Yup, I'm still alive. Not kicking, but still alive. Gosh, it's been way too long but I finally got back to writing! I tried to make the chapter a bit longer than usual because seriously, you guys deserve the best I can give. I don't even know what to say, you have been so amazing and supportive and patient with me even though I clearly don't deserve you people. I have the best readers right here, end of discussion. Thank you so much for reading Error and leaving reviews, sending PMs and faving! I never even dreamed that this story could become so popular!
And so, to the usual round of heartfelt thank yous and big hugs, all my love and respect to: Dimensional Roamer, AliNerfetari (yup, sometimes I just can't get to sleep so for once I did something productive. I hope you'll like this chapter as well!), hobozrule, Master Attlon, Guest (sorry it took so long...again...hope you're still reading this, because I want to thank you for your kind words and for liking Error so much! I'll keep coming back like the flu, you'll just never know when I'll strike), celestialdimplez, C.A.M.E.O.1 and Only, wasabi cake, awesome-sadist, sha5aditto (aww, thank you so much!), JulieBookLover21, rinoaterra, Hikari Kashiwazaki, PrincessofChina07, ariso-kun (your review had a lot of impact, I liked it! Thank you so much and sorry I'm always so slow!), eillen-desu, ForeverYorozuya, Johannat, LoveMadness, purlepretty (3rd time?! Oh my, thank you so much! I'm so sorry for being slow with my updates...and you still think I'm a good author? Thank you T.T), Fictitiouslove, AiniTomochan, Blue Bubble Sea, korin-chan14, kurosusayuri, BlueTurtle0702, terry nightstalker, kimchi (thank you so much for still reading Error! Thank you for your kind words and for liking my writing, I try to do my best because there are readers like you out there waiting for good updates. I hope life is looking up for you now!), O or 65 (awesome choice for a nick, kat, where did you get that? xD Your review was bursting with energy, thank you so much! I'm doing so-so, thank you for the well wishes. I hope I won't disappoint with this chapter), Twisty Emerald, mariohno (oh, now you're making me embarrassed with the flattery! Surely there are better writers out there, but thank you for the lovely compliment! I hope you'll like this chapter as much as the previous), OKIKAGU SHIPPER (so sorry it took so long (again)! Thank you so much for the overwhelming praises, I truly hope you'll like this chapter as well. I wish you good dreams and not too many awkward situations because of sudden thoughts of Error!), Avrilayn, Panda musume (Thank you, sorry it took so long!), SumiEvans, Guest (yes, I know I'm slow, but I have my reasons so please be patient with me), espAa (here's the next chapter, hope you'll like it!), Ryuuta, Guest (I sure hope that was a positive comment...?) and Anonymous26 (yes, I know that it's been forever since the last update, but please read my ANs or my profile if you're wondering why I'm so slow. Thank you so much for liking Error and I hope the wait paid off and you'll like the update!).
I was nearly crying when the reviews hit 300. Thank you, every single one of you, for sticking around and still reading Error!
I sincerely hope you'll enjoy chapter 15 of Error.
You can make plans all you want, it's a waste of time anyway
Kagura deadpanned at the object sitting innocently before her on the table. "And this is?"
Sougo leaned back in his chair and inspected his nails in an uninterested manner. "It's a sample."
"The flowers for the wedding."
Kagura grabbed the first hard thing she could, which happened to be her half-full teacup, and hurled it towards her fiancé. (Un)fortunately, he managed to dodge it and didn't even get tea on his annoyingly pristine clothes. The only thing that did take damage was the porcelain teacup which shattered as it hit the opposite wall. "We're not getting black roses for the wedding! It's a wedding, not a funeral, dumbass!"
Sougo straightened up in his chair and swiped imaginary dust from his shoulders. "Black goes well with everything, so why not?"
Kagura screeched and tore at her hair in frustration. "Because it's BLACK you colorblind bat! It's dark and depressing and I'm not having that at my wedding!"
Sighing dramatically, Sougo slumped in his chair and leaned his head on his hands. "Then what do you want, princess of the spoiled China brats?"
Kagura gave him a nasty look but otherwise ignored the jibe. "Red. I want red roses."
Sougo dropped his head down and it made a small thud-sound as it hit the table. "How original, China, really. And if you say mine is dark and depressing, yours is no better. You want red to decorate the church and reception area? You really want to make it look like a blood bath, don't you."
"I'll dye the roses in your blood if you don't shut up!"
At that point, a head full of white curls appeared over the backrest of the sofa. Gintoki the sword master looked absolutely bored to death as he yawned and scratched his head. "I'll just order an array of white flowers, so no one will be happy and you'll still be tastelessly unoriginal and have an opportunity to dye the flowers in blood or piss or whatever." With that, he took his comic book and left the sitting room grumbling about indecisive brats and having no peaceful place to nap.
The couple looked at his retreating form for a long minute in silence before Kagura had to ask: "How long had he been there? And why does he get to decide when he has nothing to do with the whole wedding?"
Sougo shrugged his shoulders. "Actually, he is involved, since he's in co-charge of the security with the captain of the guard. They work surprisingly well together."
Kagura's face fell. "Tsukky's on duty? I wanted her to be in my procession!" she pouted. Which Sougo didn't think was cute. Nuh-uh, not at all.
Sougo averted his eyes from the sight. "Well, they haven't decided on the posts yet, so she might still be present at the ceremony even if she's not in the procession."
Kagura blinked in surprise. 'No insult? No brat comments? Oh god, is he actually-' Kagura grinned wildly and almost – ALMOST – giggled in delight."Are you trying to comfort me?"
"Shut it, China," Sougo grumbled back, annoyed. He'd never been too good at things like this and now she was making fun of him. Great.
"Hmm, are you embarrassed? You are, aren't you!" Kagura gloated.
"The hell does that mean?"
"Your Highness, My Lady! Are you in there? Was the tea set to your liking?"
Sougo and Kagura were startled by Otae's sudden call coming from behind the corner. Sougo's eyes widened in realization and he glanced back at the teacup lying on the carpet in pieces. He looked back at Kagura and watched in horror as she was about to answer the head maid.
"We're here, Ota-!" Kagura started but was cut off by Sougo slamming his hand over her mouth roughly. She glared at him and tried to bite his palm.
"Are you nuts? We have to get out of here!" Sougo hissed at her. He released her mouth and instead grabbed her hand and started dragging her towards the second door to the sitting room, away from the approaching foot steps.
"Why? It's just Otae!" Kagura protested and tried to pull out of his hold.
"Remember that cup you smashed into the wall earlier? The crazy lady really liked that set and wanted to use it at the reception. Now that set is down one cup. Imagine what she would do to us if she found out the cup broke during one of our disagreements."
Kagura didn't need a second to think about it before she was running full speed ahead with her fiancé. Good thing too, since they had just managed to get out of sight when Otae stepped through the doorway with that smile on her face. Oh yes, she had heard every word.
The two ran aimlessly around the palace before Sougo grabbed coats and blankets from a closet and directed them outside. Weaving their way across the gardens as unseen as possible, they finally arrived at the secluded and often unvisited Tree. The two leaned heavily on the trunk, their breaths harsh as they tried to calm down from their sprinting marathon. Sougo threw two of the blankets and one coat over to Kagura and started dressing into his own coat. While it was already early spring and the snow was almost gone, later in the day the weather could still get quite chilly.
Kagura already knew what would happen next, so she spread one blanket on the ground at the foot of the tree and settled down on it with her back against the tree trunk, snuggling into the other blanket to keep herself warm. Sougo soon laid down on the spread-out blanket, wrapped up in his own, and placed his head on its usual place in her lap.
Kagura looked at Sougo curiously, wondering why the sight looked so odd, before she realized it. She'd seen it happen once before. "What, after all these daynap sessions, you actually forgot your eyemask?" she asked quite incredulously.
Sougo cracked open one eye and gave her a look. "I was prepared to work all day on the wedding plans, since we have so little time to get everything done, and didn't expect to be able to have a peaceful nap."
Kagura huffed. "Yeah right, as peaceful as it can be when we have an enraged Otae on our tails and it's still too friggin' cold to do this outside."
"Until she finds us, which will take some time, I'm going to enjoy what rest I can get. Besides," Sougo commented and let his eye close relaxedly, "I should be able to let down my guard enough around you to not need the mask all the time." He spoke nonchalantly but Kagura knew he wasn't really talking about that bizarre sleeping mask. She smiled softly and leaned her head back against the Tree to look at the still bare branches.
As her thoughts started to wander, Kagura found herself thinking yet again about their current situation. They were practically racing against time with everything, and all this rush was something Kagura had never imagined her entrance to married life to be. Not that anything about this from the very beginning had been in her childhood dreams for the future. She had always been sure that Papi would marry her off to some of her more distant cousins and she'd live a standard Yato life, birthing a couple of kids and fighting 'til her last breath. But was life kind enough to let her have that easy and predictable future? Noooo, she was thrust into an engagement of hate with a prince, fell in love along the way, had her heart broken by the sadist and was now planning a wedding after an outrageously long engagement period. It had been what, a year since the engagement party? Seriously, the engagement period was normally four months tops, and even that was usually because the church was overbooked! Sougo and Kagura didn't even have that as an excuse, since the palace had its own private church that had been on stand-by for their ceremony since their engagement was decided on. But looking at the bright side, the tabloids had been selling well with their messed up stories.
And now the wedding day was finally set in stone, two months from now. Two months and she would be married and crowned princess. Two months and she'd be tied to the sadist snoozing in her lap for the rest of her life. Well, it could be worse. She could've been married to Kyo.
Kagura shuddered at the thought of marrying her slightly deranged cousin and brought her thoughts back to the present. That particular spot under the Tree had become far too familiar, by now she could even name every tree root sticking out of the ground. There was James, Anna, Harley...
A sudden thought stopped Kagura's mental list. The Tree. Mitsuba had said something about it. What was it...some superstition?
Kagura had to quench her curiosity. She shook Sougo and even bounced her thighs up a little, jostling him awake. Sougo looked rather grumpy as he – still half asleep – scowled up at her. Kagura didn't care (when did she?) since the question was already flying out of her mouth.
"What's the deal with this Tree? Is there some special reason you want to nap here?"
Sougo blinked at her and Kagura could swear she saw a flash of recognition. However, all he did was yawn, turn over and bury his face in her stomach with a tiredly mumbled "Not really, it's peaceful here..."
Despite her rather flattering blush, Kagura was not about to give up. "That's not all! Mitsuba-san said that there was some superstition or legend or something about this place and I want to know what it is!"
"Your stomach's making weird noises, what on Earth have you eaten?"
"Don't change the subject!"
Sougo made a slightly irritated sound and snuggled more comfortably against her. "Damn it, China, can you get any more annoying? Fine, fine, there was some stupid oldwives tale about this place."
Kagura, whilst trying very hard to relax her tensed up muscles, gulped. "And?"
"I might tell you if you massage my scalp, my head hurts."
"You spoiled rich brat..." Kagura growled but lifted her left hand anyway and started lightly caressing and massaging the head on her lap. Sougo took a deep breath, content, and Kagura was surprised by how much that small action helped her relax as well. It felt really nice to do something like this for once. This was exactly what Kagura had eventually hoped to have, a peaceful moment without fighting. It was quiet for a good while before she remembered her original question. "So, what about the oldwives tale?"
"Thought I had you distracted..." came the sleepy reply.
Kagura pulled at his hair painfully, succeeding in pulling off a couple of hairs in the process. "Tell me, stupid sadist!"
"Agh, fine, alright already! Geez, what's wrong with you, woman!" Sougo sat up and rubbed at his aching scalp. "If I go bald early it's entirely your fault, you damn bitch."
Kagura crossed her arms and kneed him in the back. "Tell. Me. Now."
Sougo stood up, making sure to step hard on her leg, and stretched a bit. He then turned to her with a deadpan look.
"They say that if you let someone sleep on you here, you'll be eaten and buried by the Spirit of the Tree in two years."
As Kagura struggled to get out of the blankets while screaming curses at Sougo, he was already running for the hills.
Mitsuba noticed that her very-soon-to-be-sister-in-law was rather moody when they were having their little evening tea party. Kagura had been rather quiet and overall not her usual perky self. 'Something's bothering her. Oh dear, don't tell me...' "So, Kagura-chan, how are the plans for the wedding progressing?" she asked pleasantly.
Kagura shrugged. "Fine, I guess. Today we decided on the cutlery and Gin-chan chose the flowers."
Mitsuba sipped her tea. "And Sou-chan's been acting good?"
Kagura's frown deepened, and Mitsuba felt like sighing. 'My my, these two are hopeless. They'd be nowhere without my help.' "I take it something happened. Would you like to talk about it?"
Kagura pursed her lips, clearly thinking about what to say. "Do you, uhh, remember that time when you, well, when we talked about how Sougo likes to nap underneath that one tree?"
"Of course, the Tree in the hidden corner. What about it?"
"Is it true that it'll eat and bury whoever acts as a pillow for another?"
It was dangerously close Mitsuba didn't spit out her tea. Her surprised laughter changed into cough-laughing when she accidentally inhaled some of the tea and Kagura rushed over to anxiously rub her back. Mitsuba pat her hand to calm down the poor girl who was ready to scream for help. "I'm – cough - fine I jus - cough – just got a drop of tea in m – cough – windpipe," she explained and cleared her throat. "So, I'm guessing Sou-chan told you that."
At Kagura's wary nod, Mitsuba let out a chuckle. "Oh, Sou-chan, he's so shy."
"I could say a lot of things about him, but shy isn't exactly at the top of my list."
"No, no, he is actually rather shy about certain things. But don't worry, Kagura-chan, the Tree doesn't eat people or bury them alive or whatever my little brother told you," Mitsuba said with a highly amused smile. "Tell me, what happened before this strange conversation you had?"
After a short briefing by Kagura, Mitsuba looked at the younger one with wide eyes. "He snuggled your stomach?" she asked softly. Then she was quiet for a while. She gave Kagura an analyzing look from head to toe and back up before asking: "Kagura-chan, are you pregnant?"
Kagura had never before blushed as red as this. She stared at Mitsuba with wide eyes, opening and closing her mouth silently, unable to form a single syllable. When she did find her voice, what came out was a squeak of something along the lines of "Bluargth?"
Mitsuba shook her head and raised her hands in defense. "No, I'm sorry to startle you, that is none of my business and I'm sorry I asked. The action you mentioned simply reminded me of the past," Mitsuba said and her eyes turned soft in remembrance. "You see, when Mother and Father were still alive, Sou-chan had the habit of rubbing his face against Mother's stomach. He occasionally did the same with me for about a year after Mother and Father died but he stopped doing that soon after he turned five. Obviously he can't consciously remember such things, since he was so small, but I thought that he might unconsciously connect that action with motherhood."
Kagura had no idea what to say to that, so she lifted her almost empty teacup to her lips with shaking hands and tried to calm her frazzled nerves. Mitsuba refilled their cups and they sat in silence, each lost in their own thoughts for a moment, before Mitsuba reopened the conversation. "Did you want to hear the true version of the legend?"
Kagura blinked at her uncomprehendingly. "What legend?" she asked.
Mitsuba chuckled. "The legend of the Tree in the hidden corner?"
Kagura smiled nervously. "Oh yeah, that legend. You know it?"
Mitsuba nodded and looked around before leaning forward to whisper secretively. "They say that the Tree is older than the palace, and that it has never fallen ill or lost a branch in a storm. The Tree has a powerful spirit within it, and that spirit is kind and nurturing to all who appreciate his home, which is the Tree. And so, it has been told that whenever two lovers show their affection underneath his branches, the spirit dwelling in the Tree gives his blessings to them and their children will grow to be as healthy and strong as his abode," she finished and grinned a little. "Do you know what that means?"
Kagura, still slightly awed and strangely giddy about the legend, shook her head. She looked at Mitsuba with her eyes shining in curiosity, wondering if there was more to the tale.
Mitsuba's grin widened a little as she leaned even closer to whisper in Kagura's ear: "It means that Sou-chan was planning to have babies with you since the beginning."
Kagura's mortified blabbering and Mitsuba's cheerful laughter rang in the halls and, while many were curious as to what the reason was, they decided that they didn't necessarily need to know.
So, I hope you liked it. We're on the final stretch now, one more chapter to go, believe it or not. Next time will be the official last chapter of Error, so even if it takes a long time (again) I hope to see you guys one more time!
To everyone who is still reading, thank you for having faith and interest in my story.
Until next time!
PS. A lot of 'Guests' remembered to leave a name, and I sincerely thank you because now I know my replies (no matter how late they come) will reach their rightful recipients. There were still some who unfortunately might not receive the correct reply. I enjoy giving my reviewers personal replies, so if you want one, please leave a name of some sort. Thank you!