At first, he pretends not to notice her. The sad, broken doll that Yoshitsugu is so enamored with, like a child with a new toy. She was the culmination of everything Yoshitsugu strove for, which explained his fascination. Suffering, crippling despair, loneliness and utter madness. They were not so different, in reality.
Mitsunari watches her sometimes, surreptitiously. She cries when she's more lucid than usual, usually when she's found a quiet place, sitting alone in a field or a corner of the camp where she has found some flowers. At first, it had been nonsensical, and vexing for no reason beyond that he didn't understand, but over the weeks, it had become something he liked about her. She was always managing to find the flowers, even amidst all the death and destruction of an army on the march. Oichi knew the pain of loss as acutely as he. More-so, for she had gone mad from it; though was anger so different from madness?
Oh, the shadows still unnerved him, and the way she talked to them, as if they were people that he knew were dead. Not to mention the way she spoke absently of conversing with Nobunaga. She was unnerving in general. And yet somehow he'd come to expect her presence on the battlefield beside him, arms swaying along with the shadows like some grotesque, beautiful dance.
Mitsunari finds her again today, seated amidst a scrap of dried grass, where the only flower is a spiny weed that she has obviously tried to touch, as she is holding her hand delicately out, blossoms of blood on her fingers from the thorns. He glances back to make sure nobody is watching, then closes the distance between them, staying a distance from the ever-swirling puddle of black that follows her about nevertheless.
He is about to speak, when he hears the quiet sob, and closes his mouth again. Her head lolls to the side, hair falling about her shoulders in a pitch black curtain.
"It's all Ichi's fault." The quiet murmur is barely audible. "Nagamasa-sama? Is that you?"
Mitsunari tenses, ready to flee from the grasping arms, but Oichi half-turns, and spots him. There is a moment of heavy silence between them, and then she smiles, looking even more melancholy from the tears she hasn't wiped from her face.
"Oh, Grumpy-sama," she says, voice clearer though losing that sorrow, filled with that vague, childlike tone. "Did Ichi do something wrong?"
"No," he says sharply, realizes how harsh he sounds, tries again. "I was just wondering why you were here. All alone."
"Ichi is never alone." Her hand strokes the shadow, as if holding the hand of an old friend. He shudders, involuntary. "But sometimes Ichi is lonely. Today, is one of those 'sometimes'es…" Her consciousness of her surroundings seems to fade, as she is humming a rhyming tune to herself, before seeming to remember that Mitsunari is standing there. "Did… you come to keep me company, Grumpy-sama?"
"Ah… Yes." The brightening of her face made all this worth the awkward conversation. He moved cautiously to take a seat near her, but not too close.
"Killing all those men. Ichi did it for Grumpy-sama, because they made you sad." She was not forward enough to reach out, or do more than speak at him.
This was a bit of a surprise. He had never gone out of his way to notice her until recently, but it seemed she had been watching him from the beginning.
"The butterfly man told Ichi it would be best to please Grumpy-sama, and Ichi has been trying her best."
"You've been doing fine," he says, a little awkwardly, but offers his best attempt at a smile. The way she brightens at the words is astounding, and he notes absently how pretty she is when she smiles. "Why did you choose to join us? Why not choose… Ieyasu?" Even speaking the name strikes something painful.
"Lord Grumpy needed Ichi. Ichi needed Lord Grumpy." The statement was simple, straightforward, which made Mitsunari stare at her in shock. It seemed she realized it too, how they both shared the same ache of loss. "Lord Grumpy fills himself with so much anger, but Ichi knows what he's hiding," she says with confidence. He allows himself a vague smile, and is taken by surprise when her fingers close over his, squeezing them lightly.
For the first time of many times, he squeezes her hand back, and they sit in silence, contemplating their sorrow together.