His Choice to Leave

Kazuki starts leaving the day Toshiki disappears. There is no explanation, no note, nothing but the emptiness left by Toshiki at Kazuki's left side, but when he asks if he should search for him, Kazuki just smiles at him with tired, jaded eyes.

Juubei had wondered why would Toshiki choose to leave like that, wondered just how he could actually decide to go into a world were there was no Kazuki's orders or fierceness to follow through. For a while, he couldn't believe Toshiki had gone voluntarily.

"It was his choice to leave," Kazuki tells him, brushing rough fingertips against his jaw just for a second before he moves away, and Juubei knows that he'll be the only one to know of that small gesture of sadness from his leader.

But it's then, Juubei realized much later, that Kazuki's eyes start looking towards the horizon that is not limited by the Limitless Fortress' walls, remembering a world they had left behind.

Raitei's brilliance darkened that world for a while, and though his loyalty belonged to Kazuki, Juubei could understand why Kazuki had chosen to follow the youth with the dark, terribly sad eyes that ruled through the lower belt of the Fortress with thunder on his steps. He never loved Amano Ginji the way his kings did, but through the love Kazuki had for the sad emperor, Juubei could respect him as well.

And then Raitei disappears as well, walking out of the Fortress' walls on his own to feet, with barely any word at all, nothing more than a 'I'm sorry' before he turns away, disappearing into the noise of a world Juubei has done his best to forget

"It was his choice to leave," Kazuki tells him that night, his head against his shoulder, his hand on Juubei's waist, sounding sad, so very, very sad that Juubei just gathers him close, wishing that he had the power to protect Kazuki from a broken heart.

One by one, the ties that kept Kazuki attached to the Fortress disappeared. The remaining kings tried to defend the people that had once relied on the Volts, but the without Raitei, the Volts crumbled away, and only Shido offered a brief goodbye to Kazuki before he and his animals went into the world beyond the walls. Masaki simply disappears, not bothering with goodbyes or possible hints of his whereabouts. Kazuki keeps on fighting, keeps on smiling, keeps on moving to sleep by Juubei's side night after night.

Kazuki keeps on looking beyond the Fotress' walls, to the world he had once wanted to leave behind, to the world Juubei had sworn to protect him against.

But Kazuki is already gone by then, for all that back then he didn't see the truth: a kiss was a kiss and he had been to blind to know the difference between a normal kiss and a kiss that was meant to say 'forgive me' and 'goodbye'. Kazuki's touch had felt the same, the silk of his hair, the softness of his thighs, the way he had rested his head against Juubei's shoulder; it all had felt exactly the same.

"Are you going to look for him?" Sakura asks him, voice soft. Her eyes are probably sad, but Juubei doesn't turn to look at her so he can't be sure.

He doesn't answer, instead turning his back to the Fortress' exit.

It had been Kazuki's choice to leave.