Categories > Anime/Manga > Gravitation

End of Innocence

by Salmon 0 Reviews

Tatsuhacentric oneshot. A look at Tatsuha's life, relationship with his family, and the end of innocence. Rated for mature themes. R&R please!

Category: Gravitation - Rating: R - Genres: Angst,Drama - Characters: Tatsuha - Published: 2010/02/08 - Updated: 2010/02/09 - 3363 words - Complete

End of Innocence
A Gravitation Fanfic


I don't remember when I got dubbed "the good son". I remember I'd never complained as much about the temple duties as Eiri. But then, back when he still did them he was a teenager and I wasn't even ten yet. Give any eight year old a bucket of water and a ladle and tell them to go splash water on the ground and see how much of a complaint you get. Let alone feeding koi. It was all just fun and games to me back then.

Even after EIri left for America, and came back so different. I'd taken over his duties while he'd been away and he never took them back up so it wasn't as if I suddenly had to do everything. Though I found it strange that he'd sit and talk with me as I did them but never offer to help. The conversations weren't quite the same anymore either. And sometimes the things he said hurt. Once he made me cry by teasing me. I ran to my room. He never apologized, but he brought me dinner - staying to make sure I ate more than the rice. I guessed that was the new Eiri's way of saying he was sorry.

Sometimes he'd torment the temple duties, and ask me if I disliked doing them. All I'd ever say was - "Nah, I don't mind." I never said anything more. Even if he wasn't the same, he was still my big brother and I didn't want him to think badly of me. So I never told him I liked them. I liked watering the steps. I liked feeding the koi. I still loved the smell of sandalwood incense, even if I'd spent every day of my life smelling it. I never told him any of that.

And then he was gone. Off to Tokyo to hermit himself away in some fancy apartment he'd bought with the money from his first published book. A book he hadn't even told us he was publishing. Sure, I'd seen him writing, but Eiri had always written. He used to tell me great bedtime stories. B.A. - Before America.

And it seemed like suddenly overnight he was some famous author. And I was suddenly the temple heir. And suddenly it wasn't all fun and games anymore.


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Tatsuha, dressed in a lower secondary uniform, ran up the steps to the house. "Father, I'm home!" He shouted, kicking off his shoes and sliding on his slippers. Slinging his schoolcase over his shoulder, he entered the kitchen to rummage around in the fridge - pulling out a soda. He drank it down hastily as he made his way to his room, sliding open the door and tossing the schoolcase inside. Finished with the soda he dropped it into an overflowing wastebin as he slid the door shut.

"Hi, Sakuma-san, I'm home!" He glomped the poster of the Nittle Grasper singer on his wall. Peeling himself off he hastily began to change into his monks robes. "Guess what happened today? Eiko Rada asked if I was going to the winter dance! And she actually sounded disappointed when I told her I couldn't! But do you know what Niko said? He said she only asked me because I look like "The famous author Eiri Yuki" and she has a huge crush on him! Can you believe he actually said that? I think he's just jealous!"

He brushed his hair back as he pulled some prayer beads on before sitting down to pull on a pair of tabi socks. "I totally aced my history test, too. But I doubt I'll do so good on science next friday...oh! And Meiji's brother has a motorcycle! It's so cool-looking! And fast! He drove me home, but don't tell Dad because he'd freak..."

Hopping up he glomped the picture one more time. "Thanks for listening. I have to help Dad with a funeral this afternoon, and it's in Sendai, so I won't be home until later. Bye!"

Running out of the room he almost forgot to stop for his sandals before hurrying to the temple. "Father, I'm...!" He trailed off, seeing the temple was empty. "Er...father?" He searched the temple, and then outside before hurrying inside again to search the house. There was a note for him on the living room table. He opened it, surprised to find yen inside. He tore his attention back to the note - recognizing his father's handwriting instantly.

"Tatsuha,

I have not been feeling well these past two days and Mika has insisted on taking me to the hospital. Though I appreciate her concern, this couldn't have happened at a worst time. I must ask you a very important favor. The funeral you were to assist me with you will have to perform alone. It is much to ask of you, but I have great confidence in your abilities. There is enough yen for you to take the train there and back. I will see you afterwards, unless some foolhardy doctor decides to detain me. In which case Mika will be waiting to take you to her house for the weekend.

Do your best, and I'm sure you'll make us proud."

He read the letter twice. Then blinked, and read it again. "No way! My first solo ceremony! I don't believe it! You're so totally awesome, Tatsuha Uesugi! You're gonna perform this ceremony flawlessly!" He stopped his rave when he saw the clock. "Waah! I'm gonna be late!" Grabbing up the yen to put in his sleeve he ran to get his supplies.

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I may have been a bit cocky about the whole thing, but I managed to get through the ceremony without any major blunders. Everyone complimented me on it, saying it was beautifully done and commenting on what a mature young man I was. I was positively glowing with compliments when I left. Nothing quite like the feeling that you've got the whole world in your pocket. And nothing quite like a heavy dose of reality to bring you down.

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Tatsuha headed up the street toward the train station, trying not to skip. He couldn't believe how well the ceremony had gone. 'Wait'll I tell Eiri - he'll flip! Tatsuha Uesugi - full fledged monk! Well, almost...'

"Wait, please wait!"

He was startled out of his euphoria by a woman grabbing his arm. she was dressed traditionally in a kimono, and she looked panicked. 'Wha-?' Tatsuha turned, confused. "Um...can I help you?"

"A-are you from the local temple?" The woman asked, she seemed out of breath.

"Actually, I'm from a Kyoto temple.' Tatsuha admitted. "I was only in town to perform a funeral ceremony. I can direct you to-"

"But you are a monk, then. And you can perform the death rites?"

Tatsuha felt a chill go up his spine. He knew the death rites, but he'd never performed them. His father always handled them. "I...Yes, but I don't-" He began.

"Please, please - my son is dying and the monks won't be here on time. Will you perform the death rites for him?"

Tatsuha swallowed. "Wouldn't it be better to find the local-"

"Please!" The woman dropped to her knees, lowering her head to the sidewalk. "Please."

The scene was starting to attract attention - people stopping to stare at them. Tatsuha felt his cheeks begin to heat in embarrassment. The thought of performing the death rites chilled him to the bone, but the woman was so panicked, what could he do? And with so many witnesses to turn down her request would bring shame to the temple.

"Please, don't do that." He knelt down hastily, taking her arm. "Of course I'll assist any way I can." He pulled her up, noticing she was crying.

"Thank-you...thank-you..." The woman wiped at her eyes. "Come with me."

Tatsuha swallowed, and nodded - not trusting his voice.

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The hospital seemed startlingly white and modern. Tatsuha felt out of place in his robes as he followed the woman through its cold halls. No one questioned who he was, or if he should be there. Nobody asked his age either.

The smell in the room was unpleasant. Sickness combined with chemicals and the sharpness of an overabundance of metal. There were two girls slightly older than him by the door, crying. One ran to the woman, clinging to her tightly.

The man by the bed stepped aside when he approached, letting him see who'd he'd come to perform the rites for. The breath caught in his throat when he saw his face. He couldn't even be as old as he himself yet. His hair was short, and he seemed too thin, Tatsuha wondered how long he'd been at the hospital. His eyes were open, but too bright. He didn't seem to see any of them, and he turned restlessly. The bars on the bed were up so he wouldn't fall out. He was pale, even his lips. Though a fever burned his cheeks.

'This is death.' The thought struck him, and his steps froze.

"Do...you need anything?" The father asked. He wasn't crying now, but his eyes were red.

Tatsuha took a deep breath, trying to regain his composure. "No...yes! His name."

"Makoto." The father replied.

Tatsuha found himself turning his eyes back to the young boy's face. "Makoto." He repeated. He felt as distant as the dying boy's gaze all of a sudden. As if he were watching and listening to the scene instead of taking part in it. "You don't have to worry. He'll be in good hands soon."

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I don't think the smell of sandalwood incense was ever so sweet before. My body seemed to go through the motions on it's own. Lighting the incense. Kneeling on the hard floor by the bed. The chants rose from my throat, but the whole time my mind was blank. Makoto grew less restless, and his sisters stopped crying. And then the machines he was hooked to started screaming.

In the panic of the doctors coming in, I managed to stand. My legs were shaking, though. The family was ushered out, but no one made any move to make me leave as they attempted to revive him. For a moment I was frozen. My legs collapsed, and I fell to the floor - jarring my knees. The pain seemed to remind me why I was there, and I began to chant again, praying the interruption hadn't caused any problems in his crossing.

After the sheet had been pulled over Makoto's face, a doctor placed his hand on my shoulder. I managed a brief nod as I completed my chant. The doctors exited to tell the family, and for a long time all I could do was kneel there, trying to come to terms with everything that had happened. When it all finally sunk in, I promptly threw up.


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"Easy there." A woman in a pressed white nurse's uniform was stroking his back gently. "First time, huh?"

"F-first time?" Tatsuha repeated numbly.

"Death rites. You aren't the first young priest to lose their stomach. Witnessing someone die isn't something easy to adjust to." She was an older woman, motherly in a way. "The family's waiting to thank-you. You have to pull yourself together."

"I..." Tatsuha nearly threw up again when he glanced down at the floor and saw the lost contents of his stomach.

"Easy." The woman rubbed his back gently again. "My - you are very young, aren't you? I didn't look at you closely before. At first glance you look older. Especially when you were so serious and composed. C'mon now." She helped him to his feet. "Don't you worry. I'll clean it up."

"I...I have to preserve the incense ashes..."

The woman nodded knowingly. "I'll take care of it. You have to speak to the family. Can you?"

Tatsuha closed his eyes, trying to block it all out for a moment. Slowly he nodded. "Yes."

"Brave boy. Go on now."

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The family kept thanking me over and over again. It was hard to stand there and listen to it. I didn't want them to thank or praise me. What had I done, really? I felt distant again. Even as I wrote down the temple address for the father, who insisted on paying for my services. I was numb.

But more, nothing felt the same anymore. I guess witnessing death like that for the first time will do that to you. I was surprised I wasn't crying. But I didn't cry at the hospital. Or the train ride home. But when I was standing on the steps that led to our house and temple, suddenly I couldn't stop. I should have reported to father right away - he was the head of the temple, after all. But I couldn't face him. I couldn't face anyone.


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Tatsuha, still in his robes, though he'd removed his socks and prayerbeads, sat curled up on his futon. He'd pulled his legs up to bury his face in them, clasping his arms around his knees. He rocked slightly as he tried to muffle his crying.

He lifted his head a little to look at the poster of Ryuichi Sakuma on the wall. "Sakuma-san...I...someone needed me to perform death rites today. I've never had to do them before. It was...I just...nothing's the same anymore. And I..." He trailed off, looking at the picture sulkily. "Why do I bother? You can't tell me what to do. You can't hear me, can't comfort me...You're...You're no use!" Leaping up he ripped the poster off the wall. It tore in several spots - leaving pieces of it still hanging. tossing it away from himself, Tatsuha collapsed to the futon, crying again.

He wasn't sure how long he lay there, listening to the sound of his own sobbing. Slowly he became aware of someone beside him. He peered out from the crook of his arm, surprised to see his father kneeling besides his futon. Before he could react, his father bowed - his forehead touching the floor. "Forgive me, my son."

Tatsuha sat up, opening his mouth to say something, but stopped when his father held up his hand, shaking his head.

"You performed both ceremonies with the composure and dedication of a true monk. I find no fault with you. But you should not have had to bear such a burden, and for that I can only fault myself for not being there when you truly needed me."

"But you weren't well-" Tatsuha began, but his father hushed him.

"Tsh. I should have seen to my duties first and thought of myself second - as you did." He reached out a hand to lift Tatsuha's face up to meet his eyes. "You have brought your family much honor this day - at a great disservice to yourself."

Tatsuha felt his eyes fill with tears again, and he lowered his face to hide behind his mop of dark hair. "I...I can't stop thinking about it..."

His father reached out to take his hand in his own. "I was the same age when I first performed the death rites. I can still remember his name and face..."

"Makoto...his name was Makoto...Father, he...he wasn't even my age!" He began to cry again, unable to stop himself.

"I had not wished you to experience this yet. Forgive me, Tatsuha. Forgive me."

Tatsuha could not reply. He could only continue to cry, clinging tightly to his father's hand like a life line.

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Warmth awoke him. Warmth and sound. the feeling of sun on his face, and the silky strains of a familiar voice.

"You who have been reborn,
Color your eyes without smiling alone.
Even if the world you've longed for has suddenly burned to ash,
In some miracle we could still brush into eachother."

'That's...Sakuma Ryuichi's voice..." Tatsuha blinked his eyes open, and was met by the sun shining in through his window.

"(Hold me gently in order to break me)
Be exposed in a state of purity
Like a flower whose petals have fallen off.
You're just beginning to notice the days
Are shining jeweled cups in your hand."

'Father...let me sleep through morning prayers? And where...' He saw his record player was on. 'Who could have...? Father? But he hates this music, why would he...? For me? To soothe me?'

"(A cold hand gathers up the shred thorns)
(So a banked flame continues to smolder)

"Let's depict the vividly dancing thoughts
Found in that place of light that is unreachable even now.
Don't fear the passage of time.
So that words of guidance won't completely spill out and flow away."

'These lyrics...that part almost sounded like the words to one of the chants that...' He sat up slowly, glancing at the torn poster of Ryuichi on the floor.

"(And there's no way out)
(I'm falling farther down.)

"To the reincarnation of you,
I say, color your eyes without smiling alone.
Even if the world you've longed for has suddenly burned to ash,
The miracle could still happen to come again."

Reaching down, Tatsuha picked up the poster.

"Let's depict the vividly dancing thoughts
Found in that place of light that is unreachable even now.
Don't fear the passage of time.
So that words of guidance won't completely spill out and flow away.

"(Hold me gently)
(Always catch me)
(More and more)
(In order to break my heart)"

Tatsuha's eyes welled with tears again, and he set the poster on the desk, smoothing it gently. He took the pieces still on the wall off carefully, and set to work.

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Tatsuha, dressed in a high school uniform, entered his bedroom, drinking the last of a can of beer - dropping it in an overflowing wastebin by the door as he slid it shut. Dropping his schoolcase on the bed he paused a moment to look at the poster of Ryuichi Sakuma on the wall. It was taped together - having once been torn in five pieces. And the lyrics to Sleepless Beauty had been written in slightly unsteady calligraphy down one side. "I'm home, Sakuma-san...but I have head back out. You see, there's a funeral today in Sendai..."

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So I guess I don't know when I got dubbed "the good son", but I guess I know why. I never did brag to Eiri about my first solo funeral, though he heard about it somehow. I did start bragging about being a monk, though. And I guess he figured out that I liked it. though he never could understand why. Or why I was still hooked on Nittle Grasper when all my friends became raving lunatics about every top band of the year.

And Mika never could figure out how I could be so tolerant of Eiri's ways. Or why my own views of the world seemed to change so suddenly.

And I never told either of them. That was father and my secret. And I guess I liked it that way.


Salmon

I was tempted for the last scene to be of him being in a relationship with Ryuichi but decided against it. I love RxT pairing stories, but I wanted to keep this one cannon. Though I researched briefly, I'm no expert on death rites in the buddhist faith and apologize for any mistakes I made. That's one of the reasons I didn't do a long, full scene in third person with it. Besides, the main concept of the story was how it affected him, more than what happened there.

I seem to be one of the few people who seem to think Tatsuha likes being a monk but - geez, c'mon - he brags about it everytime he meets someone, and always goes on about it. So he's gotta like it. But that's IMHO, so - y'know. You disagree, write your own fanfic! ROFL I hope you all enjoyed it! R&R please.
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