If I don't have at least 4 reviews or someone doesn't tell me to continue, I'm going to stop here (I doubt I'll get them anyway). Basically, this is a one-shot but my head is spinning and I'm a bit woozy. Eh? What's that got to do with anything? Oh well. Onii-sama-tachi wa sugoi! Onee-sama wa sugoi!

***

Twelve year-old Okita Soushi soaked his burning hands in the water. For four years, he had been training to be the best and now he was one step closer to it. He had not slept last night as he remembered all there was to remember in beating a kenjitsu master while traveling in the carriage with his master, Kondou Isami Masanobu. As for the whole day, he had been training so much with his master and a dummy that he even forgot to eat. When night came, he came face to face with the kenjitsu master in the Shirakawa fief.

It was not a fair fight as it seemed to others who were there. Soushi's opponent would be a master armed with more strength, height and experience. Masanobu, however, was unfazed having full confidence in his student. The fight ensued. For quite a time, neither of them had any hits yet as the kenjitsu master carefully planned out his attacks. Okita, on the other hand, was reading his opponent's moves and finally, he was able to get the pattern. With an open chance, he immediately executed the Sandanzuki (poke to the neck, then left shoulder and right shoulder). With that, his opponent fell.

Okita looked as his hands; they were scratched, bruised and calloused. He shook his head at the thought that among all children, his hands were the most, let's say, unique, yet accomplished. [Is all this worth it?] he asked himself as he looked around the kitchen. Everything was very much common. Wooden walls surrounded him and stone stoves were at almost every corner. The condiments were neatly placed on the shelves and the light was the only illumination he had in that room.

His thought was disturbed by a gay band of children outside the kitchen. Their voices echoed in his ears. [Is it worth sacrificing my childhood for this?].

"Okita," Kondou's voice boomed "Why are you staying here? What happened?"

"Nothing, master," Okita replied getting his hands out of the water and hid them behind his back. "Is it time to go now?"

Kondou walked up to him and held out his hands. Okita, knowing the gesture, showed his hands to him. "Why didn't you tell me?" Kondou asked with a concerned look. The boy didn't answer. "I doubt you have eaten yet." He added.

Okita only nodded and he was led out of the kitchen to the dining area. He ate heartily along with his master for he could not bear to eat alone, though it was his own home he was at, at the moment after the battle in a dojo in the fief. Though he ate, he did not use his hashi because it hurt him no matter how lightly he tried to handle it. Kondou looked at his student with a degree of fondness. He knew his deshi would surpass him soon but at the price of his own childhood, he did not like it. There was no stopping, Okita, though and he had learned it after four years of being with him.

***

"Mou ichido!" Okita cried out at the students he was handling.

Kondou smiled at Okita although he didn't seem to notice it. [It has only been 7 years, and now, he's the most accomplished swordsman I have ever come across. I can't believe myself having second thoughts for him in becoming a shishou, but...] he looked outside and saw children his age walking about, laughing along and teasing some of the girls they came across.

Okita had become the best in Tennen Rishin Ryuu but he had become more of an adult than children his age. His maturity often questioned his age but with it, he earned the respect of most swordsmen and, others, fear.

Often he would walk at the streets without a purpose and would catch teenage girls stealing glances at him then giggling with their peers. He couldn't understand why they acted that way and even if he asked his master, he would only laugh and never tell him as if it were a great big secret. At times, other boys would invite him along with them to hang out or to have fun but he always declined saying he still had to master his techniques although most know he already has.

"All right, take a break!" Okita called out and walked toward the small Zen garden.

"How are you Okita?" Kondou asked as he stood beside him.

"I am well." Okita responded with a bow. "Do you wish to speak with me?"

"Yes," the older one replied, "Why don't you go and play with the others or talk with them?"

"I am too tired. And at earlier times, they will only divert my focus on my mastery of the sword. I want to be the best master, the best in Japan! But tell me, I'm dying to know, why do the girls always chortle whenever I pass by?"

"Soushi," Kondou laughed, "You are still not as mature as they say you are. I think your reaction will be quite amusing if I tell you that they like you. That is how girls react when they see someone they like."

"Eh?" Okita turned crimson, "Why are you teasing me? All I want is to know the truth."

"I'm not teasing you, Okita. It is the truth."

Okita turned even more crimson than ever. He looked down at his feet as if they were the most important things in the world. With that, Masanobu left him to dwell on his own thoughts; still laughing as he entered the dojo.

***

Mou ichido - one more time

Deshi - student

Shishou - teacher