Description – Souji's last words to Hijikata.

Disclaimer – Peacemaker Kurogane isn't mine but I am so very in love with Souji and Hijikata so that's why we're here now.

Nengan. (One's heart's desire.)

By Miyamoto Y.

Why was it that when a hall full of people are talking, there is a moment of sudden silence and you realize the only who was left talking was you?

It seemed like a perfect preface to some girl's romance story. Out of mortification, but with too much pride to react as a normal person should to a small form of public disgrace, I almost wanted to cover my mouth with both of my hands when I'd said what I had because I really hadn't been thinking at all. I didn't realize I'd said it until he looked to his left side and eyed me for one second. I knew that icy glare was meant for me. I regretted it right afterwards for I had ruined my reputation with Kondo-san. This man was his best friend!

I just closed my mouth and held onto my bokken until my knuckles turned white.

With that expression of his, when I thought of it years later, I squint and almost wished I'd stuck out my tongue at him out of spite that day in the dojo. That…utter LIAR. Pretending to be cool with his "I-know-something-you-SHOULD-know" expression really burned me even though my face coolly brushed it off. However, deep inside, I HATED his arrogance. Thinking of that too though, I snort because I am proud of my current self I HADN'T played such a naughty trick on him. That childishness would have spurred the rogue ON. Yes, the rogue!

Everyone was so impressed with him that day that they started to follow him to every corner of the dojo. They observed his every move with reverence. As for me, I would clear the way and stay as far away from the swarms of bees around their honey and practice on my own after our classes. I didn't want to be his groupie because he didn't hide that he actually enjoyed all the attention. I didn't understand what his appeal was anyway. Because of this, he began to act like some kind of kabuki idol.

After that day, when he made his 'special guest appearances', I would conveniently excuse myself so that I could fully concentrate on practicing without the crowds blocking dojo space. After all, there was nothing else. I had nothing but this talent for holding swords. To anyone around me, it was considered a great honor. However, I wasn't sure if it was good to be skilled at wielding a weapon.

I just knew I was quick and I was serious. These two things were necessities for picking up a sword with all your soul. I couldn't give my heart to it though. That was already in pieces by the time I touched my first bokken.

However, what was 'talent' anyway? It earned you many things, including a pat on the head. Kondo-san would always place his thick hand on the top of my head and grin. "Someday, you'll realize your worth." His words continually echoed within me as I held the sword above my head and cut my shadow in half over and over.

"Worth…"

Did it mean to be worthy of praise or to gain people's jealousy? To get patted on the head because of pity where as people hushed their voices like lanterns before sleeping, saying things that they're not supposed to even if they were true? Facts were facts. He never colored it for me, but he too…he never hid the truth from me either.

"So, that's where you've been hiding." Hijikata-san came up like a ghost from behind the tree out in the yard and exaggerated his steps while keeping his arms folded. I pursed my lips. There was something that bothered me about him: I couldn't contain my impossibly blushing face. It irritated me to no end and he…

I couldn't read his moves at all. As I said, like a ghost…

I was sweating, holding my sword over my head for jodan, imagining the shadow on the wall was my enemy. I needed to get that sharp tip to that dark neck in front of me.

"Hiding?" I stood in my position. He stepped closer towards me and smiled. "Kondo-san said you wrote this. Nengan?"

How was I able to keep holding onto my sword when my heart shook inside of my chest? I swung my sword and stood on my right foot, keeping still again to strike. My voice betrayed nothing when I answered solemnly, "Yes."

I'd expected him to say, "Why?" as adults seemed to like to ask nine-year-old boys. I waited for him to get on with it, but he walked even closer and touched my ankle lightly. "Your stance is still weak." He smiled and walked away, holding my scribble and wobbly calligraphy in the air as a prize. "By the way, I'll be taking this until you can win it back."

"But that's mine! And what makes you think I'll fight for it when that IS mine?"

"Hmm." He genuinely grinned for a second and turned to leave. "I'll teach you how to write better and maybe then I'll give it back. Maybe."

I put the sword back into the hilt and closed my eyes in irritation, thankful that the sun was setting to hide my burning cheeks. I wanted to shout at him.

I thought it was over and done with until he turned around with forceful eyes. "What is your heart's desire? If you can answer that, I'll definitely give it back to you."

When he was gone, my knees gave out and I dropped down to the soft grass below me. He never took me seriously until that very moment.

My palms pressed against the earth. "I REALLY hate his smirk."

I rushed to back into the house to wash the evidence of my discomfort which colored my entire face deeper than any red I'd ever seen in my life.

A year later, Hijikata sat by Kondo on the veranda as his wife poured him a cup of warm shochu. They looked at the pond, where Kondo pretended not to see what happened though he was amused and wanted to smirk to let on that he secretly did. I thought he muttered, "Both are so damn stupid."

I was hiding behind the door, timing my entrance. I could see them through the slit of space in between the shoji doors.

Hijikata sighed, completely on the floor ready for a nap until Kondo poured him a cup. He raised it up to the air. "Your foster child hates my guts."

"With good reason. He gets teased by someone who doesn't know any better."

"Was I that awful when I was younger?"

"…"

"Rhetorical question, of course, but he doesn't even want to look at me."

Kondo drank some more. "Not my business. It's too easy to give you answers. Do as you please."

Hijikata got up and looked at the garden.

I decided to walk in at that moment when Kondo said, "Let's go to tonight's festival."

He slapped his palm on his right knee as if to finalize the decision. He looked hard at Hijikata while I blinked my eyes as I rubbed my hands together nervously. "Does that include me?"

Ignoring my question, Kondo took my collar and laughed heartily when we walked down the hallway.

The local festival was livelier than previous or was it that I was more excited than usual? Both sides of the shrine had lines of people waiting for octopus balls, fried noodles, cotton candy, and games like catching crayfish. I didn't know what to pick to do since Kondo said I could pick whatever I wanted because I had come in first again for the dojo rankings.

They kept on talking to one another as I walked around proudly with my practice uniform. I didn't want to get out of it since I loved it too much to the point my dark blue hakama were starting to have some small tears on the bottom hems.

Both of them were so immersed in talking that they didn't notice I wandered off to go to a smaller shrine away from the main one. I bowed my head twice and clapped my hands once before closing my eyes to pray and smile for this fortune six years later from that day...

"Souji! Souji!" My aunt called me as I ran around the hallways. I turned the corner to be stopped by a tall man with a big frame. He had a square jaw and big eyes, but he looked very strong. He eyed me and I stood there unable to move. I wasn't afraid of him even when he put his hand on the top of my head.

I stepped back. "Don't touch me."

He took his hand back. "You'd be a good one." With a swish and a swash of his tabi on the wooden floor, he walked on as my aunt came closer to him and I ran away.

"I want to keep that one."

My aunt gave me a severe look. "You don't want that one. He is so troublesome."

But the man was so stern and insistent. "I'm sure he'll be perfect for what I want."

It was then that the man simply turned around and came up to me, who was holding onto the wooden pillar and peering at the both of them from the corner curiously. "Souji. I'm a sword instructor. I came here because someone told me there was an energetic child who came to this house a few weeks ago. And now that I have seen you, I am sure…"

He knelt on one knee and looked me straight in the eye. "…you will be a great man."

"Iamaman."

"I know. That's why I am asking you if you will come with me."

He didn't look down at me or think I was stupid. I could tell from his eyes that he was honest…

but what if…

…what if he left me too?

He held his hand out to me. "You will be my captain."

"Captain? What is a captain?"

"A person who leads with their eyes. Without words, people will follow because they trust him. And you have very nice eyes, Souji."

He knew my name before I knew his, but that didn't matter. I liked the way he said it. Without looking at my aunt, my hand trembled and I took his big one. He didn't let go or listen as my aunt opposed him with a honeyed tone.

"It is settled. He will be mine from the moment I walk out of this door." Getting up and looking down at me, I watched his eyes close and open slowly. He grinned deeply as he asked, "Do you want to bring anything with you?"

I shook my head quickly. "I have nothing."

My mother's necklace always hung on my neck so I didn't need to get anything. Nothing in that house was mine and they made sure to tell me so.

I left my aunt's house without looking back to see if she regretted it or not. I was kind of afraid to.

At that moment, someone hugged me desperately from behind. "Where did you go?"

I blinked my eyes open. "DON'T TOUCH ME!"

Hijikata let go for a second and I breathed a gulp of air before he swooped me off the ground and put me over his shoulder. "This is for wandering off."

I kicked my heels and pounded on his shoulders with as much strength as I could so that it would definitely hurt. "Let me go! Why do you always want to humiliate me?"

We passed by the main festival stone pathway and he carried me until we got to the main street. He was intending to take me all the way home, but he stopped walking and looked up into my face.

"What is wrong with you? Do you hate me, Hijikata-san?"

It was then, in front of no one, that he hugged my waist so warmly and as if he'd break it at the same time. "Don't do that EVER again."

After taking one long, deep breath, he put me down.

"Thank you," I found myself saying before I ran away all the way home.

Eight years later, Hijikata and Kondo were selected to go to a special defense force at the coming of the century. They were allowed to use their swords as they saw fit. They were still choosing people for their group and this meant that they weren't going to be at home as much as before.

I was really sad and so I went to sit by the river and threw rocks into it. I knelt at the edge and looked at my reflection like a cat with my hand touching the surface of the flowing water. I leaned forward so that the end of my hair touched the water, making small ripples around me. Hijikata wouldn't let me cut it so everyone thought I was a girl.

"I…I want to grow up too." I mumbled to my wavy, watery face.

When the stars started to appear the breeze was a bit colder, I went back home and started to read a book while aunty was out at a friend's house. I heard Hijikata and Kondo come through the threshold. Kondo smoked as soon as he sat down and Hijikata was looking out at the veranda. I could hear them clearly as Kondo said, "You remember when Souji was ten and we took him to the festival?"

"Of course…"

"That was the first time I ever saw you lose your cool."

"You're like his dad, but you didn't do anything but smirk."

"Oh, I know that punk. He'd eventually find his way, in an adorable and resentful manner, back to us."

Hijikata didn't say anything.

"But I am grateful to you, Hijikata."

"Why?"

"Souji…he never smiled. He never showed any kind of emotion. His face was always blank. When I first met him, I'm sure he wasn't aware that he was frowning."

"That has something to do with you too, Kondo."

"But he was never so honest to me as he was with you."

"I don't get why that is."

Kondo laughed again. "You're not as smart as you pretend to be."

But a few days later, I thought I'd lost everything and I wrote this poem:

I…

I…don't want to swim anymore…

I want to be free…

Why am I free with this person?

"You're coming with me." Your tone was low, but with a tinge of bitterness. It softly bounced off the walls of the empty hall as I was putting all the equipment away. I placed my practice sword on one wall, acting as if I hadn't heard what you were telling me. I was feeling too sick to my stomach even though I was the one caught in the mess.

You folded your arms as you faced the sun, blocking it from your eyes once it got too much to take. On the opposite side of the room, in the half-darkness, I watched your back as there was rustling from other parts of the house. The others were already getting ready for dinner and you had stayed along with me because you wanted to see if I could make my impossible goal. I practiced until the space between my index finger and thumb hurt, putting my sword in and out of my hilt. You thought it was amusing that I would push myself so hard.

This was a part of me you loved but couldn't ever understand.

I knelt on the floor and wrapped everything properly while smiling with my back facing you. I pretended all the time that anything you did didn't ever touch me.

I was always turning away from you so that you couldn't see what I always wanted to tell you.

You said you were planning a trip and it was too troublesome to bring other people with us, and that you'd gotten permission to take me away all the way to the bay. It took a lot of effort, but you didn't care about all that red tape. I couldn't understand what you were trying to say to me. After all, you were more than nine years my senior. From the moment we met, wherever I walked, I kept on repeating the first time we'd met. Your energy was so strong that I'd envied it. I'd never been defeated in combat within the school and then you came to ruin my perfect record.

These years of training made me gravitate towards you. You were the only one who wouldn't accept that I was the best. You had to challenge it even if I was weaker than you.

All I wanted to do was to take that smirk off of your face. I hated it when people looked down on me. I really wanted to erase it from your lips.

I thought I had enough time to conquer you. I'd waited seven years to come to this point and then, it turned to dust when you said you were going away with Kondo-san. I could only come when I became a little older to understand the meetings they were holding.

I told the others I'd clean up the dojo that day because I needed time to think. That was the day that I was going to confess to you.

I held two swords in my hands because my friend asked me to put it away for him. However, when I turned around, he took my chin and kissed me. My eyes opened in alarm as I tried to pull away, but when I blinked, you were standing there watching with eyes wide open. You turned away as if you were disgusted and I felt like you'd slapped me in the face.

Then, you showed up later to demand that I go with you.

So…I ended up here swimming against the ocean.

I drank the salty waves as you stayed on the shore watching helplessly with my head coming in and out, bobbing ominously. What to do? To swim or to drown, this was the choice I'd given knowing my body was weak in the first place…

I'd never seen you look more upset or disturbed in your life as you rushed across the shore while taking off your shirt, and jumping into the ocean to pull me back to the coast. I blinked my eyes as you leaned over me, coughing harder and hard. All that time, you were staring down at me as I held my arms over my lungs and turned to one side in pain.

I felt your pulsating warmth on my arms and smelled your scent though I was only half conscious. Without a doubt, I knew you had rescued me.

"Hijikata-san…"

"There is something I must say." Your grave voice betrayed all the things I pushed aside, playing it off as if I'd never known. Whatever was on the shelf of our relationship needed to stay pristine. The swords there always had to look as sharp and perfect as possible. There was no way they could get scratched no matter how many times we used them, even when we hurt one another in our denial.

That's what I used to believe in because I didn't want to fully trust anyone. I avoided all effort to make any kind of connection to anyone and you were so rowdy and firm. I had heard the stories from Kondo so I was a little scared of who you were. You turned out to be a monster with a handsome face.

I couldn't believe you were the same person who played jokes on people in the bathroom or didn't say thank you to all the beauties who threw themselves at you because you were kind to me.

Because I was the way I was, I couldn't ever believe that someone like me could ever change you until Kondo said that you were hard. You never even genuinely smiled, or at least, for real. But then, all you did was smirk at my innocence, or the stupidity of my youth.

I wondered if you had lost something that I thought I would never gain.

Now, the person I secretly admired grabbed my hand shamelessly, pressing his and mine together until there was no gap between our palms.

It seemed all too sudden. It made no sense whatsoever why you wanted to bring me here. I never talked to you properly, but I watched you quietly all the same.

"This… I am not the person you think I am. I pretend to be confident because it is what I have to do, but actually, I'm so tired…But…but if you…because I'd wanted to test if you'd do it for me, you almost drowned. I didn't think you would go that far, Souji."

These words fell out like a single sigh, steadily and relieved. My heart was melting though I smiled while gasping. You patted my back and the coughs lessened.

"Of course I would, Hijikata-san." I grabbed your head to touch my chest and said the only thing I could. "I don't know what else to say, but I KNOW. Shh…You don't have to apologize."

Was this the separate paradise which never even touched 'Sanctuary'?

That blank expression…

I abhorred this face with my very being. It was a mask we all carried inside of us, but someday, unless we wished to grow, it must eventually break.

After all, we were only clay.

There was no soul in that shell. That body was empty or rather, it's destructed upon itself so that it would not let anything in or out of it, but I was a hypocrite for I'd done it all my life. Hiding behind my laughs, I put people off their guard unless I attacked with my soul and body aligned. All the while, you were friendly with anyone until you showed your fangs when people defied you.

I never wanted to trust anything until I met you. I didn't believe in anything until you responded to everything I didn't want you to…

That's why I'd learned that even if you'd learn to hate me for all that I lacked as a human, I would still have affection towards you because there was no turning back.

This intensity equaled the same iciness I felt when you passed by when we first met, or rather, when you were 'aware' of 'me'. I remembered my heart throbbed as your eyes glanced at my direction when I told the classmate next to me, "I'm excited."

I was told there was a guest instructor and that you were the best friend of my 'father'. But you just walked past as if it was nothing and you eyed me. It sent a shiver down my spine and I wanted to avoid you as much as possible from that moment on.

However, I'd never said that before. It was something I never said in my life and meant it for I was too weak to appreciate any other emotion besides envy and hatred, covered by dim eyes which never lifted themselves to the sky. I thought sadness and love were for the weak.

I'd been taught with this body that I did not need to dream at all for it was a waste of time. So, I forced myself to forget to dream until you looked down at me and covered me with your kimono. I felt the small specks of sand cling to my skin.

I'd ended up reaching out for you to wrapping your head over my wet chest. Your eyes were dry as I covered your face from the world. My heart was falling into an abyss, pushing itself to numbness, as if drinking a drug to stop the pain from spilling into my mind.

It was that pain that told me of destiny. When you were wandering away from fate, your heart connected to your soul, would cry out in vibrations to reveal the truth.

You were silent and said no more.

"Everyone has a past. I was not a part of that…so I don't have to know." I simply said breathlessly. "Just…please don't let go of me in the future…"

Your lips started to kiss my neck as you hand went inside my wet undershirt. I lifted up my knee as my back arched up in response. I felt like I'd lose conscious again as you whispered into my ear, "I've waited long enough for you to grow up."

Your tongue licked my lips and pushed against my teeth to kiss me, taking all of my breath away. Your lips tasted better than I'd ever imagined…

My chest lifted as your thumb pressed against my nipple when your lips moved to my right ear. My fingers wrapped around your neck and dug into your skin. I couldn't shout as your hand went down my abdomen. You placed your hand smoothly over my thigh and then in between my legs. My jaw pressed against your cheek as my arms wrapped around you again, fumbling and not really knowing what to do.

"I…don't…understand, Hijikata-san…"

"You with that beautiful face and all that enthusiasm for the class…" You rubbed even harder.

"Ah!" I bit my tongue.

"I really loved you from that moment."

"But that was the first time you ever saw me…"

"Do you know who told to get you from your aunt?"

My eyes opened wide as you finally undid my underwear, strap after strap. I put my arms on your shoulders as your eyes looked down at the knots, your bangs touching my chest.

"I was the one who helped you when fell into the river after your parents died. I looked for you everywhere to see how you were doing until I found you with your aunt but I couldn't get you so I hinted to Kondo there was a child he should adopt at least-"

I reached out for your face and looked deeply into your eyes until you stopped moving all together. I wanted to have a good look at you before I lifted up my head to kiss you.

Your eyes were so full now and I knew I had put my soul into them.

Life is very funny that way. You know that you're not going to be here so long, but humans pretend as if they are going to be. They deny the inevitable, but it will come and the faster that you accept it, the more you understand that you must either hold back or give everything.

I didn't know which group I belonged to. Sometimes, I was with the former and sometimes, I was with the latter, but in either case, I had a premonition since I was a child that I wouldn't survive so long in this world. At first, I didn't want to, but when you're at your worst, something or someone saves you without knowing. And then, all the things that you denied become things you want to protect.

The more that the times changed around me, the more that I felt I was pushed to take action. I was proud of what I did even though others may have looked at us in disdain. That's why we were indestructible: We didn't turn back on what we believed in even when the world was changing. We fought for what we put our whole lives into: Makoto. It is the old Chinese character that is written for "sincerity". To earn that, you ultimately sacrifice friends and you crush enemies. This isn't ever easy to accept and there were times that when I carefully wiped my sword and stared at it for long periods at a time, I still wondered what I had done and why. What was the point of this "talent" if I had to keep cleaning blood off my precious sword?

But Hijikata-san's words always surfaced from the back of my mind whenever I remembered the first time I killed someone with my asagi-iro uniform. I ran to the back of the house to wash my clothes. I felt cold and I kept rubbing the cloth until my fingers bled. He walked up behind me and leaned over to put his sleeve to cover my eyes while his hand grabbed my shoulder. His warm breath touched my ear. "No matter what, you must stay with me, Souji."

My head pushed against his sleeve and I bit my lip as my eyes clenched all the tears they were about to shed. All my lips could respond was, "And I believe in this."

When he took his arm away, I looked at my uniform and at the 'Makoto' splattered with blood mixing into the water inside the wooden bucket. He took up the tip of my hair and kissed it before turning away silently. He didn't want to show me his face.

I should write other things. Maybe they should be about what I did and where we all traveled to, but as I waited for you to come, because I knew you'd find your way to me one last time, I wanted to write to you.

I must finish this before you wake up to meet Kondo-san. I still can't believe you rushed here by palanquin and will go again to Nagareyama to meet him before going to Utsunomiya. I laugh as I look at you holding my waist while I'm trying not to move too much while writing this for you.

When he came I had just fainted.

He had an exhausted expression and one of concern meshed into it before he bent his head over my body. His bangs hung over his face and I couldn't see anything but his lips. His mouth opened and then closed again slowly.

"You…" I couldn't understand if he'd said it or if I'd imagined it.

He was really here…but his clothes were so different. He didn't wear a kimono or hakama anymore. Our uniform no longer covered his body and at this thought, my lips quivered. He was wearing a dark, velvet French coat. I tried to reach out for the tips of his long dark hair, but now, it was cut short. My hand fell down in defeat.

"I told you not to come. It's a waste of time. You have to go up north…" I thought in my mind and my lips wouldn't move because I was too overwhelmed by and guilty over my selfishness.

I kept on blinking at him helplessly, trying to analyze what was going on while my mind kept on swimming and my body jerked itself away with the violent coughing. A sense of a dreaded dejavu came to me as if it were a premonition and the feeling ebbed away as I gripped onto the futon with one hand and pulled him towards me. "I never really get to talk to you, but I always know what you might say to me without any words. I can feel your aura even if we're in completely different parts of the nation."

His forehead pressed lightly onto my own, but he didn't say anything. That was the part that frustrated me. I couldn't rely on myself to understand what you meant. Even your words confused me because they were too well-guarded. You controlled everything: How people saw you, and how everyone should have seen me.

It was at that moment that you searched for my hand again. You grabbed my fingers and then blindly and awkwardly interlocked our fingers. All I could do was wonder, "You couldn't say anything, but I could feel your urgency to touch me."

"Souji…" Your eyes kept on saying to me, "I am proud of who you are."

I looked up to your face and smiled widely for the first time in my life. And I started to cry all the sorrow I felt all these years because I finally felt that spark of being alive. I believed that you wouldn't throw me away to the point my heart ached though I didn't ever show anything. You never were ashamed to show that you thought I was worthy of all the things you wanted of me but I never believed of myself.

He helped me sit up against the wall but I fell asleep again.

I woke up with a pillow between the wall and my head and found him next to my bedside. Immediately I turned away, embarrassed about how weak I looked now. My hair was not soft as before and I'd grown quite thin. My fingers could no longer hold my sword properly.

My soul. My soul is my sword…

There were specks of blood I couldn't hide on my clothes because the cloths weren't long enough.

"What are you doing here-" Still, even now, I had to protest.

He kissed me and I pushed him away as far as I could. "No! You will get sick as well!"

"It's only a matter of time now." His hands held onto my slender wrists until they crept up my arms and crossed over my shoulders. He held me as strongly as he could. "Souji…Souji…"

He couldn't tell me how thin I was or that the fighting was almost all over. He didn't tell me that we'd lost and he'd be leaving soon. All I knew was that I could feel his heart over my chest as mine pressed into his skin.

That said everything to me.

More than anything, you risked everything to come here one last time to show me what you never said. I'd waited for those words but I was foolish because you said it with every part of your being to me all these years. Even with all those other lovers, I was the one you could never let go of.

I was the one you wanted so much that you were willing to break yourself for me.

I'm writing this to you because these were the happiest parts of my life. And this last visit…

I'd waited and waited. I pretended I didn't care if you didn't come and my pride was as bad as ever towards the nurses here.

If I could give you my sword, I would, but I must die with it next to me. It was the only thing I truly deserved in this world. It was the only thing I claimed as my own and it never deserted me since the day I learned how to hold it.

I am sorry…

I cannot fight next to you any longer.

So, I give this to you, the person who taught me how to write the things I could never say. You must understand that I never cared for my life at all. You knew that from the very beginning when you saved me from drowning in the river when my parents died. You always knew that some part of me silently told, "I don't matter." But you made sure that I wouldn't die believing that.

With your care, you forced me to feel what others desired jealously whenever I held my sword and thought of you: 'Passion'.

I am always with you, Toshizo.

Less than a month later, when Hijikata's body was found in Hakodate, he held his sword, but a thin stack of papers stuck together was found against his heart. It was held together with a crimson-splattered white ribbon…

Owari. / The End.

Author'snote:I went all over Japan looking for anything about the Shinsengumi. What is ironic is that there were places that I thought were special like Hino and Utsunomiya and Aizu, only to find out that later on, they were so important.

I went to Okita Souji's grave on my birthday and had dreams of him before I went to Hokkaido. Those dreams stopped once I went to Hokkaido but I had the urge to visit Imado Jinja a few weeks ago. It sounds strange, but I felt a peacefulness that I'd not felt for a while, especially the essence of my beloved San Francisco (where I was first introduced to Peacemaker). When I had to leave the shrine, I started to cry. I was embarrassed because my friend was with me and I don't cry in public but the tears wouldn't stop. I kept thinking, "I don't want to leave Souji."

I was first introduced to the Shinsengumi in Rurouni Kenshin and since then, I was in love with Okita. I didn't love him because he was the beautiful one, but because he is a man of action and pushed for what he believed until the end.

So, when I made this fic, after all that researching from going to different places and reading books, I wanted to present the Souji I'd learned about as well as the one that I'd loved all along as well Hijikata, whom I also admire. When the earthquake happened in Japan, I was scared and prayed at Hijikata's shrine to help me have the strength to do what I believe and protect what I love.

Thank you for reading.

And this is dedicated to Seshat-sama and my loving master, who always push my writing limits with their talent.

Love,

Yui

11/20/2011 1:51:01 AM