Muses – Paper Cranes Part 2

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At nine years old, Nao Ishi was the youngest of the Sons of Rin. A genius akin to his older brother Mikio. Considered pragmatic for his age with a curious mind for all matters; never once leaving a question unasked.

Being the youngest didn’t have the benefits one might expect. Since his birth he had only been in the same place with his father twice and each time barely a word was spoken. There were days he hated being the smartest person in the room because it allowed him to see things for what they were.

“This does not look like studying to me,” The voice of his elder brother Kuro scolded.

If there was any Ishi that had it rough all the time it was the one charged with the duty to oversee his siblings. Truly there was a time that Nao thought Kuro was his father. It had elicited a laugh and an offhand remark about having heard that a few times before. Nao was never able to let go of that feeling even though Kuro had corrected him.

“Forgive me father,” He let the words hang there.

The sigh from his elder brother was noticeable, “Do not call me that.”

“Why not? You are more father to me than Rin has ever been.”

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Nao glanced over his shoulder when Kuro refrained from speaking. He was leaning against the wall, running his fingers through his hair, a solemn expression upon his face. Any time Nao brought this up he had that look. Despite being of considerable intellect, he could not readily recognize it.

“There are many books about that are still unread. Do I have to sit here and watch you the entire time?”

“Why do you always change the topic like that? Does it bother you that much when I call you father?”

“He is proud of you Nao.”

“Don’t lie. I don’t even think he knows my name.”

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“Naoto,” Kuro said sharply. “Our father is not very good at speaking from the heart. It may not seem like it, but you are valued.”

“I know the difference between being treasured by a parent and valued like property Kuro. Just tell me the truth. Why does he keep leaving? Why are there so many of us?”

“Why, why, why,” Kuro repeated in rapid succession. “Knowing the answer is not going to make you feel better. Ask me something I can answer.”

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Nao gritted is teeth. Kuro was always like this. Sure he had plenty of brothers that were serious like Soti, Mikio, and Kin. None like Kuro though. Sometimes it felt like the burden of being Ishi was rested upon his shoulders. That he alone was responsible for instilling the traditions and values upon those born after him.

Even though he wanted to press the matter he knew enough to drop it. Kuro would not speak upon anything he did not wish to, it was simply how he was. “Why do you stay when he hates you so much?”

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At first Nao didn’t think that Kuro was going to offer any sort of response. The darkness surrounding him was smothering. There was no joy in him at least none that the young Ishi boy could see. “She asked me to,” Kuro finally responded.

“The Goddess? Why would she want you…”

His older brother cut him off, “Sometimes a weak heart needs to suffer to grow stronger.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Oh, I thought you were supposed to be some sort of genius,” Kuro teased with a chuckle. It was rare for his older brother to laugh, but when he did it made Nao’s burden feel a little lighter, despite the pout adorning his lips. He was only moments away from speaking when Kuro explained, “It is about living. She was trying to tell me that someday I would become like him; moved only by the thrill or hatred of something. No love or joy in me. That my heart would become weak and only through suffering could it grow. Then and only then could I learn to live.”

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Nao wanted to offer his brother some comfort, but it was clear he was not looking for any. There was something though, lingering around Kuro. Nao really had not thought it was possible for the darkness to thicken, but the oppressive aura darkened his brother’s features. Boldly he found the courage to ask, “What happened after she said that to you?”

“I…well to answer that I have to tell you something else.” He paused a moment before continuing, “You asked me once to tell you the story of the cranes. I evaded your question back then and steered you toward your studies.”

The tension lingering off his older brother became clearer with each word spoken, “During those days it was just Tearra and I. She was pregnant with Soti and Mikio. Rin was always away from the house doing who knows what. I never really cared to ask; honestly, I really didn’t want to know. What they say about the goddess is true. Within her was all of the compassion of the King of the Gods; no creature big or small was neglected. She had this way of making you feel as though you were the most important person in the universe.”

“Were you in love with her?” Nao blurted out.

“Not in the way you are thinking,” Kuro stated simply. “With her was the only time in my life I felt important to someone. Anyway, I used to fold paper into all sorts of different things. One day she sat me down and taught me how to make them fly.”

“Tearra taught you how to make the cranes?”

“They were not cranes. They had long flowing tails made of red and gold paper. The very symbol of the goddess Tearra folded into being from a simple scrap of paper. After that, each and every one I made was about belonging. Then, one day she said what she did and it stung far deeply then any words spoken to me. So, in a moment of anger I pulled the tails from every single one.”

“Was she mad?”

“No,” Kuro said in a quieted voice. “She just smiled at me and said, how symbolic that the phoenix loses it tail for I will never rise again to the heavens.”

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Nao felt the emotion in every word spoken. He had to turn away from his older brother when he realized he himself was moved. Bringing his hands up to cover his face. Repeatedly he told himself not to cry. That was when he realized that Kuro was standing behind him. Turning suddenly he got a poke to the forehead, “What is with that expression? Are you crying?”

It was clear that Kuro was taking the opportunity to tease him. “I am not,” Nao insisted as Kuro tapped his finger on the top of Nao’s head.

“Oh, didn’t you tell me once that only unreasonable people lacking in brains shed a tear over tales of fancy?” There were moments, though very rare ones when his older brother would tease him in this fashion. Nao often wondered if he had done the same with his twenty-eight older siblings. Whether he did or he didn’t, he kind of understood why Kuro was upset with Tearra.

It was moments like these that made Nao feel like he belonged. His older brother made him feel important and special; truly treasured. “Why…” Nao paused a moment before forcing the words out, “Why do you allow us to make the cranes for love? Why not teach us to make them into a phoenix for belonging? Isn’t feeling like you belong more important than something as fickle as love?”

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Kuro grabbed Nao which forced the boy to release an unexpected scream as he struggled against his older brother. The two sitting upon the floor, “This isn’t fair.”

“Oh, why is that?” Kuro teased messing up the boy’s hair and tickling him slightly.

“One of these days I am going to bigger than you,” Nao insisted.

The amused chuckle of Kuro was sometimes just as infuriating as it was comforting, but Nao’s body stilled when Kuro said, “It is alright to call me father. I really don’t mind.”

“Then why do you always tell me not to call you it?”

“Rin’s ire is reserved for me. It is better if it remains my burden.” His older brother took a moment as he wrapped his arms around Nao, “I always thought belonging was more important than love, but some days I wonder if they are not the same thing. That people become so obsessed with the romance of it all that they forget that love is about a feeling of connecting with other people. Our father might be right though, I am too much like Hisoka. My head might simply be filled with these sorts of fanciful thoughts.”

“Someday you are going to be the Elder of the Ishi,” Nao stated boldly.

“None among our kin will ever give me such an honor.”

“There is no one that cares for the Ishi more than you. It would be a disservice to our clan to look past you.”

Nao was certain Kuro was humoring him, “Well if someday I become the elder I am going to need a second and I can think of no finer person for the position. What do you say want to rule the Ishi together?”

“I am going to hold you to it,” Nao stated.

“Oh, I would expect nothing less from you.”

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8 comments

  1. This is a great muses! You provide some wonderful insight in to Kuro here. I like that the crane means both belonging and courtship, it seems fitting, since the crane was the Phoenix which originally represented Tearra. I like the back story very much.

    One question: has Kuro met Tationy yet at this point? I kind of think he has, based in his comments about love, and the sad look about him when Nao calls him father, but I am not 100 percent sure.

    I like the relationship between these two. It is clear they are close. I cannot wait to see whether Nao is actually taller than Kuro. 😀

    • Thank you. I am really glad to hear you like it. No at this point he has not met Tationy. Nao is 10 years older then the prince of Aslann and he is currently 9 years of age in this Muse. So the Prince has not been born yet and thus Tationy has not come to the past in the Eighteen year old body of the Prince of Aslann.

      Kuro along with Mikio and Soti have been denied love at this point. Other siblings such as Kin have been allowed to marry, but love is not something afforded to the first born son of Rin and the two sons born from Rin and Tearra.

      Kuro was raised by the Hisoka along with his mother Rikku and uncle Kita (the love poet). So, love has and belonging are always things he has been influenced by, but is something that he has never been allowed to have due to him being the first born son of Rin.

      Before he hardens, he had always entertained the notion that someday he would marry and have children; a son of his own, but that has never been the case for him by this point. So really his brothers become his children. He raises them, he guides them, and instills within them the foundation that becomes the values and traditions of the Ishi. Nao is the one where the relationship takes a different turn because the curious nature of him allows Kuro to talk about things that he has never before discussed with anyone.

      Thank you. I am really glad you like it. Yes, soon very soon. We get to see Nao in Chapter 4 for the first time and HAHA, yes Nao actually did outgrow Kuro.Tationy, Sin, and Kuro are the shortest Ishi in the story. Tationy at 6’1 and Kuro and Sin at 6’4. Nao, is not quite as tall as Enzo, Togore, and Rin, but he definitely grew taller than his big brother Kuro. ^_^

  2. That was so good!
    Kuro seemed so different in this muse, – in a good way – less… grumpy?
    It was a really nice other side to him.
    Are he and Nao still close in the modern age?
    I LOVE NAO! He seems very gentle, but with the ability to be fierce, yeah?

    • Thank you. I am glad you enjoyed it. He was a bit hardened, but a lot less angry. Time really hurts him moving into the modern and future ages.

      HAHA, yes Nao can be a little fierce, but once Abe Sosa gets his hands on him he is not so gentle as he ages.

      Yes the two remain close even into the modern and future ages. Nao becomes his second in command in the future age.

  3. This was a great one! Poor Kuro been through so much crap in his life… That is interesting idea about love and belonging though. It’s funny how with some people it is not the same thing and with others it is. Makes you wonder what the hell love really is then.
    Nao is very charming little boy. I wonder if we will get to see him all grown up and find out how his relationship with Kuro changed over the years.
    I surely love all the details we get to find out in these muses.

    • Thank you. Kuro definitely has been through quite a bit.

      I always found it interesting how people separate things like belonging on love among other things and Kuro having been raised by the God of Love would have a first hand look at how love has been “transformed” through the ages from how Hisoka, the God of Love, saw it to how the world has morphed into being.

      Nao has a certain charm and we have heard him in a few chapters talk to Kuro we will officially get to see him in Chapter 4.

      Thank you. I am glad you are enjoying them. Finishing up the Christmas Part 2 tonight hopefully, so there will be more to read soon.

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