Sakura had kept her word to come and visit them, and Kazuki was glad of it. She was usually the calmest thing in the apartment.
He settled next to her at one of the windows, chuckling as Juubei and Toshiki started arguing over the best way to contain the little gang that had sprung up a handful of blocks north, scribbling building outlines on a piece of paper and pulling it back and forth between them.
"Makubex can model the stability of that building for them in a few seconds," Sakura murmured. "But of course they won’t ask him to."
"I think they have more fun arguing," Kazuki agreed. "Even if it means they have to come home to do it where he won’t hear." He cocked his head at her curiously. "We’ve seen more of you, too, since then."
None of them spoke much of what they did and didn’t remember from their fight through the Beltline, but everyone knew what then meant.
She looked at him with a faint smile. "You called us back together."
"I didn’t mean to hold you, after," Kazuki murmured, half apologetic.
Her glance turned direct. "Didn’t you? After fighting so hard to reclaim us?"
Kazuki opened his mouth to insist that he wasn’t selfish enough to put his wants before theirs, only to close it again as he looked around the room. They were here, and not because he had demanded it. It wasn’t only his wish. Maybe it really was all right, even after all the trouble following him had brought them to.
"Kazuki-sama, you’re so stubborn," Sakura sighed, shaking her head. "I didn’t leave my childhood home only for my brother’s sake, you know."
About to protest the title she used, Kazuki tilted his head, surprised. Of them all, Sakura was the one he had asked the least of because she had always stayed by her brother; he had thought Juubei was her reason for being here. "What was it, then?" he asked, quietly.
Sakura looked down at her hands, fingers pleating her scarf. "My own honor." Her voice was cool and low. "I understand why our father chose to serve Fuuchouin still even under the Kokuchouin. He acted for the good of our whole House; that was his duty. Juubei won’t accept that, even now, but… Juubei has been bound to you and only you from the moment you met. If you hadn’t been the heirs to your Houses, if the world itself had been completely otherwise, he would still have dedicated himself to you." She looked up, and Kazuki almost leaned back from the purpose and determination showing under her habitual calm, deep as the ocean. "Duty wasn’t enough for me, though. And Juubei wasn’t the only one who watched you all those years. There is light in you Kazuki-sama. Light and joy. Nothing has destroyed that, not all of the fire and death and terror we’ve come through. I chose to follow that light and make that service my honor." She smiled, serene and immovable, very like her brother. "Do you understand now?"
In a way, of course, it made every kind of sense there was; Sakura was a true daughter of her House, and her honor was as iron as Juubei’s. Still… "What about Makubex?"
"I love Makubex like a brother. I will always support him." Her eyes fell again and she added, softly. "When it seemed that you… you didn’t wish our service, he gave us a place. His vision is a bright one, and I’m glad to do anything I can to help him reach it." She paused for a breath and her spine straightened, chin lifting to meet Kazuki’s eyes straight as a sword. "But you are my lord."
It was every bit as inarguable as Juubei’s insistence on staying at his side, and Kazuki couldn’t quite find it in him to protest the company he’d wanted so badly for so long. His smile was rueful, though; however traditional Sakura insisted on being she was rather overstating things. "You’ve chosen a lord without a House, Sakura. That’s in Yohan’s hands now."
Her gaze didn’t waver. "Kazuki-sama, what do you think this is?" She waved at the room, at the four of them, and Kazuki stilled, startled. She laughed softly, probably at his expression. "What did you think Fuuga was?"
"I hadn’t… thought," Kazuki murmured, staring wide-eyed at the past. For years, he’d thought only of the clan he’d lost, and of the fear that the tiny remains of his life and love would be taken too. And even when he faced Fuuchouin again and set his hand on it, well in the end he was not the one who could lead it in a new way and he’d placed it in the hands of one who would.
Sakura laid a hand over his and said again, with emphasis, "There’s light in you that doesn’t die. That’s what we follow."
In a way it felt like going back on his decision. As the head of his House and clan, he’d chosen to relinquish it, to give it into the care of its next lord. He hadn’t meant to save anything aside. And yet… This was not Fuuchouin. This was something new. He wasn’t the heir to the House, taking up his inheritance. He was just Kazuki.
And apparently that was enough to make a leader nevertheless.
"I’m very fortunate to have your wisdom, Sakura," he said softly, laying his other hand over hers.
"It is my honor." And if the words were formal, her tone was light again. He caught her eye and the flash of satisfaction in them, and couldn’t help laughing. At least, among his people, he had one who was willing to take her chosen lord politely to task, if it was needed.
That was really a very comforting thought.