I never thought this story would have any favorites/alerts at all. Thank you, guys! And for you reviewers, keep' em coming!
I just hope you didn't place your expectations too high, though...
This headache was killing me. Yukimura—and all that came with him—came flooding back to me a few days ago. It happened a couple of centuries ago. I wasn't an avid believer of the existence of previous reincarnations, but as the memories surged through me at that particular time, I knew I had lived another lifetime before mine.
"Lord Masamune, are you all right?"
Kojuuro, who I thought was just a typical guardian, turned out to be more than I had bargained for prior to this life. I had no other words to call it. Call me cheesy, but the strings of fate have their own ways of tying us all back together, no matter in what time. Too bad his loyally adherent demeanor which bordered to the point of exasperation resurfaced along with his memories.
Not that he was any less conservative to begin with. This is Kojuro, after all.
"Are you sure?"
Rhetorical question. Time to get to the point.
"... I saw him today."
"Him, my lord?"
"Ever the faithfully clueless guardian, aren't you? The new transfer student I'd talked about last night. And I thought I told you to cut it with the honorifics. We're not the way we used to be, you know?"
"My apologies... Masamune."
I only nodded and began walking ahead, eyes front but mind scattered.
He was here... in flesh. He looked more alive than ever. I couldn't believe it. There was no mistaking it, either.
He smiled jovially as he introduced himself in front of the class. His arms waved around ardently as he gave a full-blown description of himself, more than was actually necessary.
Those hazel eyes were bright, lively. His voice was threateningly loud and amiable.
I hated him instantly for being so blissfully ignorant.
That carefree, childish innocence he was radiating around him.
It was nostalgic, but also too painstakingly familiar. Previous guilt washed over me again and again, each wave greater than before.
I couldn't handle it anymore.
Without another word, I stood up, caring little for subtlety, and without warning, a violent throbbing in my right temple made me almost keel over on my desk.
What the fuck is wrong with me?
"Masamune? Are you sick?" The teacher's mildly concerned voice reached my ears. It did nothing to soothe my condition.
I growled in response, "I'm not feeling well. Excuse me."
I packed hurriedly, made my way to the door and was about to slide it open when he spoke.
The vulnerability of his voice and my evergrowing curiosity bubbling inside me made it all too tempting.
I had spontaneously vowed to myself not to make eye contact in any way whatsoever with the boy at first sight.
But when I finally gave in and looked back, his face wasn't as clueless and blank as I had thought it to be.
It was like looking at a maze of emotions.
Those I could clearly make out; pain, confusion, sorrow.
Was he remembering?
"You know each other, Sanada?"
That was the last I heard before I stormed out of the room, not looking back.
He said no.
He didn't remember me. It was a relief, but weighed heavily in me as soon as I realized that meant...
The promise had long been neglected.
There was no denying that I had the most tenuous of hope that he might somehow remember. As I said, there had always been this more foolish side of me -the one that absolutely rebelled against reality- vying for dominion.
But then again, what did I hope to earn by adhering to a promise that was downright chimerical? It was as good as dead.
"Kojuro... I don't think I'm up for this."
His gaze was questioning. He hadn't the slightest clue of what I meant, that was for sure.
A voice echoed in the distance, calling my name.
Speak of the devil.
His face twisted into carefully masked surprise and horror.
"The new transfer student is...!"
"So what do you think, Kojuro?" I smirked, while inwardly holding back a grimace. "Should I run for it, or stand my ground?" My heartbeat beat harder and faster with footsteps closing in fast.
What should I say? How should I react?
Why the hell is he approaching me?
By any means I did absolutely nothing to draw his attention particularly on me. Was faking sickness a bad move? Right, maybe I shouldn't have done that. But it was all too sudden, too soon. How was I going to react other than escaping?
Damn, he wasn't going to pin me as a coward now, would he?
It was a last minute decision, and I held in my breath before realizing that Kojuro hadn't responded, or maybe I hadn't heard, but either way I looked back to where he should have been standing only to find another completely different face staring back at me, eyes more or less having that authentic and frankly annoying inquisition.
Failure to process any form of thought left me in an absorbed stupor for a few moments.
I could have plunged him back to the Sengoku Era out of pure, unadulterated shock and horror but thankfully I had it in me to restrain myself. My self-consciousness very nearly threw itself out of the window when all I could do was form half-baked thoughts of how, and why, but mostly wondering about how long it took me to make a decision.
"... Are you all right... Masamune?"
If there was any sliver of doubt that the person right in front of me was real, it vanished instantly.
"What do you want, transfer student?" I emphasized the last part to make it seem as if I honestly had no idea who the hell he was and couldn't care any less of what he wanted.
This Yukimura caught my allusion pretty well. "O-oh, well... I saw that you weren't feeling well this morning and...I assumed you needed help."
I scoffed deliberately. Who was this guy fooling? "You're sorely mistaken if you think I would need help, especially one coming from you."
From the corner of my eye I tried to spot Kojuro, but he was nowhere to be seen.
That damnable traitor. How could he have disappeared into thin air so fast?
"-to help you." He finished.
I blinked, uncomprehending. His words flew by too fast.
He looked slightly exasperated, but what annoyance he had was quickly replaced by his headstrong tenacity. "I said, let me help you. Or did I do something so wrong that you feel disgusted by even my presence?"
Not exactly true nor false. "It doesn't matter. Just go home."
I turned my back towards him, effectively putting an end to the conversation, and proceeded on my way.
Or so I had expected.
The blatant sound of his feet walking on pavement couldn't make it clearer that he was following me home. "Where do you live, Masamune?"
My head throbbed, and I was pretty sure a vein nearly popped in my temple. I had forgotten how he could be sometimes. So persistent and nagging.
"Do you mind?" I spoke through clenched teeth. "Have you any consideration for others who prefer to be left alone?"
It's because you don't know, you've forgotten everything.
You get to live your ignorant life for granted, going about as you please, without a care in the world.
Me? I'll get the pleasurable honor of living with this sin for the rest of my life, and for the many lives to come. This is my punishment.
"If you ask me, I think you do need help. You push people away, telling them to mind their own business, even though being left alone is the last thing you need." The words came tumbling out of his mouth like marbles.
I whirled back to glare at him, and had the violent urge to do a lot of things at once. Most of them including bloodshed. I would have lost it just then; just seeing him talk to me like that, thinking he knows everything.
I must have looked purely livid to him just then, because the next thing he did was stutter unceremoniously and fidget. "Forgive me! I know I spoke out of place. I don't even understand what I'm talking about, myself. Call me nuts, but when I first saw you this morning in class, I had this really strange feeling. Like,"
He gulped, his brows stitching together, as if doubting himself. "Like I've met you...before?" His eyes looked to mine, and from it I could see desperation. He was searching for a reaction, an affirmation, a signal that I felt the same way, and that he wasn't a psycho after all.
And that maybe we'd both realize we were long-lost siblings or some other foolish crap he surely would have thought up, and go along our merry way.
His mind was that simple. Unfortunately, I denied him that satisfaction.
"I don't know you." I took a sharp but inaudible intake of breath. "...Now get lost."
His face, strange to say, was unreadable. "I see."
He backed away slowly, his head slightly sulking.
I turned again for the last time, not stopping the sense of relief settling in my stomach.
It would have spread if it wasn't for the idiot's last remark.
"...But I'm afraid backing down now is out of the question. I hope you wouldn't mind me bothering you for a little while longer until I can sort things out, Masamune. See you tomorrow!"
"You seem to be in a repulsive mood, Lord Masamune."
Water dripped down the strands of my hair as I dried it with a towel, scratching my scalp with force a little more than necessary.
I landed hard on the couch, trusting it to hold my weight comfortably, yet it still did not stop it from squeaking in protest. I clearly lacked my usual cool demeanor tonight.
"That ain't clear enough for you, Kojuro? I think you'll be happy to know that you're part of the reason why I'm like this." I handed my waterlogged towel to his patiently outstretched hand.
He turned his back as he hung the towel to dry on a nearby shelf. "I only did what I trust was the best course of action."
Presumptuous guardian. "Really? By leaving your master behind in what could be well classified as potential jeopardy?"
I could sense amusement behind his stoic tone. "Sanada is hardly one to be referred to as dangerous. Furthermore, I believe you kept insisting not to be treated as a master."
"Screw that, you're still calling me with the honorifics anyway."
I let my eyes close as the smell of dark cocoa wafted into my nostrils. Ah, the smell of rich, dark caffeine. I added, "You knew things would go awry."
"That was a risk that I had to take. There was no other choice." He turned back to me and handed me a steaming cup of dark chocolate, gesturing for me to be mindful of the heat.
"You cannot keep tormenting yourself with these memories of yours. There is a limit to your endurance. You do realize there will come a day when you are obliged to face them, regardless of your alacrity."
The warmth of the cup, bordering on searing hot, tingled my senses and slowly began scorching my hands the longer I held them.
Reminded me of him. "I suppose you mean today."
"Not only today," he spoke with an undefined wisdom that belied his years. "But for many days to come. Until you can overcome this adversity."
Not only today, but for many days to come.
The sentence unwillingly stuck in my head, even until the next day when I listlessly sat down in class.
It wasn't strange of Kojuro to pop out uncannily wise phrases every once in a while. It usually happened when I needed it, anyway.
Like most of the times he advised me, this time I had a feeling it was right. It rarely wasn't.
Even a part of me seemed to agree with the suggestion. It was best to get this over with. No point in prolonging the suffering.
I could spill everything to Yukimura, proceed on to the gratifying expression of contrite, exchange heartfelt vows of not-going-to-let-it-happen-again, and going back to...being whatever it was be had been before. Allies? Rivals?
No, not going to be that easy.
I let out a mirthless chuckle, earning myself a few unnerved glances from those around me.
The door slid open, and in sauntered the headroom teacher, hands rapping against the chalkboard, demanding for reciprocated attention.
Before lessons even began, yawns were already heard, most discernible was those of a gruff, thick-headed—and took up too much space to preferably be of any use—Motochika Chosokabe.
The hare-brained brute was already sprawled out like a dead carcass beside me. It was only a matter of time before the chalk came flying.
Simply put, it was just another day in the typical school life of Date Masamune. Nothing new, just the same old, same old.
The door screeched open, shattering the placidity of the morning's routine on goings.
It was enough to even wake the big oaf Motochika, I observed silently, as the aforementioned literally jumped in his seat as the sound pierced his ears.
It would have been partially amusing, if it wasn't him that came in right then through the door, face sheepish and hair ludicrously disheveled.
As with every late student that occurred occasionally, a lecture was immediately hurled his way, which he took with frantic gestures, a panicked look crossing over his slovenly childish features, flinging back apologies in rapid succession with every harsh admonishment that came his way.
What made it different was that when normally the students would only respond with a halfhearted apology and drag their feet to their designated chairs, he would soak up the censure and respond with none the less stentorian tone to justify himself, and neither student nor teacher felt like losing.
Soon their voices began to escalate, each absorbed in their aimless bickering.
The class seemed to take a liking to this new change in atmosphere, as they began to come alive, laughter rekindling from their dormant state. Some only watched, gawking at the two idiots in front, but a whole lot of the class egged them on, some even betting on who would come out on top.
I took in the sight. It tugged on my conscience to know that Yukimura was the one who caused all of this. With only his presence alone, he managed to reinvigorate the classroom.
I couldn't resist the tiny smile that came to my face. Unfortunately, I had the feeling that no one else could do what he did without even trying.
It felt somewhat reassuring to know he hadn't changed at all.
"Okay, that's enough." The teacher panted, positively drained. "Owing to the fact that this is only your second day here, I will overlook this record. You can get away with your 'adjusting-to-the-environment' excuses, just this once. But if this were to happen again, I will ensure that—"
"I assure you this won't happen again, Mr. Shimazu," he cut in, breathing equally as hard as his much older counterpart. "You have my word, and my Lord's for this matter."
"Very well," he replied, looking mildly irritated that he had been interrupted another time. "Now I would advise you to move now, lest I change my mind. We don't have all day!"
He gestured gruffly in my direction, and with a bow of his head, Yukimura headed my way.
I raised my eyebrow, and suddenly remembered something.
The seat right next to the window was vacant, which also happened to be next to where I was sitting.
Which happened to be the only vacant seat left.
The revelation left a heavy feeling in my abdomen as I tried to suppress a groan. Of all the ways to begin the day, and I'm already thrust with the callow amnesiac.
True to my expectations, he waded through the throng of tables to the one next to me. It would have been better if he had just dumped his ass on the chair and keep his mouth shut, but seeing how this is Yukimura, he just had to go and say it.
"Morning, Masamune! How are you feeling?" and brought twenty-or-so pairs of prying eyes on to me.
Of course, it would come as a surprise for anyone to see the overzealous and vivacious socialite associating with a remarkably austere and cynical delinquent, otherwise known as the infamous Date Masamune.
As I glowered in response at the overly friendly greeting, I also thought of the inevitable future where he would, beyond shadow of a doubt, continue to unperceptively tarnish my reputation, in which I had already grown perfectly comfortable with.
He's going to mess up everything that I've been constructing all these years, and reduce it all to ash and rubble.
Ironic how I'm saying this again centuries later after I killed him, only this time I'm referring to myself.