"I'm going up to the second floor!"
Kiyomitsu called out to Yasusada. He received an approval from him. But then, he was stopped by the History Retrograde Soldiers that came rushing in.
It was their second battle at Ikeda Inn. The Shigensumi Swords were reunited once more to end the manipulation of their enemy. Now facing a rough battle, both of Okita's swords were not hindered to keep their promises to each other.
Don't do the same thing that you did the last time.
Kiyomitsu knew that Yasusada had a large possibility that he might climb the next floor again. Hoping to see their former master, which he had been longing to protect ever since he witnessed the death of the man on his nightmares over and over again.
But Kiyomitsu had to trust him.
Swiftly, he defeated the soldiers in his way and climbed up the wooden stairs just when another soldier dove upon him where he delivered a deep slash on the monster's chest. Its fading soul uncovered someone on the floor he didn't recognize at first.
The floor was empty but broken furniture lay scattered, a sword with a blue hilt and a body that was laying on its chest. Kiyomitsu's eyes travelled from the body's limp arms, bloodied trimmed white scarf and the knotted blue locks.
Kiyomitsu unconsciously dropped his sword and made his way to his friend. Shakingly, he faced him up where he saw the gash running from his left shoulder diagonally to his abdomen. Yasusada was still conscious but heaving and crackling up in pain.
"Yasusada." he uttered, Kiyomitsu didn't know what to feel. He wanted to get so mad, he wanted to break down in worry as much as he wanted to stay calm.
Blood gushed out of Yasusada's mouth after a wet cough, which made Kiyomitsu exclaim his name. He saw that he fought to stay awake as his eyes drooped for a while. Kiyomitsu hugged him into his arms awkwardly, furiously being soaked in blood in return but just to make him upright and to support his back by his arm.
Yasusada shuddered and made another gasp as blood continued to stream out of his lips. He grasped on Kiyomitsu's clothes with his shaking hand.
"Don't die." Kiyomitsu said, trying not to break his voice, "Don't break, Yasusada. Don't die." his voice failed him at his last syllable just then he cried.
Kiyomitsu didn't want to be stared with those eyes. His vividly wide blue eyes, sinking in vagueness in seconds. He looked away and placed pressure on his wound by hugging him tight.
"Why Yasusada?.." Kiyomitsu sobbed, "..you promised me.."
He looked into his eyes once again. Kiyomitsu was surprised to see him smiling.
"I'm..glad." Yasusada whispered, his faint smile disappearing.
Kiyomitsu wasn't ready for the sudden drop of weight. Yasusada fell heavy on his arm he needed to use the other one. He couldn't see his blue eyes anymore for it was closed.
Yasusada's arm dropped and revealed he was holding the flower hair clip he gave him.
"That's the one I gave you."
"I will not fight that selfishly and carelessly again."
"You're going like that?"
"It's my reminder."
Kiyomitsu couldn't rest outside Yagen's office.
The other Shingensumi Swords were positioned next to Kiyomitsu. Some swords who had saw Yamatonokami peeked in the repair room in fret. Some of the young swords were too worried, they shed few tears. All were in deep silence and concern.
Hasebe stepped in the room, bearing a sword covered with white sheets. Kiyomitsu had never seen him that sullen even if he was not chosen for dispatch by the Master for the thousandth time.
He unfolded the sheet that revealed the sword's edge. It was crushed and fine blades were seen.
"Kashuu-san" Yagen called from the door, "He's looking for you."
Midnight. Yagen, Kiyomitsu, the other Shigensumi Swords and other swords chose to skip dinner as they found that they lost their appetite due to their worry. The sky was dark and the remaining swords were camped inside Yagen's place just outside the inner room where he tends Yasusada.
Kiyomitsu had no time to chat and had shot right up to rush in the room.
"Yagen-san. How's Yamatonokami-san?" Horikawa asked worriedly.
"I hope that he would be fine." Yagen answered, sounding grimmer, "Master had given their best before handing him to me but I don't know if he could survive that deep slash."
Kiyomitsu stood by the door, mouth clenched, observing the latter's covered body up to his breathing chest. He didn't know how thankful he was just seeing him breathing.
He knelt down beside the mattress, stared at his sleeping figure for seconds, before he called out his name.
Yasusada's eyes opened slowly. He blinked away much longer until he reached Kiyomitsu's eyes. The indistinct chat behind the door vanished and he could only hear Yasusada's wheezing breath. He held his right hand up to his cheek. It was clammy and he was incredibly white.
"Kiyomitsu.." he managed to say his name straight, but softly, "..I'm sorry I-"
"-shh!" Kiyomitsu hushed him, brushing his loosed hair away from his forehead gently, "You need to recover as fast as possible, okay?"
Yasusada smiled weakly as an agreement before his eyes drifted close again. Kiyomitsu was shortly shocked and turned back to the door where he found too many heads peeking from the waiting area before Yagen slid the door shut in their faces.
"Yagen!" Kiyomitsu exclaimed.
Yagen rushed to Yasusada's side and checked on him, "I'll leave to check on how Master is working with his sword." he looked at Kiyomitsu, "He just fell asleep don't worry."
Kiyomitsu sighed in relief.
"Kashuu Kiyomitsu. We could not fix him."
"Isn't it too cute?"
"There was an unknown substance on him."
"The Master can't do anything about it anymore."
"He won't last."
"Here is your memory."
"We don't need to know, because he needs to survive."
"Don't tell him, it's the best thing to do."
"Kiyomitsu? Is that you?"
Kiyomitsu woke up in all sweat and a rushed breath. He immediately looked at the space that Yasusada must be occupying. He threw the sheets over him away and ran outside where he saw Yasusada sweeping the ground with his usual clothes.
"Heyy! Kiyomitsu!" Yasusada called, waving cheerfully at him, "I see you're awake!"
Kiyomitsu could not resist but to worry for that boy. He sighed disappointedly and shuffled to Yasusada, grabbing the broom from his hands and continued what Yasusada was sweeping.
"Kiyomitsu? Give it back!" Yasusada groaned, trying the grab the broom back, but he failed to do so that he walked away and sat by the porch.
Kiyomitsu unconsciously shed tears while sweeping the ground. His nightmare of voices awakened his pain of learning days after the Ikedaya Incident that Yasusada was unrepairable and somehow baned thus making his human body weaker than before and wasn't ensured to last. Kiyomitsu requested to leave chores at the citadel to look after Yasusada in which the Master gratefully agreed. However, Yasusada greatly insisted.
Kiyomitsu looked back at Yasusada who was wincing in pain. He had dropped his blue yutaka and held onto the wall. Kiyomitsu stood and approached him.
"Kiyomitsu? Why does it still hurts?"
"Of course, it hadn't been a week. You must only be at rest but you're insisting to do some chores you weren't even asked to do so." Kiyomitsu explained with a tone much serious, placing both of his palms on his hips.
Yasusada still displayed a pain expression that changed Kiyomitsu's mood drastically, "Hey! Are you okay?" asking worriedly.
The other looked at Kiyomitsu and smiled gently. Kiyomitsu was glad to notice that he gained some of his color but there was still a fact that he shows paler shades of it. Yasusada slipped his arms around Kiyomitsu's waist, to his back and embraced him softly. He leaned his head on his shoulder and a half of his weight, making Kiyomitsu feel he's breathing and bearing a heartbeat.
"Are you mad at me?" Yasusada asked sadly, no wonder why Kiyomitsu found it cute.
Kiyomitsu chuckled nervously, his own hand travelling up to Yasusada's bare back, hugging back, "I'm mad because you won't take a rest."
He felt him bury his face on his scarf and let one fourth of his weight lean on him, Yasusada said, "Then I'll take a rest with you."
The rest composed the whole afternoon below the cherry tree which miraculously bloomed though it was nearly winter.
A few days after, Yasusada was off in the field, watching Izuminokami and Horikawa do their fieldwork. He was holding a broomstick in his hand again, somehow afraid to sweep the ground under the arched scorching sun. He observed them by the porch since Kiyomitsu was sent off to a sortie. Kiyomitsu told him that he would be asking Izuminokami and Horikawa to keep an eye on Yasusada, if he does anything stressful in his condition. Yasusada still could not understand yet something small inside him tells him that he's not going to last any longer.
He watches the long-haired boy waved at the other, going the opposite way. While Horikawa, with dirt in his face, he went towards Yasusada.
"Yamatonokami-san." he called, climbing above the porch.
"Oh, Horikawa. Ohayo." Yasusada greeted while smiling at him.
Both of them was looking at the same view of the field. Both unmoving. Both silent. Until minutes later, Horikawa spoke.
"Yamatonokami-san." he started, "I saw you at the night of Ikedaya."
Yasusada looked at him with confused eyes, "What are you saying?" he asked.
Horikawa gazed at the sky, the sunlight reflecting on his moist face, he wiped away the sweat dripping from his forehead using the back of his hand. He looked down again.
"All you know was that Kane-san and I were at the backyard. But we joined you after defeating the army there."
Yasusada strengthened his grip on the broom's handle and looked away.
"Why did you do that?" Horikawa asked, it was his turn to look at Yasusada.
"I.." he couldn't find the right word, hence turning away as much a possible from Horikawa is the only thing that's helping him.
"Kashuu-san said he was the one going to the second floor but why were you the one who went after that soldier?" Horikawa's face scrunched up like he was trying not to cry, "I couldn't tell it to anyone, because I thought you might have a reason!"
"Horikawa." Yasusada looked at him with tears on his cheeks.
It was dinner time and Kiyomitsu's unit have not returned from their sortie, which is quite natural for them. The swords were gathered in excited chatter about food, the weather and some sort. It was something Yasusada didn't find comfortable. Mutsunokami and Izuminokami was even bickering with him in between. Where he found himself sluggish as he couldn't understand what they were saying.
"...san..Yamatono... Oi! Are you okay?.. Hey, hey.."
His hands were opened to receive the tray, he couldn't think straight, his eyes were squinted and face grimaced. A switch inside him clicked as he suddenly felt Shokudaikiri refused to hand the tray.
"Yamatonokami-san. Are you okay? You look pale." he uttered, it was clear but when he tried to process its vagueness shown to pull his shaking hands away.
"S-Sorry.. I.." Yasusada shook his head slowly, he stared at the contents of the tray until it swirled like hell, he panicked shortly before collapsing to the ground.
Yasusada tried to rise up a little with his elbow, every part of his body burned, especially his chest travelling to his throat, choking him, leaving him out of his breath and blood gushing out of his mouth and running through his hand down to the floor.
Kiyomitsu realized how painful it was to wait for his partner. Since the second sword that the master was getting, he expected to see that unruly long blue hair with those beautiful blue eyes that shone sincerity and security. But at the seventeenth time, he was reluctant to smith the sword in front of him.
Because his heart was weary for all of the seasons he was waiting.
A bright light shone that causes him to look away from the sword, he was used to this but its light was so bright for him. Maybe because it was much deeper at night than the smithing sessions before.
Or maybe because his partner was in front of his eyes.
"Kiyomitsu? Is that you?"
From that day, Kiyomitsu thought waiting was not bad. Yet, it was fun.
He met him again at a winter's night.
He wished Sakuras with him at spring.
He played with him at the ocean at summer.
But he didn't know that he would fall with autumn.
Kiyomitsu slid himself in their room, kissing and hugging a white scarf to him, tears uncontrollable. A white scarf that was owned by a partner he waited for seasons. Owned by someone he failed to say he loved.
"I love him."
Horikawa's eyes widened with a small gasp of surprise.
"And I made him promise not to let himself break. I waited for him to come back from Ikedaya before. But he didn't come back, that's why I chose to devote myself to Okita-kun."
"Then, why did you do that?" Horikawa asked, cheeks also drenched with tears.
"For us to wait again."
"Because waiting is painful at start but it would turn into the best memories at the end."