances."

"Chiasa died over a year ago," Makoto would say, gritting his teeth. "And left me a son. He's only one."

"Bring him anyway. Come on, Makoto. Let's let bygones be bygones. Let's be a family again."

"Because Chiasa's gone."

"No! Because you're my brother, dammit. Do you always have to be so stubborn? And I'm sure mother would love to know that she has a grandson."

"I won't talk to father."

"You won't have to. Just… come."

Makoto would eventually ask for the hospital address, ending the phone call he had never wanted to receive. He would then return to Takashi, who had not understood the conversation, but knew enough to know that his father was upset. And Takashi, as was his nature, would crawl into his father's lap, attempting in his own tiny way to alleviate Makoto's discomfort.

"Ah, Takashi, we're going to go on a trip soon."

"A trip?" Takashi would say, brightening. "Ride train?"

Laughing, Makoto would hold his son tightly, while Takashi wriggled and squealed and struggled to escape his father's grip.

"Yes."

But it was not a trip Makoto would be looking forward to.


It was the first half of the trip that would be enjoyable, with Takashi pressing his face tightly against the window, watching trees and mountains pass by at a steady pace until greenery turned into the uniform grey of the city, gasping as they entered dimly lit tunnels. Makoto took delight in Takashi's delight, and ignored the looks of the other passengers, the conversations young women would attempt to strike up with him. He used Takashi to keep his mind off what was to come, the memories of another hospital visit that had gone horribly, horrifically wrong.

"But I have you now," he would whisper, too softly for Takashi to hear.

They would leave the station, a crowded area so full of people that Takashi, used to the isolated splendor of their house, would find it alarming. Makoto, with one hand carrying Takashi, and the other dragging a heavy bag half filled with Takashi's things, would make their way slowly to the hospital. Occasionally Takashi, much to Makoto's annoyance, would garner admiring looks from random passersby, commenting on Takashi's unusual hair and eyes. It was not long before Takashi's curiosity would be replaced with shyness, and when his son hid his face in Makoto's chest, Makoto would feel both a sense of relief and pleasure.

The hospital staff eventually directed Makoto to the room where his mother was staying, the silence of the cancer ward reassuring Takashi enough to lift his head up and look around.

"Daddy, where are we?"

"In the hospital. We must be quiet."

Katsuo was waiting in the room when Makoto entered, immediately standing up to greet Makoto with an expression of both worry and relief. There was another in the room also, but Makoto would not be ready to greet that person. Not yet.

"Good, you're finally here. And ah…" Katsuo would fall silent, studying Takashi's face, while Takashi looked around the room with uncharacteristic alarm. "He looks like you."

"Takashi has Chiasa's face," Makoto would insist, tightening his grip on Takashi, who was starting to move more and more erratically.

"Takashi-kun is it? Hello, Takashi-kun."

But Takashi did not greet him. He was holding Makoto tighter than ever, a fact that Makoto was noticing with growing concern. But then his attention would soon be preoccupied, because the other person had come over.

"Father."

"So you've come back."

"Only to pay my respects to mother."

"You're going to insist on this foolishness?"

"My name is still Natsume Makoto, father."

His father's lips thinned, and he looked like he would like to say more, until Takashi chose, at that moment to scream.

"Takashi!" Makoto would exclaim, holding his son against him. "What's wrong, Takashi?"

Wriggling and writhing, Takashi continued to scream, his screams occasionally interrupted by terrified sobs.

"M-monster! Monster! Monster! Daddy, monster!"

"Monster? What monster?" Makoto would ask, looking around the room to try to see what Takashi was seeing. But he saw nothing, only his mother, pale and thinner than ever, too sick to be awakened by the noise Takashi was making, and Katsuo standing next to his father, both their faces pale, his father's eyes flashing with anger.

"Monster, daddy. Monster!"

"Is that brat calling me a monster?" his father would demand. "Is that it?"

Takashi had gone back to screaming, and Makoto was too concerned at this point to care what his father thought.

"Takashi, what's wrong? Takashi!"

"Monster!" Takashi would continue to say, between hysterical sobs and insistently tugging at Makoto's shirt.

"Get out of here," Makoto's father would finally roar, his hand pointing to the door. "Get yourself and your brat out of here, and never come back!"

Makoto would leave, grabbing his bag and going, rushing down the hallway while nurses and doctors stared. He did not care that this was the final, permanent rift between himself and his family, nor did he know that he would never see them again. All that mattered was Takashi, who had dropped from his hysterical cries to slow and steady whimpers. It would not be until they were outside that Takashi would finally calm down, his tiny body trembling from the aftermath of fear. Softly, quietly, he would lower his son down, so that the two of them could speak properly face to face.

"What did you see, Takashi? What monster did you see?"

"Big and black. Eating."

"Eating? Eating what?"

"Lady."

A chill would go down Makoto's spine, and for the first time he would look at his son and wonder just what it was his son could see.

And if he, Makoto, would be able to protect his son from them.


On a rare day when Makoto found himself with enough time and energy to cook a homemade meal, he would leave Takashi alone with a box of oil pastels and several sheets of paper, which he was presumably coloring. It had therefore been a shock when Makoto looked down and saw Takashi next to his feet instead, studiously drawing a train and railroad tracks on the floor and up the cabinet.

Swallowing down words of anger, Makoto would squat down next to where Takashi remained intensely drawing, in such deep concentration that he never noticed his father.

"Takashi, what are you doing?"

"Drawing," Takashi would say absently, carefully coloring in his train with a light blue oil pastel.

"What is that?"

"Train."

"Is anybody in the train?"

"Daddy and Takashi."

"Oh." It was an answer that would peak Makoto's interest, and he slowly let go of his anger. The drawing was, after all, easily washable. "Where are we going?"

"Going where mommy is."

It was then that Makoto would realize that the pain of losing Chiasa was still there, still fresh. The next time he opened his mouth, it would be tears he was swallowing, not anger.

"And where is mommy, Takashi?" he would ask softly.

"Tengoku," Takashi would answer, clearly not understanding its significance. It was just a name to him, a place somewhere far away. "We'll go there and bring her back." When Takashi looked up, it would be with a smile. "Then daddy won't be sad anymore."

Hugging Takashi close, Makoto would silently vow to never erase the picture.

He would soon discover however, that his son had drawn many more pictures around the house, in places that were not so easy to clean. Smiling ruefully at his son's drawings, some of which were incredibly good for a child nearly three, he would shake his head, but the ones on the tatami, in spite of Takashi's childish protests, would eventually be cleaned.

It was a calm lecture and a cuddle with one very remorseful son later that Makoto would, while searching the house for more secret drawings, realize one thing.

Only the place around Chiasa's shrine remained untouched.


Once again, Chiasa's flowers bloomed, signaling the arrival of Takashi's third birthday, a quiet celebration with just the two of them, which Makoto preferred best. Granny had recently started hinting that Takashi might need to start interacting with other children his age, but Makoto was not ready. Instead, after the birthday cake was cut and the presents happily opened, the two would resume their usual perch at the doors that led to Chiasa's garden, admiring the rainbow of blossoms and shapes. Takashi would, as always, happily raise his hands to the butterflies, while Makoto would watch the flowers, feeling that, somehow, in some way, Chiasa was watching them from the flowers, and laughing with them.

"Takashi," Makoto would say gently, patting his son's head. "Takashi, look."

Takashi, pausing mid-laugh, would look up at his father, bright-eyed and curious.

"These are the flowers mommy planted, Takashi. She wanted to surprise us, so she secretly sowed the seeds, just for us, Takashi." Once again, he patted his son's head, and Takashi, in spite of the summer heat, would cuddle back against his father, and Makoto wished that this moment could last forever.

"She did it just for us."


There was nothing unusual in the air the evening Makoto was returning home, after spending two hours working overtime. The sun had set hours before, and he walked silently, knowing that by now Takashi was probably missing him terribly and would be demanding a number of cuddles later. The thought made him pause, a mixture of both anticipation and guilt, while Makoto debated the idea of buying a treat for Takashi on the way home. There was a convenience store nearby, not directly on the way to granny's house, but it would not take long.

Eventually, Makoto would walk to the convenience store, buying two packed meals for himself and Takashi, then a small pack of dumplings, stuffed with red bean paste. He would leave the store, his only thought the image of the delight on Takashi's face when Makoto finally arrived to pick him up.

He would never see the shadow that began following him after he left the store, moving between shadows, boldly coming under light, but Makoto could not see, could not see the moment it finally closed in.

His last thought was how happy Takashi would be to eat his treat.


Conclusion: There are a lot of things about this style of writing that I have to say made for a very difficult, exhausting writing process. Obviously, these are short snapshots of the four years of Tachibana Makoto's life that led up to his eventual death. Emotionally, it was also very taxing, because I grew attached to the fictional parents I created, and it hurt to know that neither of them would live long. Perhaps that is why we know so little about them in canon.

I chose the name Tachibana for Natsume's father because a Tachibana-san had been in charge of taking care of Takashi's affairs. Wouldn't it be interesting if they were in fact Takashi's closest relatives? Yet Takashi did not grow up calling him uncle, and I set out to create a scenario that would make this possible. Families breaking by choice, and breaking unexpectedly.

Both of Natsume's parents deaths came unexpectedly, and suddenly. I wrote that on purpose, because I wanted the impact of Makoto's death to be felt. At the end of this story, I contemplated a scene where Takashi would come back years later to say his farewells to his father, but decided against it. I've also implied that both parents' deaths were caused by the supernatural, and wanted to create an ironic situation where Makoto was attempting to protect his son from them, but in the end needing that protection the most.

In my research, I tried to make Takashi act and develop as a normal child would, with some quicker developments and oddities, but that still fell within the range of normal child development. Takashi obviously was cute as a child, but I also wanted to show that his ability to see had existed from the moment he was born.

Please note, in the end, that this piece does not fit in canon, and so if Midorikawa-sensei does eventually feature stories with Natsume's parents in it, she will likely contradict my version. I wrote this to celebrate Takashi's beginnings, and the man who had worked so hard to raise him before his untimely death.