Every once in a while, Narushige hears someone whisper, "Child of God."
It doesn't happen often. After everything that happened, most people have the consideration, or at least the sense, not to refer to Rakan as "child of God." And of those who do, they certainly don't do it in front of anyone who knew him, and Narushige is too well-known, too distinctive; everyone knows on sight that he's the infamous Shigeka son, and his history precedes him. So no, he doesn't hear it said very often. But sometimes–-just sometimes-–it does happen.
Narushige is out doing a circle of the Capital plants. There's no point to it, really, because the plants are doing just fine on their own-–surviving, growing, thriving. But he does it anyway, placing hands to rough bark, inhaling the roses' sweet aroma, listening to bell-flowers chime and gazing at the glow from the light-flowers. When Narushige can't bear to go see what’s become of Rakan and Chigusa, the plants help remind him that something of them lives on.
Narushige is crouched down, checking the roots of an enormous tree, when he hears it. "These too?" a child’s voice asks excitedly.
Narushige glances up to see a woman with a young boy. The boy has tugged a small flower, periwinkle and delicate, out of the ground by its roots. "These, too?" he repeats, thrusting it at his mother.
"These, too," the mother says. "All of the plants you see were given to us by the Sanome Prince." She carefully rescues the flower from her son’s grip and returns it to the earth, reburying its roots and gently smoothing out the soil. "And that’s why we must take care of them, and treat them well," she says. "They are a gift from the child of God, and we must cherish them."
Narushige averts his eyes, stands up, turns and stalks away. Child of God. The very words make him want to weep. Rakan fought so hard against that label, fought so hard to make people believe that they don’t have to rely on any gods to shape their fates. Rakan was no child of God, and Chigusa no terrible reaper. They were mere people, people who had been manipulated, used and abused until they had finally found each other, and found a way to fight back against their fates, fight until the very end.
Rakan was no child of God, and his sacrifice-–their sacrifice–-was all the more great and terrible because of it.
I almost wish you had been a child of God, Narushige thinks, his sorrow heavy and bitter at the back of his mouth. If you had been, then maybe you would still be alive.