Yay another chapter :)
I've also put out another Hakuouki story! Check it out (pleeease?) It's AU in a modern world (got the idea from a pic I saw with Heisuke, Okita and Chizuru in modern uniforms)
harari24 - I had troubles keeping up with the second season too. It took me forever to watch all the episodes, partly because I just couldn't focus and partly because I knew that the characters were going to be killed off :( I'm glad you like the scary aspect to last chapter :) thanks for reviewing!
Thank you to everyone who left me a review :)
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Disclaimer: I do not in anyway own Hakuouki (2/4/2011)
* Warning, mushiness ahead
Chizuru made he way towards the well, going to return the bucket she had used to haul the water. From a distance, she could see someone was already up, standing out in the courtyard, watching the sunrise.
"Saitou-san," she said, as she got closer.
It was of no shock to Chizuru that Saitou did not appear the slightest bit surprised to see her. "Yukimura," he nodded his head in a simple greeting.
"Uh Saitou-san," Chizuru said, "I didn't give you a proper thank you yesterday for saving me." She bowed her head. "Thank you very much."
He glanced at her, his dark blue eyes as devoid of emotion as always. He continued to look at her, causing Chizuru to blush. "Uh Saitou-san …"
He gave her a slight smile, finally looking away. "You're welcome," he said, amusement in his tone. "You were the one that ended up doing me the favor."
"Me?" Chizuru pondered his statement. Just how did she help Saitou? "Uh, Saitou-san, could it have been that you really thought the house was haunted … and you were afraid?"
Saitou noted the dead-serious look she had on her face. He almost laughed ... almost.
He didn't feel like telling her that he, like the rest of the Shinsengumi men enjoyed spending time with her. Saitou too was someone that enjoyed her company from time to time. Having someone like her around, who was much more calming and kind-hearted than the rest of the Shinsengumi, was nice for him.
"Yes," he said simply, "that was it."
She did look surprised, "I'm glad I was able to assist you then." She solemnly met his gaze. "Let me know if you ever need me again."
"I will remember your offer, but I believe that there is someone else that requires you by his side even more than me."
"Someone else? Who?"
Hijikata, who had been intently watching the pair for a while finally called out to them, "What are you two doing?"
Chizuru turned, "Oh, Hijikata-san, good morning."
Saitou could practically see her face light up. "Were you looking for us lieutenant?"
He was still looking at Chizuru as he answered the question, "Nagakura was looking for everyone. We need to have a short meeting this morning."
The cup of chopsticks rattled about in Shinpachi's hands, drawing the attentions of the surrounding group. "Ok Chizuru-chan, task number six, coming up."
Chizuru sighed, she was going to break that cup one day …
The tasks were getting done slowly but surely. She was more than halfway done.
"Hey, hey," Harada place a hand atop Chizuru's head, giving it a slight shake. "What's with that loud sigh? Do you grow tired of these favors already?"
"Oh no, not at all," Chizuru waved her hands about, "It just seems … like there's a lot left."
"Well, don't be sad, the fun people are all that's left," Harada grinned. "There's me, Yamazaki-san, and Souji."
"And Hijikata-san," Chizuru said softly.
Harada eyed her, watching as she sheepishly tapped the ends of her fingers together, gazing at the Shinsengumi vice captain as he reprimanded Heisuke for something. "Yes, Hijikata-san too," Harada used his hand atop of Chizuru's head to steer her towards Shinpachi and the rest of the group.
Okita strolled slowly towards the group. He reached out an arm, wrapping it about Heisuke's shoulders and leaned heavily against him, "Anyone seen Yamazaki-san?"
"Yamazaki?" Hijikata looked to Saitou.
Saitou shook his head, "Yamazaki-kun is still undercover. The last I heard from him, the operation was still going smoothly."
"Very well," Nagakura smiled, "We just go on without him."
"Don't we always?" Heisuke chimed.
"So, four left, but there's only three of us present today," Okita pointed each person out. "I hope luck is on my side today," he winked at Chizuru, "Right Chizuru-chan?"
"We'll just see who wins today," Harada said loudly to Okita.
"That sounds like a challenge."
"Will the both of you just shut up?" Hijikata snapped. He snatched a chopstick from the cup, indicating that the others should follow his lead. Okita and Harada each took a stick from the cup.
Okita chuckled, taking the last chopstick, "What's wrong vice-commander? You want to have a whole day with Chizuru-chan all to yourself too, right?"
"So, who wins today?" Nagakura was busy trying to look at everyone's chopstick at once.
"Out again today," Okita shrugged.
"Actually, the black tipped one," Harada held up the stick, "Is right here."
The only sound was the wind as the group stared at Harada then slowly let their eyes shift in Chizuru's direction, then towards Hijikata.
"Harada got it," Heisuke said, half as a statement and half as a question.
"I think we can all see that," Hijikata said, throwing his own chopstick onto the ground. "Now that this is done, I need to return to work. It would be wise of the rest of you to do the same."
"Hijikata-san," Chizuru said, but the dark haired man was already walking away.
"Don't worry Chizuru," Harada patted her on the head, "Hijikata-san has just been under a lot of stress lately with Kondou-san being gone for so long."
"Kondou-san is gone still?"
"Yes, problems in the east."
"Now's not the time to be worrying about that Chi-zu-ru!" Heisuke put an arm around her shoulder, pulling her close. "You have to look out for Sano-san," he said in a loud whisper. "He's best friends with Shinpachi-san and both of them are weird, old geezers."
"Hey, hey, hey there you little punk," Nagakura leaned close to Heisuke, his eyes narrowed. "What nonsense our you telling our little Chizuru?"
"Nothing that isn't true!"
"Come on Chizuru," Harada motioned her over. "Let those two be."
"Oh, ok," Chizuru waved goodbye, although Nagakura and Heisuke didn't even seem to notice. Okita followed after her, his fingers interlaced behind his head as he leisurely strolled along.
"So, Sano-san," Okita had caught up with Harada, "Just what are your plans for today? Have anything fun in mind?"
Chizuru had a feeling that Harada's and Okita's definitions of fun were vastly different.
She silently prayed that they were going with Harada's definition of fun.
"I'm going to go somewhere with Chizuru," he smiled.
"Where? Somewhere secret?" Okita smirked, "Should I go and tell the vice-commander on you? You know he is part demon?"
"I am going to take her to the walled-off garden on the other side of town."
"Garden?" Chizuru had no idea what he was talking about.
"Oh, the garden?" Okita apparently knew. "How are you going to get in though? The family that owns it is rather concerned with their privacy. The have a small personal guard that keeps people off their property."
Chizuru blanched, "Are we sneaking in?"
"Oh that sound like a good idea Chizuru-chan," Okita nodded, "I'll give you a boost over the wall."
"N-n-no, that's ok."
"Don't scare her Souji," Harada said. "I got permission from the family to go into the garden. They owe me a favor for catching the thief that broke into their manor."
"Sano-san," Okita sighed, "you shouldn't have told her, it probably would've been more fun if you had snuck in. Creates an air of suspense."
"Do you really think we need any more suspense in our life?"
Chizuru followed Harada out of the Shinsegumi's gates and down the main street through the town. He walked beside her, listening to her story of what had actually happened during Heisuke's favor. The town was already full of people, going about their daily activities. Chizuru hadn't had much time to explore around Kyoto since she had arrived and whenever she did go out, it was with a patrol squad on a predetermined route through town.
Harada stopped outside the entrance in a tall stonewall. He knocked on the wooden doors. "This is it," he grinned at Chizuru. "The garden is fenced off from the rest of the house. The family lives in the manor behind it." Chizuru was sure she had never been anywhere near this house, she hadn't even known it existed. The door opened slowly and a samurai clad in armor poked his head out. Harada exchanged a few brief sentences with him, before the door was opened the rest of the way and the guard bowed them in.
"Come along Chizuru," Harada placed a hand on her back, guiding her gently. "You have nothing to fear, we are allowed to be in here."
Chizuru gazed about the garden, already in awe without having taken more than five steps. The path they were on was cobblestone, and appeared to twist and turn throughout the garden. The spectrum of colors she saw was beyond what she was able to describe. There were tall trees, bright with new leaves, surrounded by flowers and near the opposite wall, she could see a small pond.
Japanese Chrysanthemums bloomed around the bases of the trees. Patches of lilies were scattered at varying intervals throughout the yard, their colors varying from pink to yellow to white. The Japanese maple's color was beginning to turn its unique red color that could be matched by no other.
"After you," Harada said with a grin, pleased with her reaction.
"I can really go?"
"Yes, we actually do have permission." He offered his hand to her. She could only stare for a moment, blushing as Harada finally reached out and took her hand into his own. He began to lead her further into the garden smiling at the red of Chizuru's face.
Amongst the flowers, small white butterflies fluttered from blossom to blossom, their forms standing out from the green background. The tall sakura trees had yet to fully bloom, their buds still growing and green, only starting to turn pink. The splashes of color here and there changed as they continued further into the garden, and the variety of the flowers seemed to grow.
"So, how as your trip with Saitou?" Harada asked.
"Well," Chizuru wasn't exactly sure how she would put it. "It didn't turn out like I thought."
"Hmm, well it's a good thing Saitou caught you in time."
Chizuru flushed a darker shade of red. So, it would seem that everyone knew about her little falling through the floor thing then. "The vice-commander was so mad," Harada said, "he looked ready to go out and force the raccoon to commit seppuku."
Chizuru laughed, picturing Hijikata together with a raccoon under any circumstance was funny. The pathway branched and Harada guided Chizuru underneath a lattice covered by purple flowers.
He came to a stop, reaching out to pluck one of the bloomed flowers from its vine. Noticing Chizuru's surprised expression he said, "You don't have to worry, it is almost the time for their flower cutting. They won't if we take some flowers."
He reached up carefully and placed the flower behind her ear. "A flower for the flower of the Shinsengumi." He winked at her, "don't let anyone see you looking so pretty or else they will try and steal you away from us."
Chizuru was sure that her face had been beet red for the rest of the trip.
Chizuru sat on the edge of the wooden walkway, near her room. Dusk was settling in, and darkness began to permeate the once light blue sky. Some of the men were still busy with their training, working to master skills as swordsmen. Long shadows were cast in the courtyard of the Shinsengumi's headquarters and lights from flickering candles could be seen in a few rooms.
Hearing the sound of footsteps, Chizuru turned. Hijikata and Okita were walking towards Chizuru, deeply discussing something. Okita said something causing Hijikata to frown and shake his head. The first squad commander laughed, clapping a hand on Hijikata's shoulder.
Okita glanced up, meeting Chizuru's gaze. He gave her his usual mischievous grin. He pointed Hijikata in her direction, "Well, I need to go and find Sano-san," he said to Hijikata, "I take my leave vice-commander."
He waved to Chizuru before turning about and returning in the direction he had come from. It was just the two of them now, he and Hijikata. He was gazing at her keenly, no readable emotion on his face. Chizuru jumped to her feet, bowing her head to him. The flower slipped from behind her ear, and fell to the ground. She had forgotten that she was still wearing it.
She made to reach for it, but Hijikata was already bending down, gently clasping the flower between his long fingers.
"Uh," Chizuru felt her face warming. "Sorry."
"A purple clematis," Hijikata said.
"A … what?"
He closed the small distance between them. With gentle movements, he tucked Chizuru's hair behind her ear, "This flower," he said, slipping the flower back into place," it's called a clematis." He looked at the purple blossom then to Chizuru, meeting her eyes.
"Oh," she felt breathless. The palm of his hand hovered near her cheek, not quite close enough to touch.
The violet of his eyes was darker than usual, the pre-night lighting coloring the shade to deep purple. His gaze was steady, unmoving. Chizuru felt his stare almost too strong to meet, but she found herself unable to look away.
He lowered his hand, "It suits you," he said, before continuing on down the walkway. Chizuru gazed after him, her head still immersed in the sensations caused by Hijikata.
She reached up, her fingertips brushing the petal of the flower. "A purple clematis," she said softly to herself. "It's my favorite color."
Hopefully it wasn't overly corny :) I like to think of Harada as the "charming gentleman" type.
Questions and/or comments?