Disclaimer: S. D. Kyo and its characters rightfully belong to Kamijyo Akamine.
Notes: just a piece of my imagination. Light shounen-ai, if I may warn you before you go all the way, but I do really think Yukimura's relation with Sasuke is like one Yasha has with Ashura from RG Veda... dear, dear... The sewing part is coming from Peter Pan you've noticed, ne? and the egret part coming from a Japanese tale. My thanks to Sir A. C. Doyle for the format. Please review or tell me if you want me to write more.
Set: manga vol.9 that's when I start loving Yukimura
"Does it still hurt?"
Even though the head on Sanada Saemonnosuke Yukimura's shoulder just barely shook, the man was still able to sense the small move. Laughing a bit, Yukimura tilted his head aside to see his charge.
"Don't call me that."
"Alright, Sasuke," even still smiling, Yukimura tried to sound seriously.
"You're mocking me," Sarutobi Sasuke grumbled, yet he still leaned his head on Yukimura's shoulder. He was sitting on Yukimura's lap, legs on either side of his master's waist, straddling the older man. Dead tired, the twelve-year old boy had no will to say 'no' when Yukimura had positioned him that way.
"Ne, Sasuke, I'd prefer to have you this way. You're softer when you're hurt or sick," Yukimura's right hand crept up to cup the back of Sasuke's head. The boy growled at first, but only that. The night was left in premature silence.
The Sanada heir sighed softly. His mind wandered to the events they—he, Sasuke, and Onime no Kyou's group—had just experienced. A small tremor ran through Yukimura's body when the image of Sasuke's little body standing before him as a shield against Basara's dreadful arrows. Not that he was afraid of the enemy, of course. He was just simply afraid of... losing the boy.
The small shiver caused his back to have scratches with the rough tree bark behind. He moaned softly in his way to strangle the tiny hurt sensation on his back.
"What about you?"
"Oh," the man smiled, rubbing gentle circles at the base of Sasuke's skull. "Worry me not."
"Don't try to give me any command like that at times like now, Yukimura. You'd had five arrows at the fight. And, let me remind you, you're almost lost today."
"Sasuke, your voice."
"You're not being honest. I know you."
"I know you, too," with a little force, the man made Sasuke lean his head once again onto his shoulder. "Keep your voice down. The others are tired. They need rest. You need rest."
"I'm older and stronger than you, Sasuke. I have enough experiences more than anyone in our group. Just five arrows won't kill me."
"So now you're saying I'm weak and an amateur."
"You said that, not me. Never me. Something must have been troubling you before I caught up with you."
The boy snuggled closer though the two of them barely had a distant between. Tightening his hold on his master's cloth, Sasuke bit the collar of Yukimura's kimono.
"Just... an unexpected encounter with an old friend."
"Ex-friend, I suppose."
"Uh-huh," pulling the strap of Yukimura's kimono aside, Sasuke put his lips on the warm skin of the man's collarbone. He loved cuddling against this man with no clear reason to say out loud. "Why did you say that?"
"You know... in the middle of your fight against Basara..."
"Did that trouble you?"
"Answer me," Sasuke's fist tightened once again on Yukimura's cloth.
"I was not lying, Sasuke."
"And I was not wrong either when I said you would be my only master," the boy stated in plain voice. "You have me and the other nine willing to die for you. When—"
"—if one of us died, you could find the substitute. Like 'Sarutobi Sasuke'."
"It's just a name, right? It belonged to another man before me. After he was missing, it was given to me. It's as easy as you flirt with women."
"Don't say anything against our vows, Yukimura. We'll make your name written in history. We'll make you—"
"Sasuke," Yukimura's tone rose a bit, yet not loud enough to wake the rest of the group. "You all are not a mere woman. You are not that priceless."
"Hell, you make me as if I'm a father."
"Do you consider me as a child?"
"Yes you do."
"Don't lie to me. I said 'I know you', Yukim—"
Seconds after, the Sanada heir pulled away albeit his lips were just barely away from the boy's. Taking a hold of Sasuke's chin, the older man whispered, "I don't kiss a kid."
Losing for words, the boy put his head back to its previous place on Yukimura's shoulder.
"You like kids, Yukimura?"
"Do you like me?" instead of answering, the man asked back.
"I will not think twice to die for you. I meant it."
Sasuke's words were mixed with a suppressed yawn. His head slid down to Yukimura's chest. The man smiled at the sight. He could be cute sometimes, the man mused.
"Rest now," Yukimura's voiced. "No buts."
Another yawn. "Tell me a tale."
"Any tale," Sasuke's tone was final. "Any tale up to you."
Sighing once, Yukimura wound his right arm around his charge's waist, being careful not to touch the wounds. His other hand caressed the boy's hair affectionately.
"Once upon a time, there's a man in a solitary island. He was the only man in the island, and one day he felt so lonely. So he asked God to send him a partner.
"The precious partner God gave the man was a black form of a shadow. The man didn't feel so lonely any longer. He loved his shadow and so did the other way round.
"One day, the man climbed the highest tree on the island. On the top of the tree, he noticed that his shadow was still standing on the ground. He had just realized then that his shadow never followed him when he was climbing trees. When he was running, the shadow some times would be left a distance behind.
"So he asked the shadow. "My shadow, why don't you follow me here? The sight from here is beautiful. Don't you also want to see?'
"I want to,' the shadow answered, "but I can't.'
"After the man went down from the tree, he brought his shadow to meet a white egret. He asked the white egret to stitch his shadow to his own body.
"See, my shadow?' the man smiled to his shadow. "This way we will never apart. You can follow me anywhere and I will not lose you.'
"Why did the man do that?" Sasuke's voice was muffled by the cloth on Yukimura's chest.
"Hey, sleep. I told you so."
"Just go on with the tale, will you?"
Smiling a thin line, Yukimura pulled the blanket pooled around Sasuke's waist to cover them both. He patted the boy's back once before continuing his tale.
"The tale... hmmm... where was I before you interrupt me?"
"The sewing part."
"Ah, yes. Thank you. Alright. One day, the man was trapped in a conflagration. His feet were clamped by a big tree root. He knew his time was already coming. He said to his shadow to go saving himself alone.
"The shadow refused. He said, "I will not go leaving you. You are my only master. I am bound to you, remember?'
"I command you to go because I'm your master,' said the man.
"I don't have any wish to leave you,' the shadow answered. "I am you even though you are not me. You can asked God to give you another shadow if you could survive and I died, but still, I will not go.'
"The man, no matter how, wanted to keep his shadow alive. He tore open the stitches that bound them together and pushed his shadow out from the flame. The man was burned while his shadow was watching him from a far.
"The shadow was crying. He said, "Why don't you let me die with you?'
"From the middle of the flame, the dying man answered, "Because you are important to me. Do not die just because of me or with me.'
"Unfortunately, Sasuke, I haven't even heard the ending. I'm sorry the tale must stop here," Yukimura sighed. "Ne, I wonder how the shadow's life after his master died."
"He must be miserable." A weak voice. Sasuke's voice.
"Really?" Yukimura nuzzled the boy's soft hair with his nose. "Why?"
"Idiot, don't you realize? The shadow's formed based on his master's body. He wouldn't find another master who could fit him. He would live his life by himself."
"Is that so?"
"He should have gone back to his master while he could. It's better to die with—or for—someone he held dearly than to live miserably."
"Sasuke," Yukimura slipped some hair behind the boy's ear. Nipping the soft flesh of Sasuke's ear, he murmured lowly, "At least the shadow was alive, ne?"
A short sigh. "You truly are an idiot."
The said man chuckled. "Maybe I am."
A silence, then, "Yukimura?"
"You're also important to me. Always."
In the silence of the forest's night, a soft 'thank you' could be heard.