Chapter 11: The Case of Date Masamune Take 4


Masamune realized, all too belatedly, that he had been a fool. Prior to the return of his memories, Masamune had been so focused on winning Yukimura's favor, a desperate demand of his very soul to reclaim what had been stolen from him, that he hadn't focused enough on Sanada Yukimura himself.

Masamune had arrived at the café early that morning, but instead of taking immediate action as he had planned, he just couldn't help but be distracted by Yukimura.

Masamune had sat down at his usual table, pulling out his laptop to work on his written legacy, and then felt his heart shatter and mend when Yukimura did nothing more than smile at him from behind the counter, retying his apron before coming to take Masamune's first order.

It had been different that night when he had embraced Yukimura in the alley. Too many stray emotions were assaulting his tormented mind. He wasn't able to comprehend what it meant to have Yukimura in his arms. There was simply too much desperation and joy in just knowing he wasn't dead. Masamune hadn't realized the significance of that moment until he was lying in his bed at home, blankly staring at his hands before wrapping his arms tightly around himself.

Masamune had held Yukimura for the first time in centuries.

He held Yukimura.

Masamune had stayed away from Yukimura after that to collect his thoughts, had researched Hanbei and Toyotomi, and then even asked for Motochika's help to make sure that he hadn't completely lost his mind. He hadn't. They were all somehow alive again.

Yukimura was alive.

And now, sitting in the café, finally in Yukimura's presence again, Masamune couldn't help but just stare at him. Masamune didn't care if he looked like a fool, before him was Sanada Yukimura. Masamune was simply enraptured, trapped in the catharsis of seeing his once lover energetically flitting about with his usual bounce. He looked the same, sounded the same, and even moved the same as before. Masamune, who remembered their final moments in the past, was content for the first few hours of this day just watching Yukimura be alive.

The man he loved, the man he had lost, the lover he had carried from the battlefield long after his breath had ceased. Sanada Yukimura was standing, breathing, lightly flushed from exertion, so beautifully perfect and was smiling at him now.

But his Yukimura was…off.

Without remembering who he was as Date Masamune, and without realizing that Yukimura remembered everything as well, there was no way he would have been able to recognize the subtle wrongness surrounding the former general.

But Masamune did remember now, and he knew Yukimura.

And watching Yukimura move about the café after taking his morning order, Masamune was completely aware that something was off with his little fool. At the same time, Masamune was still upset that Yukimura had ignored his memory-lacking affections…

Yukimura had ignored him.

Yukimura had played nicely, been a friend, but ignored him. It was one thing to unintentionally overlook Masamune's affections, especially as Yukimura had always been a little dense in matters regarding romance, often making Masamune the initiator in most of their interactions.

But Yukimura had remembered from the beginning.

Masamune had tried once again to win his love.

And Yukimura had ignored him.

Masamune couldn't believe it.

They were Date Masamune and Sanada Yukimura. Since when had one of them been capable of ignoring the other? Even when they hadn't necessarily liked each other they had been drawn to one another, had instinctively known one another. One battle had been all that was needed for them both to be completely captivated. No matter who they fought after their first meeting, no matter who they met after, no matter who they already knew, it was only in each other did they find such a surreal and unique meaning.

Even when the present Masamune had no memories, he had still known that Yukimura was essential to his being.

Sanada Yukimura, who had remembered everything for a long time, who remembered how wonderfully they had loved and how horribly they had parted, had ignored Masamune. Masamune wondered if Yukimura was still mad about what happened in the past. He wouldn't blame him. But that didn't give Yukimura the right to ignore him.

He couldn't believe that Yukimura had ignored him and didn't want to understand it. It just shouldn't be possible.

Well, Yukimura was going to notice him now.

In Masamune's mind, whatever idiotic reason Yukimura had for avoiding him would be sorted out and then they could just go back to how they were before everything went wrong. They weren't torn apart for the same reasons as last time. They would be fine after Masamune had a little fun.

So in the early afternoon, when Yukimura came by to take his lunch order, Masamune finally commenced his terribly miscalculated plan.

"How is your writing coming along, Masamune?" Yukimura asked, looking so adorably innocent that Masamune wished he could feel bad for what he was about to do.

Masamune gave a light smile, keeping Yukimura unaware, and replied, "Not too well. I'm afraid I got stuck."

Concerned, Yukimura responded, "I'm sorry, Masamune. You've been working so hard."

Masamune nodded, exaggeratedly attempting to emanate a pitiful air as he inwardly laughed. He sighed dramatically, "I really don't know what to do. I can't really ask for help, no one else knows the story or the characters."

"…Masamune?" Yukimura questioned, looking down from his notepad to where Masamune had caught hold of one apron tie.

"Hm?" Masamune sounded, slowly wrapping the black material around his right index finger, dragging his hand closer to Yukimura's body.

Yukimura seemed conflicted, his hands gripping his pen and notepad tightly.

"Hey, Yukimura?" Masamune questioned, letting his hold on the apron go to tap the backspace key on his laptop. "I know it's awkward, but would you mind if I talked to you about it during your break? Maybe discussion can get me back into writing again."

At first, Yukimura seemed torn between hesitation and concern, but then he really looked at Masamune. And Masamune recognized the expression, the meaning in his once-lover's eyes. He knew that expression intimately from nights long past, when the bloody future was uncertain and all they wanted to do was hold each other. Masamune shoved down the elation he felt in knowing that whatever reason Yukimura had for avoiding him, it certainly wasn't a lack of love.

He watched Yukimura discreetly look at the clock, and then around the room to take note of the low number of customers scattered throughout the café. The scary father had retired into his office, so it was only Yukimura and the cake girl working.

It was the slow hour before the lunch rush, and on most days it was Masamune's favorite time because it was slow enough for him and Yukimura to talk.

Today it was going to be Masamune's favorite time for a more notorious reason.

"Hold on one second, Masamune. I'll ask Oichi-san if we can switch breaks."

Not only was Masamune forced to accept that he was an incompetent actor, he also took note that Yukimura was just as gullible as always.

At Masamune's grateful but false smile, Yukimura disappeared behind the counter to talk to the long-haired waitress. The pale girl blushed as Yukimura enthusiastically begged for the break switch. The cake girl brought one fist to her chest, blushed even more deeply, and then said something before Yukimura quickly hugged her. Masamune felt his eye twitch as he watched them, and was still frowning when Yukimura let her go to come back to his table.

Any sympathy for Yukimura that Masamune may have possessed had been squashed by the boy's heterosexual interaction. It was proof that Yukimura was just as well-liked as always, which was dangerous. Dangerous for anyone who Masamune, who was never above murder or subterfuge, felt was getting too close. If Yukimura thought he and Masamune were over he was vastly mistaken. There was no way Masamune would ever let Yukimura stray.

It was time for Masamune to reclaim his place in Yukimura's life.

After weaving through the tables, Yukimura practically jumped into the seat across from Masamune. In turn, Masamune smiled lightly and hid his intentions and prior irritation, closing his laptop and setting it inside his bag.

Yukimura tilted his head, "Won't you need that?"

"No, not right now. Now we need to talk."

Masamune leaned forward, crossing his arms on the table and staring deeply into Yukimura's soulful eyes. Yukimura stared back, mildly hypnotized, and then Masamune purposely broke the moment, knowing for certain that Yukimura was at least still attracted to him.

So what was the problem?

"Everything alright?" Masamune asked.

Yukimura snapped out of his daze. "Wh-what?"

Masamune grinned, propping his head up from the table with his right arm, "With the cake girl you are trading shifts with?"

"Huh? Oh. Yes! Yes. She wants to talk to me before she goes on her later break though," Yukimura replied with an easy smile. "But we don't have too much time now... my longer break isn't until before the dinner rush. We could always start now and continue then, though! Or I have to close the café tonight since Oyakata-sama and Kenshin-san have a date, so we could always speak later if you are still around."

"Don't worry. I'm simply positive I can talk about this problem for hours," Masamune began conspiratorially, putting his arm back down and leaning his face in closer to Yukimura's. "I am having a really big problem figuring a character out."

Yukimura leaned in as well, led by the mood of Masamune's secrecy. "What's the character's name?"

"Hmm...let's call him 'S' for now. I don't want to completely give my story away."

"Okay, S then," Yukimura nodded, committing the name to memory. Masamune wished they were together already, because then he would be allowed to hold him for being so adorably stupid. Sadly Masamune still wanted to be mad at him.

"Well, romance really isn't the focus of this story, but S's relationship with another character is where I am really stuck at, you see?"

"I suppose," Yukimura replied, then paused, staring at Masamune with a frown as he caught the English phrase.

Masamune quickly went back to the conversation before Yukimura could think too much on it. "This character…I should really know enough about him that I could expect a lot of different reactions but…I'm not certain how to describe it…"

Masamune hid a smirk when Yukimura said, "Maybe if you describe a little bit of S's story I would be able to understand more. I may be able to help somehow?"

It was too perfect. Yukimura already knew the story, knew what Masamune had been long dreaming and sketching. Dear Yukimura, with his kind disposition, was trying to help Masamune who wasn't supposed to remember anything. It made Masamune want to laugh in self-derision.

"I can do that. Well, the story takes place over four centuries ago. It's a story of war and doomed lovers." Masamune easily caught Yukimura's uncomfortable shifting, inwardly wondering how the obvious youth had been able to fool people for so long. "Aside from S, the other main character is…let's call him A."

"A?" Yukimura exclaimed, not having expected that.

Struggling not to laugh, Masamune replied, "Yes. A. It's my character, so I can call him whatever I want. Got a problem?"

"N-no! Just…I didn't expect the letter to be…A."

Masamune gracefully shrugged, "Well, now I know you have a prejudice against A. Poor, unloved A."

"I don-"

"Stop interrupting my story," Masamune said, cutting off Yukimura with a serious look. The younger man frowned and hung his head, letting Masamune continue his story. Masamune openly smirked with glee because Yukimura couldn't see it.

But then the hilarity receded, because Yukimura was no longer looking at him. Masamune reached out to take Yukimura's right hand with his left, causing the boy to jump and stare at him. But Masamune just continued holding his hand, capturing Yukimura's gaze with his own once again. Yukimura opened his mouth to say something, but Masamune turned Yukimura's hand palm up, using his right hand to stroke the inside of Yukimura's, familiarizing himself with a touch he had long been denied. He was amazed at the different feel now that battle-worthy calluses were gone. Masamune couldn't wait for the opportunity to take off the rest of Yukimura's clothing and see his unscarred flesh. Unlike his past incarnation, this Yukimura didn't wear revealing clothing, which was both a blessing and a minor disappointment.

Yukimura, finally recovered from the shock of the action, tried to pull his hand away but Masamune gripped it tightly, cradling it with both of his own. Yukimura tried to tear his eyes away, but Masamune made certain to stare Yukimura, capturing him completely as he told their story.

"Picture this clearly, Yukimura. The country has imploded with war between rival leaders. A and S, are two such powerful enemy leaders. They meet one dark night in the prelude to the major war. Immediately their attention is drawn to the other. They fight. It's beautiful. It's powerful. It's the most meaningful encounter of their lives. They both survive to repeatedly meet again, and even though they battle numerous opponents, it's only to each other that they are devoted. Together they take down a king torn from hell, but that does not stop the war. There is too much bloodlust and too many possibilities for this war to ever end easily.

"Overtime their mutual regard grows into love, and after realizing its reciprocated, they simply can't imagine how it could have taken them so long to be together. There are many problems, of course. And eventually S has to make a terrible choice. And his answer is one that A was too self-absorbed to tolerate. And by the time A could apologize...S was dead."

He could feel Yukimura trembling. Masamune knew that he could have dragged this encounter out. But he simply doesn't have the patience.

Right now he is holding Sanada Yukimura's hand. And he wants the right to hold more than just his hand, forever.

"A is very sorry for being a fool. He is more sorry than he can ever say. For everything."

Yukimura closed his eyes with a shuddering breath, taking in the apology. He probably didn't even realize that the hand held in both of Masamune's had curled to fit, as if to hold back and never let go.

"The epilogue of my story is still being written, but it's at this point where I am stuck. S and A find each other again, but A doesn't remember their pasts while S somehow does. And even though A falls in love with S all over again, S purposely plays the ignorant fool and won't let A have him. And A really wants him, openly chases after him, but S still ignores him. And when A remembers everything, he decides to confront S. But now where do I go with this story?"

Masamune gripped the hand he was holding almost painfully, his eye boring deeply into the shivering Yukimura's.

"Tell me, Yukimura. I think you may have an idea. Why is S running from A now?"

Yukimura tears his hand away with that old strength Masamune reveres. Yukimura tried to stand up, run away from his verbal assailant, but Masamune has the advantage in this encounter. The second Yukimura turned around to escape, Masamune was ready. He reached across the table and grabbed the back of Yukimura's apron, fiercely pulling back. Yukimura, in spite of all his struggles to tear the apron off and flee, could not get far when Masamune stood to get a grip on Yukimura's black vest with his right fist. When Yukimura was dragged close enough, Masamune, right hand still gripping the back of the vest, wrapped his left arm around Yukimura's waist and forced them both back down into Masamune's chair.

Yukimura fell into Masamune's lap with an "oomph", frowning and trying to stay quiet to keep attention from drifting their way. He quickly turned his head to the side to fiercely whisper, "Masamune, let go now!"

Masamune shook his head with a silly grin and Yukimura struggled more to escape. Masamune released the vest to wrap his right arm around Yukimura's chest, pulling back to hold the meekly thrashing body completely against his own .

Masamune took a deep breath, luxuriating in the feel of having Yukimura's taut body against his own. He rested his head over Yukimura's shoulder to kiss his cheek in an act of affection both honest and parody, whispering "No" as the younger man snarled.

Then Masamune brought his lips to Yukimura's ear, crooning and almost singsong, "Sanada Yukimura. You didn't answer my question. Why is S running from A today?"

"Date Masamune, you should be nicer to the waiters! Then again, I suppose Date Masamune finds it troublesome to be nice to most people regardless!"

Masamune, shocked at the familiar voice, unintentionally gave Yukimura the opportunity to break free. The boy nearly leaped from his arms and ran behind the counter, as if that would save him from Masamune. He was wrong, but luckily Masamune was incredibly distracted at the moment.

Standing before Masamune, stupid-ass grin on his cheerful face and ridiculously long hair piled high on his head, was the last person in the world Masamune ever wanted to see in any life.

"Look Kotarou, didn't I tell you it was a good idea to come here today? And you were worried!" Maeda Keiji happily announced. "You remember Date Masamune?"

A boy, probably not even sixteen, with shocking red hair and two recent-looking red marks tattooed on his cheeks, looked up at Maeda with eyes completely covered by his hair. He nodded, taking a pen from the pocket of his jeans to write on a notepad hung around his neck.

Masamune blinked, still stunned by the sudden encounter, and the former ninja raised his sign.

Rapist

Maeda nodded with merriment, hair bouncing with the movement, "Exactly Kotarou!"

Of all fucking people to remember…

Masamune slumped in his seat, day ruined, prey escaped.

It was bad enough that Maeda and his replacement pet monkey had interrupted his self-delusion of what could have been an epic revival of romance.

It didn't help at all when Maeda and the ninja sat down at his table.

Maeda smiled at him like the idiot he was. "Hi Date, I'm here to help you!"

"…"

When the lunch rush came, the café became its usual bustling state. Which meant Yukimura was too busy catering to customers to worry about Masamune's wandering hands. It probably shouldn't have, but it amused Masamune when Yukimura got so aggravated by the discreet public assaults that he eventually came to completely avoid Masamune's range.

Masamune eyed Yukimura like a predator, making sure to give a sexy grin or an implicative expression whenever the hunted youth turned his way. And he would always look at Masamune because the former samurai was always watching him. It was cat and mouse. It was too much fun.

"Poor Yukimura. Liking such a perverted man…"

Masamune tore his attention from Yukimura to the two sitting with him. He didn't mind the pet ninja, that one was silent, but Maeda…

"I don't know why you are here lady-killer, but I hope you aren't planning on trying something again.

"Oh no!" Maeda replied with absolute humor. "I learned my lesson last time for sure!"

Masamune wasn't nearly as amused. "I'm sure. The beating will be worse this time if you try and interfere, you see?"

Not taking Masamune seriously in the slightest, Maeda laughed flippantly, "Sorry, good habits die hard!"

"I remember your habits," Masamune retorted, arms crossed. "Still don't like them."

"I see your attitude hasn't changed. Such a bad personality. Poor Yukimura…"

"Cut the melodramatics. What are you even doing here? And how exactly are you helping me in not being helpful at all?"

Maeda sighed indulgently and sipped his tea, humming his approval, before replying, "With the combined forces of the exquisite Yukimura and my people skills you are now looking at the first two delivery boys of The Great Tiger Café. We have endeavored to expand the café to the far reaches of the city!"

Masamune stared Maeda down. "No, really. What are you doing here?"

Meada frowned sadly, "I'm being serious. Kotarou and I gave a presentation. I explained how cool we are, Kotarou drew pictures of…whatever he felt like, and Yukimura begged in that cute way that gets him everything he wants! Takeda told us to come back today to discuss it more, and we got here early to prove we are punctual. Glad we did! It was really nostalgic watching Date Masamune molest an innocent."

"Funny." Masamune deadpanned. "How do you even know Yukimura this time?"

Kotarou drew a happy face and showed it off.

"That's exactly why we are here, Kotarou!" Maeda praised.

Masamune wasn't impressed.

Kotarou seemed equally unimpressed with Masamune for not understanding his artwork. So he added an eye patch to the happy face.

Maeda nodded, "That's even better."

Masamune was still lost, inwardly insulted that people gave the mute kid praise for crap drawings when all he ever got was shit for his. "How can you understand him? And why the hell doesn't he speak?"

"Kotarou? He just chooses not to." Maeda shrugged. "I think he does really well expressing himself."

Apparently irritated, Kotarou added something to the picture, showing it only to Maeda beside him.

Maeda smiled widely. "Oh, you. That's a little mean… but I like it."

Masamune could almost bring himself to care.

Maeda looked at him, "Oh, right. Sorry. I didn't answer your question, huh? Yukimura and I went to school together. I dropped out last year and traveled the country with Kotarou here." Maeda lightly patted Kotarou on the back. "Yukimura and I talked to each other almost every day while I was gone though. Kotarou and I are in town for the next few months until the situation here settles."

Masamune quirked a brow in surprise, "Situation? Wait. You mean…Hanbei, don't you?"

Maeda's face lost all cheer as he replied, "Yeah, Hanbei is a big part of it. Is he the guy that got to you too? With that game, right? I was kind of hoping Yukimura would have…eh, too much to ask out of that kid."

"It was Hanbei," Masamune consented harshly, realizing Maeda knew a lot about what was going on. Like his very presence, it was pissing Masamune off. "A few days ago for me. You?"

"A year ago."

"The game was released then? And him?" Masamune asked, referring to Kotarou.

"I was the unlucky prototype victim. Hanbei hates me best, after all." Maeda looked at Kotarou, who did nothing, and so answered for him, "For Kotarou it was not too long before I met him. He won't talk about it though."

"Wh-" Masamune lost the ability to form words when he noticed Yukimura and Oichi talking discreetly behind the counter. Masamune frowned as Yukimura caught his gaze, froze, and then left outside with Oichi as he had earlier promised.

"Date?" Maeda questioned before following his gaze.

Even after the duo had left the café Masamune was focused on the door.

Kotarou tore a piece of paper out from his notepad and chucked it at Masamune's head.

"Kotarou!" Maeda warned.

Masamune turned his head slowly until his menacing eye could glare at Kotarou. Kotarou silently, fearlessly, raised his pen in defense.

Maeda laughed awkwardly, "Well, hey, Kotarou, let's go see Takeda, huh? Hey, Date, you can probably go spy on Yukimura and his lady friend! BYE!"

Masamune convinced himself that he wasn't following Maeda's advice and that he had every right to stalk Yukimura. He wasn't even really stalking Yukimura anyway, it was merely that he needed an opportunity to talk to the boy without anyone around.

He could be the nice guy and let the cake girl have her say first.

"Yukimura-kun…would you….would…"

Outside of the café, Masamune, who was leaning near the front entrance and out of sight to the two, lit a cigarette in the realization that this was going to take awhile. He didn't know what the sister of Oda wanted of his lover, and as far as he could recall the two hadn't even met in the last life.

Occasionally, Masamune would tilt his head around the corner to watch the two. Yukimura was smiling encouragingly, not rushing Oichi who was blushing more brightly than Masamune had ever thought humanly possible.

"Ichi…Ichi told Yukimura-kun about Nagamasa-sama…and…"

Oh, Masamune thought, it has to do with that guy.

Being a witness of Azai Nagamasa and Oichi's failed romance, Masamune couldn't help but feel sudden sympathy for the girl. Masamune knew that he could be a selfish bastard, but even he hoped that the girl and her former husband would find happiness in this life.

Yet he still couldn't grasp how Yukimura would be able to help her. He pondered if maybe she wished for Yukimura to help set her up with Naga-

"Yukimura-kun…would you…with Ichi…would you go on a date with Ichi tomorrow?"

…what?

Masamune's thoughts completely derailed and he dropped the cigarette that had been traveling to his lips.

There was silence from the alley, and Masamune forced himself to calm down. Yukimura would never-

"I don't mind, Oichi-san. Is there somewhere you need to go?"

…WHAT?

"Can Ichi…Ichi has a shift tomorrow morning…can you pick Ichi up from here?"

"No". Just say, "no".

"Of course, Oichi-san. I would be more than happy."

This is fucking war, Sanada Yukimura.

Masamune stomped on his cigarette and crossed his arms angrily. He couldn't believe this, couldn't comprehend what Yukimura thought he was doing.

Oichi came around the corner first and paused at seeing Masamune. She blushed a bit, probably realizing that he had heard everything. Masamune didn't hold back his glare.

The cake girl hurried past him, and Masamune waited. It didn't take long for Yukimura to follow Oichi, and the second he turned the corner Masamune grabbed him by the arms and pushed him back into the alley.

"Masamune? What are you doing?" Yukimura glared at him, but Masamune didn't care.

"You can't be serious about that date, Yukimura."

Yukimura didn't even blink, stern in a way Masamune had rarely ever seen. "I am."

Masamune shook his head, releasing Yukimura's arms. "I just practically called you out and now you want to date a woman?"

"Masamune…don't…" Yukimura sighed, becoming less unyielding.

"Don't what? Question my lover as to why he just accepted a date with a woman?"

"Technically-"

"There has never been a 'technically' with us."

Masamune stared him down, and Yukimura caved like he always did when he knew he was the reason that Masamune was upset. Yukimura walked toward him and delicately set a hand on Masamune's left shoulder to calm him, leaning against Masamune's body. Masamune wanted to hold him completely, but held himself back, still confused why Yukimura, who obviously still cared, was doing this to them.

"Masamune…you don't understand what is happening. Oichi-san and I have never had that kind of relationship. It isn't my place to explain, but as her friend I can only help her as I can. And what she is going through does not involve you."

Masamune shook his head deliberately, "Anything involving you involves me. It's the same for you too right? Anything involving me involves you. That has always been our game."

Yukimura immediately backed off, and Masamune wondered what he had said wrong.

But Yukimura wasn't angry at all. He wasn't sad. He wasn't…anything. He was…not acting like Yukimura should be. There was suddenly none of that spirit Masamune cherished so dearly.

Yukimura looked at him and came to some conclusion Masamune knew he would not like. There was too much he didn't know about Yukimura's life, about what was happening in general, and this fact was ruining them before Masamune could even be given a chance to repair the damage he had caused in their last lives.

"Masamune…this isn't a game."

And with that Yukimura left Masamune in the alley, confused more than ever, but still obstinate and planning his next attack.

Masamune paced his room, music blaring, trying to think. Yukimura would be closing the café in two hours and Masamune needed a plan. Yukimura would be alone with no scary father or interfering coworkers, so that was one major point in Masamune's favor. He just needed a plan.

Masamune froze mid-step, a good idea finally taking hold. He thought about this new plan, revised a small portion of it to his liking, and then nodded with accomplishment.

Excited, Masamune went to his cluttered closet and began tearing clothes out in a search. Becoming vexed in not finding what he was looking for, Masamune became hastier in throwing articles of clothing about the room.

Five minutes later, his efforts still fruitless, Masamune turned off his music and opened the door to his bedroom.

"Kojuurou! I need a robe!" Masamune vociferously called out.

He heard his favorite, aggravated exhale, and then, "Your favorite fluffy blue one is in the bathroom, Masamune-sama."

"No, a sexy robe!"

"…"

"…"

"Masamune-sama? Please just use the bathrobe and let me pretend I never heard that."

Masamune shrugged and figured it would be good enough. Yukimura should be used to the weird things he did anyway.

By the time he had compiled everything he needed into his favorite over the shoulder bag, a curious Kojuurou was standing in the doorway to his room, looking at the mess Masamune had made.

He was going to reprimand Masamune until he noticed the bag.

"Masamune-sama…are you going out this late?"

Deciding to be blunt, Masamune replied, "Yes."

"With a bathrobe?"

"And wine. And candles. And cookies if I need bait."

There was complete silence.

A little concerned, Masamune looked around Kojuurou's seething body.

"Did the cat get out again?"

Then Kojuurou seemed to growl for a second, before finally snapping, "Masamune-sama…I am tired of you being a wild, reliant and unproductive child!"

Masamune admittedly jumped at the sudden, random exclamation before replying, "…um, okay. Can I deal with your problem later? I have to go do something that's really important."

"Masamune-sama!" Kojuurou fiercely reprimanded and Masamune winced. Kojuurou wasn't nearly so indulgent to his whims in this life. Less a retainer and more of a parent, and because he knew both the retainer and the parent, Masamune wasn't sure just how much he was allowed to get away with when it concerned this Kojuurou.

"If I promise to be good can you drive me?"

Kojuurou didn't question what Masamune was doing, if only because he knew that he wouldn't like it. Even Masamune knew that Kojuurou was driving him out of fear for what Masamune could be doing if he were to walk alone. And telling Masamune not to go was pointless.

By the time they reached the café, Kojuurou had given Masamune the lecture every teenager never wishes to hear, and Masamune sat and pretended to listen. He would indulge Kojuurou in this because he did care for Kojuurou, and knew the man did it because he cared for Masamune as well. Plus, it was really amusing watching the man sternly go over terms and safety procedures. Masamune was never going to tell Kojuurou that, if only in his memories, he had long been…well, he was just going to let Kojuurou think he was telling Masamune something important and leave it at that.

After promising to call Kojuurou when he needed to be picked up, Masamune gripped his bag and walked to the entrance of the café. He waited for Kojuurou's car to be out of sight before he lightly knocked on the locked glass door.

He could see a single light on in the back of the café and he knocked again. He waited for a few more minutes before all the lights came on and Yukimura curiously appeared to open the door. Masamune waited patiently, noticing Yukimura's slow movements. He felt a little guilt in realizing that Yukimura had probably had just about as bad a day as he had, and on top of that Yukimura had needed to work the entire time.

Yukimura froze at seeing him, but then unlocked and opened the door with resignation, making Masamune miss the times when Yukimura would smile brilliantly whenever they met. It was just further proof that something was not going right in Yukimura's life, and Masamune needed to know what was going on.

"Masamune?" Yukimura asked, a little uncertain.

Masamune stepped inside before Yukimura could shut him out. "Just let me say what I need to say."

Yukimura looked at the empty café and realized, like Masamune, that it was probably the best place for this conversation. "I do owe you that. Let me finish in the back and then we can talk."

To a degree, Masamune had always appreciated Yukimura's lack of caution. Granted, it had always meant that Masamune had to become more cautious when others began appreciating it, but for moments like these he was quite indebted to Yukimura's naïve personality.

Yukimura took down a chair that had been resting on a table so that Masamune could sit. Masamune tossed his bag down on the table and there was an awkward silence between them. Yukimura was probably wondering how to start the conversation, and Masamune was figuring out how he could put his own plan into action.

"Hey, Yukimura." Masamune said, trying to distract the youth from his obviously hectic thoughts. "How are you getting home tonight if the Old Man's on the prowl for Uesugi?"

In spite of himself, Yukimura gave a small snort of laughter at that. "Please don't speak of Oyakata-sama in such a manner. And…I don't really know yet."

Completely unimpressed, Masamune just looked at him until Yukimura gave up and winced, continuing with, "I…had an idea that you would be coming so…I may have…told Oyakata-sama that Sasuke was available to pick me up?"

Masamune felt like he had been sucker punched. For all his good ideas of their relationship being different this time, once again Masamune was forcing Yukimura to lie to Takeda so that they could meet.

"…I'm going to go finish up in the back. I'll be out soon!" Yukimura explained, and nearly ran off as Masamune watched with a frown.

Masamune shrugged it off and began getting ready, all the while wondering about Yukimura. Thinking about it, for as long as Yukimura may have remembered the past, how could he not have been forced to lie to Takeda? How could any youth with the mind of an adult, one possibly younger than even Maeda's pet ninja, have been able to stand being alone in remembering for so many years?

"…Yukimura…"

Masamune decided to worry about it later. For now he had an old lover to seduce, and he could not let Yukimura catch him unprepared.

He turned off the lights and got into place, a gleeful smirk settling across his shadowed features. Masamune was ready, sitting cross-legged on the table with his bare legs hanging over the side, dressed only in his favorite blue bathrobe tied loosely to show off his chest, a glass of wine in hand and surrounded by candles to accentuate his body in the darkness.

Yukimura, concerned about the sudden light failure, would surely come and see what had happened.

And then he would see Masamune.

Masamune waited, and finally Yukimura must have noticed that the lights were off in the front of the café. He didn't come immediately, but Masamune could hear him from the back.

"Masamune? Are you still there?"

Masamune said nothing, anticipation filling him. He squirmed a bit, but made sure not to ruin the picture he made for when Yukimura did come to the front.

Finally footsteps. Masamune froze his body, making certain to focus only on mustering all the sex appeal he possibly could. Then he frowned, no longer liking his pose. Instead of sitting straight he turned his body to the side, accidentally knocking a couple of candles over. Masamune leaned back, using his left arm to prop up his torso on the table, flashing more skin now as the bathrobe hung off his shoulder, his legs were bared further as they hung off the edge of the table even more.

Masamune, who couldn't see Yukimura as easily as the boy could see him, heard him drop some type of cloth when he came close enough to see what Masamune was doing.

There was a moment of silence as Yukimura processed the scene, and then he killed part of the fun by moving to the side of the room to turn on the lights. But Masamune didn't say anything because, while less romantic, this would mean that Yukimura could see him even more clearly.

Yukimura stared at him, completely stunned, hand still resting on the light switch as if he had hoped that turning on the lights would banish the specter bathing in candlelight.

Masamune didn't say anything, only grinned in the way he knew got Yukimura off. Yukimura bit his lip, seemed ready to do something, but then closed his eyes and shook his head.

As he walked closer to Masamune, Yukimura said, "You can't be serious, Masamune."

"I am."

Then Yukimura completely paused, was staring at Masamune, but it wasn't with the adoration or lust Masamune had been hoping for. In fact, Yukimura seemed more worried than anything. Masamune inwardly huffed, because Yukimura was not playing their game right again.

"Masa…mune…?" Yukimura whispered, and his head was tilting to focus while he was somewhat pointing at him. Masamune wasn't sure if this was a delayed reaction, but it was something different than the rational vocalizations Masamune had been hearing from Yukimura lately so he decided to go with it.

"Hm?"

Exasperatedly, Yukimura finally just gaped and said, "You're on fire."

This was going a lot better than Masamune had thought it would.

Masamune held out his wineglass in Yukimura's direction, using it to beckon the boy closer. "Care to join me?"

Yukimura shook his head, still pointing, "No, Masamune! You are really on fire! Your robe!"

That reaction, Masamune decided, wasn't quite right. And then he stopped focusing on Yukimura and his own actions to look down at the candles he had knocked over in trying to fit his body on the small table.

The smell of burning cotton was really obvious now that he thought about it.

Yukimura stepped closer to the stunned seducer. "Masamune, maybe you should-"

"Gah!"

Masamune jumped from the table, knocking down more candles in his haste, and then quickly tore off his robe. Thinking quickly, he jumped over the counter and grabbed some of the stored aprons, rushing with them back to the flaming robe to smother the fire being fed by the other fallen candles.

"Masamune, move!"

Masamune, the continual victim of his own poor reactions, was still bent over when a bucket of water doused him and the robe. Yukimura ran forward after that, taking over for Masamune and blowing out the rest of the candles while frowning at the burnt smell pervading the café.

Masamune, shivering a little in the cool room and nicely soaked, turned to look at the dry Yukimura, who was idly dropping candles into a bucket, with an almost pitiful expression.

"…did you just throw dishwater on me?"

And Yukimura, who honestly was trying to hold back, couldn't help but start laughing at the wet, naked, wide-eyed and rather pathetic picture Masamune made.

After allowing the boy a good five minutes, Masamune finally couldn't take it and tried to shrug his embarrassment off, "If you stop laughing at me we can talk."

Yukimura just snorted, "But you're naked!"

"That's mature."

Yukimura just laughed harder, and Masamune smiled a tiny bit, because if getting Yukimura to smile like this cost him his pride he could suffer it.

Yukimura was still laughing at him, while eating Masamune's cookies no less, by the time the former warlord had changed back into his normal clothes. Masamune had called Kojuurou, figuring that by the time the man arrived to pick him up, that he and Yukimura would have been able to have their talk. Masamune sat down next to Yukimura at the table, stealing a cookie from the boy's hand and tolerating his continued laughter, if only because this was more like them. However humiliating, Masamune could admit this would be a story worthy of laughter and unending jokes. And it was worth it, because right now there was none of that surreal gloom surrounding Yukimura.

"Kojuurou is coming to get me soon. I asked and he said he wouldn't mind dropping you off at your place."

Yukimura, with consideration for Masamune's feelings, finally forced himself to stop laughing. "Masamune…what were you trying to do?"

Realizing that Yukimura meant his seduction tactic, Masamune frowned. "What do you think I was trying to do?"

"I'm sorry Masamune," Yukimura began. "I shouldn't have laughed so hard. I won't tell anyone what happened, I promise."

"I know you won't," Masamune replied easily, biting into another chocolate-chip cookie from the bag. He somehow needed to get the conversation moving in his favor. "So…are we still on for Saturday?"

Yukimura nearly dropped his cookie at the random question. "What?"

"That was our first tutoring session, remember? You can come see what your damn cat has done to my apartment."

Frowning, Yukimura countered, "I didn't ask you to take the cat in, Masamune. You offered. And I don't think that tutoring would be a good-"

Masamune leaned forward, playing his secret weapon. "You can lie to your Oyakata-sama about where you are and what you are doing, but you can't hide your grades from him. You wouldn't want to disappoint him that much."

Yukimura, unmoved by Masamune's threat, merely retorted, "You're going to try something every time we meet from now on, aren't you?"

Masamune smirked in reply, "Better to just give in now. You know I won't lose. Date Masamune always gets what he wants."

Yukimura's lips twitched, and he said, "Even when wet and naked?"

Masamune held back a snigger, and joked with a somber tone. "Are you kidding? Especially wet and naked. It was all part of my plan."

"…really?"

Masamune sighed at how easily Yukimura took him seriously. He was still just that gullible.

Then an awkward silence grew from the reality that things between them still weren't right. And Masamune knew that their relationship had to be fixed now or this wall of anxiety between them would never come down.

Masamune leaned forward to take Yukimura's hand in his own, much more gently than he had earlier that day, letting Yukimura know that he could walk away whenever he wanted to.

"What's going on with you Yukimura? You know that I still love you. I loved you even when I didn't remember you. And I know you love me too. So why are you trying so hard not to be with me?"

Yukimura just shook his head slowly, "It isn't right. Nothing has gone right. It wasn't supposed to be this way. Everyone was supposed to get a second chance. You shouldn't need me…"

Masamune frowned, thought about Yukimura's comment, and then stated,"I think this is my second chance. It's contemptible Yukimura, but this new life began the day I met you."

"No," Yukimura replied, sliding his hand out of Masamune's. Masamune let him, but kept his own hand on the table.

Masamune forced the issue, knowing that he would have to be completely honest to win Yukimura back. "It's true. I had nothing. I had no ambition, no dreams. I had no goals. I never wanted anything nor wanted for anything. I always felt like I didn't belong in this world at all. I was just existing. And when I saw you for the first time, even though I wanted to beat the shit out of you, I realized that it was you I had been waiting for. I was looking for you and I didn't even realize it. All my dreams, my drawings, even this damn book was all to help me remember you."

Yukimura's quivered a little, but he was adamant, "No. Back then…Hanbei and I were mistakes. These new lives were supposed to be better, and you shouldn't have to be torn between two sets of memories!"

"Who decides how we should live our new lives?" Masamune demanded, feeling that he should have the main say in his life.

Yukimura frowned. "Hanbei and I have been quite indecisive on that matter. He has chosen his path. And I have chosen mine."

Masamune began playing with his wet hair, combing it out, enjoying the way Yukimura couldn't help but stare. "How the hell did you even get involved with Hanbei?"

"We were the only two who remembered."

"…and you two changed that."

Yukimura shifted uncomfortably, "Yes. No. I just…wanted people to find their happiness again. In a time when it can't be so easily stolen from them. All of us, in this time, there are missing pieces in our lives, important people that we can't live without. I just…wanted to help everyone find what made them happy again."

"And Hanbei?"

Yukimura opened his mouth but paused, looking so guilty that Masamune was intrigued. "Hanbei…he and I…we did something horrible, Masamune."

"What?"

Yukimura turned his face away.

"What did you do, Yukimura?"

Masamune wondered what could possibly be so horrible that they hadn't done it before.

"Masamune…we ruined a good man."

Masamune flippantly replied, "We have all done bad things. We ruined a lot of people back then."

Yukimura stared at him, making Masamune feel very small, "But this wasn't war…"

And that was the crux of Sanada Yukimura's guilt.

He had never been like Masamune who adapted to the murder, could kill again easily, today, and not have it phase him. Yukimura had always been too kind, too considerate of others.

Yukimura took a deep breath, finishing with,"…and what we did was truly terrible."

Masamune stared at him silently, trying to figure out the right words which could help Yukimura. Even though it may be harsh, Masamune said what he needed to say.

"You've forgotten something important Yukimura. We all have scars, no matter how many lifetimes we live. By being human we will continuously make mistakes, even repeat them. We will hurt each other and do terrible things because we can. Yukimura…you just need to remember how to live with those scars again."

"But why should there even be such scars?"

Masamune gave him a sardonic grin, "Because we will always fuck up and make mistakes. It's the gift of being alive. The scars are carved into our memories and we need them in the hope that we can become better."

Yukimura leaned back in his chair. "You're probably right but-"

"Yukimura," Masamune cut him off, "I'm not asking you to get over your guilt. You don't have to tell me what happened yet. But you have to understand that I have scars too. I have guilt. Yukimura…you died. I was the greatest fool and I hurt you. And then you died. You were always so afraid. That for all the deaths, even your own, that the war would never end, and that the lives lost would be wasted and mean nothing. Before you died, you saw just how foolish we all were, and you tried explaining it to me, but I didn't want to hear it.

"Just so you know, Yukimura…your death did teach me something. I realized what you were trying to tell me. I wanted to prove you wrong, that every death would count. I wanted to build a world from the ashes of your memory and my love for you. I may have lived to be victorious in the war, but all I could think about was the fact that you weren't there beside me. That I loved you and could not have you. I couldn't touch you. I couldn't ever see you again. All I could do was try and use the love I had for you to build a world you would have approved of.

"So it doesn't matter, Yukimura. Even if I was born a thousand times with different genders, and even if we met with different ages, memories or not I would still fall in love with you. I just can't help it. You have completely enraptured me. And between us is a love, and a need, that will probably never be easily expressed with any words and will last us endless lifetimes.

"So…so you don't have to explain everything to me immediately. But…just stay by my side, okay? Trust me to make you happy this time. I know I can do it. I won't fail you again. Give me the chance to make you happy."

This time it was Yukimura who delicately took Masamune's hand, bringing it to his heart.

Yukimura was smiling, and it was a fragile smile, but it was honest.

"Masamune…you never failed me. And I'm sorry about…I…I really wanted you to find happiness without me…" Yukimura paused for a laugh, discreetly rubbing his eyes. "How can I compete with a confession like that? You really are magnificent. It's almost not fair."

Masamune grinned happily, recognizing that he had finally caught the person he loved, "Funny. I once thought it wasn't fair how adorable you are."

Yukimura gave a light pout. "Adorable? I give you a good compliment and all you can think of me is adorable?"

Masamune chuckled, "I can't help that. You are."

They weren't fixed. There were still too many questions and a lot of issues both needed to answer for and deal with. But they were together.

And Masamune wasn't sure who moved first or how it happened, but suddenly they were kissing, and it simple and chaste, but still full of innocent happiness and love.

It was their first kiss in four hundred years.


A/N

Okay then! This was as far as the original went, and the next chapter that is to be posted will be concocted by my accomplice and I :3 (Un)fortunately, it is estimated that it will take us until the around the end of December for it to be ready for us to post up.

Bear with us! Hope you had a nice read :D