TF FanFiction 1
Past Tense and Present Perfect
So, finally, here it is! ^o^~*
I promised myself that I would definitely do a oneshot, after all my previous long projects. Well, it still turned pretty long though. *bashfully scratches back of head* The plot was conceptualized while I was listening to Taylor Swift's Love Story and Katy Perry's Wide Awake, so it's kind of... predictable, I guess... I made a few research for this project, but not an intensive one, so please feel free to give me your insights and corrections. I would like to express my most sincere gratitude to those who have given their wise review of my works so far. I'll have you know that it immensely gladdens me to be able to read your comments, constructive criticisms, and recommendations of how I'm progressing with my creative writing. I really hope that this project would be at par with your rational expectation of my performance thus far, and I sincerely wish for your continuous support on my future endeavors. Please continue to guide me along. Enjoy! ^^~
Disclaimer: I still have a long way to go... 0_o*
Seishun National Library, located a couple of blocks from the prestigious Seishun University, was built a long, long time ago, and had stood witness to countless important - written and unwritten - events throughout Japan's history. As it was indicated in written documents, the structure had once stood proudly as a prestigious mansion belonging to one the most prominent daimyo clan, before it was meticulously restored and minimally renovated into its former glory to serve as a haven for rare and irreplaceable books at the turn of the 21th century. And, while most of the structures' detail were retained, most rooms were redone into meeting rooms, session halls, and other educational and professional facilities.
The venue has always been full of bright-minded individuals, most of them the crème de la crème of their respective fields and considered to be Japan's pride and treasures. Unfortunately, the grandeur, due to it's long heritage, had also been subjected to numerous superstitions and unexplainable circumstances.
Tezuka Kunimitsu, a promising law student, was not one to be bothered by such biased rumors. He had always been a logical realist, though putting him into the context of traditionally conservative would be too extreme. To his defense, the venue had always been a comfortable den - a warmly familiar place - to him, as if he had been there far more times than he actually have. It felt so alluring and familiar, that the first time he visited the library, he instantly knew where everything was. Even the table and chair he is currently occupying in the empty archives section (A/N: no one usually goes to this section unless purposely necessary, so he's all alone at the moment) felt like it solely belong to him all along.
However, amidst the serene attachment he fondly felt of the library, there's also this undeniable presence of another he senses constantly around him - vaguely any awareness of why and who it is - wherever he may be, though significantly stronger whenever he's in this particular library. Truthfully, this emotional wondering and longing was uncharacteristic of and unexplainable to him, but he was not one to dwell on such details. Right now, he needed to concentrate on the works to be done, reports to be submitted, and presentations to be finalized, before he proceeds to his appointed meeting with Tachibana-sensei late in the afternoon.
Academics had always been top priority, as real-life experiences were always the best teacher. But just as he was about to reach his pinnacle-of-hard-work mode, there is that feeling again. And in force of habit, Tezuka clutched over the family heirloom - a couples ring in bluish-sliver overall wrapped elegantly with a golden ancient artistry in the mid-section - hanging around his neck
A figure passed by Tezuka, so silently and undetectable, that he had this strange bubble of though it was a ghost. But when he finally mustered the will to looked up from his task, rather than a specter, he saw a lady - no, correct that, a very graceful man. (How he knew it is indeed a man behind the teen ethereally androgynous beauty was beyond his knowledge) Tall - but a few inches shorter than himself - and slender in form, maybe about his age or younger, and was walking with confident strides. The man was clad in white leather shoes, neatly fitting white slacks, topped with a tailored-fit indigo warmer over his light copper-beige turtle-neck, a camera bag of considerable size on his right shoulder, a hand-held bag on his left hand, and is sporting a chin-length honey-brown hair, that softy wafts of lavender...
An unexpected flash suddenly took over Tezuka's mind...
Perfectly hand-crafted silk indigo yukata with slim copper-bronze details...
Tall, slender frame that exudes confidence...
Short honey-brown locks, shining gold as it glided with the gentle breeze...
The very same back walking away from him...
Tezuka blinked his eyes in wonderment as to what the vision was about. He was sure he hadn't met this unnamed companion, but the sudden vision had sneaked in a tinge of pain in his heart... He wondered who this person was, and had totally neglected to notice he had been staring at the other.
The man had decided to take the third table from his, and had settled comfortably at the seat that faced Tezuka's view. His graceful motion as he set his things down on the table - a well-taken care of professional camera, a couple of sketch pad, a book, a blue notebook, and a small set of delicate tool supplies - was so elegantly disarming, like a dancing geisha Sayuri. And when his face finally came into Tezuka's view... The Tenshi, he unconsciously named his companion, is indeed worthy of that description. His beauty was far more than any woman he had encountered. A radiant heart-shaped face with flawless porcelain complexion... A delicately sculpted aquiline nose that slides smoothly... A beautiful smile eternally adorning those supple pink lips... Those well-defined eyebrows over soft lids accented by long thick black lashes... Simply breath-taking...
Tezuka mentally scolded himself for being distracted by this angelic stranger, and forcefully willed himself to return to doing his tasks. But somewhere deep within his subconsciousness, Tezuka knew something was still amiss with his companion. This bugged his concentration aimlessly, when he heard a resounding flashing sound. He looked up only to find the Tenshi timidly tinkering with his camera and mouthing a inaudible apology to Tezuka for the disturbance. Tezuka nodded curtly, implying that it was fine. The Tenshi smiled widely at him, and opened his eyes, revealing those captivating lapis lazuli before Tezuka...
Another flash came over his mind...
Those tantalizing sapphires peircing through him...
Distant tear cascading down his soft pale feature as his eyes slowly closed...
'Am I supposed to know this person?' Tezuka thought.
The flash continued its tale...
A personalized kotō stood protectively at the person's left side, defined with a single trail of blood running down it's magnificent blade...
A hand firmly gripping over the artistry of his yukata...
Warm and red...
A crimson farewell glazed over a white stone...
The visible emblem of an honorable clan engraved on a masterfully crafted tsuba...
'Who exactly is he?' Tezuka tried to piece the images together, but he began to feel a slightly nauseating feeling. And not wanting the Tenshi to see his vulnerable side, he ducked behind his laptop and piles of books... Removed his rimless glasses... Closed his eyes... Rubbed his temples... And succumbed to the will of his subconsciousness...
Late Edo Period
The Fujiwara clan, hailed the most knowledgable and skilled of all samurai clans, had once pledged their loyalty and allegiance - blade, life, and soul - to serve and protect the Taizhoka clan, recognized to be a daimyo clan closely interwoven but not of direct decent with the royal blood line. For centuries henceforth, the union brought about their perfectly unparalleled compatibility and granted them the most influentially powerful clan of all Japan, only under the grace of the royal family.
"Ne, are you my master?" a small feminine child sat across from him.
The Megane looked up from the book he was reading, and looked at the child stoically, devoid of his shock of the rather rude disturbance. "I am the successor of the master of the house, so that would be apparent. But I should like to inquire as to your position for asking me such question?"
The close-eyed child chuckled at his query, but immediately stood formally to bow his respect. "My sincerest apology, my lord. My name is Fujiwara Syuuzaku, and it would be an honor to serve you in the fullest of my capabilities."
"Ah." The tousled-haired youth looked at the seemingly delicate child, beaming a beautiful smile, before him. "So, you are the one assigned to serve and protect me at all cost?" he waved his small hand to make his companion at ease.
"Yes, my lord," the child nodded his agreement. "I may not look it, but I am quite capable of doing so."
"Quite, you say?" the Megane raise a brow in disbelief, before swiftly standing and unsheathing his sword pointedly at his companions neck. "Yudan sezu ni ikō! Hesitation is not an option for the case of life and death. I command you to draw your sword this instant."
"As you wish, my lord." The angelic smile on his face, suddenly turned mischievously cold, as he opened his eyes, revealing his piercing blue eyes. "Though I don't assent this to be a good idea," he finished off, before drawing out his personally smithed sword.
"I'll be the judge of that." The Megane's hazel irises leveled with the fierceness of the child's. "I bid you to show me your true strength, and not hold anything back."
"Hai," was the child's consent, as they both stood in position.
Both was intently observing each other, when a drop of morning dew signaled the onset of the duel. Swift moved, skillfully and gracefully maneuvered, in dans macabre... Razor-speed clashing of swords resonated at the tranquility of the garden... Not a single strand of hair out of place, nor skin nor clothe, none a thread damaged... It was a test, a battle of control and discipline. The duel continued with neither of the two backing off nor hesitating. The noise had alerted the housekeepers, who could only watch, as they are incapable of putting a stop to such heated confrontation. It was a spectacle, an exhibition of real talent and skills, that went on and on, as the sun slowly peeked arise. The clashing speed moved with determination and confidence, until both swords are tripped at each other's right neck side. Both were panting heavily, but satisfaction were clearly etched on their faces, as both lowered their respective swords.
"I am Taizhoka Ryuujimitsu, your master from this day onwards," the megane acknowledge the child. "Do you pledge you loyalty and allegiance to serve and protect me with the entirety of your blade, life, and soul?"
The child knelt before him, laid his sword before his master's feet, raised the pointed tip of the Megane's sword with his bare palm close to his face. "Yes, my lord. I pledge my entirety to your grace." And kissed the blade in devotion of his promise.
However, during the rise of buke samurai ten years ago, the Fujiwara clan expressed their utmost desire to be free. They negotiated, asserted and defended their rights to function as an independent clan. Discussion were held before the presence and wise judgement of Shogun Atokugawa. Soon after, both clans came to an amicable agreement, which ultimately granted the Fujiwara clan their independence.
After unintentionally overhearing the elders' discussion, both youth settled quietly at their usual spot by the koi pond.
"Are you leaving?" Taizhoka asked, breaking the hovering tension.
"Maa... So it seems," Fujiwara weakly smiled, turning to face his master. "But don't worry, I'll be just fine."
"I don't doubt that. You always do better than expected." Taizhoka looked at his companion's endearing features, as if committing them into his memory. "It's just that..."
"Mou~!" Fujiwara playfully poked the minuscule frown between Taizhoka's brows. "Cheer up! It's not like we're never going to see each other again."
Taizhoka gently removed Fujiwara's hand from his face, but didn't release his hold onto it. He kept looking at their intertwined fingers, and just stayed silent. Then moment later, with his other hand, he took something from his pocket and slipped it gently onto Fujiwara's finger - a bluish-sliver ring with a simple but artistic golden lining. "It's a promise ring," he explained while trying to smile, "a promise that we will always have each other... that we will always be part of each other's life... and that we will always be together..."
The latter was surprised by his master's action, but was soon filled with happiness, as he admired the glimmering band that hang loosely in his ring finger. "It's a big promise, ne, Taizhoka-sama?" Then, his delighted expression turned to worry. "But if it hang this loosely, I'm afraid I might lose it..."
As if in response, Taizhoka revealed a sliver chain before his companion. He gently slipped off the ring from Fujiwara's finger, then shoot it through the chain, before clasping the necklace around his companion's neck. "Then, for the mean time, just wear it like I do," he said, revealing the same necklace hidden inside his onix hakama, "until such time, that it finally fits perfectly. This way, our promise will live long, hang on faithfully, and overcome whatever obstacles come our way."
"Saa... Thank you very much, Taizhoka-sama," Fujiwara smiled more genuinely than he had ever before.
The Megane reached and caressed his companion's angelic face, and he, himself, smiled, "calling me Taizhoka would be enough."
The honey-brown brunette's azure gems flashed with jubilance. "As you wish, my lord. Thank you very much, Taizhoka. I will treasure and protect this ring with my life, as I would you always." He gleefully rolled the ring onto his palm, while Taizhoka watched him silently.
After a few more moments of silently watching the koi's swim about in the pond, Fujiwara noticed his master's still troubled melancholy, and decided to address a lighter subject. "You're going to enter the prestigious boarding school, Seishun Gakuen, soon, aren't you, Taizhoka?"
Taizhoka merely nodded his reply, refusing to say it for fear that his eyes would begin to tear and that his voice would croak. His childhood companion, the only one who really understood him deeply, was leaving, and their's nothing he could do against what the elders and the law dictates.
"I'll do my best to enter as well," was the melodious statement of his companion, that made Taizhoka's head jerk up facing the speaker. Fujiwara smiled reassuringly, while softly patting his master's hand. "And everything will be just like before, ne?"
Taizhoka nodded hesitantly, wanting to believe what they both know would never be.
As indicated in the law, the Fujiwara clan must undergo a test to fortify their independence, and that should they fail, they will be forced to return to their previous caste. And so amidst the sudden loss of the Taizhoka clan's political influence, the Fujiwara clan persevered to stand on their own ground.
True to their promise, both Taizhoka and Fujiwara heir entered Seishun Gakuen without any difficulty. Both of them attended and breezed through the advance curriculum befitting the shogunate heirs and up the hierarchy, but not one class did they ever have together. The cover being that Fujiwara insisted on retaining his samurai status, despite the royal proclamation stating that the Fujiwara clan is officially of buke-samurai, or warrior nobility, status.
From the beginning, Fujiwara was already recognized as a Tensai, a master of all trades - often even better than those pure-blue bloods -, but he simply refused to use his promoted title; thus, the administration had no choice but to consider him as a special case. Not that he had any qualms as to the rights and privileges offered by the buke title, but he much preferred to simply be a samurai for the thrill... for the freedom... for the will of being himself... Reasons that the shoguns, the daimyos, and their heirs, never would understand. Not that he really cared about what they think of him, anyway.
The distance between the two only grew outside classes. Taizhoka was often amidst the presence of the elite 'Kami no Seifukusha,' namely, Ouji-sama Atokugawa Kobei (and his trusted shadow, Kojibaru), Echinoze Masaryo, Sawada Genjo, and Shitenji Kuranokawa. While, Fujiwara was always flocked with the 'Odachi no Bara,' consisting of Yukamichi Seiran, Jitagawa Akihiro, Shinjoku Kumiyoshi, and Masarui Natsuba - needless to mention the colossal crowd of admirers that horde around Seishun's famous femme fetalés.
There was hardly any time for the two to sit awhile and catch up on how each of them were doing. Everything was structured, scheduled, to the very last second, a Spartan technique utilized by the institution to decently prepare the heirs to their future posts. And on those slightest chance that both youths' eyes would meet, no words are said but a smile and a nod.
The Fujiwara clan engaged in various successful trades and business, even pioneering and encouraging the steady inflow of foreign cooperations and investments. They were also able to significantly aid the empire in appeasing the internal unrest of the nation, as well as, organize and conduct constructive and charitable project that would raise social consciousness and improve the overall standard of living.
It wasn't unexpected of Taizhoka to be assigned as one of the dorm supervisors, what was is that Fujiwara was lodged under his care. He felt as if the heaven had answered his prayers when the Tensai registered and was given the farthest room on the east wing, directly across from his own room. But to his dismay, their relationship didn't improve one bit.
One night, Taizhoka had run late from curfew, as he still have papers works to accomplish for tomorrow's student-teacher conference. He sprinted towards the dorm as fast and as stealthy as he could, so as not to be detected by others. Surely, he, as a dorm supervisor, didn't want to set as a bad example to others nor had he any intention to tarnish his perfect academic reputation.
He had locked the main gate, secured the main door, check the kitchen hall and common areas, before proceeding to his room. He was about to unlock his room, when he hear muffled voices from Fujiwara's room.
'He's still awake at this hour of the night?' thought Taizhoka. '*sigh* This may be uncalled for, but maybe I can finally spend sometime with him... Talk maybe, or anything... It's been so long since the last time we've had time for just the two only us.'
His thoughts were cut short when he noticed that there was another voice in the room.
"Hey~ stop it, that tickles~" came Fujiwara's soft chuckles.
"Ehh~? Does it now? Do you really want me to stop?" came the other voice again, pervertedly familiar to his ears. "Or do you want me to do something better?"
Taizhoka couldn't take just listening to it anymore. He hurriedly reached for his master keys, and turned open Fujiwara's door.
"Lights are supposed to be out by 10-," Taizhoka started, trying to sound as he wasn't eavesdropping just a few moments ago, before the scene became clear to him. Fujiwara's kimono was hanging loosely, revealing part of his creamy chest, half-laid with his back on the bed, with the other man propped over his lithe figure. Everything stood still as the situation registered in their logical senses.
"Saa... I guess time's up, ne?" Fujiwara said, his sapphires piercing annoyance, as he pulled up his kimono. "We've just been caught by the wrong person at the wrong time."
"Minozuki Himajime?" Taizhoka uttered in disbelief.
"Shit!" cursed Minozuki, as he gathered all belongings fled the room, bumping onto the Megane's shoulder on his way out.
The Megane watch as the figure disappeared down the hall. "He is our sempai, isn't he?" Taizhoka asked facing Syuuzaku.
"*sigh* Unbelievable, Taizhoka," scoffed the Tensai, while effectively blocking the megane's view as he hid the tiny blade -that was in his hand since moments ago - under his pillow. "You've ruined everything just before I've gotten to the good part."
The indifference in his companion's voice provoked Taizhoka's anger, but he leveled his voice down, so as not to attract any more unwanted attention. "I'm unbelievable? It would have been very indecent to do such activity in the sanctuary of your dorm room at this late hour of the night!"
"Then, would it be fine if I do it some other time anywhere else?" Fujiwara asked teasingly daring.
"That's not what I meant!" Taizhoka raised his voice an octave louder, as a faint blush tinted his pale complexion. "I can't believe that you've changed into this kind of person, Fujiwara. It's like I don't know you anymore," he finish before turning his ankles to leave the room.
Fujiwara ran after Taizhoka, just as the latter turned his room door open. "Hey wait!" he called as he grabbed the latter's arm tightly.
"What are you trying to do, now? Let go of me!" Taizhoka said, as he tried to pry his arm off the Tensai's firm grip. "I don't want to be associated with you - the person you have become - anymore!"
Fujiwara pulled the two of them into Taizhoka's room, grabbed his three-crested navy blue kimono, slammed his tall physic onto the closed door, and leaned up to capture those lusciously moist lips into a kiss - their first kiss... Not exactly what one ideally imagined it to be, but then, this was done in futile desperation...
After Taizhoka's struggles weakens, Fujiwara released from the kiss, and smile mischievously. "Now you're no better." He tenderly stroked the Megane's cheek, and pulled his face closer to his own. "Go on, tell everyone what you saw about me, Taizhoka-sama. In fact, I dare you~ But keep in mind that should you do so, I'll also tell everyone that you kissed me, my naive boy~"
Taizhoka's hazel orbs widened, burning in rage, as his uncontrolled emotions flared his reflexes to push and slap Fujiwara hard on his left cheek. Unmoving, the Tensai took the entire force of the blow, expected it coming, and stubbornly looked straight back at Taizhoka's fiery eyes. The Megane, then, saw something unexpected - ironical - in those azure orbs: fierceness and pain, confidence and surrender, anger and resolution, yearning and restraint mixed like the statue of clay, iron, bronze, silver, and gold in King Nebuchadnezzar's dream.
Taizhoka's confused feelings were running wildly inside him, and he knew he had to to clear his mind alway from any disturbance... Away from Fujiwara. The Megane hurriedly walked passed the Tensai, towards his study table, and with his back turn told off the Tensai. "Get out! Now!"
"As you wish, my lord," was Fujiwara's resounding reply, before he quietly slipped out of Taizhoka's room.
With the Fujiwara clan's innate Tensai wits, talents, and skills, it wasn't long before they sky-rocketed in honest wealth and respectable dominance, enough to match against any dignified daimyo. All this, they've humbly accomplished in less than a year's time, much to everyone's amazement and expectations. Soon after, the Fujiwara clan was duely recognized as the only buke-samurai clan bestowed upon by the Atokugawa shogunate with a honorary title, rights and privileges as a pure-blood aristocratic nobility.
Ever since the incident, Taizhoka avoided Fujiwara whenever possible. And yet he couldn't stop thinking about the Tensai, driving his structured life crazy. As much as his logic denies, the Megane couldn't take his eyes off the effeminate figure. Furthermore, the kiss had made his body so conscious of the other's presence, subjecting him to see situations that arouse unspeakable uneasiness and anger behind his emotionlessly stoic face.
This is when Taizhoka realized the indispensable truth, that Fujiwara had indeed already taken a definite place in his heart, and that it would never ever go away. But in no way would he allow himself to let Fujiwara have the slightest idea about it. Not when the Tensai had changed into such person.
Being an Odachi no Bara, made Fujiwara's school life more exciting and intriguing than what was perceived publicly. Yes, it entailed that he had to mingle and play a good host to the elites - ladies and gents, alike -, but what he really does is beyond mere geisha artistry. He goes underneath fake pleasantries, divulge deep dark secrets and skeletons behind the title's closet, and strike the unsuspecting scum in equivalent judgement. And judgement was the his katana's poetry:
'To salvage the heart,
Perfect bloodless salvation,
Rest thy weary soul.'
It wasn't always necessary, but hopeless cases just meant that he had to get his hands dirty, if that's what it takes to clean up the remaining weeds of the nation.
It is thrillingly fun, really... It was the only thing that kept his mind from constantly being flooded with Taizhoka's regallity, not that it was much of a help though. It was only thing that kept his senses rational when he finally hit his mast-, the Megane with the final blow. A provocative kiss that was supposed to push the Taizhoka away, so as to protect him from the Tensai dark swordplay... Only Fujiwara didn't expect that it would hurt much, much more to be avoided intentionally by the one he cared for so deeply, than any physical slap of a magnum rage.
But as the Fujiwara clan continue to rise respectably in power and wealth, the Taizhoka clan suffered a minor setback. The aristocratic clan had replaced the guards with the Minozuki samurai clan; however, it was clear from the start that the replacement wasn't as skilled nor as trustworthy as the Fujiwara clan.
A traitor had infiltrated their business proceedings under their supposed impenetrable surveillance, and the perpetrators had amass quite a sum in the scam. It was only a few weeks later that the Fujiwara clan reportedly acquired substantial concrete evidence to prove that it was actually the Minozuki clan who had committed the evil deeds. After which the culprits were consequently sentenced with imprisonment, and, eventually, death sentences.
This was the unspoken agreement they laid upon themselves, continuing even after their graduation from Seishun Gakuen. The two went their separate ways, minded their respective responsibilities. Seldom did they concern themselves - at least, tried to ignore the news coming their way - with the happenings of the other. News travelled of the difficulties the Taizhoka clan is facing amidst the number of true friends that is genuinely concerned and helping them stand proud. A stark contrast to how the Fujiwara clan's businesses were booming, especially with their dojos spreading across the country.
The case had finally been resolved; however, the financial damages were significantly evident. Adding to stressful issue was the sudden demise of the head of the household, Taizhoka Ryuujiharu, leaving his successor, Taizhoka Ryuujimitsu, with all the responsibility of taking over, managing, and reviving the affairs of the estate. Thus, as much as the Taizhoka clan regret the only plausible option at the moment, they had to put the main mansion on the market to repay the sizable debt caused by the Minozuki treachery. A very hard decision, but they had to do it... Besides, they could stay at their other mansions for the time being - with the main family staying at the coastal mansion, the one where Taizhoka Ryuujimitsu spend his childhood days, growing up with Fujiwara Syuuzaku devotedly by his side - until they had regained their titular stature and are able to buy the property back.
"A buyer has been found?" Taizhoka asked, as he stood by the window of his family' mansion, looking down at the beautiful garden his mother dearly tended with care. A beautiful mirage of two children, blissfully running and laughing, crossed the garden. 'If only human existence were a blissful', he though, as he rubbed his temples to ease the hovering headache.
"Presicely, my lord," the consultant called onto his attention. "Not to mention the terms and conditions he offered are very much in our favor - far better than we could ever ask for. I highly recommend that we accept."
Taizhoka faced the consultant, scrutinizing the truth of his words - he had enough of traitors in his life -, and asked, "what kind of person is the buyer?"
"He is the first in line for the head of the Fujiwara family, Fujiwara Syuuzaku, my lord," the consultant beemed with delight at the megane's query. "I believe he was your childhood friend, and that you went Seishun Gakuen with him."
Taizhoka's eyes widened a nanometer at the mention of the Tensai's name. 'Fujiwara... Syuuzaku...?' But he immediately shook the though away to assent to the offer. "Hn. Please send a reliable messenger to the Fujiwara household indicating our acceptance of his offer."
"Yes, my lord. I'll get to it right away." the consultant bowed his respect to Taizhoka, and set off to accomplish his task.
As soon as the door of his study closed, the Megane's thoughts were once again filled with memories of the Tensai, both good and bad. 'Why him? Fujiwara Syuuzaku... He clearly have a reason to hate me, so why?' Just thinking about what intentions the Tensai may have, adds to the throbbing in his head threatening to proceed into nausea, but, at the same time, sets a loitering glee to bubble at the back of his subconsciousness.
"I would like to extend my gratitude for being invited at your prestigious abode, Daimyo Taizhoka Ryuujimitsu," greeted the cheerfully melodious voice - one that the Megane missed for so long - of the Tensai. "Here is a freshly mixed special Ginger tea, courtesy of my okaasan. I assure it tastes delightfully exquisite, and highly recommend taking it before going to bed to relieve tension and stress."
"Ah. Thank you, Fujiwara-san!" Taizhoka replied, as he took the container from Fujiwara. Mentioning that the tea was made by his okaasan, Lady Yukari, was enough assurance that the offering was safe from the Tensai's eccentric taste. "We are very pleased that you could take some time off your very busy schedule to come and visit us." He, then, ushered Fujiwara's attention to his mother. "This is my okaasan, Lady Ayane."
"Very please to have made your acquaintance, my lady," Fujiwara bowed respectfully before the lady of the house. "The rumors of your beauty do you no justice, for your beauty, Lady Ayane, resound of the freshest Sakura blossom on the first breath of spring." He kissed her hand, and smiled at her lightly blushing beauty.
"Thank you for your kind compliments, Fujiwara-san," Lady Ayane smiled graciously. "But I'm sure your mother, Lady Yukari, and elder sister, Shrine Maiden Yukihime, are more fair than I, don't you agree?"
"Saa... You got me trapped, my lady," chuckled Fujiwara. "But as a good son, I should say, 'yes they are,' ne?"
The two were having a nice conversation, laughing and chatting freely. But deep inside, Taizhoka detested how Fujiwara developed flirting with everyone with such ease, just as how he saw the Tensai was with his horde of admirers at Seishun Gakuen five years ago. But he couldn't afford to be disrespectful nor disrupt the happy aura exuded by his okaasan, so, instead, he ushered the two into the Hakuryu room, where the aromatic Ceylon Green Tea was already being prepared at the table. Lady Ayane took the first seat, followed by both men.
"I should really take this opportunity to thank you for allowing us to stay in this mansion, Fujiwara-san," the lady offered a delighted nod. "To tell you the truth, I was pleasantly surprised at your graciousness."
"Please, my lady, make no news of it," chuckled Fujiwara. "It is only natural that the refined member of nobility, such as yourselves, be the only ones suited to grace the halls of this distinguished mansion."
The lady was flattered with the statement, and happiness was clearly defined in her graceful expressions. "Oh, if you should put it in that context, kind sir, I would be a feat to argue with such logic. Wouldn't you agree, Ryuujimitsu dear?"
Although a little shocked at suddenly being pulled into the conversation, none were evident in his stoic visage nor at his well-leveled voice. Taizhoka merely offered a curt nod, as he focused on Fujiwara's delicate feature, one that the heavens above enhanced through the passing years. "Hn."
Taizhoka kept a steady guard at Fujiwara's every word and action. The Tensai, set aside growing more beautiful and playful with words, had, on most part, stayed the same since he saw him last. Truthfully, he missed the Tensai greatly, but never did he desire this kind of reunion with him. The perpetual smile and clever wit he displays inside the Taizhoka estate, was it real or just another facade?
The rest of the afternoon went on pleasantly, until such time that Fujiwara had to leave. And as it was only appropriated for a regarded visitor, Taizhoka accompanied Fujiwara as he walked out of the estate, passing through the garden along the way.
"It's been a while since we last met," Fujiwara opened a conversation. "But, I must admit, you look as handsome as when we were younger - of not, more." He, then, turn a half-glance towards Taizhoka. "Though I can sense more tension in you, now. More evident as you kept a stead glare at me all afternoon."
Taizhoka, on the other hand, wasn't in the mood to be shooting around the bush. It simply wasn't in his character. "I want to know something essential to this transaction, Fujiwara." The Tensai's smile merely widened, prodding him to ask what needs to be known. "What exactly brought you here," he inquired, keeping a straight gaze at the close-eyed youth, "to buy our humble abode?"
"Saa... It's simply business," shrugged Fujiwara.
The Megane, clearly unsatisfied with the answer, prodded the Tensai to take him seriously. "Is that really all there is to it?"
Fujiwara's blues shot open at the unexpected reply, but was able to regain his ground immediately - even cocking his head a bit to the right, feigning innocence. "What ever do you mean by that, my lord?"
"If I were in your position, Fujiwara, I would never allow anybody else, other than my family, to live in a home that I bought, nor would I lay down such a large amount for a used estate that's being sold at a lower market value" Taizhoka laid bare his logic, scrutinizing the unreadable reaction on the Tensai's visage.
The underlying implication of Taizhoka's words brought about a thread of ire in the Tensai, and his voice traced of coldness. "What, exactly, do you want to say, Taizhoka?"
"You've always served under the Taizhoka main house with no qualms for the past number of years, and after your clan gained it's independence, you've never been as generous towards me henceforth." Taizhoka tried to control his own rage, as he expressed the most logical reasoning for the Tensai's interest in the purchasing the property. "Therefore, the moment you saw that the Taizhoka estate is up for sale, didn't you simply assume this as a way to establish your superiority over me?"
"Maa, aren't you the cynical one, quick to judge the worst in one's intention," Fujiwara chuckled dryly. He maybe free-spirited, but definitely wasn't one to back down from any challenge of provocation. "But I guess that would be a more convincing reason than just wanting to help an old friend out of his financial predicament, ne, Taizhoka?"
Taizhoka steely glares are enough to bore holes, but Fujiwara merely brushed it off, amused at how much his words could affect the lord of the house.
"That's a very interesting hypothesis," continued the Tensai in counter. "And what would you do if I say that were the case?"
"What-," was all Taizhoka could utter, when he felt Fujiwara caress his face.
"Either way, my lord, you wouldn't be able to defy me now. You know fully well that the Taizhoka clan wouldn't survive without my help," a mischievous glint lit up from his sapphire orbs. "And neither could you live without me," he ended, brushing his soft thumb over Taizhoka's lips, as an out-of-place smug smile crossed his effeminate features.
Taizhoka could only take so much of Fujiwara's belittling, and he unconsciously entered muga no kyōchi. With intense hakyu ren energy flaring into his left arm, he slapped the Tensai, with the latter 'almost' losing his footing. "Don't touch me with that filthy hand of yours! It's disgusting enough to be associated with a slutty whore like you!" His teeth gritted in disgust as he pierced every word into Fujiwara's ears. "Aren't you even ashamed of yourself for wasting your family's hard earnings for your selfish whimsical entertainment?"
The Tensai was surprised by the strength that slammed into his damask cheek, but it felt nothing compared to the anger boiling inside his gut. Those words hurt him in more ways than possible, especially, coming from Taizhoka. But he had to keep his head together. For both their sake, he must continue with the lying facias. "Your pride and guard haven't changed at all, Taizhoka. It reminds me of the past when you would always command your subordinates with the famous 'yudan sezu ni ikō.'" He gently stroke his aching cheek, and smiled steely at the megane. "But I must implore you to stop your baseless accusations and insults towards me, when you don't even know the real me like you pridefully thought." The Tensai's sapphires burned to a darker shade, his tamed wrath sipping through his polite but stern intonation, effectively silencing whatever retort Taizhoka had in mind. "And let me clear this issue once and for all, Taizhoka. I never used a single cent from my family's wealth ever since I entered Seishun Gakuen. I had to work and earn for my own tuition fees, as well as, daily living expenses, amidst all the piled of assigned and referential studies and requirements. You, of all people, should know that everything I am and I have now, I have attained through great efforts and sacrifices, that you never once have to go through. But you still dared to insult the money I paid for your commendable mansion? Degrading me as a shameful whore?" Fujiwara laughed dryly. "That money you so insulted, I earned through hard work, and seas of sweat and blood, and never my body! And I must emphasize for your stubborn logic, that I never - not once, not ever - did nor will sell myself, my body, or my soul for money or anything else for that matter! So, I bid your generosity, my lord, not to judge me when obviously you know nothing of my thoughts and deeds."
Taizhoka was stunned by the revelation, but as of the moment, his mind could only process the undisguised rudeness and bitterness in the Tensai's voice. He didn't answer, not knowing what to say or do. A proper man should apologize for his misconception, but he knew better to stay silently observant and reinforce his guard, especially when Fujiwara is in an awfully foul mood.
Taking the situation that Taizhoka would say nothing more of the matter, Fujiwara bowed in respect to the former and turn his heels. "But please keep this in mind, Taizhoka-sama," he stopped walking midway, half- turning his head, voice in full seriousness, "your fate - whether you live or die - now lies solely with me." Then, he offered a weak nod, before proceeding out of the Taizhoka property.
Taizhoka stood still, glued at the same spot the Tensai left him, watching the Fujiwara's retreating figure. His eyes lingered at the gate even after the figure disappeared from his sight. What the tensai had said was true. His family, as well as, all the household servant were relieved by the outcome of this transaction, and it was all through Fujiwara's power. The power that he once had over the Tensai, but was now reversed by wheel of fate. Yet no matter the situation, or how much he denies the longing in his heart, the affection he had for Fujiwara never diminished, but only grew stronger as years age. They've never been on equal grounds, but, now, he's the one on the receiving end of the shorter stick. This gripping feeling must be how the Tensai felt all those years back when he still served Taizhoka, and maybe, even if just a little, he understood why Fujiwara was acting the way he is towards him. Still, he couldn't exactly be sure... He never was ever sure whenever it comes to the Tensai, that for the first time in his life, he began to doubt... He doubted if his love will ever be realized, and if only for wishful thinking, be requited by Fujiwara...
Realizing the actuality of their position made the throbbing pain in his head worsen, and he was almost at his limit. What he feels in his heart were real, and his logical reasoning was in total agreement to it, which wasn't making any sense to him anymore. What he knew, or at least thought he knew... What he saw, or didn't try to see... What he heard, or wasn't hearing... What he said, didn't say, or wasn't saying... Everything was so confusing, but was also so clear. "Fools we both are," he whispered to the wind, before the world cradled his weary mind into darkness...
"Taizhoka collapsed?" Fujiwara worriedly confirmed the megane's condition with their family doctor, Otonashi Shujiro. "Then, how is his current condition?"
"Well, Fujiwara-san, according to my diagnosis, due to overexerting himself and stress, he caught a mild fever coupled with a cold," explained Otonashi. "And, he is currently resting in his bed."
"I see," sighed smiling in relief. Taizhoka hasn't really changed his way... He's as workaholic as before, which might have been a good thing, hadn't he been so stubborn. "Can I see him, then?"
Otonashi bowed apologetically, and shook his head, "I'm very sorry, sir, but I must insist that you do so when his condition improves."
"Saa... Then I shall come again tomorrow," Fujiwara answered, curt the doctor a nod in recognition of his duties, before he turned to leave.
He did as he said, but was again ushered to come some other time either because Taizhoka is still feeling unwell or is resting abed. The same happen the next day, and the next, and the next, that even Fujiwara couldn't deny that the Megane actually didn't want to see him. And on the fifth day that he went to visits, which ended in the same routine, he went sulking in the Jade Pavilion.
The Jade Pavilion is an high-class bar owned by the Yukamichi by name and operation, and is secretly financed by Atokugawa Ouji-sama. The place caters only to the elites, and serves only the best saki in all of Nippon. The place is filled only with the most beautiful servers, who provides a variety of interesting and engaging hosting services, as well as, other more sexual activities - though this is not required nor promoted by the management. But behind all the glitter and glamour, the heart of the Jade Pavilion serves as the Odachi no Bara's secret base.
Fujiwara didn't take his usual spot behind the bar and counter, he knew his gloomy depressed emotion he's feeling wouldn't do any good to business. And so he went to the Hakugei room, which is usually filled with more decent customers who rather mind their own business than getting high and drunk. He sat alone in one of the tables at the farthest side, a small cup of wine in his hand, and the perpetual smile he usually hid his emotions behind was no where visible nor did he even try.
"May we join you?" called a jovial voice out of the nowhere.
Fujiwara wasn't in the mood to fake pleasantries with anyone happy, that he replied without looking at the person asking. "I'm terribly sorry, but could you please find another table?" And though he didn't do it intentionally, annoyance can be directed in his voice. "I want to be alone tonight."
"Come on, don't be like that," said the person, tapping his hand over Fujiwara's table. "You're scaring off the ladies. Smile~!"
This time Fujiwara looked up and realized that he actually knew the insistent person. "Oh, it's you, Shinjoku." But soon enough, his annoyance was present again, "I can see how good an evening you and these lovely ladies are having, but how can I smile when there is nothing to smile about?"
"Is something wrong?" Shinjoku knew Fujiwara was bothered greatly to have his smiling mask disappear like that, and so with he told his lady companions to adjourn to one of the rooms upstairs and that he would be following soon after talking with the Tensai.
"I haven't met Ryuujimitsu for almost a week now," Fujiwara sullenly replied.
Shinjoku make a motion of trying to remember something, then his face lit excitedly, "oh, you mean to say 'the' Taizhoka-sama? The stoic boy who was you first love?" He casually took the seat across from Fujiwara, and shrugged jokingly. "Well, you haven't seen him for years, what's the fuss over a short week?"
If simply looking at someone could kill, Fujiwara's piercing cyan glares would have disintegrated Shinjoku into indiscernible dust. The Tensai isn't in the mood to ride with luck's twisted jokes, and 'luckily' the orange-head joker understood and stopped his teasing.
They stayed quiet for a few seconds, before Fujiwara decided that maybe talking about his problem would help clear his mind. He tipped his crystal cup idly, and watched the ripples waved back and forth. "I believe he's avoiding me..."
Shinjoku knew of the Tensai's eccentric line of thinking, which would usually involve whimsical, childish playfulness, that would, more often than not, cause distress to the unsuspecting victim. And, normally, he would join the Tensai is his 'bullying.' But the way Fujiwara appear now, seem like he had done something that had gone very much out of hand, and he just had to ask, "you did something that made him want to avoid you, didn't you, Fujiwara?"
"I only did what I did for his own protection," the Tensai defended, not looking up from his glass. "You know as well as I that we can't have the same closeness as we have before, because it will only put him in dangerous situation, like what happened with you boyfr-" Fujiwara hastily stopped himself from talking about the sensitive subject - the death of Shinjoku's civilian lover. "I'm sorry, Shinjoku, I didn't mean to- I just..."
"It's okay, no worries" the joker laughed at the Tensai's unease. "I'm doing fine, and lady luck's gives my life a blast. Beside," Shinjoku gave the Tensai a playful wink. "I'll feel a whole lot better after having fun with the pretty ladies here. You should try it sometime, Fujiwara, I guarantee you'd enjoy the experience very much."
"No, thank you," was Fujiwara's curt reply. "You know fully well that I detest such desperate cowardly act as having casual intercourse with anyone just to substitute for a love not requited."
Seeing that he had once again set off the Tensai's ire, Shinjoku raised both his hand in surrender. "You don't have to be so bluntly accusing all the time, you know? I'm just trying to lighten up your gloominess, but it seems luck wasn't on my side." He, then crossed his arms over his chest, and pouted his deflated glee. "But for your information, the reason I'm mingling with these people is not to try and forget my forsaken love, but because I'm trying to find that someone just for me - though a good sexual compatibility is an added advantage. Anyhow, I want to find that special person, who could make my jovial heart calm and relaxed..." His eyes, then, softened as if reminiscing beautiful memories, a serene smile replaced the usual hyper happiness of his persona. "I want to find him again, if I could... Bring him back to life, if I could... But, wishes and dreams are just that, unreal..." The smile was something out of the norm, but alluringly beautiful all the same. But just like that, he snapped out of his reverie, laughed and scratched the back of his head embarrassedly. "Ah, gomen, gomen. I'm just blabbering nonsensical stuff now. Hehe!"
"I don't think its foolish to want to find that special person, someone as gentle and loving like your past lover. I understand that very well, Shinjoku," Fujiwara assured his companion. "But I simply can't allow myself to play love games like you do. I may be feeling the fangs of sexual deprivation now, but I'm not that desperate nor cowardly to seek just any other body to substitute for Ryuujimitsu." A weak smile, then, glazed his delicate features. "In life, death and rebirth, I want him to be my first and my last, because come what may he will be the only one I would ever love."
"Hmm... Then, what are still moping around here for?" Shinjoku knowingly asked at the smiling brunette, making the latter look back at him. "As you have implied, this is a place for those who are at lost for love, but you certainly have a goal in that heart of yours." He gently poked at the location Fujiwara's beating organ. "So, why are you still here?"
"Saa... I do have a goal, but what can I do when we are surrounded by nothing but conflicts?" Fujiwara sighed in response.
"Persevere, of course," Shinjoku exclaimed with much vigor. "Though I can't see what it is you saw in that god-sent marble statue, but I know enough to say that true love sees past through all the flaws and embraces the perfection of the person's entire being - his strengths and weaknesses, his magnificence and flaws, his everything - and your entire world would revolve around living for that person, making that person happy, protecting that person, and loving that person more than yourself. And you've found that with Taizhoka-sama, so don't you ever let him go." He needed to say that, but he knew that the megane might just kill him if he ever let it slip that it was actually Taizhoka who said those words, as he firmly ordered Shinjoku to watch over Fujiwara in his place months before their graduation from Seishun Gakuen.
"That's easier said than done, my friend. Love moves in mysterious ways," Fujiwara finished his saki, raised the glass crystal, and serenely watched it shimmer in reflection to the light. "Ways that are totally out of our control... I say that I love him dearly, and want nothing more than to be held in his arms... " His cerulean orbs reflected shards of unspoken hesitation, as he put the cup down and stood up from his seat to leave. "But maybe our just love wasn't meant to be, or at least not in this lifetime..."
Shinjoku watched the Tensai walk away in silence, but his mind delved on boggling question, "Do you, in all serious honesty, believe in what you just said, Fujiwara?"
"Fujiwara-san has come to see you, Taizhoka-sama," Otonashi informed. "How are you feeling?"
"I'm still feeling a bit unwell," Taizhoka answered. It wasn't completely a lie, although he is feeling a lot better, but he just wasn't ready to be faced with the Tensai - plus the fact, that he is still a bit mad at him. "Tell him to come some other time."
"As you please, my lord," consented the doctor, before leaving the room and headed to the living room, where Fujiwara patiently waited, and passed the Megane's message to the Tensai. "Taizhoka-sama is resting in bed after an early morning fever."
"I see," Fujiwara sadly responded, though the smile plastered on his face betrayed none of it. "Then, please tell him to take care of himself, and that I'll come by again." Then, he turned to leave.
"I will, sir," Otonashi bowed in respect and obedience, closing the main door behind he Tensai.
Again... It happened again. Taizhoka still refused to allow Fujiwara to visit him, and the Tensai was beginning to feel mildly depressed and agitated. 'I say that, yet here I am foolishly sneaking into the backyard just to catch a glimpse of Ryuujimitsu," he thought to himself as he passed by the night lilies by the mini-lake. He spacially pictured the mansion's blueprint in his head, and looked up to the location of the magane's room. "Maa... He must be in that room reading a book and drinking green tea..." The beautiful thought gave the Tensai hope that maybe things would turn out for the better. 'Next time, or tomorrow perhaps... Maybe I'll get to see him tomorrow.' Feeling better, Fujiwara decided to leave the residence at peace, but then saw something - someone - that had caused all his suppressed unease to resurface once more.
- (Inside the Taizhoka residence) -
The visitor was instantly recognized by the household attendants due to his yearly visit, and was immediately usher towards the top floor, where the bedrooms are located. Just as he reached the last step of the stairs, he saw Otonashi exiting from Taizhoka's room, and dignifiedly approached the physician.
"How is Taizhoka's condition?" asked the guest with jet black hair and cat-like emerald eyes.
"A pleasant morning, Echinoze-sama!" Otonashi greeted the youngest entrepreneur, and considered to be the protégé of the business community, of their time. "I believe that my lord is feeling better. If it pleases you, you could proceed to his room, while I ask the maids to bring up some refreshments."
"That'll be fine," Echinoze replied, thanking the doctor for his hard work, before entering Taizhoka's room. As he had expected, the megane is reading a rather thick book, as he comfortable sat on a chair by the window. "Taizhoka, it's been a long time."
"Ah," Taizhoka responded, closing the book neatly by the table. "You, too, Echinoze."
"How are you feeling, Taizhoka? I heard you fainted due to stress." Echinoze tried to sound concerned, but he just couldn't help his teasing nature, and smirked, "Mada mada dane, ne? You should have taken better care of yourself."
"Sorry for worrying you," was the Megane's retort, being used to the protégé's personality. "My cold just got a little aggravated. But as you can see, I'm feeling quite better now."
"Well, that's good to hear," Echinoze said in honest relief, but was quickly overshadowed by his curiosity. "I'm hearing these rumors that Fujiwara Syuuzaku had bought this mansion, is it true?"
"News do travel fast." Taizhoka sipped his tea, "yes, but he's only making an investment in it."
"I see..." Echinoze nodded playfully. "You must have felt really sick having this property own by a someone of lower class, more so a former underling." His eyes shined mischievously, meaning he's enjoying teasing the megane.
"Not really," Taizhoka countered indifferently. It wasn't intentional, but he found himself defending the Tensai somehow. "Allowing my family to continue living in this home must have been imposing on his plans, but he allowed it anyways. To that, I'm really grateful."
"If you put it that way, maybe it wasn't so bad after all," Echinoze merely shrugged.
"Ah. Maybe..." It wasn't really a topic he wanted to discuss right the, and was eager to change the subject, even if he had to be the one to do it. "Anyways, on to more important matters. How's your family's porcelain business doing?"
"Fine, I guess. Though I'm beginning to think that vases and antiques are just not for me," Echinoze struck out his tongue, and scatched he back of his head embarrassedly. "But, you know, I'm thinking of venturing into the recreational business, like those physical activities foreigners engages in. What do they call it?" He excitedly poured his plans, as he tried to remember what the activity was labelled as. "Sports! I think that's what they called it. Something like physical exercises that requires some specific equipment and are bound by restricting rules. But they say it's really fun, competitively challenging and all that. Just thinking about it makes me feel all hyped up!"
It was energizing to watch Echinoze all pumped up and going about his goals, and it made Taizhoka want to support the kid all the way. "That's great news, Echizen. By venturing in a new line of business, you'll, finally, be able to walk out of your father's shadow and built a name for yourself."
"I know, isn't it great?" was the only response Echinoze spared, before he went on and on about where and how he would built the recreational facility, including all the other details. It would have been rude to anyone else to prevent the other from talking, but Taizhoka was rather enjoying himself listening, nodding a curt "ah" and "hn", and, occasionally, giving his thoughts.
Both enjoying conversation, when a muffled sound from outside got their attention.
"Uhm... Ano, sir, please listen..." the lady attendant with twin braided pigtails stuttered, before clumsily tripping down between the now opened door of Taizhoka's room.
"Well the two of you seems to be having fun. May I join in?" asked a voice that seemingly brimmed with poisoned daggers.
"Fujiwara?" Echinoze asked, surprised at the sudden presence of the Tensai. "What are you doing here?"
"Well, as you are already clearly aware of this, Echinoze-sama, I now own this mansion, and I have all the rights to be here." Fujiwara answered the query, while helping the girl up to her feet. Then, he turn his attention to the girl, and tried to reprimand her as gently as he could, suppressing the boiling furiousness within. "And you, don't let just anyone in here with out my expressed approval, understood?"
"Y-yes, sir," the terrified girl bowed her head in obedience, and apologized repeatedly for her error. "I'm truly very, very sorry."
But, then, amidst the scene they were creating, came Taizhoka's vocal command. "Sakura doesn't need to apologize to you, Fujiwara. Echinoze is my guest, and you're being exceptionally rude."
That statement clapped thunders in the Tensai's consciousness, which immediately made Fujiwara dismissed Sakura out of the room for her own safety. Then, his eyes snapped open, revealing those captivating blue orbs that flared in dark azure. "What was that, Taizhoka?"
Sensing the tension hovering inside the room, Echinoze stood from his seat and went over to where Fujiwara stood. "Calm down, Fujiwara. I'm just about to leave, see? So, don't be so upset." he placed a hand at Fujiwara's back and ushered the Tensai out of the room with him, but not before bidding his goodbye. "Well, I'll see you again, Taizhoka. Get well soon."
"Hn," was what Taizhoka could only reply from what had transpired minutes earlier. "Sorry for what happened today."
- (In the hallway) -
Fujiwara and Echinoze hadn't really been close, not that the Odachi and Seifikusha had ever been, and this wouldn't be any different. Both stayed silent until, they were within a good distance from Taizhoka's room.
"I've always known you held hostility towards the aristocratic nobles, but I believe you've really gone too far this time," Echinoze revealed his thoughts in full seriousness.
Fujiwara was already in a bad mood, and whatever the kid says could only trigger his ire over his patience. "This has nothing to do with you!"
"Yes. It. Most. Definitely. Does!" The Tensai was really pushing Echinoze's button, and it was high time that his annoyance and protective streak leaks through his words. "And if you continue to shove him into a corner like that... I'm warning you right now, Fujiwara! I will do everything in my power to protect him from you!" He smirked intimidatingly proud, and, as if in triumphant march, left the Tensai glued to the ground.
Annoying little brat was all the sane description Fujiwara's mind can say of the protégé. "Protect him, you say? I'd like to see you try, ochibi!" And with clouded rationality, he marched back towards Taizhoka's room, and drilled his orders on the poor victims of his anger - two red-hair maids, Sakura, the one with long twin braids, and Tsukino, who has twin ponytails hanging loose at both sides of her head. "No one, whoever it is, is allowed the enter this room until I say so! Understood?"
With no authority to refuse, both girls tremblingly accepted the order. "Y-yes, sir."
- (Inside Taizhoka's room) -
Taizhoka was standing by the window, watching his black-haired friend walk out of the vicinity of the estate. He could understand Fujiwara was angry at him for repeatedly refusing the Tensai, but he couldn't understand what could have caused the extreme displeasure in Fujiwara's stance that night.
He was so engrossed in his thoughts, he felt a little jerk pass through him, as he heard his door thunder-clapped shut. Clearly, he was annoyed by the turn of events, but with the position he is in right now, he doesn't have any excuse or right to push Fujiwara away. "What do you want?"
"Oh, so he's okay to visit but I'm not?" the question was asked melodious wonderment, but it was evidently glazed in thick sarcasm. "Or is it because you are harboring intimate feelings for him?"
"Where did that ridiculous idea come from?" That was really what he thought inside. He didn't understand how Fujiwara could even think that he could have feelings for Echinoze. He was annoyed, confused, and tired, and - call him a coward all you like - he just wanted to ran away and have a little peace and quiet to sort things out. "I don't have time for such trivial things, like love, right now. So, if you could please leave, I'd like to have some rest now."
But Fujiwara won't have it that way, and roughly grabs hold of both Taizhoka's arms. "No!"
"Fujiwara?" was all the megane could say, before a powerful force threw him lying on the floor, and trapped between the Tensai's legs. "Just what do you think you're doing, Fujiwara?" he angrily shouted, as he struggled to escape from his captor's tight grip.
A dominating grin formed on the Tensai's face, a seductively tempting look should it have been another situation than this. "Oh, I'm just going to make you understand to whom you exactly belong to, Taizhoka!" Then, he ripped open the top of the megane's night kimono, and said in a lowered tone, "I won't let him - nor anyone else, for that matter - have you."
Taizhoka was at lost at what exactly was happening, let alone why Fujiwara was doing this to him. But that had to wait, right now all that mattered was stopping whatever had gotten over the usually calm Tensai. "Stop this, Fujiwara!" he commanded, but seemed to be going in deaf ears.
"Stay still!" Fujiwara retorted, still trying to get his way with Taizhoka.
Taizhoka wasn't surprised at the strength Fujiwara had, what did was that the Tensai was using it to force himself against another's - namely, Taizhoka's - will. "I said, let go!" In his unrelenting struggle, he, finally, got one of his arms free, and threw a premature, but strong enough, punch at Fujiwara's lower left cheek, causing the edge of his lips to bleed.
As reflexive reaction due to blurred rationality, Fujiwara slapped Taizhoka with so much andrenaline rushing through his veins. A resounding sound, like an unforgiving whip, echoed in the entire room... Everything went simultaneously fast, but, just like a how fast lightning flashes, the impact ignited all Fujiwara's senses back to sane reality. The realization of what he just did sent immeasurable regret and fear in him, wiping out all the hurling and raging emotions inside just moments before, and just felt like he couldn't move... like he couldn't breathe. His whole body trembled, as his mind replayed again and again the irreversible mistake he just did. His mind went blank with but one question. 'What have I done?'
Taizhoka immediately notice the weakened stance of the Tensai, and took advantage of his vulnerable state. With his arms freed, he pushed Fujiwara of of him, sprinted to across the room and grabbed hold of his own katana. "You... You've had your fun and games, but I've had enough of your impertinence, Fujiwara!" Then, he quickly unsheathed his blade, fiercely and accusingly, at the honey-brown brunette. "I won't let you degrade me any lower than you already have."
Fujiwara winced at the hard impact of hitting his back against the cemented wall, but the distinct metal whistle of the katana's blade awaken his complete attention. His eyes shot open, focusing his cerulean orbs on the masterfully crafted blade threatening his life. Normally, he would have defended himself, his famous triple counter would do perfectly... But the person before him wasn't his opponent, it's Ryuujimitsu... His secret beloved... Just accepting the truth of his feeling, already rendered him defeated, and softly laugh he did at his own foolishness. "I guess, that'
your answer, then."
"What are you talking about?" Taizhoka asked, not wavering from his offensive form, wary of every word coming from the Tensai.
Fujiwara shifted his position slowly, not to cause any undue alarm, until he is in a proper kneeling position and just hang his head low. "I'm really that unworthy to be in your presence, ne?" he asked, but not expecting to be answered. "I never meant to belittle you nor hurt you in any way, Taizhoka. But when I thought about how you could be smiling, laughing with someone else, when you wouldn't even allow me to meet or at least have a glimpse of
you," he explained, as a sad smile formed on his face, "I got jealous and lost all control of myself..."
"Jealous?" Taizhoka wasn't ready to believe a word the Tensai says, strictly keeping his guard up should the other try to do anything.
Fujiwara looked up to Taizhoka's face, azure orbs locking with golden gems, hoping the latter would see the truth of his words. "I love you, Taizhoka. I have been for a very long time. But I've always felt that you were so very far out of my reach." Then, he lowered his gaze onto his hands, his right tightly grasping onto his left. "It was only by chance that found out about the sale of this exquisite mansion. Then, I thought that maybe... maybe I could be of help to you somehow. And even if you don't believe me, that's really how I felt." He paused, hoping that the tousled-haired youth would respond to him or do something - anything - rather than staying quiet. None came. "I bought this mansion, so that you could see me in a different light... so that maybe you could look at me. But that's just wishful thinking, because you only saw me as an eyesore." He turned his gaze towards the door - not wanting to see, no, afraid to see Taizhoka's reaction to his confession -, and slowly stood up.
The confession caught Taizhoka by surprise. He didn't know that the Tensai had feelings for him... Romantic feelings he had kept bottled up inside his lithe figure for a long time. Was is the real, or was it another lie? There was still his logical doubt, though his heart had defended it to be true.
Fujiwara closed his eyes, and once again plastered the painful smiling mask on as he faced Taizhoka for what he decided to be the last time. "You have always been the brightest star in my incoherent life... You know, like the silver lining in the looming dark gray clouds?" He tried to lighten the mood, but his choked chuckle betrayed him. He gracefully stroked the back of his head in surrender. "My heart is always in a complete mess when it comes to you, Taizhoka... And today, my lust to have you have ultimately overshadowed my desire to help you..."
"Fujiwara..." Taizhoka wanted to console the Tensai, but his body refused to move accordingly. He had lowered his katana, still unsheathed, but his feet remained glued to the same spot.
"But whatever I say now is no excuse for hurting you. And what I've done, just proves how unworthy I am of keeping this with me any longer," Fujiwara raised both his hands to his chest, in a motion that seemed to be removing something from his left finger. "So I'm returning this to you... I won't blame you should you want to throw it away." He held his right hand towards Taizhoka, and handed him his most cherished treasure.
The smile was still present, though evidently cracking in Taizhoka's observant eyes. The sandy-brown brunette raised his palm to receive the item, and felt something cold landing on it. Taizhoka's eyes widened by and iota when he realized what was returned to him... The feeling... The promise... The ring that was suppose to keep them together, now returned to him... Cold and devoid of any heat from Fujiwara's finger, where - as it dawned to him - sat long before. In his stunned immobility, he had neglected to notice that the Tensai had turned towards the door.
"You don't owe me anything anymore, Taizhoka," was what finally brought the megane out of his trance. But like a statue, he could only watch as Fujiwara walk his way out of the room. "As for the documents and rights for this property, I'll arrange for them to be delivered to you the earliest time possible." Fujiwara half-turned his head for one final glimpse of his beloved, as he slowly slid the door behind him. "Goodbye, Taizhoka. I won't come here nor appear before you ever again."
No, this isn't how things should have been. The distress signal kept alarming loudly in his head, breaking his body's tranquilized state. With much effort, he willed his body to sprint after the Tensai, hastily yanking the almost closed door open. But, alas, Fujiwara was already no where in sight. Disappearing like that within a few milliseconds, it's like he just vanished into thin air.
Tezuka ran about the entire mansion, searching and asking the household helps, even turning to his mother, if anyone had seen Fujiwara. But all resulted in vain effort, with Otonashi and his mother asking him rest first, so that he may recover quickly to resume his search, both knowing better not to ask about what had happened.
And he did resume searching as soon as he was feeling better and out of probationary period. He asked his personal messenger to trace and locate any signs of the Tensai - he even asked Shitenji's investigation team for help - but report still came back negatively.
Taizhoka was undeniably feeling tired and exhausted, but he wasn't one to give up, and he persevered in his search the following days. And though he hesitated for a while, he went to the Fujiwara estate to ask what he already knew. He didn't know if he should be depressed, angry, or what he should do upon receiving same the feedback - no one has seen or heard from he Tensai since the night he left Taizhoka, not a news or word a about his whereabouts nor his destination. Fujiwara wasn't there, but his family was as happy accommodating as if nothing was amiss. The situation, as he was informed, had been a normal occurrence in the household since when the Tensai was young and serving the Taizhoka heir. Furthermore, the family seems to be doing quite well with Fujiwara Yamato being train to be the next head in the absence of his aniki - even heard him grumble on how Syuuzaku had been dumping all the responsibility on him (evidently, he's worried about his aniki's long absence, though he does seem to be happy and grateful for the opportunity and possibility of succeeding the Fujiwara head).
After he left the Fujiwara residence, he thought that maybe he was thinking too much about it... Maybe Fujiwara just needed sometime alone... Or maybe the Tensai would be coming home the next day or the following... Or maybe... He wanted to optimistic, but the realist in him reminded - bugged - him of Shine Maiden Yukihime's, one known to have the strong ability of clairvoyance, parting words. "Reality, secrets, ignorance and lies aren't that different from each other, especially when one isn't tenacious on deriving what's hidden between the lines. But amidst their respective merit value, you should know that none of them is worth losing a very dear friend."
On the seventh day since Fujiwara departed from him, Taizhoka's plans were rewritten when he was suddenly summoned and 'grandly' escorted to Atokugawa Kobei Ouji-sama's personal palace. And though it wasn't the first time he had been to such grandure, as he had been serving Shogun Atokugawa, the prince' otousan, as the his advisor and field strategist (a court position granted to him for his talent and skill, as well as, for being the late Taizhoka Ryuujiharu's successor), but he could only describe the prince's castle as grandiose for his simple but refine minimalist preference.
"Greetings, Ouji-sama!" bowed his respect to the crowned prince. "Of what importance have you summoned me before your presence?"
"Good, Taizhoka, you're here," Atokugawa immediately responded, beckoning the megane to partake into his study. "Ore-sama has some urgent issues ore-sama needs to discuss with you. Come, make yourself comfortable."
"Ah. Thank you," he assented and took the seat across Atokugawa, so that they are facing each other.
The crowned prince, who as Taizhoka remembers always starts a discussion with high and mighty praises of himself, had skipped that habit and appeared to be very serious. He neither looked laid-back nor was there a smirk of confidence on his face, but his dominant presence could distinctly be felt as he leaned closer to the Megane, their gaze unwavering. "Before we begin this conversation, Ore-sama needs your word of honor to keep our conversation with utmost confidentiality, do you assent, Taizhoka?"
"Hn." Taizhoka was a man that always keeps his word... That was true, until his promise with Fujiwara ended badly... It didn't feel good to have broken an oath, and he needed - wanted - to redeem himself - prove he could still be trusted - if only to make himself feel better for just a little while. "By my honor, I give you my word of confidentiality, Atokugawa Ouji-sama."
"Good to hear that," Atokugawa relaxed a bit as he leaned at his seat's backrest. "Then, let's begin. Ore-sama assumes you still remember the Odachi no Bara from our Seishun days?" he asked, knoledgable of the news that Fujiwara had bought the Taizhoka main mansion, though nothing more after that. Taizhoka nodded in answer to the query. "Of course you do. Well, they have secretly been working directly under Ore-sama as undercover spies, infiltrating units, cutting the weeds off our nation, and - should the need presents itself - as perfect assassins - leaving no trace of any evidence nor blood shed." He proudly narrated of his best guardians, ignorant to the look of shock visible only in Taizhoka's embers. "They are given the freedom to do as they please, as long as they never fail any of Ore-sama's commands and clear their mission completely. And, Ore-sama must emphasize, that these Odachi's are more than graciously compensated depending on the quality of their performance."
"..." Taizhoka was silent for a few seconds after Atokugawa finished his oration, as he was trying to absorb and process the confided information. How could he have missed such activity? Was the crowned prince bluffing? No, this is definitely not an issue to joke about, he though. "Since when?"
"Aré?" Atokugawa was puzzled why that was the first question he asked, but answered anyway. "As the great Ore-sama's memory dictates, the Odachi no Bara have been in service since our first year in Seishun." Then, he turned a knowing look at the Megane. "But that isn't really what you wanted to know, is it?"
No one can really surpass his highness' brilliant insight, an ability that could only rival his own. "... Fujiwara Syuuzaku..."
"Ah, yes, Fujiwara," Atokage's face lit up, knowing he had succeeded in opening Taizhoka's inner thoughts. "Currently, he's one of the best Odachi ever to grace our royal grounds, far surpassing otousan's imperial assassins," the crowned prince reveled about the Tensai's outstanding credentials. "And together with Yukamichi, they orchestrate the cleanest macabre. Both of them were the first to devout their loyalty to serve and protect the Nippon nation before Ore-sama, and offered to sacrifice themselves for the greater good since the rise of the buke-samurai's."
Assassins... The Odachi no Bara are terrifying assassins... Killers serving under the Atokugawa Shogunate... And Fujiwara? Fujiwara is an Odachi samurai... Then, Fujiwara is a killer... He had taken lives to provide a brighter future... He had sacrificed himself for the unassuming nation... Sacrificed for people, like himself, who knew nothing but doubted... Taizhoka had no idea the Tensai had a second-life, one that is dark and unknown to him. How could he have hidden it from him? Did Fujiwara not trust him enough? Why? Taizhoka's mind kept on rambling, but not a word escaped from his supple lips.
Atokugawa noticed Taizhoka's baffled state of mind, basically, due to the how his well-defined brows furrowed into a frown and his hazel orbs shaking in it's wide ovals. "You should be awed by Ore-sama's generosity of letting you know this fact," he sighed, trying to negate the megane's troubled thoughts. "Of all the Odachi no Bara, only Fujiwara and Yukamichi has kept and preserved the virtue of their virginity after all these years in such profession. Well, Yukamichi is clear on that, since he and Sawada are in a faithful relationship. As for Fujiwara..." Atokugawa teasingly tapped his smiling lips. "Ore-sama thinks he's waiting for someone, ne, Taizhoka?"
Was it too much information? No, but somehow it effectively diverted attention. "I...," he swallowed the lump of relief - threatening to form a grin in his stoic visage - down in his throat, but he couldn't do anything against the faint blush that warmed his face. "Ah. Maybe he is..." A smug smile formed in the crowned prince's beauty, and Taizhoka knew that he had to change the topic before Atokage dive deeper into his feelings. "A-about the Minozuki case..."
"Minozuki..." Atokugawa rubbed his chin, trying to remember the association of the name. "Right! That mission was supposed to be handled by Masarui and General Tachihara Kazuo, but Fujiwara insisted that the job be given to and be handled by him alone. It was the first time the hailed Tensai showed so much interest, determination, and resolve in any assignment, and Ore-sama believes that it has something to do with your family being involved. Maybe he felt the need to protect you. Afterall, he did once pledge himself to you - kareno shintai, seimei to tamashii, kento tateni sa re masu." It wasn't intentional, but the crowned prince wanted to express his rationale of Fujiwara's action. "And even if you try to hide your growing feeling for him from everyone else, Ore-sama knows why you still haven't officially severed that contract had with him."
"Hn. I understand," Taizhoka knew of Atokugawa's habit of conducting intervention whenever the crowned prince deemed necessary, but the Megane knew that this wasn't the time for such conversation. "Please pardon me should I offend your grace in any way, but your excellency didn't summon my attendance just to chat about my personal affairs, did you, Atokugawa Ouji-sama? I believe that we should be focusing on the issue that warrants immediate attention."
""Fine. We really must be getting back to the problem anyway." As sharp as Atokugawa is, he knew that Taizhoka is one of the few people that doesn't feel comfortable with his interventions nor any other meddling with his personal affairs. "As you have seen in the newspapers, there have been an increasing number of rounins that had gone in wayward rogue. Although others have chosen to only inflict subtle damages, most of them have rampantly been causing havoc in our land of the rising sun," he tsk-ed in disapproval. "A very annoying group of nuisance, who are proving to be a formidable hindrance to Ore-sama's brilliant forecast of a peacefully united and progressive Nippon nation by the end of this year."
"I have read about them, the newspapers called them small-fries, but I think we should keep our guards up for any signs of violent resistance," Taizhoka responded to issue concerned.
"Ore-sama agrees with you on that point," Atokugawa nodded in agreement, and pounded his hand on the table with equal refinement and determination. "We, Kami no Seifukusha, will not be sitting idly still as they run wild in Ore-sama's land! Ore-sama had already sent Jitagawa to pose as a rounin and infiltrate their plans of action, which had bore positive result." The crowned prince kept his gaze at Taizhoka, making sure that the latter is following every word he's saying. "A week ago, he sent word that rogue rounins were planning to stage a massive violent uprising against the Atokugawa Empire, which should have taken place during these past few days. But, as you can see, today is already the seventh and last day of the week, yet no disturbance has occurred yet."
"And this peace we're experiencing now is troubling you, Atokugawa Ouji-sama?" Taizhoka asked, knowing well that crowned prince seldom worries, and that should he be it just meant the situation is really grave. "Yes, it is indeed disturbing, very much like the calmness of the crystal seas before the rage of the unforgiving storm... Are you certain that Jitagawa got the right dates, times, and places of the planned attack?"
"Yes, Ore-sama is certain. Jitagawa may look lethargic and sleepy all the time, but his memory, senses, and accuracy are as sharp as any other Odachi samurai," Atokugawa defended the samurai. "Besides, even amidst this tranquility, these mind-boggling reports have been filing-in in large numbers. And if you would read these reports sent by Shitenji's investigation team," he handed Taizhoka a few papers, "it all states a similar scenario - that lifeless bodies, suspected and recognized to be those terrorizing rounins, were found at the exact points Jitagawa accurately mapped. Their diagnosis also presents that they died, or, as they strongly believe, were killed exactly an hour before the planned time and date of the supposed attack." The usual haughty air around the crowned prince was evidently replaced by unease, as he ran his regal hand through his silky hair. "What's more unnerving is that there were no bloody trace indication that they were actually murdered, their corpses appearing very much like they have passed away in natural death while sleeping."
"They died of natural death?" Taizhoka raised and eyebrow in disbelief. "I think that's very unlikely. And I would have to agree with Shitenji's diagnosis that there is another party involved in this mysterious deaths. Someone highly skilled and strong enough to duel and win against those large group of rounins." The sandy-brown brunette pondered on the unknown vigilante, and his probable intentions. "The question now is whether that party is with or against us."
"Yes, that's exactly the dilemma," Atokugawa sighed. "No one knew who, when, and how these bloodless massacre happened. Shitenji had been thoroughly researching and studying the cases as well as the crime scenes, but still hasn't got any lead."
This was indeed a difficult case. Everything was amiss, the pieces of the puzzles are scattered and hidden well by the culprit. And the few evidences they had possessed are of little use... The evidences? "Wait, Ouji-sama, did you say bloodless?" he needed to confirm his hypothesis. "As in, like how the Odachi no Bara operates?"
"Yes," the crowned prince nodded, looking attentively at Taizhoka in wonder if the youth have uncovered something. "But the only ones that are perfectly and consistently capable of doing that are Odachi's Buchou, Yukamichi, and fuku-Buchou, Fujiwara. The others, as Echinoze puts it, still have quite a long way to go before they reach the level of making a homicide look exactly like a suicide, and much longer on making it look like a natural death."
"A very dreadful technique..." Taizhoka responded, suppressing the shudder running under his skin. "One that if it gets out of control would cause a lot of panic and unease amongst the people." Then, he remembered the protégé's task force, since Atokugawa had mentioned him earlier. "Have your excellency deployed Echinoze's battalion to protect the people?"
"Naturally," huffed Atokugawa, "but they can't do anything too drastic, since it would alarm the people. And them panicking is the last thing we need right now." The crowned prince shook his head helplessly. "As relieving it is to know, from Echinoze's submitted reports, that there have been no signs of any disturbance nor of any civilian casualties until this very moment, Ore-sama still can't help having this unsettling gut-feel." Atokugawa diverted his gazed towards the empty seat on his left then right side. "Usually, when problems like this arise, Ore-sama would be conducting a very thorough private meeting with Yukamichi and chief advisor Sawada. But due to some health condition, Odachi's Buchou couldn't be present today, and the chief advisor had also taken a leave of absence to attend to his lover's faster recovery."
Taizhoka felt a squeeze in his heart, as the word 'lover' rolled from Atokugawa's lips. The relationship between the two had been discreet, but too obvious for all the knew them well. The megane couldn't help but feel a little envious of their relationship, and was reminded of how things could have been for him and the Tensai if they had just been more honest with their feelings for each other. He was felt disappointed with himself, and needed to refocus himself on the issue being discussed. "Ah. Then, why is your grace telling me all this?"
"Well," Atokugawa looked at Taizhoka commandingly. "In the absence of Yukamichi, Fujiwara was made to temporarily head the Odachi no Bara, and his words of wisdom are highly respected and heed upon in Ore-sama's court. It was his advise that you, Taizhoka, the renowned brilliant strategist and tactician in otousan's court, would make a very good advisor, in the place of Sawada." The crowned prince's expression remained calm and composed, but his silver orbs betrayed his hesitation and uneasiness. "But this sage advise comes with a definite condition that Ore-sama should never allow you to step into the field, and that should even the tiniest drop of blood touch the very tip of any single strand of your hair, he wouldn't hesitate at all to take my head as payment." He managed a dry laugh to cover the growing tension he felt within, as a few sweatdrops of nervousness cascaded his flawless visage. "And so, even if Ore-sama is in dire need of your assistance, Ore-sama must ask if you would accept this condition he specified?"
Threats and blackmails, so typical of Fujiwara, but not one to be disregarded lightly. The Tensai always keeps up with his words, and, boy, does he have an innate talent of playing with words. Just reminiscing Fujiwara's antics, brought a smile in his heart - though no evidence show on his face. Then, he quickly shooed the thought aside, and respectfully respond to the query. "It would be a great honor to be of service to you and the people, Atokugawa Ouji-sama," he offered a curt bow of confirmation. "I cannot say that I could completely comply with Fujiwara's whims, but I assure you, your excellency, that I would protect you from any form of physical harm he could inflict upon you." He kept a straightforward gaze to assure the crowned prince, but remembered the sadistic side of the Tensai, and was quick to mend his words. "Though I cannot guarantee for any form of mental and psychological harm his sadistic tendencies could possibly do... Would this be alright with you?"
"It's better than none at all, I suppose," Atokugawa sighed for the nth time that day. Really, this so not his day... But, then again, lady fate has always got his back. All will turn out well, he assured himself, but still...
"By the way, when will Fujiwara arrive at this meeting?" Taizhoka noticed the crowned prince spacing out, and called his attention. "He is supposed to attend to this as Odachi's representative, isn't he, Ouji-sama?"
Another sigh escaped Atokugawa's lips. "Ore-sama was hoping you could tell me. Ore-sama hadn't had any contact nor any form of communication with Fujiwara since a week ago, and neither does any of the Odachi no Bara." He unconsciously shook his head upon the Tensai's 'unprofessionalism.' "Even Shinjoku, Odachi's human logbook, couldn't track his whereabouts."
That's something Taizhoka didn't expect to hear, because usually Atokugawa would have ayes and ears anywhere. "I apologize for my assumption, but I also have no idea where he might be..." Then, he recalled Fujiwara's parting words, and thought to himself, 'Is Fujiwara seriously planning to disappear from me forever?'
Atokugawa may have been brooding over the unusual issue at hand, but the invisible creases between the megane's brow didn't escape his notice. "Look here, Taizhoka. Ore-sama has no idea whatsoever on whatever had transpired between the two of you, but you better get him back here, before this situation worsens." His gaze shot warningly, making Taizhoka see the deadly seriousness of his order. "Ore-sama needs the both of you in perfect condition, in order to put an end to those rounins' ridiculous reign of betrayal."
"Hn" was Taizhoka's immediate and definite response. Even without the command, he is determined to fix what went wrong between him and Fujiwara.
The seventh day of the uprising...
The 15th of the 11th month of the lunar calendar...
With Sakamoto Ryoma dead, as well as, all those who blindly opposed the Atokugawa empire wiped out of the living, Nippon is peacefully free to reclaim their pride and glory as the Land of the Rising Sun.
He made sure no one would know it was him who did it... No, it doesn't matter if anyone knew about it... Anyone, just not his beloved. His duty is finally fulfilled, and he is determined to keep the secret within himself even down to his grave.
Fujiwara stood solemnly in the middle of the flora and fauna garden he fondly cared for in his younger days... Still as fragrant and beautiful, even though this mansion by the bay had been vacant for a long period of time - save for the once a month cleaning tasked to the maids. A dignified abode that once homed a great man by the name of Taizhoka Ryuujikazu.
The Tensai took into heart every life, structure, and intricate detail of the estate. Every laughter... every challenge... every setback... every triumph... every precious memory he could engrave in himself. The warmth of the place that welcomed his arrival, until the coolness it beheld him as snow began to fall. He smiled, albeit a sad one, he still smiled. This place carved their fated meeting, the beginning of his throbbing heart... And it will also bear witness to his last goodbye, the end of wonderful dream that wasn't his. Fujiwara knew it was cowardly of him to leave Taizhoka the way he planned, but at least he kept true to his promise. He had already eliminated the threats, that, even without his presence, his beloved will be safe and sound.
Fujiwara hoped that it would be a quiet farewell, that he could vanish from Taizhoka's life just like thin air... but even that would be too much to ask.
"Alone aren't we?" A malicious voice came from behind. "Fufu, brave as always, Fujiwara."
The Tensai wasn't surprised by the intruders' entry, he was actually expecting them. With Sakamoto's death, he intended to lure the remaining rogue rounins towards him, and finish them all off... only he didn't plan for the battlefield be at this place... Nevertheless, Fujiwara wore his innocently disarming smile, betraying little of the annoyance he strongly felt inside, as he turned around to face his opponents. "Ah, Minozuki, how nice of you to disturb a sacred moment."
"The pleasure's mine." Minozuki saw through the fake smile, as every word relayed venomously from the Tensai's lips. He knew the brunette was pissed, and he felt elated. "As for our offering, we challenge you for death!"
Annoying cockroaches, trying to get under his skin! They still dare sneer and laugh at his disposition? Well, Fujiwara wasn't going to allow himself to stoop to their level. "We?" He continued the fallacious pleasantries. "Well, I guess it's only expected of a scoundrel like you, ne, Minozuki? As loathsome as ever, even after the being christened a rounin twice in just one lifetime," he ended with a light chuckle intending to humiliate his former sempai.
"Say what you will, Fujiwara," Minozuki retorted, anger evident in his tone. "But right now you have no other option than accepting this duel - not that you have any chance of getting out of here alive for that matter." And, his crowd of more than 30 broke into disgusting excitement.
"Saa... Fine by me," Fujiwara answered confident of his skills, and sensing the presence of someone very familiar on both of his back side. "You wouldn't mind my friends joining in, would you?"
"Ah, gomen, ne, for party crashing," Jitagawa cued, as he appeared behind purple smoke. Some of the rounins gasped and growled as they recognized him, even calling out 'traitor,' to which he didn't take personally and feigned an apology.
"Seems like you were having fun here," Masarui's claimed appearance behind a pale gold smoke, and smiled childlike wonder. "And we just want to join the party!"
"Whatever!" Minozuki huffed. "The more the merrier, they say."
"Jitagawa, Masarui, glad you could join in," Fujiwara half-turned to his comrades, and consoled playfully, "but I don't think the fun's going to last long though. Any bets?"
"I call-in 5 minutes!" Jitagawa waved his arms energetically, and turned toward the red-haired Odachi.
"Hmm?" Masarui's big eyes blinked, then half-lidded. "I say 3 minutes tops, maybe."
"Saa... You guy are getting way soft," he said as he returned his focus to their opponents. "I'll give them about a minute, give or take."
"Your call, Fujiwara. You always got the numbers right, anyway," Masarui shrugged indifferently, making the three Odachi's chuckle knowingly.
The rounins were getting angry at being ignore, and far enough Minozuki hollered irely, "enough talk! Everyone, attack!" Sending the boorish bunch charging towards the three.
"So, the game of tag begins!" Jitagawa excitedly in hook his katana. And torpedoed towards the opposing group.
A quarter was disabled in an instant. (00:10)
"Maa... I like it better if it was called officials and criminals, or maybe cops and robbers," Masarui carried on the conversation, as if he wasn't swiftly lodging fatal blows on the number of rounins ganging up on him. "Which do you think sounds better?"
The opposing group went down by half. (00:25)
"I think both labels are good and all, Masarui," Fujiwara hummed, as he passed judgment on the rogue rounins. "But I'd much prefer a game of cat and mouse." He beckoned seductively with his hand and winked teasingly, as his opponents simultaneously fell aground. "Meow~"
97% down, succumbing to their body's self-destruct buttons - lethal biological pressure points. (00:32)
"Kawaii, ne, Neko Odachi!" cheered just as he finished off the last rounin in his territory. "Nekodachi!" (00:37)
"Ooh~ Sexy Kittens versus Boorish Rodents?" Masarui mused delightedly, as he struck the finishing blow to whom was supposed to the last on his roster. "And the sexy kittens wins hands-down!" (00:40)
Both aminal-loving and sweet-loving Odachi's were in a hyped up mood, that the latter failed to notice an opponent charging behind him. But this had no chance of escaping Fujiwara's 'hawk's eye,' nor his light-speed defying sprint. (00:43)
"Die, you fucking faggots!" Minozuki shouted as he rampaged towards Masarui, to which the latter could only half-turn unexpectedly. (00:45)
In two seconds, it was like Fujiwara teleported from the distance of ten feet away to the spot between Masarui and Minozuki. He unshealth his kanata with lightning speed and thunderous force, as his eyes slit sharply - his lapis lazuli's darkening into ferocious midnight blues - awaiting the vengeful being.
Minozuki lodged his attack, his the katana pointing directly towards the Tensai's heart. His other hand hidden from view, but his form still drew near in satisfactory balance. (00:48)
In that minuscule instant, Fujiwara had pushed Masarui back and dodged the fatal attack. Then, as Minozuki was about to throw his second swing, the Tensai swiftly released his silencer. He pivoting his entire body and sliced with utmost force and accuracy, sending both Minozuki's head and katana to fall three feet away from the severed body. "Second counter: Higuma Otoshi." (00:52)
Fujiwara slowly stood and faced the first bloody mess he ever committed, and triumphantly remarked, "that's what you lowly scum rightfully deserve, dare you even try to hurt my friends."
"Sugoi! Sugoi!" Jitagawa excitedly ran towards the the corpse, admiring the minimalist work of art. The sacred beauty of white and red melding into the afterlife. "A beautiful ukiyo-e only the Tensai Fujiwara could create!" (00:54)
Masarui, on the other hand, after quickly recovering from the shock, hugged the Tensai in heartfelt gratitude. It wasn't the first time that he had been in such situation, but it had been the first time that he had really felt what the word fear meant. A single trail of blood traced down from Fujiwara's katana, standing valiantly against the pureness of the snow... Minozuki's head just a few feet across... The invisible second that could have ended his life... He had long forgotten the stench of death, but seeing the vermilion liquid seep deeper into the whiteness of snow made him remember that he was but human - and that death gives way to no one. And for that one unhesitating attack, Masarui hugged the Tensai with his trembling arms. "Thank you, Fujiwara..." (00:56)
Fujiwara smiled at the red-haired Odachi, consolingly tapping the arms wrapped around him. "I'm glad you are safe, Masarui," the Tensai responded, before he staggered back, losing his balance into Masarui's arms. (00:58)
Both Odachi's fell onto the cold ground. Masarui winced at the sudden contact of icy coldness, and was about to complain, when he felt something warm pooled over his hand. And when his focus returned, the realization of the scenario terrified him into screaming, "Fujiwara!" (01:00)
This prompted Jitagawa's attention. "What's wrong, Masa-?" he started, but was immediately stricken with panic and confusion, as he rushed to his comrades' side. There lay in Masarui's arms is an angelically smiling Fujiwara... In his favorite indigo hakama grew a river of vermillion existence... At the center, a few centimeters away from the beating life, stood an elaborately designed tanto bearing the Minozuki crest.
"Don't you dare die on me, Fujiwara!" cried Masarui, as he tightened his arms around the Tensai. "How could you have been so careless, baka-chi? Why did you have to be so damned selfless, sacrificing yourself for me?"
Jitagawa's was stunned at how their victory had turned grim all of a sudden. He sobbed... Cried... Wailed... There were a bunch of thing cramming in his mind, but none came across. He couldn't utter a single word out of his despair, frustration and helplessness, and just cried it all out.
"I'm just glad you two are safe," Fujiwara managed to say, as he pulled the tanto off his lithe body in one steadfast pull, coughing out a mouthful of blood in the process.
"What good does that do, huh?" Masarui bellowed. "What good does being alive do, when you had to leave us by ourselves?"
"Hush now, dear friends," Fujiwara pressed a comforting hand over one of Masarui's hand, "all is well..." With his other, he handed the blood-stained tanto to the grieving Jitagawa, and smiled genuinely at the two, as the Tensai sent a very familiar chi through them. "... my final gift to you both..."
"You can't do this, Fujiwara! NOOO!" were the last words heard from the two, before they vanished into a whimsical blue smoke.
The silence was overwhelming, making Fujiwara chuckled at his current state. All is well... The people could go on living peacefully... His family will be taken care of by a good leader, his beloved otouto, Yamato... His friends are all alive, safe and sound... And his beloved... Ryuujimitsu... With his death, he had kept his pledge of honor to serve and protect his one and only true master, as well as, his parting promise to disappear from his life forever... Indeed, all is well... "You taught me that there is laughter and peace during war - a thread of light and hope in everlasting darkness... Somebody who would always be there waiting and caring for me no matter how tainted I've become. I've never been afraid of being alone until now..." Fujiwara revealed his azure gems, imbedding them with all the feelings in his dying heart. "Could I even wish for you to remember me once in a while?"
A puff of whimsical blue smoke alerted the participants of a important meaning between the Odachi no Bara's and Kami no Seifukusha's, silencing whatever heated discussion and debate that was hurling back and forth.
"You can't do this, Fujiwara! NOOO!" was what alerted their senses of the identity of the people materializing behind the smoke. Masarui and Jitagawa were still in tear and grieving on how Fujiwara could be so kind yet so unfair, that they haven't fully understood where the Tensai had sent them.
"Masarui?" called Shitenji in recognition of his lover's voice, and ran toward his weeping figure. "Masarui, love, what's wrong?" He tried to calming the red-head as he took the trembling body into his arms, but the latter just kept on crying.
"Jitagawa, what happened?" Atokugawa, despite his royal post, also rushed by his boyfriend's side, and tried to break the frozen disbelief and despair from Jitagawa's stance. "And why are your hands soaking... wet... with blood...?" The crowned prince's voice trailed off more quietly, intensifying the hovering tension in the room.
Echizen was obviously irritated with the uncalled interruption, but was instantly silenced with the mention of 'blood.' His mind rumbled on that if there is blood, then there oath to have been a murder. The question, now, is who and why. He continued to brood on the subject, when Shinjoku opined, "could this be connected with the rounin warpath?"
"Rounin?" came Masarui's small voice, his body evidently shook less than earlier. "Why are you all still hung-up with those pathetic losers, when they're all dead?" he shouted, as his hands gripped tighter onto Shitenji's sleeves.
"All... Dead?" was a question that entrapped all of them, but no one dared ask further.
Despite being leaning immobile and incoherent against Atokugawa's broad chest, Jitagawa managed to answer the query. "He... took it all upon himself... the responsibility to eliminate all of those weeds... We, Masarui and I... just chanced upon finding him... and, partaking in his last mission... a mansion by the bay..."
"What was the result?" asked Sawada, who appear to be calm and well-composed, thanks to Yukamichi's - who despite still recovering, insisted on attending the meeting - presence beside him.
"We won... Less than a minute, as he predicted..."
"Who?" Taizhoka asked, though he dreaded to hear the answer he knew. He heard valiant samurai's name as the two Odachi's appeared before them, it just seemed that no one else had noted. He heard, but he didn't want to believe it...
"Fujiwara..." was Jitagawa's final answer, before he unconsciously released the bloody tanto, letting it fall and roll freely to the ground.
Everyone immediately recognized the Minozuki clan's crest, whilst their thought clouded on the worst turn of event. Jitagawa turned towards his lover's body, and, finally, cried all the pent-up emotions throwing tidal waves inside his body. While Masarui vent out his despair of losing a very dear friend. "Stupid, Baka-chi!" he choked on the words, "why'd you sacrifice yourself for me? How could I go on knowing you died because of me?"
Taizhoka stood frozen on the spot, as his mind pulled pieced together into a definitive conclusion. He tried to swallow the lump of negativity clogging his throat, but he only suffocated more knowing well he couldn't deny the truth. Fujiwara... The perpetually, ethereally, smiling angel of death... It couldn't be. 'Kami-sama, please don't,' his consciousness earnestly prayed. Gathering enough courage, he forcibly willed his legs to move - sprinting faster than he ever did in his entire life - towards the Fujiwara's destination. And with every heavy gulp of air, he prayed earnestly, 'oh, please, Kami-sama, please don't let it be his final destination... please don't let this be the end... please don't let it be too late...' And ran and ran he did, unmindful of whomever he passed by, ignorant of the everything else... His mind is only filled with one person he desperately desired to hold in his arms. 'Syuuzaku, please wait for me!'
The Tensai painstakingly maneuvered himself to a sitting position, leaning onto the pristine stones surrounding the koi pond. He sat there awaiting the end, his blurring vision made him see the younger Taizhoka sitting beside him just like in their younger days. And as he blinked, the mirage transformed into the regal hotness of Taizhoka's present self, welling tears into his eyes. For all that they've been through, Ryuujimitsu deserved at least a proper goodbye.
"I'm sorry for everything, Ryuujimitsu, but my promise I'll keep true," his ruefully smiled. With his remaining energy, he calligraphed with his blood-stained finger against the stone his beloved used sits on. "My blood be the seal, as witnessed by this treasured place... I bid thee my last farewell, my love..." he rekindled his vowed with his last few breaths, before his arm limping lifelessly beside his body, and his cerulean gems continued gazing into nothingness, involuntarily welling in tears.
He was hearing footsteps... very near... both weight and rhythm so familiar, he could never forget nor confuse with anyone else even if he tried... 'Is this another mirage?' he thought, his smile growing ever more radiant in contrast to his pale complexion and weakening connection to life. 'This maybe unnecessary, but should he come upon my death, I would still want him to remember be beautifully at peace...' he choked another vile of blood in an attempt to chuckle. This is the end... his body, heavy and tired, isn't responding anymore... his senses slowly fading away, until only his eyes could see a faint figure of a man approaching from a fair distance... The end...
Taizhoka stood a few feet away from the Tensai's form - hakama soaked in blood, his lovely azure eyes open in a gentle gaze, his luscious lips still carrying a disarmingly serene smile. "Fujiwara, this is a just a bad joke, isn't it?" he asked, trying to awaken the Tensai. Fujiwara's form could have fooled others into believing the wound inflicted wasn't lethal, but the megane knew he was quickly slipping away from the last thread of life. Ryuujimitsu kneeled before his love, and gently shook him, as bitter tears cascaded down his handsome face. "This isn't funny, Fujiwara! Move, please..." he asked, cupping the Tensai's face to his own, "... please, Syuuzaku..."
Fujiwara was helpless, his soul was consuming all his remaining energy clinging to the last of his body's senses. He could no longer move, as all nerves were shutting down - his sense of taste, bland and constricting his voice... his sense of smell, odorlessly blocking air passage... his sense of sight, dimmed with flashes of his living memories... His sense of hearing was the last remaining emblem connecting him to life. And yet, despite his rapidly deteriorating features, he could still grasp everything that is Ryuujimitsu. The warmth, passion and vigor of his every touch... the distinct baritone of his commanding voice... the constant scent of Jasmine surrounding his presence... the regality and beauty of his insightful mind and confident physic... So clear it was, that it pained him all the more.
Taizhoka had always been persistent in attaining his goals, and he definitely wasn't giving up on the Tensai. Not when he finally realized their love for each other. Not when he finally found the only one he could ever give his heart to. And definitely not when he haven't confessed his innermost thoughts to Fujiwara. The overwhelming feeling caught up sighing him, and the consuming urge in him took over. He kissed Syuuzaku, hoping the Tensai would awaken like in those nonsensical fairy tales the Tensai used to muse over. He kissed the Tensai again - not as the heir of the Taizhoka clan recognizing the Fujiwara clan - but as man expressing his affection to his precious lover. Yes, he was desperate, but at that moment, he was willing to do everything just to see a spark of life from those dimming sapphires. He kissed Syuuzaku again and again, tears mixing with blood, begging to be awakened from that terrible nightmare.
Fujiwara inwardly chuckled at his laughable state. Here was his beloved Ryuujimitsu giving him all his undivided attention - love, Ryuujimitsu loves him, as he felt for him - just when time had passed them by irrevocably. His love was showering him with kisses of affection, when he could no longer respond. And he was reminded of his own deceitful words, maybe they weren't meant to be... at least not in this lifetime. His soul whispered to the cold wind, 'aishteru, Ryuujimitsu...,' hoping the megane could hear his final words, before finally letting go of his unguarded body.
Taizhoka felt the Tensai's body leaned lifelessly against him, but not before seeing the single drop of tear trailing down his delicate feature as his lids dropped close. A single teardrop that concluded their entire story. And for that few moments, he sat on the cold snow-covered ground, with his love in his arms, unmoving, unbelieving what had just transpired. His whole body numbed, only his heart pounded thunderously inside his chest... his thoughts rolled in slow-motion... his gaze shook inconsistently, until they landed on something that raced his entire system. There on the pristine white stone of their childhood days, written in Fujiwara's blood - refinely elegant signature strokes he couldn't mistake for anyone else -, was a verse of finality.
Cryptic heart's jaded promise
Soothes my darkest hours...
'Til your freedom
Greets my grave,
Taizhoka shook so hard, as he emotions of despair and regret tsunami-ed inside his, finding it hard to breath. Only the word goodbye - Syuuzaku's voice telling him goodbye - echoed is his head. And as if the wind joined in mocking his rueful state, he heard it whisper, 'I kept my promise, Taizhoka-sama, no one can hurt you now...'
At that most terrifying and grief-stricken moment, Taizhoka let his entire guard down. He cried and cried, not caring who heard nor saw nor how it exhausted his entirely. He cried so hard, until he found his voice, and poured all his heart and soul into the only word - name - that made sense...
Tezuka panted heavily, as his ember gems shot open to present reality. He could still feel his body trembling... the fierce pounding of his heart... fear... sadness... loss... What he saw, he realized, were figments of memories from his past life. What was lost, he now found before him...
That dignified name had once again rekindled its flame in Tezuka's heart, that he knew - as Taizhoka Ryuujimitsu knew - he couldn't let this love slip away from him ever again. A second chance...
A soft *clat* was heard from across the room, causing the tousle-haired youth to look up from his pile of reference materials. He saw that the Tenshi had cleaned-up his belongings and was heading towards the exit on the other end of the archives. His pulse raced in reaction, and he quickly fixed his books, laptop and notes into his bag, so as to catch-up with the honey-brown brunette. Last he checked, the Tenshi was barely reaching for the knob...
"Wait!" Tezuka called out, his voice audibly loud against the mute venue they were in. Grabbing the arm of the smiling angel.
The honey-brown brunette was visibly surprised by the Tezuka's action, but quickly hid it perfectly behind his smile. "Ano... Is there anything I can do for you?"
"Ah," Tezuka replied for lack of better words. For a few second, time had seem to stand still for him. His body and emotions had overshadowed his logic, and had moved before had any chance to things through. To say the least, he wasn't prepared for this confrontation he had brought upon himself. Either way, as he calmed his still racing heart, he slowly released his grip on the teen's arm - but found himself wanting to touch more of the beautiful person in front of him. And since things had already progressed to this, he wasn't planning on backing away anytime soon, but took caution not to appear desperate. "Do I know you from somewhere?"
The Tenshi cocked his head in amusement, with his smile growing teasingly wider. "That has got to be the most clichéd pick-up line I've heard today," his merry voice chuckled, causing Tezuka's feature to harden in tension. "No? Saa... Gomen, ne, my bad," he curted a bow in apology. "But as for your question, we might have heard things about each other since we go to he same university and all, but as to being acquainted with each other closely, I don't believe we do."
Tezuka was muted by the Tenshi's answer. How is it possible for him to clearly remember the beauty, while the latter does not? Well, he guessed it's not really that impossible, but he really did wish otherwise.
The Tenshi had seen through Tezuka's hesitation, gave him a comforting smile, and offered an explanation. "You see, I have this really sharp memory, and, not to boast or anything but, I never forget a face, ever. So, you might have just mistaken me for someone else." But, then, he leans to get a closer look at Tezuka's face, as if inspecting a puzzle. "Though, now that I think about it, you do look familiar, uhm..." his close-lidded eyes searched for a name to remember the face by, "Tezuka Kunimitsu." Then, he took a step back and smile radiantly, one that tells 'please-stop-asking-anything-more-of-this-topic to anyone who could read the intricate details of his facial expressions.
Tezuka was able to spot the meaning of the smile, but wasn't willing to comply just yet. He had finally found him - the one his heart yearned for so long - and he would do everything to make this angel stay. "Do you-" he started, but was interrupted by a clicking sound from the doorknob.
Sequentially, the door swamy open silently, revealing a delicate-looking blunette, whom Tezuka recognized from his past memories. And though he seemed surprised by the former's existence, the former only looked at him with a knowing smile, but a gaze that warns him to recede silently for that moment. The blunette, who was carrying a number of folders and unidentified documents, then, turned his attention to the Tenshi, closing the door behind him gracefully.
"Fuji, Marui and Sengoku are in dire need of your assistance in the laboratory," the blunette said, in a voice that reminded Tezuka more of the Odachi's Buchou, Yukamichi.
"Where is Jiroh?" asked the ever smiling teen, a cute pout accenting his youthful appearance. "It's supposed to be his turn to supervise the experiments, isn't it?"
"Yes, but Jiroh was dragged by Seigi no Moban's Ouji-sama to the inspectors' office, so as to collect further information regarding the case," the blunette, who's clearly used to the smiling youth's childish antics, explained. "And I can't really supervise them right now, as Tachibana-sensei had appointed me to accomplish an important task. Please, Fuji, I can only entrust them to you."
It was a rare occurance for the blunette need assistance, rarer for him to actually 'ask' for it. It just meant that the matter with Marui and Sengoku were of grave imortance to him - Tezuka concluded inside his head. But the honey-brown brunette merely sighed and shook his head, "don't tell me, they're playing with chemicals again, aren't they? Which ones?" he asked in thoughtful stance, before his smile hinted mischievously. "It's Cyanide today, isn't it, Yukimura?"
Then, it was the bluntte's turn to sigh, "if you knew that much, then please hurry before they 'accidentally' devalue the evidences again." He tugged in subtly nag on the Tenshi's indigo warmer with his spare hand. "I refuse to let what happened with the Führer case occur again."
"Hai, hai, Shinigami-Buchou!" the brunette beauty consented, teasing the blunette in the process. "I'll be going ahead, then, Yukimura." He turned to leave, but not before giving Tezuka his last minute attention, the teasing smile still intact. "And you, I'll see you around, ne? Ja~!"
Tezuka could only wave defeatedly, as he watched his Tenshi leave the archives room. But it didn't slip his mind, that the blunette was still there with him. And it made him feel a little unease bubbling in his stomach. The blunette must've noticed his hesitance to start the conversation, and prompted to break the awkward silence.
"It's been a long time, Taizoka," greeted the blunette. "Ah, no, it's Tezuka now, isn't it?"
"Yukamichi," Tezuka responded with the first name the blunette's appearance reminded him of.
"Oh, good! You do remember. But, it's Yukimura now," the blunette corrected, offering a hand shake to Tezuka. "Yukimura Seiichi. Pleased to meet you, again."
"Ah. Tezuka Kunimitsu. Pleasure to have made your acquaintance," the megane shook the offered acquaintanceship. Then, he remembered the case Yukimura conversed to the Tenshi moments ago. "You mentioned the Führer case earlier, what was that about?
"Hmm? Did I?" Yukimura tried to feign innocent, but decidedly thought that Tezuka has the right to know about it, too. "The Führer case... your team handled the judicial proceedings of that case last semester, didn't you?" he inquired, to which Tezuka nodded in confirmation. "Well, it was our team that drilled into the forensics and medical diagnosis behind the scene. We worked together like a collaboration team, though both of our teams weren't aware nor informed about such practice back then. Anyways, because of someone's flippant persona - and I won't mention any names - almost all of our hard-earned evidences got stolen and destroyed by your rival team, headed by Mizuki Hajime." He finished as his navy blue crystals dimmed in darker shade.
"Mizuki..." Tezuka scrolled the name in his memory. "You mean to say even Minozuki Himajime got reincarnated at present time?" he asked with a puzzled glint in his hazel orbs. "But I specifically remember winnning over that case."
"Of course, winning is the only possible result, Tezuka," Yukimura shrugged indifferently. "You clearly have no idea what we had gone through to recover all the facts, as well as, obtain irrefutable evidences in inhumane effort to ensure your - our third victory in a row!"
"I wasn't aware of such occurrence during the proceeding, as it the first time I'm hearing about this," Tezuka mused on how efficient and resourceful the blunette's team had been, to be able to accomplish such great feat in short notice. "Gomenasai, it must have been hard on you."
"We won the case, so don't worry about it," Yukimura smiled, as he comfortingly patted Tezuka's shoulder. "Besides, Fuji had already made Mizuki pay for his insolent attempt to sabotage us. Though, I must say that it was utterly petrifying to watch a fellow Shinigami no Shinjitsu unleash his unforgiving psychological brutality - far more sadistic than I could have ever been." Yukimura shuddered, remembering the icy-cold, black aura surrounding Fuji back then. "And if my memory serves me right, Minozuki had totally dropped from the Law Department, and is currenty causing disappointments in the Liberal Arts Department. Pitiful really..." his grinning expression in mockery of Mizuki's collapse, "not!"
It was good hearing that, whether in the past or present, Minozuki or Mizuki had never succeeded in his abusively destructive ways. But it wasn't enough to divert his attention from his beloved, and Tezuka knew he needs to ask no matter what, "Fujiwara..."
"Ah, it's shortened to Fuji now, written with kanji standing for 'second to none,' 'unparalleled,' or 'peerless," a delighted expression has now replaced Yukimura's ire. "He's called is Fuji Syuusuke now, the hailed Tensai of the Criminology Department."
"Ah," Tezuka responded promptly, implying that he's listening, and waited for him to continue his line of thoughts. Though an invisible smile tickled his lips at the thought that his Tenshi had carried on his intellectual tenancy through generations hence.
Yukimura searched Tezuka's embers to see any sign of hope, then inwardly sighed, as he laid his things on the side tables and leaned back onto the wall. "He doesn't remember you either, does he?"
"Doesn't remember?" this phrased peaked Tezuka's curiosity.
"Yes," Yukimura diverted his gaze at the far end shelf, "not you, nor I, nor everybody else."
"Everybody else?" Tezuka hated repeating Yukimura's words, however, that much is needed to know and learn what he had missed.
Yukimura flipped through a folder, and handed Tezuka a piece of paper. "Here, Tezuka, is the list of both our teams' members, since we would be working together until the end of this school year as per planned by Tachibana-sensei. There are pictures of each student printed beside their respective name, and I'm sure you are able to recognize each and every one of them now, aren't you?"
Tezuka knew the faces on the list without his past memories, but this time, he cleary recognize each one, and his strong bond - in life, death, and reincarnation - with each one.
Group Name (suggested by Atobe) : Seigi no Moban
(Formerly known as : Kami no Seifukusha)
Leader : Atobe Keigo (Atokugawa Kobei Ouji-sama)
Inseparable assistant : Kabaji (Kojimaru)
*himself * Tezuka Kunimitsu (Taizhoka Ryuujimitsu)
Echizen Ryoma (Echinoze Masaryo)
Sanada Genchirou (Sawada Genjo)
Shiraishi Kuranosuke (Shitenji Kuranokawa)
It amazed him, that his friends from his past life, are also currently his circle of friends. And that none of them had really changed in general personality. Correct that... Maybe one did count, since Echizen and that orange-haired guy from the blunette's group of friends are presently officially dating for a month or so now, if Tezuka remembers correctly. After musing over trivialities, he browsed over the blunette's team...
Group Name : Shinigami no Shinjitsu
Tezuka gave Yukimura one raised brow regarding the name, to which the blunette only smiled wider, knowing what had caught the megane's eyes. "Well, Marui suggested it, saying it gives us a more masculine personification than our our previous name," he shrugged at the idea. "Besides, we might as well play death gods if have to deal with the nonliving most of the time, don't you agree?"
Tezuka gave the blunette a curt nod as a response. It does sound appropriate, and he mused over how the souls must feel very fortunate to have such group of talented beauties devote their precious time with them. But he quickly reprimanded himself inwardly for getting side-tracked, and went back to course.
Group Name : Shinigami no Shinjitsu
(Formerly known as : Odachi no Bara)
Leader : Yukimura Seiichi (Yukamichi Seiran)
*his beloved angel* Fuji Syuusuke (Fujiwara Syuuzaku)
Jiroh Akutagawa (Jitagawa Akihiro)
Sengoku Kiyosumi (Shinjoku Kumiyoshi)
Marui Bunta (Masarui Natsuba)
Fuji's group also hadn't change, and Tezuka assumed that their personalities have stayed the same as well, based on how Yukimura was conversing with him. However, he found the idea that the Tensai does not remembering anything at all when he's always surrounded 'his' friends - past and present -, quite unbelievable and down-right suspicious. "No one at all?"
"As I've said, Fuji doesn't recognize anyone of us," Yukimura gave him a short nod, but his expression slowly turned to deep thoughts. "Or more appropriately, he intentionally refuses to remember anything..."
"What do you mean by that, Yukimura?" Tezuka asked, and a sense of unease creeped into his system.
"You should know what exactly I meant by that, Tezuka, better than anybody," Yukimura gave the Megane a knowing look, one that warns him take caution on his subsequent course of action, or else. "As well as, why Fuji is doing it."
"I..." Tezuka fidgeted. He could feel his palm moistening in uncomfortable agitation. He understood the message passed through Yukimura's gaze, as he also understood well his past foolishness, but now that he's given another chance, he can't let it pass unresolved. "I need to go after him," Tezuka bid, moving to towards the door, when something stopped him from doing so.
"No." was Yukimura's stern answer, grabbing onto Tezuka's arm with strength concealed by his delicate features.
"But, I-" Tezuka was about to refute, but saw the blunette's expression soften, catching him off-guard.
"You just need to stay put, Tezuka," Yukimura smile, still not releasing his grasp on the Megane's arm.
"I just-," Tezuka was about to say something again, but thought it better to acknowledge the advice of one who knew his Tenshi better.
Yukimura noticed Tezuka's resolve, and was satisfied that the latter heed his advise. "Fuji will return here later," he informed the Megane. "He always does at exactly an hour after your routinely departure." This managed to catch a reaction from Tezuka, whose eyes widened in surprise. "But, as for why and what he does, that's already beyond my knowledge - he had always been the most secretive of us all, even back in our Odachi days."
"... Ah..." was all Tezuka could say, despite all the question rampaging his mind.
"Well, then, I'll leave you to your own thoughts, Tezuka," Yukimura cued, releasing his hold on Tezuka's arm. "I still need to inform the rest of the Shinigami no Shinjitsu and Seigi no Moban that our meeting with Tachibana-sensei will resume tomorrow evening, as he had an important 'engagement' he needed to attend to tonight. Ja ne!"
After Yukimura left him on his own, Tezuka brushed through the things the blunette had imparted with him. The things that happened in the past were reflected in the present, though less the hierarchal titles and empirical formalities. Then, his thoughts ran through how Mizuki had sabotage his case, and how Fuji and the Shinigami's had rescued them, without the Seigi no Moban's knowledge. Exactly the same as before. But Fuji... Does he really not remember?
Tezuka looked at his watch, and noticed it was 5 minutes to 10 in evening - 5 minutes before the Tenshi would be returning. His breath got held-up in his throat in giddy anticipation. 'What should I do? Should I confront Fuji immediately, or hide and wait? Hide...' his consciousness answered his thought. 'No, not really... I could still do some research in those few minutes of waiting. Where was that history book again? Ah, A29. I'll just stay there until he comes.' Tezuka knew he was making excuses for himself, but he got nothing else to do until the time comes.
It was 5 minutes of excruciating wait, and Tezuka couldn't help peeking a the door time and again. He soon returned the book into he shelf, finally accepting the fact, that he wouldn't be able to concentrate nor get anything done anyways, unless he had patched things up with Fuji.
And speaking of the devil, the Tensai entered the vicinity stealthily, gliding in lilt hum towards the table Tezuka occupied earlier - although he took the seat adjacent to the megane's seat. Fuji just sat there, smiling at nothing in particular... idly... serenely... picturesquely disarming... mysteriously captivating... Tezuka knew that he's falling in love with the man all over again, and allowed himself the luxury of gazing at this ethereal beauty a little longer than proper.
"Ne, how long are you going to hide behind bookshelf A29?" Fuji called amusedly, turning his head towards the said shelf. "You can come out, I don't bite."
Naturally, Tezuka was taken aback by the Tensai's sharp senses, but quickly fixed his stoic visage perfectly, before threading towards the smiling teen. "Ah, are you waiting for someone, Fuji?"
"Saa... Tezuka, right?" Fuji acknowledge the Megane's presence amiably. "No, I'm not waiting for anyone in particular."
"Hn..." Tezuka stood still, unsure of what to do next. Plus, the Tensai looking at him expectantly, just added to the pressure, and felt like his tongue dried out.
Fuji noticed Tezuka's hesitance, and chuckled as means to lighten the latter's stance. "You can take a sit with me, you know?" He cocked his head sideways indicating the seat across. "'That' is 'your' seat, is it not?"
Tezuka was relieved that his Tenshi was able to read his state, and was kind enough to make the offer of company. "Ah. Thank you," he replied, before setting his things at one side and settling down 'his' seat.
"It's okay. No need for formalities," the Tenshi smiled brilliantly. "Besides I'm a whole lot younger that you are." Unconsciously, the megane raised a brow in askance for explanation, which Fuji happily provided. "I'm a leap year baby, born on a day existent only once every four years. So, I'm just turning five this year."
"Ah." Tezuka thought it did make sense - a special birth date for an equally special person. But that wasn't what he intended to converse about. He had another purpose for meeting with Fuji, but he knew it would be wise to take things slowly this time around.
"Not much of a talker, are you, Tezuka?" Fuji asked curiously with the same pleasant plastered smile, as his hands remained crossed-over before the Megane. This facial and body language Tezuka deemed accurat
to say that Fuji definitely had his guard up. "Anyway, is there anything you need from me?"
"Why are you here, Fuji?" Tezuka cautiously asked, knowing the difficulty of the feat he wanted to overcome.
"Hmm? Well, this is the quietest part of the library, I suppose..." Fuji answered thoughtfully, but hinted of being too-simple-to-be-real. "And I think my reason is just the same as yours, ne?"
It might have been out of context or none of his business, but Tezuka reasoned with the facts testified by the blunette. "Yukimura said that you always come here this late in the evening when this place is almost empty..." He laid his evidence, omitting the part about the Megane's connection to the Tensai's actions. "Why is that?"
"Is that bad?" Fuji inquired playfully, clearly not taking the Tezuka seriously. "I'm not breaking any law, am I, future best lawyer, Tezuka-san?"
"No," Tezuka answered with an inward sigh. The Tenshi was clearly toying with him, but he was determined to see this through - intent on winning this case. "I just thought that you might have been missing something precious to you?"
"What made you think that?" Fuji answered, tilting his head in emphasis to the question.
"Well, I've noticed that since we became acquainted, you've been applying pressure on your left hand quite often," Tezuka explained his empirical observation, "even taking special attention to your ring finger."
"Do I, really?" the Tenshi asked as if he wasn't aware of his own actions. "But did it also occur to you that my left hand could've been sprained or very tired, and I'm just massaging it to relieve the tension?" Fuji replied indifferently, yet his smile verged with a challenge.
"I did," Tezuka affirmatively responded. "But, you're right-handed, Fuji, and taking in full consideration the field of study you're engaged in, makes the percentage possibility of having sprained your left very low." Logical reasoning had always been him best weapon of argument. And if this is what it takes to infiltrate the smiling facade, he's wiling to exhaust it all. "Besides, even if that small chance of mishap did occur, you wouldn't be putting that much pressure onto the muscle, because it will cause you pain and recovery will take longer."
"Logical, as I expected of your prestige," Fuji mused, as he leaned back to his seat's backrest, and consequently causing his hands to cross-over against the table once more. "You're very sharp to have picked that up. But why the interest on such triviality?"
"Because you kept doing it," was Tezuka's definitive answer. "See? You're doing it again." His gaze linger on the Tensai's hands, before returning them to the latter's face.
Fuji found it quite amusing, that Tezuka took note of his mannerisms, more so, that the lawyer wasn't reasoning in his usual stoic ways. As it appears, the tousle-haired teen was being too cautious yet less formal with his arguments. It was so like yet unlike the Tezuka, that made Fuji chuckle in its irony. "Habits die hard, I guess? But, yes," the Tensai voice softens into a lullaby, as he raised his left hand to the level of both their faces, "it does feel like something's missing..."
Tezuka looked at the raised hand in front of him, and had the urge to just grab it and hold onto it forever. But he knew that if did act on that thought, it might scare the Tenshi and drive him farther away. And he definitely didn't want that to happen 'again.' Hesitantly, he took off his necklace, and dangled his precious heirloom - only one ring presently looped, since he decided to wear its twin pair - behind Fuji's hand. "By any chance, would this be it?"
Fuji's sapphires shot open, as soon as his gaze focused on the treasured piece, unconsciously moving both his hands towards it in permission to borrow. Tezuka obligingly gave the ringed necklace to the Tensai, landing the cold metalwork onto his palms.
"Kirei~" was the first words that escaped his lips, as he run his fingers gently over the simple yet elegant gold engravings wrapped around the bluish-silver band. His features drastically softened into and adorable cherubim. "This is really a rare and beautiful piece of antiquity, Tezuka. But how could this be-" Fuji asked, but was cut short by his companion's directive query.
"You do remember me, don't you, Fuji?" Tezuka once again asked the simple question both knew was hardly such.
"I..." Fuji was caught off-guard by the question, but was determined to keep his ground. "Of course, Tezuka, we've just met. And as I told you earlier this afternoon, I never forget a face."
"You know that's not what I meant, Fuji," Tezuka mildly reprimanded. If he were to be anyone else, he might have already lost his patience by then, and would be hollering or throwing tantrums at the Tensai's stubbornness. But he is Tezuka, and he would definitely not loose control over his emotions lest he admits defeat - and that he had no intention of doing. "I'm sure you are aware of how persistent I can be, so I suggest for you to give-in and admit the truth for yourself."
Fuji leveled his gaze with Tezuka's ember orbs, matching against it with his own sharpness. The delicate angel was no longer present... rather a black angel emerged in it's place. Piercing lapis lazuli's graced his sliting almond eyes, as an intimidating smile conquered his supple pink lips, his overall feature hinting of mischievous dare. "Then what happens after that, Tezuka? What happens after I admit your hypothesis?"
"..." Tezuka didn't think Fuji would allow the conversation to proceed this fast, but now that question is turned to him, he was speechless.
"And if what you're accusing me is true, that I 'intentionally' evade accepting reality, couldn't I just continue pretending not to remember anything at all and live a new life?" Fuji kept his gaze steadfast onto Tezuka, mocking the latter's attempt at opening his heart. "Wouldn't that be much easier?"
With what the Tensai said, Tezuka was now sure of Yukimura's claim. Fuji was indeed intentionally refusing to remember everything. Or more conclusively, the Tensai does remember everything, but was intentionally evading reality. And this made Tezuka more intent in breaking through Fuji's iron-clad facade, and plied with most frank blow in his possession. "But you're not happy."
Fuji's smile hardened in place, and small cracks were prying onto his mask, yet he wasn't backing down just yet. "That's a fallacious argument, Tezuka," he chuckled antagonistically, "Argument Ad Ignorantiam and Ignoratio Elenchi, if I remember correctly."
"Ah. Perhaps," Tezuka's own stubbornness kicked-in. "But tell me this, Fuji, why the pretense? Where is the real you?" he asked in full seriousness, no one would dare lie to.
But this was Fuji he's dealing with. If there exist a loophole - no matter how small or how seemingly insignificant - this Tensai would do anything and everything to find and utilize it's full capacity. But tonight, Fuji was being too lenient, too much that it's punching his gut inside to up the intensity. "Pretending has merits barely treated with it's rightful significance..." he defended his stand. "As perhaps, no matter how much your presence makes my pounding heart hurt, I won't bleed as much if I pretend not to know you anymore..." He shrugged to appeal indifference, but he could feel his lips quiver slightly at his lies. "Or even if my body feels like burning every time your gaze pass by me, I won't scald as much if I pretend not to recognize you anymore... Or however much just hearing your voice strangles me, I won't suffocate as much if I don't remember you anymore..." The Tensai took a pause to study his companion's reaction. Tezuka remained quiet, stoic at first glance, but Fuji knew how much his words stung the lawyer inside. He went on with pushing the tousle-haired teen over the edge until truth finally stepped over Fuji's sadistic reign on wordplay. "And beyond it all, utilizing this pretentious facade prevents me from chasing you over and again..."
"What?" Tezuka was awaken from his stunned state by the Tensai's confession, unsure if he had heard them right, or had just imagined the beauty say it.
Fuji slapped himself inwardly for being so careless. With that slip of the tongue, he knew that he had nowhere else to turn to now but the truth. "I've always been around you, Tezuka, on all those countless reincarnations, but never once have you noticed, have you?" The dark angel facade was shattering, so was the smiling mask he prided perfection. He cleared the bubble of hesitation clogging his throat, and managed an embarrassed smile and a cough that sounded like a dry laugh. "Well, I'm tired of chasing after an impossible dream, even still I-" he continues, but was abruptly stopped again.
"No!" Tezuka raised his voice audibly, contradicting the silence of the evening. Stunned by his own unexpected outburst, the Megane bowed his head, as his palms clasped tightly and pleadingly atop the flatness of the desk. He steadied his voice, but failing horribly at reverting back to its norm, as it lacked the usual confidence it carried. "Please..."
'No what?' Fuji's thought scrolled. He took a deep breath for what's to come, and was now maintaining a more serene and less guarded aura. The sadist in him was enjoying Tezuka's pain, but Fuji knew everything has a limit. His grip on the ring unconsciously tightened, feeling the heat absorbed by the metal art burn against his palms. Maybe the Megane had already been punished enough, and the Tensai need not drag it on any more than necessary. Seeing the lawyer in this state made him realize that staying beside Tezuka all those years ago wasn't so fruitless after all. And it was only then that he was able to support a genuine - albiet weak - smile again, cocking his head in askance for Tezuka to continue.
"Please, Fuji," Tezuka's slightly trembling hand reached for Fuji's own, grateful enough that the latter hadn't refused not retracted then upon skin contact. "I know this is my own selfishness, but could you give us another chance?"
"Chance... us?" the Tensai asked, desperately holding down the speeding drumroll of his heart. He didn't want to get his hopes up - not that hope ever listens to him nor does he possess the capability to subdue it. For the first time in eons, he felt glad - blissfully elated -, and wished hard for this to finally be his happy ever after.
Tezuka stood from his seat, not releasing his hold on the Tenshi's hands, and slowly kneeled before Fuji. His ember gems gazing intently... lovingly... adoringly... possessively at his beloved's azure jewels, as he answered faithfully, "yes, love." He, then, released a hand to caress Fuji's soft porcelain beauty. "I'm sorry, it took me this long to confess my feelings to you, but I want you to know that my awakened soul has always only ever yearns for you." Tezuka moved closer, expressing more intimacy, as he gradually lessen the distance between them until both their foreheads were touching. "You don't have to chase after me anymore, Fuji... Because, this time, I'll be coming for you. And our promise that fateful day," the lawyer reignited a precious memory from the past. Then, he took the necklace from the Tensai's possession... unclasped the encaging chain... freed the emblem that signified their everliving vow to each other... "I will honor from now until the end of time." Tezuka, then, reached for Fuji's left hand, and gently slid the ring of eternal love onto his corazon's ring finger.
"We'll always have each other...," Tezuka kissed a promise of eternity on the medallion of their undying love.
"We'll always be part of each other's life...," Tezuka kissed an oath of commitment onto Fuji's temple.
"We'll always be together...," Tezuka kissed a pledge of faithfulness onto the Fuji's cheek.
"We'll always find each other no matter what time or space we awaken in," Tezuka gazed tenderly at his lover's softly blushing visage, and kissed a vow of timeless and infinite amour on the edge of the Fuji's luscious lips.
Then, he lowered his voice to a deep, sensual baritone, as his hand slid gently towards Fuji's neck, beckoning his love to lean in closer. "I love you, Syuusuke." Sealing their romantic relationship with a chaste but meaningful kiss on the lips.
As they slowly parted their lips, an irresistible magnet of attraction lingered between them, raising the urge for an immediate second. But Fuji knew he had to clarify himself - his feelings and words - for Tezuka, before they proceed deeper.
"Can I continue with my confession now?" Fuji softly chuckled, wanting to pause the magical moment but not diminishing the euphoria connecting their hearts. The megane raised a brow in askance, puzzled on what left unsaid in the Tensai's confession. "I was just going to say, as tiring as fruitlessly chasing after you repeatedly was," Fuji repeated, gazing tenderly at his lover beautiful ember haze, as he pulled both of them standing on their feet "Even still I could never stop loving you. You're the only one I could and would ever love, Kunimitsu, whether in the past, present, or future." Fuji slowly laced his arms around Tezuka's neck, brushing his sensual fingers through the latter's silky sand-brown locks. "I love you, my Kunimitsu, then, now, until forevermore."
This made Tezuka smile bedazzlingly, one that was reserved only for the love of his life. And, instinctively, he snaked his arms around Fuji's slender waist, effectively pulling his lover closer to himself, so that their bodies were pressed together dangerously tempting for comfort. Then, he slowly leaned his head down to his lover's ethereal beauty, and once again passionately - possessively - captured Fuji's seductive lips. Their tongues played in euphoric samba, as their hands explored the wonders of each other's heated well-tones physique, sending the deities sighing in envy.
Butterflies fluttered all about in careless bliss...
Sakura petals glided in cheeful celebration...
Fireworks bloomed magnanimously in whimsical delight...
Both were so enamoured with each other's presence so close, so real, so alive, and so passion-ridden, that they neglected to notice the silent clicking of a closing door. Although it would be more appropriate to commend Fuji on doing a perfectly good job at captivating all of his boyfriend's senses, thoroughly so that Tezuka hadn't heard a pipe off their peeping audience.
The sadist always had an affinity for vendetta, and blackmailing these subjects later on would only be the cinnamon sprinkles on top of his raspberry glazed apple pound cake - soaked in Damask Rose's natural rose water - with wasabi cream filling and white chocolate fondant overcoat. Yum~! ^-^~* Revenge had never tasted so sweet than having those unsuspecting victims completely wrapped around his slender fingers. So temptingly alluring the thought was, Fuji could just savor the spicy sweetness of it all!
Nevertheless, that could wait some other time...
Because right that moment, all that mattered to Fuji was feeling Tezuka's love fill every void time and distance stole from them...
Because in this very room - Seishun National Library's archives section, formerly, Taizhoka's personal bedroom - their love story unfolded, bearing witness to Fujiwara's pained departure from Taizhoka's life, the megane's deepest and longest regret, until the joyous fulfillment of Tezuka and Fuji's passionés de amour...
Because in this lifetime, fate and Kami-sama had finally blessed their loving union...
And nothing else could have, or would even have dared, ruin this momentous occasion for the lovers...
- (Behind closed doors) -
"Ah~ Ecstacy!" Shiraishi cooed in satisfaction. "That was a very touching conclusion for a forsaken past... No, I should say a perfect present for a blossoming new beginning," he corrected his remark, just as he felt his cellphone vibrating in his pocket. He cooly took out the gadget and read the message, which had evidently lit his entertained expression even brighter. "Well, I've got a special dinner date with my lovely, Marui Bunta," he whispered with a wink to his fellow nosey spies. "So, I'll be leaving ahead of you two lovebirds. Ja ne!" He bid them farewell and wave as he retreated to the hall exit.
After, the textbook genius was out of sight and ear-length, the nicknamed emperor of the Law Department turned to the blunette beside him. "You planned all of this to happen, didn't you, Seiichi?"
"Hmm?" Yukimura played innocent, as he snaked his arms around Sanada's firm neck, gently pulling his boyfriend closer. "Who knows, Genchirou? Love moves in mysterious ways..." the Shinigami child finished his wordplay with a beckoning kiss on his lover's lips, hinting of yet another amorous evening ahead of them...
And no more words passed afterwards than that of panting pleasure swayed by tides of passionate love-making...
^.*.^.*.^.*.^.* Love Conquers All ^.*.^.*.^.*.^.*
Transformations and Translations...
Tezuka Kunimitsu - Taizhoka Ryuujimitsu
Fuji Syuusuke - Fujiwara Syuuzaku
Atobe Keigo - Atokugawa Kobei
Kabaji - Kojimaru
Echizen Ryoma - Echinoze Masaryo
Sanada Genchirou - Sawada Genjo
Shiraishi Kuranosuke - Shitenji Kuranokawa
Yukimura Seiichi - Yukamichi Seiran
Jiroh Akitagawa - Jitagawa Akihiro
Sengoku Kiyosumi - Shinjoku Kumiyoshi
Marui Bunta - Masarui Natsuba
Tezuka's okaasan, Anaya - Lady Ayane
Tezuka's otousan, Kuniharu - Lord Ryuujiharu
Tezuka's oyaji, Kunikazu - Lord Ryuujikazu
Fuji's okaasan, Yoshiko - Lady Yukari
Fuji' née-san, Yumiko - Shrine Maiden Yukihime
Fuji's otouto, Yuuta - Yamato
Oishi Shuichiro - Otonashi Shujiro
Sakuno - Sakura
Tomoka - Tsukino
Tachibana Kippei - Tachihara Kazuo
Mizuki Hajime - Minozuki Himajime
Kami no Seifukusha - Conquerors of gods
Odachi no Bara - Roses of the Great Sword
Seigi no Moban - Gatekeepers of Justice
Shinigami no Shinjitsu - Death gods of Truth
kareno shintai, seimei to tamashii, kento tateni sa re masu - his body, life and soul be your sword and shield