More Than Words Ch. 03byfgmntfmgnshn©
Thanks to "Alpineskier" for editing.
Thanks to "Doc" for story consulting.
Chapter 03: Full Circle
17 years and 3 months later:
My Mom was a hard person to know. I suppose that's why only my Dad's immediate family and friends showed up to her funeral, and they were only here for him. It was an extremely light crowd. To be honest, I'm here only for him as well. I mean, I'm sad at the thought of never seeing my Mom again, but we were never close. While I was at school, she would meditate. When I got home, she would make me train for most of the night and then lock herself away in her room. We never talked and she never showed any emotion, to anyone. I swear she was made of stone. By the time my training was over, my Dad would be back from his dojo. We would talk, laugh, and he'd help me with my homework. He got me through all the difficult times in my life, including my first period. Looking back, that was a very comedic conversation. Basically, my Dad raised me and my Mom was just there. I never understood why he stayed with her. They never did anything together. They even had separate rooms.
"Tsukiumi, are you ready to pay your final respects?" My Dad had a solemn look strewn across his face. The poor man was devastated.
"Yeah Dad." I gripped his hand tightly as we walked up to the casket. I wanted him to know I am here for him.
My Dad grabbed her hand and cried. I had to strain to hear him as he spoke in a hushed breath. "Upon my code of honor, with the discipline of my being, I am bound to serve and protect you with my life and bo staff." He paused. "Don't worry; I know my vow isn't fulfilled yet. I will still protect you Kisara, as you are a part of her." He then composed himself and faced me. "You okay sweetheart?"
"Yeah Dad, I'm fine." We walked a couple steps, hand in hand. My mind kept wondering why he said what he said. Why would my Dad need to let my Mom know he'd protect me? The vow I suppose could mean a wedding vow, but they were never married. And what was all that garbage about honor, discipline, and being bound to serve? I now wonder if my Dad was a slave. "Dad?"
"Yes Tsukiumi, what is it?"
God I hate my name. "Well, I was just wondering what you meant when..."
"Evan, can you come over here for a moment?" Grandma Bannister was waving him over to her.
"Just a minute Mom." Dad turned to me. "What did you want to know Sweetheart?"
"Oh, it's nothing." I gave a dismissing hand gesture. "Go see Grandma and I'll figure it out."
"Yeah, it's fine." I'm actually grateful for the interruption. I can't believe I was going to ask my Dad if he was a slave. How absurd does that sound? I found the nearest seat as my Dad made his way to Grandma.
"Excuse me, are you Kisara's daughter?" The voice had a heavy French accent.
I looked up to see an older, slightly overweight man with a horrible comb over and a thin mustache standing before me. I had never seen this man before. "Yes I am."
"I knew you were. You look just like Kisara when I met her 25 years ago." The man extended his hand. "I'm Jacques Bertrand and I am truly sorry for your loss."
I shook his hand, puzzled over who this man was. "Tsukiumi and thanks." I looked to where my Dad was, hoping he'd come over.
"May I sit Mademoiselle?" The Frenchman tilted his head and pointed to the empty seat next to me.
"Sure." I didn't want to be rude, so I was going to wait a moment before excusing myself to the restroom.
"Your mother was a remarkable woman."
Remarkable, that's not the word I'd use.
"She saved my life 25 years ago in Paris without being asked or any want of compensation. She just did it. I also know I'm not the only one she has helped. Ever since she saved me, I researched Kisara Akita as well as any information containing a mysterious woman carrying a sword who helped people. Not too many of those out there. You see I'm a journalist and I've been trying to get my editor to let me write an article about her. There are 23 others that I know for certainty, but I'm sure there are countless others. They are located all over the world, Paris, Moscow, Tokyo, Vienna, Buenos Aires, just to name a few. She prevented murder, rape, and even a terrorist plot. Like I said, a remarkable woman. When my latest search found an obituary of a swordswoman named Kisara Akita, I had to come to pay my respects. I was surprised it was in such a small town in the middle of Michigan, but if anyone deserved to live in a small, peaceful community, it was her." Jacques then stood. "Well it's time for me to give thanks for my life one last time. May you live life like your mother. It was a pleasure to have met you, Tsukiumi."
"Alright, thanks for coming." The story of my Mom just got really strange. I mean, was my Dad a slave to a vigilante superhero? How do I even begin to ask my Dad that?
A month went by and an attempt at normalcy tried to invade our lives. I had decided against asking my Dad about my Mom. I disregarded the slave thought, but kept the superhero concept, especially after a quick internet search found Jacques Bertrand was a reporter for Le Figaro, a newspaper based in Paris. I don't know why, but I focused almost all my time and energy on training. Maybe it's my way of having a closeness to my Mom who I'll never see again. I'm in the middle of another training session, beating the crap out of the wooden figure with my bokken.
"Tsukiumi, Sweetheart, can you come here? We need to talk." My Dad called out. I bowed to the mannequin, I don't know why, I think I imagine I'm sparring with Mom, and then I head to the living room. Dad is sitting on the couch and looks completely pale. "Dad, what's wrong? Are you okay?" I was deeply worried as I sat next to him.
Dad held my hand. "Tsukiumi, I want you to know, I love you. You are my world and I'll do anything for you. I won't let anyone hurt you and I'll always be here for you."
"I know, I love you too Dad." He had my full attention.
"I'm going to tell you some things you may not want to hear and some things I never wanted you to know, for this, I apologize in advance and I pray you can forgive me."
"Okay." I drew out the word nervously. When a parent asks forgiveness before the conversation, you know it's not going to be good.
"I don't know how they found us, but a representative for your grandmother came by my dojo today."
"Is Grandma Bannister alright?"
"She is, but I'm not talking about that grandma."
"What other Grandma is there? I thought I was named after my other Grandma who passed away."
"You were, but your other grandma isn't Grandma Bannister." My Dad took a deep breath and hung his head, almost in shame. "I'm not your father Tsukiumi."
I am paralyzed. I was preparing myself for the worst when this conversation started, even 'Hey Sweetheart, I was a slave to your mother' but not this. Never this. My mouth began to move but no words were coming out. Tears started to slowly descend from my eyes.
My hand was gripped tighter. "His name was Grant Chambers. A good doctor and a great man who lived in New York."
"Was?" I managed to ask.
"Yes. He died before you were born and it's his mother, your grandmother, Samantha Chambers who wants to take you from me. Since I'm not your biological father, I'm not even your stepfather, and she's your closest living relative, she's taking me to court for you."
A few minutes of silence passed as I digested what I heard. "Dad, you may not be my father, but you will always be my Dad. I don't want to go. I wanna stay here with you."
A smile graced his face and his eyes began to well up. "I'm so happy to hear you say that, but there is so much more you need to know."
My Dad then told me the tragic love story between my Mother and Father. How my Father was being held hostage by my grandmother just so she can use my Mother's skills in an unethical way. My Father died during my Mother's rescue attempt. She had survived. My Mother may have died of an aneurism, but he believed her heart, which broke the day Grant died, finally gave out. She blamed herself and was even going to commit suicide if it wasn't for me. The knowledge of me spared my Mother's life. My Dad explained Samantha's intent was going to be the same with me as it was with my Mother.
"Me? What's so special about me? I'm sure there are plenty of people out there more than willing to do the job."
"Because you're an Akita."
"I know. So?" I was then told of my heritage. How renowned the Akita clan is. "I maybe an Akita, but that doesn't mean I have those skills. I suck at martial arts. I couldn't touch Mom. Not once."
Dad laughed. "No one could. You're better than most people who have been training their entire lives. I've seen her train you and there isn't a regiment like it. Did you know she began training you from the first day you could stand? There's a reason why I don't spar with you. It wouldn't do you any good as you'd kick my butt."
"Really?" I don't believe it. My Dad, a person who runs his own dojo, who is so fluid and graceful with a bo staff, seriously believes I'd beat his ass.
"Yes, and it's even worse now." Dad shook his head. "The past four weeks you've added focus and intensity. Sometimes I watch you and I see Kisara. It's uncanny."
"Okay, for arguments sake, say I'm great, best in the world. I don't believe it, but whatever. What do we do? Do we run?"
"No. Now that they've found us, they'll be on our heels forever."
"Then we fight. Where are they? Where is this Samantha Chambers?" I was determined.
"L.A., but I don't want that either. I don't want anything to happen to you. You are so precious to me."
"Dad, the only thing Mom taught me was something called Bushido. I thought it was crap. But today, I understand what she was trying to say. You told me these people stole my Father from me and scarred my Mom so much she became a shell of herself and now they're after me. I'm sorry, but I'm going to L.A. I have to." There is a fire burning in my soul.
"Wow." Dad chuckled. "Now you sound like your Mom, just with more emotion. Okay, to Los Angeles it is. But if we do this, we do it my way. You follow my lead. Understood?" He gave me his stern father look.
"Sure Dad, whatever you say."
We packed light and took the first flight to L.A.
"So Dad, now that we're here, how do we find them?"
"Easy. I have a court date tomorrow." Dad held up a court order.
I waited in a café across from the courthouse. If Dad lost, which he knew he would, he didn't want me turned over immediately. Our goal was to find out who these people were and where they live. After six hours of waiting, I saw my Dad come out of the courthouse.
I made my way to the rental car. "So what was the verdict?"
"Well technically the court said you are to live with your grandmother beginning tomorrow, but the important verdict is right there." Dad pointed to a group of people coming down the steps. "The three power players are the older woman, your Grandmother Samantha, the man next to her is your Uncle Dave and the blonde next to him is your Aunt Danielle, your Mom's stepsister. Are you ready for this?"
"What? Now?" I wasn't expecting that.
"Yeah, now. What we'll do is follow them until their in an area that is a little less populated and then cut them off. If they make it to their house or place of business, there will be more to fight. Do it this way, we only have eight, the three targets and the five bodyguards." He paused to look at me. "You still okay to do this?"
We followed two cars, the front an SUV and the back car a limousine. After 35 minutes, we entered an area that was built for the truly wealthy.
"This is it Sweetheart. Hit'em fast and hit'em hard. And let me give you some advice your Mom gave me. Don't go into battle thinking you'll lose. If you do, you already lost. Trust your training. Ready?"
"Ready Dad." I took a deep breath as Dad whipped around the two vehicles and stopped suddenly. Anybody coming out of the passenger side was mine and Dad was responsible for the men on the opposite side. We got out, pulled our weapons, and darted toward the SUV. The passenger side doors to both cars opened, but I was already at the SUV. With the door open and one leg on the ground, I kicked the door right back into him, pinning his body. I sent my katana through the window, killing him. I pulled my katana back and reopened the door as gun fire from the second man rang out. The bullets hit the open door, protecting me.
The man shooting was walking closer. I ducked in front of the car. As soon as he was parallel with the rear bumper, I bolted up the hood and on the roof and jumped. It was a kick that frankly, the man didn't see. He spun and was falling down. I sent my katana through his back.
I looked over and my Dad was finished with his two. There was a fifth man standing on the roof of the limo. He has long black hair wearing a white suit and was clearly from Japanese descent. He just stood there watching the both of us. My grandmother, aunt, and uncle just stayed in the limo. My Dad and I apparently weren't worth their time. The man let loose a pair of hira shiruken toward Dad. One swift move with his bo staff and they stuck on the end of it.
"Sweetheart, did you know you're Mom hated these? She said they lacked elegance and didn't give your opponent respect. Sir, are you disrespecting me?"
The man charged at my Dad, pulling a katana from a sheath on his back. My Dad swung his bo staff twice and missed. I never saw him miss before. I jumped on top of the limo to head over and help. The man ax kicked my Dad's bo staff in half. Then his katana pierced his chest.
"No! Dad!" I jumped and landed by his body.
He reached for my hand. "Sweetheart, it's alright. Just promise me you won't get caught up in this. Live for your Mom and be happy in life."
The man laughed.
I looked up at him, my anger swelling inside my body.
He laughed harder. "Let's see what you got kid."
I stood and we briefly stared at each other. I calmed my rage. I moved first and swung my katana. He blocked. He countered. I blocked. The sounds of our grunts and our swords clanking filled the air. Every swing of my katana and wakizashi was blocked. Whenever I threw in a kick, he dodged it. I did the same to his attacks. We fought for nearly ten minutes. He took a step back, allowing each of us to have a quick breath, as both of us were glistening in sweat. This man was impressively good, fast. It didn't matter. I saw a weakness.
"You are trained in a sacred form of martial arts." The man almost sounded irritated. "Who are you? Who trained you?"
"Why the hell do you care?"
"Please tell me before you strike me down. We both know you will." He spoke in a normal tone. It surprised me he showed no emotion about his death.
"My name is Tsukiumi Akita. Trained by my Mother, Kisara Akita, named after my Grandmother, and I fight for their honor!" I said adamantly.
"Tsukiumi Akita?" He drew out both words. "It can't be."
"I assure you I speak the truth. Now let's finish this." I charged forward.
He dropped to one knee with his head bowed. "You're Highness. Please forgive me for raising my sword to you."
"What?" I stopped dead in my tracks.
At that moment, Dave and Danielle got out of the limo. Both appeared pissed. "What the fuck are you doing Kazuki?" Dave yelled. "Stand up and grab her. We want her to come with us."
Kazuki stood. "These people must have wronged you terribly for you to attack so outnumbered." The man turned and faced the evil duo. "I've wanted to do this for a long time Dave."
"I told you to call me Master!" Dave shouted back.
It appeared as one movement, but it was two. Dave and Danielle fell, dead. He just stood over them and stared at the bodies. "The one you want is still in the car."
I understood. I glanced in the limo and I saw the old woman was trying to get out the other side. Like she would be able to outrun me. I jumped on the hood and then to the other side. There was fear in her eyes. "You tried to blackmail my Mom and you killed my Father, your very son. Any last words?"
Her head bowed. "I'm coming to be with you William."
I took my wakizashi and sliced it across her neck.
It was over.
Kazuki walked over to me. "You're Highness, now that it is done, will you come back to Japan with me?"
"Why do you keep calling me You're Highness?"
"Because you're Grandmother was in line to be head of our clan and that makes you the rightful heir."
"You're an Akita?"
"Yes, the same as you. And our first vow is always to our clan and it trumped the vow I got beguiled into declaring for that imbecile. I'm truly glad our journeys intersected and I truly apologize about your Dad."
I walked around and kneeled next to my Dad. I took his hand and cried for an indiscernible amount of time.
Kazuki placed his hand on my shoulder. "We need to go. Will you come with me?"
I was unsure of what to do. This decision is mine alone, unable to lean on my Dad for an answer for the first time. "I will go with you after he is in the ground next to my Mother. It's where he deserves to be."
"Thank you You're Highness. Our family will be most pleased to meet you."