|Pain Left Behind
Author: Kikaromi PM
Miracles don't last forever. Masamune learned this the hard way. One-shot. Christmas/B-day gift for Masamune-sama.Rated: Fiction T - English - Friendship/Tragedy - Magoichi S. & Masamune D. - Words: 3,668 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 1 - Published: 12-25-11 - id: 7672768
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Hello everyone, Itonami Shiro here. This is my friend Masamune-sama's hate-as-heck birthday/Christmas gift, but I thought everyone else might want a peek.
Anyway, here's a note: THIS IS NOT DONE. Sadly, I got sick and I wasn't able to finish this as soon as I wanted. I'll get the rest written ASAP, I promise.
"But for now, I just…" Masamune Date, Japan's undisputed ruler, nestled in a patch of soft grass. Every inch of land spreading past his vision now belonged to him. Japan would change under his rule; he'd open trade routes and let other lands know his peaceful slab of the world. No more would power-hungry leaders tear the fragile peace everyone strived to see. For now and till the end of time, Japan would put down their weapons and welcome others, not shun those they never bothered to meet.
"I want…to gaze up at the sky." Masamune stared at the passing clouds, the gentle breeze making his eyelids droop. Battling Iyeasu's vast army wasn't the easiest feat he accomplished during his conquest. In reality Masamune owed his success to the Date forces, more specifically Magoichi.
Magoichi Saika, a foul-mouthed, lady-flirting gunslinger, pledged his allegiance to Masamune a while back, their relationship rapidly building by the hour. They both wanted to make a world where everyone could be happy and both favored their defenses with a gun rather than a sword. Magoichi acted as Masamune's guardian per se, finding himself wrapped up in sticky situations thanks to his loyalty. His rewards consisted of many insults meant to be affectionate and the occasional payment invested in restoring the Saika Village.
The man in question stood next to Masamune, pained brown orbs watching his friend lye comfortably with a smile. Masamune rarely showed expressions besides rage, putting up a rock-hard shell void of weakness. Void of emotion. Very few reached past Masamune's shell, two people, Magoichi and Kojuro Katakura, were alive to tell the tale. Masamune's father, Teremune, also saw past his son's tough exterior, though unfortunate events led to his untimely death by the hands of the One-Eyed Dragon.
Masamune noticed Magoichi's sorrowful gaze and asked if he had a problem. Magoichi avoided giving an answer, "I'm just thinking about stuff." He replied smiling. However, the young lord wasn't buying the act. He turned his question to what was Magoichi thinking about, though his friend merely shrugged. He wasn't letting this go, oh no. Masamune let his rage take the reins, ordering the marksman state out-loud why he kept staring as if he regretted something.
"I'm fine Masamune, really. Jeez, you're starting to act like Kojuro. You both seem to forget I'm an adult, I can handle things myself." Magoichi snapped, ignoring the order, "On a different note, you look like you're about to fall asleep. If it makes you feel better, how about a deal? Take a nap, then when you wake up, I promise to tell you what's up, fair?"
Masamune, knowing he'd lose his voice trying to force Magoichi, the stubborn mule he could be, into confession, gave up and went along with the proposal. Soon ruling Japan, sleep would become nothing more than a dream. Besides having to protect Japan in the event another country invaded or his people started to rebel, Masamune would have to constantly listen and fix other people's problems. Some people were imbeciles and couldn't ever figure out how simple doing the work themselves saved his time, their money, and whoever's behind them's patience. His peaceful world was just beginning.
"Goodnight, oh overlord of Japan." Magoichi couldn't resist insulting Masamune, "I'm sure his majesty needs rest before serving his people day and night."
The One-eyed Dragon glared in response, rolling over in attempt to ignore further insults, "Goodnight Magoichi. Be prepared to give a lengthy explanation when I wake up."
As Masamune closed his eyes, Magoichi started to cough. His hands, littered crimson red, covered his mouth from waking the dragon, Magoichi slowly inching further away. His sight swayed, what used to be a straight dirt path became curved and almost impossible to follow. He wouldn't let that stop him. Masamune couldn't see him broken like this; it'd break the remaining pieces of the kid's fragile heart. Masamune counted on him to be there as a supporting adult figure, and watching your adult figure continuously spit up his own blood wasn't really helpful.
Magoichi continued to trek his lonely road, barely conscious where he was going. Somewhere far, somewhere no one knew his face or cared to notice preferably. He'd rather be declared MIA than downright dead. Back when the marksman temporarily joined Hideyoshi's army to defeat Mitsuhide Akechi, one fresh slice of happiness at the end of his crappy days, an unknown shooter nailed Magoichi right in the heart, forever fracturing his whole circulatory system. Hideyoshi refused to believe he'd passed into the afterlife, those around him spreading rumors their lord went mad. When the seemingly dead Saika renegade saw the world once again, everyone called it a miracle. Magoichi, perplexed how he survived, wandered the land from then on.
After touching certain death and routing back, Magoichi's life changed throughout the years. From a nameless wanderer to a loyal follower of Hideyoshi's collapsing dream, his unbending dedication, nested in the hands of Masamune Date. Somehow, Magoichi predicted his young friend could unite the warring states with support from his clan. The prediction came true. Now, there wasn't any reason for him to continue. He served his purpose.
The limited lie Magoichi Saika lived was coming to an end.
Masamune, the headstrong, ambitious leader of Japan, would submit to the insecure teen he hid under the armor if word spread his trusted retainer died. Magoichi couldn't bear to put a damper on Masamune's crowning day. Kojuro was a smart cookie; he'd cover for him. But there'd still be the matter of making it up to the kid. There was the….right!
Reaching his pocket, which took several tries, Magoichi pulled out a long piece of paper. When playing cat and mouse with Masamune's forces in Oshu, he spent his time either messing with Kojuro or writing. Yes, writing. Patience comes with age, as they say. The letter was pretty much done, though it lacked his signature to make it official. "Hope Masamune doesn't mind my explanation is written." The marksman chuckled, more blood dirtying his hands.
"Masamune! Lord Masamune!"
"WHAT?" Masamune grumbled, rubbing sleep out of his eye. Couldn't this idiot see he was clearly taking a nap? What could be so freaking important they had to run from wherever to find him, wake him up, and deliver a message in person? If people wanted his help already, they could wait. "Can't it wait, Kojuro? I'm trying to get some sleep before I have to deal with Magoichi again. He means well, but man can he be stubborn."
"That is the thing. Magoichi, he…" Kojuro swallowed the lump in his throat, "Magoichi's MIA, my lord. No one has seen him ever since the battle ended. I thought he might be watching you, though I see my efforts were in vain."
He couldn't believe what he was hearing. Magoichi, missing? But he stood right there, next to the flattened pile of grass, not even a moment ago! Masamune growled, lacking time or patience to play along with Magoichi's disappearing act. If someone promised him something, he'd make sure that promise came true, by force if necessary. He wouldn't let the crow escape the dragon's claws.
"Don't stand there staring at me, go find him! The Date are to find and bring Magoichi to me at once! He's to be brought back alive under any circumstance, or don't bother coming back, you hear me?"
"Yes, my lord!" Kojuro bowed before running to alert the Date of their new task: finding their run-away ally. Magoichi commonly vanished and reappeared when they rested in Oshu's icy winds, though today marked the first he ditched after a major political battle. Masamune's Right Eye grimaced, realizing Magoichi's inner motives. He hoped the day wouldn't come so soon, yet luck struck far from men of Oshu. Kojuro had to find Magoichi first and…
…dispose of him.
"Magoichi, stop being a total imbecile and come out already!" Masamune grew tired contributing to Magoichi's charade. He'd ditch anything for a pretty lady or skip anything important outside the field of battle. Heaven knows why his patience for the Saika rifleman seemed endless; anyone else who played hooky received the boot. Then again, not many saw the true value of guns, yet Magoichi trusted his hide with a musket longer than Masamune knew him. He earned respect for that.
Although, Masamune's lesser forces noted he had a thing for Magoichi. Why the awkward speculation? Masamune trusted Magoichi on most occasions, even situations where Kojuro, quoting their lord, "would be helpful, though I need no one holding me back." Although, if Magoichi volunteered to lend his help, you'd find him at Masamune's side without question. Kojuro denied these claims to keep opinions of his lord unbiased. Sadly, his denial worked backwards, edging those outside the One-eyed Dragon's social circle to believe he slowly began putting his trust in Magoichi alone.
Thinking about his lackeys led Masamune to frown. He'd soon be at their feet, tending to their whims in exchange for their loyalty. In brutal honestly, he conquered Japan to feed his sense of power alongside his father's dream. Having been so powerless in the past, negative encounters drove him to show those idiots who really held the reigns. He showed them…but at what cost?
Masamune spit, wondering why the hell he was reminiscing when he should be dragging a certain idiot's sorry behind back to Sendai Castle. Trudging through miles of snow is all well and dandy, though you got sick of it when you lived your whole life waking up to a pile by your window. Not to mention wearing armor was one of his poor decisions; in a few minutes his outfit went from a protective suit to a thousand pound freezer. Magoichi was an idiot for making him search during a snowstorm.
Footprints larger than Masamune's and slightly pointed at the tip decorated the flawless ice sheet, swerving here and there as though whoever, Masamune bet his yen it was his idiot, made these footprints lost their sense of direction. That's what imbeciles get for troubling those around them. "Unless you want to freeze out here, you better come out Magoichi! I know you're there!"
Quickening his pace, the One-Eyed Dragon forgot to pay attention to more than what is on the road; he soon found himself tripping over a large mound of snow, sinking face-first in another mound of snow. Incredibly pissed, Masamune let his temper rise, kicking the object costing him a moment of dignity.
A metallic clang sounded during the collision. Why something made of metal was doing outside Sendai Castle brought some interesting questions. Could be an idiot's failed assassination attempt, wouldn't be the first time someone tried ending him in the past month. His curiosity piqued, Masamune, mouthing this is why he wore gloves everywhere he went, dug through the strange, crimson-colored snow.
Halfway done, he abruptly stopped. His mind pleaded to look away, but his eyes were glued to his discovery. A brown-haired male wearing a fur-trimmed coat laid seemingly dead was Masamune's reward. His thoughts immediately assumed they found Magoichi, Masamune downright denying this person even resembled the sarcastic, idiotic, endlessly irritating Magoichi Saika. I can't be sure it's him. Disgusting as it is, I'll have to dig up the whole body, even the red snow. Japan loves insulting its new ruler before he even sets foot on the throne.
Masamune's first day as ruler wasn't playing out as he planned it, that's for sure. Digging up bodies, catching the worst cold, totally the best ways to waste time. At least today hit bottom; fate would have one heck of a task topping this excruciating snow-scavenging for a dead person.
…And somehow, fate found a way. Hands numb from shoveling snow bare-handedly, Masamune's earlier doubts proved to be right. He found Magoichi alright, but in a condition he hoped to avoid. Magoichi's vest had a large blood stain hear his heart; how come he missed the wound earlier? Such an in-your-face stain wouldn't be impossible to spot; Magoichi wore rather "plain" clothes. Did Magoichi hide his pain from him? Was he unworthy of the marksman's trust?
"You…you IMBECILE!" Masamune pulled Magoichi around eye level by his coat collar, shaking him violently in a fit of rage, "Whatever happened to the promise of never leaving me, huh? You've played me a fool this whole time, haven't you? Well you better be laughing it up idiot, because you've dug your own grave!" His shouts, screams, and tears reached deaf ears. He blamed himself for being the actual idiot, venting to a person who lacked the warmth to comfort a broken spirit. Instead of helping the land and his retainers, his fruits of labor spoiled rotten, driving those he cared deeply further apart.
Masamune's sanity crumbled, him and his broken resolve cold on the ground. Part of him wished to stay here by Magoichi's side, how things should be. However, he of all people knew the horrors of war. Many loved ones lay littered on various battlefields, forever to be lost in the pages of history. He couldn't waste his people's sacrifices on the fact he himself lost a loved one.
"Magoichi…" Masamune composed himself, fully aware throwing a tantrum wouldn't magically fix his problems, "You always were an idiot. But I guess it takes one to know one."
Paying his respects to his valuable retainer, a document bearing both the Saika crest and the Date family seal caught his eye. It was stuffed in Magoichi's pocket, the decorated edge in broad daylight. Masamune knew this particular pattern meant his friend specifically requested Masamune to read what he wrote and make sure unwanted eyes weren't spared a glance.
Magoichi's handwriting, to Masamune, showed dedication near the top, progressively getting sloppier farther down the page, the last few sentences smeared and rushed. So much for an official letter; he got credit actually signing his work for once. Certain spots on the page had water stains either from snow or, Magoichi hated showing these, tears. Huh.
Masamune squinted when reading the last couple sentences, the snow causing the ink to drip and clot together. Reading this made his stomach sick. Twangs of guilt piled over the more he continued reading whatever he could make out, yet he found looking away impossible.
Can…we…ha…ke…Rule…an…way…yo…ld…would. Sorry I n't…re...u.
P.S. – Take care of Gracia. She needs someone like you there for her.
"My lord!" Kojuro yelled to Masamune who was standing around, back turned. His lord showed no signs he acknowledged Kojuro's shouts; his concentration stayed focused to whatever he was doing. "My lord, I am sorry! We searched all of Oshu and Lord Magoichi is nowhere to be found! I know you said to not return until he was found, but we cannot continue to run the people ragged!"
"Kojuro." Masamune responded, his voice unreadable.
"Why…WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME?" Kojuro, in a flash, sunk so fast into the snow his armor clattered as it hit solid ground. Masamune pummeled Kojuro, seemingly tearing him limb from limb like a starved wolf. "You knew! You knew this whole time and never said a word! Am I that untrustworthy to you incompetent idiots?"
"Lord Masamune, I…"
"You're both useless! Why did I ever think you two were trustworthy? Are you just using me?"
"SHUT UP! I don't want your excuses! If you think I'm such a pushover, why not end me now? Save yourself the trouble, Kojuro!"
"Masamune!" Kojuro slapped his lord, an act he never saw himself committing, "You know Lord Magoichi and I would not dare cross you even with our own lives at stake! Striking my lord has never been a desire of mine, but I cannot allow you to insult those who are closest to you!"
Masamune fell silent, shocked. His vassals were never so bold as to strike him back. Kojuro, of all people…daring to lay a finger on him. Who knew he felt so strongly? Magoichi as well…
All I wanted to see…was your smiling face after becoming Japan's undisputed ruler.
"Kojuro…I'm sorry. Both you and Magoichi mean as much to me as I probably mean to you guys. I shouldn't have attacked you." Masamune stood up and helped Kojuro to his feet, "I…I just don't know what to do, Kojuro! Magoichi, he's! He's…" the word stuck to his throat like bile, causing him to choke and form water in his eye, "…dead."
Kojuro's doubts were right on target. Fighting against Japan's most talented swordsman and the greatest warrior of this age alone...it was a miracle to even survive a fight against one of these fearsome opponents. Such like a crow to narrowly escape unharmed with its prize in tow. As the Dragon's Right Eye, he should have protected his lord's father figure and wily friend, given too much stress opened wounds.
"Consider this a failure on my part, Lord Masamune. I should have assisted Lord Magoichi in his battle against Miyamoto and Tadakatsu. It was foolish of me to leave him unprotected while you were absent." Kojuro bowed in apology, "I'm prepared to take any punishment my lord finds appropriate."
"No…it's my fault. I was overconfident in you two." Masamune paused when he realized Kojuro wore a frown, "Don't get me wrong, I…I have full confidence in both of you! What I meant was I convinced myself you two were invincible and leaving you both wouldn't do any harm. You can see where that idea ended…"
Kojuro's silent disbelief in Lord Masamune left his subconscious, the emotions left behind prompting him to embrace his lord. Saika foresaw this day and instructed he stick to Lord Masamune like glue. As Lord Magoichi put it sometime ago, "If I'm gone, all the kid's gonna have is you. Leave his side for a moment and he'll crumble. Emotions are scary things, Kojuro; a man in grief is the most unpredictable creature on the planet." He spoke from experience, being the very man who ended the Demon King due to the grief of losing his village, so Kojuro trusted Lord Magoichi's judgment.
"I know you could not care for Lord Magoichi anymore than you do now my lord, but I must remind you as leader of Japan, you are expected to watch over and solve the problems of your people. I can be your substitute for a week at your request, though I refuse to take what is yours for a prolonged period of time." Kojuro proposed, "As for Lord Magoichi, you can do with him as you please. I shall not disgrace your decision."
Masamune gulped, wondering how to go about this. He had little faith in his mind right now, attacking Kojuro brought this, but Kojuro was the retainer who didn't breathe until his lord told him to. "…Well…um…I shall return to Sendai Castle and prepare for my duties. As for you Kojuro, I want you to bury Magoichi someplace you think is right for him. Preferably bury him not far as possible from Oshu, though it's your choice."
"Yes, m'lord!" Kojuro bowed, throwing the used-to-be-heavy-though-wasn't-anymore Magoichi into his arms while almost accomplishing to drop him from miscalculating how heavy Magoichi's armor would be to him. Masamune scoffed and walked the road north. Kojuro already had an idea where to bring Magoichi before his final moment of sunshine faded, a place where he personally shared with the marksman when both wanted to live life without war for an evening's peace.
This place first took the road to Sendai, and then made a sharp turn west when you could see the castle, yet the castle could not see you. That's the reason Lord Magoichi liked this spot, for he could watched his pint-sized ruler at a distance and still skip duties doing so. Kojuro knew sharing this information with Lord Masamune wouldn't stop Lord Magoichi's slacking; he'd relocate somewhere else where not even the Dragon's Right Eye knew. He'd rather shoulder a burden than let Lord Magoichi wander alone.
When approaching their special spot, Kojuro heard birds (was that a crow?) chirping above him. Any kind of bird were rare in Oshu as snow and cold winds welcomed friend and foe. However, it never stopped a single crow from nesting here to roost his wings. "You couldn't keep away, could you Lord Magoichi?" Kojuro chuckled, "I'm sure Lord Masamune will visit soon, just sit tight."
Merry Christmas Masamune-sama, and Happy Late-as-can-be Birthday!