Description: With the battle at the Aizawa-gumi offices finished, Tairyu and his sister finally have a chance to visit Sohei Aizawa's grave. The older brother, however, has doubts about the future and his ability to honor Aizawa's memory.
Not everyone might consider graveyards as 'beautiful', but there's no denying that there is a certain serene quality to it. Even in the first moments of winter, with the slight chill in the air and the sparse, faint particles of snowflakes hovering through the air.
The chill in the air isn't enough to keep incense from being burnt in the graveyard just outside of Southtown, at least. On a small stone pedestal lining the front of a large, ornate stone carved to mark the final resting place of a man since passed, two pieces of incense have been set, with faint smoke wafting up to the air.
The incense set there by the two siblings kneeled down in front of the gravestone, heads dipped low in a show of respect. The fifteen year old younger sister, in a dark-red hoodie and a thick, black skirt and tights with her dark hair held back in a ponytail holds her eyes closed and hands clasped together. While the older brother, in a black blazer jacket and a maroon dress shirt can't help but look up past his brows to the gravestone itself.
To the inscription telling the world that this is the final resting place of Sohei Aizawa. What the stone doesn't tell is that the man laid to rest here was a Yakuza Family Head, one of the final bastions of the Yakuza traditions in Southtown. Nor does it tell of Aizawa being the foster father to the two siblings who were pulled into a whirlwind of imprisonment and forced servitude within the depths of Southtown's underworld after his death, and have only now had the chance to come pay their respects -- and grieve.
Katashi Tairyu finds himself conflicted now.
Aizawa was the only parental figure he had in his life after his and Miku's mother died from complications with giving birth to the latter. And he was his Oyabun in Aizawa-gumi. And Katashi, in turn, was to be the heir to the Family. To keep the man's life work afloat once he was dead or too old to carry the weight. To keep the Yakuza Ideal Aizawa held in his heart alive, and to maintain a place the strays and the lost of Southtown could find a place to belong.
And now, with Aizawa gone, and the immediate chains of The Southside Syndicate broken, it should be time to take up that legacy.
And yet, he feels hesitant.
After Miku was taken captive and used as leverage to keep him playing under the tune of the puppet head installed by the Syndicate into Aizawa-gumi, to keep the Family from rebelling, he didn't feel right anymore. Energy and motivation lost in taking on fights under orders he would normally never follow. He didn't fight the way he used to. He didn't feel the fire of the dragon that was being inked on his back anymore.
He thought it was because he was scared for his sister. Scared for her being hurt if he didn't hold himself back.
But after he freed his sister, then why did he still not feel the fire? Bloodied in the Aizawa-gumi office, he had told Kain he didn't come there to die. That he'd come there to assure the survival and renewed ascension of his father's work.
But was that really the case?
Maybe he did go there to die. To let Aizawa-gumi crumble. So no one would ever have a reason to use Miku as leverage again. Maybe it would have been better that way.
The sound of scuffing legs and feet besides him break Katashi away from those thoughts. Miku's standing up, now, hand sweeping along the front of her skirt to clean the fabric off. His eyes drift over to her while he's still down on his kneeling posture, watching the girl. She looks so much better now, than when he'd first taken him away from her imprisonment. Cleaner. More energetic. If nothing else, Miku is a champion in bouncing back to normal.
And the way she was back then... Katashi doesn't want her to ever be like that again.
"Miku," he says, catching the girl's attention enough to look down at her brother, expectantly. "Let's get out of here."
The girl tilts her head slightly at that, before nodding. "Yeah. It's getting pretty late, isn't it?"
"I meant from this city." The correction draws up confusion from Miku, bemused eyes staring at her brother while she waits for an explanation to this outrageous suggestion. "I'm going to relinquish my crest. I'll... I don't know. Tell one of the lieutenants they are in charge of the family now. And we'll go somewhere we won't have to see any of this again."
Miku's expression is one of someone taken aback by all of this. It's not an explicit expression, but it is one of surprise, from hearing something she did not expect to hear. At first glance, it might even look... relieved?
"Is it because of me?" She asks in a quiet voice.
And he hesitates with his answer, a subtle sign of his own conflict with this decision. But even in spite of that, the answer is still easy enough.
"Yes." The word might sound pained, but it is decisive enough. "I don't want to risk you being hurt by someone who wants to get to me, again. You don't deserve that." He lets out a heavy sigh, tips his head back and peers off to the cloudy sky above, teeth briefly worrying at his lower lip. "It'll be better this way. We can find someplace we can start over, and live a normal li-"
A blow impacts against the side of his head before he can finish the words. The sensation is a familiar one, from having suffered countless numbers of them through his life. Knuckles slamming into his cheek and cheekbone, rattling his teeth. It's not exactly the strongest punch he's taken...
And yet, it hurts more than anything he has ever felt before.
The blow sends him reeling to the side, just his hand catching itself against the ground to help brace him stopping him from outright keeling over while he turns his gaze up to Miku, with her right hand held out in a tightly-clenched, shaking fist. Her expression isn't one of relief like he was expecting. It's one of anger.
"What are you even saying?" She asks in a low voice. "That you are just going to throw away the last thing you have left of Aizawa-san? Because you think it's going to keep me in danger?"
Katashi, then, turns himself over along the ground to bring himself facing his sister more fully. He might be a foot and half taller than her standing, but like this he needs to look up to meet her eyes. "...Yes," he answers, with some hesitation in his voice.
"I mean... I get it, it probably will, but, like..." Miku huffs out and crosses her arms while she stares down at her big brother. "... You're not the only one who looked up to Aizawa-san, you know? Just because you're the only one of us who went into the 'family business' doesn't mean I didn't think he was doing good things, and--"
"Still, Miku," Katashi interjects, as he starts pushing himself up from the ground. "Just because I want to keep my father's dream away doesn't mean you should--"
Another punch decks him in the face and sends him right back down onto the ground, leaving him staring in shock up at his sister.
"He was my father, too!"
There's a fire in her voice and eyes. He feels it. It's the same fire Aizawa had. The same fire he thought he had in himself before, too.
At least the anger dissipates enough that she doesn't try to punch him again. Instead, she sighs out, and steps over closer, lowering herself down to a crouch in front of the grounded Katashi. "...I want to honor his memory, too, you know? Just... for the time being I am in nowhere near as good position to do that as you are. So it's not fair for you to throw it to the winds *because of me*, is it?" After saying her piece, she turns to face the gravestone again, and plops herself down in a very unlady-like manner next to him.
Katashi underestimated her. All this time, he thought she should be given a much more normal life, away from everything he and Aizawa had gotten involved in. He'd thought she would resent the idea of continuing with the Family after she was used as leverage.
But he wasn't the only one who carried on the fire from Aizawa. And it's not like she wasn't privy to some of the details of the Family Business, either.
A long moment passes in silence between the two siblings, with her staring at the gravestone, and him staring at her.
"You're sure it's alright?" He eventually asks her.
She shrugs. "...I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little worried. But back then I kept up hope because I knew you'd come eventually. But if something like that happens again..." Her hand lifts up to leverage a light sideward jab against his shoulder. "Don't be such a snail again, okay? I bet a grandma would have gotten there faster than you."
"Ugh. It was way more complicated than you'd think, alright? But you know I'm going to try to make sure that doesn't happen again anyway. Put bodyguard detail on you."
"I get it. But wouldn't it be better if you teached me how to fight too?"
He sends a sidelong look to her, brows furrowing slightly. "I don't know if--"
"That's a good idea? That I can do it? Something like that? Come on, you don't get to decide that. Besides, I want to be able to pitch in with the Family Business eventually too, and then I *definitely* need to know how to defend myself."
"What did I just say? Don't decide that for me!"
"But it would be--"
Katashi finally relents with a groan, and snaps his eyes to the gravestone. "You've grown to be so goddamn stubborn, you know that?"
"Oh gee, Katashi-niisan, wonder where I could have picked that up?"
"I have no idea what you are implying."
"...We'll think about it, okay? But we're definitely not working you into it like I was worked into it. Maybe put you behind a desk."
"Don't make me handcuff you myself this time, you brat."
Miku sticks out his tongue for a second, before she finally pushes herself up to her feet with a bounce again. "Well, come on," she urges. "I bet your guys are getting bored of waiting at the car for their boss and his sister. You better treat them to some expensive and fancy dinners to make up for having to deal with such a pain in the butt!"
Katashi's eyes are sent into an incredulous roll, and he, too, lifts himself up standing. "Yeah, yeah..." But, just as she turns to walk away, he steps up towards their father's gravestone, instead.
"Hm?" She looks back over her shoulder, upon realizing she's not hearing his footsteps behind him. "Are you coming or what?"
"Yeah. Just a second..." He didn't really give a proper farewell in the middle of all his thoughts. Reaching out, he presses his hand up against the gravestone, just besides the inscription of Aizawa's name.
"Don't worry, old man," he whispers. "We're going to take care of things. We'll be okay. ... And thank you for everything."
In that instant, he could swear he feels a warmth spreading along that hand. The fire he felt in Aizawa while he was still alive. The fire he had worked so long to pass on to him. The hand closes, slowly, as if trying to grab onto it, and his knuckles rub briefly against the stone face before pulling away.
"All good?" Miku calls out.
"Yeah," he assures with a slow nod, as he turns after her. "Let's go."
And as he takes the first steps away from the grave, with Miku, he could feel the heat along his back, along the tattoo hidden underneath his clothing. It was a fire that was passed to both of the Tairyu siblings. The risk of her being in danger could never truly take it away. But he did need her back, to make sure it wouldn't be extinguished.
And from here, he would make it blaze brightly.
Log created on 06:50:54 12/02/2020 by Tairyu, and last modified on 07:07:16 12/02/2020.