It happened when Mashita invited him for the drink that he owed Yashiki. They met outside the bar, and, after moving to a semi secluded space inside, it didn’t take long for Mashita to casually drop Yashiki’s fake name. The name felt strange now. It was all anyone called him for ten days, but it wasn’t his real one. But it also felt weird to think of Mashita, or any of the other Mark Bearers, calling him anything else.
Mashita noticed the pause in Yashiki’s movements, and that caused Mashita to stop and look at him. “Don’t like that name anymore?”
The piercing look in the detective’s eyes made Yashiki feel like he was being interrogated. “Uh...” Eloquent.
“If you want to be called by your real one, you just have to say it.” Mashita was blunt as always, but Yashiki’s confused feelings on the matter didn’t make it any easier to talk about it.
“I-uh. It’s… It’s complicated,” Yashiki finally managed to stammer out. He didn’t want Mashita to get angry with him this early into their meet-up, and it could be difficult to tell when Mashita was aggravated or just being him.
He had been right, it was weird to hear Mashita call him that. The grimace must have shown on his face, because Mashita guessed, “Not a fan of that either, huh?”
Yashiki shook his head. He finally said, “I don’t… Know. It was only ten days, but… It almost feels more like my name than, well, my real name.”
Mashita shrugged. “It happens, sometimes nicknames stick, and no one can help it.”
“… Yeah, that’s one way to think about it,” Yashiki admitted.
“Is it just gonna be us who call you that, or?”
“I don’t know. People out of town know me as the last head of the Kujou family, so I can’t just abandon that.”
“Even though you kinda want to?” The way Mashita casually threw that out made Yashiki sincerely worry his thoughts were that obvious.
Yashiki looked at Mashita in nervous fear. How did he know that? There were days even before Mary where he had wanted to move away from his family’s legacy. Their curse. But his duty to his family had kept him there then, and it would keep him there now. Even though he hated the quiet mansion. He was just lucky that right now he had something keeping him busy during the day that exhausted him for the night.
In a moment of kindness, Mashita clarified, “I’m not accusing you of actually trying to get away, it’s just. I dunno. You look like you want out at times, and I can’t really blame you there.” He gripped at his own wrist. The formerly marked one.
Yashiki mirrored the movement. “I was always destined for this.” The words were quiet. “To live, breathe, and then die on the spiritual legacy of my family. Saya could have left, but she didn’t want to. She wanted to help me out, and she died for it.”
“You know you don’t have to keep doing it, right?”
“But I do. Someone has to. It was… nice to think I didn’t have to, when my memories were gone. That once I figured out who had given me the Mark and helped them move on, I could just live a normal life without ever worrying about spirits again. But-” He laughed sadly, “- No, I can’t. I can’t.”
“Dammit,” Mashita growled. “You’re in way too deep for this. You don’t owe them anything!”
“I owe it to you. I owe it to Saya. To Tsukasa, to Moe, Suzu, Shou, the other Mark Bearers, and all the others who had been hurt. Many died because of something my family didn’t take care of.” The fact that he listed out the younger Mark Bearers had been intentional.
Mashita did not look happy at being included in that list of names, but he stopped trying to argue that point. Yashiki had a feeling it was a temporary hold, however. Mashita instead continued the earlier uncomfortable conversation, “… So Yashiki Kazuo felt more like a name that was you and not just an extension of your family’s.”
“That-That feels right.”
“Yeah, it’s not uncommon. I dunno, did anyone ever call you Kazuo? You really could just get away with Yashiki being a nickname. As long as you remember to sign legal shit with your real one.”
Yashiki tried to think back over the last few days, but events had blurred together. He had met twelve people who he had been to hell and back with, and there had been a lot of conversations with them. “I can’t really remember… Maybe once or twice? But almost everyone just called me Yashiki. Or Mr. Yashiki with the kids.”
“Whatever. It’s not like you have to decide now or anything.” Mashita waved a hand as if to dispel the awkward air.
“True.” Yashiki hummed in agreement. “I have time now.”