Kiku was near the brook, facing the away from the other, dejection evident in his entire demeanor. There was a stiff silence between him and the samurai with the knack for catching arrows. With Gorabei tucked snuggly underneath the overhang of earth that just barely jutted out over the genteel stream of water, he had to turn his head to the left to put Kikuchiyo directly into his line of vision.

Mentally patting himself on the back, Gorabei decided his spot really did have the best visibility for the drama he'd been anticipating ever since Kiku started to show signs of wanting go with the worldly entertainer when he left the village once more (they all came back to the little oasis for visits when life permitted it, the novelty of being welcome in a time of peace had yet to wear off).

The only exception was the metal samurai. He had never left, after all the years that had come and gone, he was the only one from the former band that was a constant in Komachi's life.

Now that something was weighing so heavily on his mind that he'd be willing to risk breaking that bond between the two of them . . . Gorabei was soooo ready to watch this scene unfold before his eyes.

Front row seat, let the show begin. With that playful thought, Gorabei said the opening line.

"What about Komachi?"

"She's better off without me. You and I both know it!"

The quiver in his voice gave the performer pause. As an observer of life in general, he marveled at all the times he managed to sight someone as hopelessly head over heels as Kikuchiyo was.

"You jerk!" was the only preamble to Komachi tackling the metal samurai to the ground, never giving Gorabei chance to point out the obvious. That she was in as deep as the idiot was.

Nice form, Komachi, he thought rather amused at the fact that in his morose state Kiku never noticed Komachi perched at the top of the overhang nearly the entire time they were there.

Komachi had not yet moved from the back of one the great samurai who helped take down the Nobusari she felled with little effort. Heihachi would have called undoubtedly called him sloppy for such poor balance. Something Gorabei was tempted to do, yet the prospect of something more entertaining than a rather slight village priestess making the brasher samurai face plant gave him pause. Not willing to spoil such an opportunity, he said nothing hoping to be rewarded for his patience.

Tears filling her eyes, the young woman started berating Kikuchiyo.

"Why can't you get it through your thick metal head, Kiku? I told you a million times, I don't care that you're made of metal! I'm a priestess for crying out loud! What do I care for bodily pleasures?"

Oh, yes. So worth giving up that jab. Gorabei thought with mischievous glee. This was too rich, a man made out of metal and a holy woman? He made a mental note to himself to stop at Firefly inn as he thought fleetingly of Shiroji and how he would enjoy this.

Right as Kikuchiyo was about to say something, the tears pooling in Komachi's eyes fell on his frame as she spoke softer, her wounded tone stilled his tongue.

She raised her fists and starting hitting him, though she knew it was more than likely to cause her more damage in the end. The reckless anger that had caused her to jump of the ledge of rock to knock him off his feet in the first place back with a vengeance.

"How stupid can you be Kiku? Don't you love me anymore? Why would you want to leave with Goru? Do you wanna dress like a woman?"

The hurt still evident in her wavering voice, despite the suddenness of that odd memory she normally found humorous popping into mind.

At that comment and the mental image it brought, Gorabei nearly lost all control and burst out laughing at the poor girl's breakdown. As serious as the situation was, Komachi still managed to find a way to be hilarious at the most inconvenient time. And the thought of Kikucho exhausting his affection of the girl who had his heart from beginning (as far as Gorabei could tell) was just as laughable.

Kikuchiyo (finally! thought Gorabei) came out of his stupor, turning suddenly, grabbing Komachi from her perch on his back to cradling her loosely in an encompassing hug from where he laid.

"How can you be so…." He voice trailed off, unsure of how to explain how ashamed he was of the body he worked so had to obtain. He squeezed her lightly, making her back pop. She emitted a squeak as air was push from her lungs, her ribs momentarily squished uncomfortably.

"I can't even hold you in my arms properly." Far too upset to care that he couldn't keep his voice from cracking.

Surprised as she was, Komachi did what she did best when it came to dealing with samurai. She rolled with it. Bringing her arms out from in between them, she wrapped her arms around the one with the biggest mouth and warmest heart.

"I decided a long time ago I wanted to marry you. I want the same thing now that I wanted back then." She paused sniffling and took a deep breath "Your heart. I always, always, always wanted it. Your giant heart in exchange for mine. All that considered, that's a small price for boundless happiness, don't you think?" her voice tentative yet hopeful.

A loud laugh rumble forth come the much larger frame on the ground. His pitch taking on an amused, incredulous air "I guess so, thanks. . . ."

Kikuchiyo then sat up, leaning forward quickly before he lost his nerve, whispered in her ear "Komachi."

Gorabei really couldn't resist laughing at her reaction. Not that either of them noticed.

Still seated in his lap, with his arms around her, the former farmer felt her stiffen instantly. Ready to apologize, he began to say something, only to have the priestess in his arms manage to knock him over. Again.

Throwing her arms around his neck she exclaimed happily "Kiku!" He moved his arms closer around her (without applying any pressure this time) and simply laughed, so happy he thought he'd combust, if the sheer amount of steam he released was anything to go by.

Shaking his head, Gorabei was both amused and humbled by being able to witness such a milestone what he thought was one of the greatest relationships to come out of the war. Seriously? That strong a response to simply being called by her name for the first time? Well, they've been together for a while. It's a wonder it's taken him this long. Damn, never would have thought that ol' Kiku was such a old fashioned romantic. I wonder if she'll burst when he somehow manages to tell her he loves her.