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Tokine walked to school. She looked behind. There was a difference. A part of the puzzle was missing. The boy who followed her, was nowhere to be seen. Tokine looked behind. Still there was no trace of Yoshimori. It made her uneasy.
Though she always told him not to follow her, a part of her always wanted him to. She loved to tease him and scold him for his laziness. But it was really saddening for Yoshimori not appearing beside her, right at this moment.
"Yoshimori…" she said.
"Tokine?" she heard a voice. Tokine turned around. "Yoshimori?"
"Who?" asked a boy. It was her classmate. Tokine bowed and walked forward.
The class was as usual. The teachers appreciated her for her attentiveness.
The students talked, laughed and walked home. Yoshimori was nowhere to be seen.
Tokine wished to go earlier to Karasumori that evening. If she could just ask him, why he took leave that day. She did her homework and hurried to call hakubi.
"hakubi…hakubi, come on…let's go!" she rushed.
"Why so hurry, honey?" hakubi asked.
She did not speak. When hakubi was ready, they both moved to Karasumori.
'Where is that idiot?' was her first thought. Yoshimori was not there.
'Was I too harsh? Was I hard on him?' Tokine asked herself.
"Yoshimori…" she remembered calling him and slapping him on the face. "…don't be so selfish…you always, always play the fool…but this time you were the worst and greatest fool ever. Do you understand how many people were worried and tried to help you?" she remembered her words to him after their arrival from kokuboro.
"I'm sorry" he had told her.
"I won't forgive you." She had told him.
'Oh, how mean I was…' Tokine thought to herself. A tear fell down on her cheek.
"If you do this again, and disappear someday, I, I" she remembered all of it.
'I was too harsh. I know I was but how was he supposed to leave me behind and go to fight kaguro? How dare he get into that terrific place? What if something had happened to him…what will I…' she stopped dead. She couldn't get a conclusion to her words. What would she have done if Yoshimori never came back alive? Who was he, to her?
Again, a flash of the previous day's events came into her head.
"I… sorry! Tokine…I…uh, I'm stupid, so I had to go…if I hadn't avenged Shishio, I couldn't have gone on. Sorry…I'm sorry…" he had told her. He was right. Gen was their friend, and he was so stupid to leave her alone. A few more tears made their way through her cheeks.
"Ho…ney?" hakubi called out. Tokine at once wiped off those tears and moved on.
Everything was back to normal. There was no kokuboro anymore… but only small small ayakashis that came to seek the spiritual energies of Karasumori, like before.
"Over here!" said Hakubi.
Tokine moved faster. "Hoi"
She shouted. "Joso"
"Ketsu!" an ayakashi in a dark shape was captured inside her kekkai.
"Metsu! Tenketsu!" it was completely destroyed.
"Neat!" said Hakubi "however you seem not in the spirit!"
"I'm fine…and I don't think there'd be any more difficulties in guarding Karasumori anymore. Because it is now like the old times!"
"You're right!" said a voice. Tokine looked around to see Yoshimori's grand father Shigemori Sumimura. "That kekkai was accurate!" he said. "However it lacked strength!"
Tokine bowed. Then asked him "where is Yoshimori?"
Shigemori just closed his eyes and shook his head. "That fool is suffering from a severe body ache. I know he's just acting he could have come today."
Tokine's eyes widened. "What happened to Yoshimori?" she asked him, her voice even louder.
"His body is full of scratches…and then, he used abundant energy to create a zekkai yesterday. I don't know how but he had no problem in producing a zekkai that strong."
Tokine nodded. "He sure is powerful."
Shigemori at once blinked then changed his tone "we, all the Sumimuras are powerful! As you know"
Hakubi was restless. Tokine just kept quiet. Tokiko Yukimura should have been there, a war might have begun.
She moved and sat on a rock, immersed herself in her own thoughts. Yoshimori was hurt. She should have checked out on him. She knew that he was suffering. But her consciousness wasn't allowing her to ask his grand father about him.
"Tokine, you must take care!" Shigemori told her as he walked closer. "I can't come tomorrow, I won't be at home. And I'm afraid that Yoshimori too. So it's your duty tomorrow to guard Karasumori. Ask Tokiko to do it tomorrow!"
Tokine was still sad. Yoshimori was not seen anywhere. He did not come to school.
"I don't know what I should do" said Tokine to her friend.
"He's not well and why not meet him?"
"But…" said Tokine, then suddenly something struck her. She wouldn't have to be embarrassed. Shigemori Sumimura will not be at home. She could meet Yoshimori.
"Oh…you're a genius!" said Tokine to her friend.
"What?" she asked.
And Tokine ran to her house. Her thoughts were filled with Yoshimori.
Her hair swished as she ran. She desperately hoped to hear Yoshimori's voice. But it was not anywhere. He wasn't following her. He was at home, sick and unwell.
Tokine ran faster. She got into her room and changed. She then started making a cake. She was not an expert at it. But all those times, when Yoshimori had given her his cakes, they tasted too well. 'Maybe he'll like it if I gift him a cake.' She thought to herself.
About an hour later, Tokine took her cake and some flowers and started walking to the Sumimura house.
Just as expected, Shigemori was not there. Yoshimori's father opened the door.
"Yoshimori…" she said as she bowed.
"Oh come in Tokine, it's nice to see you. He's in his room."
Tokine got in and moved to see Yoshimori.
"He even told about you today morning…" said Yoshimori's father to himself.
Tokine looked at him. But he had already gotten into the kitchen.
She opened the door "Yoshimori…"
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