Mako caught sight of Ryunosuke practicing his marksmanship again this morning. She shook her head, he was still so diligent on his trainings. Even when today was another of their off days, free from any sort of training session or lessons. Not that they could not train by themselves if they wanted to. (Takeru did that most of the time!) It was still amazing to see Ryunosuke keeping up to his routines though...
Ryunosuke turned towards her as he sensed her coming. Mako smiled.
"Training again?" she asked as Ryunosuke shrugged, chuckling to himself.
"I find it amazing to see you never had any lapse in keeping to your routines..."
"Not that I never... I had to keep up with my training else I might get sloppy later. It's been a while since I've practiced my marksmanship anyway."
Mako hummed to herself as she changed the topic.
"So I heard that you're afraid of cactus." she asked pointedly as Ryunosuke nodded. Mako leaned closer towards him.
"Is it for real? " she asked again as Ryunosuke fidgeted.
"Of course--why did you ask?"
"I find that hard to believe. From what I heard from Chiaki, it felt more like an exaggeration on your part. Are you really afraid of cactus or say that just to amuse people to show you also had a silly phobia?"
Ryunosuke stared at her in horror.
"How could--! Then how about you and that potato of yours?"
Mako stuttered. "That... that--I'm always wary about eating food of those types! I mean... the potato had been boiled but dried , I always imagined how bad it could be if it got stuck in your throat while eating it because it was DRY and all that. I mean... I thought it would--I mean, haven't you experienced such thing? Getting choked off your own food is not nice. Although I do wonder what it'd taste like in actuality..."
Ryunosuke fidgeted again.
"Well... when you said it like that--all right I admit it. I'm not really that afraid of cactus, just wary of touching it. Sometimes. I did tell the truth about accidentally sitting on one long time ago."
"I guess as far as I remember, I didn't have anything that I really am afraid of or detest. Or I totally forgotten about any phobias that I might have had in the past. Still, it would be boastful to say that I haven't had anything that I really feared. So I said the next closest thing."
Mako snickered. "I had a feeling you probably did that for that reason."
"You don't need to laugh at me about it. Still, for you to actually dare to swallow that dried potato was amazing."
Mako laughed. "Yeah, pretty amazing considering that I ended up choking on it for a few minutes. I really should not have swallowed it whole like that." she said before turning her attention towards one of the inner corridors near them.
"Would you like to join us for a chat, Takeru? It's better than sneaking around like that."
"I'm not--I just happened to pass by, really. Both of you were talking so I don't want to intrude. So I'll excuse--eeh! Mako!"
Takeru cried aloud as Mako suddenly came up to him and dragged him to sit with them. Ryunosuke fidgeted uncomfortably as Mako shoved Takeru to sit beside him too closely.
"So I heard also that you're afraid of going to haunted houses."
Takeru went still at once as soon as she mentioned it. Ryunosuke immediately stood to defend him but Takeru motioned him to sit. He turned towards Mako, deflated.
"This was what I was afraid of, which was why I don't want to alert you two that I was nearby. Yes, Mako. I am afraid of going into haunted houses. If you want to laugh at me about it... then laugh all you want."
"Tono! I wouldn't--although I do find that kinda adorable--"
"Ryunosuke!" cried Takeru at once, his cheeks already red as it was. Ryunosuke was just as worse as Jii!
Mako laughed. "I had to agree... it was cute. Kind of surprising though considering that we fought Gedoshu at an almost daily basis. It's even harder to believe than hearing Ryunosuke being terrified of cacti!"
" Chiaki said something like that yesterday as well... but it's not like I could stop feeling afraid. " Takeru muttered under his breath.
Mako cocked her head.
"Ayakashi and gedoshu that we used to fight isn't that much different than ghosts and those ayakashi in folktales we all grew up with, Takeru. You shouldn't be--I mean, in the end... the ghosts aren't even real in those haunted houses--"
"It's not!" Takeru exclaimed. "I know that those haunted houses aren't really real... but that doesn't mean there aren't any real ghosts or spirits around! And with the normal Gedoshu or Ayakashi... at least we could fight them or attack them with something--you can't really do anything to ghosts and such..." said Takeru again, sounding even more subdued.
Mako tried to resist giving Takeru a hug to comfort him, seeing him like this as Ryunosuke also tried to resist from running his hand over his young lord's head in reassurance. Listening to the young man talking, Ryunosuke could relate as to why he would react like this... having such fears.
Lord Takeru had after all lost his entire family years ago due to Doukoku's attack on the mansion. Tono was still a small child then and had been there during the incident. It would not be surprising for him to still retain the traumatic memories of that time as well as memories of those that died that night. He would not expect Takeru to get over such trauma so easily. He would not want to force him to get over it either.
Takeru sighed when the other two had remained quiet. Ryunosuke threw away his resistance as he patted Takeru's head anyway.
"It's all right." he finally spoke. "At least now... Tono, you have all of us by your side. If you ever be afraid again we'll always be there to support you. You don't need to feel so bad about this..."
Takeru stared at Ryunosuke, looking almost about to cry. "Thanks..." he said, softly.
Mako squealed as she crept behind both of them to give them a big hug. Both Takeru and Ryunosuke cried out in surprise before Mako released them.
"Mako! I told you to give a warning before you gave me anything of those !" Ryunosuke exclaimed before pulling himself out of the group hug. "And with Tono too!" he added before turning red himself.
"I couldn't resist..." said Mako, snickering before turning towards Takeru. "You're always welcomed to get another hug in case all of us would suddenly make an outing to watch any horror movies. Just telling you in advance."
Takeru stared at her in horror, speechless at the fact she could tease him to that extent. Ryunosuke fidgeted again to calm Mako down as she started laughing uncontrollably. Takeru felt himself close to total humiliation before letting out a weak smile. To think that his retainers--no, his friends would go so far to make him feel comfortable over his own weakness. Takeru could not stop feeling grateful about it as he joined their merriment and laugh at his own silliness.
As the laughter died down later, Ryunosuke let out a sigh. He turned his attention towards Takeru and Mako before speaking.
"Come to think, I do have something that I greatly fear..."
"And what was it? And don't tell me that silly cactus story again." said Mako as she snickered.
Ryunosuke shook his head.
"My greatest fear would be to see you get hurt deeply, Tono." he said to Takeru before turning towards Mako. "As well as to see any of you guys get hurt. Kotoha, Chiaki... you... everyone. That is my greatest fear."
Takeru smiled at him fondly as Mako started squealing again. But before she could do anything, Ryunosuke waved a finger at her.
"No more hugs from you! I'm warning you, stay away!" he cried as Mako grinned widely.