Chapter Seventeen: Little Buddha:

By 1988, Daisuke graduated from Kobe University. He got a job as a teaching assistant at a local community college. By this time, Anna had grown into a cute little girl. She was the brightest in her kindergarten class.

“She sure has a lot of energy,” Kyoko, their neighbor, told him as they headed out to school that spring.

“Yeah!” Daisuke agreed. Anna raced off ahead of him.

“Wait up!” her father yelled as he ran after her. He found a way to keep that little one busy during the days that she had off. On April 16th of that year, the movies, My Neighbor Totoro and Grave of the Fireflies, came out. Daisuke and his film club friends went out to see them on that Sunday. The senior didn’t enjoy Grave of the Fireflies, but decided to take Anna out to see Totoro next Sunday. However, Tokyo was pretty pricey for even back them. On the next Saturday night, Daisuke knocked on Kato’s bedroom door.

“Enter!” the older man said in a muzzled voice. The boy drew open the door and went inside. Kato looked up from his bills and paperwork.

“What’s on your mind, Dai-kun?” he asked. The boy sank down before him on his knees.

“I need money to take Anna-chan out to Tokyo and a movie tomorrow!” Daisuke pleaded out loud. “I promise I’ll pay you back.” Without question, Kato tossed his whole wallet before the boy. Daisuke looked up shocked.

“Wow!” he gasped. “You gave me your whole wallet?”

“It’s fine,” the older man insisted. “Anna-chan needs a day out. She’s never been outside of the village after all.”

Daisuke sank back down on the floor again. “Thank you!”

“It’s nothing,” Kato replied. “Oh and don’t worry about paying me back.” Daisuke gave him a puzzled face.

“You sure?” he asked.

“Of course,” the older man replied as he filled out his last bill for the night, “I’m just happy to see that little angel smile.” Daisuke took the wallet and rose to his feet.

“I won’t forget this!” he said before hurrying out the door. The next morning, Daisuke got his little angel up and dressed.

“Have a nice time out!” Kato said as he saw them out the door.

“Take care!” Daisuke replied. His daughter looked up at her father puzzled as they headed to the bus stop down the road.

“Papa, why isn’t Kato-san going with us?” she asked. Daisuke patted his little girl on the head.

“It’s just going to be you and me today,” he said.

“How come?” she inquired.

“Because,” her father replied. “I barely get time to spend with you anymore.” The little girl smiled as if she was satisfied with that answer.

The wait for the bus only took about ten minutes before it pulled up. Daisuke walked his little darling on board. He had to try and get her to calm down as she had never been on a bus before in her life.

“Wow!” she said.

“Honey,” Daisuke replied. “Come and take a seat.” Anna plopped down next to him in the front. The bus driver smiled at the child’s enthusiasm as he pulled off. Anna looked around at the moving scenery outside of the bus window.

“Wow!” she said in a gasp. Daisuke couldn’t help but to chuckle. Oh yes, he thought. The man patted her on the head.

“You’ve never been out of the village, have you?” he asked. The little girl looked at him with wide excited eyes as she shook her head.

“Where are we going, Papa?” she asked. Daisuke smiled as he played with her little auburn pigtails.

“We’re going to see a movie,” he said. The little girl tilted her head at him.

“A movie?” she asked.

“Yes,” Daisuke replied. The bus pulled up in the city and the man led his daughter to the big theater in Kobe. He had one heck of a time dragging her along since she was too distracted by the sights and sounds.

“So many people!” she said.

“Yes,” her father said softly. “Now come along.” He shook his head to himself with a little smile. Father and daughter made it to the theater after another number of distractions in the city. Daisuke walked up to the ticket booth.

“Two for My Neighbor Totoro, please?” he asked. The lady at the booth looked at him slightly confused.

“Just Totoro, sir?” she asked. “Not Grave of the Fireflies too?” Daisuke nudged his head over at his daughter.

“Oh,” she said. “Sure thing.” The father paid for the tickets and led Anna into the theater. Anna really enjoyed the movie when it was over. Afterwards, Daisuke took his daughter out to lunch at a burger restaurant.

“Can we sit by the window?” she asked as they stood in line. Daisuke smiled as his thumb rubbed on her little hand.

“Alright, honey,” he said. Anna’s little face lit up brighter than a Christmas tree.

“Yay!” she cheered. Her father used his free hand to move up and down to calm the child.

“Not so loud,” Daisuke whispered. Despite closing her mouth, Anna still shifted and bounced around in her excitement. Her father made it up to the front of the line when it came their turn to order.

“One number one and one kids’ meal,” Daisuke ordered.

“Coming up,” the cashier replied as she rang up the total. Once they got their food, Daisuke and Anna sat near the window as promised. He watched as she stuffed her burger into her mouth. Little moments like this made him happy to have this life.

“Anna-chan,” he said as she stuffed fires in her mouth. The little girl didn’t hear him as she kept eating.

“Sweetie,” he spoke up. Daisuke reached over and lightly tugged away her fries. The little girl looked up with disappointment in her eyes.

“Hey!” she complained. Her father repressed a chuckle.

“If you keep wolfing your food down, you won’t get time to enjoy it,” he pointed out. The little girl puffed up her cheeks as she pouted.

“I’ll give them back if you promise me that you’ll slow down,” he said. His daughter whimpered at his offer.

“Come on,” Daisuke encouraged her.

“Alright,” she complained. “I’ll slow down.”

“You promise?” her father asked.

“Yes,” the little girl answered. She reached out for her fries, but he took hold of her wrists.

“Hey!” she complained. Daisuke smiled as he shook his head.

“Just one more thing,” he said.

“What is it?” Anna asked.

“I love you,” he said. His little princess smiled and giggled.

“I love you too, Papa!” she said aloud. Daisuke giggled as he handed back her fries. After lunch, father and daughter headed back out into the city. The little girl couldn’t get enough of the sight of people. They came past a toy store and Anna stopped right in her tracks. Daisuke turned and looked.

“What is it, Anna-chan?” he asked.

“Totoro!” she shouted as she pointed in the shop window. Her father looked and saw a stuffed Totoro plushy sitting in the window on display. He already guessed why she stopped.

“Do you want him?” he asked.

“Yes!” she said aloud.

“And what do we say when we want something?” the man asked.

“Please?” Anna asked. Her father chuckled as he patted her on the head.

“Alright then, we will go get him,” he replied.

“Yay!” his little princess cheered. She led him right into the toy store.

“Welcome!” the clerk greeted them.

“Hello,” Daisuke said back. “We would like your Totoro plushy on display in the window there.”

“Sure,” she replied. “One moment please.” The woman came from behind the counter and walked over to the front window. Anna watched as she took Totoro back to the counter with her.

“Would you like him gift-wrapped?” the clerk asked.

“No,” Daisuke replied. “My daughter will just carry him out of here.”

“Alright,” the clerk said as she rang up the stuffed toy. Daisuke enjoyed watching his daughter walk out of the store with her new friend. She even fell asleep with Totoro in her arms on the bus ride home. Daisuke smiled as he leaned back in the seat.

Can there be more days like this?

Despite all of this, he couldn’t escape from his past. There were two instances of sorrow and fear that wouldn’t let up on him.

August 1st, 1988.

Tape Entry #211:

August 1st, 1988.

My name is Kimoto Daisuke. I am twenty-three years old and a single father. Summer is here and that means Anna-chan's out of school now. Uh-oh, guess I'll have to keep her busy for the whole break.

He broke into laughter.

This will be another good summer. I hadn't had this much fun since the 70's. Great times they were! Now…

He paused as the sorrow crept in.

All I have is the memories. I see them in my Anna-chan. Seeing her little face reminds me that life can be okay at times. Anna-chan… My little soldier… She's become my motivation to survive my bloodline. My little solder…

End of Tape Entry #211

Daisuke sat at the desk that Kato let him use in his room. He had just hit stop on the tape recorder after recording another journal entry. The twenty-three-year-old sat lost in his thoughts. He held a small silver charm bracelet in his hands. It has been so long, he thought. His sister hid this in his jacket pocket two months before her death. He caught her in the act, but she made him keep it there. Daisuke remembered that he had the bracelet in his possession on the day he moved into the dormitory.

The man looked up at the ceiling and sighed. Anna started to look a little bit more like Kirika each day. It almost startled him at points. He had to stop himself from calling his daughter by his baby sister’s name.

Daisuke came back to earth when he heard the door slide open. He looked up and saw little Anna in the doorway. She stared at him in silent wonder as her father stared at her likewise. Little Anna blinked at him in the doorway staring as her papa stared back at her.

"Papa," the little girl said. "What’s wrong? What are you doing?"

Daisuke gave her a little smile as he completely turned around to her. "Anna-chan, could you do something for me?"

The little girl tilted her head at him. "What is it?"

Her father sat there bravely. Could he do this with her? Seemed like a huge request for such a small child, but Anna seemed so strong. She could take this; he knew that she could. Daisuke drew in a deep breath.

"Can you be daddy's little soldier?" he asked. Little Anna blinked at him.

"What do you mean?" she asked. Daisuke opened the desk drawer behind him and reached inside.

"I need you to take care of something for me," he said. Little Anna looked on at her dad.

"What is it?" she asked.

"Come here and hold out your left wrist," Daisuke told her calmly. Anna smiled at him cheerfully.

"Okay," she said. Then the girl held her left hand forward and walked over to her father. Daisuke drew the silver bracelet from the drawer. When his daughter got close enough, he clasped it around her tiny wrist. Anna watched him curiously as he did so. Daisuke sat back smiling.

"Now, Anna-chan," he said. "This bracelet belonged to someone very to dear to me. Can I trust you to be my little soldier and take good care of it for me?" Anna stared on surprised at first. Her dad just gave her a valuable treasure and wanted her to take care of it? Anna nodded at him with a smile.

"Yes Papa!" she chirped. "I'll be your little soldier!"

"Very good, Anna-chan!" he said relived. He lightly patted his daughter on the head. Anna smiled at him upbeat as she began her duty as papa's little soldier from that point onwards. Seeing her face like this gave him the proof that he needed that he could still survive the tragedy that Haruka dumped on him in his earlier life.

I will not let her rob me of my future as well, he thought. The man was determined to fight on and show that he didn’t need the clan or to be a murderer to prove that he could survive. As long as he had his daughter, he could take on anything and everything in life. But, what if that future could be the gateway back into the hell that he grew up in?

October 7th, 1988.

Ever since Anna was conceived, Daisuke worried about her powers. Despite running away from home, the Eda-Kimoto name still haunted him. He feared his daughter for a long time. It had been forty generations already. The man didn’t teach her kitsune-tsukai magic or tell her the truth about their clan’s bloody history. He worried about what powers his five-year-old daughter would have. The man worried that her powers would manifest too soon. He got his second answer that afternoon. Anna rushed into Kato's living room excited.

"Daddy!" she exclaimed as she ran towards Daisuke with open arms. The twenty-three-year-old man embraced his little girl.

"Sweetheart!" he said. "How was your day?" Little Anna looked up at him smiling with those little green-brown eyes of hers.

"I got many kitties to come to school today!" she announced proudly. Daisuke froze and looked at her.

"What did you say?" he asked.

"I saw a kitty lying dead in the bushes near the playground today," she went on. "He made me feel so sad. I wished that he was alive again. Suddenly, the kitty got up and walked away. Then, I looked up and saw many kitties watching me. All of the kids liked the kitties, but the teachers looked at me funny all day." Daisuke's stomach turned. In his bloodline, a kitsune handler's power manifests through one simple wish. Anna's powers must have manifested this afternoon with the cats coming back to life in the city. However, something was off here. Most of the ages for powers to manifest ranged from twelve to seventeen. Anna was only five years old. His daughter was part of the fortieth generation of the third wave.

While Anna did her homework in the living room, Daisuke and Kato talked on the porch.

"They have manifested," Daisuke said to the older man. Kato looked at him surprised.

"Already?" he asked. "Are you sure?"

"Yeah, which means…" the younger man began to say. Both men went silent at the thought of what could come next.

"So what are you going to do?" Kato asked.

Daisuke turned to him with a dead serious look in his eyes. "I have no choice…"

"You mean…" Kato began.

"I have no choice," the younger man said. "I'll wait until after dinner though."

"Will it hurt?" Kato asked concerned.

"No, no," Daisuke said. "A sealing spell is completely painless and she won't know what's going on because it is so quick."

The older man relaxed after hearing that. "That's good to know." Dinner went as planned. All three sat at the table eating. When he finished his rice, Daisuke lowered his chopsticks and looked at his little angel.

"Anna-chan," the young man said, "How would you like to play a little game?"

His little darling's eyes lit up in surprised delight. "A game?" Her father tried to remain cheerful and upbeat about the whole scheme.

"Yes," he said. "Come with me." Daisuke stood to his feet and walked out the front door. The child followed behind curious with Kato watching in silence.

Father and daughter came out into the woods. Daisuke looked behind him after every few steps. Anna stayed close behind him the whole time. He couldn't let her know what was going on; that would probably frighten the child off. Father and child came into the center of the woods. A circle of white chalk waited for them. Anna looked up at her father rather confused.

"What is this, daddy?" she asked. Daisuke turned around and knelt down to his little princess.

"It's okay, honey," he said softly. "This is part of the game." Anna looked on uncertain. Daisuke gave her a little smile and gently patted her on the head.

"It'll be fine," the father promised. The little girl began to believe him as she said nothing. Daisuke kissed her on the forehead.

"That's a good girl," he whispered. The man rose to his feet. "Now step into the circle," Daisuke calmly instructed her. The little girl walked into the circle and turned to face him.

"Good, good," Daisuke muttered. "Now close your eyes and hold out your hand." Anna hesitated at first. The man sensed her nervousness and fear.

"It's okay sweetie," he insisted. "Everything will be fine!" The little girl didn't move at first. Then she shut her eyes and held out her hand.

"That's good," Daisuke mumbled. His fingertips lightly touched her on the forehead. He shut his own eyes and began to chant the spell. A small vibration shook through the child. She could feel it started from her chest and spread through her tiny body. She wasn't sure what was going on. Daisuke used up all of his energy and might for his sealing spell on his little girl. When he felt himself starting to give out, the man opened his eyes and removed his hand. He placed a piece of Botan Rice candy in her hand.

"Okay, you can open your eyes now," the man said. Anna complied and looked in her hand. Her little face lit up when she saw the candy.

"Thanks, daddy!" she cheered. Daisuke gave her a little smile.

"You're welcome," he said. Somehow inside, he knew that this wasn’t going to be the last time he would encounter his past.