Summary: Something Mitsuhide loves more than fighting. Drabble, challenge.

Warning: 15-minutes challenge.

Set: Story-unrelated

Disclaimer: Standards apply.

Mitsuhide loves to fight.

It is a challenge, a way to learn and to teach and to learn even more by teaching. Being one of the best five swordsmen of Clarines at a pretty young age, he still values the basic rule of swordsmanship: Train whenever you can, teach whatever you know and learn how to listen. To the wind that whistles through the leaves of the trees, telling from which direction ones opponent will come. To the soft swish of fabric, to the silver, bell-like sounds two swords meeting each other create. Youngsters fight with wooden practice-swords and Lords and Knights with their fancy lances and emerald-encrusted rapiers. Mitsuhide is a common soldier – the Knights of Oleg see themselves as servants, not as nobles, despite the high regard they hold in the public's eye – and, thus, he fights with a common weapon. His sword is silver in color but harder than any noble metal, trusty and sharp. How many times has it saved his life before he cannot say.

It's not what he keeps count on, anyway. The importance of his sword grows with every time it saves his Liege Lord.

There are five people in Clarines who carry the title of a Sword to the Crown. The first two people to hold the title are the King and the Queen's knights, the third one Prince Izana's. The honor of being the fourth and fifth go to Mitsuhide and Kiki, Prince Zen's personal soldiers, knights and bodyguards. Zen has two soldiers because he is known to sneak out of the castle and his royal parents (and his brother, in that matter) would rather have two protectors around him than one. The first time someone mentioned a second knight to Mitsuhide he felt like he was being betrayed. The first time Kiki followed Zen from the palace and straight into a bar brawl (not that Zen actually entered a bar, it was more that the brawl was taken outside of the bar itself) he vowed never to think like that again. There is a reason Kiki carries the same title Mitsuhide has and they have learned to work together.

They are better together than on their own, nowadays.

It's strange, because Mitsuhide was trained to work by himself. Train and work and learn. When Prince Izana came to get him he was happy, and when he was given to Zen instead he was hurt. But as he has learned to fight, Mitsuhide has learned to love Zen. It is easy to do so, once one knows him better, but to Mitsuhide, there is more than that. Zen is more than what people see in him - or expect to see in him. And Mitsuhide gives him the same love and everlasting loyalty he dedicates to his profession.

Mitsuhide loves to fight, but there is one thing he loves more.

He loves to watch Kiki fight. There is something in this woman – and it means something, coming from the man who still has a great respect regarding females – that makes him smile when he sees her. Perhaps it is for her contrasting character. Her face is a carefully crafted mask, might show slight surprise, disapproval or a tiny smile sometimes. But it never shows the same range of emotions she displays on the training field.

Kiki fights youngsters, soldiers and old veterans with the same expression of concentration she reserves when listening to Zen. For that alone Mitsuhide would love her, but there is more. He sees her smile on the battlefield, in grim anticipation and in pleased approval. He sees her grimace when watching especially bad moves. He sees her frown when fighters get especially close to each other, and he even saw her furious, once, when two youngsters tried to kill each other out of their own, sheer stupidity. He has seen her laugh, too, full-out and straight-forward, and what makes him especially happy is that he was her opponent that day. Kiki laughs when she feels challenged, when she enjoys a fight, and there is no better partner he could wish for than her. She is beautiful when she fights, an image of dancing leaves on an autumn day, a hunting cat at the crack of dawn, a bird of prey circling high up in the sky. Her light hair shines in the light of the sun and her sword is a blurred ribbon of silver and they dance, two partners circling each other in perfect synch, two mirror images of each other. Mitsuhide loves to watch her fight more than he loves fighting itself, as much as he loves to fight her.

He falls in love with Kiki the day he watches her watch Zen walk away.

They have just returned from an inspection and his Highness, the King, hasn't been too pleased with Zen's newest escape from the castle. Zen holds his ground and walks away straight and proud and Kiki watches his back with an expression Mitsuhide only associates with mothers watching their children. Pain and pride, love and fear, all mixed in one, beautiful smile. And suddenly it gains a whole new depth, opens up a whole new world of things he sees and feels. She never looked more beautiful before. He has been wary of her at first and later intimidated by her calm and unwavering presence. He has watched her and fought alongside her and against her. Of the five Knights to the Crown only one is a woman, and she is a swordsman just as fine as Mitsuhide is.

Kiki loves the fight just as much as Mitsuhide does. Perhaps, he thinks, she'll learn to love him the same way he loves her, one day.

Silver sunlight reflects from their swords as they cross, and their gazes connect over their blades.

Both of them smile.