Chapter 2: A knight's confession

A few days had past since Tokine saw Yoshimori's new technique. She still felt that he wasn't telling her everything; she sighed and got into the shower.

While Tokine had gotten into the shower Yoshimori was returning from his morning run, something he had done while he was on the mountain. He removed his shirt as he walked into the house and was greeted by his dad. Yoshi told his dad that he was just jogging, went to wash up, and dressed.

Tokine had left her house to do some shopping and other errands for her mom, when she had seen Yoshimori walking down the same street. She watched him for a while and decided to approach him, but she stopped. His outfit was different from before, he was wearing a pair of blue jeans, a white t-shirt and an odd vest that was like a trench coat without sleeves.

"Yoshimori, hey!" Tokine walked up to him and he waved.

"Where did you come from?" He asked and looked around.

"I was heading to the grocery store. What about you?"

"No where really." Yoshi said and continued to walk. He then looked back, "wanna join me?"

Tokine looked at him surprised at his offer, but she nodded and the two left the area. A while later they came to a flight a stairs, Tokine gave Yoshimori a weird look. "A shrine?"

"Yeah, I come here quite a bit. This is where I trained before the Night Troops showed up, with the help of crows, ha."

While they walked up the steps Tokine watched her partner, trying to figure out what it was about him that was different. She was brought out of her thoughts by Yoshimori's voice calling to her. He repeated his question after she looked up at him and he cocked his head.

Tokine blushed slightly and then walked to him, "it's just something's different about you. You're not, you're not Yoshimori."

"Yeah I am." Yoshi replied, clearly confused.

"No your not, look at you, that outfit. It's not you." Tokine said as her voice broke.

"I'm still the same guy, Tokine, nothings changed, except my height."

Tokine shook her head, "you don't get it, and this isn't you. This jacket isn't you." Tokine gestured to his vest like jacket, the accessories on his wrist, and even his necklace. "I expected you to become taller, but the way you're dressed and the way you've been acting isn't you. You may be Yoshimori, but you're not my Yoshimori…"

By now, they were standing at the top of the steps, standing face to face. "Tokine…" Yoshimori blushed and Tokine looked down. He closed his eyes and sighed before taking her into an embrace. He whispered, "I'm still me."

Tokine spoke, her voice muffled, "why, why did you really leave. Yoshimori, please tell me."

"I think, deep inside, you know the answer to that. I wanted to become stronger so that," Yoshi paused and grabbed her arm that was scared, "I don't want this to happen again. Do you remember how you got it? Do you know why you're so afraid of them?"

"Not exactly."

"You got it from protecting me. I don't want you or anyone else to get hurt because of me." He smiled, still holding her hand. "Does it hurt?"

"Um… s-sometimes, but not all the time." Tokine replied

"I see, I'm sorry." Yoshimori said and he proceeded to remove the jacket vest. He tossed it aside. "There is that better?" Tokine smiled but she was still crying. "Hey what's wrong?"

Tokine shook her head, wiped her eyes, and turned around. "Why train here for?"

'She changed the subject', Yoshimori thought then walked stepped beside her. "Well, why not. It's quiet and there is a huge area behind the place. Oh and the priest her doesn't mind."

Neither of them said anything and Yoshimori took her to the area with the crows. As they walked around the forest their conversation changed once again. Yoshimori decided to bring up I previous question and asked Tokine again. Her face turned red and she hesitated for a bit but before she replied her foot slipped. Yoshimori grabbed her hand as she began to fall and pulled her up with a simple fluid motion.

When he had pulled up he managed to pull her onto the same spot as he was. Their feet were in a neat row, bodies touching and their face inches from the others, their eyes met, both mirroring the others expression. Yoshimori's eyes darted from hers to her lips as the parted. In one small movement their lips meet in a small curious kiss. It didn't last long and when they parted, a blush touch both of their faces. Tokine quickly darted away and stumbled over her sentence, she told him that she should go. And that was it; she took off and left the temple leaving Yoshimori to his thoughts.

A few hours later and Yoshimori was at the site first, sighing and hanging his head. "What seems to be wrong this time Yoshi?"

"Nothing. Where's Tokine she's late."

"Who knows." Madarao shrugged and scouted the area as Yoshimori sat down.

An hour later and Tokine had shown up, "Sorry I'm late Yoshimori, Grandma needed help with something."

"It's ok nothing big has shown up yet." Yoshimori said as he chilled in the spot he had been sitting in.

"That's good. " Tokine said as Hakubi left to help Madarao scout. It grew quiet as the two thought of words to say. It was Tokine who decided to start the conversation they needed to have. "Um Yoshimori?"

Yoshimori looked at her, but stood up abruptly and held up a finger, "wait do you hear that?"

"I don't hear a thing." Tokine asked confused

"Exactly. Something's coming." Toshimori and Tokine got into fight mode and ran to find their canine ghost companions. "Madarao can you sense what's coming!?"

"No Yoshi I can see it!"

As soon as the words left Madarao's mouth the ground shook and crumbled beneath them. A loud screeching roar emanated from a beast that broke through the ground.

"What the hell is hat!?" Yoshimori yelled as he turned around and ran, grabbing Tokine as he did.

They ran until they hid in the school where they could try to figure out what was going on. "This is bad Yoshimori! What are we going to do that thing is way more powerful than what we've fought in the past."

"I know that." Yoshimori peeked through the window and ducked down. "We have to fight it."

"You are not going out there!"

"Why not? Someone has to fight it!"

"That thing is huge and we don't even know if it's an ayakashi!"

"Will you two stop yelling it's gonna find us!" Madarao yelled to the two who just yelled at him to stay out of it.

"At least stay and let's figure something out instead of running straight into it." Tokine sighed and gave him a look, "please."

"What do you suggest?" Yoshimori asked his tone turning into a low whisper.

"I don't know a distraction or something." Tokine yelped as the tail of the beast smashed through the building. Yoshimori held her mouth closed so she didn't scream and give their place away, "we have to do something Yoshi."

"I know, I know. Let me think." Yoshimori said looking out the window again, "its legs. We take out its legs, tail and those wings?"

"Good idea, but how are you do get close enough to get rid of its legs." Hakubi asked as he sat near Tokine.

"Just like Tokine said a distraction. Or in this case two decoys."

"whaat? No way, Yoshimori, I am not being a decoy with that young mutt."

"There's no way that old pest can keep up with me. Count me out."

"Just go!" Yoshimori said as he pushed the two ghost dogs out of the window. "Come on Tokine."

Yoshimori darted out but found the beast was too fast and not as dumb as he had thought. Madarao noticed it wasn't bothering with Yoshimori at all and seemed to be aim its attacks at Tokine. He narrowed his eyes and flew straight to the beast to try and stall it.

The fight seemed to last forever as Yoshimori and Tokine dodged the ayakashi's attacks. Yoshimori had been knocked into the school building forcing the kekkai to come down. He was injured and they slowed his movements much quicker than he wanted, but when he looked up what he saw made him move faster than he thought he could.

Tokine screamed Yoshimori's name as he flew into the building and it crumbling down over him. She put up a kekkai to shield herself from the next attack but was forced run. Luck changed for Tokine as she tripped over some rumble and was left unprotected from an attack.

The scream left her lips but she felt no pain and looked up to see a pissed off Yoshimori with his zekkai surrounding him. Tokine called his name and cried out as the monsters tail was jabbed into his lower abdomen.

The ayakashi's tail disintegrated immediately as Yoshimori's zekkai grew and he walked forward. He didn't stop or even wince at the pain as he walked to the ayakashi it glared at him and attacked.

The duel ended an hour before sunrise and Yoshimori fell onto his stomach as the demon was killed.

"Yoshimori!" Tokine ran to his side and gently rolled him over. "No… Madarao, Hakubi one of you go get grandma and Shigemori!"

The two nodded and agreed that Hakubi would be the one to leave. As Hakubi flew to the homes Tokine removed Yoshimori's shirt to assess the damage. She used his shirt to tie off the wound to stop it from bleeding and after tying it both he grandma and Shigemori arrived.

"Do something he's gonna die." Tokine said as the tears streamed down her face.

Tokiko covered her mouth, holding back her own tears and stepped forward telling Tokine to return home and she and Shige would finish things here.

Reluctantly Tokine obeyed, leaving Yoshimori in the care of her grandma. It wasn't until mid morning that news was heard from next door about Yoshimori's condition. School today was out of the question so both parents called in both telling different stories.

Shuji walked over to the Yukimura after Shigemori left for the afternoon and offered to let Tokine in to see Yoshimori. Tokine nodded and immediately took him up on his invitation.

When she walked into their home she was shown where Yoshimori's room was. She was surprised when Shuji left her alone with his son, but she was thankful for the privacy. She sat next to him and grabbed the rag off his head and rung it out in the cold water next to him. "I'm so sorry Yoshimori." She whipped his head and moved the hair from his face.

Though she was sure he was asleep, or still unconscious, she still talked to him. Telling him she was sorry and just talking to him. Soon, though, she ran out of things to tell him and so she just laid down next to him laying her head on his chest.

Three hours later Shuji walked in and woke Tokine, who sat straight up and apologized. Shuji just smiled and told her she can come back tomorrow. Tokine looked down at Yoshi's sleeping form, bit her lip and nodded before standing up. She thanked him and left their house in time for Shige to return.

"How is he doing?" He asked as he removed his sandals.

"Still sleep, but the bleeding has stopped." Shuji said as he redressed the wounds.

"Thank the heavens." Shige sighed and entered his room to get ready for the nights job. "Will the Yukimura girl be working too?"

"I don't think so she's pretty shook up about last night and quite worried about Yoshimori." Shuji said covering his son back up.

Days went by and Tokine went back to school and continued working at the site during the night. It was clear to Shizue and Shuji that she was still worried about her young partner and checked on him when she could.

It was a week after the incident and Tokine was sitting under the cherry blossom tree in the yard of Karasumori talking with her Kirara and some other girls from her class. They had brought up Yoshimori's sudden change, in well everything and his sickness. Tokine just rolled her eyes pretending not to care about what they were talking about.

When they got quiet and seemed to stare at her she was quick to defend herself, but realized she had nothing to defend. "What are you looking at?" Tokine finally had to ask and turned to look where they were pointing. Up on the roof in his usual spot was a tired looking Yoshimori.

"Who is he looking at?" Kirara asked as she looks at Tokine who knew exactly who he was looking at and when their eyes met he smiled, pointed at her and gestured for her to come up there. She gestured to her friend and the others Yoshi shrugged and seemed to roll his eyes.

Kirara noticed the gesture and distracted Tokine with a question which she answered, but when she looked back he was gone. She sighed and answered another unwanted question.

"Aw he's gone. Where'd he go- oh hey there he is." Kirara said and Tokine turned around.

He waved as he walked up to the girls only to stop before the shade of the tree. Tokine ignored her friends and everyone else as she ran to him. She spoke his name as she put her arms around him, receiving a few pained groans.

Yoshimori just smiled, "yeah I'm fine." he smiled at her and the next moment she locked his lips with hers.

The surrounding students all gasped at the sudden action and Yoshimori blushed, but deepened the kiss. Their surroundings seemed to disappear and all they could feel were each other. Even when they parted and whispered to each other everyone else seemed to be nonexistent.

He whispered for her to meet him up there on the roof where he use to sleep, telling her they needed to talk. She nodded and he kissed her cheek, wiping away a stray tear. With that he left grinning at the people watching and waving.

Thirty minutes later she met Yoshimori up on the roof and found him sitting against the wall facing the mountain forest. She smiled at him and sat next to him, "Tokine there's something we need to talk about."

"I know. It's about the other day at the temple."

"Yeah, but it's not just that." Yoshimori looked away and thought of what to say. "I don't know how to start this and it may sound corny. I just need to tell you and I've wanted to tell you for so long. I don't know when it started but I love you Tokine, but I have to know do-" "yes I do, Yoshi," Tokine cut him off, "I mean I wasn't sure at first and jut brushed it off as sibling love, but now I know its more than that."

Yoshimori smiled and moved closer to her so he could kiss her lightly, "I'm in love with you Tokine."

She smiled back and returned the kiss, "I know."

Their kiss picked up tempo and became more passion filled, "you know what this means?"

Tokine broke the kiss and looked at him and nodded, "we can't let them find out Yoshimori."

"They know," Yoshimori gestured to the school and Tokine nodded, "but I understand Grandpa and Tokiko can't find out if they do hell will break loose."

"It'll be hard to keep a secret you know." Yoshimori nodded and leaned back against the wall, "but love will find a way, right."

"Yeah," Yoshimori said as Tokine leaned against him gently.