He squirms in discomfort, knowing that this conversation is something bound to happen, and something he’s just as determined to avoid if at all possible.
“Shuuhei,” Kensei asks, and his voice is firm, but curious, brooking no opportunity for Shuuhei to avoid it. “What are these?”
He’s tempted to be a smart ass. Tell him that they are scars, obviously, but such an evasion of the truth will only make things worse. Make it seem like Shuuhei has something to hide, that he’s ashamed. He is, in part, but not for the reasons that Kensei may think. Because their origin is not what Kensei thinks.
“Take another look,” Shuuhei says, wanting to dispel the wrong thinking before he gives the right answer. “They are older than Tousen’s betrayal.” It’s easier, somehow, to say his former captain’s name now. Maybe because participating in Tousen’s defeat, feeling that spray of blood, had cleansed him of that utter sense of betrayal.
In destroying Tousen, he’d effectively destroyed his former captain’s hypocritical teachings about the shedding of blood.
Calloused fingers stroke the length of them again. “They also weren’t healed by kidoh,” Kensei says, and Shuuhei can feel the weight of his stare.
“No,” Shuuhei confirms, and licks his lips nervously. “To count, they had to heal on their own.”
There’s a rustle as Kensei shifts on the futon and Shuuhei is compelled to open his eyes, to watch as Kensei gives him a careful look, those brown eyes thoughtful and unreadable. “What do you mean, count?”
He forces himself to meet his former captain’s eyes. “He said that I had to understand pain to inflict it, to get over my fears of it.” The confusion in Kensei’s eyes doesn’t ease, and Shuuhei forces himself to clarify. “The shape of death wasn’t the only thing holding me back with Kazeshini.”
Comprehension dawns, bright and terrible, and Shuuhei can see the dilemma within Kensei. The questions he wants to ask; the answers he’s afraid to receive. The guilt, and finally, a resigned flush of understanding. The weight and warmth of Kensei’s palm on those incriminating scars is both a relief and a greater suffering. But at least he gets it.