[Log] Reconciliation? [Hinaji, Hiashiko]
Hinaji took a deep breath to calm himself, Hizashiko's words echoing in his mind like a chant. He was right that he wouldn't be able to see his mother right away, but he forced himself to be patient. Usually patience wasn't a problem, but since talking with his mother's twin all he wanted to do was see Hiashiko and explain himself properly. He hadn't left their last conversation in the best of ways, after all.
He finally had his chance to speak with her a week later, after her announcement to the clan about Hizashiko's return. That was something else he would have to apologise for. He'd assumed everyone had known, and had taken it out on the clan head. It was hard not to feel guilty.
So he took his deep breath, told himself this was necessary and everything would work out fine, and knocked on his mother's door.
After dealing with the Elders almost nonstop for the entire week and Hizashiko in the morning, Hiashiko was too tired to deal with anymore people for the day. The announcement had taken just a few moments, but it left her exhausted. The rest of the clan knew that Hizashiko was back, and Hiashiko hoped they would grant her sister the peace she'd earned. There was no need for Hizashiko to be harrassed by the curious, even if she insisted on staying by her side.
When the knock came, Hiashiko almost ignored it, but that was Hinaji's voice from the other side.
This time, it wasn't angry. Not yet, at least. "Come in." Hizashiko's words echoed briefly in her mind. Hinaji loves you very much, ane.
He opened the door slowly, almost sheepishly. Once inside he closed it as silently as he'd opened it, and bowed politely to his mother--perhaps a bit deeper than usual.
"Good evening." He straightened and looked closely at Hiashiko. Hinaji was not the best at noticing things, and his mother hid it well, but he was sure she had to be tired. He'd seen Elders come and go all week, and with her sister home he was sure her schedule was even busier than before. He felt a pang of guilt for interrupting what little precious time she had to herself. "...Sorry to intrude. I just, um. I wanted to talk to you again. And apologise."
Hiashiko curbed the impulse to reflect pessimistically on Hinaji's statement. Their last talk could barely be considered a conversation, and she wasn't certain what Hinaji was expecting an apology to accomplish. He had made his feelings about their relationship--or their lack of one--abundantly clear. At least now his burning anger and resentment were gone, though she doubted they would remain so for long. Her eldest son was rarely confrontational, but he had, of course, made an exception for her.
"What did you want to talk about?" she asked quietly, ignoring the mention of an apology. Insincerity was not something she wished to encourage. Hiashiko was kneeling at her low bedroom table, an ink well, brush, and blank paper neatly arrayed across it. She hadn't gotten to actually writing anything, but having the items out made her feel as if she were prepared. Though for what, she wasn't certain. Writing, even drawing haphazard, meaningless lines on the paper, helped her organize her thoughts, and burning the papers afterward was something she found relaxing.
He hesitated, watching her. The air felt cold, and his old instinct to excuse himself and run wanted to kick in. He clenched his hands at his sides and ignored the feeling though, and slowly moved closer to his mother before kneeling down, his head bowed slightly.
"I wasn't being fair before," he started quietly, and forced his hands to remain flat against his knees. "I said things I shouldn't have, and I'm sorry." Just an apology wouldn't suffice, he was sure, but he wanted to at least get that out first. He'd been foolish and wrong, and even without his aunt's words he wouldn't feel right leaving things how they were. He took a deep breath and bowed lower.
"I was wrong."
Hiashiko's fingers briefly tightened on the lip of the table. She wanted to accept his apology, but it would be for nothing if either the apology or the acceptance were insincere. And yet Hinaji was bowing to her and claiming that he had been wrong and unfair. "I don't expect fairness, Hinaji, nor was I right in my treatment of you." The words came out devoid of almost all inflection, so tightly was she controlling herself.
Hinaji didn't lift his head even though her words surprised him. Her tone, however, did not, and he felt his stomach tighten in dread. Perhaps this really was too little, too late...
"I..." He licked his lips. "I talked with Hizashiko-san, and I... I'm sorry. I accused you of things, and I was wrong, and," he trailed off, not sure how to continue. Hizashiko had said to tell his mother how he really felt, to tell her what he'd been able to tell his aunt. But the words still stuck, and he didn't want her to respond with that cold voice.
He grit his teeth and pushed past the doubt, letting his aunt's words drum through his head. "I don't hate you, Mother. I'm sorry!"
I don't hate you, Mother. As far as declarations went, that was not something most people would consider a good start. But for Hiashiko...
She reached out and very carefully, as if uncertain about the reaction she would receive, touched her fingers to one of Hinaji's shoulders. "I accept your apology, Hinaji, if you would accept mine." She put effort in not sounding entirely detached from the moment, but she was still hesitant to commit overly much to this moment. Hiashiko would be pleased if they could go back to how they were before, but she wasn't going to hope for it. Forgiving didn't mean forgetting, and words said in anger often revealed important truths.
This time Hinaji couldn't stop himself from looking up, and the surprise on his face was painfully obvious. He'd never expected his mother to apologise, especially not when the fault had been his. "You didn't do anything, though..." He couldn't entirely believe that--there was a lot that had happened between them, and an apology, while not really enough, wasn't unwelcome. But their fight had been his fault and his alone, and he wanted her to know that.
He slowly sat up, although he kept his head politely bowed. "I know you don't hate me. You don't have anything to apologize for; I started that fight."
She wasn't about to argue with him about whose fault their fight was. Assigning blame was a pointless exercise--actions and their consequences were the most important things. Hiashiko did find herself relieved that Hinaji had straightened up, at least. It was too much like how her own mother had treated Hizashiko. "Liability isn't something we need to determine."
He blushed a little but nodded. At least her voice wasn't so cold anymore...
"I still feel like an apology isn't enough, though." Hizashiko's advice fleeted through his thoughts and he bit his lower lip slightly. Now was as good a time as ever, right? "After I talked with Hizashiko-san I wanted to come back and see you but... You're busy, and I know that--I've always known that. And I know I'm Branch now and that changes everything, but I still wish things could be like they used to."
He studied the floor carefully, following the weaves in the tatami, needing something to focus on to keep his emotions under control.
"...I've always wanted you to acknowledge me, or to smile, but I didn't consider how things were for you, and I took my anger and bitterness out on you."
It was quite the confession from Hinaji, and it took Hiashiko by surprise. Normally he would have let this conversation go much earlier. She didn't desire to continue this vein of conversation, but she felt that if she stopped it now, it would do nothing but persuade Hinaji to believe she did hate him. And she didn't, not in the least, even though he had called her a liar and stormed off during their last conversation.
Hiashiko wasn't comfortable discussing feelings, much less feelings having to do with Hinaji's childhood after Hiroshi died. There was too much confusion, too much insecurity and bitterness. Looking back, there were times where she knew she had behaved and reacted less than admirably, even though it had all seemed so logical and right at the time.
"I'm sorry I wasn't the mother you wanted, Hinaji." That much was true. She remembered the joy she felt when she was finally able to hold her son, how much love and pride she had in him for simply breathing. She had wanted to be a good mother, but she hadn't been able to find any sort of balance between motherhood and duty, at least not soon enough for her eldest son.
Hinaji shook his head gently and offered his mother a weak smile. She might not have been the best mother, but he was far from a good son. He thought he'd taken the time to really look at and notice people, but when it came to his own family--especially his mother--he was as blind as the Elders thought he was to everything else.
"Are you alright, though?" He was tired of being angry and bitter and of convincing himself everything was fine when he knew it wasn't. If he was going to fix anything he had to stop worrying about how things affected him and focus on really trying to understand his mother. "I haven't even asked you that. ...Not in a long while, actually."
She could recognize an offering of peace when she saw it, even it if it were only a weak and vaguely sad smile. The past wasn't something she ought to dwell on now, not with Hinaji before her and trying to engage her in conversation.
"I'm tired," Hiashiko answered. An honest answer, if a little vague. There was no need to go into deeper explanation than that. What Hinaji said was true--it had be...a long time since their last proper conversation. Perhaps it was something they needed to practice, slow and steady, like reminding one's body how to move after injury. "But I will be fine. You?"
He smiled again, stronger than before if still slightly unsure. "I will be fine, too." Not that it would be easy--he'd been refusing to outright look at his bitterness for so long that now it seemed impossible to ignore. But he wanted things better, needed things to be, and backtracking was the last thing he was going to do. He'd let his promise of changing and growing stronger fall by the wayside somewhere a long time ago. "Is there anything I can do to help you?"
To say no would be poorly received, even if it were the truth. So what could she request? Hiashiko studied her son and tried to come up with something that would seem--no, be--helpful, useful. "I'm worried about Hanabi," she finally settled on saying, for this was the truth. "I'm afraid I'm not equipped to...help him, as I ought." For all that she and Hanabi were closer than she and Hinaji, Hiashiko knew that her younger son would not come to her if he needed something. She had seen that resolve in him the night their world changed--he would do whatever it took to protect his family.
Even if it were at his own expense.
"Would you help him?" she asked.
Hinaji bowed his head formally at the request. "Of course." Wasn't that his job anyway? Even if he wasn't the strongest in the Branch--far, far from it--Hanabi was still his brother and still important to him, no matter how little they talked or really even knew each other. He would not fail at this.