Kyuzo hated Kambei Shimada.
Usually he didn’t bother with hating people, even if they annoyed him. He could always easily get rid of anyone he found not worth his time with either disappearing into the shadows or just a flick of his sword. But this was so much more different than Kyuzo has ever felt or could imagine.
He hadn’t imagined their first fight would be life changing. He just saw another samurai he needed to strike down quickly and it would be over with. But there was something different about Kambei. They almost seemed even matched judged by the way they had their blades on each other’s throats. But no, in the end Kyuzo had certainly won the fight.
He should have killed the man then and there. He almost thought about it too. This man spoke to him about love in the midst of battle. Kyuzo shouldn’t have tolerated such an act that actually managed to have caught him off guard. It was almost embarrassing how much Kyuzo had lost his focus at those words. He was a trained samurai, an assassin, he shouldn’t have felt something at that.
But now there he was, along on some stupid mission to save some farmers, all because he had this deep rooted need to be with the samurai he had fought. It was only so he could ensure the samurai was not killed by any other external forces of course. He was only coming along so he could make sure he was the one who striked Kambei down. There was nothing more to his decision.
But of course the other had to make things more complicated than they should have been. He spoke to Kyuzo with questions of the past and idle wonderings of how he was doing. It was so ridiculous to the trained assassin. To him all of these men were untrained and too weak with their constant talking and laughter. While Kyuzo would spend his energy observing his surroundings as they moved, the others would talk and joke with each other. It disgusted him. He usually worked alone on past missions, but the few times he was in a team, they would barely talk at all.
He didn’t like these new and unpredictable dynamics. They were just distracting him and serving no purpose for their goal.
But even more than he hated the rest of them talking, he hated when Kambei would have the gull to talk to him as if he was one of them. And he couldn’t stand the fact that despite every inch of his mind telling him he should just ignore the man, he actually answered his questions. Hell, he even enjoyed when the man would come over with that annoying smile and ask him how he was doing. Kyuzo would try to keep his sentences brief and not give any clues to the bubbling feelings inside, but somehow he was sure Kambei was beginning to notice.
He had tried to distance himself away from the samurai. He would take more watches instead of being with the rest of them at night, and during their briefings and discussions of plans he would sit on the sidelines. He was never one to do any planning ahead of time anyways. He was usually sent head first into missions and unknown territory he could easily map out as he went along in the past. Kambei would immediately notice when the red coated samurai would wander off though and would disguise his wish for Kyuzo to come closer by asking Kyuzo to come and see the map they had laid out.
“It looks fine.”, he would say even though he didn’t really study it which would earn an almost disappointed face on the other man’s face which would almost make Kyuzo’s lip twitch. Damn this man and how he affected him.
He had called to take on watch one night which did not earn any sort of objections predictably, but still Kambei decided to follow him out to the tree Kyuzo sat on. He almost jumped off the branch to further avoid the samurai when he heard him climb up.
They were sitting too close on the branch, their clothed legs barely touching. Kyuzo tried not to seem effected by it or the idiotic words Kambei had to say, but he failed miserably and admitted what he was thinking.
“Weird?”, Kambei had asked with a damned amused look on his face that made Kyuzo want to push the man off the branch. Why did he say that? Yes it may have been the truth, but he shouldn't have shown weakness around the taller samurai. He was supposed to kill this man when their goal was reached for god’s sake. It was getting more difficult to want to strike Kambei down when he would brush Kyuzo’s hair to the side so tenderly like that.
Kambei wore his gloves when he did that, the cloth barely touching Kyuzo’s cheek and Kyuzo had to clench his hands to resist leaning into the damn hand. Things were getting increasingly confusing.
“I enjoy your company.”, Kambei had said and Kyuzo hummed in response so he didn’t have to pick apart the thoughts and feelings in his head to grace an answer to that question. Instead he just stayed silent and tried to ignore how he felt nice sitting next to the other samurai.
Much to his own annoyance, Kyuzo decided to stop avoiding Kambei. Not that he actually wanted to be near the samurai or anything, no, he just thought it was getting tedious and distracting trying to steer clear from the man. That was the only reason why.
Kambei didn’t hide the fact he thoroughly enjoyed the fact the samurai wasn’t steering clear from him. He would have that damned relaxed smile on his face whenever it was those rare moments of peace in between the battles they’ve had. Kyuzo didn’t want to admit he was starting to really like that smile. Thoughts like those made him conflicted on whether he wanted to kiss the man or run a sword through him. Those thoughts were silly and distracting though. What was the point of brushing two lips together anyways? He never saw the point in it, nor did he ever have any interest in doing it, until this damn man came around.
Kyuzo hated being weak more than anything, and Kambei Shimada without a doubt was making him weaker. He would make Kyuzo’s heart accelerate by just moving closer to him, and he would make Kyuzo jump with slightest touches. A simple brush of their fingers as they walked a little too close to each other would send chills down Kyuzo’s spine.
The fact that Kyuzo would barely flinch at any swords flying his way, but seemed to be dumbfounded by Kambei’s warm smile made him want to jump into their rematch right away and get rid of whatever these feelings are. He knew quite well that deep down he was unable to get rid of this man though.
So after his failed attempt at keeping himself away from the man, he decided he’ll build a tolerance to whatever effect this man was having on him. It was how he learned how to brush off things like pain, so this shouldn’t be any different right?
But the more he spent trying to ignore his feelings while next to the samurai, the more he’d find his feelings growing. It didn’t make sense to him, it all was horribly wrong.
The two were idly standing afar from the others while they set up camp to rest for the night after fighting some more bandits. The conversation had started off with wonderings if there were more close by, but then it morphed into something else right under Kyuzo’s nose.
“The sunset looks quite beautiful today.”, Kambei had said.
Kyuzo didn’t say anything. The sun was setting like it did everyday, so what? He looked over at Kambei and his heart started beating fast again when he saw the man was looking at him.
“What?”, Kyuzo found himself saying which just caused Kambei to smile a bit.
“Nothing..Just thinking. You look similar to a sunset yourself.”, Kambei said which almost made Kyuzo frown. What the hell did that even mean?
“I don’t understand.”, He said as he looked away. He looked towards the sunset again and saw the varying shades or red and yellow reflecting off the clouds in the sky and he narrowed his eyes.
“Kyuzo..”, Kambei said. He looked conflicted for a second before sighing and shaking his head. “I’m calling you beautiful you know.”
Kyuzo tried to contain his surprise at that. He thinks about what the other just said and can’t understand why his heart is beating too fast. He’s been called beautiful a couple of times. Mostly his employers would say his work was beautiful or his skills were when he’d do a simple trick like cutting through metal with a swipe of his sword. But he wasn’t doing anything right now. He was just standing there.
Kambei looks at him with curiosity, but also..worry? Kyuzo frowns and feels his cheeks heat up a bit.
“You are confusing.”, He says. Kambei lets out a breath he was holding and smiles a bit.
“Am I?”, He asks amused. Kyuzo just nods. “How come?”
“I am not doing anything.”, He says and Kambei looks confused at the words which makes Kyuzo huff.
“You don’t have to do anything to be beautiful. You just are.”, Kambei says. He smiles. “You are also quite beautiful on the inside from the glimpses I’ve seen..”
“You haven’t seen my insides..”, Kyuzo says and Kambei actually laughs. Kyuzo narrows his eyes. Why was he laughing when he was the one being so confusing?
“No- I mean that I like the way you are.”, Kambei says and Kyuzo considers the words. Maybe Kambei was still talking about his fighting skills, but he was giving him a look that was so warm that Kyuzo found himself swallowing.
“Ah.”, He says because he doesn’t know what else to say but knows he’ll look like a fool staying silent at that. He considers Kambei. He’s never really found enjoyment talking or being with anyone else before. But here he was, not wanting to leave the other’s side despite how much he’s been trying to squash such feelings. He looks at the other’s face. He was quite beautiful too.
“Kyuzo.”, Kambei says as he takes Kyuzo’s hand. Kyuzo almost jumps at the touch. The man isn’t wearing his usual white gloves, and the feeling of the warm hand around his feels scalding, but he can’t find himself wanting to move away. He considers their hands. They were both scarred, but Kambei’s hand was bigger than his. He looks at the man’s face.
“Can I kiss you?”, Kambei asks simply. Kyuzo’s surprise must show because Kambei says, “You can say no.”
“I have no experience in this.”, Kyuzo says. He immediately feels stupid for saying that. Admitting weakness in any field was something he didn’t do, but it was getting infuriatingly easy to talk to the other samurai. Kambei’s eyes widen at that, but he smiles and shakes his head.
“That’s alright.”, Kambei says and Kyuzo rolls the offer in his mind.
“Ok.”, He says. He tries to keep his face straight despite the fast beating of his heart and the betraying blush on his face. He sees the taller samurai lean down and he blinks when he puts his lips against his. Kyuzo doesn’t move at first. It feels like electricity just shot down his spine and he almost jumps at the surprise of it. He closes his eyes and tries to follow Kambei’s movements back. He feels Kambei put a hand on his waist and he feels dizzy from it all. He wonders for a moment if he’s been poisoned, but he knows the thought is ridiculous.
He hums into the kiss, a small sound that he wants to take back as soon as he makes it, but he feels Kambei’s smile against his lips and tries not to think about how weak he must seem. This felt..very nice.
When they pull apart Kyuzo has to top himself from pulling the other into another kiss. He instead watches as Kambei looks at him. Kyuzo must look ridiculous from the way his eyes are wide and his cheeks are flaring. His lips still tingle and he resists the urge to put a hand over them. He puts on a straight face.
“That was fine.”, He says. Kambei chuckles a bit.
“Just fine? I’ll have to do better next time..”, He says and Kyuzo blinks. So there will be a next time?
He notices Kambei still holding his hand. It felt natural. Kyuzo thinks he doesn’t mind having this weakness so much anymore. He holds Kambei’s hand back which causes Kambei to look at him in surprise. Kyuzo has to try really hard to keep himself from smiling.