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I'm in love (with more than just your skill..)

Chapter Text

Kambei wasn’t one to use the word love so freely, but the word slipped off the tip of his tongue when he first fought the samurai in the red coat.

He wasn’t sure why he said it. He brushed it off as trying to distract the man, but he knew it was foolish to not admit even in the midst of the battle there was something there. He was enamored by the way Kyuzo gracefully moved. With the feel of the blonde’s blade just against his throat, and the weight of his own sword in his own hand doing the same to the other he couldn’t help but say it.

“I’m in love.”

There was a period at the end. He’s sure everyone knew that. Kyuzo appeared to understand that quite well with the way his red eyes widened at the admittance. Kambei had of course used that opportunity to escape the one to one hold they had on each other, but he couldn’t just let those words hang heavy in the air so he said the next words as smooth as he could muster.

“With your skill that is..”

It was lame. Kambei knew very well what a cheap cop out it was, but it must have done its job well because the look of slight confusion that the other samurai wore melted back into the cool indifference he wore so well.

He was one to know when he was dealing with someone with more skill and power, and it had quickly become apparent that was the case between the two. Kyuzo was a well disguised bomb. Despite being short and slimmer than Kambei, he had easily cornered him and arguably won the fight. It was almost beautiful to see the man easily cut through the metal pipes he had started chucking at the man in a last ditch effort, but sadly he couldn’t just sit back and watch the samurai move so gracefully.

Kambei had asked the other to stop the fight out of breath with a smile on his face. Kyuzo didn’t look amused at first, his lip twitching as if he was disappointed. But, the man had smirked deviously, making a show out of inching towards Kambei and raising his sword, only to put away his swords and walk away.

“I don’t feel like doing this anymore.”, Kyuzo had said like a child when he got bored with a toy. “Let’s do this some other time.”

Kambei had watched Kyuzo walk away almost regrettably. Despite the samurai almost easily killing him, he didn’t want to see the other walk away.

“I want him.”, He said as he watched the other walk away until he couldn’t be seen. He put a hand over the small cut that Kyuzo’s sword had left on his neck knowing that a similar cut was on the other. Maybe he had meant those words more than just wanting Kyuzo to join their mission. Maybe not.

It was nothing short of a miracle that Kyuzo decided to later join their mission, and a miracle that Kambei took well. Maybe he should be a little concerned that the only reason the blonde decided to join their misfit gang of samurais was only so he could have a rematch with Kambei after, but that didn’t matter to Kambei. He was almost excited to have that dance with Kyuzo again even if he would most certainly lose.

But for now, he had to put off the lingering desire for that rematch. He had promised Kiara and the rest of the farmers his help, and he couldn’t make use of that promise dead. So he made do with watching the samurai from afar.

Kyuzo was unsurprisingly not one to mingle with the rest. He would often announce he was going to take watch when no one asked of him and would sit apart from the rest when they would stop to take a break. The rest of them would make quiet jokes about it, not daring to be heard by the blonde samurai of course.

Kikuchiyo would make comments about how Kyuzo must be shy which would earn him a collective shut ups or shushes from the rest due to his inability to keep his voice down. But if Kyuzo ever heard the comments made about him he didn’t say. He didn’t say much in general.

At first it didn’t bother Kambei. He knew from their brief battle alone that Kyuzo must be one who keeps to himself. But it still didn’t stop his persistent urge to want to know more about the other.

He was the only one who tried to break through the other’s wall. Due to his threatening nature the others would try to keep their interactions brief. Sometimes Katsushiro would ask him questions due to his annoyingly curious nature and admiration for greater samurais which would often earn him one word responses or just a glare that would scare him off. Kambei couldn’t find himself to be very scared of the skilled samurai though. Kyuzo couldn’t kill him until they had their rematch after all.

Which is why he started taking the opportunity to talk to him besides things other than their attack plans. He would ask about Kyuzo’s life before, and how he came to be a samurai. Kyuzo always seemed unamused by the questions and would often give Kambei a glare that would have had the others backing away, but Kambei would just grace the look with a smile. It was almost adorable in an odd way how the usually graceful and powerful samurai would seem at a loss for words at simple conversation. It was also concerning to say the least.

Eventually, Kyuzo’s one worded answers grew longer. Kyuzo would keep a straight face as he nonchalantly made a comment about how he was trained since the day he was born. How he saw his first battle at the age of twelve and has won every battle since. He said it as if it was something to be shrugged off but Kambei had frowned at the admittance. It was no wonder why the man didn’t know a thing about how to talk to people or basic customs. The man was so convinced he was a weapon that he forgot he was even human.

Kambei wanted nothing more than to shake these thoughts out of the samurai. It was becoming painfully clear how little Kyuzo cared in regard to his own life as they went along their journey. While in the midst of fighting, Kambei would notice that despite Kyuzo's appearingly graceful and successful attacks, the man was quite reckless. It irked him to no end how many risks Kyuzo would take in the midst of battle. Kambei wasn't sure why the blonde did it. He knows Kyuzo doesn't particularly care about showing off, so it didn't make sense.

"Why are you so reckless in battle?", Kambei had asked after they defeated a few bandits. Kyuzo looked over, his face blank.

"I'm not.", He simply said. "I beat all my enemies successfully."

"You don't fight carefully..You may have come out unscathed but, you should be more careful.", Kambei had said, which earned a slight curve downward on the corners of Kyuzo's lips.

“You doubt my abilities.”, He said and Kambei almost laughed.

“Not at all. I’m just a friend concerned for another friend.”, Kambei said which caused the other samurai to blink.

“Friend?..I don’t recall agreeing to that.”, Kyuzo said. He look..annoyed.

“It’s not something you exactly agree to.”, Kambei said as a joke but Kyuzo gives an “Ah..” as a response which makes Kambei have the horrible realization that Kyuzo must have never had a friend before.

“I’ll take watch.”, The blonde predictably said as he put both of his swords back in their place and walked away.

It didn’t take much for the others to catch wind of what Kambei was doing. They saw their leader talking to Kyuzo, which led to them slowly and cautiously trying to do the same. It was amusing for Kambei to watch as the others would talk to Kyuzo as if he’ll bite their head off if they say the wrong thing or move too close, but despite the threats and looks Kyuzo would give, no casualties occurred.

Katsushiro would ask more of his damn questions about being a samurai, Kikuchiyo would try and make up grand tales about himself to try and seem tough around Kyuzo, and Heihachi would try and crack jokes that would not land at all with Kyuzo.

Kambei almost felt bad for how terribly Kyuzo was taking this newfound attention from the rest of the samurais. He would ignore Katsushiro, threaten Kikuchiyo when he went into his personal space, and poor Heihachi would almost get the sharp end of one of his twin swords when the blonde wouldn’t understand one of the jokes made to him. But it was very amusing the way Kyuzo would glance over at Kambei as if he was asking for a silent plea for help despite the blank look on his face. Sometimes Kambei would go over and shoo one of the samurai away from Kyuzo with a made up task, but mostly he would go over and entertain the conversation further much to Kyuzo’s annoyance.

He was glad the others were slowly starting to become less wary around Kyuzo. It would do no good for them to not trust Kyuzo when he was arguably one of the better, if not the best, player on their team. And Kambei would admit that he liked the thought of Kyuzo gaining more friends.

But maybe Kambei had been mistaken about it. After a while of the others and Kambei tying to become closer, he started to move further away from them than ever. He would move away when Kambei was about to come close to talk to him, and he would take watch almost every night despite the dark lines under his eyes. It made Kambei concerned he has somehow pushed the other away further with his attempts to know him better.

He wasn’t going to give up easily though. So one night while Kyuzo stubbornly insisted he stay on watch, Kambei followed him out of sight as the other climbed atop a tree and sat on its branch.

“What do you want?”, Kyuzo asked indifferently. Kambei wasn’t really surprised the other knew he was there. He didn’t intend to sneak up on him either way.

“Something is troubling you.”, Kambei said as he went closer to the tree. He could see the blonde man sitting with his back against the tree, his red eyes glinted from the light of the barely setting sun. Kyuzo’s eyebrows furrowed.’

“I am not injured.”, He said.

“I know, that’s not what I meant.”, Kambei said. He shook his head and started climbing the tree.

“Hey-”, Kyuzo said, but Kambei continued his climb until he reached the branch the lone swordsman sat on. He sits next to him which causes Kyuzo to blink and narrow his eyes a bit.

“What do you want?”, He asks as he looks away.

“I want to know what’s bothering you..You’re avoiding me.”, Kambei decides to get it over with.

“I am not.”, Kyuzo says. He looks back at Kambei. His messy hair was in his eyes and Kambei smiled a bit and brushed it to the side which caused Kyuzo to flinch and almost fall off the branch.

“What are you-”, he said as he reached for his swords without really grasping for the handles. It was an empty threat which caused the taller samurai to laugh a bit.

“Are you going to tell me why you’re avoiding me?”, Kambei asked again. Kyuzo huffed

“I don’t like you.”, He said which caused Kambei’s chest to pinch up a bit. Kyuzo continues. “You make me feel..weird.”

Kambei blinked, the feeling in his chest leaving as soon as it came.. “Weird?..”

Kyuzo looks to the side, not offering any explanation. His face was blank, but Kambei could see the slight twitch of his eyebrows. He seemed frustrated.

“How come?”, He ventured.

“You’re supposed to just be someone I kill.”, Kyuzo said which causes Kambei to almost laugh. Could it really be that…?

“And I’m not?”, Kambei said with a smile he just can’t help. Kyuzo seemed even more annoyed by that answer.

“Unfortunately.”, He said as he looked anywhere but Kambei’s eyes.

“Well..I could say the same about you Kyuzo. I enjoy your company..”, He said which caused Kyuzo to swallow.

“Ah..”, He said. He stays silent, but Kambei doesn’t mind. He has a feeling things between the two were going to be different from now on.

Chapter Text

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.