Volume 6 Epilogue
VOLUME 6 – TO THE LIMITS OF DESPAIR (2) epilogue ()
Haruka looked outside from the bench in the hospital waiting room.
The cherry blossoms in the courtyard were starting to bloom.
Spring was the season which breathed life, but right now, someone irreplaceable was disappearing before her eyes.
‘How long are you going to sit there for?’
Haruka turned around at the voice.
Yakumo looked at her with his eyes, which were sleepy as usual.
'Is it done?’
'Yeah. I just had to sign a document,’ Yakumo replied brusquely.
Isshin’s medical examination had determined that he was brain-dead.
Just as Yakumo had declared to Sakakibara, he gave his consent to transfer Isshin’s organs.
Haruka knew that nothing could be done now, but she still wanted to hear how Yakumo really felt.
'Yakumo-kun, are you really OK with this?’
He didn’t reply immediately.
Yakumo’s eyes were narrow as he looked at the cherry blossom tree in the courtyard.
Haruka couldn’t tell how he truly felt from looking at his profile.
– You always hide your heart like this.
’… It’s what Uncle would want,’ Yakumo murmured.
That was all Haruka could say.
The truth was that she wanted to scream.
– It’s a lie! Isshin-san is still alive!
However, Yakumo must have had the same feelings, and much more strongly at that.
'I think Uncle probably knew this was going to happen to him,’ said Yakumo, his hands in his jeans pockets as he looked at his feet.
His words made sense.
The day Isshin was stabbed, Mao had told him he had a brain tumour.
He had been prepared.
– From now on, I’ll leave Yakumo to you.
Isshin’s words had had a heavy meaning to them, but Haruka hadn’t realised then.
'When Uncle heard from Gotou-san that his life was in danger, he still went to do his daily meditation.’
'He was probably trying to cut off the continuing chain of hatred with his own hand.’
Yakumo’s words echoed heavily in Haruka’s heart.
Isshin had probably thought that the man with two red eyes, Yakumo’s father, would come to kill him himself.
Then, he had tried to end things, in exchange for his own life.
That was how Isshin used his life.
Isshin had probably believed that even if he was gone, Yakumo wouldn’t lose his way –
But the person who actually came to him was Sakakibara –
'Let’s go. Uncle’s waiting.’
Yakumo smiled bitterly.
– That’s right. Isshin-san’s waiting.
'OK,’ replied Haruka, and then she started walking.
They walked silently to the ICU where Isshin was.
A nurse showed them inside.
Isshin looked so healthy on the bed that it made Haruka think he might wake up at any moment.
Even though he was using an artificial respirator, his chest was moving up and down slightly. When Haruka saw him breathing, she felt another bout of disbelief.
Haruka stood next to the bed and held Isshin’s hand.
– It’s still warm.
She couldn’t believe that he would die in just a few hours.
– Are you really going to go, Isshin-san? Are you going to disappear without saying goodbye?
Haruka called out in her heart, even though she knew her words wouldn’t reach him.
Yakumo looked down at Isshin silently.
What could he be seeing with his red left eye?
He must have been recalling the many memories he had had with Isshin.
Isshin had been closer to Yakumo than anybody, so they must have had countless memories together.
Tears welled up in Haruka’s eyes just from thinking about it.
’… You’re not here anymore then,’ Yakumo said quietly.
– Not here anymore?
Haruka didn’t understand what Yakumo meant.
All she could do was grip Isshin’s hand again with both of her own to express feelings that wouldn’t reach him.
Isshin had saved her countless times. He had given her courage. He had shown the path that everyone should take. He had been like a light in the dark.
I had so much I wanted to talk to him about –
People always had regrets.
– But please don’t worry. I’ll continue to watch over Yakumo.
So please rest well –
Haruka touched Isshin’s cheek.
* * *
Gotou took Atsuko and Nao to the ICU just as Yakumo and Haruka were stepping out.
'Hey,’ he said, raising his hand.
Haruka was sobbing and couldn’t speak.
Yakumo was as expressionless as usual and just sent a glance Gotou’s way.
This is nothing. It was like he was saying that.
Nao walked up to Yakumo.
Yakumo crouched and hugged Nao, patting her head.
Nao started sobbing into Yakumo’s chest.
– This girl’s been holding it in too. These siblings really tough it out.
However, no matter how much they tried to put up a brave front, both of them were still children.
Gotou looked at Atsuko’s face.
Her lips were in a thin line. She nodded.
He understood even if she didn’t say anything aloud.
When Atsuko looked like this, she was prepared. She had looked the same way when she decided to marry Gotou.
'Oi. Yakumo. There’s something I want to talk with you alone.’
When Gotou called out to Yakumo, he replied with a silent nod, perhaps sensing Gotou’s intention.
Gotou sat next to Yakumo on the bench in the hospital courtyard.
Come to think of it, this might’ve been the first time he’d talked to Yakumo about something that wasn’t for a case. When he thought about it, he felt a bit awkward.
However, it seemed that Gotou was the only one who felt that way, because Yakumo let out a bored yawn.
'Hey, what happened to your contact lens?’
Ever since Isshin was stabbed, Yakumo hadn’t worn the black contact lens that hid his red left eye.
At first, Gotou had thought he just didn’t have a replacement for the one that broke, but it had been a number of days already.
'I don’t need it anymore,’ Yakumo said firmly.
Gotou was surprised, but then his expression softened.
Yakumo had detested that red left eye in the past. He had even tried to cut it out with a utility knife. For Yakumo to say he didn’t need to hide it any more – it was incredible progress.
– Old man, you watching this?
Gotou looked up at the sky and called out.
'So what did you have to discuss?’ said Yakumo, like he wanted Gotou to hurry up.
'Actually, I have a request,’ Gotou said formally, an unlit cigarette in his mouth.
'I won’t lend you money.’
– Really, what a hateful brat.
'Don’t look down on the police.’
'Gotou-san, you’re a part of the police?’
'What did you think I was?’
'You an idiot? I don’t have the free time to talk to you about stupid things.’
'I feel the same way. Please get to the point already.’
Yakumo ran his fingers through his hair.
Gotou cleared his throat and tried to speak, but he didn’t know how to start.
He knew Yakumo would complain, but Gotou couldn’t stop himself. He lit his cigarette and let the nicotine flow through his body.
Yakumo looked displeased, but Gotou was able to relax a bit.
'My request is, er…. about Nao.’
After Gotou said that, Yakumo’s brows furrowed as he cocked his head.
Even Yakumo, who was so intelligent, probably couldn’t read into what Gotou was going to say next. It was a funny thought.
'I discussed with my wife. We want to take Nao into our home.’
'Did you hit your head?’
Yakumo looked at Gotou as if he were something filthy.
He probably couldn’t understand why Gotou had made such a suggestion.
'I’m serious. I can’t let that girl be picked up by some foster parents from who knows where.’
'Isn’t that just your ego?’ Yakumo said coldly.
Gotou understand that even without Yakumo’s telling him.
'We still need Nao.’
Gotou took Nao in for this case and had planned on protecting her.
However, that wasn’t what happened.
Nao had saved Gotou. By trying to protect Nao, Gotou could face his wife Atsuko for the first time.
– That’s ego too.
But he still couldn’t leave Nao alone.
Nao had suffered so much up until now.
Her actual mother had been killed, and now this had happened to Isshin, the person who’d raised her. He didn’t want to let Nao feel sad again.
No matter what happened, no matter what he had to do, he was prepared to protect Nao.
'That isn’t something for you to decide on your own, is it, Gotou-san?’
'I said I talked to my wife, didn’t I? It’s the first time we’ve agreed on something.’
'What do you gain out of this?’
'Are you an idiot? It’s not a matter of profit or loss. We want to be her parents. That’s all.’
Gotou was so forceful that the words sounded like a threat.
Yakumo had lived his life doubting people. He had protected his heart that way.
That was why he thought that every person acted for their own gains. But that wasn’t everything in the world.
It seemed Gotou had put Yakumo in a bad mood, because he suddenly stood up.
'If you do that, wouldn’t that make us family, Gotou-san?’
– This guy. Why’d he have to put it like that?
'I don’t care what you think, but me and you were like family in the first place! What’s the point of talking about that now!?’ yelled Gotou angrily, standing up as well.
'I don’t think you’re fit to be a parent, Gotou-san.’
'Nobody’s born a parent! They have children and become one!’
'Who’d you hear that from?’
– This brat! When I was being so nice about it!
Contrary to Gotou’s agitated state, Yakumo had his usual sleepy eyes as he plucked the cigarette out of Gotou’s mouth.
'I wouldn’t mind thinking about it if you stop your bad smoking habit.’
– And he’s complaining like a sister-in-law!
If it was for Nao, quitting smoking was nothing.
Gotou put the cigarette in the case and threw the whole thing into the rubbish bin.
* * *
Haruka was in the living room of the priests’ quarters.
Isshin’s funeral had ended and many people had gathered.
Gotou, Atsuko and Nao were sitting together, like a real family.
Opposite them, Ishii and Makoto sat respectfully.
Hata was by himself, sipping tea leisurely.
Next to Haruka was her mother, Keiko. When she heard about Isshin’s death, she rushed over from Nagano.
It was only a blink of an eye since Yakumo consented to the organ transplant.
The heart Isshin donated was probably with Yoshiko now. According to the list Makoto got, her name had been at the top of the recipient list.
Haruka wanted to check, but there was no way to confirm it legally.
Isshin hadn’t just donated his heart. Liver, kidneys, pancreas, corneas, lungs, small intestine – he had donated every organ he could.
After the surgery, Isshin’s body had been empty – so light that a single person could pick it up.
Isshin was still living in other people’s bodies – Haruka wanted to think that.
Reminiscing about him was gentle and warm, like his character. He had been like the spring summer.
Now that Haruka thought about it, she had always felt like there was something gloomy in Isshin’s smile.
He had never lived for himself.
He had been incredibly self-sacrificing.
Haruka looked up and noticed that Yakumo alone wasn’t participating in the reminiscing, just looking out the window.
His left eye flickered about, like it was looking for something.
Even after the funeral, Yakumo had not let anybody see him cry even once.
Even though he must have been sad, because of his obstinate nature, he kept that sadness within himself.
Finally, Yakumo stood up and went out of the room, as if to escape the gazes of everyone around him.
However, Yakumo was the only one who thought he wouldn’t be noticed. When he left, everyone went quiet.
Haruka felt everyone’s gazes turn to her.
– A silent pressure.
'Excuse me. Should I go check up on him?’
Ishii stood up.
'Are you an idiot!? Read the atmosphere!’
Shut down by Gotou, who had an artificial cigarette in his mouth, Ishii’s shoulders slumped and he sat back down.
Makoto comforted him.
Hata started giggling like he thought the scene amusing.
On top of Atsuko’s lap, Nao let out an 'Ah!’ and then grabbed Haruka’s shirt.
Everyone understands you better than you think they do. You need to understand that better.
'Haruka, if you don’t go, I will.’
Keiko poked Haruka’s arm.
'Why would you go, Mum?’
'If you’re going to complain, go yourself.’
Keiko pushed Haruka’s back.
– From now on, I’ll leave Yakumo to you.
She might have just imagined it, but she felt like she had heard Isshin’s voice.
Haruka stood up from her seat and left the room to find Yakumo.
Though she didn’t see him, she had an inkling of where he went.
Haruka went out the entrance and walked through the gravel garden.
The cherry blossom tree on the grounds was in full bloom.
Haruka took off her shoes and went up the wooden stairs to the temple.
Careful not to make any noise, she opened the sliding door.
She spotted Yakumo sitting in the lotus position in the centre of the dim temple.
’… You’re still here?’ said Yakumo, looking up at the ceiling.
Haruka was about to respond but she realised immediately that the words weren’t directed at her.
Though Haruka couldn’t see anything, Yakumo probably saw Isshin’s spirit.
Yakumo was talking with him.
'You worry too much, Uncle. I don’t need to hide my red eye anymore.’
With this case, Yakumo had taken another step forward.
He didn’t need to worry about other people’s gazes and hide his left eye anymore.
'Nao and I are fine. We’re not alone. We have a family. Even though we’re not connected by blood…’
He was right. It was just as Yakumo said.
Without Isshin, Yakumo had lost the last person in his family that he was related to by blood.
However, he had people with whom he had bonds which were stronger and firmer than that.
They compensated for each other’s shortcomings. Stubborn, selfish and straightforward people –
'That’s why… you should go already,’ said Yakumo.
– An awkward farewell.
Even though he really wanted to tell Isshin not to go, he acted brave until the very end.
– Are you going to continue to live while keeping everything to yourself?
Haruka just heard the sound of the wind.
While listening to it, she watched Yakumo’s rounded shoulders.
'You really left…’
Yakumo said that to himself.
Haruka looked up at the ceiling.
However, all she saw was stained beams – she couldn’t spot Isshin.
'Did Isshin-san say something?’
She had never been so envious of Yakumo before.
Of course Haruka and the others couldn’t even say goodbye to Isshin at the end.
He had suddenly disappeared, like he’d never even been there in the first place –
However, Yakumo had been able to say what he had to at the end.
'He said he was happy… He was smiling,’ Yakumo said quietly.
– I see.
Even though so many things had happened to him, Isshin was still worried about others at the very end and donated his own organs. Isshin still thought that his life had been happy.
– That’s just like Isshin-san.
That at least made Haruka feel better.
'And he said… thank you…’
Yakumo’s voice was hoarse. His shoulders were slumped and his back was shaking. He was still holding himself back.
– Really, how obstinate.
Haruka walked up to Yakumo and hugged him from behind with both arms.
'Yakumo-kun, you’re not alone,’ she murmured.
Yakumo’s hands gripped Haruka’s hands tightly.
– Don’t take everything on by yourself. You’re not alone.
Yakumo started weeping.
His body shook violently as his tears dripped one by one to the floor.
Haruka felt like the sadness that filled his heart had come into her.
Isshin was gone. But his death left a mark in many hearts.
That became a strong, firm bond, tying us together.
So please don’t worry, Isshin-san.
And also –
Thank you –
One month later – Hokutou Newspaper Excerpt
Patrol Wagon Overturned, Catches Fire! Prisoner Dead?
At about 8 PM last night, on the city highway near Kosuke ICU, a patrol wagon carrying a prisoner overturned and caught fire after hitting the middle divider. The four guards were able to safely escape, but the prisoner Nanase Miyuki (26) has not been confirmed. It is believed that she died within the car.
The cause of the accident is not yet clear. Though the police had not made an official announcement, eyewitness testimonies state that the investigation is looking at it as an accident caused by a driver who dozed off.
On the day of the incident, prisoner Nanase was in the middle of being transported back to Tokyo Detention House after escaping and being rearrested.
 NEET stands for Not in Education, Employment, or Training. This generally derogatory term was originally used in the UK but Japan and some other countries took it up.