I... I know it's been awhile. So, sorry. Life has kept me busy.

Note: Edo-AU, epic failure of few scenes. The summary needs some changes, da?


A breath caught in Kagami's throat. Kagami could barely control his body's urge to bolt. So many thoughts, memories of their first encounter, and emotions surged through him, coiling up into a ball in the pit of his stomach right then that he could hardly think. Embarrassment, relief, even slight happiness for the appearance of the navy haired samurai swept through him.

"The hell?!" the pig's gruffy voice thundered through the sullen silence, yet it didn't break the thick tension between them. "This kitten belongs to me!" the grip on Kagami's front hakama grew stronger. Kagami just realized the pig hadn't released his hakama yet despite the sword rested dangerously on his fat chin.

"Ah, ah, ah," the samurai warned in a sing-song voice, tipping up the sword a little higher. The pig huffed out a breath in protest. "He might be yours another day, but tonight the kitten's mine. I've paid him to be my companion for tonight," he smirked.

That got his attention. Kagami didn't remember he received any order from the main house to entertain any costumer that night. At least not yet. He discreetly exchanged looks with his okiya. From Kuroko's confused look, he figured his okiya was thinking the same.

"It is advisable to keep your hand off him, like right now," the smirk on his tanned face grew wider.

The fat man picked up his tone. "Who are you to order me around—"

The words died on the pig's lips as soon as the sword swiftly sliced along the fat arm that held Kagami's hakama. It happened so fast that the world seemed to stop. Kagami was too startled to move. In a split second, he saw red paint across the blackish sky and a tanned hand snake towards him. The fat man gave a loud pathetic cry, more blood gushing out of the long cut, and the moment the grip on Kagami's hakama had loosened, Kagami was yanked away from the pig, and he suddenly found himself inside the samurai's strong embrace.

His heart arrested for a moment.

The samurai's sudden attack prompted the other four to stand up on their guard. They had daggers in their hands, preparing to attack the samurai. The fat man had his bleeding hand retreated to his chest, groaning in pain. Kuroko, glancing around, had no choice but to leap to the samurai's side. He slipped his hand to tug at his maiko's sleeve.

"Kagami-kun…" he whispered.

The group began to circle around them warningly. The pig hissed a curse under his breath, hatred and anger glimmering in his black eyes.

Nonetheless, the samurai kept smirking and had his hand holding Kagami close to his body, his sword ringing as he pointed it forward at the group circling them, specifically the fat man in front of him.

Meanwhile, Kagami latched his hands onto the samurai's hakama. Fear, trauma coursed through his body. No, he didn't want this to happen. Not another fight. Despite the things the fat man had done to him, Kagami didn't wish to see more blood, or even worst a death.

'Please stop fighting—'

One of them lunged forward with a war cry. The samurai raised his sword up high in the air. Kagami screwed his eyes shut.

"Oh my, what's going on here?" a chirpy voice had them stopped in their track. Kagami snapped open his eyes. Everyone whipped their heads toward the voice.

Not far from them, two men were walking in their direction. Pattering of clogs grew louder and louder. It was dark at first, but when the moonlight shone over them, Kagami finally could take in their features.

The blonde had a broad smile lit up his chiseled face. Long lashes, honey colored eyes, quite tall, and light aura about him, while his companion was much shorter with short black hair, stormy gray eyes, slightly muscular arms folded over his chest, and stern look that seemed to etch on his face forever. Both were dressed in light blue haori and hakama over the white kimono, with a tasuki (a white cord) crossed over the chest and tied in the back.

And Kagami didn't miss the swords they were carrying on their hips.

From their dress, Kagami instantly recognized the newcomers—they were yoriki (samurai police; second rank in police hierarchy after Machi-bugyou).

"Ah, Kise…" the samurai muttered, bringing the sword back to his side.

"Kuso, yoriki!" a scrawny male shrieked. At his warning, the group began to gather closer to each other, closer to the fat man.

"Mind telling me what's going on here?" the stormy gray-eyed yoriki asked in a firm voice, one hand resting on his sword.

The fat man rushed closer to the newcomers with ragged breaths, and went down to his knees, as if begging for sympathy. He made sure the yoriki noticed his bleeding hand by shoving it closer to the stormy gray-eyed yoriki. "That bastard…" he began while panting heavily. "He attacked me! He sliced my hand! Arrest him!"

"Is that so? He attacked you?" the blonde asked in a chirpy voice. He hummed thoughtfully, playfully. "But from what I'm looking at now, it seems you and your friends attacked them. He simply defended that redhead."

"What?! No!"

"Then, what are your friends doing circling them with daggers in their hands? Drama show?"

The fat man was taken aback by the counter the blonde had come up with. So were the other four, and they quickly hid their daggers behind their backs. The navy haired samurai snorted.

"But he attacked me! I'm bleeding, injured!" the fat man protested.

"Then you should get going by now, treating your wound," the stormy gray-eyed yoriki chided in. "It's no use to seek help from us. The samurai you claim attacked you is Aomine Daiki, who is serving under our daimyo."

That took them by surprise. And Kuroko, too.

And Kagami, too. He shot his gaze up at the samurai (still inside the samurai's embrace). The samurai noticed his perplexed look and smirked, mouthing 'nice to meet you too, Kagami Taiga.' Kagami's face turned to shade of pink.

'He remembers my name!'

"And what? Because he's a hanamoto means he can get away just like that?! Not fair! Corrupted yoriki!" the fat man exploded.

The navy haired samurai winced a little under his breath at the loud scream. "Oh lords, he got a set of lungs."

Even the expressionless Kuroko cringed at the loud protest and leaned closer to the samurai slowly.

The blonde frowned. "Hey, heavy accusation you've got there. It might send you to jail, you know. Just keep this down, okay? Anything involved with Aomine Daiki might pull some strings inside, and dear Kami-sama, we do not wish to taint our hands with some weird, confusing political games. Akashi-dono is quite scary when he's angry."

"But—"

The blonde didn't let him to finish his protest by turning to the samurai. "Aominecchi~ do something, will you?"

"Aomine, say something," his shorter companion chimed in. "The least you can do is offer him something in return, free treatment for his wound you inflicted, maybe?"

"Yeah, whatever, free treatment, under my name, satisfied?" the samurai waved off dismissively.

"What—"

A clap from the stormy gray-eyed yoriki indicated the end of their argument, hushing the buzzing complains emerging from the group. "Get moving before I decide to arrest you and your friends for carrying dangerous weapons without permission," he expressed his warning crystal clear, complete with a stern look and thinned lips. "You should've known our shogun only allows samurais to bring weapons, and our shogun's words are absolute. I could care less who is your father or what is your role for the society, rules are rules!"

"Move, move," the blonde shoved them away playfully. "Kasamatsu-san's not in a good mood right now. Move, move."

The pig groaned, then shot the samurai and Kagami a look before scampering with his group. Kagami shivered inside the samurai's embrace. He knew that look, the warning that had flashed across those black eyes. It promised him unsettling future if he was ever encountered with the pig again (which he thought he would definitely meet that fat man again in the future).

"Hey, you okay?" the samurai's deep voice summoned Kagami out of his brooding.

Kagami looked up to match his gaze with the samurai's, then realized he was still inside the samurai's embrace. Kagami quickly peeled himself off of the samurai on pure instinct, rapidly shaking his head, red rushing to his face. His heart was beating violently in his chest.

"At least he's fine, na?" said the blonde yoriki. He ambled closer to Kagami with a broad smile adorned his face. "You're not injured, aren't you—"

"He's fine, thank you so much for your concern," said Kuroko suddenly, who had appeared between them, giving a deep bow courteously to the blonde. The blonde yelped loudly, his companion had a surprise look on his face, and the samurai backed away a little in response.

"Since when you've been there?!" asked the samurai.

"For the entire time," Kuroko angled his body towards the samurai. "I've been keeping myself close to Kagami-kun and you."

"Eh?! But I didn't see you at all!" the blonde remarked.

Kuroko frowned. The samurai wore a disbelief look and the blonde was still confused while the shorter yoriki tried to soak in the information or Kuroko's weak presence. Kagami let himself smile at the scene playing in front of him.

"Anyway, you should be more careful next time," said the shorter yoriki—Kagami believed he heard his name something like 'Kasamatsu-san'. "And you, Aomine Daiki," he threw a firm reprimand look to the samurai. "I've had enough with the troubles you caused. Having your uncle as one of Machi-bugyou and yourself being as one of hanamoto does not give you free tickets to get into troubles. Remember, I didn't get to arrest those troublemakers because I can't let your name get tainted!"

The samurai sheathed his sword back, pouting.

Kagami found the pouting look on the samurai's face so amusing. He inwardly chuckled and wondered what faces the samurai would make if he whispered sweet nothings into the samurai's ears in raspy voice while running his fingers along that abs underneath that bandage, or sank his hand into that navy hair, or grazed his lips against that tanned skin, or latched his teeth onto that plump lower lip, or lapped his tongue over the tip of the samurai's cock—

Kagami halted himself from thinking further. What was wrong with his mind, imagining those things while the samurai was there, standing just a few feet away from him?! He could feel his body temperature rising, ears reddening. The samurai tilted his head to Kagami with a concern look and a whisper of 'hey, you okay?' Kagami shook his head rapidly. No, He could never let the samurai read the dirty thoughts that flooded through his mind. Kagami grabbed his okiya's wrist and gave a quick bow. "I'm sorry, but we have to go now! Thank you so much for everything!" Kagami swung a large step to flee, but a grip on his shoulder yanked him back facing the samurai, midnight eyes piercing into his.

Kagami sucked a sharp breath, heart thrumming loudly.

"Where do you think you're going?" the samurai hissed.

"My apologies, Aomine Daiki-sama, but Kagami-kun is right," Kuroko interrupted. As much as he despised going back to the evil nest, having to witness his maiko waddling through another nightmare with those perverted customers, they had to or Hanamiya-sama would have their heads. "We have to head back to the main house as soon as possible. Customers are probably waiting for us—"

"Customers, huh?" the samurai named Aomine Daiki cut in. "Fine, how about you and this fierce redhead serve me tonight?"

"What?" Kagami was stunned.

Those yoriki gave Kagami and Kuroko a look. A knot of embarrassment in Kagami's stomach bloomed into disgust. He lowered his gaze to his feet, hands balling into fists. He hated it when people gave him a look at the mention of his job.

"Aominecchi, I don't think that's a good idea," the blonde named Kise, who seemed to get the hint, gave the samurai a disapproval look. "Imayoshi-san won't like it."

"What he doesn't know won't hurt him," the samurai smirked at the blonde suggestively, pulling Kagami closer to him. Kagami blushed harder. The samurai looked at the shorter yoriki. "Na, Kasamatsu-san?"

Kasamatsu-san scratched his head for a moment, another hand on his hip, sighing deeply, looking exasperated. Then he narrowed his stormy gray eyes to the samurai. "Fine, do whatever you want. I won't tell anything to Imayoshi-san. I see nothing, I never see a hair of you too."

"Great!" the samurai cheered.

"Hold on, Kasamatsu-san," Kise chimed in. "It's not a great idea to leave—"

"He'll do it anyway," Kasamatsu-san concluded firmly. "Doesn't matter if you get to stop him or not. He's too stubborn."

The samurai flashed a smug smirk.

"But, we have to tell the main house first," Kuroko butted in.

"It's fine," averred the samurai. "Kise will tell them, okay?" then, he threw a bag of coins to the blonde, which Kise successfully caught it in his hands.

"What? Me?!" Kise shrieked, pointing his fingers to himself. The bag made noisy sounds as he moved. "What makes you think I want to help you?!"

"The fact that your face tells me you're eager to know this guy's name," the samurai jerked his head to Kuroko. His okiya looked baffled while the blonde flustered, rubbing the nape of his neck sheepishly.

Kasamatsu-san kicked his companion in the shin. "Snap out of it, idiot."

"Su—sure, sure," the blonde pattered towards Kuroko. "If you don't mind, your name and your companion's, and the house you're working at, so I could inform the main house," his tone was gentle, the grin on his chiseled face stretching.

His okiya hesitated at first, then gave in. "Kuroko… Kuroko Tetsuya," at the revelation of his name, the blonde's face lit up. Kuroko patted on Kagami's arm. "And this is Kagami Taiga, my maiko. We're working for Hanamiya Makoto-sama."

"Hanamiya Makoto, huh?" reiterated Kasamatsu-san. "The House of Water Lily, right?"

"Yes," his okiya nodded shortly, and it earned him a thoughtful hum from the shorter yoriki with knitted brows. Kuroko tilted his head, asking in a soft voice; "Is there anything wrong, Kasamatsu-sama?"

"No… I remember it's under Imayoshi-san's…" murmured Kasamatsu-san to himself before shaking his head. Then, he picked up his voice a little. "It's nothing. You done, Kise? We have to get going."

Kise nodded eagerly.

"Good. We, too, shall take our leave," said the samurai while holding Kagami's and Kuroko's wrist, smirking and dragging them away.

Kagami's heart thumped harder at the smirk the samurai's was wearing, and at the firm grip on his wrist. Warmness blossomed in his chest. His mouth refused to work, couldn't form any words, too startled to speak. He allowed the samurai to lead their way without protests, and was glad the moonlight was too dim for the samurai to notice the hues of pink that dusting across his cheeks.

For once, he didn't mind if he was to serve the samurai that night.

-x-x-x-

Kagami awed at the sight presented before him.

Tanabata festival. He was actually attending Tanabata festival! Feeling foreign at the hustling crowds and loud sounds produced playing in his ears, Kagami kept himself close to the samurai with thumping heart. Here at Shinagawa the Eastern Sea Road swung along Edo Bay in a half-moon curve. The broad promenade was hung with colorful woven balls and lanterns with paper tails that swung and swirled in the breeze, brilliant as the threads on the weaver princess's loom. People crowded beneath the decorations, dancing and singing and shouting merrily.

Higgledy-piggledy along the water's edge were stalls piled with amulets, purses, paper dolls and strings of origami cranes. Long-haired men with black-painted eyes thrust flasks of toad oil—guaranteed to heal every ailment, they said—at passers-by. There were juggles, comic dancers and hawkers offering boat rides around the bay, and mouth-watering smells issued from stalls where men with scarves knotted rakishly around their heads grilled octopus and squid.

Oh boy, the sweet smell of grilled octopus seduced Kagami. It made his mouth water. He swallowed thickly.

"You hungry?" asked the samurai with a smirk, pulling Kagami out of his reverie.

Kagami shook his head. "No—not really," despite his stomach, Kagami was too embarrassed to request anything from the samurai. The samurai had saved him from the pig, and he'd (without realizing it, Kagami deemed) saved him from going through another nightmare waiting for him at the main house. Kagami didn't want to owe the samurai another debt. His pride wouldn't let him.

The samurai remained impassive. "Give me your hand," he said.

Clueless, Kagami held out his palm. Then coins fell onto his open palm. He snapped his head up to the samurai.

The samurai smiled. "Buy something for yourself."

"But—"

"I'm your customer, right? You're mine tonight and you must obey my words. And I told you to buy something for yourself, so go and buy something," his tone was stern, yet Kagami could feel warmness lilt to it.

Kagami clutched the coins close to his heart as if it was the most precious gift to him. His chest felt warmer and warmer. He let a broad grin play across his face for the samurai, whispering; "Thanks."

The samurai looked surprised at first, then melted into a pleasant smirk. "Sure. Now, shoo and get me some food too."

With a loud shout of agreement, Kagami slunk into the crowds with pumping heart.


Awww~ spoilsport. Sorry about that. Gimme some time to pry more about Japan Edo setting and Tanabata festival, 'kay?

Anyway, putting that aside for a moment, I'm kind of unsure the suitable title for Akashi, because in this fanfic, Akashi is a daimyo, and daimyo and shogun are two different persons. Anyone, help?