Chapter Twenty-Two: Kokoro:

A year passed, the father and daughter settled into the Kimoto Manor and Tokyo life felt like it was second nature to them. Anna got into a decent junior high school and made plenty of good friends. Daisuke took a good look at his daughter. Anna began to remind him of his sisters as she got older. Like Yumiko, his daughter was pretty popular among her classmates and got along with everyone. At the same time, she had Kirika’s kind nature. Both features made the man do a double-take every time he saw Anna. He could see their facial features in her. He had to remind himself a few times that Yumiko and Kirika were dead.

You have to let go of the past, he thought. Somehow, each day reminded him that Anna would leave him too sooner or later. He knew that she couldn’t stay around him forever. The man came to realize this after he hit stop on his tape recorder. She’s really growing up, he thought. Daisuke decided to try and make an effort to spend what little time he had left with his daughter.

One way was to see a movie together. Around this time, Whisper of the Heart came out in theaters. Daisuke smiled as he saw this as the perfect opportunity. He waited until Anna came home from her friend’s house.

“I’m home,” Anna said as he got into the house.

“Welcome back,” her father replied. He waited as his daughter took off her shoes and came into his office.

“How are you?” she asked.

“Good, good,” her father answered. He turned his chair to face her. “Let’s go out to a movie tomorrow.”

Anna tilted her head at him. “What movie?”

He gave her a huge proud smile. “Whisper of the Heart.” The glow from Daisuke’s face started to dim away however when he noticed the disappointed look on her face. “What’s the matter?”

“I don’t want to see a kids’ movie,” she complained.

“But it’s Studio Ghibli,” Daisuke pointed out.

“So?” she asked.

“We have to see it,” he insisted.

“No,” Anna growled. “I’m going to hang out with some friends tomorrow.” Daisuke gritted his teeth.

“Look,” he snapped. “You and I barely spend any time together anymore! I’m trying my best here for a change!”

Anna snorted at him. “So?” He rushed forward and grabbed her by the shoulders. His daughter trembled when she noticed an icy-burning look in his eyes. She winced under his painful grip as she tried to struggle away from him.

“Listen here!” he barked. “We barely get to spend time together and I want us to see this movie so badly! We’re going to see it together whether you want to or not! You understand me?!” Anna looked up at him really puzzled.

“What is wrong with you, Papa?” she asked, “Why are you yelling at me like that?” Daisuke froze in terror at her words. This scene was him and Yasuo in their earlier days. He himself stood in Yasuo’s place right now while Anna stood in his place. No, I can’t let it turn out like that again, he cried in his head. The man drew back trembling.

“Papa?” Anna asked.

“I’m so sorry,” Daisuke whispered. The thirteen-year-old girl still didn’t get what happened before her.

“Are you alright?” she asked. Her father rushed forward and grabbed her by the hands.

“Please see the movie with me?” he pleaded. “You would make me so happy.”

“Papa,” his daughter groaned.

“Please?” he asked again. Anna raised an eyebrow at him. What has gotten into him? Daisuke hardly ever shouted at her before, even when disciplining her. He looked like he was about to cry, at his wit’s end perhaps. Anna dropped her shoulders and sighed aloud.

“Fine,” she grumbled. “I’ll watch the stupid movie with you.”

Daisuke bowed down at her feet. “Thank you so much, Anna-chan.”

His daughter sneered at his reaction. He’s really creeping me out, she thought. After that, they couldn’t really talk to each throughout dinner. The ticking clock in the background ate up most of the silence. Anna shoved more rice into her mouth. Daisuke glanced up at his child rather nervously. This is bad. She probably hates me now. Why did I snap like that?

You are your mother’s child, that’s why, a familiar voice purred in his ear. Daisuke glanced over to his left and frowned.

Oh, it’s you, he replied in his mind.

Jin gave him a huge grin. Hi there.

What are you doing back? I thought you had gone away or something? Why are you showing back up again?

Jin gave him an innocent little pout. Aw, why don’t you sound so happy to see me?

Why are you here?

Don’t you know?

Know what?

Jin’s lips and nose barely touched the back of his ear. Your shield won’t hold her.

Daisuke clutched his chopsticks as tightly as he could. I know that!

The kitsune looked rather amused in hearing this. Oh?

Look, why don’t you go away again?

I can’t.

And why is that?

Jin stretched out behind him. I can’t go back to sleep and I don’t know why myself. His eyes turned over to the thirteen-year-old girl eating dinner and staring at her father. Maybe, she’s willing me to wake up.

Daisuke clenched his teeth. Never!

Jin shrugged to himself. Fine, believe what you want. It’s only a matter of time, my master.

Anna put down her bowl and chopsticks.

“Thanks for dinner,” she murmured. The girl bowed and quietly left the table. Later that evening, Anna was getting ready for bed when there was a knock on her bedroom door.

“Yes, Papa?” she asked.

“May I come in?” Daisuke whispered.

“Sure,” his daughter answered. He slid open the door and peeked inside. He bowed down to the tatami mats again.

“I am so sorry I yelled at you this evening,” he apologized again. “I don’t know what came over me. Really I don’t.”

“It’s okay, I guess,” she said softly. Daisuke lifted his head, giving her a desperate look in his eye.

“It’s just…” he spoke again. “I barely get to see you anymore. I know you’re growing up and you have a life of your own, but please, don’t forget about your old man.”

Anna walked over to him and bent down to his level. "I haven't forgotten about you, I'm just busy with school and my friends."

“I know,” he replied. “But please don’t forget to spend time with me a little more, okay?” Anna shook her head uncertain. You are a strange man at times, she thought.

“It’s fine,” the girl insisted. “Just go to bed. What time are we leaving in the morning?”

“Ten,” Daisuke replied.

“Alright,” Anna said. “I already called my friends and talked to them about the situation.”

Daisuke looked at her like weary child. “I love you, Anna-chan.”

“I love you too, Papa,” his daughter said. “Good night.”

“Good night,” her father said back. Daisuke slid her door closed and went back to his room. Jin flew up next to him.

That was easy, he whispered in his master’s ear.

Please shut up, I don’t have time for your crap anymore.

Jin gave him a little pout. Aw, then make time for me. You have no choice after all.

The father froze in the hallway. What do you mean by that?

Oh, you know.

No, I don’t!

The kitsune leaned in close to his master’s shoulder and ear. You’ll have to feed me real soon.

Daisuke frantically shook his head. No!

But you must!

I refuse to become a murderer! I’m not like them!

I have to be fed somehow. Jin came around in front of him. Because if you don’t, you will die and then poor little Anna-chan will have to live with your family.

No! I won’t let that happen!

You better find a way to feed me then.

Daisuke clenched his fists and gritted his teeth as he stormed back to his room for the night.

Anna shook her head to herself. She didn’t really understand him at the time. Daisuke never talked about his childhood or the rest of their family. When he got home from work, he would sit at his desk and make recordings. He never even explained why they moved from Kobe to Tokyo last year. She still didn’t think it was because of the job alone. Despite not asking questions anymore, Anna still felt like she had to know the truth one way or another. Maybe tomorrow, she could find out a little something about that guy.

By the next morning, she found Daisuke waiting for her in the living room. He gave her a huge smile.

“Ready to go?” the man asked.

“Yes, yes,” his daughter replied. “Can we get this over with?”

Daisuke rose to his feet from the couch. “Alright, let’s get going.”

Anna did her best to put on a fake smile as she headed out the door with her father. Daisuke himself tried to put up a brave front. I can’t let Anna-chan know the truth just yet, he thought. This led his mind to question some things about himself. How long will I be able to stay myself before the hunger takes over? How long will I have left before I die? The man decided to go ahead and prepare for the worst case scenario when it arose. Suddenly, he felt someone tapping him on the arm. The man looked down to see his daughter staring at him.

“Yes?” the man asked, blinking.

“Is something wrong?” Anna asked. “You seem awful quiet.”

Daisuke forced himself to smile and shake his head. “Nothing, I just got lost in my thoughts.” Anna stared at him suspiciously alerting her father. Daisuke perked up as he didn’t even wait for her to speak.

“You know what?” he asked. “Let’s just enjoy the day together and not think about anything else, okay?”

“Alright,” Anna said uneasily.

“Good,” Daisuke replied. “Let’s hurry up; we don’t want to miss the movie, do we?”

“No,” the girl grumbled to herself. Father and daughter made it to the film without any trouble. Jin kept quiet for the rest of the day. After the movie, father and daughter had a late lunch, did a little shopping, and went home. Anna ended up having a hard time trying to convince her father that she didn’t like the movie.