“I know.” All the neat piles of thought and feeling Genma’d managed to sort out washed together like a sand castle crumbling under a wave. He took a breath, letting the air out slowly, leaning against Ryouma as much as the back of the couch.
Kakashi made a low sound of agreement and folded himself to the floor at Ryouma’s feet, slouching against the couch. He didn’t look up, even when Kin dropped her nose questioningly to his shoulder. Pakkun clambered into his lap, stretching out with paws against Kakashi’s thigh and raised dark eyes towards his summoner’s masked and moody face.
Raidou rolled his chair over from his desk and sat opposite the couch, keeping all three of his teammates in his sight.
Silence stretched thin. Genma took another breath, trying to pull thought together. He sat up straighter, bracing a hand on Kin’s broad back. It was over and they needed to move on. The matter, as Sagara had said, was closed...
Raidou spoke at last. “You know Fukuda wasn’t your fault. Either of you.”
The matter was not, would maybe never be, closed.
“I should have checked her for injury after that fight. Maybe I still couldn’t have saved her—” Genma pulled away from Kin, away from Ryouma, and clenched his fists in his lap. “As hurt as she was, I probably couldn’t have saved her. But maybe if I’d armed her better. Or kept her out of that fight in the first place. Or something.” He shook his head. “Maybe she wouldn’t have taken that injury in the first place.”
“If you want to blame someone for that fight, blame me,” Ryouma said. “I gave her the knife and took her in. And I kept her running after she got hurt. But…” He hesitated, glancing down at Kakashi for a moment, then leaned back so his shoulder was in contact with Genma’s again. “She didn’t hold back or speak up, either. And I’m not sure we could’ve kept her back from defending Kimiko if we’d tried.”
All true. Reasonable, logical, and undeniable. She’d tried to kill Team Six, lost her whole team and her arm to them, and then reluctantly turned traitor on her own country and joined them, all in order to secure a future for her sister and niece.
Which she had. Kimiko and Sango were alive and safe, well out of Mist’s clutches and the threat of genocide.
If Fukuda were given the chance to make the choice again, Genma didn’t doubt she’d choose her sister’s life over her own every time. He glanced at his hands and sighed. “I know.”
Raidou’s chair creaked. He leaned in and dropped his hand squarely over Genma’s, covering and stilling them. His voice was warm and quiet, and filled with conviction you could sharpen steel on. “There’s no blame on anyone. You did the best you could. That’s enough.” Even when Raidou sat back, Genma could feel the heat of his leg pressed close.
Genma had broken in front of his team once, and regretted it. He tipped his head back and stared at the ceiling until his eyes didn’t feel like they might water, and his voice felt like it might be his own. There was no reason for him to be so emotional now, when the threat Kuroda had held over them was gone. Absolution had been given by the commander herself. The matter is closed.
“Never thought I’d see the day I got this attached to a Mist ninja who’d tried her best to kill me and my team,” he said, trying for humor. He missed the mark by meters, but sometimes it was the attempt that mattered.