Note: When I threw out a drabble challenge on LiveJournal for people to write about the marriage of Kambei and Nasami, one of the most unexpected things happened - several people wrote about Kikuchiyo and Gorobei and Heihachi watching from beyond the veil... but Kyuzo never said a word, not once in any of their stories (and in many instances, he wasn't even there). Only one person wrote a story about how Kyuzo would react (EK's beautiful story "The Final Dance"). When I pointed that fact out later, they were astonished.

I thought of how Kyuzo so rarely speaks...
And I thought of a little doodle that my friend Morgankit had done (some of you might have seen it - it's the sketch of Kyuzo embracing Nasami - it can be found in my LiveJournal at samurai-ko dot livejournal dot com, under the entry for November 9th)...
... and out of that came this story.

You'll Never Know...

You don't know how much I respected you, for never giving in to the same despair as so many other samurai, for seeing the honor in others even when they couldn't see it for themselves, and for never forgetting what it meant to be samurai.

You don't know how the sight of you, whether teaching the art of the sword or sitting placidly beneath the stars, gave me some small measure of peace.

You don't know how good it felt to watch the light leave Hyogo's eyes after he tried to kill you, and then me... and how I hated myself afterward when you suffered for his death because of me.

You don't know how never once did I stop believing that you were alive, even when the others thought you had died... because I knew that a spirit as strong as yours would never give in... and because fate could never be so cruel as to take you from me without allowing me to say goodbye.

You don't know how it was slowly killing me to watch you drawn toward another man, in whom you inspired the same feelings as you did in me.

You don't know how radiant you looked that night by the fire, with two swords in your hand, and starlight in your eyes, as you danced like a dragon beside me.

You don't know how my reasons for revenge had slowly begun to change... from the desire to defeat a samurai, to the need to defeat a rival.

You don't know how from the moment we first met, outside the Village of Respite, I knew that you had loved Kuroshin... and it was because of that love that you could not love me.

You don't know how I hated Kuroshin for that..

You don't know how I lived for seeing you smile... even as I died each time I knew that smile was for another man.

You don't know how it hurt to leave you behind, though the call of revenge was still so strong with me.

You don't know how as I returned to the Capital, after you saved my life, that the tears in my eyes as I left you were not only because of the pain in my arm.

You don't know how as I lay dying in Kambei's arms, I would have given anything in the world to have told you, just once, that I loved you.

You don't know that with your eyes shimmering with joyful tears, and the smile I lived for lighting up your face, you are the only thing in this world I ever wanted.

You don't know, as you turn those shining eyes and beautiful smile toward him, that I'm standing behind you, my arms around you, whispering all the things I never told you...

... and weeping.

Because you'll never know.